February 2, 2023
Pictured, F-35B from Royal Air Force 207 Squadron. HMS Prince of Wales, Britain's newest aircraft carrier, is another step closer to full operational capability today, as the world leading F-35B Lightning stealth fighter landed on the flight deck of the 65,000-tonne leviathan for the first time off the UK coast. Squadron Leader Will of the 207 Squadron RAF became the first ever fixed wing pilot to land on the carrier. The sky was blue, and the sea was calm as history was made. HMS Prince of Wales, steamed into position to accept the aircraft which touched down onto the vast Flight Deck with precision, amongst an air of excitement from the ship’s crew. The jet and ship were operating together in order to conduct a range of tests known as Sea Acceptance Trials. These test the ship’s ability to not only receive and launch the jets but also maintain near continuous air operations. 207 Squadron Train the next generation of Lightning pilots from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. Based at RAF Marham it is the joint RAF and Royal Navy Operational Conversion Unit for Lightning. Started as 7 Naval Air Squadron in 1916. Previous aircraft flown include the Airco DH.9A, Lancaster, Valiant and Tucano.

Prince of Wales Breaks Down

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£3 billion aircraft carrier breaks down on its way to America after refit

The Royal Navy £3 billion aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales broke down Sunday as it set sail for the North American coast to partake in naval exercises with the United States Navy.

HMS Prince of Wales insignia

HMS Prince of Wales, the second of the Royal Navy’s two aircraft carriers, was experiencing an “emerging mechanical issue”, a spokesperson said. “The problem is being investigated.”

The carrier, which became fully operational only last year, is reportedly anchored south east of the Isle of Wight while the investigation is carried out.

Anchored. The 900ft carrier anchors off the Isle of Wight to investigate an ’emerging mechanical issue’ CREDIT: Dave Hartley

HMS Prince of Wales returned to Portsmouth in June after being involved in Spanish naval exercises off their Atlantic coast, boosting security and NATO allies’ ability to operate together in the region”.

The aircraft carrier was involved in a “display of force” as the aircraft carrier operated with Spanish flagship Juan Carlos I and worked on commanding and controlling the multinational NATO force. The carrier is currently the lead vessel in NATO’s Response Force – which in theory can be deployed anywhere at short notice to react to world events.

“HMS Prince of Wales remains in the South Coast Exercise Area while conducting investigations into an emerging mechanical issue,” the Royal Navy spokesperson said.

The warship had departed from nearby Portsmouth on Saturday on what was described by the Royal Navy as a mission to “shape the future of stealth jet and drone operations off the coast of North America and in the Caribbean”.  

“Taking the HMS Prince of Wales task group across the Atlantic for the rest of this year will not only push the boundaries of UK carrier operations, but will reinforce our close working relationship with our closest ally.” Commanding Officer, Captain Richard Hewitt said before his ship suffered the breakdown at sea.

“From operating the F35 Lightnings and drones to hosting the Atlantic Future Forum, none of this would be possible without the efforts of the amazing sailors on board, many of which are on their first deployment with the Royal Navy.” he added.

The Queen Elizabeth class carrier just like her sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth carries a maximum of 36 Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II stealth multirole fighters and four AgustaWestland Merlin helicopters.

On this deployment, HMS Prince of Wales carrier task group, deployed with a frigate, tanker and an air group of helicopters and drones.

Source Sky News/Reuters/Royal Navy

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