UK F-35B fighter jets operating from HMS Queen Elizabeth will join operation Shader, the UK defense ministry’s mission to support the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
This will be the first time UK fighter aircraft are embarked on an operational aircraft carrier deployment since 2010, and will be the largest number of F-35Bs ever to sail the seas. UK F-35Bs will be complemented by their US counterparts from the US Marine Corps’ VMFA-211 squadron.
The 617 Squadron RAF (‘The Dambusters’) will operate the jets to provide tangible and impactful support to counter-Daesh operations in Iraq and Syria, the UK defense ministry said.
“The F-35B Lightning jets will pack a potent punch against Daesh and help prevent them from regaining a foothold in Iraq,” armed forces minister James Heappey said.
The carrier strike group, which will be led by HMS Queen Elizabeth on its maiden operational deployment, is the largest concentration of maritime and air power to leave the UK in a generation and will set sail next month on its first operational deployment.
This is a joint Royal Air Force and Royal Navy deployment which is committed to confronting persistent threats around the world and make a meaningful contribution to global security, the defense ministry said in a release.
“This deployment represents the embodiment of the UK’s Joint Expeditionary Capability and utilizing the F-35Bs in the fight against Daesh will further demonstrate our commitment to securing their global defeat,” Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key said.