Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and his US counterpart Lloyd Austin extended an enhanced cooperation agreement on carrier operations as they met in Washington, according to a release from the Ministry of Defence.

The two met in Washington DC for a day of high-level talks on a range of shared security challenges, discussing the UK-US defence partnership, NATO, Afghanistan and the Carrier Strike Group.

“UK-US defence cooperation is the broadest, deepest and most advanced of any two countries in the world, combining the biggest defence budget in the world with the biggest in Europe, and the pair discussed opportunities to further deepen that partnership.

Mr Wallace and Mr Austin extended an existing agreement covering Enhanced Cooperation on Carrier Operations and Maritime Power Projection, due to expire in January 2022, by an additional year.

It comes as UK and US forces make their way 26,000 nautical miles around the world as part of the UK-led Carrier Strike Group (CSG21), projecting reach and influence and reassuring allies with a series of over 70 engagements, joint exercises and operations.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth joins USS Ronald Reagan, USS Iwo Jima

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

“It was great to meet up with Lloyd Austin again after our meetings in London and Brussels. The US continues to be the UK’s most important defence partner and we are working together, across all domains, to confront future threats. There is much to do but the extension we agreed will ensure that we can cooperate even more seamlessly with our forces across the globe.”

The extended agreement lays down guidelines to ensure the generation, training and operation of both nations’ carrier forces are “harmonised and effective, maximising and maintaining interoperability as both forces evolve and modernise to meet the threats of the future”.

HMS Queen Elizabeth joins USS Ronald Reagan, USS Iwo Jima

The unique interoperability of the UK and US carrier forces is demonstrated by the key role US forces are playing in the UK’s current Carrier Strike Group deployment, say the MoD.

“Nine ships, 32 aircraft and 3,700 personnel set sail in May, led by the UK’s new aircraft carrier HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, on the Strike Group’s seven-month maiden operational deployment around the world. The integration of US destroyer USS The Sullivans and ten Marine Corps F-35B jets into CSG21 shows our intent to further improve interoperability between NATO Allies as we jointly develop 5th generation carrier strike capability. The deployment is emblematic of how the US and UK work together to defend our shared values, uphold the rules-based international order and tackle the threats of the future.”

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Andy G
Andy G
30 days ago

Are they actually going around the world? Or coming back the way they came?

Charles T
Charles T
30 days ago
Reply to  Andy G

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe it is likely to be back the way they came since there are limited diplomatic and military opportunities if they continue to circumnavigate. Thanks

Trip
Trip
30 days ago
Reply to  Andy G

I don’t think its announced yet. I think they will visit AUS and NZ but its unclear if they will go back through Suez or not.

magwitch
magwitch
29 days ago
Reply to  Andy G

They can’t get the carrier through the Panama Canal because of the Miraflores locks and there is absolutely no way they will risk putting it through the Drake Passage to get from the Pacific to the Atlantic so she will return the way she came.

Darren hall
Darren hall
29 days ago
Reply to  Andy G

Perhaps they could go via the Cape and have a visit to Stanley…

Nathan
Nathan
29 days ago

I just wish we had more depth and lethality to our armed forces. A time will certainly come when our fighting men and women will need to stand against a peer, or technologically superior threat. And in this fast paced world there may not be time to up-gun and fit all those devices we never bought but our kit is designed to take. And, I just don’t believe the USA of tomorrow will have the ability to respond to a world filled with asymmetric threats or the will to act. For instance, our electrical grids are horribly exposed to cyber… Read more »

Sean
Sean
29 days ago
Reply to  Nathan

Well your scenario would obviously make China the prime suspect for such a weapon. Isotope analysis would probably eventually allow identification of the plant where the fissile materials were produced. A co-ordinated move against the West is probably the worst case scenario: China against Taiwan and Russia against the Baltic States. Potentially this would force the USA to focus on China leaving Europe to deal with Russia. But it’s just Russia now on its own, we’re not facing the combined forces of the Warsaw Pact – most of whose members are now in NATO. So long as Article 5 holds,… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
29 days ago
Reply to  Sean

Yes a lot of people tend to forget that Russia is a very low GDP nation and as such Is not really a peer threat to Nato.

China is still a Regional power and is functionally economically dependent on Western Markets, so it’s not likely to push so far as to destroy the markets that keep its masses in work and fed.

Will there be pushing at some key points but unless someone drops the ball I can’t see China making some form of nuclear strike against the west.

