back to article US Marine Corps to fly F-35s from HMS Queen Lizzie as UK won't have enough jets

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has confirmed that the US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs from HMS Queen Elizabeth on the aircraft's carrier's maiden operational deployment. He said: “I can welcome the commitment of the United States to deploying F-35s on the first operational deployment of Queen Elizabeth – the HMS Queen …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

    and what will they do when ordered to bomb the White House again?! :D

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

      I believe that last time we set fire to it - rather than bombing it from the air - which would have been rather difficult with the available technology.

      Although as I understand the US Marine Corps' relationship with the other services I'm pretty sure we could persuade them to bomb the Pentagon very easily. If the planes are painted in RAF colours so they don't take the blame, we might even find we have trouble stopping them...

      1. keith_w

        Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

        but they could have tried - Congreve rockets - Rockets red glare etc.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      first dog on the moon commented on F-35 here:-

      h e r e

      sorry, stupid long URL with auth keys etc to access a 562kb jpeg

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        FAIL

        Re: first dog on the moon commented on F-35 here:-

        Hilarious

        Can't handle warm fuel? WTF

        Weapons firing awaiting a software upgrade in 2019?

        Fail for the programme. Not the cartoon.

    3. Graham Marsden

      Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

      > what will they do when ordered to bomb the White House again?!

      I was thinking along similar lines: Who decides the missions and what if there's a difference of opinion? Exactly *who* will be in command?

      RN Captain - We've been ordered to bomb XYZ

      USMC Commander - Sorry, the President says we're not going to do that

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

        USMC Commander - Sorry, the President says we're not going to do that

        US Navy pilots - Bomb something? Fuck yeah!

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

          Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

          "US Navy pilots - Bomb something? Fuck yeah!"

          1. Never, ever tell a US Marine he's "Navy".

          2. Never, ever call a US Navy Aviator a "pilot".

      2. S4qFBxkFFg

        Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

        "I was thinking along similar lines: Who decides the missions and what if there's a difference of opinion? Exactly *who* will be in command?

        RN Captain - We've been ordered to bomb XYZ

        USMC Commander - Sorry, the President says we're not going to do that"

        It's possible there is a document, kept in a filing cabinet in the Captain's cabin, that lists what happens in such a situation (maybe we'll even be able to read it several decades after it ceases to be relevant).

        However, the general idea is probably that the various parties involved hope such a situation doesn't actually occur. In reality, if the UK/USA went to war, any seconded personnel would find themselves allocated different cabins, with nice strong doors that have the locks on the other side. If it was merely a disagreement about bombing a third party, I suspect it's up to the ranking officer.

        1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

          Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

          However, the general idea is probably that the various parties involved hope such a situation doesn't actually occur

          errrr, remember we may have President Trump by then....

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
            Devil

            Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

            President Trump is not an issue. The RAF have developed a missile that homes in on fake tan. This was a top secret MOD crash-program, that came about after the Chiefs of Staff were shown an episode of 'The Only Way is Essex'.

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: I ain't Spartacus Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

              "....a missile that homes in on fake tan...." I hear the USAF was working on a countermeasures pod that spewed out photos of Christina Aguilera, only the Marines kept stealing the photos out of the pods.

          2. SkippyBing Silver badge

            Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

            'However, the general idea is probably that the various parties involved hope such a situation doesn't actually occur'

            There'll be various memoranda of understanding detailing what can and can't be done and what the rules of engagement etc. are. In the same way the US aircraft based in the UK had to get permission to conduct operations against Libya back in the '80s. None of this is particulary new in principle just the specifics of the airbase.

          3. macjules Silver badge

            Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

            My thoughts exactly. Far more likely to be :

            USMC Pilot: "Err, Captain? I've been ordered by President Trump to bomb your carrier unless your Daily Mail pays his wife $150m".

          4. JustNiz

            Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

            You need to stop listening the the blatantly biassed BBC and other media and do your own research. Its really not President "Lets focus on the US at home and not be world police anymore" Trump the rest of the world has to worry about.

            Inform yourself properly about Clinton. Start with looking at how she singlehandedly caused and fucked up the Iraq war and still wants to bomb every country in the middle east until they either salute the US flag or become the Saudis bitches, just because the Saudis already own her from "donating" literally hundreds of millions of $$$ to the Clinton foundation in so-called "campaign contributions".

            1. John Hughes

              Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

              Its really not President "Lets focus on the US at home and not be world police anymore" Trump the rest of the world has to worry about.

              Oh? Not Donald "why do we have nukes if we don't use them" Trump?

