UK Carrier Strike Group explained
The UK’s Carrier Strike Group has been declared ready for operations ahead of its first operational deployment this year. Here’s what you need to know
The group — led by HMS Queen Elizabeth — is now at Initial Operating Capability. This means that the central elements of the strike group have been trained and brought together, including the F35 joint strike fighter operated by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.
Following a joint declaration, the Carrier Strike Group will be complemented by US Marine Corps and US Navy personnel and equipment. This includes a detachment of US Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft and the US Navy’s destroyer, USS The Sullivans.
- Read more about the United States’ involvement
- Read about how the Carrier Strike Group have been training
- Read about Exercise Crimson Warrior
The UK’s aircraft carrier capability is an essential component of Britain’s global outlook. The deployment will allow the UK to spread its message of prosperity and trade and to engage with our allies and partners in a significant way. In a practical military sense, the carrier group will not only protect the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers from ship, submarines, aircraft and missile threats. It will also be capable of conducting a range of supporting missions, from maritime security to disaster relief operations.
The Carrier Strike Group offers Britain choice and flexibility on the global stage, reassuring our friends and allies and presents a powerful deterrent to would-be adversaries. The full UK Carrier Strike Group assembled for the first time during Group Exercise 2020 on 4th October. It is the most powerful task force assembled by any European Navy in almost 20 years.
So what forms a Carrier Strike Group?
The task of protecting an aircraft carrier involves many ships, submarines and people.
At the heart of the group, Queen Elizabeth-class carriers will be deployed with up to two operational Lightning squadrons and 24 F-35Bs on board. Pilots from both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy from the legendary 617 Squadron will work alongside fast jet pilots from the US Marine Corps.
Type 23 Frigates and Type 45 destroyers escort the group, giving the strike group the ability to defend against threats from above and below the surface.
The Royal Fleet Auxiliary also play a vital role, keeping the strike group replenished with food and armament.