Eastern Mediterranean – Britain’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is helping to take the “lion’s share” of operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq, UK naval commanders said. It has also piqued the interest of Russian warplanes, who try to keep tabs on their state-of-the-art F-35 jets in a game of “cat and mouse” with British and American pilots.
Speaking on the 65,000-ton carrier on its first deployment, Commodore Steve Moorhouse said the UK is carrying out most of the missions to wipe out the remnants of the ISIS terrorist group in Iraq as the United States focuses on its withdrawal from Afghanistan. Used to be.
“At the moment, we’re taking on the lion’s share of that operation on Iraq, which is a glorious, say, feather in our hat. But the one achievement is that ‘A’, we are trustworthy and ‘B’ that we are able to are capable of,” Moorhouse told reporters on Sunday.
It is the first time that a UK aircraft carrier is supporting live military operations on the ground in more than two decades, showcasing British military prowess on a global scale. Moorhouse said the carrier provides Britain with flexibility in the way it conducts military operations abroad and “keeps those who want to harm us … on their toes.”
He said the eastern Mediterranean has become more “crowded and conflicted” over the past decade in light of the heavy Russian military presence in Syria, resulting in regular encounters with Russian ships and warplanes.
“We’re rubbing against Russian activity, not in a dangerous or aggressive way, but you’ve got other people here playing in a certain piece of water and airspace,” Moorhouse said, adding that a Russian warship carrier’s 10 Kilometers (16 miles) within.
The commodore stressed that the Russian, British and American pilots have a “healthy respect for each other” and that their conduct has been “absolutely professional” since the aircraft carrier launched an anti-ISIS operation on June 18.
“But there is a reality when you buy yourself a fifth generation aircraft carrier and you take it around the world … people are interested in it,” he said.
Captain James Blackmore, who commands eight British F-35 jets and 10 helicopters aboard the carrier, said UK and Russian pilots have come within “visual distance” of each other.
“It’s a cat-and-mouse pose, that’s what we expect in this area of the world. And as you can imagine, this is the first time for an F-35 in the eastern Mediterranean,” Blackmore said. “So, of course Russia wants to see what they’re like, they want to see what our carriers are like.”
The state-of-the-art F-35, which is armed with air-to-air missiles and laser-guided bombs, is being used over Iraq to seek out other aircraft or unmanned drones, as well as support troops on the ground. Being used to carry out surveillance with its sophisticated sensor and radar systems.
“It’s a fifth-generation aircraft with an extremely, extremely capable radar and sensor suite, and that’s what it brings. So it’s eyes and ears that it’s offering out there,” Moorhouse said.
HMS Queen Elizabeth and her auxiliary ships, including the American destroyer The Sullivan, will remain in the eastern Mediterranean for two to three weeks before proceeding with a 7 1/2-month deployment to India, South Korea via the Suez Canal. , and Japan.
The carrier also owns 10 US F-35 jets from Fighter Attack Squadron 211 of the Marine Corps which operates under British command.