500 Movements Scheduled for Late September
UK F-35B LIGHTNING II pilots are intensifying training from ground-based ski-jump ramps in preparation for taking the aircraft aboard HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH next month, the Royal Navy announced on 22 August.
Currently undergoing final preparations in the South Coast exercise areas, the carrier will shortly depart for the United States, where 200 engineers and experts from the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Pax River will embark with a myriad of sensors and data recorders to see how the state-of-the-art aircraft perform in various weather conditions/sea states and carrying various payloads.
Four test pilots – one RN, one RAF, one USMC and a BAE Systems pilot, formerly a Fleet Air Arm officer – will be responsible for bringing two F-35Bs onboard HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH: some 500 take offs and landings are programmed for the trials, which will begin in late September. The pilots have been using replica ski-jump ramps in the UK since US warships do not have this feature which, rising some 20ft above the 900ft long flight deck, allows the aircraft to take off at a slower speed and a heavier gross weight than normal.