Many people never thought they’d see it happen, but F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters have finally flown from the deck of the Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Royal Navy Commander Nathan Gray made the historic landing on 25 September and was soon followed by Squadron Leader Andy Edgell, RAF, both pilots being attached to the Integrated Test Force (ITF) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
Shortly afterwards, Commander Gray also claimed the distinction of being the first pilot to fly his aircraft off the ship’s ski jump.
The UK Defence Secretary also publicly announced that the future of the assault ships Albion and Bulwark is safe. There had been a great deal of concern that the two ships would be sacrificed in the next round of defence cuts. Unfortunately, with this pair safe from the axe, it has yet to be announced where the next cuts will be made with many expecting further reductions in the fleet of Type 23 frigates.
Included in the package are two contracts worth $9 billion for Flight III configuration Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers. The contracts are split between General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and Huntington Ingalls Industries with the split being four and six ships respectively. The US Navy is placing multi year contracts with an aim to save considerable amounts of money. In this latest round of contracts the US Navy has estimated the savings to be in the order of $700million.
The first steel plates in the construction of the first member of a new class of fleet oilers for the US Navy has taken place at the San Diego shipyard of General Dynamics NASSCO. The future USNS John Lewis will be the first of an initial batch of six similar ships. The ships will take the names of civil and human rights icons.
In total, the class will eventually total 17 ships and replace the existing Henry J Kaiser class oilers.
The second Project 677 Lada class diesel electric hunter killer submarine has been launched by St Petersburg’s Admiralty Shipyards on 20 September. The Kronstadt’s construction was started as far back as 2005, but was suspended and only restarted in 2013.
The Lada class is reputed to have exceptionally low acoustic signatures because of a special anti sonar coating called Molniya (Lightning). This feature of the boats has led some naval commentators to call these submarines ‘Mini Red October class’.
Progress on the construction of the latest large patrol corvette Pola was progressing well in late August when the last section of the ship arrived from the Netherlands where it was built by Damen Shipyard.
The Pola is under construction at ASITIMAR 20 shipyard in Oaxaca. The vessel was subsequently launched on 23 November.
Pola is based on the Dutch shipyard’s SIGMA 10514 design and is expected to enter service in 2020 complete with Harpoon anti ship missiles, Mk54 Mod 0 lightweight torpedoes and Evolved Seasparrow anti aircraft missiles.