American F-35 with a UK Carrier Strike Group 250918 CREDIT LOCKHEED MARTIN MOD
Navy

What Makes Up A Carrier Strike Group?

Once HMS Queen Elizabeth becomes fully operational she will need a Carrier Strike Group up to escort her - but what will this include?

American F-35 with a UK Carrier Strike Group 250918 CREDIT LOCKHEED MARTIN MOD

F-35s will operate from the UK's Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers for the next 50 years (Picture: Lockheed Martin/MOD).

Britain's largest-ever warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, has arrived in Canada along with other Royal Navy ships as part of the UK's Carrier Strike Group (CSG).

Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon and Type 23 frigate HMS Northumberland sailed alongside the £3 billion aircraft carrier as part of the CSG.

The ships crossed the Atlantic as part of Westlant 19.

HMS Queen Elizabeth set sail from Portsmouth last month.

The deployment will see British F-35B Lightning jets undergo test operations with HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time, off the east coast of the US. 

The F-35B is the UK's most advanced war-plane ever, with British Lightnings flying their first operational missions in June.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) plans to eventually own 138 of the aircraft, which first landed on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth almost a year ago.

They were American F-35s piloted by British personnel.

Watch: A look at what elements make a Carrier Strike Group.

The Lightning, which can operate from land and sea because of its short take-off and vertical landing capability, will form a key a part of the Carrier Strike Group's firepower.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to be fully operational in her Carrier Strike role in 2021.

But when the carrier is fully operational following the completion of trials, what could make up the Carrier Strike Group?

What Forms A Carrier Strike Group?

Protecting an aircraft carrier is a large scale task.

They require escorts in the form of Type 23 frigates, which have anti-submarine capabilities, and Type 45 destroyers with sophisticated air defence systems.

Minehunter vessels may also need to be deployed in case of a threat, with submarines providing vital protection beneath the surface.

1990s carrier strike group
Carrier HMS Ark Royal in the 1990s surrounded by an RFA fleet tanker, the Sandown-class minehunter, HMS Cromer and carrier escort ship HMS Gloucester.

A Carrier Strike Group will also need a replenishment ship, provided by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

This would contain all weaponry needs, as well as food for the sailors.

RFA Tideforce is currently part of the Carrier Strike Group on Westlant 19. 

Last year, RFA Fort Rosalie delivered vital supplies to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Arabian Gulf.

Fort Rosalie transferred 96 pallets of stores to the Roosevelt, as part of her tasking with the aircraft carrier's strike group.

British personnel from RFA Fort Rosalie joined the US strike group in the Gulf.

They used the trip to see first hand how operations are conducted aboard a US vessel, ahead of the RFA supporting the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

USS Theodore Roosevelt in the South China sea (Credit: DVIDS)
A US Carrier Strike Group supporting and protecting the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea (Picture: US Department of Defense).

The Royal Navy's new generation of aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, cost around £3 billion each.

The two ships will call on other vessels to support them, including Type 45 destroyers, Type 23 frigates, Astute Class submarines and, in the longer term, Type 26 frigates.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to embark on its first operational deployment in 2021.

More: What Is It Like On Board HMS Queen Elizabeth?