The UK's Royal Navy and Royal Air Force personnel are at sea, onboard USS WASP for the test of F-35B Lightning II fast jets, UK ministry of Defense announced Wednesday.
Lightning II is a Short Take Off Vertical Landing aircraft. It gives the RAF a multi-role all weather, day and night capability.
Further, it is able to operate from well-established land bases, deployed locations or the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers.
The six United States Marine Corps (USMC) Lightning II aircraft are onboard USS WASP, off the coast of the United States’ Eastern Seaboard.
The aircraft are assessing the ship/air integration and effectiveness across flight operations, communications, maintenance support and logistical supply. Operational Test activity will include carrier qualifications for aircraft take-off and landing, and air combat/air defence missions over sea.
The Royal Navy’s vision for tactical integration of the F-35B into their current arsenal is similar to the Marine Corps’ plan to integrate the F-35 with legacy aircraft, such as the AV-8B Harrier and the F/A-18 Hornet, and gradually phase out legacy aircraft over the coming decades.
Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Neil Mathieson, the UK’s F-35 Ship Integration Lead, said, “By 2020, UK combat airpower will consist of Typhoon and F-35B Lightning II, a highly potent and capable mix of fourth and fifth generation fighter aircraft.
"The F-35 brings a complementary next-generation level of survivability and lethality. This will ultimately provide the UK with an unprecedented level of capability in a single platform.” Mathieson added.
UK F-35B pilots will begin operating the next generation stealth fighter from bases in England starting in 2018, and are on track to fly from Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers in 2020.