The HMS Queen Elizabeth-led carrier battle group is participating in the final training exercise in the eastern Atlantic ahead of the planned homecoming of the aircraft carrier.

The carrier strike group (CSG) is involved in a combined NATO anti-submarine warfare training exercise with the Norwegian Navy’s frigate HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl.

In addition to HMS Queen Elizabeth, the CSG includes HMS Northumberland and tanker RFA Tideforce.

The group was supported by the British Royal Navy’s ship HMS Dragon, which returned to Portsmouth on 2 December.

HMS Queen Elizabeth began its three-month deployment in September to take part in the Westlant 19 exercises off the east coast of the US.

The exercises are designed to test the capabilities of the aircraft carrier and the British F-35 fighter jets.

The £3bn aircraft carrier embarked six British F-35s during the five-week operational test phase.

Three of the aircraft were from 17 Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) based at Edwards Air Force Base, while the remaining travelled to the US from RAF Marham.

During the training, four Lightning II jets took off from the ship deck in quick succession to undertake their mission.

The ship also accommodated the F-35s from the US Marine Corps (USMC).

HMS Queen Elizabeth commanding officer commodore Steve Moorhouse said: “This has been an extremely successful deployment for HMS Queen Elizabeth.

“It’s all been about increasing the complexity and tempo of our activity, building the capability of the strike group and testing ourselves in a demanding training environment with our close partners from the US Navy and Marine Corps.

“Embarking UK F-35B Lightning for the first time and integrating them within the carrier strike group is a significant milestone and we are well set for an equally demanding 2020 and our first operational deployment in 2021.”