As part of the Boris Johnson led government’s Indo-Pacific tilt announced earlier this year, the UK’s Carrier Strike Group sails East to meet with ships from the Indian Navy to conduct joint maritime exercises.
The UK’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG), led by the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, has sailed into the Indian Ocean region having recently transited the Suez Canal and is headed for India, according to the British government.
Following a series of successful engagements and operations in the Mediterranean it is sailing East across the Indian Ocean towards India, where it will meet with ships from the Indian Navy to conduct routine maritime exercises.
“The UK Carrier Strike Group deployment is a major moment for UK defence as we develop this cutting-edge capability across the globe. The group is sailing the Indian Ocean and will shortly conduct exercises with the Indian Navy, building on our already strong partnership with an important ally and friend,” said UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.
“The deployment illustrates the UK’s enduring commitment to global defence and security, strengthening our existing alliances and forging new partnerships with like-minded countries as we face up to the challenges of the 21st century,” he said.
The Carrier Strike Group deployment was announced as part of the Boris Johnson led government’s so-called Indo-Pacific tilt earlier this year, a foreign policy commitment to deepen diplomatic, economic and security ties with India and the wider Indo-Pacific region.
“The Carrier Strike Group deployment marks the start of a new era of defence cooperation with allies in India and the Indo-Pacific,” said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
“By visiting 40 countries and working alongside our partners, the UK is standing up for democratic values, seizing new trading opportunities and tackling the shared threats we face together. The deployment will interact with India, strengthening our already deep ties for the benefit of both our peoples’ security and prosperity,” he said.
The Foreign Office said the deployment demonstrates both the UK’s support for the freedom of passage through vital trading routes and for a free, open inclusive order in the Indo-Pacific.
British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, added:“The Carrier Strike Group is a powerful demonstration of our commitment to the security of India and the Indo-Pacific. Its arrival follows the UK’s first International Liaison Officer joining the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre, Indian Ocean Region, in Gurugram.
“This marks another step towards delivering the ambition set out jointly by our Prime Ministers in the 2030 Roadmap, bringing our countries, economies and people closer together.”
As part of its maiden operational deployment, the CSG will sail over 26,000 nautical miles, engaging with 40 countries from the Mediterranean to the Indo-Pacific and back again. The Foreign Office said has dubbed it the spearhead of UK’s Joint Expeditionary capability and a cornerstone of the UK’s conventional military deterrent. The group comprises nine ships, 32 aircraft and one submarine and is manned by 3,700 sailors, aviators and marines from the combined forces of the UK, US and the Netherlands.
The fifth generation HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier, at 65,000 tonnes, is the largest surface vessel ever constructed in the UK, said to be taller than Niagara Falls with propellers generating the power of 50 high-speed trains. The carrier leads six Royal Navy ships, a Royal Navy submarine, a US Navy destroyer and a frigate from the Netherlands in what is said to be “the largest concentration of maritime and air power to leave the UK in a generation”.
It is equipped with the fifth generation F-35B Lightning multi-role aircrafts, being jointly crewed by the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and the US Marine Corps.