The jets and warships of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Carrier Strike Group have “unleashed their firepower during high-octane live firing exercises” on Pacific firing ranges, according to the Royal Navy.
The Royal Navy say that the windswept Farallon de Medinilla outcrop – in the middle of the Mariana Islands in the western Pacific – was struck by weapons fired from three F-35 jet squadrons (two from HMS Queen Elizabeth and the other from amphibious assault ship USS America) and the naval guns of HMS Kent, Defender and HNLMS Evertsen.
HMS Kent, HMS Defender and HNLMS Evertsen joined F-35 fighters from HMS Queen Elizabeth and U.S. Marines ashore for a coordinated Naval Gunfire Support exercise aimed at delivering shore bombardment from the sea. pic.twitter.com/l9Tx9vr7bl
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According to a Royal Navy news release:
“HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Kent, HMS Defender and HNLMS Evertsen of the CSG – which is currently on a seven-month deployment to Indo-Pacific and back – linked up with the Expeditionary Strike Group 7 and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in the Philippine Sea in waters close to an uninhabited tropical island for two days of intensive gunnery training. The windswept Farallon de Medinilla outcrop – in the middle of the Mariana Islands in the western Pacific – was struck by weapons fired from three F-35 jet squadrons (two from HMS Queen Elizabeth and the other from amphibious assault ship USS America) and the naval guns of HMS Kent, Defender and HNLMS Evertsen.
This barrage was called in by specialists from the United States Marine Corps – known as Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) – who landed on the island tasked with coordinating firepower from the F-35s and warships, bringing a hail of lead and steel down on targets across the island.
This was the fiery opening phase of two weeks of training with US allies for the UK Carrier Strike Group, who are fresh from a port visit to Guam, the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands.The intensity of the exercises increased throughout the two-day training, with air support being drawn in from F-35s on the first day before the CSG ships arrived offshore the following morning and established communications.
The training wrapped with F-35B, mortars and naval gunfire being coordinated together in an impressive showing of firepower.”
Earlier in the month, HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike have arrived in Guam. You can read more about that here.
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.
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.”
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.