UK aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth launches first ever combat missions

A Royal Air Force F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter about to begin its take-off roll from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth somewhere in the Mediterranean on June 18, 2021 (Photo: Royal Navy)

The UK Carrier Strike Group has launched the first combat missions ever to be flown off the deck of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) confirmed on Tuesday, June 22.

The MOD said air strikes were being carried out against targets in undisclosed areas in the Middle East by a combined force of 18 F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter jets of the Royal Air Force and the US Marine Corps.

The UK Carrier Strike Group including the embarked aircraft on Queen Elizabeth are operating in support of Operations Shader and Inherent Resolve, the UK-led and US-led military campaigns against the Islamic State.

The carrier and its escorting ships are presently in the Mediterranean. Following the strikes, the entire group will sail east to conduct freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea before participating in joint military exercises with the navies of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Captain James Blackmore, commander of Queen Elizabeth‘s Carrier Air Wing, remarked that these are the Royal Navy’s first maritime strike operations to be conducted since 2011, when it participated in the campaign against Libyan military forces loyal to then-leader Muammar Gaddafi.

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