An Australian warship is expected to join HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Carrier Strike Group for exercises in the Pacific region later this year.

Local media are reporting that details of Australia’s contribution are yet to be confirmed although it is understood it will include at least a frigate.

“The itinerary for the carrier strike group is yet to be announced but it is not expected to sail to Australia. Previous reports have suggested port visits in Oman, Singapore, South Korea and Japan, making it likely it will transit through the South China Sea.”

What’s happening?

HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group will deploy to the Pacific later this year.

Prior to the deployment, it is understood that the carrier strike group will go through a work-up trial off the west Hebrides range sometime in early 2021.

It is understood that the deployment will see the Carrier Strike Group sail in the Mediterranean Sea, the Gulf and end up in the Pacific before returning home.

The Ministry of Defence say that the Carrier Strike Group “offers Britain choice and flexibility on the global stage, reassuring our friends and allies and presents a powerful deterrent to would-be adversaries.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth (and 15 F-35B jets) sailing with HMS Defender, HMS Diamond, HMS Northumberland, HMS Kent, RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tideforce in addition to the USS The Sullivans and Dutch vessel HNLMS Evertsen.

The Ministry of Defence say that the deployment is expected to include NATO’s most sophisticated destroyers — the Royal Navy’s Type 45s HMS Diamond and HMS Defender and US Navy Arleigh Burke-class USS The Sullivans as well as frigates HMS Richmond and HMS Kent from the UK.

“The task of protecting an aircraft carrier involves many ships, submarines and people. A Carrier Strike Group has an escort in the form of Type 23 Frigates and Type 45 destroyers, giving the strike group the ability to defend against above and below the sea threats. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary also play a vital role, keeping the strike group replenished with food and armament. The Queen Elizabeth-class carriers will be deployed with up to two operational Lightning squadrons and 24 F-35Bs on board, with a maximum capacity allowing for up to 36.”

Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group, said:

“The new UK Carrier Strike Group is the embodiment of British maritime power, and sits at the heart of a modernised and emboldened Royal Navy.”

Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd, former commander of HMS Queen Elizabeth, had previously commented on the initial deployment and the gradual increase in air wing numbers:

“We are constrained by the F-35 buy rate even though that was accelerated in SDSR in 2015, so initial operating capability numbers in 2020 are going to be very modest indeed. We will flesh it out with helicopters, and a lot depends on how many USMC F-35s come on our first deployment in 2021. But by 2023, we are committed to 24 UK jets onboard, and after that it’s too far away to say.”

A squadron of US Marine Corps F-35B jets will join British jets on the carrier for the deployment.

4.4 10 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Geoffrey Roach

Excellent, although not surprising. Good to have the Aussies alongside. Others welcome. This is where the strength of friends comes in. The Queen Elizabeth or Prince of Wales could form the centre for a real multinational task force for the whole region. With ships from Australia Japan and others assisting in the escort group,perhaps allowing the UK to remove a 45 or 23/26
Also maybe in the other direction . Amphibious group with Canberra, Albion and an ANZUK escort , and Malaysia and Singapore?


It’s a inherently flexible and effective approach – numerous allied vessels joining the CSG for different parts of the deployment allows them the ability to exercise with a full spectrum of high-end naval assets whilst on the flip side it will no doubt also allow British vessels to peel off and make more port visits without jeopardising the groups defensive strength.

Peter S

Good news. For a freedom of navigation demonstration, the more nations contributing, the stronger the message to China.
I still believe that until the F35 is available in adequate numbers and fully armed with something more than Paveway and asraam, this deployment is premature. The aim is to show strength not reveal weakness.

Geoffrey Roach

Hi Peter…. I’ve been rabbiting on about this for months. I don’t have a problem with this visit or the F35’s at this time but I do want to get the order in. Even with the bloc 4 kites we need to order asap to get our slot in the delivery chain.


Agree spear 3 and meteor can’t come soon enough but RAF f35B also have the ‘D’ ver AMRAAM as well as ASRAAM.

Not sure of answer but will QE also be carrying US cleared alternate weapons for the USMC F35 contingent. If so would the USMC squadron actually be the strike element and the UK providing QRA / fighter cover ?