Callum
Callum
29 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Worth noting that while Russia may “only” have the 11th highest GDP, it has an authoritarian government, ridiculously low manufacturing costs and a strong domestic defence industry that doesn’t have to pay import costs. They also, I’m sure I don’t have to remind you, have a massive stockpile of nuclear and conventional arms that they’re willing to deploy. Economic forecasts are that by 2050 Russia will be one of the global manufacturing giants. I have my doubts as to the accuracy of those forecasts, as their declining population and the fall of the fossil fuels seem likely to outweigh any… Read more »

Ian
Ian
27 days ago
Reply to  Callum

A greater willingness to rely on fossil fuels than their western competitors may give them an economic advantage, especially if it’s coupled with a generally more relaxed regulatory environment. But as noted- that depends somewhat on how many people are left in Russia by then.

James
James
26 days ago
Reply to  Ian

It may have no choice but to rely on Fossil fuels in the next couple of decades with the possibility of such fuels dropping in price as demand drops it may also play into Russia’s hands.

Sean
Sean
29 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Yes China has been dependent on the West for hard currency and continued growth. But in recent years the CCP has realised this and has increasingly been trying to get the new Chinese middle-class to spend to create a domestic market for its products.

Meirion X
Meirion X
27 days ago
Reply to  Sean

China will struggle to create a domestic market for its products, due to the vast majority of the population is low paid.
Only a small elite are rich or super-rich.
If there was a sudden International boycott of China’s produce now, it’s economy would shrink to what is sustainable by the present domestic demand, most likely the size of about India’s economy, or even fall further.

Last edited 27 days ago by Meirion X
Meirion X
Meirion X
27 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Russa is a peer threat to the UK!
It will have about 60 warheads allocated to destroy just UK bases and cities.

Last edited 27 days ago by Meirion X
Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
29 days ago
Reply to  Nathan

Sounds like a Tom Clancy novel. Fortunately, diplomatic relations and intelligence and the global economy exist to reduce the chances of that happening to very very low levels.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
29 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Fundamentally true but the balance of events is changing and not in our favour. As China becomes more and more independent of Western markets it is freer to expand upon its extra territorial machinations. It wants to bring all of South East Asia under its influence and threats of how Australia being within its Ballistic envelope tend to show its lent up desire to impose this with the present hawk in charge. A matter of time before they invade Taiwan and the US only this past week refused to agree with Japan’s argument to defend the island. That would bring… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
29 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

We also have to remember that China is also very dependent on Western consumers. It’s still very much the case if America catches a cough, the rest of the world gets a cold. The global economy means conflicts have major economic repercussions, and China would have nothing to gain from upsetting the status quo to much.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
29 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Meanwhile what happens in Europe. I fear Russia will act as proxy to China’s global ambitions not because it wants to but to try to improve its own position in a world increasingly dominated by China. Russia may in coordination increasingly stir up trouble in Europe testing US resolve in NATO. meanwhile bringing the two together a US professor like Trump before him question# why the US should be forced to defend NATO countries. He used North Macedonia as an example which he claims is about to default a payment to China for building a road giving China legal rights… Read more »

Sean
Sean
29 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

If China does ever invade Taiwan then for its sake it better have a major fifth column offensive with sympathisers throughout the military and political class. A modern first world nation with a population of 24 million it’s not going to be like the Argentine invasion of the Falklands.
The Chinese would ultimately take it, though perhaps facing a decades long insurgency. But the losses the Chinese would suffer in men and material would probably take decades to recover from. They’d win, but at a high price.
(And thus assumes Taiwan is abandoned to fight alone.)

Criterion
Criterion
14 hours ago
Reply to  Sean

You are right to point out that the cost/benefit analysis of territorial wars to obtain “Chiwan” could make it a folly to attempt, and that it would open a weakness in the Chinese global disposition. China has shown much more planning and investment in regional soft power obtained with hard currency; belt and road is an enormous commercial land grab, international pied de terre, and an infrastructure project that obtains enormous gains in East Africa including legitimate ports, notably in Tanzania. A warlike action opens them to moral objections from the historically very peace oriented Tanzania, and they may have… Read more »

Last edited 13 hours ago by Criterion
Pete
Pete
29 days ago
Reply to  Nathan

Once attended an AMCHAM event in KL in mid 2001 with the speaker being Lt Gen Frank Libutti, the then USMC commander of everything in APAC between California and the Red Sea. Always remember him saying there were three things that kept him up at night, and he excluded Saddam Hussain on basis SH was into self preservation and was therefore predictable. 1. North Korean unpredictability 2. US reliance on smart weapons with limited inventory 3 Given ‘2’, US politicians believing the USA could actualIy fight two concurrent major wars. Interesting that his comments came at a time when Russia… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
29 days ago
Reply to  Nathan

Sounds like a good Hollywood movie concept…. Could be a follow up to the sum of all fears….

