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A very well designed vessel, a tribute to all the ship yards that helped build her and all the design team .


British engineering at its best. We are a lot better than most of us think we are.


Absolutely agree, we are far too cynical about ourselves. Great work from all concerned.


Fully agree – it’s been a real pleasure reading these articles and I’ve eagerly awaited the next instalment after each one. It’s very difficult to get complex systems like this really running well and apparently we’re ahead of the curve which is great.

I do however have a few layman’s reservations about the design: how the much-vaunted automation stands up to battle damage and more obviously in these pics, how much flying glass will be produced by those massive windows!

Tim Collins

You have to assume it’s armoured ‘safety’ glass


In additional to the flyco windows being armoured i imagine all of the bridge windows have some degree of reinforcement as well.

Whilst the exact locations have been kept confidential the usage of armour at key points around the hull was widely mentioned during the design process.

Having two hangar lifts, the two exhaust shafts running through separate islands and spread out propulsion and electrical systems all help to improve their survival chances and ability to operate in the event of damage.


Let’s get real.

Trying to design a fighter plane that is supersonic and takes off and and lands vertically are two completely contradictory design goals. They lead to things like small wings so that the plane can hover and a big fat fuselage section to accommodate a lift fan (also adds to weight) – high drag and poor maneuverability. Good fighter aircraft tend to look slender and aerodynamic. The F35 is fat and looks anything but aerodynamic.

It is a national embarrassment that the Navy is ordering these aircraft when operational testing ie. testing the aircraft in realistic war-like situations has not even commenced yet. The US Government’s own testing office indicates that there are still over 200 high priority deficiencies. Shouldn’t it be the responsibility of the manufacturer to correct these deficiencies before taxpayers send them more money? But wait, the Admiral who was responsible for ordering the carriers now sits on the board of the plane’s manufacturer, no conflict of interest there, right.

Stealth is a scam, partly used to drive the plane’s massive cost compared to older planes – Yugoslavia shot down a “stealth” F117 (also made by Lockheed) with a radar guided missile, although despite this scam the F35 will indeed be stealthy. The F35 is so expensive, maintenance intensive and riddled with deficiencies that it cannot be afforded in any significant numbers and those airframes bought will spend so much time in maintenance hangars that they will rarely be seen in the sky.

The Royal Navy is spending its way into complete irrelevance, disappearing strength and the F35/carriers are at the centre of this problem.


So much wrong….my head hurts.

Where to start….but why bother…


Actually Rudeboy he is correct about the 200 deficiencies and the fact the plane requires a lot of maintenance time , all this information is in a report compiled for the US Congress defence committee in 2017 .

And also the admiral who pushed for the F35B does indeed work for Lockheed.
He retired from the RN and 6 months later was working for Lockheed , so he gets his navy pension and collects a $300,000 a year salary plus bonus from Lockheed definitely a conflict of interest.

But Lord West was responsible for pushing for the carriers to be built at the expense of the escort and submarine fleets , he knew that if the carriers where built the navy would lose 7 escorts and 3 subs to pay for them .
He now says that he should had not agreed to building them at the expense of the rest of the navy fleet.

jon livesey

I am guessing that you have not worked on too many complex engineering projects. The days when an aircraft was two wings and an engine, and all the intelligence was in the pilot’s head are long gone. Aircraft today are complex hardware/software sytems and for a complex system to have 200 outstanding issues is pretty good. I have worked on complex systems that had thousands, and yet we delivered a successful product in the end.

I have seen your posting and its list of factoids, with minor variations of wording, maybe many dozens of times on the internet over the past decade, and the main thing that strikes me is that critics of the f35 have not evolved their position in a decade.

Meanwhile, engineers have been quietly knocking down the issues one by one and delivering an aircraft that works and that is already in service in the Middle East.


…at last, some intelligent insight on the subject. Thanks Jon.

Meirion X

You are very misinformed on the F-35b! I’m sure you be reading from russian websites!
Two F-35b’s have carried out all tests required
for DT-2 phase. They been very busy! No hangar queens here!!


