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Flown by Royal Navy and Royal Air Force pilots, the Lightning jets are embarking in the 65,000 tonne carrier to conduct operational trials off the East Coast of the USA.
This follows successful developmental trials last year with US Lightning jets, where forces conducted 500 take offs and landings over their 11-week period at sea.
These trials are aimed at ‘end-to-end’ testing of the aircraft and personnel to ensure the aircraft are compatible with the carrier. The tests involve mission planning, arming the aircraft using the ship’s Highly Automated Weapon Handling System, flying missions and debriefing on completion.