Sep 18, 2015
U.S. Marine F-35Bs Will Operate From British Queen Elizabeth Carriers
Responsible for delivering the two 65,000 ton ships, said that using Marine aircraft and pilots to bolster the U.K.’s nascent carrier strike capability would be a natural extension of coalition doctrine.
Each of the 284 m-long carriers, fitted with a ‘ski jump’ bow ramp instead of the catapults and arrester wires once planned, will accommodate up to 40 aircraft: short takeoff/vertical landing F-35B strike fighters, helicopters, or a blend of fixed-wing and rotary tailored to the mission in hand.
Britain took delivery of its first Lightning II aircraft in 2012 and currently has three; the fourth is due to roll off Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth production line in January 2016.
Britain’s F-35Bs are scheduled to arrive at Marham Air Base in eastern England in mid-2018, achieving initial operating capability by the end of that year. A deployable U.K. carrier strike capability should be ready by late 2020.