HMS Queen Elizabeth trains with F-35s in northern European waters

Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth has sailed from Portsmouth bound for operations in northern European waters with F-35 Lightning jets.

Royal Navy
Credit: Royal Navy

The aircraft carrier recently returned from the United States where it hosted a high-profile security conference between the UK and US in New York.

Following a pause in Portsmouth, HMS Queen Elizabeth has now sailed for the next phase of its autumn programme, which will see the vessel lead a carrier striker group of warships, helicopters and F35B stealth jets on Operation Achillean.

The Carrier Strike Group will work closely with NATO and Joint Expeditionary Force allies as the UK underscores its commitment to safeguarding European security. 

The Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) is a coalition of ten like-minded nations, which are dedicated to maintaining the security of northern Europe.

This latest deployment builds on a range of operations and exercises with JEF allies this year for the Royal Navy, including maritime patrols in the Baltic Sea.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will be at the centre of the Carrier Strike Group, with the Commander UK Carrier Strike Group, Commodore Angus Essenhigh, and his staff commanding from the aircraft carrier. 

F-35B Lightning jets from 617 Squadron will carry out flying operations, while helicopters from 820, 845, 815 and 825 Naval Air Squadrons will be undertaking sorties from a bustling flight deck.

The deployment is part of the UK’s Operation Achillean, which also includes a task force led by HMS Albion in the Mediterranean.

The task force – which also includes RFA Argus, RFA Mounts Bay and HMS Defender – have most recently worked in Montenegro, forging closer bonds as the Balkan nation celebrates five years of NATO membership.