UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has provided details of the size and scope of the HMS Queen Elizabeth-led UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG) deployment.
The 28-week maiden deployment will begin next month and involves visits to over 40 countries, including India, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore, as well as 70 engagements.
HMS Queen Elizabeth, flagship of the CSG, will be joined by Type 45 destroyers HMS Defender and HMS Diamond, Type 23 frigates HMS Kent and HMS Richmond, RFA Fort Victoria, RFA Tidespring and an Astute-class submarine, eight F-35B Lightning II fighter jets, as well as seven Mk2, three Mk4 Merlins, and four Wildcat helicopters.
Royal Marines from 42 Commando, Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen and US Navy Arleigh Burke destroyer USS The Sullivans will also join.
The UK CSG will be NATO’s first fifth-generation Carrier Strike Group. It also marks the first operational deployment of a Queen Elizabeth-class carrier.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “When our Carrier Strike Group sets sail next month, it will be flying the flag for Global Britain, projecting our influence, signalling our power, engaging with our friends and reaffirming our commitment to addressing the security challenges of today and tomorrow.
“The entire nation can be proud of the dedicated men and women who for more than six months will demonstrate to the world that the UK is not stepping back but sailing forth to play an active role in shaping the international system of the 21st Century.”
Spanning 26,000nm, the upcoming deployment is aimed at bolstering ‘already deep defence partnerships’ in the Pacific region.
The UK CSG will take part in Exercise Bersama Lima, Exercise Steadfast Defender, and support Nato Operation Sea Guardian and maritime security operations in the Black Sea.
UK Carrier Strike Group commander commodore Steve Moorhouse said: “The most significant deployment of its kind for a quarter of a century, it is a visible demonstration of the Royal Navy’s resurgence after decades of contraction.
“As our nation redefines its place in the world post-Brexit, it is the natural embodiment of the Government’s ‘Global Britain’ agenda. And against a backdrop of growing instability and competition, it reflects the United Kingdom’s continued commitment to global security.”