Is HMS Queen Elisabeth operation-ready?
UK says its aircraft carrier strike group is ready to deploy. China’s already watching.
Britain is officially an aircraft carrier power again.
The Royal Navy announced on Monday that the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, centered on Britain’s largest ever warship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, had achieved initial operating capability.
The designation means the 65,000-ton carrier, its air assets including F-35 stealth fighter jets and helicopters, as well as its escorting destroyers, frigates, submarines and supply ships, are ready to deploy within five days of receiving orders to do so.
Qualified pilots and ground crews are on notice.
“This is a hugely significant milestone for HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy and the whole country. This achievement is a testament to the determination of our service personnel and industry workforce who have delivered this first-rate military capability, a capability held by only a handful of nations,” UK Defense Minister Jeremy Quin said in a statement.
The commander of carrier strike group, Commodore Steve Moorehouse, touted his unit’s readiness in a Twitter post.
“In practical terms, my Strike Group is now at Very High Readiness, meaning we are at 5 days’ notice to deploy, if required, in response to global events & in defence of British interests,” Moorehouse tweeted.
In a followup tweet, he hinted at what is to come. Carrier strike group staff are planning for the Queen Elizabeth’s first operational deployment, which Moorhouse said would encompass the Royal Navy’s largest peacetime task group in 25 years and be proof of Britain’s commitment to maintaining worldwide security — “a visible demonstration of Global Britain,” Moorhouse called it.