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Another great read. Can’t wait to see lots of jets on deck


Awesome pics, I have a mate on 17, who’s embarking this week. Should be an interesting story when we meet up later this year.

Paul H

An excellent piece.


Can’t wait to see 11 F35’s on deck! A full task-group with 24 jets and 14 helo’s lined up will be even better.

Anyone know why Northumberland isn’t carrying Harpoon? I know this isn’t an active deployment but i find any gaps in the RN’s already thin inventory of weaponry a concern.


I noticed that as well, Dragon doesn’t seem to be carrying any harpoon launchers either. Concerning indeed.

Sir Humphrey

Why concerning?

Zero surface threat, no need to ship SSGW, why put fatigue on cannister and missile when you dont need to?


It’s the normalisation of these gaps which is the problem. We all know the threat towards the current deployment is virtually non-existent, but having said that we can all also surely think of examples of vessels being rapidly redeployed in reaction to a crises?

HMS Defender has very recently been diverted to The Gulf instead of The Far East. OK so she was heading for a long, active deployment instead of a shorter training one…..but however remote there is always the chance that a general shortage of major surface ships leaves HMG looking to vessels like Dragon & Northumberland returning from something like Westland to respond to something unexpected.

Who’s to say it’s just Harpoon as well? I’d put money on them not carrying their full compliment of 32 CAMM & 48 Aster respectively.

Maybe it’s just me but i’ve always thought any Royal Navy vessel leaving UK waters should be ready for war.


I agree. I have a son aboard HMS Northumberland. A warship, ready to go anywhere !

James Fennell

I should imagine that for this deployment it makes more sense to keep the Harpoon sets in maintenance, apart from being old and outdated they only really serve a purpose as self-defence for ships operating without direct access to air support – if needed you could always fly them out, or borrow some from Uncle Sam. Frankly if you are escorting carriers with F18s and F35s the chances of needing them are zero to zero, which is presumably why the RN’s new interim missile specifies a land attack capability – as that is a much more likely operational eventuality – especially when the F35s have a credible anti–ship missile. Carrier escort is all about coordinated ASW and anti-air/anti-missile defence for the task group, and I’m sure that’s what the exercise will be about for the escorts.

Wilhelm Beller

Most likely because they are deploying to America. No actual threat there. I assume the launchers were given to ships in the gulf, med or black sea.


The RN has a total of 17 Harpoon sets so it’s not like there is a shortage, even less so with a number of T23’s currently in LIFEX.

The threat may be minimal but the more they do it the more normalised these gaps become and RN ships are already woefully under armed by international standards.


There are lessons from history. Take Jutland 1916 for instance. There not only were Ammunition handling procedures thrown to the wind but the Fleet was significantly deficient in night fighting training and signaling capability. This cost the RN a chance to corner the enemy for fear of a night engagement but several opportunities were lost due to signaling errors.
Lesson; you leave gaps and your opponent will become aware and gain the ascendancy.

Mike O

? great article.

Jonathan Saunders

Please can you attribute photographs to their respective sources rather than just plagiarising them! Thank you.


Great info!

BTW, HMS Dragon arrived in Charleston, South Carolina.

Paul Blake

Some great photo’s. I know it’s only a training exercise but still worrying to see how underarmed the RN vessels are.


It seems like the carrier itself is making good progress as a single ship, but the RN are a long way from having a carrier group in service.

Any ideas when we might see a carrier group formed up and working together?

Gavin Gordon

Nice set of photographs. THANKS. See Forces Network quote that 7 x F35B have left RAF Marham today.


I like the gaffer taped glass roof over the pilot on the merlin with folded tail and blades. And Why can’t we paint our Merlins a better colour, this colour makes them look cheap and nasty! And I’m pissed off that the commandos helicopters are all being painted that crap light grey colour! Dark grey camo like wildcat would look far better, and the green made them look far better, a junglie would look great but they ain’t doing that with their Merlins!!


Good article and good photos can’t wiat for part three with 617sqn embarked.
I really think that the RN and MoD should think about installing TRAPS and a crash barrier on the QE class. The reasons are as follows, future development of aircraft and UAVs but also it would mean that in an emergancy US or French carriers could land their aircraft on board a QE.


We’ve been over this before, back and forth. No the decision has been made, we’ve gone with ski ramp. For better or worse leave it like that. Kershaw not waste more money revisiting something we’ve already revisited.


I think you’ve missed one of Ron’s points. The ship has no crash barrier, therefore, fixed wing aircraft that need to do an emergency landing cannot use the ship! We have raised the point before, of what happens when a F35B cannot do a vertical or short rolling vertical landing, due to a malfunction of its vertical lift system, such as the fan doors not opening?
There should be an emergency crash barrier at the very least. This would allow damaged or broken aircraft to recover to the ship from any Nation. I appreciate they wouldn’t be able to take-off again, but who cares, especially when you’re flying over the middle of the oggie and fast running out of options. Much rather try to recover the aircraft to the carrier, than looking at ditching it.


Dern, I am not saying anything about the ski jump as for better or worse that is the choice we made. In some ways it might even be a good choice for future developement. What I am talking about is TRAPS and Crash barrier. First the crash barrier, it does not appear as if there is one. The F35b is a complicated aircraft and with a complicated landing system, if something fails how will the aircraft land, to ditch a £100 million aircraft because a nut failed in the lift fan is well stupid. As for TRAPS, it is more than likly that the QE will operate at some point with a US or the French, it can also happen especially in conflict that they could be damaged meaning that their aircraft could not land. If the QEs had TRAPS even a two wire system then we could at least land their aircraft. Possibly they could even take off again using the ski jump.
Which ever way it is looked at the QE is a good ship for the amount she cost, The Americans could build five of these for the cost of one of their carriers its just that it appears to me that there needs to be some tweeking especially in the area of damage control/limitation to an aircraft.


Ah okay. I misunderstood you point. Sorry.


while a logical suggestion, the F35B is not equipped with a tailhook so TRAPS are not possible.


Is it known for a fact the QE Class is not equipped with a crash barrier? Crash barrier is an inexpensive and simple piece of equipment. I would suppose they do, or will, have them for contingencies such as you described.


With the V22 trials did they also test shipboard handling? i.e. using the lifts and access to the hanger deck or was it all flight trials. It would be nice to know if the Navy won the lottery they could purchase some of these airframes for themselves.


This article is dangerous. I just got a telling off from Mrs OOA for watching Top Gun with my primary school age kids.


Danger zone…


That Super Hornet is a Growler is it not? The wing-tip AN/ALQ-218 and AN/ALQ-99 pods.