HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed from Rosyth in June to commence her sea trials. She made her first entry into Portsmouth in August for a scheduled engineering period. Her second set of sea trials should begin this week, weather permitting. She remains on track to be accepted into the Royal Navy this year.
Will my hon. Friend confirm that, as well as projecting global Britain’s power for the next 50 years, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales will provide long-term skilled job opportunities and training for people in Portsmouth and its neighbouring constituencies such as mine?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to point out that this is not only about the 10,000 people who have worked on getting the ship to the point where she is now, but about long-term sustainment over the next 50 years. May I take this opportunity, Mr Speaker, to put on record my appreciation to the Fareham company Boskalis Westminster Ltd, which did a lot of the dredging of Portsmouth harbour?
I am pleased to be able to update the hon. Gentleman. As he will know, we already have 12 F-35 aircraft and they are already flying in the US. We will have 14 by the end of the year. Next year, we are on track to stand up the first squadron in the UK. I am pleased that I was able to announce last week that the F-35 has successfully completed the trials on the ski jump in the US and is now cleared to take off from the carrier.