What stand off weapons are USMC F-35Bs qualified for that UK F-35Bs aren’t? SDB, JSM?


Hey Paul. Had a look. At moment it looks like main big punch for USM B’s comes from JDAM with max range of 28km. Whats that.. about double range of Paveway IV. Thats internally carried.


I’ve no idea how Paveway compares with JDAM. I would expect them to be broadly similar, and launched from altitude well within the range of many ASM these days. The offensive credibility of the force on QE is placing a lot of faith in the stealth and ECM abilities of the F-35.

Max Jones

Main difference with the US bombs is they have 1,000lb ones as well as 500lb so they are naturally a lot bigger which also increases range. They also have gun pods available which is a bit more practical for low-intensity combat operations.


Good stuff!

Levi Goldsteinberg

Great news. Also that picture in the header is impressive, she really looks like she means business with a full flight deck

John Clark

Excellent and it’s exactly what we can expect from our allies, Australia, New Zealand and Japan …. Expect Malaysia to join in the fun too.

I’m sure as we head round the western Pacific, all the above will add warships and they will come and go.

South Korea would be a very nice addition, but if Japan comes out to play, the Koreans won’t….


The US Navy can and will operate almost entirely nationally although they too appreciate an allied presence with their Carrier Groups. The Royal Navy is in a different league. In extremis the RN could operate on it’s own but this is highly unlikely. However that doesn’t mean the RN can’t operate globally. Global Britain needs global allies. In the North Atlantic and Med that means NATO. Further afield that can be the Gulf States, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Australia and NZ. I’d imagine for this deployment the UKCSG will be escorted by an ever changing group of allied… Read more »


Every TG deployment I have been on ended up with every man and his dog joining it for a period of time. It isn’t a uniquely Brit thing either. When out on exercises across the pond we would play with USN ships and TGs

Interoperability is the key and everyone likes to practise it. Be its comms, warfare exercises RAS, land on’s or land aways.


i am sure i read somewhere that Japan was interested in sending a couple of ships to link up with the carrier group, unless it was a US carrier group, but either way more allies the better


Good to see you Poms are sending QE and her escorts to come and play in our part of the world (Indo-Pacific and SE Asia).

The last RN carrier I saw here in Sydney was back in 1988 when Ark Royal visited for our 200th birthday celebrations.

So the question is, how often is the UK Government planning for a RN carrier task group to visit/operate in our part of the world?

If it’s serious about having a presence in this part of the world, it can’t be another 33 years before the next visit.


John Clark

I think you will see more of a UK presence in the Far East in the decades ahead.

The realities of post BREXIT trade and the increasingly cosy China/ Russian relationship will mean a security pivot in your direction John…..

Barry Curtis

The UK carrier strike group will become the leading force capability to shine a light on the UK ambitions to become more globally interconnected. Its certainly long overdue, the trouble is the armed forces are a mere shadow of their cold war strength. The future defence review needs to re-balance what the UK can truly deliver in force capability to our allies. Supporting NATO – perhaps concentrating on High North operations with a dedicated brigade like 4th Infantry Brigade to be structured for Arctic operations to replace 3 Commando Brigade, that is becoming more isolated from future commando operations that… Read more »

Neil Campbell

Is it somewhat surprising that no port visit is planned for Australia. I would have thought that with Global Britain and the chance to reconnect with old allies the visuals message to the average Australian, and the wider Indo-pacific audience, of the QE sailing into Sydney harbour would be well worth the photo-op alone.

Max Jone

Good to lay groundworks now so the benefits of the Hunter-class will be more apparent in the future – RAN will be able to provide advanced ASW escorts to a joint task group with easy cross-comparability.

Greg Chapman-oliver

good to see and perhaps other Pacific rim and Indian ocean stake holders will see the benefits of regular joint exercises. Interesting Singapore is doing the same with China, fence sitting for the first timid jump away from SEATO?

Robert Bidwell

Lived and worked in Singapore for a couple of decades for a UK company as CEO of SEA . I married a Singapore Lady, and I am Australian ..Love this type of comrade