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UK Announces Carrier Strike Group Deployment of ‘Record Size and Scope’

The $4.19 billion aircraft carrier will be accompanied by eight stealth fighter jets, six Royal Navy ships, a submarine, and 14 helicopters.

Britain’s HMS Queen Elizabeth is set to depart next month in a mission that will demonstrate the country’s role in “shaping the international system of the 21st century” in the largest concentration of maritime and air power to ever leave the UK.

The £3 billion ($4.19 billion) aircraft carrier will visit more than 40 countries, including India, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, during a 28-week deployment and will have eight RAF F35B stealth fighter jets on board.

Six Royal Navy ships will accompany the carrier — Type 45 destroyers HMS Defender and HMS Diamond, Type 23 anti-submarine frigates HMS Kent and HMS Richmond, and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring — as well as a submarine armed with tomahawk cruise missiles.

It will also be accompanied by 14 naval helicopters — four Wildcat maritime attack helicopters, seven Merlin Mk2 anti-submarine helicopters, and three Merlin Mk4 commando helicopters.

“When our Carrier Strike Group sets sail next month, it will be flying the flag for Global Britain – projecting our influence, signalling our power, engaging with our friends and reaffirming our commitment to addressing the security challenges of today and tomorrow,” Secretary of State for Defense of the United Kingdom Ben Wallace said.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth was first launched in July 2014 and named by Queen Elizabeth II in honor of the first Queen Elizabeth in a ceremony at Fife Rosyth Dockyard.

Engaging the Indo-Pacific

In March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his plans to “engage more deeply in the Indo-Pacific.”

In the Integrated Review, the prime minister wrote that the Indo-Pacific is “critical” to the country’s economy and security and a “focal point” for international law, rules, and norms. 

The Indo-Pacific will also play a major role in the UK’s prosperity over the next decade, Johnson stated.

“By 2030, we will be deeply engaged in the Indo-Pacific as the European partner with the broadest, most integrated presence in support of mutually-beneficial trade, shared security and values,” the PM stated in the review.

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