First Combat Air Strikes from HMS Queen Elizabeth

June 22, 2021 – The UK’s Carrier Strike Group has joined the fight against Islamic terrorism with F-35 jets carrying out their very first combat missions from HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Stealth jets of the renowned 617 Squadron RAF (The Dambusters) carried out operational sorties for the first time in support of Operation Shader and US Operation Inherent Resolve.

On 18th June 2021, F-35B strike fighters launch from HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Eastern Mediterranean have joined the fight against Daesh. The involvement of the UK Carrier Strike Group in Operation SHADER marks the first combat missions flown from a Queen Elizabeth-class carrier and the first maritime strike operations conducted by the Royal Navy in ten years.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The ability to operate from the sea with the most advanced fighter jets ever created is a significant moment in our history, offering reassurance to our allies and demonstrating the UK’s formidable air power to our adversaries.

“The Carrier Strike Group is a physical embodiment of Global Britain and a show of international military strength that will deter anyone who seeks to undermine global security.”

For the task group, which has spent previous weeks in the Mediterranean working with NATO allies and partners, it marks a change of emphasis.

From exercises and international engagements, it is now delivering its full might of naval and air power, putting the “strike” into Carrier Strike Group and contributing to the UK’s fight against Daesh.

Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group, said: “HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first missions against Daesh will be remembered as a significant moment in the 50-year lifespan of this ship.

“It also marks a new phase of our current deployment. To date we have delivered diplomatic influence on behalf of the UK through a series of exercises and engagements with our partners – now we are ready to deliver the hard punch of maritime-based air power against a shared enemy.

“The involvement of HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Air Wing in this campaign also sends a wider message. It demonstrates the speed and agility with which a UK-led Carrier Strike Group can inject fifth generation combat power into any operation, anywhere in the world, thereby offering the British Government, and our allies, true military and political choice.”

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