The UK’s Carrier Strike Group has joined the fight against Daesh with F-35B jets carrying out their very first combat missions from HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The stealth jets from the 617 Squadron RAF (The Dambusters) carried out operational sorties for the first time from HMS Queen Elizabeth in support of Operation Shader and US Operation Inherent Resolve.
CSG21, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, is the largest concentration of maritime and air power to leave the UK in a generation and this is its first operational deployment. There are 18 UK and US F35B jets on board HMS Queen Elizabeth.
This is also notable as the first combat mission flown by US aircraft from a foreign carrier since HMS Victorious in the South Pacific in 1943.
“The ability to operate from the sea with the most advanced fighter jets ever created is a significant moment in our history, offering reassurance to our allies and demonstrating the UK’s formidable air power to our adversaries,” UK defense secretary Ben Wallace said.
The CSG carried out the strike after getting underway from Portsmouth for HMS Queen Elizabeth’s maiden deployment in late May. The task group spent the previous weeks in the Mediterranean working with NATO allies and partners.
“HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first missions against Daesh will be remembered as a significant moment in the 50-year lifespan of this ship,” Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group, said.
“It also marks a new phase of our current deployment. To date we have delivered diplomatic influence on behalf of the UK through a series of exercises and engagements with our partners – now we are ready to deliver the hard punch of maritime-based air power against a shared enemy.”
“The Lightning Force is once again in action against Daesh, this time flying from an aircraft carrier at sea, which marks the Royal Navy’s return to maritime strike operations for the first time since the Libya campaign a decade ago,” Captain James Blackmore, Commander of the Carrier Air Wing, said.