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
29 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

Well if the us or uk feel like it’s all over the nukes go up and hopefully I get wiped out in the blast. Would not want to be part of the left overs

BigH1979
BigH1979
29 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Exactly…if you find out a nuke is on its way then run towards it!!! Ive seen Chernobyl and ARS does not look nice 😵😵

Callum
Callum
29 days ago

I do wonder what the chaps aboard the Reagan make of the QE. The basic design of their ship, and its aircraft, date back to the 60s and 70s respectively, and while the Liz may currently only have a single squadron’s worth of Lightnings aboard, the yanks are fully aware of the capability difference.

Plus, we have on-board pubs 😉

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
29 days ago
Reply to  Callum

I would imagine unlike the Wartime carriers the QE actually have air conditioning now too.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
29 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

I don’t think the USA would have bothered developing the F35 if they didn’t feel it had a capability difference: which it does.

All RN ships have had chilled water systems since T23.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
29 days ago

T 42 had chilled water as did T22… Leanders and DLGs had it after a fashion.

Bluemoonday
Bluemoonday
29 days ago
Reply to  Callum

You mean the superior capability of the Reagan compared to the QE? The USN have generations of proven combat experience which no other navy can claim, plus their boats are not range limited, while their air combat wings have a greater combat radius. Head to head, it not even close.

dan
dan
29 days ago
Reply to  Bluemoonday

It’s just good to see the RN back in the big boy league with aircraft carriers again. Sure it’s not a Nimitz or Ford class CVN but no one is expecting the Brits to have full deck carriers again. Those times are long since over for them. Their new CVs are a welcome addition to the RN and NATO and will take some pressure off the USN CVNs.

Bluemoonday
Bluemoonday
29 days ago
Reply to  dan

Can only agree with that! There is an important capability difference which I hope is recognised, so that expectations are kept realistic.

David Steeper
David Steeper
29 days ago
Reply to  Bluemoonday

Absolutely I don’t think anyone over here would disagree. The US CVN’s are in a league of their own thanks to their air groups.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
29 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Indeed only China will be able eventually to match them and even for them it won’t be easy or quick. The only question can be if they are the right or best solution. For now I think probably yes in a decade they may be as relevant as HMS Valiant was post war. Difficult to predict though I am not convinced either they or the QE will be the best solution by the thirties even if carriers prevail.

BigH1979
BigH1979
29 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Sorry to be pedantic…do you mean HMS Vanguard?

Nicholas Bassett
Nicholas Bassett
28 days ago
Reply to  BigH1979

I imagine he did, seeing as Valiant’s job was launching torpedoes rather than aircraft.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
29 days ago
Reply to  dan

Exactly though full deck carriers, assuming you mean cat and traps, are not and would not have been out of the question for QE class indeed had it not been too late the change would have happened. The original designs were indeed of that layout and even Nuclear was considered just too expensive.

Nicholas Bassett
Nicholas Bassett
28 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Politically unacceptable to have 4 nuclear reactors based in the ‘city centre’ of Portsmouth. Trust me, I’m a resident.

Nicholas Bassett
Nicholas Bassett
28 days ago
Reply to  dan

Oh dear Bluemoonday, I think you need to get your tape measure out and do some calculations regarding deck area, and then re-think your comment about not being “full deck”…

Andy
Andy
35 minutes ago
Reply to  dan

Complete waste of money! The RN could have bought many more frigates for the same money to keep a far better footprint around the world. We cannot afford a deep water Navy anymore, we should base ourselves on Scandinavian navies. It’s because the RN is far too biased to Portsmouth. Ex CPOWEA

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
29 days ago
Reply to  Bluemoonday

Fast forward 10 years when we could potentially see 36-40 F35’s on the deck, plus Merlins, UAV’s in the AEW and Refueling ISTAR and Strike role’s, and the sortie rate won’t be far off a Nimitz class. Plus they are a fraction of the cost. And only require a ships company of around 800. It might not be as big a Ford class, but it’s a true 5th gen carrier, designed from day one for 5th gen fixed wing capability.

Bluemoonday
Bluemoonday
29 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Again, I agree completely. These are awesome asset’s for the UK and I do not mean to sound negative. All I was trying to say is that the US carriers are still the premier vessels of their type.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
29 days ago
Reply to  Bluemoonday

Let us realistically looks at what else is out there:- Russia has a dual purpose carrier/submarine. Only one and it won’t be operational again, if ever, for some time. China has the sister boat/copy of the Russian carrier but much modified. With potentially some new versions on the way. The question is wether they know enough to go straight to the right solutions given the model they are incrementing from was never the best and is ancient. India also has a copy of the dual purpose carrier and some indigenous thing that it is creating that may, or may not,… Read more »

Posse Comitatus
Posse Comitatus
29 days ago

‘…. dual purpose carrier/submarine…’

Brilliant 👏

David Steeper
David Steeper
29 days ago

Ditto. That’s the funniest line I’ve seen in a long time.

