HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier, sailed back into Portsmouth on December 10, after successfully completing initial fast jet trials in America. The 65,000-tonne carrier’s first transatlantic deployment, which began in August, saw her embark two F-35B Lightning test aircraft, from the Integrated Test Force (ITF) based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. She also conducted a week-long visit to New York.
During the development trials, the jets conducted 202 takeoffs from the ship’s ski ramp, 187 vertical landings, and 15 shipborne vertical landings (SRVL) —a landing technique unique to the UK. They also dropped 54 inert bombs, testing the weight loading in a variety of weather conditions and sea states. The operating envelopes will be further expanded during operational trials, scheduled for next year.
HMS Queen Elizabeth will remain in Portsmouth during the early part of 2019 undergoing maintenance.