An F-35B Lightning II fighter jet taking off from the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) laying the foundation for the next 50 years of fixed wing aviation for the United Kingdom’s carrier strike capability (note the lift fan door has been raised indicating the vertical lift system is engaged)—U.S. Navy photo courtesy of the Royal Navy by LPhot Kyle Heller
The Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier is innovative for its two islands and is wedded to the Lockheed F-35B Lightning II S/VTOL for offensive potential. The ramp as well as the Lightning’s vertical lift system (the engine drives a downward directed fan located aft of the cockpit at the expense of fuel storage volume of the F-35A and F-35C) eliminate the requirement for catapult systems. Additionally, the aircraft (Lightnings as well as helicopters) aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth do not require arresting cables. No tail hooks here.