HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) Takes to Water as the F-35 Flounders
The largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy launched today, July 17th, weighing in at 65,000 tons and a length of 920ft.
Afloat in the tidal basin at Rosyth, the carrier is expected to host the F-35 'Lightning II' and Merlin helicopters. The ship was designed to accommodate up to 40 aircraft including thirty-six F-35B's and four helicopters. Unlike US aircraft carriers, the HMS Queen Elizabeth does not come equipped with a catapult launching system or arresting gear meaning that all aircraft will be V/STOL.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to be officially commissioned in 2017 with trials completed and her introduction to active duty in 2020. This should provide enough time for the numerous issues plaguing the F-35 to be worked out. The UK is still awaiting delivery of the aircraft as the Lightning II's latest fire issue has prevented it from even being shown at the annual Farnborough air show. With all of the F-35 issues, many have joked that the carrier will end up without any aircraft to launch.