This week, for the first time in eight years, an aircraft landed on a British aircraft carrier.
The plane was an F-35B, the Marine Corps’ variant of the Joint Strike Fighter that is capable of vertical take offs and landings, and the ship was the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the UK’s largest warship.
Neither is entirely new — the UK got its first F-35 six years ago, and the carrier took to sea in 2017 — but bringing them together has been touted as a new era for British military power.
“The largest warship in British history is joining forces with the most advanced fighter jets on the planet. This marks a rebirth of our power to strike decisively from the seas anywhere in the world,” British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said in a release. “It is also a statement of Britain’s determination to promote peace and prevent war.”
Below, you can see the two F-35s working in tandem with crews on the Queen Elizabeth.
The first landings took place on September 25. The Queen Elizabeth is able to hold up to 24 of the jets, and more than 1,400 sailors, flight crew members, and Marines have been working aboard the carrier during this deployment.
The F-35’s first landing ever on a British carrier is “a tremendous step forward in reestablishing the UK’s carrier strike capability,” said Commodore Andrew Betton, commander of the UK carrier strike group.
The Queen Elizabeth left Portsmouth in August, heading to the Atlantic, where the trials are taking place. Royal navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray became the first British pilot to land an F-35 on the carrier, followed by Royal air force squadron leader Andy Edgell. Afterward, Gray became the first pilot to take off on the ship’s ski-ramp.
The F-35 landing and take off were “just Day One of a two-month, arduous testing process, which will continue again next year,” Betton said. “The objective over the next two months is to establish the operating envelop for the F-35 to operate from HMS Queen Elizabeth and then build up our war-fighting capability.”
The landing itself was the first one in eight years, but the operation is the latest step in a process that began 20 years ago, when the UK announced plans to replace the Harrier jet and upgrade carrier capabilities, said Vice Adm. Ben Key, the Royal navy fleet commander.
“On one level, it’s just a pilot landing a jet on a ship, and in the fleet arm we’ve been doing that for over a hundred years, but on another level, just what it represents, it’s the next chapter of a long journey,” Key said. “There’s a lot of emotion coursing through veins at the moment, but all of it is phenomenally positive.”
The British navy developed HMS Argus — the first flush-deck carrier in naval history — during World War II to launch torpedo bombers.
But it wasn’t launched until December 1917 and was commissioned in September 1918, which was only a few weeks before the war ended in November that year.
The F-35 has been plagued by technical problems and cost overruns. The Queen Elizabeth, which was specially built for F-35B operations, has also been the subject of derision over its lack of an air wing — including jokes that the British navy had built an aircraft carrier with no aircraft.
Source: The Economist
“It’s a brilliant day,” said Air Marshall Stuart Atha, deputy commander of operations for the British air force. “The combination of the ship and the aircraft, the potency of this is something that is way beyond the individual services.”
“For the next few weeks we’re concentrating on developmental tests as the pilots really begin to explore [and] develop the flight envelop for the jets operating from the ship and [as] the ship learns what’s require to operate the jets,” said Key, the Royal navy fleet commander.
2019 will see continued testing to make sure the capabilities of the ship and its jets are “in the right place,” Key said. “That allows us then in 2020 to bring it together and develop an operational package, which the government can then deploy in 2021.”
British pilots have performed landings and takeoffs on US carriers over the past eight years in order to stay proficient. Gray and Edgell carried out training on the F-35 with US airmen and contractors in the US earlier this year.
“Everything about this project is collaborative [and] interoperable,” said Betton, the strike group commander. “Whether it’s been the training of people to man and equip the ships or the training of the crews on the deck and specifically the pilots, getting ready for today is all about cooperation.”
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.