HMS Queen Elizabeth: American F-35B fighters carry out their first combat missions off a foreign aircraft carrier since World War II


The missions against ISIS also marked the first fight for the new British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest ship the Royal Navy has ever put to sea, and the first combat action for a British aircraft carrier in a decade. .

Captain James Blackmore, Air Wing Commander aboard the Queen Elizabeth, said the last time American planes flew combat missions from a foreign aircraft carrier was in 1943, when American planes have been deployed from British HMS Victorious to the South Pacific.

US F-35B planes flying against ISIS were joined by similar British warplanes in support of the UK’s Operation Shader and the US Army’s Operation Inherent Resolve.

A total of 18 American and British F-35Bs are aboard the 65,000-ton Queen Elizabeth, the largest number of advanced warplanes ever deployed on a ship.

The American-designed F-35Bs are state-of-the-art stealth aircraft that can land vertically, allowing them to deploy on warships smaller than the massive 100,000-ton Nimitz-class aircraft carriers that make up the backbone of the US Navy fleet.

“The level of integration between the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force and the US Marine Corps is really seamless and a testament to our closeness,” said Blackmore.

“The ability to operate from the sea with the most advanced fighter jets ever created is an important moment in our history, reassuring our allies and demonstrating the formidable air power of the United Kingdom to our adversaries,” said the British secretary to Defense Ben Wallace in a statement. .

The Queen Elizabeth leads the UK’s Carrier Strike Group 21, which is on a seven-month 30,000 mile (48,280 kilometer) mission that will take it to Japan and South Korea, including a planned transit of the South China Sea.

The carrier strike group is expected to visit 40 countries as it deploys across the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean en route to the Pacific.

“To date, we have exerted diplomatic influence on behalf of the UK through a series of exercises and engagements with our partners. , commander of the British attack group.

“The involvement of HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Air Wing in this campaign also sends a wider message. It demonstrates the speed and agility with which a UK-led carrier strike group can inject power of fifth generation combat in any operation, anywhere in the world, giving the British government and our allies a real military and political choice, ”said Moorehouse.

Blackmore said the aircraft carrier‘s British combat sorties were the UK’s first since participating in missions over Libya in 2011 during a NATO-led intervention in the country’s civil war. country.

The UK Ministry of Defense describes Carrier Strike Group 21 as “the greatest concentration of sea and air power to leave the UK in a generation”. American and Dutch warships are also part of the flotilla.


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