CSG21

CSG21: Prime Minister Claims 'Dozens' Of F-35s Deployed On HMS Queen Elizabeth

Boris Johnson's claim contradicts reports indicating the Royal Navy flagship is only carrying eight RAF F-35s, plus 10 from the US.

The Prime Minister has said HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently carrying "dozens" of F-35 fighter jets while deployed to the Indo-Pacific.

Boris Johnson's claim at the Conservative Party Conference contradicts reports that the Navy's flagship, currently leading the Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) deployment, actually only has 18 jets on board.

Of the F-35s on HMS Queen Elizabeth, 10 belong to the US – with the remaining eight belonging to the UK.

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The UK does plan to have "dozens" of F-35s by 2025 – 48 to be precise – with the total eventually rising to 138.

As of earlier this year, the UK had 21 F-35s – Britain's most expensive and advanced warplane – with eight of those on HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Watch: UK Carrier Strike Group begins journey home after four-month Indo-Pacific mission.

Mr Johnson also said HMS Queen Elizabeth is "rather more compelling as an argument than many of the speeches made in the House of Commons" but has not been deployed to the Indo-Pacific "because we want to threaten anyone or be adversarial".

He instead said the deployment of the Carrier Strike Group was "to stick up for the rule of law that is so vital for freedom of navigation and free trade".

Earlier this week, the Commander of the Carrier Strike Group, Commodore Steve Moorhouse, said on Twitter the "main body" of the Strike Group had sailed into the disputed South China Sea.