HMS Queen Elizabeth and her F-35 jets have joined the fight against Islamic State, with the jets carrying out the very first combat missions ever flown from HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The Ministry of Defence say that stealth jets of the renowned 617 Squadron RAF (The Dambusters) carried out operational sorties for the first time in support of Operation Shader and US Operation Inherent Resolve.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

“The ability to operate from the sea with the most advanced fighter jets ever created is a significant moment in our history, offering reassurance to our allies and demonstrating the UK’s formidable air power to our adversaries. The Carrier Strike Group is a physical embodiment of Global Britain and a show of international military strength that will deter anyone who seeks to undermine global security.”

The Royal Navy say in a news release:

“From exercises and international engagements, it is now delivering its full might of naval and air power, putting the “strike” into Carrier Strike Group and contributing to the UK’s fight against Daesh.”

Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group, said:

“HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first missions against Daesh will be remembered as a significant moment in the 50-year lifespan of this ship. It also marks a new phase of our current deployment. To date we have delivered diplomatic influence on behalf of the UK through a series of exercises and engagements with our partners – now we are ready to deliver the hard punch of maritime-based air power against a shared enemy.

The involvement of HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Air Wing in this campaign also sends a wider message. It demonstrates the speed and agility with which a UK-led Carrier Strike Group can inject fifth generation combat power into any operation, anywhere in the world, thereby offering the British Government, and our allies, true military and political choice.”

Captain James Blackmore, Commander of the Carrier Air Wing, added:

“The Lightning Force is once again in action against Daesh, this time flying from an aircraft carrier at sea, which marks the Royal Navy’s return to maritime strike operations for the first time since the Libya campaign a decade ago.

With its fifth generation capabilities, including outstanding situational awareness, the F-35B is the ideal aircraft to deliver precision strikes, which is exactly the kind of mission that 617 Squadron has been training for day-after-day, night-after-night, for these past few months. This is also notable as the first combat mission flown by US aircraft from a foreign carrier since HMS Victorious in the South Pacific in 1943.

The level of integration between Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and US Marine Corps is truly seamless, and testament to how close we’ve become since we first embarked together last October.”

There are 18 UK and US F-35 Lightning jets on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is the largest number of fifth generation combat aircraft to ever sail the seas.

What is the UK Carrier Strike Group doing?

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the deployed flag ship for Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21), a deployment that will see the ship and her escorts sail to the Asia-Pacific and back.

The Carrier Strike Group includes ships from the United States Navy, the Dutch Navy, and Marines from the US Marine Corps. As well as British frigates, destroyers, a submarine, two RFA supply ships and air assets from 617 Sqn, 820 NAS, 815 NAS and 845 NAS.

The Carrier Strike Group.

CSG21 will see the ship along with the Strike Group work with over 40 countries from around the world. The Strike Group will operate and exercise with other countries Navies and Air Forces during the 7 month deployment.

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DP
DP
4 months ago

So, as it stands, are our F35Bs still limited to the use of Paveway for ground attack purposes (engaging Daesh), or are they certified to use anything else to take out ground targets? Brimstone/Spear etc? Can Paveway be carried within the internal bomb bay or are they purely for use from wing pylons? I note the pictures provided show outer wing pylons with ASRAAM air-air missiles so I presume these are just library pictures, not pictures from the actual operations?

Mark t
Mark t
4 months ago
Reply to  DP

Paveway 4 only for RAF jets, not sure about USMC. Aim 120 and Paveway carried internally, looks like the US jets are carrying Aim9x. They will carry air 2 air missiles in case of interference from Syrian jets.

Pete
Pete
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark t

Some reports that Russian jets may have been very close by

Dave F
Dave F
4 months ago
Reply to  DP

They can carry PWIV internally

Joe16
Joe16
4 months ago
Reply to  DP

I think we’re still limited to Paveway, USMC have JDAM and (I think) SDB II. To be fair, I wouldn’t want to drop anything more expensive than a PW IV on Daesh anyway- I saw prices around £30k a pop, which is significantly cheaper than Brimstone. Again, with the ASRAAM, I think they would want them externally for the mission; they’re going over Syria, past all that Russian air defence hardware- they want to have as messy a radar cross section as possible to mask the real RCS of an F-35B. They’re not trying to infiltrate Iraqi or Syrian airspace… Read more »

DP
DP
4 months ago
Reply to  DP

Some good points made there guys, bang-for-buck with Paveway and RCA inside Syrian airspace etc, thanks guys. Looking forward to the day when our F35s are kitted out with Meteor BVRAAM and Spear-3 etc.

