RAF F-35Bs land on HMS Prince of Wales for the first time

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As the warship began sea trials, a squadron of Royal Air Force and Royal Navy F-35B Lightning II fighter jets first landed on the Royal Navy’s latest aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales.

The aircraft carrier left Portsmouth naval base on June 6, 2021, to begin a new sea trial. A group of British Army WAH-64 helicopters first landed for the first time on the Prince of Wales, before being joined on June 9, 2021, by the squadron of F-35B fighters.

“This prodigious achievement on the deck of HMS Prince of Wales is a significant milestone in the Royal Navy’s re-birth of Carrier Strike Group operations,” said Captain Darren Houston

Commanding Officer of HMS Prince of Wales. “It is a tangible reflection of the enormous collective effort from the aircraft carrier enterprise to deliver the Royal Navy’s second aircraft carrier.”

The first landing of the F-35B on the Prince of Wales battleship marked the Royal Navy’s possession of two aircraft carriers capable of operating 5th generation stealth fighters. Her sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth was commissioned in December 2017 and became the flagship of the Royal Navy in January 2021. The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier is the biggest warship ever built in Europe. 

“With all the training that we have previously undertaken with HMS Queen Elizabeth, we are now looking forward to using that experience and knowledge working with HMS Prince of Wales as she moves towards her full operational capability.” added the F-35B Pilot Will of the joint RAF and Royal Navy Operational Conversion Unit Number 207 Squadron.

On October 13, 2019, F-35B fighter jets of the joint Number 617 Squadron of the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy landed on the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier for the first time.

While HMS Prince of Wales was preparing for the sea trial, HMS Queen Elizabeth rendezvoused with the French carrier Charles de Gaulle for Exercise Gallic Strike from June 1 to 3, 2021, in Western Mediterranean. The goal of the exercise was to test interoperability between the two warships in a dual carrier mission.


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