After arriving aboard Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in October this year, UK-owned F-35B stealth fighter jets have now completed the first phase of their trials.
According to the Royal Navy, the jets disembarked after five weeks of operations off the US east coast.
The test period included further flying with USMC F-35B short-takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft.
These trials are aimed at ‘end-to-end’ testing of the aircraft and personnel to ensure the aircraft are compatible with the carrier. The tests involve mission planning, arming the aircraft using the ship’s highly automated weapon handling system, flying missions and debriefing on completion.
The UK intends to buy a total 138 F-35B jets for its air force and navy.
After all developmental and operational tests are completed, the first of two 65,000-ton aircraft carriers will achieve initial operational capability. This is expected to take place in 2020 while a first operational deployment is scheduled for 2021.