Military Aviation

First shipborne rolling vertical landing on HMS Prince of Wales by F-35B

F-35B aboard HMS Prince of Wales

An F-35 Lightning II test pilot performed the first roll-on landing of an F-35B fighter jet aboard the HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier off the US Eastern Seaboard Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023.

Marine Maj. Paul Gucwa piloted the short takeoff vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the 5th generation strike aircraft for the first shipborne rolling vertical landing (SRVL) aboard HMS Prince of Wales (R09), Britain’s biggest warship, as part of developmental test phase 3 (DT-3) flight trials during the ship’s deployment to the Western Atlantic for WESTLANT 2023.

A controller watches from his position in flying control (FLYCO) one of the build-up flights for the first F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft shipborne rolling vertical landing (SRVL) aboard HMS Prince of Wales (R09) aircraft carrier in the Western Atlantic Oct. 17, 2023.

“It was a wonderful experience to see our training and preparation lead to a predictable and comfortable outcome.” Gucwa said. “Expanding on the initial work the team executed during DT-1 and DT-2 is the next step in providing these types of increased capabilities to the warfighter, which is what flight test is all about” he said in the article F-35 test pilot flies first roll-on landing aboard HMS Prince of Wales by Michael Land, F-35 Lightning II Pax River ITF.

Shipborne rolling vertical landing

F-35B pilots usually approach the carrier from the port side to a position adjacent to a landing spot. They then transition, or fly sideways, to the landing spot and land vertically. More than looking and sounding different, the landing technique could lead to tactics where a pilot returns to the ship with heavier loads, for example more fuel or weapons.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-35B Lightning II VMFA-121 Green Knights, VK00, 169164 / 2015

HMS Prince of wales

HMS Prince of wales is a Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier and it is one of the most powerful surface warships ever constructed in the UK.

Her flight deck is 70 metres wide and 280 metres long – enough space for three football pitches – and she holds 45 days’ worth of food in stores.

She will have a crew complement (minimum crew) of around 700, increasing to around 1,600 with aircraft onboard.

HMS Prince of Wales’ size and scope is awe-inspiring – she can embark 36 F-35B and four Merlin Helicopters.

A controller watches from his position in flying control (FLYCO) one of the build-up flights for the first F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft shipborne rolling vertical landing (SRVL) aboard HMS Prince of Wales (R09) aircraft carrier in the Western Atlantic Oct. 17, 2023.

HMS Prince of Wales’ crew will have an expansive range of skills, so she will be able to meet the widest range of tasks around the world, including:

  • Humanitarian relief, saving lives across the seven seas
  • High intensity warfighting
  • Fighting terrorism

Photo credit: Mike Jackson, U.S Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and Crown Copyright

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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