UK Carrier Strike: Lightning Force at Sea

The UK Lightning Force has embarked on what is arguably its most important mission to date, taking a meaningful complement of F-35Bs to the HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08). Jamie Hunter evaluates this major step towards establishing the new UK carrier strike force.

The three F-35Bs from RAF Marham on the deck of HMS ‘Queen Elizabeth’ shortly after they embarked. All images Crown Copyright unless otherwise stated

Three F-35Bs departed RAF Marham, Norfolk on October 9 bound for Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, as the UK Lightning Force took the next steps towards re-establishing a British carrier strike capability. Seeing them off, RAF Marham Station Commander Gp Capt Jim Beck told AFM: “Today we’ve sent three aircraft from Nos 617 and 207 Squadrons, which will complement three aircraft from No 17 Test and Evaluation Squadron [TES] based at Edwards AFB [California], that will augment a package that’s going to embark HMS Queen Elizabeth as part of the operational test phase of the ship’s development.”

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