The BAE Systems F-35/QEC Integration Simulator facility that replicates the cockpit of the F-35 and the flying control tower (FLYCO) on board HMS Queen Elizabeth is being praised by one of the UK’s leading F-35 Lightning test pilots as the most realistic environment and conditions he’s ever experienced in a simulator.

Commander Nath Gray is member of an elite team of test pilots who will complete the first F-35 flight trials on board the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the UK’s new aircraft carrier. This month, the team used the facility to complete the latest set of simulator trials at the BAE System’s site in Warton, Lancashire in preparation for flight trials on board the ship later this year.

The F-35/QEC Integration Simulator facility offers a complete 360-degree immersive experience for pilots, and has been used to simulate thousands of take offs and landings, ahead of HMS Queen Elizabeth crossing the Atlantic to the US to ensure the real-life flight trials are safe and effective.

BAE says the simulator applies highly specialized computational engineering to model the air wake of the ship, which is the way air moves around and behind the carrier and flight deck, to replicate the motions that F-35 pilots will feel in real life.