Led by the fifth-generation 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth on its maiden trip, the UK carrier strike group has entered the Indian Ocean and is sailing towards India to conduct routine maritime exercises with the Indian Navy, the UK Defence Ministry said in a statement published on Friday.
"The UK Carrier Strike Group deployment is a major moment for UK defence as we develop this cutting edge capability across the globe", Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.
The UK’s largest warship, the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, and its strike task group has sailed into the Indian Ocean region, where it will conduct joint exercises with the Indian Navy as part of Britain’s efforts to enhance its profile in the Indo-Pacific @HMSQNLZ pic.twitter.com/BzFmbontK6— Sea and Coast (@seaandcoast1) July 16, 2021
The United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2021, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, has sailed into the Indian Ocean Region having recently transited the Suez Canal. It will enter Indian Ocean to conduct maritime exercises with Indian Navy: British High Commission pic.twitter.com/eIHALSGExK— Man Aman Singh Chhina (@manaman_chhina) July 16, 2021
Wallace claimed that it also illustrates London’s "enduring commitment to global defence and security, strengthening our existing alliances and forging new partnerships with like-minded countries as we face up to the challenges of the 21st century".
Meanwhile, Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said that conducting the joint naval exercises is extremely important. After the Indian Navy, the British ship will conduct military trials with the US Navy and sail into the South China Sea.
"This will mark a fresh start of defence cooperation with allies in India and the Indo-Pacific", Raab said.
In March this year, India and the US held exercises in the eastern Indian Ocean region that witnessed the participation of the Indian Air Force for the first time.
The integrated exercise of IAF & IN with US Navy Ronald Reagan CSG gets underway today. The engagement of IAF forces is spread out over 23 & 24 Jun. A joint flypast by IAF, @indiannavy & @USNavy ac will be executed during the exercise. pic.twitter.com/TT4ZeReOwr— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) June 23, 2021
Earlier this week, "a small number" of crew from the carrier strike group tested positive for COVID-19.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth is carrying on deck eight F-35B Lightning II fast jets, four Wildcat maritime attack helicopters, seven Merlin Mk 2 anti-submarine and airborne early warning helicopters, as well as three Merlin Mk 4 commando helicopters, and is escorted by six Royal Navy ships, a Royal Navy submarine, a US Navy destroyer and a frigate from the Netherlands.