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U.S. May Lease Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier

*HMS Queen Elizabeth

Published - 29 November 2014 by

The United States may lease a new Royal Navy aircraft carrier and equip it with F-35B, Harrier and V-22 Osprey aircraft while the British are waiting for their own F-35 aircraft to be combat ready.

No actual request has been made regarding leasing the HMS Queen Elizabeth by the United States, but letting the United States lease the British aircraft carrier before British F-35 aircraft are ready could be a benefit to the British crew by experiencing actual aircraft operations.

It is rumored that the United States Marine Corps will be offered the opportunity to use the leased aircraft carrier for their own warplanes.

The current schedule shows that it will be at least 2018 before the F-35 will be available for sea trials. At this time it is anticipated that it will be at least late 2020 or early 2021 before the British F-35 aircraft will be able to fly combat missions. There have been some unconfirmed reports that there may be even more delays before the British get the F-35. The British Ministry of Defence says that they have not heard of such reports.

It is anticipated that the British Royal Navy will be operate the HMS Queen Elizabeth sometime in 2017.

Former UK Chief of the Defence Staff General Lord Richards is said to have stated to the effect that it would fill the time from when the aircraft carrier takes to the sea and when enough F-35 aircraft are available to form an operational combat squadron.

Lockheed Martin F-35B

With regard to additional delays in the Lockheed-Martin F-35 programme and the HMS Queen Elizabeth, Shadow Defence Secretary Vernon Coaker said: "This fiasco is a direct result of the Tory Government's botched defence decisions."

"In 2010, against all advice, David Cameron switched the type of aircraft to be flown off the carrier from F-35B to F-35C, only to change his mind back again two years later. That wasted millions of taxpayer pounds and caused this delay in the delivery of aircraft for the Queen Elizabeth carrier. We welcome the co-operation of our US allies in making up for the Tory government's shortfall. But there is no substitute for British-owned aircraft flying off a British operated aircraft carrier."

The U.S. Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Hostage statement that, "If I do not keep that F-22 fleet viable, the F-35 fleet frankly will be irrelevant. The F-35 is not built as an air superiority platform. It needs the F-22", has been widely circulated. The United States will not sell the F-22 to Great Britain.

According to the U.S. Government Accounting Office, the F-35 programme is now US$174.4 billion over budget and subject to further delays unless the U.S. further increases its funding.

More about the Lockheed-Martin F-35 is here.

* Correction to video - the Queen Elizabeth class of aircraft carriers will be the world's third biggest, following the100,000 tonne Nimitz class aircraft carriers currently in operation and the Ford class carriers, the first scheduled for commissioning in 2016.