UK-US Aircraft Carrier Co-operation Agreement Extended

It comes as American destroyer USS The Sullivans sails as part of the UK Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment.

The UK and US have extended an agreement to enhance co-operation on aircraft carrier operations.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and his US counterpart Lloyd Austin extended the agreement, which was due to expire in January 2022, by an additional year when they met in Washington DC for a day of high-level talks.

The discussions included shared security challenges, the UK-US defence partnership, NATO, Afghanistan and the Carrier Strike Group, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said.

American destroyer USS The Sullivans is currently part of the UK-led Carrier Strike Group (CSG21) deployment that is on a 26,000-nautical deployment around the world. 

It is spearheaded by Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, with the Strike Group taking part in more than 70 engagements, joint exercises and operations.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace with US counterpart in Washington DC for talks and extending carrier agreement 130721 CREDIT MOD
The agreement was extended during a meeting between Mr Wallace and Mr Austin in Washington DC (Picture: MOD).

Mr Wallace said: "The US continues to be the UK's most important defence partner and we are working together, across all domains, to confront future threats.

"There is much to do but the extension we agreed will ensure that we can co-operate even more seamlessly with our forces across the globe."

The extended agreement lays down guidelines to ensure interoperability of both nations' carrier forces is maximised going forward, the MOD said.

In addition to USS The Sullivans, 10 US Marine Corps F-35B jets, plus personnel, are deployed on CSG21.

The MOD said the integration of the US "shows our intent to further improve interoperability between NATO allies as we jointly develop 5th generation carrier strike capability".

Watch: F-35s take off on their first combat missions from HMS Queen Elizabeth in support of Operation Shader.

The Strike Group, made up of nine ships, 32 aircraft and 3,700 personnel set sail in May for the seven-month tour.

It is HMS Queen Elizabeth and the Strike Group's maiden operational deployment. 

Last week, phase two of the deployment began as HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Strike Group sailed through the Suez Canal after the carrier stopped off in Cyprus.