HMS Prince of Wales is now the command ship for NATO’s Response Force.

This role will see the vessel sailing to the Arctic, the Baltic and the Mediterranean Seas.

According to a Royal Navy statement:

“The Royal Navy today took charge of NATO’s most important task force with a ceremony aboard aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales in Portsmouth. For the next 12 months it is responsible for leading the alliance’s Maritime High Readiness Force – an international task group formed to deal with major global events.

The most senior sea-going staff in the Royal Navy – Commander UK Strike Force, headed by Rear Admiral Mike Utley – takes charge of the force, with HMS Prince of Wales serving as NATO Command Ship, ready to deploy in support of NATO exercises and operations throughout the year. Those will include major workouts for British and allied forces in the Arctic at the end of the winter, Baltic in the summer, and an extensive deployment to the Mediterranean in the autumn.

To mark the formal transfer of command from the French Navy, the NATO flag was raised aboard the carrier today during a 30-minute ceremony – shifted to the carrier’s aft hangar rather than the flight deck due to thick fog in Portsmouth – attended by defence attachés and military representatives from across the alliance.”

You can read more on this from the Royal Navy here.

The Royal Navy assumed command of NATO’s Response Force from the French Marine Nationale on January 1st, 2022.

The NATO Response Force is a high readiness force comprising land, air, sea and special forces units capable of being deployed quickly on operations wherever needed.

Back in October, The Royal Navy said that a fortnight-long international exercise off the Scottish coast “put the stamp on two years of intensive training for the Portsmouth-based warship, 700-plus crew, the Royal Navy and RAF squadrons who will operate aircraft from her flight deck – including the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning stealth fighter – and thousands of military personnel and civilians who support and maintain the endeavour”.

“We have excitingly jumped the final hurdle and are now a fully-fledged strike carrier, ready at 30 days’ notice for operations around the globe,” said HMS Prince of Wales’ Commanding Officer Captain Steve Higham.

What will the ship do next?

The Royal Navy say that first up is leading naval involvement in Cold Response 22, “a large-scale Norwegian led NATO exercise which will be used to evaluate Rear Admiral Utley and his staff as the Commander of the NATO Response Force”.

“NATO is the cornerstone of the UK defence and our commitment to the alliance is absolute and it is a privilege to be the UK Maritime Component Commander moving into our vital role this year,” Admiral Utley stressed.

“The Royal Navy is global, modern, ready and well placed to support NATO in all its endeavours.”

As the year moves on, the staff will also help train and ready the Turkish Navy who will assume command of the NRF from the UK in 2023.

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Ron
Ron
10 days ago

Anyone got any ideas on the escorts for the PoW?

Autofleet4429
Autofleet4429
10 days ago
Reply to  Ron

HMS Defender has been confirmed but other than that Idk.

Autofleet4429
Autofleet4429
10 days ago
Reply to  Autofleet4429

Correction HMS Defender is confirmed as an escort for HMS Albion for part of her deployment not HMS Prince of Wales.

Joe16
Joe16
10 days ago
Reply to  Ron

To be honest, I’m little hazy on what it’ll be doing formally for the NRF. But it will be taking part in a load of NATO exercises, and HMS Defender was mentioned on Navy Lookout as being involved in that. Maybe Defender will be hanging out with her most of the time, augmented by various RN and NATO escorts as they exercise and/or steam to higher threat locations.
If I recall correctly, HMS QNLZ’ Westlant deployment comprised a T45 and a T23, which seems reasonable for a low-threat environment like the east coast of the US.

Mark B
Mark B
9 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Should be interesting to see. NATO flagship should be able to command NATO assets so you would expect the majority of the escorts to come from allies would you not?

Ron
Ron
9 days ago
Reply to  Mark B

Yes, that is why I am wondering what these assets would be. I have tried to find out on the NATO website what the NATO RF task is, standing force 1 and 2 I know and understanding but the RF? For my thinking if as this RF is built around a carrier then she needs an escort force linked with an Amphibious force to have a full flexible response. However when I look at the NATO website it appears to me to be a headquaters unit that is in command and control of diffrent units that are at highly ready… Read more »

Mark B
Mark B
9 days ago
Reply to  Ron

In theory the amercians could come in force. The possibility of a carrier with all that comes with it would send a message. I would doubt the French or other key European states would want to be left out. That said if POW were left alone without allies then at least we would know where we stood.

maurice10
maurice10
10 days ago

Great to see her in action at last. God bless all that sails in her.

