CSG21

Carrier Strike Group: Multiple live intercepts of Russian military on deployment

The UK's Carrier Strike Group has had more than 30 live interactions with the Russian military during its current deployment.

The details emerged at the Pacific Future Forum, taking place onboard HMS Prince of Wales in Portsmouth.

Speaking in a broadcast live from the bridge of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group, said: "We were launching the first F-35 sorties, from the Mediterranean, north into the Black Sea – a round trip of well over 1,000 miles, whilst also sending jets east into Iraq and Syria, on six and seven-hour missions in support of Operation Shader.

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"Throughout, we were maintaining an on-deck ready alert capability to respond to Russian air incursions and overflight.

"Was this all needed? Was it necessary? Yes, it was. There were over 30 live intercepts of armed Russian fighter and bomber aircraft conducted in just over two weeks."

He went on to say: "It was this high-tempo operation in the face of a competing and challenging adversary that provided the foundation from which the Strike Group could prepare for the less familiar, and equally contested, seas of the Indo-Pacific."

At the Pacific Future Forum in Portsmouth, head of the Senior Service Admiral Sir Tony Radakin spoke in defence of the so-called Indo Pacific tilt, announced in March.

He said: "I think this is a rich period where we actually are following through on a policy announcement, and in a very substantial way."

Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said: "This is about working with them [allies], building that understanding of the region, understanding the dynamics of the region.

"When we talk about a tilt to the Indo Pacific, it's a tilt that's done on the terms of our friends and allies and deepening those relationships and that's what it's all about.”

He added: "Whilst the hard military power, this phenomenal air and maritime force which is the Carrier Strike Group, is part of it – that only comes to life if we use all of the other elements of Government power".