6 US Marines F-35Bs deploy aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth

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Six F-35B Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II aircraft under United States Marine Corps (USMC) Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 are deploying aboard Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Queen Elizabeth.

On May 2, the US Marines F-35Bs conducted carrier qualifications aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea off the coast of the United Kingdom (UK).

“Alongside the UK’s 617 Squadron, VMFA-211 will form part of the largest carrier air group in the world. This deployment highlights the global reach of the U.S. and UK armed forces and their interoperability, and enhances the deterrence and defense capabilities of the NATO Alliance,” the US Marines said.

UK has announced that record size Carrier Strike Group led by HMS Queen Elizabeth is set for a 28-week deployment, from North Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific, beginning this month.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will be joined by a surface fleet of Type 45 destroyers, HMS Defender and HMS Diamond, Type 23 anti-submarine frigates HMS Kent and HMS Richmond, and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring.  A Royal Navy Astute-class submarine armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles will also be deployed for support.

On the carrier’s flight deck will be 8 Royal Air Force F-35B Lightning II jets. Also deployed are 4 Wildcat maritime attack helicopters, 7 Merlin Mk2 anti-submarine helicopters and 3 Merlin Mk4 commando helicopters.

A company of Royal Marines Commandos will also be deployed aboard the aircraft carrier. The UK government said a US Navy destroyer, a frigate from the Netherlands and a squadron of US Marine Corps F-35B jets are also fully integrated.