DP
DP
10 days ago

Good to see a dovetailing of operations between QE and PoW. With the return of QE from the far east I presume she’s gone into a lower state of readiness so deeper maintenance and repairs can be carried out? Anyone have any ideas if there are any upgrades due on QE as a result of lessons learnt or scheduled modifications?

Autofleet4429
Autofleet4429
10 days ago
Reply to  DP

According to the RN she is at High-Readiness (30days Notice) although I suspect that she might drop to Medium-Readiness (60-90days Notice) as HMS-Prince of Wales is at Immediate/Very High-Readiness (upto 10days Notice) for most of the year and that is the standard doctrine for the RN carrier force with one at Very-High Readiness and rotating each year (when not on refit).

DP
DP
10 days ago
Reply to  Autofleet4429

Thank you A4429. Pardon my ignorance but I presume the crew of QE are on leave at the moment so the fact she is on High Readiness, as you say, still means (I presume) they could be recalled at short notice, whatever need arises?

Autofleet4429
Autofleet4429
10 days ago
Reply to  DP

Most likely although technically anyone in active/reserve service can be recalled at any given moment.
they have started maintenance on her flight deck (Likely coating for the F35s) but I can’t see that reducing her from High-Readiness (although I can only see what they are doing to the outside of the ship).

Steve M
Steve M
10 days ago

Does anyone know what the airgroup being deployed is? please don’t tell we we have 65,000 ton Strike carrier sailing about being NATO flagship with half dozen helo’s on 🤔

Last edited 10 days ago by Steve M
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
10 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

Well, unless 617 return for another visit, yes.

The alternative is leave her unused sitting in Pompey.

One day, when the F35 force has grown a bit bigger, the airgroup will be a more regular, substantial affair. Didn’t HMG commit to 2023 as being the timeframe when 24 F36 would be available for regular taskings?

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
10 days ago

Not for a while, I’m afraid

his Is the F-36 Kingsnake. It Could Be the Air Force’s Next Fighter Jet.
Last month, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown caused a stir when he announced the service was looking into buying a brand-new fighter jet to help replace the F-16 Viper. Such a jet doesn’t exist—yet—but thanks to new digital engineering techniques, it could actually enter service before 2030😂

https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a35865601/f-36-kingsnake-air-force-next-fighter-jet-concept/

F36-Kingsnake.jpg
Last edited 10 days ago by Nigel Collins
Meirion x
Meirion x
10 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Thanks for this info Nigel!
I have thought for a while it would be cheaper to provide the US Air National Guard with a 4.5+ gen aircraft to replace their 900+ F-16’s.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
10 days ago
Reply to  Meirion x

He’s joking. The F36 is a made up design but a bunch of blokes who work for a magazine.

Klonkie
Klonkie
10 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Thanks for pointing that out RB.

Derek
Derek
4 hours ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Yes Nigel, the F35 has failed the ludicrous ambition to replace every other aircraft except the B52 mission. It has not failed as a massive capability upgrade on the Harrier, which is our only interest.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
27 seconds ago
Reply to  Derek

And still waiting for full-rate production due to endless technical issues to be resolved and huge cost overruns. Block 4 pushed back until 2026, so no Meteor or Spear 3 until the very latter part of 2020s. Maintainance 50hrs per flight hour and peening already required to address bulkhead issues. Airframe life expectancy 2100 hrs as opposed to the 8000 hrs predicted by LM. After 62 years, how far have we really come since the introduction of the Harrier, a revolution of its time and still in service? When the Hawker P.1127 prototype (XP831) made its first tethered ‘hovering flight’… Read more »

Meirion x
Meirion x
10 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

What is the point of a part time airforce like the ANG having a top of range aircraft like F-35A?
If the UK had part time territorial airforce units, the Gripon would be a good choice, I think.

Last edited 10 days ago by Meirion x
DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan
10 days ago
Reply to  Meirion x

The US Air National Guard is not a “part time airforce.” The ANG is responsible for the air defense of the entire continental United States. Its ANG squadrons that are on alert to provide air defense and they are the ones who scramble for air defense missions using F-15Cs and F-16s. Three ANG bases are scheduled to get the F-35.