Mike
Mike
4 months ago

Much like the Russian carriers deployment and operations in Syria a few years ago, this is more a test and show of force than anything militarily tangable, good effort for sure but nothing too auspicious.

Sean
Sean
3 months ago
Reply to  Mike

I could be wrong but didn’t they lose 2 of their jets to accidents on that deployment and the carrier needed assistance from its tug?
Hopefully HMS QE will provide a better show.

KeithD
KeithD
3 months ago
Reply to  Sean

The Admiral Smokey doesn’t go anywhere without a tug

Sean
Sean
3 months ago
Reply to  KeithD

I don’t think it goes anywhere at all since the floating dock it was in sank, severely damaging it!!!

jon
jon
4 months ago

I wonder if we’ll get to find out what the sortie rate is.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
4 months ago
Reply to  jon

Possibly 2 daylight waves, and maybe 2 night waves. Sorties can last anything up to 3-5 hour’s. Depending on tasking.

John Hampson
John Hampson
4 months ago

Well Done. The site AirWars reported by Dec 2018 the RAF had flown 8000 missions against IS across Syria and Iraq since Sept 2014. They had released precision weapons 1600 times. The RAF, SAS and British Army, have significantly assisted US forces in smashing one of the most evil movements to have come into existence since the Nazis. Millions of innocent men, women and children have been freed from brutality, slavery and death. President Trump, US, British and French forces will get little credit for their efforts. But had it been up to the odious moral cowardice of Corbyn’s Labour,… Read more »

John Hampson
John Hampson
4 months ago
Reply to  John Hampson

And before I am asked to edit the post. No. You might as well take it down. It is not a Party Political commentary. It is a matter of record that there was substanial opposition in the Parliametary debate on the question of should Britain engage in a bombing campaign to try and destroy an evil group. IS were enslaving women and children in holes in the ground and Left wing groups in the UK were prepared not just to stand by but to actively prevent the UK from helping these enlsved peope. It is your decision. Allow the truth… Read more »

dan
dan
3 months ago
Reply to  John Hampson

Don’t forget all the liberal press and social media apps like Twitter, Fakebook, ect. They are turning America into a socialist country as we speak. Ugh

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
4 months ago

Just read an article by an Ian Williams, author of ‘Every Breath You Take’, concerning China’s ambitions, and occurred that it is as likely Moorhouse’s ‘wider message’ is aimed squarely at our future transit of SCS. The article, and thus no doubt book, mince no words over the extent to which Williams, and evidently military planners additionaly, consider Xi Jinping to be a loose cannon (my paraphrase). Perhaps, again in my words, suffering as much from Emperor syndrome as Mao and all the rest beforehand, apparently taking every criticism as a personal slight. If true as written, one starts to… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Gavin Gordon
dan
dan
3 months ago

Looks like the F-35s are in the least stealthy mode with their reflectors on and external missiles. No need to let the Russians in Syria get any info on how stealthy they can get.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
3 months ago
Reply to  dan

Even if unstealthy, I still hope the F35Bs can carry additional AMRAAM/Meteor’s on their wings if/when needed as a force multiplier, Or, if these missiles get more compact, more can go internally. I’d love to see a future stretched F35B or even and if possible, a twin engined F35 with a bigger payload and more range. For now some more of these please…

KeithD
KeithD
3 months ago
Reply to  dan

Stealth isn’t an on-off thing, there isn’t a stealthy or not stealthy mode.

Steve M
Steve M
3 months ago

Guessed where QE was the other day from ADS-B what with AWACS, Rivet Joint & Voyagers all orbiting between Cyprus and Syria!!!

CPA Jim
CPA Jim
3 months ago

I’m a Certified Public Accountant of China with Chinese hukou. Despite HMS Queen Elizabeth’s mighty power demonstrated, be alert to the most dangerous artificial viruses in the military labs of People’s Liberation Army released globally through a strategy of releasing bioweapon in peaceful time and spreading disinformation. PLA got financed through deceitful financial statements from international financial market including Hong Kong financial hub, a strategy of robbing enemy’s resources to finance military operation being far superior to shipping resources from home country as mentioned in the Art of War. A PLA company China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), whose audit scope… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
3 months ago

Before HMS QE rocked up, did the RAF fly these sorties (in support of Operation Shader and US Operation Inherent Resolve) from Incirclick, Turkey or direct from UK?
Is there a major advantage in flying the sorties from the carrier instead? Greater weapon load etc?

BobA
BobA
3 months ago

RAF E-3D AWACS supports UK carrier strike group in Mediterranean (janes.com)

Not sure what this says about confidence in Crowsnest?