United States Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter made the claim today in speech given at Oxford University.

The intense level of military co-operation between the United Kingdom and United States began with the creation of the Combined Chiefs of Staff in December 1941, a military command with authority over all US and British operations. Following the end of the Second World War the joint command structure was disbanded, but close military cooperation between the nations resumed in the early 1950s with the start of the Cold War.

The United Kingdom is the only collaborative, or Level One, international partner in the largest US aircraft procurement project in history, the F-35 Lightning II program. The United Kingdom was involved in writing the specification and selection and its largest defence contractor, BAE Systems is a partner of the American prime contractor Lockheed Martin.

BAE Systems is also the largest foreign supplier to the United States Defense Department and has been permitted to buy important US defence companies such as Lockheed Martin Aerospace Electronic Systems and United Defense.

The US operates several British designs including Chobham Armour, the Harrier and T-45 Goshawk. The UK also operates several American designs, including the Javelin anti-tank missile, M270 rocket artillery, the Apache gunship, C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft.

One present-day example of such cooperation is the UKUSA Community, comprising the USA’s National Security Agency, the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters, Australia’s Defence Signals Directorate and Canada’s Communications Security Establishment collaborating on ECHELON, a global intelligence gathering system. Under classified bilateral accords, UKUSA members do not spy on each other.

Another example of this relationship are Royal Navy sailors training alongside their US Navy counterparts on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, with training having started at the end of June.

According to a US Navy press release, the Royal Navy sent six Sailors to integrate into Wasp’s flight deck operations to prepare them for their upcoming Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.

Royal Navy sailor Richard Clark said:

“Living with one another is good for integration, so when we work together, when we have your aircraft come to our flight decks, and vice versa, we’ll have a bit more awareness of how we each operate. It helps us work with you better on different platforms when we need to.

This is the first group of guys who are not 1st Classes. Some of them have never been on a ship before, so for the younger guys, it’s good for them to get experience.”

The Royal Navy stopped working with fixed wing aircraft in 2010, so the reintroduction of carriers in the British fleet requires personnel who can safely run a flight deck.

USS Wasp is deployed with the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group to support maritime security operations and theatre security cooperation efforts in the US 6th Fleet area of operations.

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