Meirion x
Meirion x
10 days ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

Thanks for that info Daniel, bugger me, I thought for a while the ANG was called up for periods of time like the Territorial Army!

Klonkie
Klonkie
10 days ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

Hi DM. I was under the impression (perhaps mistakenly) that the ANG is made up or reservists – in particular the pilots. So is there a pool of full time crews assigned?

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
9 days ago
Reply to  Meirion x

The F-35 was designed to penetrate peer enemy defences but whether it can do this is still unclear at this point in time. It was also supposed to replace more than one aircraft type in the US airforce but costs and delays have put a 4.5 gen aircraft into the picture. “The panel’s view reflects that the F-35 still hasn’t demonstrated its capabilities in a simulation against the most challenging Russian and Chinese air defense systems. The 64-sortie simulator exercise to be run by the Navy was most recently supposed to have been completed in December, though it was originally… Read more »

Klonkie
Klonkie
10 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

fascinating Nigel ! Thanks for posting this.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
9 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

You’re welcome, it was a bit tongue in cheek in reply to Daniels error in posting F36 instead of F35!

Due to spiralling costs and delays, the F35 might not replace the aircraft it was intended to.

https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/320295-the-us-air-force-quietly-admits-the-f-35-is-a-failure

Ron
Ron
10 days ago

Hi DM yeep by the end of 2023 it is expected that the UK will have 42 F35Bs, 24 for operations and 18 for training. It does appear that all 48 have been ordered.

Mark
Mark
10 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Has the number increased? I thought we had 21 at the moment in addition to the one lost overboard and the 3 orange wired aircraft in the US. BAe said last year the UK would receive 6 more in 2022 and 7 more 2023?

Airborne
Airborne
10 days ago

Mate as I mentioned above I’m not getting carried away by the lack of an air group as it’s a NATO asset and is capable of being utilised by NATO allies as and when required. Better to have the capability if needed than not at all. It gives planners “options” and the more options a planner has the less likely a shit option becomes the only viable one. Cheers.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
10 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

Concur. So much impatience! It is what it is, and in time will expand.

Meirion x
Meirion x
10 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

The USMC may provide some F-35B’s and helo’s, to fly them in to Rota Spain, so a trip to Spain for PoW possibly? Or they may fly them to the UK in a few weeks time.

Last edited 10 days ago by Meirion x
julian1
julian1
9 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

Operating within NATO areas would mean coverage of NATO QRA umbrella. Also, in emergency, F35B could be flown out. It’s not a drama that its on patrol without F35B now.

Jay R
Jay R
10 days ago

The UK has 2 aircracft carriers. And not enough airacraft to fill 1. Could somebody explain in 1 sentence why this is the case?

Ian M
Ian M
10 days ago
Reply to  Jay R

Slow buy rate of F35

Airborne
Airborne
10 days ago
Reply to  Jay R

Which is a sensible idea as the original airframes will need updating to (I think) Mod 4, (Daniele will correct me) as they are expensive, therefore getting the later ones of the production run makes sense.

Jon
Jon
9 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

Block 4, but who cares?

I think it’s primarily Meteor and Spear integration we are waiting for. In the past the blocks of upgrades haven’t been delivered as a block, but in stages within the block. The hardware upgrade will be Technology Refresh Package 3 (Daniele will correct me). And then there’s a potential engine upgrade which is not currently part of Block 4, but might become so.

Congress have been mandating stuff on the engine and I haven’t kept up; probably the GE pork-barrel thing.

Airborne
Airborne
9 days ago
Reply to  Jon

My knowledge of future F35 upgrades is not suffcient to debate either way on this and any info is uesful. However it would seem good (lucky?) planning that the slow delivery rate can work in our favour in regard to expensive upgrades.

Jon
Jon
9 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

Block 4 is a catch-all term for the upgrades officially developed between 2018 and about 2027 (originally 2026 but running late). Block 5 will follow. This is a good article, if a little old. You might want to ignore any references to integrating Turkish missiles. This is more up to date, but long and depressing. There are two possible engine upgrades: Pratt and Whitney’s and a whole new engine from General Electric. P&W’s will incrementally increase the engine’s performance, quickly and with less risk. GE’s is supposed to be next gen, but it won’t fit in the F-35B. As I… Read more »

Last edited 9 days ago by Jon
Airborne
Airborne
9 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Cheers!

