RAF

Carrier Strike Group 21: UK F-35 Jets On HMS Queen Elizabeth To Fight IS

The renowned "Dambusters" RAF 617 Squadron is set to operate the aircraft to support the counter-IS operations.

UK F-35B fighter jets on board aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will join the fight against the remnants of the so-called Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq and Syria.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) said the F-35B Lightning fast jets will join Operation Shader (the UK's contribution in the fight against IS) from the Carrier Strike Group to "pack a potent punch" against the militants.

The renowned "Dambusters" RAF 617 Squadron is set to operate the aircraft to support the counter-IS operations.

It marks the first time UK fighter planes are on an operational aircraft carrier deployment since 2010, the MOD said.

The F-35B fleet will also be the largest to ever sail the seas.

In a series of tweets, Commodore Steve Moorhouse, the commander of the Carrier Strike Group, explained what it means for the UK Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) to join the fight against Daesh.

He posted: "The UK Carrier Strike Group is joining the fight against Daesh. What does this mean?

"For CSG21 it marks a change of emphasis. To date, we've delivered diplomatic influence through exercises and  engagements – now we deliver the hard punch of maritime based air power.

 "For Operation Shader, we bring the fifth generation capabilities of the F-35B, including outstanding situational awareness to support the contribution of the Royal Air Force over the past seven years.

 "But it also demonstrates the wider utility of maritime-based air power. We offer military and political choice, and we are ready to deliver fifth generation combat power into any mission, in any theatre, at a time of our choosing."

Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said: "The F-35B Lightning jets will pack a potent punch against Daesh and help prevent them from regaining a foothold in Iraq.

"This is a prime example of the UK Armed Forces stepping forward with our allies to confront persistent threats around the world. It is Global Britain in action."

Chief of Joint Operations Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key said: "This deployment represents the embodiment of the UK's Joint Expeditionary Capability and utilising the F-35Bs in the fight against Daesh will further demonstrate our commitment to securing their global defeat."

HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently on her maiden voyage leading the UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG 21) on the Royal Navy's largest deployment in more than a decade.

The group will visit more than a fifth of the world's nations over 28 weeks.