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HMS Queen Elizabeth Leaves Portsmouth To Begin Flight Trials In US

The aircraft carrier left Portsmouth on Saturday evening to begin trials with the F-35B.

HMS Queen Elizabeth

The future flagship vessel of the Royal Navy - HMS Queen Elizabeth - left Portsmouth on Saturday evening, to begin flight trials in the US.

The trials will see two F35 test jets conduct 500 take off and landings from the £3bn pound carrier while she's at sea.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, with HMS Prince of Wales set to become the second when entering service in 2019.

More: What Is It Like On Board HMS Queen Elizabeth?

The carrier was commissioned into the Royal Navy in December 2017.

Meanwhile, the F-35B stealth fighter jets which will soon be taking off from HMS Queen Elizabeth's 4.5-acre flight deck, are Britain's most advanced warplanes ever.

The aircraft arrived at their Marham home for the first time earlier this year.

The jets have a top speed of 1.6 Mach or 1,200 mph and carry weapons internally for improved aerodynamics, while also decreasing their radar signature.

In total, each F-35 is costing the Ministry of Defence approximately £190 million.

Rather than the traditional catapult launch, the F-35 will take off from HMS Queen Elizabeth via a ski jump ramp, due to the jet's short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) capability.

F-35 pilots have been preparing to land the aircraft on the carrier using realistic simulations, with one pilot saying:

"You see the landscape around you with the sea going in motion with the ship - you get that knot in your stomach like you're truly at sea."

HMS Queen Elizabeth will be able to carry 72 F-35s at one time. 

Both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales have been designed to work alongside the F-35, with the two projects totalling around £14 billion.

Lockheed Martin, which built the F-35, said on its website:

"F-35B and the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers will lead the UK’s naval force with pride for the next 50 years."

Concerns 

In December 2017, 200 litres an hour of seawater was leaking into HMS Queen Elizabeth because of a fault with one of the seals around its propeller shafts.

Meanwhile, there have been question marks over the affordability of the F-35 programme and in 2015, a test pilot revealed that during a dogfight, the jet was unable to out-manoeuvre and shoot down a 40-year-old F-16 jet.

Coincidentally one of the jets the F-35B is destined to replace.

But Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Andy Edgell defended the aircraft saying:

"It is an incredibly, incredibly powerful aircraft and I am not talking about thrust, the capabilities it brings to the battle space - it is incredibly powerful.

"The disappointing thing is I can't share all the details... I do think a lot of the critics would be quietened very quickly."

More: WATCH: HMS Queen Elizabeth Sprinkler System "Inadvertently" Triggered