Three nations fighter aircraft launch from one aircraft carrier for first time in history

Three nations fighter aircraft launch from one aircraft carrier for first time in history

By Dario Leone
Nov 24 2021
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With British, American and Italian F-35B jets taking off from HMS Queen Elizabeth, this marked the first time that three nations have flown jets from the same aircraft carrier.

Italian F-35B Lightning II short takeoff-vertical landing (STOVL) stealth jets launched from the Italian carrier Cavour have landed, refuelled, and relaunched from British carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

According to UK Defence Journal, with British, American and Italian F-35B jets taking off from HMS Queen Elizabeth, this marked the first time that three nations have flown jets from the same aircraft carrier.

Following months in the Indo-Pacific region as part of her global deployment, HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently in the Mediterranean heading west back to the UK. In doing so the ship has continued her programme of working with allied nations and partners, say the Royal Navy.

According to the Royal Navy, Italy is the third nation to land F-35Bs on the carrier.

“On completion of the refuelling, HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH launched an Italian Navy F-35, Italian Air Force F-35, USMC F-35 and finally an F-35B from the UK 617 squadron. The jets then operated in the skies above the two carriers developing their interoperability and mutual understanding of procedures. HMS Queen Elizabeth is the deployed flagship for Carrier Strike Group 21(CSG21). CSG21 will see the ship along with the Strike Group work with over 40 countries from around the world. The Strike Group will operate and exercise with other Countries Navies and Air Forces during the 7-month deployment.”

Three nations fighter aircraft launch from one aircraft carrier for first time in history

Aside from the US and UK, Italy is the only other NATO partner to operate the B-model of the F-35. With the flights by the Italian F-35Bs, HMS Queen Elizabeth has now hosted onboard jets from three different countries since leaving home in May. Italy is the first European NATO partner to land on the UK flight deck.

Royal Navy Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group, said that “The fact that US, Italian and UK F-35Bs are able to fly to and from one another’s decks offers tactical agility and strategic advantage to NATO.”

Noteworthy, as reported by UK Defence Journal, earlier in the deployment F-35 jets from HMS Queen Elizabeth intercepted Russian jets in the eastern Mediterranean more than 30 times as part of the Carrier Strike Group. Now that the vessels have returned to the region after sailing to the Pacific and back it appears Russian interest has been renewed.

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Russia in fact had shown a renewed interest in HMS Queen Elizabeth and its F-35 jets as they headed home through the Mediterranean, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace explained to Sky News

“It is not a secret the Russians have been very interested in the carrier group both on the way out from the United Kingdom – as she’s sailed and her group towards the Pacific – and now she is back in the Mediterranean.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest and most powerful vessel ever constructed for the Royal Navy. The ship is capable of carrying up to 40 aircraft.

The flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth is used to launch the new F-35B Joint Strike Fighter fast jet. Four fighter jets can be moved from the hangar to the flight deck in just one minute.

The ship’s two propellers weigh 33 tonnes each. The powerplant behind them generates enough power to run 1000 family cars.

Photo credit: Crown Copyright

Lockheed F-35 Lightning II model
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Dario Leone

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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