UK Carrier Strike Group: Which Aircraft, Ships And Squadrons Will It Feature?

Nine vessels, aircraft from five squadrons and 3,700 personnel will make up the Carrier Strike Group.

The UK's Carrier Strike Group, spearheaded by aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, is nearing its maiden operational deployment. 

It was declared ready for operations in January and will soon set sail, travelling more than 20,00 nautical miles from the North Atlantic, through to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and on to the Indo-Pacific.

But what ships, aircraft and personnel are going to make up the group?

Nine ships are deploying, including HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy's fleet flagship, which will lead it.

The £3.2bn, 65,000-tonne ship will sail alongside four Royal Navy ships - Type 45 destroyers HMS Defender and HMS Diamond, plus Type 23 frigates HMS Kent and HMS Richmond. 

HMS Defender recently began intensive training ahead of the group’s spring deployment.

Whilst the Carrier Strike Group has a British core, two NATO allies are supporting the deployment.

American destroyer USS The Sullivans and Dutch ship HNLMS Evertsen also make up the group.

UK Carrier Strike Group lineup 310321 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY
F-35 Lightning jets from both the UK and US will be deployed as part of the Carrier Strike Group (Picture: Royal Navy).

The task group is supported by two ships from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

Tankers RFA Tidespring and RFA Fort Victoria will help replenish the other vessels with supplies, equipment, fuel and food. 

Aircraft from five squadrons will also help make up the Carrier Strike Group.

This includes 815 Naval Air Squadron, home to the Wildcat helicopters, the latest generation of multi-role helicopters, and 820 Naval Air Squadron, a dedicated helicopter squadron for HMS Queen Elizabeth.

845 Naval Air Squadron, part of the Commando Helicopter Force, is also deploying.

The squadron supports 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, and as well as hoists, load-carrying and passenger capacity, can land almost anywhere and work from ships.

F-35B Lightning jets, flown by the RAF’s 617 Squadron and the US Marine Corps' VMFA-211 Squadron, will also deploy.

In total, 3,700 personnel will be a part of the Carrier Strike Group, including personnel from 42 Commando, Royal Marines.

Cover image: HMS Queen Elizabeth on Exercise Joint Warrior (Picture: Royal Navy).