USS America (LHA 6), the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious assault ship, participated in cyclic flight operations with HMS Queen Elizabeth (R 08) in the Philippine Sea, Aug. 22-24.
The two ships conducted continuous flight operations for 48 hours, flexing dual-carrier – and triple-F-35 squadron – capability, as the ships feature three total F-35B Lightning II detachments.
“The two days of continuous flight operations were the culmination of several days of interoperability and maritime strike training with allied air power on America and Queen Elizabeth,” said Capt. Ken Ward, America’s commanding officer. “This interaction showcased how quickly and seamlessly the U.S. and U.K. can fold together our combined air power, and execute highly intricate and sustained flight operations to devastatingly lethal effect.”
America operates with a detachment of F-35s from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, which reinforce rotary-wing and tiltrotor aircraft from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 265 as part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). America also fields a detachment of MH-60S Sea Hawks from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25. Queen Elizabeth deployed with F-35s from U.S. Marine VMFA-211 and Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron.
“Conducting exercises with ships of the U.S. Expeditionary Strike Group 7 is another milestone for HMS Queen Elizabeth,” said Royal Navy Capt. Angus Essenhigh, Queen Elizabeth’s commanding officer. “We have shown interoperability with our allies and as we get accustomed to operating in the Indo-Pacific again these relationships will be important for all future Royal Navy ships operating in the region.”
The America Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) and the Queen Elizabeth Strike Group (CSG-21) have been operating together in the Philippine Sea this month as part of Large Scale Global Exercise (LSE) 21 and Noble Union.
America, flagship of the America Expeditionary Strike Group, along with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to enhance interoperability with allies and partners, and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.