Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East and Chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, has called for HMS Queen Elizabeth to be redeployed to the Indian Ocean to assist with the Afghanistan evacuation.

Ellwood tweeted:

“RE-TASK OUR CARRIER. As Kabul falls & with the threat picture changing fast – the Queen Elizabeth should return to the Indian Ocean so our F35’s can help with the evac if required. Little point in having such hard power if it’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Some are not convinced this is a good idea, however.

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 air assets from 617 Sqn, 820 NAS, 815 NAS and 845 NAS.

Not shown is an Astute class submarine.

The Royal Navy say that the UK’s Carrier Strike Group will visit more than one fifth of the world’s nations. Led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, the task group will visit 40 nations including India, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore in a deployment covering 26,000 nautical miles.

“While in the Pacific, ships from the Carrier Strike Group will mark the 50th anniversary of the Five Powers Defence Agreement between Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the UK by taking part in Exercise Bersama Lima. Joining HMS Queen Elizabeth on her maiden deployment are destroyers HMS Diamond and Defender; frigates HMS Richmond and Kent; an Astute-class submarine in support below the waves; and Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring.

More than 30 aircraft will also embark across the task group including F-35 jets from 617 Squadron, the Dambusters, and the US Marine Corps’ VMFA-211; Wildcat helicopters from 815 Naval Air Squadron and Merlin helicopters from 820 and 845 Naval Air Squadrons. Royal Marines from 42 Commando will also deploy with the carrier. Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen and American Arleigh Burke destroyer USS The Sullivans are also part of the strike group.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea with a mix of British and American jets.

Currently however, HMS Diamond isn’t with the group after suffering a defect. You can read more about that here. HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group will also undertake anti-submarine exercises whilst in the Pacific region.

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John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago

Well we would need the 1100 mile range of CMV-22, which we have not got. Or the 925 mile range of the newest AW101, which we have not got. Our existing early model Merlin do not have the upgraded airframes & engines. Our F-35B would need drop tanks, which they have not got.

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

In the 1960’s, the uK would not have had a problem to carry out independent milltery operations, we become for too reliant on others for support. Unlike Russia!

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion x
Nate M
Nate M
1 month ago
Reply to  Meirion x

in the 60s British naval assists were designed for anti-sub warfare. that’s why the type 82s have anti sub mortars.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Nate M

I think he’s talking about the carriers and their air groups. In this context particularly the Buccaneers.

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Yes, the Buccaneers could conduct long range strikes, and with a bomb bay which could hold fuel tanks.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Meirion x

Yeah genius idea never repeated by us sadly.

Always Right
Always Right
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

” Or the 925 mile range of the newest AW101, which we have not got.”

Erm, yes we do.

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago
Reply to  Always Right

Really, enlighten me. The only AW101 with 925 mile range, are those made after the design got a major improvement for the stillborn US Presidential helicopter. All UK EH101 were before that date.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

CORRECT the refurbed Merlins got a small range increase but not the 101s level

Andy
Andy
1 month ago
Reply to  Always Right

Please don’t confuse “range” (flying from A to B) with “Combat Radius”, flying from A to B and back to A. Combat Radius is less than 50% of Range due to the requirement to land and take-off or to linger over the field of combat

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

F35Bs don’t have the range to operate over Afghanistan from the carrier even if the Pakistanis granted over flight rights.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks
1 month ago

F-35’s do not have the range to get to Kabul (that’s 900km), unless extensive tanker support. Now that’s assuming Pakistan would allow overflights – and even the mighty Merlin doesn’t have the range to evacuate citzens, also Merlin’c can’t be refuellled as

A) They have no system aboard that i’m aware of to conduct in air refuelling, unlesss hovering over a flight deck of a ship if that counts

B) No Britsh military assets are certified to refuel helo’s. Allied assets would be needed

Cheers, Goldilocks

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

Pakistan wouldn’t refuse over fly rights for extractions, it would be polictically too damaging to do so. However even with it, as pointed out the range is probably too far to be realistic much help.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

But the only Carrier Assets that can reach Kabul even with refuelling factored in are F-35’s… and those aren’t much use for extracting.

Always Right
Always Right
1 month ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

No Britsh military assets are certified to refuel helo’s”

No, not that they’re not certified, British helos refuel on the ship, not mid-flight…

Goldilocks
Goldilocks
1 month ago
Reply to  Always Right

Morning Always Right,

I think I meant there are no British military assets capable of mid-air refuelling.

Cheers, Goldilocks

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Goldilocks

Merlins are plumbed for AAR but not fitted with the probe, Not sure MOD have any probes.

Challenger
Challenger
1 month ago

Last we heard she was in Guam so it’d take a week or more for her to reach the region by which time the Taliban will be firmly in control of Kabul (at this rate they will be in full control within the next few hours). Even if the CSG was in the area neither the F35’s or Merlin’s would have the range to get to Afghanistan which is quite a way inland. Quite worrying that a member of parliament comes out with this sort of statement showing a complete lack of understanding of our capabilities and of the situation.… Read more »

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

Not just any MP. The chair of the defence select committee! Hopefully he just opened his mouth and let his belly rumble without thinking much about it. And then posted it on Twitter lol. 🙈

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

I think He means to use F-35B’s as air cover, just in case the Taliban turn against our forces doing their job there.

