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UK Carrier Strike Group to head out on 28-week deployment

UK Carrier Strike Group to head out on 28-week deployment
HMS Queen Elizabeth, shown here in formation with its Carrier Strike Group during Exercise Westlant 19 in November 2019, is preparing for a 28-week global deployment. Photo courtesy UK Ministry of Defense

April 27 (UPI) -- The UK Carrier Strike Group's 28-week maiden deployment will feature visits to India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, the British defense ministry announced.

The strike group, led by the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, will visit more than 40 countries and undertake more than 70 engagements, according to a press release issued by the British government this week.

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"When our carrier strike group sets sail next month, it will be flying the flag for Global Britain -- projecting our influence, signalling our power, engaging with our friends and reaffirming our commitment to addressing the security challenges of today and tomorrow," British defense secretary Ben Wallace said in the release.

The carrier strike group reached initial operating capacity at the beginning of the calendar year.

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In January, the United States and Britain also confirmed a joint declaration for a multinational carrier strike group deployment to be led by the HMS Elizabeth.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Navy announced that the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS The Sullivans was deployed to participate in the HMS Elizabeth's multinational carrier strike group.

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The Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen will also join the deployment, officials confirmed in March.

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Britain's announcement also said the strike group will include a squadron of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B jets.

In October, U.S. F-35B pilots operating from the Queen Elizabeth's deck conducted live weapons training off the Scottish coast as part of an international training exercise.

The strike group's scheduled engagements include exercises with Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Japan and India, the release said.

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"The entire nation can be proud of the dedicated men and women who for more than six months will demonstrate to the world that [Britain] is not stepping back but sailing forth to play an active role in shaping the international system of the 21st Century," Wallace said.

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