British and American defence chiefs have signed an agreement to extend cooperation on aircraft carrier operations by an additional year.

The existing agreement, which is due to expire in January 2022, covers ‘Enhanced Cooperation on Carrier Operations and Maritime Power Projection’.

The extended agreement sets guidelines to increase interoperability between the two nations’ carrier forces, as well as coordinated and effective training and operations to better tackle future threats.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met in Washington DC and held talks for a day.

The discussions covered a range of topics, including shared security challenges, Afghanistan, Nato, the Carrier Strike Group (CSG), and deepening the UK-US defence partnership.

Wallace said: “It was great to meet up with Lloyd Austin again after our meetings in London and Brussels.

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“The US continues to be the UK’s most important defence partner and we are working together, across all domains, to confront future threats.

“There is much to do but the extension we agreed will ensure that we can cooperate even more seamlessly with our forces across the globe.”

The UK CSG, led by Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, is currently conducting its maiden deployment around the world.

US destroyer ‘USS The Sullivans’ is part of the 26,000nm UK-led CSG21 deployment.

It involves taking part in more than 70 engagements, joint exercises and operations.