Britain’s two new aircraft carriers have been conducting simultaneous F-35B fast jet operations for the first time – thousands of miles apart.
Separated by 7,000 miles, HMS Prince of Wales in the North Sea and HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Pacific have been launching and recovering the stealth strike fighter on round-the-clock sorties.
Until now, the ships have embarked the fifth-generation jets but never have the two 65,000-tonne behemoths launched the fighters from their flight decks at the same time.
That’s now changed with HMS Prince of Wales exercising with the RAF’s 207 Squadron in waters close to the UK, while, on the other side of the world, HMS Queen Elizabeth carries out flying operations over the Pacific with her jets from 617 Squadron and VMFA-211 of the US Marine Corps.
“This is an extraordinary achievement for the Royal Navy and represents the true global reach we have in this current era,” said First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin.
“It demonstrates the enduring strength of our alliances and partnerships and is the result of decades of work and dedication to achieve this feat with the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers.”
Three UK F-35Bs from 207 Squadron are currently on board HMS Prince of Wales as she goes through the final demanding stages of becoming fully operational this autumn.