Yes I agreed we would need AAR capability, operating from maybe Pakistan.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion x
Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago

I assume UK and US citizens will be extracted from Kabul airport. I see press photos of US Chinooks in Afghanistan.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago

Are the puma’s still there? Were the army still in Kabul doing the assistance mission? Let’s hope they all get out ok. The taliban are unstoppable it seems just now. I guess the Afghan army are no match for them or don’t have the will to fight

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

No they’ve left.

Julian1
Julian1
1 month ago

F35b only has single seat, not sure you’ll load too many interpreters in the cockpit. Bomb bay perhaps?

Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago

He should really know better! Is this just politicking or were the RGJ glad to get rid of him in the 90s coming out with such ill thought chuff?

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Airborne

Well he only made it to Captain despite the Green Mafia, so he can’t have been that switched on…

Karl
Karl
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

He was regarded as a plonker.

Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Agreed, then went on the reserve list! Fair play to anyone getting into green kit but you still need to know wtf your doing.

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
1 month ago

It’s official … Tobias Ellwood has the IQ of a cuttlefish!

Warren
Warren
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

What is the IQ of a cuttlefish🤔

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
1 month ago
Reply to  Warren

If you take the size of the cuttlefish, (in mm) x10, divided by pi, times the cubed root of 4, gives you … oh I don’t know  😜 

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

It can’t get there in time. The Taliban are already running the show with the help of the ANA. No shots fired. We are fools and need to face the truth.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rob
Geoffi
Geoffi
1 month ago

Mr. Ellwood is a classic example of the old addage “a little knowledge is dangerous”

Sean
Sean
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoffi

Yup with that ridiculous call he has certainly badly dented the credibility that he had from having served.

Mark B
Mark B
1 month ago

Running operations from the back benches should be resisted at all costs.Just some MP trying to ensure he is not forgotten. With suggestions like that I would encourage everyone to forget him and keep him away from power on a permanant basis.

dan
dan
1 month ago

Love it when politicians try and tell the military leaders how to run things. lol

Jimbo X3
Jimbo X3
1 month ago

This is what pisses me off with Politicians they just open their wide mouths and let their bowels speak. The Carrier Strike Group is in The middle of the Pacific Ocean it would take them a couple of weeks to return to the Indian Ocean to be in a position to intervene by that time the Taliban will be the Government of Afghanistan and probably recognised as such by ever antiWestern Govt in the World so what good would the CSG do. We have lost Afghanistan let us the Western Governments learn our lesson from this debacle, if you are… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Oh dear, Tobias.

Moot, but would the 14 extended range Chinooks planned have the legs?

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago

Absolutely Daniele, Tobias has no idea what so ever mate..

Re the Chinooks, interesting one. Perhaps set up at a temporary fob way out in the boondocks, with SF and AH64E support … But that’s for the next war mate…..

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Sounds too much like Eagle Claw.

Lepke Buchalter
Lepke Buchalter
1 month ago

The QE is thousands of miles away, Afghanistan is far from the sea and F-35s don’t carry passengers.

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago

F-35’s are for air cover for our troops on the ground, just in case the Taliban are thinking of blackmailing us as well!

Steve
Steve
1 month ago

Guam is over 6.5k Miles from Arabian Sea which even if CSG could steam at 25Kts constantly it would take 11/12 days to even get close! The RFA’s could not keep up so she would arrive low on fuel with no replenishment vessels available for a week, I don’t know about US & NL but i doubt T45/T23 could steam that long at that power setting. This will be RAF evac plain an simple which will take years off the airframe life span of the avaialable frames which they won’t replace. Just show the sad state our politicians have put… Read more »

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Agreed! Time to requipp the RAF as well ,with long range capabilities.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Meirion x

Tankers that can refuel C-17/RC-135/ P8 etc would help but they just need to be prepared to replace what we have earlier than necessarily planned. Modern aircraft are designed to fly not sit on the ramp. That was the issue years ago when we had the VC-10K’s doing the bulk of the AAR taskings the Tristars would sit on ramp a Brize for ages unused then they would wonder why they failed when the turned on. The AT fleet (except maybe the A400’s) are in use constantly and from what I see they seem to have a gretty good availability… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve
Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago

Things have progressed far too quickly and caught everyone off guard. Now if POW had been sent out there with MV-22s aboard (which we don’t have) then the Navy might have been able to contribute. But as it stands it is unable to do anything.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

Send F35’s to do what exactly? We don’t need airstrikes, we need transport assets to get people out. The last thing you do with a hornet’s nest is smack it with a stick! Even if it had V22’s on board, it wouldn’t make a jot of difference. This is were the C17 comes into its own as a strategic airlift asset. It’s all very well for MP’s to throw their hands up in horror, but QE isn’t really required, or able to make any contribution to the Afghan end game. It shows a complete lack understanding re the task group… Read more »

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

I didn’t mention F35s, I merely referred to using MV-22 for airlift purposes.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

Sorry Paul, I didn’t make myself clear, I meant Tobias bemoaning the lack of Carrier…..

