HMS Queen Elizabeth’s F35B stealth fighter jets to be deployed later this year, MoD confirms

A SQUADRON of fighter jets that will embark on the Royal Navy’s biggest warship ever, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will soon start their first overseas deployment.

Monday, 8th April 2019, 7:57 pm
Updated Monday, 8th April 2019, 8:02 pm
An F-35B Lightning stealth jet. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The UK's F-35B Lightning stealth fighter jets will be deployed in Cyprus, to allow the RAF and Royal Navy to get to grips with maintaining and flying the aircraft in an unfamiliar environment.

Currently, there are 17 fighter jets in the UK’s possession, with defence secretary Gavin Williamson pledging a total of 138 will be purchased.

He said: ‘These formidable fighters are a national statement of our intent to protect ourselves and our allies from intensifying threats across the world.

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An F-35B Lightning stealth jet. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

‘This deployment marks an important milestone in this game-changing aircraft's journey to becoming fully operational.’

First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones said the move was an exciting step forward in the UK’s efforts to bring HMS Queen Elizabeth up to fighting strength.

He added: ‘This first overseas deployment of these world-beating British F-35B aircraft to RAF Akrotiri, together with their embarkation in HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time in the autumn of this year, are important milestones to prove their readiness for deployed operations anywhere in the world in defence of our national interests.’

The F-35 is the first to combine radar-evading stealth technology with supersonic speeds and the ability to conduct short take-offs and vertical landings – operating from land and sea.

The first of the F-35s touched down in the UK in June 2018, and it was announced in January that they are ready to be deployed on operations.