              1. veti Silver badge

                Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

                General plea:

                Can we please stop the gargantuan tidal wave of misinformative sewage that is currently passing for a "presidential election campaign" in the USA from infecting every comment thread on anything anywhere?

                We get it, both your choices are awful. We know that neither one of them has ever, as far as documentary evidence can ascertain, told the truth about anything since the beginning of the campaign. We know that whichever one you support, electing the other will mean the end of civilisation as we know it. (Again. Pretty sure I've heard this same story every election cycle since at least 2000, but never mind that.)

                So when someone digs at one candidate or the other - just let it go. You can't wrestle a pig and come out smelling of anything but shit.

                This has been a public service announcement. Thank you.

            2. Count Erpoint

              ...

              Donald?

            3. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

              " Its really not President "Lets focus on the US at home and not be world police anymore" Trump the rest of the world has to worry about."

              You don't think US isolationism is dangerous for the world? Let me see here....

              US isolates under Trump, tightens border control and immigration. Trump further (as he has stated) starts to refuse UN mandates and reduces NATO involvement, citing non-interference overseas and withdrawing US troops across the board.

              Meanwhile, the EU starts to fragment following Brexit, as other right-wing parties (heralded by LePenn etc.) start to call for similar referendums. Some nations (such as Greece) and those that elect anti-EU parties, leave the union. The EU is left in political and possibly financial turmoil.

              Instability in the middle east increase exponentially as backbone UN forces, European military intervention and US political involvement all reduce dramatically at roughly the same time. Tensions grow between Iran and Israel once again, further exacerbated by the presence of ISIS and other, similar, organisations.

              Emboldened by the sudden lack of UN strength and NATO military power as the US reduces its involvement in both organisations, makes plays for the Baltic states once again, following in the footsteps established in the Ukraine.

              North Korea, in the absence of US "military exercises" in their part of the world (a good cost saving for the USA right there), escalates its missile program and hostile attitude towards South Korea and Japan.

              Isolationism is becoming the trope of the day in western politics, and its not a good thing; unless we want another serious conflict.

        2. Extra spicey vindaloo

          Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

          UK servicemen on placement on US carriers have attacked countries that the UK was not at war with, So I believe the precedent is to do whatever the commanding officer says.

        3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: S4qFBxkFFg Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

          "....In reality, if the UK/USA went to war....." That event is so unlikely it would have to be preceded by a long period of continually deteriorating relations, more than long enough for personnel from each side to be withdrawn before hostilities began. In the case of the Falklands War, following an established NATO protocol, US personnel on Royal Navy ships were asked to "excuse themselves from duty" and sent ashore before the ships left for the South Atlantic - Argentina was an US ally at the time.

          In the event of a future and similar British conflict it would be proper for the US forces on the ships to again be put ashore, though the US government might make an agreement to "lend" the UK their F-35Bs for the duration and have them flown and serviced by UK personnel. Remember, during the Falklands War, then Prez Reagen sent the UK the latest Sidewinder missiles from USAF stocks, making our Sea Harriers much more effective in shooting down the Argentines. Reagan was a big fan of Prime Minster Thatcher, but it is highly unlikely his predecessor, Prez Carter, would have been as generous, and very unlikely Obambi would be (thankfully he'll be gone soon). So a lot depends on the resident POTUS at the time.

          /Yeeaaarrgghhh, of course.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

        "RN Captain - We've been ordered to bomb XYZ"

        "USMC Commander - Sorry, the President says we're not going to do that"

        same possibility with British pilots on a U.S. carrier, I suppose. but I doubt it would be a problem. Unless the Pres is Mrs. Clinton, in which case we're all fsck'd anyway.

        As former U.S. military (Navy), I'd say that when you're attached to a foreign command, you obey the commanding officer, regardless, unless it goes against your basic oath of defending the U.S. Constitution. You can note your objections, but you still have to follow orders. Fortunately, politics as they are, NATO missions as they are, the HMS QE probably won't even remotely get into a situation like that. We hope. [I'd hate to lose access to RPi and The Register over stupid politics].

        there WAS this one situation back in the 1980's, told to me by someone who had been attached to a Turkish sub [it was a decommissioned diesel sub, being sold to Turkey, and U.S. sailors were on board qualifying the Turk sailors to operate it properly/safely]. One time one of the Turk sailors didn't show up [went UA]. The Turk sailors found him 'out in town'. They brought him back to the sub and were going to shoot him. At least one of the U.S. sailors said "NO, NO, you can NOT do this on an American Naval Base" (or something similar) and managed to stop them. THEN, "a decision was made" to go underway that day, and all of the U.S. sailors were 'kicked off'. They came back later, and "that guy" wasn't with them. I guess that once you're in international waters, U.S. law no longer applies...

