The Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has completed the first round of First of Class Flight Trials (FOCFT) with the Lockheed Martin F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the JSF.
The Development Testing (DT-1) trials were conducted off the US east coast from September 25 to October 16, and comprised two instrumented F-35Bs from the multi-national F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF).
The first landings aboard were conducted by Cmdr Nathan Gray of the Royal Navy, and Royal Air Force pilot SqnLdr Andy Edgell. The UK’s embarked F-35B capability will be jointly operated by RN and RAF pilots and crews when deployed operationally.
“One of the proudest moments for me has been to fly the first Shipborne Rolling Vertical Landing or SRVL,” BAE Systems F-35 test pilot, Peter ‘Wizzer’ Wilson said in a company release.
“This is a new landing method which is unique to the F-35B and the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers and involves landing with higher forward speed like a normal airplane, but without the braking assistance provided by an arresting gear and hook required for a conventional carrier landing.
“Our test team, the F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF), is made up of technicians, maintainers, engineers, support staff and test pilots from the UK and US and from industry including BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin, and many of the members of the ITF are taking part in these trials.”
The trials saw the two aircraft conduct 98 ski-jump launches, 96 vertical landings, and 2 shipborne rolling vertical landings, and two inert GBU-12 weapons were also released during one of the flights.