HMS Queen Elizabeth Welcomes UK and US Jets for Major Exercise

 In E3, UK, Sea, Air, Forces & Capabilities

Royal Navy press release

Two squadrons of F‑35B stealth jets, the RAF’s 617 Squadron (The Dambusters) and the US Marines Corps VMFA-211 (The Wake Island Avengers), have joined the 65,000-tonne car­ri­er as she sails for exer­cis­es with allies in the North Sea.

With a total of 14 jets and eight Merlin heli­copters, it’s the largest con­cen­tra­tion of fight­er jets to oper­ate at sea from a Royal Navy car­ri­er since HMS Hermes in 1983, and the largest air group of fifth gen­er­a­tion fight­ers at sea any­where in the world. 

In this month’s group exer­cise, HMS Queen Elizabeth will be joined by seven Royal Navy destroy­ers, frigates and aux­il­iaries, plus other sup­port­ing units, to form a fully sov­er­eign Carrier Strike Group, ready to fight on the sur­face and in the air. 

The Carrier Strike Group will be put through its paces off the north east coast of Scotland as part of Joint Warrior, NATO’s largest annual exer­cise.

“The United Kingdom’s mar­itime renais­sance has been unfold­ing over many years, as we intro­duced a new gen­er­a­tion of ships, sub­marines and air­craft into ser­vice. But this marks the first time we have brought them togeth­er in a cohe­sive, potent, fight­ing force. HMS Queen Elizabeth will be oper­at­ing with the largest air group of fifth gen­er­a­tion fight­ers assem­bled any­where in the world. Led by the Royal Navy, and backed by our clos­est allies, this new Carrier Strike Group puts real muscle back into NATO and sends a clear signal that the United Kingdom takes its global role seri­ous­ly.”

Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group

“This is an incred­i­bly excit­ing time for 617 Squadron as we begin a new era of part­ner­ship with the US Marine Corps build­ing towards next year’s oper­a­tional deploy­ment with HMS Queen Elizabeth. You need to go back more than three decades to find the UK oper­at­ing any­thing on this scale or com­plex­i­ty and this is a first for fifth-gen­er­a­tion car­ri­er capa­bil­i­ty. The era of big-deck, fast jet car­ri­er oper­a­tions is back”.

617 Squadron’s Commanding Officer, Royal Navy Commander Mark Sparrow,

Usually based in Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma, in Arizona, VMFA-211 arrived in the UK just under two weeks ago. Landing at the home of the Lightning Force, RAF Marham after the trans-Atlantic flight, they worked up with 617 Squadron con­duct­ing the RAF led Exercise Point Blank before embark­ing in the car­ri­er. 

Their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Freshour USMC, said: “The Wake Island Avengers are ready in all respects to work with the British sailors and air­crew on board HMS Queen Elizabeth. We are look­ing for­ward to deploy­ing along­side our British coun­ter­parts over the next few months, and we will work tire­less­ly as a part of this transat­lantic naval force. We are proud to play such an impor­tant role in the gen­er­a­tion of an allies’ car­ri­er strike capa­bil­i­ty.”

Captain James Blackmore, the UK’s Carrier Air Wing Commander, added: “We are going to learn a huge amount from oper­at­ing F‑35Bs at sea with the USMC, they have had them longer and we can share ideas and prac­tices. But this is much more than that; this is the trans-Atlantic alliance in action, demon­strat­ing that two close allies can not only fly from each other’s car­ri­ers, but can fight along­side each other should we need to. This level of inte­gra­tion offers a deci­sive flex­i­bil­i­ty in times of crisis, con­flict or war.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth, along with her 1,680 sailors, avi­a­tors and marines, is due to return to her home port of Portsmouth next month.

Naval News source|articles

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