Yes, I am reading from Russian websites like this one – the US Government’s own website:


The US Marines are already using the F-35B in combat operations and have described the aircraft as a game changer. The F-117 flew hundreds of successful sorties over former Yugoslavia for one loss. And the reason for the loss was due to overconfidence by the USAF and a monumental effort by Serbian forces. The F-117 was flying the same flight path every day which allowed the Serbians to move their missile batteries to optimal positions and also utilising intelligence gained by compromising NATO communications identify the F-117’s radar signature. They were then able to use a mixture of high and low frequency radar to track and shoot it down. The F-35 is a different animal to the F-117. Check your facts before you post next time chump.


When I first read this it seemed really positive, but now reading it again I start to see issues.

Why is the carrier so dependent on the US Navy and Marines? The captain is quoted referring to “our commitment to the future as a global navy” but the article text suggests the carrier depends on the US for replenishement?

The captain comes across a bit dim: “It has re-introduced the true value that carrier capabilities bring to the UK and her allies” – has he not noticed that our allies already have their own carrier capabilities?

Two aircraft carried out succesful trials, but the carrier should be able to carry 36? Even given the UK have not yet got this many planes in total, why only 2 embarked? Wouldn’t this compromise the reported passing on of handling skills from US Marine Corps to RN?

Why “It will be the second half of 2019 before fixed wing aircraft are embarked again”? Given we have 2 carriers replacing 3 carriers, and one may be in long term maintenance, then surely each new carrier has to be turned around a lot faster after a deployment? If it takes a year between deployments then how do the FAA pilots keep up their skills?


“Why is the carrier so dependent on the US Navy and Marines?”

Commonsense. They’ve already started shipborne operations of F-35B from Wasp Class ships so why not learn from their experience.

“but the article text suggests the carrier depends on the US for replenishement?”

RFA Tidespring was there for DT2. Looks like there was an issue with the other Tide Class that was due to go due to failing FOST. Going into Norfolk is to load/unload test equipment.

“Two aircraft carried out succesful trials, but the carrier should be able to carry 36? Even given the UK have not yet got this many planes in total, why only 2 embarked? Wouldn’t this compromise the reported passing on of handling skills from US Marine Corps to RN?”

These are initial tests. The 2 aircraft are special test aircraft. They’re full of instrumentation to measure different parameters. Operational aircraft do not carry this. The idea is you work out whether your homework has been correct with test aircraft and test pilots, adjust procedures/parameters as necessary, then put operational warplanes onboard. Nobody starts off with a full airwing, you build up to that. That has been the intention all along. Going from zero to 12-36 aircraft on deck is a recipe for disaster.

“Why “It will be the second half of 2019 before fixed wing aircraft are embarked again”? Given we have 2 carriers replacing 3 carriers, and one may be in long term maintenance, then surely each new carrier has to be turned around a lot faster after a deployment?”

The nature of a test campaign means that you actually have to have time in between to digest the results, make the necessary amendments. No point bouncing straight into another one if you don’t actually look at the results. That takes time. This is basic stuff. QE also needs to go into drydock at Rosyth for some hull recertification. Again all planned as part of the programme. There will be plenty of other things being worked on in the interim. PoW will also begin sea trials next year.

Anyone who thinks you build a carrier and stick an airwing on it the next week and it works fine just show their ignorance, not just ignorance of carrier operations but ignorance of the most basic details of how things actually work…


That’s exactly the problem, it’s extremely complicated and we will have been without carriers for at least 12 years by the time we have any semblance of a capability. There are never going to be enough aircraft to fulfil the original operational plan.If they cannot fulfil this plan,what’s the point?What are they for?
Meanwhile the RAF and RN are already fighting over F35A vs F35B,there’s going to be a massive squabble.