BigH1979
BigH1979
9 days ago
Reply to  Jay R

We have the Carriers, hopefully the more visible they become the more the Govt will be pressured to fill them.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
10 days ago

Same question from me as before I guess … what aircraft will be aboard? Is there still such a thing as a carrier Combat Air Patrol?

Jon
Jon
9 days ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Let me quote from Navy Lookout

“According to the CO, Captain Steve Higham, the air group carried will be tailored to each mission (and availability of aircraft).”

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
9 days ago
Reply to  Jon

So no teeth then.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
9 days ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Aircraft carriers don’t carry Aircraft every single time they depart Portsmouth. All sorts of routine traning is carried without aircraft on-board. Or some Aircraft will join the carrier at a later date depending on the training programme and up coming exercises. The Americans don’t deploy 40 Super Hornets every time a carrier leaves Norfolk Naval base. French Rafales don’t join the CDG every time it puts to sea. These are hugely complex warships with many roles to undertake.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
9 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Not even a CAP anymore then? I know a fair bit of what carriers do, several good friends of mine served on them.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
9 days ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

They only hold aircraft at readiness if its going in halms way, like the QE did last year. They don’t when just operating around the UK. Same reason they don’t have escorts when operating in friendly waters. I served on Invincible class carrier’s on and off for 13 years.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
9 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Cool, a couple of old school mates of mine were on the Invincible during the Falklands, and another served on the Illustrious back then too.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
9 days ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Very versatile vessels for their size. The RN got a lot out of them. Removed the Sea Dart system to increase the size of the flight deck to carry more aircraft. Went from Sea Harrier’s FRS1’s and Seakings in the 80’s, to Harrier GR9, Merlin, Apache, Chinooks and more during the last 10 years of service. Good vessels.

Airborne
Airborne
10 days ago

Not going to get excited about the possible lack of substantial air group. It’s a NATO asset, and therefore it’s a big floating, moving airfield which can be utilised by any NATO allies, for any and all relevant operations which come about. Better to have it being available and utilised than not having it at all.

Jay R
Jay R
10 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

Yes plenty of NATO allies can land helicopters on her

Airborne
Airborne
10 days ago
Reply to  Jay R

Plus Italian and USMC F35B models, and none NATO allies Japan, South Korea. Its a platform, to be utilised from now and for the next 50 years or so. It gives planners of whatever op, options. And the more options planners have the less likely that a shit option is deemed feasible.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
8 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

Sorry AB … I couldn’t reply to your message on the other page. Regarding Artillery and its future, I had a system in mind and couldn’t remember the name of it. then I found this, and this. Tbh I like the look of both. https://euro-sd.com/2021/08/articles/exclusive/23833/rch-155/ https://euro-sd.com/2021/09/articles/exclusive/23911/brimstone/

Airborne
Airborne
8 days ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Yes seen that before on YouTube, looks a decent bit of kit, but the big thing is the commonality with the other Boxer chassis we are procuring. However as it makes sense to look at it, and the other essential Boxer variants, it means we probably won’t get it. The other is interesting, there’s quite a number of UGV carrying a number of precision strike missles be it brimstone or something else. Again it would be an area where the RA would have to take primacy, with maybe elements in Armoured Recce Squadron’s.

Johan
Johan
10 days ago

And as always the Exiting Head of the Navy throws a WANKER GRENADE stating we need to do more.

SHAME YOU DIDN’T HAVE THE BALLS BEFORE YOU RETIRED, YOU JUST SAT THERE AND EXPLOITED YOUR POSITION..

Matt
Matt
9 days ago
Reply to  Johan
Last edited 9 days ago by Matt
Ron
Ron
4 days ago

With the current situation I wonder where the PoW is? Apart from that I was doing some thinking, god it get harder with time. Anyway I was looking into the ideal airwing for a QE carrier with current aircraft types. Well as a fleet carrier three sqns of F35Bs meaning 36 aircraft, 4 ASW Merlins for support and rotation to escorts, 8 troop carring Merlins, 4 Crowsnest, 4 Apaches and 4 Wildcats. 60 aircraft in total. As a Strike carrier an extra sqn of F35Bs to replace the troop Merlins and ASW platforms. However that would mean that we need… Read more »