Stunning images have been released to give an idea of front-line carrier operations in the Royal Navy in just a few years’ time. The team behind HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales have produced life-like graphics of F35 Lightning IIs and Merlin Mk2s operating from the sprawling flight decks of the 65,000-tonne leviathans.
With less than a year to go until she’s launched, this is a stunning glimpse into operations aboard the Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Merlin Mk2s are parked up at the side of the twin islands while deck handlers and Flying Control – ‘Flyco’ in common Royal Navy carrier parlance – choreograph the landing and take-off of F35 Lightning II jump jets.
The new imagery has been crafted by designers at the Aircraft Carrier Alliance and shows the first of the two super-carriers under construction – HMS Prince of Wales will follow Queen Elizabeth – as she will look when in-service, complete with her air group at the end of this decade.
Ian Booth, programme director for the alliance – a collaboration between the RN, MOD and defence firms – says “tremendous progress” is being made collectively to build the sister carriers, which will both be based in Portsmouth.
Turning to the real HMS Queen Elizabeth, the final sponsons are due to be added to her flight deck before the end of September, her mast cap installed in mid-October, the ski ramp to help the Lightning IIs propel skywards completed in November.
The latter work will mark the final act in the assembly process of the ship – outwardly at any rate.
She’s due to be ‘launched’ next summer in a ceremony at Rosyth dockyard where she’s been pieced together, with sections provided by half a dozen yards around the UK; in all some 10,000 people across the land are involved in building the two leviathans.
As for her air power, the Merlin Mk2 is currently undergoing testing and evaluation at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, while the first British pilot – RAF Sqn Ldr Jim Schofield – took off and safely landed a Lightning II aboard a carrier at sea, the USS Wasp, last month.
Press Release, September 27, 2013; Image: Aircraft Carrier Alliance