The first F-35 Lightning fighter jets have landed on the deck of the United Kingdom’s new aircraft carrier, making history and marking the beginning of more than half-a-century of ‘Carrier Strike’ operations.
Royal Navy Commander Nathan Gray and RAF Squadron Leader Andy Edgell were the first pilots to land their stealth F-35 Lightning fighter jets on board the carrier, demonstrating the formidable force HMS Queen Elizabeth and her fleet of jets will be.
The first landings and take-offs from HMS Queen Elizabeth are the culmination of a national endeavour lasting more than a decade to bring an aircraft carrier back to the UK’s arsenal. Able to embark up to 24 of the supersonic jets, the carrier provides the Royal Navy with a capability possessed by few others.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
“The largest warship in British history is joining forces with the most advanced fighter jets on the planet. This marks a rebirth of our power to strike decisively from the seas anywhere in the world.
“The historic first landing on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth is a monumental moment in our country’s proud military history. It is also a statement of Britain’s determination to promote peace and prevent war.”
The landings mark the start of more than 500 take-offs and touch-downs set to take place from the mammoth warship during the next 11-weeks, with the jets being put through their paces in a range of weather conditions.