As the eyes of the world turn to watch HMS Queen Elizabeth in her first-of-class F-35B jet flight trials, we reflect on our role in getting Britain’s biggest ever warship to sea.
Having just returned from the United States where I had the pleasure of visiting HMS Queen Elizabeth, it was extremely satisfying to see all of our collective hard work paying dividends. She looked splendid, a real feather in the cap of the Royal Navy and UK industry.
Getting to this stage was no small feat. Over a 24 week period this year we have delivered a huge amount of work, fitting the carrier with the systems and equipment she needs to fly the F-35B Lightning, the latest addition to the UK’s fleet of frontline combat aircraft.
This work package included upgrades to her software, the installation of fixed-wing aircraft landing aids, a communications system that allows the ship to 'talk' to both RAF Marham and Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on the F-35 programme in the U.S, and a myriad of other equipment that ensures the carrier and the aircraft can work together.
The volume of work our team has delivered readying her has been a challenging one, as illustrated by the following stats:
- 400 workers on-board every day
- 4,000 individual tasks completed, from painting the flight deck to maintaining the engines right through to fitting over 12,000 LED light fittings
- 20 additional equipments fitted - these included everything from landing aids (lights and cameras on the flight deck) to a dishwasher and accommodation upgrades for the ship’s 1,500 crew
- 1,100 sub-contractor tasks contracted and delivered – from painting to fire safety equipment installation and life-raft maintenance
- 51 key supply chain partners managed – provision of valuable labour to install everything from flooring and insulation to scaffolding
Achieving another significant programme milestone has been hugely satisfying for the whole team, seeing the ship depart for flight trials was a great achievement and I look forward to working with the Royal Navy, Ministry of Defence and industry partners as we establish ‘business as usual’ operations for this first-of-class carrier.
Alongside our own efforts in Maritime Services, the flight trials are a huge milestone for our colleagues in BAE Systems, Inc. involved in the development and production of the F-35B, and its integration and testing with HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Supporting the UK in its preparation and delivery of these trials has been a huge undertaking across our Air, Maritime and Intelligence & Security teams and a hugely proud moment for us all.
Leading the build project of HMS Queen Elizabeth has to be, without doubt, the pinnacle of my career. On this occasion, with her first-of-class F-35B jet flight trials, I’m sure my feeling of pride is shared throughout the country.
Since HMS Queen Elizabeth first entered Portsmouth, our team has been extremely busy carrying out works to enable her to get ready for her first fast jet flight trials.
Being part of an enterprise across the armed forces, Government and industry to deliver such an important capability is both an honour and a privilege and we look forward to the future, as Portsmouth becomes home to two aircraft carriers.
The BAE Systems, Inc team was proud to join our UK colleagues in supporting this critical milestone. Our team has years of experience gained through our support of the multi-year test phase of the F-35B performed at Pax River US Naval Air Station.
We leveraged this knowledge and deployed flight test engineers and a test pilot who provided support for the duration of the First of Class Flight Trials. This accomplishment was an outstanding moment for our team and we look forward to providing additional support as the programme moves forward.