The RAF want to only buy 38 F35B and purchase 100 F35A instead as they are cheaper to operate and have better preformance.
I can see a future chancellor being very tempted by the several billion cost savings in buying the F35A instead of the F35B.
If we only buy 38 F35B ,there would only be around 18 available at any time for shipboard use due to maintenance and training schedules making the building of the carriers a white elephant.
We shall see what happens in the 2020 defence review.


138 is never going to happen. The plane costs so much to buy and operate, plus conversion costs – given the ones currently being purchased are effectively prototypes that the overall order will likely be cut back substantially.

All three versions are bad, although if you had to choose one, they would be better off ordering the A version. There’s no real practical reason for the air force to be operating planes that take off and land vertically. These planes have a much higher risk of crashing and there are many performance penalties as part of this design.

Meirion X

Highly unlikely the UK will cut the total F-35
order substantially!
If the UK does Not buy the number of F-35’s that it Is committed to buy, that is 138, the USA will most likely end tier 1 partnership, with it the 15% share of total revenue equivalent to UK itself producing 400+ F-35’s, which is projected to be worth £90+ billion to the UK economy. We only just need another unfriendly president like Obama, who said to the UK ‘Get to the back of the queue’! So this is a opportunity not to be lost!


The US will cut back on their order too, because they will not be able to afford the massive up-front, operating and upgrade costs in relation to the number of aircraft that their services want.

Ian Skinner

Obama was told to say that by Cameron, he later said he regretted it.


I completely agree it’s a concern but we haven’t yet reached the big decision on the future size and shape of the F35 fleet yet and i think there is some cause for hope.

The gossip dribbling out of the MoD is that the senior leadership of the RN are being staunch in their insistence that QE or PoW need to embark a minimum of 24 jets to field a credible capability. Whilst this won’t deter some in the RAF from wanting a split buy they will have a hard time arguing that just 48 F35b are going to suffice if that planning assumption sticks.

Personally i think the likeliest outcome is that we’ll see a limited top up purchase of 30-40 more F35 but that’ll be it, with Tempest becoming the focus and perhaps some additional tranche 3b Typhoon’s ordered to replace the tranche 1’s in the 2030’s and bridge the industrial gap.

Meirion X

A big risk with Tempest is that the project will require a lot of investment, possibly as much as $40 billion in development costs in test aircraft etc. The project will most likely require additional partners.


Tempest will undoubtedly need some outside investment and ideally we’ll strike partnerships with Sweden/Japan (maybe Italy) and leave France/Germany to squabble over work-share and specifications.

What’s encouraging is a growing understanding that the aerospace industry needs stability and long-term planning post Typhoon. Whether it translates into anything tangible is another story.

jon livesey

There is more thn one reason to press on with Tempest. One could be to build it yourself, but the other is to demonstrate your ability to contribute to some multinational project.

So the “risk” is also an opportunity.

Iqbal Ahmed

If US combat aircraft are going to be based on these carriers, because of our small purchase of planes, will this dictate where the carriers will be deployed? Won’t this have political repercussions?


The agreement is when they embark USMC F35B they deploy where the USMC requires them to .
The agreement is not loudly broadcast because it very political that a major RN warship will technically be under USN control.

The head of the RAF is on record saying that RAF has no operational use for the F35B and the needs of the RAF are better served by the F35A and by buying the F35A there would be significant long term savings to the overall defence budget of £20 billion over the service life of the F35A more than enough for the treasury to get itchy fingers.


The Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin UK is a former RAF Air Marshal who went to work for them as business development director within 12 months of retiring from the air force (presumably also receiving a pension). With leadership like this in the pockets of the defence industry, it’s no wonder the UK military is eating itself to death.


Thats some weapons grade nonsense there….

Meirion X

The main reason that the Netherlands and Italy are procuring the F-35A, is to deploy US
tactical nuclear warheads stationed on their soil. The UK is not in the tactical nuke warhead game anymore!


The RAF have said they have no operational use for the F35b but they must remember the Falklands war where we only succeeded because the RAF could operate from carriers


Did anyone else noticed that she deployed without her phalanx armament?