Her Majesty’s Minister for Defence Procurement, Mr Philip Dunne, made a quiet announcement in an answer to a parliamentary question today.
Asked by Labour MP Andrew Gwynne how many F-35 Joint Strike Fighters would be needed to meet initial operating capability, Dunne informed the house that the Ministry of Defence will consider the jet to be operational on the delivery of the fifth aircraft, of eight ordered.
“Of the eight F-35B aircraft that the UK has so far ordered, three will undertake operational test and evaluation flying. The remaining five will contribute to the Initial Operating Capability.”
The F-35’s custom built carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth is said to be able to launch aircraft every 30 seconds, which will, by our calculations, allow the £3bn ship to get the nation’s entire maritime fast jet presence in the air in under three minutes. Talk about service.
Of course when HMS Prince of Wales comes into service, that will be an impressive 2.5 planes per carrier.