Commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth says jets on the carrier will be ‘final piece of the puzzle’

'Ant' Middleton with, left, Claire Middleton from Lee-on-the Solent and, right, her friend Rae Gamblin from Gosport ''Picture by: Malcolm Wells

Hundreds turn out to meet elite soldier and TV star Ant Middleton at Portsmouth book store

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EMBARKING the F-35 stealth fighter jets onto HMS Queen Elizabeth for flight trials next year will be the ‘final piece of the jigsaw’, the ship’s commanding officer has said.

Captain Jerry Kyd and his crew of around 700, plus 200 contractors, are carrying out the second phase of sea trials – putting the radios and radars on the £3bn behemoth through their paces.

HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth for the first time to go on sea trials''Picture: Malcolm Wells (171030-0346)

HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth for the first time to go on sea trials''Picture: Malcolm Wells (171030-0346)

He said it has been a ‘very successful period’ and hoped the 65,000-tonne vessel will soon return to Portsmouth.

Her commissioning ceremony will take place on Thursday, December 7, when The Queen will visit the city.

Next year flight trials using the F-35 jets, Britain’s new multimillion pound warplanes, will take place from the four-acre flight deck.

Pressed on how the crew are feeling ahead of that next step, Captain Kyd said: ‘We have worked so hard to get this ship to where it is now and built.

‘But it is the final piece of the jigsaw – getting the aircraft embarked.

‘The F35-B joint strike fighter is the pinnacle of what we have this aircraft carrier for.

‘There is massive excitement, we can’t wait to get on there in the United States next summer.’