What is Westlant 19?

HMS Queen Elizabeth and other naval ships are preparing to embark on an annual military mission, known as Westlant, to the east coast of the US, returning home just before Christmas.
HMS Queen Elizabeth Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA WireHMS Queen Elizabeth Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
HMS Queen Elizabeth Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The aim of the mission is to push both the F-35 Lightning stealth jet and the UK's largest warship to their limits, while developing combat techniques for exploiting the fighter jets’ capabilities. The carrier will be accompanied by HMS Northumberland, HMS Dragon and RFA Tideforce as the support ship. As well as that, the UK's most advanced warship yet will carry a maximum of 40 aircraft- 36 F-35 jets and 4 helicopters. As well as it being a great opportunity to test the carrier and jet's capabilities, it is also an excellent opportunity to strengthen relationships with one of the country's most important allies. During the mission, known under the code name Westlant 19, deck and warfare trials will take place with the jets, as well as training with Merlin and Wildcat helicopters, where they will add to the data gathered in Westlant 18.While in the Washington area, HMS Queen Elizabeth will host the Atlantic Future Forum. This aims to bring the US and UK industry and military together to address the changing nature of warfare.