The UK Carrier Strike Group — led by HMS Queen Elizabeth — is now at Initial Operating Capability, but how will it operate?
Initial Operating Capability, or IOC, means that all elements of the strike group have been successfully brought together, from fighter jets to radar and anti-ship weapons.
What makes up the UK Carrier Strike Group?
The Ministry of Defence say that the group includes 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 Northumberland and HMS Kent from the UK and the Dutch Navy’s HNLMS Evertsen.
“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.”
How will it operate?
The strike group is the largest and most powerful European-led maritime force in almost 20 years.
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”.
The Ministry of Defence say that the group includes NATO’s most sophisticated destroyers coming together from the Royal Navy, the US Navy and the Dutch Navy. They will not only protect the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers from enemy ships, submarines, aircraft and missiles, but are also capable of conducting a range of supporting missions, from maritime security to disaster relief.
Later this year, HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group will deploy to the Pacific.
Prior to the deployment, it is understood that the Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group will go through a work-up trial off the west Hebrides range sometime in early 2021.