Once the Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth starts operations in 2021, it will be made available to deploy as part of NATO’s Readiness Initiative.
The UK prime minister announced on May 4 that the first of the UK’s Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, together with the F-35 fighter jets, would fly the flag of Britain alongside NATO allies.
“I’m pleased to announce that NATO will soon be able to call on the UK’s Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers and F-35 fighter jets to help tackle threats around the world,” PM Theresa May said.
NATO’s Readiness Initiative aims to improve the readiness of the alliance’s forces to deploy and move within Europe and across the Atlantic to safeguard international security. The UK will look to make its aircraft carrier a key part of those plans as the country continues to play a leading role in the alliance which has been the cornerstone of its defense for 70 years.
Be it projecting influence for peace, standing ready to fight, or delivering vital aid around the world, HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, will fly the flag of a global Britain,” defense secretary Penny Mordaunt said.
At the NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting in June 2018, allies committed, by 2020, to having 30 battalions, 30 air squadrons, and 30 naval combat vessels ready to use within 30 days. This was reinforced by heads of state and government at the NATO Summit in July.
HMS Queen Elizabeth remains set to be deployed on global operations from 2021 and when HMS Prince of Wales joins her in the fleet in the near future, the UK expects to have one carrier available at very high readiness at all times.