Bluemoonday
Bluemoonday
24 days ago
Reply to  George Allison

The original post seemed to suggest there was a capability difference in favour of the QE

David Steeper
David Steeper
29 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Fingers crossed your right.

Crabfat
Crabfat
28 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Robert, there is a report in the current edition of AFM headed ‘Crowsnest ASaC system set to leave UK service by 2029’.

‘Releasing details of a Crowsnest replacement on May 11 the UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator which sits as part of MoD …[has] invited industry to present ideas under its Maritime Early Warning Innovations competition’.

AFM expressed surprise (as we all would) given that [Crowsnest] is part of the current CSG21 capability.

Another capability gap looming? Answers on a postcard…

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
29 days ago
Reply to  Bluemoonday

I think he was just referring as to whether a new look over a traditional acceptance of past concepts and time honoured constraints would have made it a better ship than it is. No one with half a brain is claiming the QE is a more capable ship just perhaps questioning if a certain percentage of the cost of a Reagan could have been put into its design concept it could have been a better potential solution after all original concept design for the UK carriers would have been a much closer call and still much cheaper. I have no… Read more »

Bluemoonday
Bluemoonday
29 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Well in that case, the future plans for the US carrier fleet is a fascinating question. These QE class boats have gained real support from some in the US, according to reports. Mainly due to cost. Still, I doubt the prospect of seeing a shift in US supercarrier policy, due to the political fall out such a change would risk for starters.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
29 days ago
Reply to  Callum

The Iwo Jima too, the America’s are a big update true on the basic design but the Americans do hate to rethink old or accepted design decisions (considering recent experiences with new naval design concepts that may be understandable mind) and the first retained a workshop area ahead of the island that wasted much need deck space. They then realised even this seemingly unquestioned minor design element was actually ludicrous and got rid of it but it does show the conservative nature of their thinking at times and probably why they wanted a proven design for their new frigates after… Read more »

Callum
Callum
29 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Institutional momentum is certainly an issue. Any organisation that gets big enough and successful enough tends to get stuck in certain practices. Worth noting, the Swedish submarine only “sank” that US carrier in a highly orchestrated scenario. Not necessarily an unrealistic one, but a very specific one. For instance, small coastal boats like the Gotland lack the range and speed to effectively threaten a nuclear carrier in open ocean. As for the V Bombers hitting New York, if I remember correctly it happened much earlier than the 80s, during an exercise where the RAF ruthlessly exploited insider knowledge of a… Read more »

magwitch
magwitch
29 days ago
Reply to  Callum

CVW-5 has 4 squadrons of Super Hornets and squadron each of Hawkeye plus Growler on the Reagan. I’m sure they are wracked with jealousy over our 8 F-35Bs.

Callum
Callum
29 days ago
Reply to  magwitch

And? I never said the Queen Elizabeth was flat out more powerful, but she’s a far more modern ship than the Reagan. Regardless of the actual respective power levels, the automation and stealth fighters are going to attract attention.

Old muscle cars have plenty of appeal, and they’re often flat out more than modern cars, but that doesn’t mean their drivers can’t look at the new car and go “shit, that’s pretty cool”.

Ian
Ian
27 days ago
Reply to  Callum

I suspect the USMC pilots would rather be on the QE than on one of their LHAs, given the lack of ski jump and pub onboard the latter.

Rob
Rob
29 days ago

I guess this carrier operation agreement extension means with have a USMC squadron onboard POW next year? I’m not sure there is much utility in our pilots doing STOBAR operations on US carriers in US jets. An RN QE class with 24 F35Bs + a USN CVN with it’s powerful AW makes for a fantastic task group. Maybe next year we will see POW doing some more multi carrier tasking.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
29 days ago
Reply to  Rob

I agree it is the combined effect that is so very special and powerful.

fearlesstunafish
fearlesstunafish
29 days ago
Reply to  Rob

after the usmc lost one of their lhds to dockside fire and are thus one short…… methinks they’re probably quite happy with this arrangement as well….

