A supersonic jet fighter is expected to take off from the Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in the UK for the first time after being brought back home aboard following flight trials in the US.
The F35B Lightning jet has been spotted on the flight deck of the 65,000 tonne warship at Portsmouth Naval Base where it returned last week following deployment to the eastern United States.
The aircraft was kept on board the carrier because “repair and maintenance” work need to be carried out but the stealth jet is expected to be flown back to RAF Marham – the UK’s F35 base in Norfolk – in the near future.
A Navy spokeswoman said: “Following completion of successful flying trials in the US, one F-35 Lightning remained embarked on HMS Queen Elizabeth in order for repair & maintenance work to be completed.
“The aircraft will return to RAF Marham in the near future.”
The F35B fighter jet is acclaimed as the world’s most advanced jet, has a top speed of 1.6 Mach – 1,200mph – and has a range of 900 nautical miles.
They were deployed for the first time by the UK in reconnaissance missions over Iraq and Syria in the battle against so-called Islamic State in June this year.
The Queen Elizabeth arrived at its home base of Portsmouth last week where it docked alongside its sister ships HMS Prince of Wales which was officially commissioned into the Navy on Tuesday by the Duchess of Cornwall accompanied by the Prince of Wales.