The UK Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, has completed training in the North Sea ahead of its maiden operational deployment next year.
The training was carried out as part of the Group Exercise 2020. The vessel is reported to have achieved many milestones.
Earlier this month, the Royal Navy’s new Carrier Strike Group led by HMS Queen Elizabeth assembled for the first time, marking the service’s return to carrier operations.
The Carrier Strike Group includes HMS Defender, HMS Diamond, and USS The Sullivans, along with HMS Kent, HMS Northumberland, HNLMS Evertsen, RFA Tideforce, and RFA Fort Victoria.
During the time at sea, HMS Queen Elizabeth exercised with Royal Navy warships, Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships, F-35B Lightning jets, Fleet Air Arm helicopters and US Navy and Dutch Navy ships.
The UK and US jets conducted strike missions with live weapons for the first time and the support ship RFA Fort Victoria and HMS Kent carried out the first transfer of ammunition at sea by the Royal Navy in three years.
After the Exercise Joint Warrior, the GroupEx 2020 was carried out.
Last month, the British Royal Air Force (RAF) F-35B Lightning joint strike fighter aircraft took off to participate in Exercise Joint Warrior.
The biannual exercise took place off the west coast of Scotland.
UK Carrier Strike Group commander commodore Steve Moorhouse said: “Over the past few weeks the Royal Navy has achieved what many people said would be impossible.
“We have formed a sovereign UK Carrier Strike Group with the ships and aircraft necessary to protect and sustain global carrier operations.
“Crucially, the Royal Navy has done this against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic and while maintaining our other commitments at home and around the world.”
HMS Queen Elizabeth has now returned to Portsmouth
Last month, HMS Queen Elizabeth embarked the largest number of fixed-wing aircraft yet as the vessel prepared to take centre stage in a Nato carrier strike group for exercises.