        Anyway, that's not what I expect to happen on any British or U.S. carriers...

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

          As former U.S. military (Navy), I'd say that when you're attached to a foreign command, you obey the commanding officer, regardless, unless it goes against your basic oath of defending the U.S. Constitution.

          Also do not forget to disobey orders that are against the Laws of War (Good Luck riding it out in the brig though).

          (Also try to evade assignments in "deniable operations" where you will be left hanging dry by the denying weasels in charge once shit hits the fannon-MSM press.)

      4. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

        I think the carrier wins. The planes need the carrier more than the carrier needs the planes. Oversimplified.... but the planes have to land somewhere.

      5. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

        'I'm pretty sure we could persuade them to bomb the Pentagon very easily'

        Well, they've had practice hitting that target with cruise missiles about 15 years ago, IIRC....

        [Off to test jet fuel temperatures and adjust tin foil hat]

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

      re. and what will they do when ordered to bomb the White House again?!

      "I'm sorry Dave (Tracy), I'm afraid we can't do that..."

      alternatively:

      "Computer says no...."

      1. Custard Fridge

        Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

        Perhaps an IBM angle to this would suffice -

        "This Carrier intentionally left blank"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

          Being American they'll be sent to attack Egypt and end up bombing Ecuador.....

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Terminator

        "Computer says no...."

        More likely than you realize, give all these jets are supposedly going to be plumbed into the Pentagons real time logistics management system. Leaving the possibility of the following.

        "I see you have loaded cluster bombs and set the navigation system and attack systems for a site that is not on the Approved Enemies List. Would you like to select 1 to abort the mission or 2 to contact the Pentagon with a request to authorize it ?"

    5. james 68

      Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

      Won't be an issue, because they won't be able to get the buggy P'sOS off the flight-deck due to software malfunctions and even if they do manage to get airborn (and stay that way) they won't be able to fire any weapons due to the same software screwups.

      1. John Hughes

        Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

        Don't worry, if it's the USMC they can use Harriers if th F35B's don't work.

        An Italian, a Frenchman and a German woman get together on an aircaft carrier to stitch up brexit. What's the punchline? The Garibaldi has AV-8B's and the QE2 doesn't.

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    You could say that someone at the MoD watched Pearl Harbour and thought the American did such a wonderful job flying a spitfire, that they should definately fly their own planes on UK ships. Because, obviously, they would be even better in their own whips.

    However, you could also say that this is another stepping stone to the "One World Army" that David Icke preaches about.

    Me? Well I just think it's a clusterfuck of a situation where the plane isn't fit for purpose, too expensive, and should've been euthanised long ago. But what do I know? I'm just a tax payer.

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      the plane isn't fit for purpose, too expensive, and should've been euthanised long ago

      The same is true of the carriers in all honesty. Even the most tin pot of regimes can muster a few medium range anti-ship missiles, which makes carriers vulnerable. Not that much more vulnerable than any comparably sized ship, but if they are the core of your strike force, losing the one is a bit of a problem. Go up against even people like the Iranians or Norks, and they've got patrol boats capable of sneaking around and launching medium or even long range missiles, so that extends the at-risk range (before we consider drones, mines, mini-subs and other cheap solutions. Before you know it you find that air to air refuelling and flying out from a nominally friendly territory is your best option (as with the Libya debacle).

      Admittedly a strike force has defensive capabilities. But you'd have to be pretty confident in 100% success to rely on those, given that countries like Argentina and Iraq successfully used near supersonic sea skimming technology against British and American ships three decades ago.

      The idea of flying complicated, heavy manned aircraft off of a huge, complex, vulnerable floating platform was great before radar and guided missiles. These days carriers are like battleships in the second world war - hugely impressive, but not really of very much use.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        'The idea of flying complicated, heavy manned aircraft off of a huge, complex, vulnerable floating platform was great before radar and guided missiles. These days carriers are like battleships in the second world war - hugely impressive, but not really of very much use.'

        The USN had more aircraft over Afghanistan than the RAF had in it every day of the conflict, so I'd say they're pretty handy. Especially if you don't want to live in Afghanistan for six months.

        1. Dan Wilkie

          But the USAF had more aircraft over Afghan than the USN too... Don't forget Switzerland probably has more fixed wing aircraft than we do.

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

            Now I'm thinking about Switzerland building aicraft carriers...

