F-35Bs Begin Night Flights on HMS Queen Elizabeth
(Source: Royal Navy; issued Oct. 01, 2018)
Under a full moon and a partial overcast, Royal Air Force F-35B fighters have begun night operations on the Royal Navy carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth off the US Atlantic coast. Night-time flying had only previously been tested in simulators (Royal Navy photo)
NORTH ATLANTIC OCEAN --- F-35 Lightning fighter jets have conducted their first night flying trials off the United Kingdom’s largest warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The aircraft carrier, which first landed F-35 Lightning jets on board last week, is currently conducting flight testing off the east coast of the United States.

Pictures show how the night time trials, which up until now have only been tested in simulators or on the ground, were carried out using state-of-the-art night-vision technology, with the pilots and aircraft handlers successfully guiding the supersonic fighter jets onto the flight deck.

Some trials were also carried out without night vision technology to ensure the jets’ capability in any eventuality.

Royal Navy Cmdr. James Blackmore, also known as Wings, the Commander Air on HMS Queen Elizabeth, said: “The concept of night flying isn’t difficult for us—what we are looking at is what the new lights on board HMS Queen Elizabeth look like at night from the perspective of the F-35s.

“We’ve already done that with the rotary wing aircraft earlier this year, but now it’s crucial that we understand how suitable they are for the F-35s to operate at night from the carrier. First indications are that they are in good order for both the aided and unaided perspectives.”

Andrew Maack, the chief test engineer for the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force, the organization responsible for conducting and analyzing the flight trials, said: “In daytime there are cues that tell the pilot’s brain what the relative motion is between the airplane and the ship.

“At night, especially very dark night, all those cues go away and you become dependent on exactly what the lights are and what the sight of those lights looks like. It’s something you can’t translate in your mind ahead of time—you don’t know it until you see it.”

Pilots initially flew in using only ambient light and the lights on the carrier’s deck before later conducting landings using the night-vision capability in their helmets.

HMS Queen Elizabeth has been kitted out with specially-designed LED lightning on her flight deck to aid night time landings.

Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray and Royal Air Force Sq. Ldr. Andy Edgell, both test pilots with the F-35 Pax River ITF, were the first pilots to make history by landing their aircraft on the flight deck of the carrier Sept. 25.

HMS Queen Elizabeth left her home port of Portsmouth, United Kingdom, in August, crossing the Atlantic to conduct the flying trials, as well as training with the U.S. Navy.


Click here for a gallery of related photographs, on the Pentagon’s DVIDS website.

(ends)



F-35B Jets Make First Night Landings on HMS Queen Elizabeth
(Source: British Forces News; posted Oct 03, 2018)
F-35B aircraft have conducted night flying trials on HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time. The tests were carried out with and without the aid of night-vision technology, with the pilots and aircraft handlers successfully guiding the Lightning II fighter jets onto the flight deck.

Pilots initially flew in using only ambient light and the lights on the carrier’s deck before later conducting landings using the night-vision capability in their helmets.

F-35B aircraft landed on the deck of the UK's new aircraft carrier for the first time last week - American F-35B Lightning II aircraft flown by British pilots.

British jets will land on deck when HMS Queen Elizabeth returns to the UK.

Commander James Blackmore is the Commander Air in HMS Queen Elizabeth, who is referred to as simply ‘Wings’ by the ship’s company. He said: "The concept of night flying isn’t difficult for us. What we are looking at is what the new lights on board HMS Queen Elizabeth look like at night from the perspective of the F-35s.

“We’ve already done that with the rotary wing aircraft earlier this year, but now it’s crucial that we understand how suitable they are for the F-35s to operate at night from the carrier."

The stealth F-35 jets flew from HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time last week. Royal Navy Commander Nathan Gray and RAF Squadron Leader Andy Edgell were the first pilots to land the aircraft on the flight deck of the carrier.

Now the flying trials have moved on to the next phase, including the night-time flying which up until now has only been tested in simulators or on the ground.

HMS Queen Elizabeth has been installed with specially-designed LED lightning on her flight deck to ensure light does not become too bright in night vision.

Pilots will now test their ability to land with and without night-vision assistance.

Andrew Maack, the Chief Test Engineer for the Integrated Test Force – the organisation responsible for analysing the flight trials – added: “In daytime there are cues that tell the pilot’s brain what the relative motion is between the airplane and the ship.

“At night, especially very dark night, all those cues go away and you become dependent on exactly what the lights are and what the sight of those lights looks like. "It’s something you can’t translate in your mind ahead of time – you don’t know it until you see it."

The F-35B fighter jets are the most advanced in the British military with a top speed of 1,200 mph and a price tag of £190 million each.

The aircraft arrived at their Marham home for the first time earlier this year, with a further five arriving in August.

Britain now has 16 of a planned 138 F-35B jets.

Rather than the traditional catapult launch, the F-35B will take off from HMS Queen Elizabeth via a ski jump ramp due to the jet's short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) capability.

The carrier will also be joined by Commando Merlin Mark 4 helicopters during the trials.

The return of ‘Carrier Strike’ to the UK comes eight years after a fighter jet last landed on a British carrier.

-ends-




prev next

Official reports See all