Thales UK has announced the completion of an extensive naval communications upgrade aboard aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

This upgrade enables the Royal Navy to launch an additional command operations centre on board to guide wider task group operations.

Thales said that the upgrade has been completed before the 65,000t aircraft carrier sets sail as the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21).

Recently, HMS Queen Elizabeth-led UK CSG departed Portsmouth on seven-month maiden deployment after completing training.

Thales UK naval communications business managing director Winston Mahaffy said: “We are extremely proud to have worked alongside the Royal Navy and MOD to upgrade HMS Queen Elizabeth with its initial communications system which was world leading.

“But this upgrade takes the carrier’s capability to a whole new level, enabling the carrier as a cutting edge command platform for both the Royal Navy and other navies which is such an essential feature of international naval operations today.

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“Completing the upgrade before CSG21 was a time critical factor, where it will require embarking Battle staff and Commander Task Group who will command the group and others during multi-national exercises from a strategic level.

“But longer term, it allows the carrier to integrate seamlessly and command a task group from the flagship and react accordingly to any future operations.”

Thales said it will also upgrade the second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, with the same new communications capabilities.

Last month, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace provided details of the size and scope of the UK CSG deployment.

The 28-week maiden deployment will involve visits to over 40 countries, including India, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore, as well as 70 engagements.

HMS Queen Elizabeth 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 and three Mk4 Merlins and four Wildcat helicopters.

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.