F-35B jets launched from British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth dropped live Paveway IV precision-guided bombs on Swedish weapons test ranges last week.
The Royal Navy say that the aircraft carrier, crewed by up to 900 sailors, with her F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters and Merlin helicopters, is leading a mixed group of warships from various nations in waters of northern Europe.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said:
“The UK leadership of this international strike group shows the strength of our commitment to working with Allies to promote security in Europe and demonstrate our resolve against any threat from potential adversaries.
With both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales deployed simultaneously, the Royal Navy sends a strong message that the UK’s capability for carrier operations is among the strongest in the world.”
The first phase of the deployment will see the carrier’s F35 fighter jets taking part in Exercise Cobra Warrior, the RAF’s largest bi-annual exercise, which will see aircraft from the Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Norway, and the UK taking part in joint exercises.
The 18-day exercise will involve RAF Typhoon and F35 jets, A400M and C17 transport aircraft, and Voyager air tankers, developing interoperability alongside allied aircraft and practicing integration between fourth and fifth generation fighter aircraft across air, sea, and land.
Commodore James Blackmore, Commander of the Carrier Strike Group, said:
“It is with much eagerness that the UK Carrier Strike Group is now assembling for deployed operations – the first time the UK CSG will be under my command. This autumn’s deployment showcases the UK’s capability to operate at range from the UK and demonstrates our continued commitment to North Atlantic security.
The Carrier Strike Group is an agile and highly capable force and we are excited to be heading to the North Sea and North Atlantic along with our International Partner Nations to reinforce security across the region.”
Source : UK