Enemies will ‘think twice’ about war with Britain when biggest ever Royal Navy ship sets sails in 2020, says the captain of the 72,000-tonne vessel
- Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth weighs 72,000 tons and is 932 ft long, part of a £6.2billion international project
- Captain Simon Petitt says it will be the most ‘potent’ weapon against ISIS when it finally goes into service in 2020
- Next year it will take F-35B Lightening II stealth fighter to Gulf in trials, where they can mount attacks from carrier
Britain’s enemies will ‘think twice’ before they start a war after watching the biggest ever Royal Navy ship coming over the horizon, its captain said yesterday.
Speaking aboard aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth – which is 72,000 tons and 932 feet long – Captain Simon Petitt said he was standing on the most ‘potent’ conventional weapon against Islamic State.
Next year it will deploy for sea trials before most likely heading to the Gulf, where it will take the most advanced stealth fighter jet in the world – the F-35B Lightening II jet – to the fight.
Britain’s enemies will ‘think twice’ before they start a war after watching the biggest ever Royal Navy ship (pictured in the dry dock in Rosyth near Edinburgh) coming over the horizon, its captain said yesterday
Next year the ship (pictured in a computer-generatd image) will deploy for sea trials before most likely heading to the Gulf, where it will take the most advanced stealth fighter jet in the world to the fight
The carrier and its sister ship HMS Prince of Wales (pictured together in a computer-generated image) are part of a £6.2billion project to allow the UK to help other nations ‘police the world’, Cptn Petitt said
Those warplanes will deploy ‘deep into Iraq’ but the formidable aircraft carrier will also be able to drop Royal Marines on the beaches in Libya and send Apache helicopters to take out targets.
As the F-35 jet bombs bunkers and hideouts on land, the carrier will use its radar to track objects the size of snooker balls 20km away, and can fire its defensive machine guns at 6,000 rounds per minute to destroy incoming threats.
The carrier, along with its sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, is part of a £6.2billion project to allow the UK to help other nations ‘police the world’, Cptn Petitt said.
He said: ‘It is about stopping wars rather than starting them. If someone does want to start a war I think they might think twice if they see one of these ships coming over the horizon.
‘We have never seen these ships before. It will change the way the navy does its business.
‘It is all part of taking your place in the world, the policing of the world.’
Each carrier can deploy up to 36 Lightning II aircraft – but Britain will have only one squadron of F-35s to fly off HMS Queen Elizabeth – about 16 jets – when it enters service in 2020.
Telephones sit in the control tower on the ship, which can deploy up to 36 Lightning II aircraft – but Britain will have only one squadron of F-35s, equivalent to about 16 jets – when it enters service in 2020
This has led to claims that when the second carrier comes into service 18 months later it would be a ‘gigantic white elephant’ – with no UK assets to fly off it.
By 2023, the Ministry of Defence has committed to having 24 of the jets in service – which will be tasked with obliterating UK enemies with laser-guided missiles and bombs.
As a result, the US are expected to make use of the carrier with their aircraft – as may other countries such as Italy who eventually buy the jets.
Cptn Petitt said the carriers, currently being finished off in Rosyth, Scotland – and to be based in Portsmouth – will have ‘people of all nations’ on them and will pack an ‘enormous punch’.
He said: ‘The British military is already one of the premier fighting forces of the world, this will certainly add enormous punch into the capability we’ve got and enormous punch to the capability the Royal Navy has got.
‘There will be army and RAF and people of all nations on this ship throughout its fifty year life.’
Asked about its future missions, he said: ‘I can certainly see it fighting against Islamic State in the future.’
He said it was the most ‘potent strategic weapon bar the continuous at sea deterrent’ against Islamic State – and the most potent conventional weapon to fight the jihadists.
Speaking about its tasks, he said: ‘If we look back into our recent past, if you imagine the Gulf War and the American carriers put aircraft deep into to Iraq to bomb Hussain’s bunkers and strategic targets we can do that.
‘If you imagine Sierra Leone where we dropped Royal Marines onto the beaches we can do that. If you can imagine Libya where we had apache dealing with the more tactical targets near the beach we can do that as well.
‘So it’s all about flexibility all about lots of different missions, that’s what the carrier offers.
‘It’s a broad swathe of aviation and naval missions.’
Captain Petitt said: ‘If we look back into our recent past, if you imagine the Gulf War and the American carriers put aircraft deep into to Iraq to bomb Hussain’s bunkers and strategic targets we can do that’
Asked what Vladimir Putin would make of it, he said: ‘I think he will be looking very carefully at this.’
The F35 jet, billed as the world’s most sophisticated aircraft, cost around £100million each.
The pilot’s screen will include real-time information from other F-35s flying for friendly foreign nations.
Between them at any moment they will be covering tens of miles, with a 360-degree picture of what is going on around them both in the air and on the ground.
The jet has the ability to evade enemy air defences by having the lowest possible radar signature.
It uses radar-absorbent coatings, as well as flat surfaces, sharp edges and fibre mats to deflect radar signals, allowing it to strike the enemy before they even know the aircraft is nearby.
It is expected to be the backbone of Allied air power for the next 50 years on the aircraft carriers capable of deploying anywhere in the world.
At its peak, there can be 108 sorties -missions – flown off the aircraft carrier each day.
There are about ten fast jet sorties flown each day from RAF Akrotiri currently.