F-35B set to take off in Portsmouth after being sneaked into city on Royal Navy's aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth

PREPARATIONS are being made for a state-of-the-art stealth jet to take off from a £3.1bn aircraft carrier in Portsmouth Harbour for the first time.

Monday, 9th December 2019, 12:27 pm
Updated Monday, 9th December 2019, 1:19 pm

The hi-tech F-35B Lightning was ferried into Portsmouth inside HMS Queen Elizabeth last week, following the warship’s three-month deployment to the USA.

Hidden away inside the ship and not shown to the press during the aircraft carrier’s homecoming, the £80m jet is understood to have been suffering from a technical issue.

Needing to be repaired, the British-owned warplane was unable to fly back from the east coast of the United States to its base at RAF Marham, Norfolk.

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The jet has now been revealed to the public following a period of maintenance inside Queen Elizabeth’s expansive hangar, and has today been on display on the aircraft carrier’s flight deck.

Dispelling rumours the F-35 was due to fly today, the Royal Navy confirmed to The News it would take off from the carrier, inside the harbour ‘this side of Christmas’, weather depending.

A spokeswoman added: ‘Following completion of successful flying trials in the US, one F-35 Lightning remained embarked on HMS Queen Elizabeth in order for repair and maintenance work to be completed.

An F-35 pictured on the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth, with HMS Prince of Wales and the Spinnaker Tower in the background. Photo: Royal Navy

‘The aircraft will return to RAF Marham in the near future.’

The F-35B was one of six British jets to have flown off the 280m-long warship during her deployment to America this year.

Known as a ‘fifth generation warplane’, the F-35 will use the launch ramp to take off. It’s not known if it will do a flypast of Portsmouth before it heads north to RAF Marham.

The hi-tech jets, which can evade radar and fight behind enemy lines, can land vertically on a ship much like the former Harrier Jump Jet.

HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived last week in Portsmouth and was welcomed by thousands of people.

Last month, her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, also arrived in the city for the first time.

Prince of Wales is due to be commissioned into the navy tomorrow during a service that is expected to be attended by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.