          2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Dan Wilkie

            ".....Switzerland probably has more fixed wing aircraft than we do." Seriously, why do you post such moronic statements when a minute spent perusing Wikipedia would save you looking so uninformed? The Swiss Air Force has a front-line force of 31 F/A-18 Hornets and 53 F-5 Tiger II interceptors, whilst the RAF has 137 Typhoons alone, to which will be added the 158 F-35Bs on order.

        2. Ledswinger Silver badge

          The USN had more aircraft over Afghanistan than the RAF

          I wouldn't dispute that. But its a bit of a niche case, isn't it? How often do we expect to be attacking impoverished land-locked countries with no functioning government, no modern defences, no international allies, but who are surrounded for hundreds of miles by nations hostile to both them and the West? And unlike 2001, there are now far better ways of loitering, surveying and dispensing death than running vastly expensive combat flights from carriers almost five hundred miles away.

          The Yanks didn't dare risk carriers near Libya, they'd be unwise to do so off the coast of Iran if having a another hobby war, and I suspect they'd be pretty circumspect about using them anywhere near Syria. And that's just two third world, failed states, and a country that's been under sanctions for three and a half decades. There's certainly a handful of other occasions when carriers might see use, but in all cases where they might be a viable strike asset, you certainly don't need something as complicated as the F35. If you need the capabilities of the F35, then your adversary certainly has the capabilities to wipe out your carriers rather effectively.

          Of course, if the 'Strines (making assumptions from your handle) would like to join the carrier club, I'd invite them to put in a bid for one or both of the QE class carriers. You're planning on buying F35s anyway, why not add to your military bling?

          1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
            WTF?

            To be fair, the U.S. didn't put a carrier near Libya because A) the U.S. was taking more of a back seat in that operation and B) Italy was right there to provide airfields.

            So these new 70,000 ton British carriers will only carry 12 fixed wing aircraft each? Did I read that correctly? Not meaning any disrespect, but um, why bother? That's like building a penthouse so your dog can live there.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              The 12 aircraft thing is probably bollocks. I doubt they'll fill the carrier with aircraft on normal patrols, because the RAF and Navy are sharing one pool of F35Bs. The great thing about planes is that if you need more for a mission, you can just fly more over.

              I think we've ordered 138 at the moment. But the original order was only for 48 - i.e. one air group. However you would expect any warship to be out of commission for maintenance, repairs and refit for about 20-30% of its lifetime - so most of the time we're only going to have one carrier at sea.

              1. Ledswinger Silver badge

                I think we've ordered 138 at the moment. But the original order was only for 48 - i.e. one air group. However you would expect any warship to be out of commission for maintenance, repairs and refit for about 20-30% of its lifetime

                Given the complexity of the F35, the availability of the aircraft itself is going to be even poorer than anything preceding it. And, as the crash record of the Harrier showed, S/VTOL aircraft tend to have dreadful accident rates, whether through pilot error, technical failure, or other hazards like FOD and bird strikes that seem to be more significant for S/VTOL types.

                1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

                  "...as the crash record of the Harrier showed..."

                  I didn't think the Harrier's record was any worse than any other military aircraft regularly flown in harm's way. And of the accidents that did happen, were any explicitly linked to the fact that it was a S/VTOL aircraft? (as against the sort of failures that would down any single-engine aircraft - I know there were problems, especially in the early days of the Kestrel and the P.1127, with burn-through from the manoeuver jet ducting but I don't think there were many "mishaps" that would not have happened if any other airframe had been involved...)

                  If you could give specific examples rather than the vague sort of answer I normally associate with anyone who really doesn't have a clue what they are talking about but anyone who disagrees with them must be wrong... I'm not saying you DON'T have a clue, but your comment looks like something a politician would write...

                  1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

                    Re: "...as the crash record of the Harrier showed..." @not.known@this.address

                    I read Ledswingers post as making that point exactly. Even with the best planes and the best pilots, we will lose a proportion due to training, pilot error and technical failure. And presumably like normal UK military, half of the rest will be grounded having been cannibalised for parts.

                    So far so normal. It's only a problem when you start with twelve planes.

                    I pity the first pilot to bail out of one during training and survive - I imagine the Defence Minister will personally lead the firing squad.

                  2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                    Re: "...as the crash record of the Harrier showed..."

                    I didn't think the Harrier's record was any worse than any other military aircraft

                    I wondered about that. I had a brief furtle through Google, and didn't find much, other than a Wiki article with a list (probably partial) of losses - and gave up. The Wiki article had the UK losing 7 since 2000 - of which 2 were mortared on the ground by the Taleban. That I could believe, but then the UK suffering zero losses in the whole 90s seemed pretty unlikely, given the amount of low flying the RAF did back then. So I gave up.

