USS Essex and HMS Queen Elizabeth conduct interoperability training
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USS Essex and HMS Queen Elizabeth conduct interoperability training

11 Nov 2021 (Last Updated November 11th, 2021 12:19)

The operations showcased the strategic advantage of the UK’s carrier strike group and F-35Bs integration.

USS Essex and HMS Queen Elizabeth conduct interoperability training
F-35B Lightning II attached to VMFA 211, deployed with the UK Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, lands on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Essex. Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Wesley Richardson.

The US Navy’s Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) and British Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth have conducted bilateral interoperability training.

Carried out in the Gulf of Oman, the training also saw the participation of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211.

VMFA 211 cross-decked F-35B Lightning IIs from HMS Queen Elizabeth to USS Essex on 8 November.

The training showcased the strategic advantage of the UK’s carrier strike group (CSG) and F-35Bs integration.

VMFA-211’s F-35B standard take-off and vertical landing (SVOTL) capabilities enable the squadron to support distributed maritime operations.

Amphibious Squadron One (CPR 1) commodore captain DeWayne Sanders said: “We are privileged to have had this opportunity to train alongside a longstanding Nato ally in the Middle East.

“Our integrated aircraft training with HMS Queen Elizabeth has helped demonstrate our efficacy in the region and our commitment to maritime security and stability world-wide.”

Simultaneously, cross-deck landings on HMS Queen Elizabeth were conducted by UH-1Y Venoms and MV-22B Ospreys, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 165 (Reinforced), 11th MEU.

UK CSG commander commodore Steve Moorhouse said: “The force development work we have been undertaking with the US Navy has been ground-breaking.

“We are all comfortable with helicopters lilly-padding from one deck to another but doing it with fixed-wing aircraft is a whole new game.

“This level of interoperability goes far beyond anything we have exercised before with any partner and offers a degree of flexibility and agility that commanders have long dreamt of.”