These stunning images show HMS Queen Elizabeth and her fleet of F35 Joint Strike Fighter fast jets in action – captured as the UK fighter jets landed on Britain's largest warship for the first time.
The photographs and video show the F-35B Lightning fighter jets – part of the Joint Strike Fighter program - on landing and takeoff aboard the largest and most powerful vessel ever constructed for the Royal Navy in a photo series released by the RAF.
HMS Queen Elizabeth’s impressive 280m long flight deck is seen from above while her F-35 fast jets are seen in action – with a backdrop of the other vessels in the Westlant 19 Carrier Strike Group - HMS Northumberland, HMS Dragon and RFA Tideforce – off America’s east coast.
All The Gen About HMS Queen Elizabeth
Tests and Trials
The F-35B fast jets are being tested to make sure their capability works effectively with the HMS Queen Elizabeth as part of a Carrier Strike Group – a formation of vessels that allow the ships to extend operations deep into international waters while complementing each others’ strengths, protecting each other and forming an effective strike force.
Together, the ships have a displacement of almost 100,000 tonnes.
Tests are needed to make sure a key component of their capability, the F35s - considered among the most advanced warplanes in the world – can work operationally and efficiently as planned as part of the Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group strategy.
Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Pilots have been landing, taking off and manoeuvring in the airspace around the strike group, following earlier trials last year carried out by American USAF pilots.
HMS Queen Elizabeth
HMS Queen Elizabeth, nicknamed Big Lizzie, is 280 metres long – about the length of two and a half football pitches - and longer than the length of the Houses of Parliament.
Her deck is 70 metres wide – which the Ministry of Defence says is enough to fit four passenger jets side by side each other.
Four fighter jets can be moved from hangar to deck in just 60 seconds using the ship’s lift systems.
56 metres – the height of about 11 London buses.
65,000 tonnes - a ship’s weight is based on the amount of water its hull displaces at varying loads.
At 65,000 tonnes displacement, Big Lizzie is a few thousand tonnes more than the deadweight of a Handymax bulk carrier cargo ship which weighs in at about 35,000 to 50,000 tonnes.
She has the latest generation of the Phalanx close-in weapon system firing 4,500 round per minute.
The Phalanx gun system is designed as an anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence and is radar controlled, meaning it automatically detects, tracks and engages incoming threats and features a 20mm M61A1cannon with a rate of fire of up to 4,500 shots per minute.
She also carries 30mm automated small calibre guns and miniguns to target the threat of any fast attack craft.
HMS Queen Elizabeth has two Rolls-Royce Marine Trent MT30 36 MW (48,000 hp) gas turbine engines and four Wärtsilä 38 marine diesel engines (4 × 16V38 11.6 MW or 15,600 hp).
Rolls-Royce pioneered the use of aero-derivative gas turbines in marine propulsion, mainly for use in naval vessels and its MT30 gas turbines powering the Queen Elizabeth are the most powerful gas turbine engines in operation in the world.
These deliver enough power to run about a thousand family cars.
The ship's power generator is also built by Rolls-Royce. It’s low voltage electrical power distribution system generates enough energy to power more than five thousands family homes and about 300,000 kettles.
Rolls-Royce also supplied the steering gear which integrates two steering gear rotary vane actuators (a form of mechanics for moving and controlling a mechanism or system, such as by opening a valve using hydraulic power).
The propellers are also manufactured by Rolls-Royce at its facility in Sweden. The carrier’s two bronze propellers weigh about 33 tons, each 22ft in diameter and are capable – with the power of the turbine engines behind them – of pushing HMS Queen Elizabeth to a top speed of about 30mph or more than 25 knots.
Each of Big Lizzie’s anchors weigh in at 14 tons each and 10ft 2ins high.
Crew And Facilities
The entire ship’s company is 700 personnel – each one of whom has to be catered for as they live at sea, during their duties and their downtime.
There are four galleys and four large dining areas on board – manned by 67 staff including about 40 chefs.
HMS Queen Elizabeth’s largest dining area has the capacity to serve enough food to last 1,600 personnel more than 45 days.
Her on-board bakery can produce up to a thousand loaves of bread a day, and of course other baked goods such as scones and doughnuts.
Her average food stocks include up to 66,000 sausages, 28,800 rashes of bacon, 12,000 tins of beans and 64,800 eggs.
Keeping the ship’s company ‘Navy fit’ while they are away from home or at sea for up to nine months at a time needs the right facilities to keep them active.
The ship boasts five gyms with cardio gym, weights room and even a boxing ring and boxing training facility.
For physical health and mental, spiritual and religious well-being, she also has a medical centre and a chapel.
Law And Order
The Royal Navy Police Department has four service officers on board HMS Queen Elizabeth and they manage three prison cells for times when someone in military custody needs to be detained.
HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Fighter Jets And Aircraft
Joint Strike Fighter
The F-35 fighter jet began in development in 1992 as part of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program – a development and acquisition program designed to replace a range of existing fighter, strike, and ground attack aircraft for the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, and their allies.
Built by Lockheed Martin, and other subcontractors such as Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney and BAE Systems, the F-35 Lightning II – known as the Panther by USAF pilots – is the result of that development.
The jets are single-seat, single-engine, all-weather, stealth, multirole combat aircraft, designed for ground-attack and air-superiority missions.
The jet is referred to as a 5th Generation fighter plane – as it combines many different evolved technologies and design to create advanced stealth, vastly improved agility and maneuverability, high-tech sensors and systems that link with data to inform the pilot.
The aircraft systems provide those flying the aircraft with unprecedented situational awareness and allows the pilot to share information gathered by the jet with other platforms, securely.
The data helps the pilot and team with the information they need to make mission critical decisions such as to employ weapons, for example.
The F-35 jet has three variants: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier variant (CV).
As well as F35b Lightning fighter jets, she can also carry Merlin Mk1 submarine hunter, Agusta Westland Apache Attack and Chinook helcopters.
During the Westplant 19 Carrier Strike Group deployment, she has been joined by Merlins from 814, 820 and 845 Naval Air Squadrons and Wildcats from 815 Squadron.
Royal Marines from Lima Company, 42 Commando, are also on board.
All of the above is under the watchful command of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s current commanding officer, Captain Steve Moorhouse.
The trials and landings on HMS Queen Elizabeth are aimed at testing the jets and the personnel to make sure the aircraft are compatible with the carrier.
Tests involve mission planning, aiming the aircraft using the ship's highly automated weapon handling system, flying missions and debriefing on completion.
Once fully operational, UK Carrier Strike Group aims to be a formidable force around the world, working alongside allies.