HMS Queen Elizabeth is now very close to being ready to leave the fitting out basin in Rosyth for around 10 weeks of sea trials. More
This infographic looks at the schedule for delivery of the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers and their embarked aircraft. Prepared using MoD statements and public domain information, some dates are estimates and programs are likely to be subject to change.
The exact dates of the departure of HMS Queen Elizabeth for sea trials and her subsequent arrival in Portsmouth have been subject of intense media speculation. Briefings last year had given the impression that sea trials would probably be conducted in March 2017, although many journalists overlooked the caveat that timings maybe subject to change. It is now clear that the sea trials date has slipped slightly but disappointment over minor delays must be seen in the context of a very ambitious 8-year building project. There have also been various other rumours about the project circulating, some of which are addressed here.
The F-35 Lightning II has proved highly controversial since the program’s conception in the 1990s. There are still those in the UK who would be happy to see the back of it, but the arguments in favour of the aircraft that is an essential part of the RN’s future are overwhelming.
In part 1 of this article we argued that HMS Ocean (LPH) should be retained and then replaced. If this does not happen the official plan is for the RN to operate the Queen Elizabeth class (QEC) aircraft carriers (CVF) in the LPH role. Here we look at how this might work in practice and why this solution is flawed.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (Lightning II) programme has been one of the most controversial defence projects of all time. The decision to abandon CATOBAR for the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers means their credibility rests largely with the effectiveness of the F-35B Lighting II. Born in the internet age where critics can spread negativity in a few clicks, (guilty your honour) the overwhelming public and media perception of the F-35 is of an expensive disaster. Those who dare to champion the aircraft, or are at least willing to give it a chance are ignored, written off as establishment stooges or seen as part of a sinister conspiracy.
Although far from perfect, the decisions made in the SDSR appeared to offer something good for all the UK armed forces. At first glance the RAF appearing strongest; retaining its Tranche 1 Typhoons, orders for F-35s and 9 new P-8 Poseidon aircraft. The Economist breathlessly reported “Spies, special forces and the Royal Air Force are the main winners”. In fact the SDSR was very maritime-centric with the RN the main beneficiary.
Glossy MoD publicity may give the impression the Fleet Air Arm is in rude health with several new types of aircraft coming into service to replace ageing veterans. A new generation of aircraft are indeed being delivered but the actual number of helicopters in RN service will have declined dramatically by 57% (From 194 to 83) in the decade between 2009 and 2019. More
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced in Parliament on June 8 that the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) will report “towards the end of this year.” Taking the name of this exercise at face value, an extreme optimist might expect the defence needs of Britain will be carefully considered, and priorities adjusted in accordance with a grand strategy…More