Hoping to influence the design of the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth II-class aircraft carriers, the Navy is working “very closely” with the British to share new technology developed for its own newest Ford-class aircraft carriers, said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert. Incorporating electromagnetic catapults and arresting gear under development for the Ford-class carriers would make the British carriers interoperable with US aircraft. Britain is still vacillating, however, between equipping its air wings with the carrier-optimized F-35C version—requiring “cat and trap”—and the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing variant that would not. These “are the two really big technological changes that they’re considering,” Greenert told reporters during a roundtable meeting in Washington, D.C., March 16. Given the stakes, the Navy is keeping its partner closely abreast of the Ford class’ development and cost, said Greenert. Since Britain is without operational carriers and naval aircraft until the F-35 and QE class arrive, the Navy is hosting British aviators to maintain proficiency on US carriers, said Greenert. As an added benefit, pilots and officers will be able to “see the advantages . . . of our systems and our operations,” he said.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.