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

“Send F35’s to do what exactly?”

Yes exactly, to provide air strikes if necessary, if the Taliban have any ideas of dictating the terms of the exit,

Last thing we want is taking orders from, and appeasing Islamofascists?

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion x
John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Meirion x

Airstrikes wouldn’t help now Meirion, if it came to that point, no airlift could get in or out and this evacuation would have failed.

The unpalatable reality is, we have temporarily control (ish) of the airport by permission of the Taliban.

War tasking is over in Afghanistan, it’s humanitarian airlift now mate.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Spot on. The war is over and we lost unfortunately.

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

If QE/PoW had CMV-22 with their 1100 mile range, it would be handy for picking up Britons in Afghanistan that cannot safely travel by road to Kabul Airport.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

I see what you mean, but Chinooks, in country can carry more and a good distance.

You can guarantee that a back up plan has already been worked out, secure locations in country will have been established to bring people out under fire if (god forbid) Taliban leadership loose control of their rabble….

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Yes, there is more than one way of doing it. Let us hope that the Puma replacement has a few CSAR models that can be easily carried into theatre by C-17/A400M, need minimal reassembly, whiz out to pick up Brits stuck in the countryside, then when the job is done, just need the rotors folded to be taken out by C-17/A400M.

The Jester
The Jester
1 month ago

Rather a stupid suggestion Mr Ellwood. I don’t think the carriers have been designed for wheels.

Richard Wakefield
Richard Wakefield
1 month ago

We need to learn from this! All the billions we spend on the military doesn’t allow us to support our ground forces from our carriers in this theatre! To be fair we pulled out too fast!

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago

Exactly again!

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago

Like many politicians, I don’t think Mr Ellwood is aware of the short comings of our very limited armed forces thanks to countless spending cuts/lack of investment over a great many .years. we’ll undoubtedly do our best as always with the resources we have available. I wonder if he realises the country is landlocked?

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

With a ton more cash what assets exactly would the QE have in this time frame that would have made it of use?

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago
Reply to  James

With a ton more cash she and POW would be operating MV22s, and with a little more thought POW could have been station and have been able to make a useful contribution carrying out airlift from a variety of locations as opposed to everything having to go through Kabul Airport.

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

POW is operating in this time frame, they are built as aircraft carriers i.e for fighter aircraft not troop transport/disaster relief.

Even with a ton more cash we would not have had MV22’s.

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  James

I think Harrier GR9’s as well, to provide support for ground forces from makeshift bases. And cheap to operate.

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  Meirion x

Maybes they wouldnt have been retired so soon but I doubt they would have been kept on till now with F35 coming online.

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

Yes it is the case of the missing pieces from the jigsaw of UK milltery capabilities.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion x
Nathan
Nathan
1 month ago

Does this demonstrate a capability gap that we should think about closing or is this too niche?

Long range, light transport with a short take off and land capability and enough fire power to provide some air cover?

Considering future air superiority is going to demand longer range “effects” it would seem it may be a capability we will come to need to invest in.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Nathan

Having Voyager being able to refuel C-17’s and themselves would give you big range increase?

Is Turkmenistan anti The West? it is under 4k Miles to Kabul going northern route which is within direct flight range for both C-17 & Voyager as opposed to over 5K going out via Pakistan.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve
David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

All the Stans over there take their orders from Russia so it’d be them Iran or Pakistan ! What an adorable trio !   :wpds_chuckle: 

criss whicker
criss whicker
1 month ago

it seems once again, we don’t have what we need, when we need it most
i thought we had learned something from the past,
just a thought

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 month ago
Reply to  criss whicker

Exactly!

Johan
Johan
1 month ago

MPs should concentrate on their own countries’ problems rather than spout of sending F35s to help the evacuation. WHERE ARE THE GOING TO SIT, how the hell is that twat an MP…

coll
coll
1 month ago

Feelings over logic.

Rob N
Rob N
1 month ago

This is a silly idea. It is much better to use existing RAF assets rather then a few choppers of a ship. Also Prince of Wales may be closer so his suggestion involves the wrong ship. Trust a politician to come up with a unworkable solution… I think that was the type of thinking that the politicians used to get us into Afghanistan in the first place. The previous UK history in Afghanistan was a disaster. The Russian experience in the country was a disaster. We learnt nothing and were signed up for another disaster. I think politicians should keep… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

I would suspect he meant that you use the carrier to help keep the enemy honest. It’s clear that a deal has been done that will allow an evacuation. But extremists sometime change their mind.

The stick does not need to reach Kandahar to still be a stick.

Then again if there was a deal it may just piss them off and as it can’t provide air cover for the air head in Kandahar it may just make it worse.

who knows ??