The UK Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth has embarked the largest number of warplanes ever onto deck as it prepares to take its place at the heart of a UK-led NATO Carrier Strike Group.
Two squadrons of F-35B stealth jets, the RAF’s 617 Squadron (The Dambusters) and the US Marines Corps VMFA-211 (The Wake Island Avengers), have joined the 65,000-tonne carrier as it sails for exercises with allies in the North Sea.
With a total of 14 jets and eight Merlin helicopters, it’s the largest concentration of fighter jets to operate at sea from a Royal Navy carrier since HMS Hermes in 1983, and the largest air group of fifth generation fighters at sea anywhere in the world.
“HMS Queen Elizabeth will be operating with the largest air group of fifth generation fighters assembled anywhere in the world,” said Commodore Steve Moorhouse RN Commander UK Carrier Strike Group.
In this month’s group exercise, HMS Queen Elizabeth will be joined by seven Royal Navy destroyers, frigates and auxiliaries, plus other supporting units, to form a fully sovereign Carrier Strike Group.
The Carrier Strike Group will be put through its paces off the north east coast of Scotland as part of Joint Warrior, NATO’s largest annual exercise.