Royal Navy: HMS Prince of Wales' fully laden F-35 fighter jet engages "beast mode" on USA deployment
and live on Freeview channel 276
A fully loaded F-35 fighter jet belonging to the crew of HMS Prince of Wales was put through her paces this week. The aircraft was marshalled from the flight deck and equipped to its maximum capabilities, according to a Royal Navy spokesperson.
They said: “It’s known in naval aviation parlance as ‘beast mode’: every pylon occupied by a weapon, the internal bomb bay bristling. Fully loaded, the F-35B can deliver 22,000lb of destructive and defensive power: air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles and conventional and laser-guided bombs.”
The huge payload is the equivalent of the heaviest bomb carried by a WW2 Lancaster bomber – known as the earthquake bomb. In this test, the specially-modified F-35B from the US Navy’s Integrated Test Force was loaded with a combination of inert 500lb Paveway IV laser-guided bombs and inert 1,000lb Paveways in the weapons bay.
While carrying this massive payload, the jet might need a full run-up to the ski jump to get airborne, compared to taking off from the usual 350ft marker. This may involve the pilot setting off from near the end of the flight deck.
The test was the first time a full run up was carried out on either HMS Prince of Wales or HMS Queen Elizabeth, while also being the inaugural exercise where practice bombs were dropped from an aircraft launched from the vessel. Captain of the Flight Deck Warrant Officer 1 John Etherington was the sailor who gave the all clear to the pilots.
He said: “It was impressive, launching the jet, all bombed up from the back of the flight deck. It’s exciting to see us pushing the boundaries of UK naval aviation.” US Marine Corps pilots Major Paul Gucwa and Lieutenant Colonel Mike Lippert were at the controls of the F-35s.
It was the fourth time Lt. Col Lippert has worked with the UK’s carrier force, after previously working on HMS Queen Elizabeth. He said: “It’s a pleasure to see the continued progress in operating capability – there has been undeniable growth and progress.
"Major Gucwa and I took great pleasure in continuing to expand the warfighting capacity of Britain’s biggest warship.” HMS Prince of Wales is continuing operations after leaving Portsmouth in September.