                    I do recall reading/seeing on a documentary that the US Marines did suffer heavy losses of Harriers (AV8Bs) - and the reason given was that they were getting third pick of pilots, after the Navy and Airforce. But I don't recall any figures being given, so don't know if that was true/prejudice/received wisdom. I think this must have been about the F35, because it talked about how that was going to be easier to handle in VTOL mode, as it was fly-by-wire - rather than the harrier's rather complicated manual thrust-vector controls.

                    I believe the US Navy had rules about no single engined planes allowed on carriers - which I guess the F35 breaks. Whereas the Marines have operated the Harrier from ships since at least the 80s, so you'd expect a certain amount more losses. But you would expect more losses from an aircraft relying on thrust alone to achieve lift - after all helicopters are supposed to avoid hovering whenever possible - because when you've got no aerodynamic lift, you're absolutely buggered when your engine stops. And at low levels crashing becomes certain.

                    1. casaloco

                      Re: "...as the crash record of the Harrier showed..."

                      The harriers DID have an appalling accident loss rate. This way due to pilot error during the transition from hover to fly, where pilots moved the nozzles from the down position to the back position before the aircraft had enough forward speed to generate enough lift with the wings to maintain controlled flight. It didn't help that you only had enough water to cool the nozzles for about a minute so people had to rush.

                      The issues were largely resolved though in the later years, after they put a computer in charge of the process so you couldn't screw it up. That was part of the upgrade they did where they also upgraded the engines, avionics, weapons management etc.

                2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                  Stop

                  Re: Ledswinger

                  "......Given the complexity of the F35, the availability of the aircraft itself is going to be even poorer than anything preceding it....." That presumes that serviceability rates won't improve with experience. The F-4 Phantom II was much more complex than the preceding generation of USN jets, yet was recording better serviceability rates than the jets it replaced within five years of starting operations.

                  ".....And, as the crash record of the Harrier showed, S/VTOL aircraft tend to have dreadful accident rates....." That is simply untrue. RN Sea Harriers had a much lower carrier accident rate than all prior RN jets (and for the USN jets too, the F/A-18 having a much higher accident rate) as it was simply easier to stop and then land rather than land and then stop. It seems that hardly a week goes by without an F/A-18 crashing!

                  ".....whether through pilot error..... or other hazards like FOD and bird strikes that seem to be more significant for S/VTOL types." Again, simply not true. Any aircraft flying at low level is at risk of bird strikes, and they have downed a lot more conventional jets than S/VTOL types. Pilot error is no more likely in any type of aircraft, it is dependent on the pilots (duh! - it's why it's called a pilot error).

                  The original FUD about Harriers crashing was started by US manufacturers pissed at the USMC for ordering Harriers. It didn't help that the USMC started by putting helicopter - not fast jet - pilots into Harriers on the basis that helicopter pilots had more experience of vertical landings! But even then the USMC's Harrier accident rate was lower than that of many USAF jets such as the F-16.

            2. Smooth Newt Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Penthouse for your dog

              So these new 70,000 ton British carriers will only carry 12 fixed wing aircraft each? Did I read that correctly? Not meaning any disrespect, but um, why bother? That's like building a penthouse so your dog can live there.

              It doesn't matter that their armament is feeble and they are too valuable to risk in any conflict. That's not the point of them. Their job is to be "prestigous", i.e. politicians can strut their stuff and pretend that the UK can do "force projection" and "play on the world stage" etc.

              In practice, the UK wouldn't do a real war again, like the Falklands, without the Americans alongside to do most of the fighting. I mean, what sort of blue water navy has six destroyers.

            3. collinsl

              So we can dump a load of helicopters & marines on somewhere without tying up the landing ships or the helicopter carriers.

              Or something.

            4. JLV Silver badge

              Good analogy, except the dog costs more than the penthouse and has serious congenital defects rendering it unable to bark if the temperature is over 25, his 50K$ leash isn't quite working yet and he has yet to beat a Chihuaha in a fair fight.

          2. SkippyBing Silver badge

            ' But its a bit of a niche case, isn't it? How often do we expect to be attacking impoverished land-locked countries with no functioning government, no modern defences, no international allies, but who are surrounded for hundreds of miles by nations hostile to both them and the West? '

            Well most of this century, I grant Iraq isn't totally land locked but it's pretty close to it. And if you think a carrier is vulnerable try an airbase, you can use Google earth to target one of those.

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