20:58 GMT27 July 2021
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    The carrier strike group entered the Indian Ocean after a series of engagements and operations in the Mediterranean. The fleet is expected to visit 40 nations, including India, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, in a deployment covering 26,000 nautical miles.

    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.

    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.

    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.

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