Last edited 29 days ago by fearlesstunafish
Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
29 days ago

They are 2 different carriers that operate in different ways. The Americans have floating cities with 5000+ People on board. Then the escorts etc. This thought of as they are nuclear powered they are unlimited range is silly. They need jet fuel and other stores every 3-5 days when doing ops etc. Feeding 5000+ sailors is no small task. The Royal Navy got great kit for a good price that suits there needs and budget brilliantly. The Americans have what they like to have and suits them. How this will be in the future we will have to wait and… Read more »

dan
dan
29 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Unlimited range refers to the fact that the ship itself doesn’t need to be refueled. That is a big advantage as the replenishment ship(s) can then carry much more jet fuel, food, weapons, ect since they don’t need to refuel the carrier itself. I don’t think anyone here thinks just because a ship is powered by a nuclear reactor it doesn’t need other supplies, ect for it’s crew, aircraft, ect.

Sean
Sean
29 days ago
Reply to  dan

The big advantage of being reactor powered is the speed of the carriers. This is regarded by the USN as an important attribute with regard to attacks by submarine.

Ron
Ron
29 days ago
Reply to  Sean

True, I remember reading somewhere that they wanted to do a full speed capability test on the old USS Enterprise, they had to shut it down when the carrier was still increasing speed at 40knts +.

james harrington
james harrington
29 days ago
Reply to  Rob

Hello Rob, not being a poster here as I don’t consider myself an expert on these tpics, but I am a daily reader. To me this is just another step for having RN carriers on a regular deployment with USN task forces due in part to the American concerns about their carrier (Attack and Iwo Class) shortage, especially after the Bonne Homme disaster. The F35B fits into the American naval power projection scheme perfectly.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
29 days ago

Indeed the West generally needs as many as they can get at the moment. The US had no active carrier in the Atlantic a year or so ago due to technical issues, a sudden return to port and maintenance schedules. They are not easy to maintain.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
29 days ago

With only two carriers I wonder what the availability of platform and crew will be? One carrier deployable/deployed for 70% of a year? …or far less than that?

Sean
Sean
29 days ago
Reply to  Rob

U.K. pilots would fly from USMC amphibious carriers using U.K. F35B’s alongside the US F35B’s they currently operate. Essentially the QE class will be interoperable in terms of aircraft and aircrew with the America class while offering a punch somewhere between the America and Gerald Ford class.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks
29 days ago

Does anyone know the date for POW?, I guess it be 2023 to correspond to big lizzie, who took 4 years from commissioning to maiden deployment but no idea if those nasty leaking has delayed it to significantly?

dan
dan
29 days ago

That’s a ton of firepower not only from all the strike aircraft but the hundreds of TLAMs carried by the DDGs, Cruiser(s) and subs. And I bet the Brits are glad to have the Reagan’s E-2Ds to watch over them. At least they won’t have to have the RAF’s AWACS keeping watch for them for a while.

Last edited 29 days ago by dan
Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
29 days ago
Reply to  dan

Indeed that’s their big weakness undoubtedly.

David Steeper
David Steeper
29 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

It’s money as always. We do not and never will have the budget the USN has. So we have to make compromises we all have/do understand that. What would/should the RN give up to get fixed wing AEW. One of the Type 26 or the Type 31 an Astute ? and so on.

Sean
Sean
29 days ago
Reply to  dan

Hence Project Vixen, to have lots of UAVs flying from the QE class carriers providing AEW as well as fulfilling other roles.

Terence Patrick Hewett
Terence Patrick Hewett
28 days ago

If the UK F35bs take off using a ski ramp and do not have catapult gear – how do they take off from US carriers if they land on them.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
28 days ago

They can take off without the ski jump. It’s what they do on the America ships. The ski jump just gives you a boost in payload/weight. Just like a skier jumping off a flat jump versus a ski jump

Terence Patrick Hewett
Terence Patrick Hewett
27 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Thanks. T.

Wayne F
Wayne F
28 days ago

When you consider that the QEC may end up with British designed EMALS (with a design specification just 12% below that required to launch a fully loaded F-35C), angled flight deck, and Barrier Arrested Recovery, within an early refit, the hangar may be filled with both F-35B AND F-35C, alongside AI Mosquito/Vixen in Fighter / AEW / Refuelling versions, the Queen Elizabeth looks to be very good value. Not even going to speculate whether the Rolls Royce Marine Trent’s in those Sponsons will be swapped out for a couple of the new 5% Uranium Ore Rolls Royce 440MW Nuclear Power… Read more »

Rob Downunder
Rob Downunder
6 hours ago

Awesome power from both US and UK Carriers, but….modern middle technology and next generation weapons like rail guns and supersonic guided missles make these Boats massively vulnerable. Do we really think the Chinese and Ruskies haven’t dedicated massive R&D efforts into specifically ‘how to kill a carrier’…..