The UK’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has left its homeport in Portsmouth to participate in the final exercise off Scotland ahead of its maiden deployment.
The aircraft carrier will lead the UK Carrier Strike Group. Other members of the strike group such as warships HMS Defender, HMS Diamond and HMS Kent have also sailed from the city, while HMS Richmond is slated to leave from Plymouth to join the exercise.
Wildcat helicopters from 815 Naval Air Squadron have also left their base to participate in the exercise.
The two week-long military drill, named Exercise Strike Warrior, will involve more than 20 warships, three submarines and 150 aircraft from 11 nations.
Following the exercise, the Carrier Strike Group will be certified ready for deployment. During the maiden deployment, it will visit 40 countries while touring the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Asia Pacific regions.
UK Carrier Strike Group Commander commodore Steve Moorhouse said: “The advent of the UK Carrier Strike Group represents a substantial new injection of fifth generation combat power into the defence of the Euro-Atlantic region.
“It is therefore fitting that our final and most demanding test prior to deployment involves so many of Britain’s allies.
“As the ships and aircraft of the Carrier Strike Group assemble over the coming days, Exercise Strike Warrior is an opportunity prove to ourselves, and to the world, that we have what it takes to act as cohesive and potent fighting force at sea, under the water, in the air and over the land.”
Overall, Strike Warrior will be the third and last in a series of pre-deployment exercises undertaken by the Carrier Strike Group over the past year.
In January, HMS Queen Elizabeth assumed the role of the ‘Fleet Flagship’.