2018 the rebirth of UK maritime air power

With the first new carrier working up, F-35Bs preparing to come home and Merlins being modified, 2018 is set to be a busy year for the UK’s maritime air power capabilities, as Alan Warnes explains.

Intel Report

US Marine Corps pilot Lieutenant Colonel Brian Bann walks down the flight line after landing a UK F-35B at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. The UK has taken delivery of its 14th F-35B Lightning II which flew into Beaufort, South Carolina in December 2017 to take its place as part of the Lightning Fleet, set to operate from the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and RAF Marham. Cpl Benjamin McDonald/US Marine Corps

’In association with ….’Airforces Intelligence

Integration of UK weapons on the F-35B continues. Here, a US Marine Corps pilot assigned to the US Air Force’s 461st Flight Test Squadron releases a Paveway IV precision-guided munition from an F-35B over Edwards AFB’s Precision Impact Range Area on March 1, 2017. Darin Russell/Lockheed Martin
HMS ‘St Albans’ (foreground), with the Russian frigate ‘Admiral Gorshkov’ in the background, as seen through the Wescam sensor of an RNAS Culdrose Merlin HM2. The Royal Navy frigate escorted the Russian warship through the North Sea and areas of UK interest on Christmas Day. Crown Copyright

The last 12 months have seen the UK’s armed forces going through another period of consolidation. With Iraq and Afghanistan deployments no longer the focus of military commanders, planning is shifting towards contingency operations.

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