03:36 GMT03 March 2021
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    A US Marine Corps F-35B squadron is going to serve the first-ever deployment on a foreign aircraft carrier by a US squadron in 2021, when it will set sail with the UK’s HMS Queen Elizabeth.

    "It's going to be a wonderful new way — and I will offer, potentially a new norm — of doing coalition combined allied operations with a maritime partner," Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, head of Marine Corps aviation, said at the Sea-Air-Space conference in Maryland earlier this week.

    British Secretary of State for Defense Gavin Williamson made the announcement in February, although at the time it was believed the tour of duty would take place later in 2019, Sputnik reported.

    "Think about this carrier where you're going to have a squadron of UK F-35Bs; a [detachment] of US Marine Corps F-35Bs. You're going to have helicopters… as well as the Royal Marines aboard," Rudder said.

    The Royal Navy, of course, already has its own F-35Bs, which are capable of vertical takeoff and landing. Williamson announced last month the stealth aircraft would be deployed to RAF Akrotiri airbase on Cyprus this summer, Sputnik reported.

    The 65,000-ton Queen Elizabeth was commissioned in late 2017 and is the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy. It can carry 60 aircraft, launching them with a ramp on the bow of the ship. The ship's first deployment is expected in early 2021, according to Marine Corps spokesperson Capt. Christopher Harrison.

    The Royal Navy isn't the only one preparing to deploy F-35Bs: Italy will replace its AV-8B Harriers with the stealth aircraft on both of its aircraft carriers, and Japan will deploy them on its specialized "helicopter destroyers," which are aircraft carriers in all but name.

    "They're working together… on all of the things that go into making sure supportability is right," Rudder said of the Marines and Royal Navy. "It has been a pleasure working with our UK partners on this. I think it's going to be a very interesting data point and operational success."


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    interoperability, tour of duty, first, deployment, F-35B, British Royal Navy, US Marine Corps
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