HMS Prince of Wales will be departing from Portsmouth at noon today for another round of F-35 trials.
The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales is leaving the UK to take part in exercises with the the F-35 stealth jet. The 65,000-tonne vessel will sail out from the Portsmouth naval base around lunchtime today (August 26) to head for the east coast of the United States.
The £3.2bn ship, which began its sea trials in 2019, has a 700-strong crew and is a NATO command vessel. It will carry out trials with the F-35 stealth jet, the most advanced warplane ever built, as part of the Westlant series of exercises and is expected to remain at sea for several months.
HMS Prince of Wales has a flight deck measuring 280 metres in length and 70 metres wide. It recently completed a NATO mission alongside the Spanish aircraft carrier Juan Carlos I in the Gulf of Cadiz. The NATO task force is made up of 20 ships from six nations. As a NATO command ship, HMS Prince of Wales is prepared to deploy rapidly as part of the alliance’s response force.
The aim of Westlant, say the Royal Navy, is to push both the F-35 and the carrier to their limits.
“Having gathered the data and experiences required to ‘write the manual’ for safely operating the F-35, the focus of Westlant now shifts to developing combat techniques for exploiting the fighter’s awesome capabilities in action and working as part of a carrier task group”, adding that “Westlant is an excellent opportunity to strengthen ties with one of our most important allies: the United States. Westlant allows the Royal Navy to bring together the aircraft with a whole carrier task group to deliver a truly potent force.”