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British F-35s counter IS in first combat missions from HMS Queen Elizabeth

British F-35s counter IS in first combat missions from HMS Queen Elizabeth
A U.S. Marine with VMFA-211 prepares to launch an F-35B Lightning II from the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth in Sixth Fleet area on Friday. Photo by 1st. Lt. Zachary Bodner/3rd Marine Aircraft Wing/U.S. Marine Corps

June 22 (UPI) -- Britain's Carrier Strike Group's stealth jets have carried out their first counter-Islamic State combat missions from HMS Queen Elizabeth, the British Ministry of Defense said.

The F-35s of the 617 Squadron RAF conducted the missions from HMS Queen Elizabeth in support of British and U.S. ongoing military interventions against IS, the British government said.

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The interventions are called Operation Shader and Operation Inherent Resolve.

There are 18 British and U.S. F-35s on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest number to ever sail the seas.

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The aircraft are next generation multi-role combat aircraft equipped with advanced sensors, mission systems and stealth technology. The stealth technology or "low observable" aircraft, making it difficult for the enemy to detect it.

Alongside Britain's 617 Squadron, U.S. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron, VMFA 211, deployed aboard the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to begin the counter-ISIS operations Friday.

"The ability to operate from the sea with the most advanced fighter jets ever created is a significant moment in our history, offering reassurance to our allies and demonstrating [Britain]'s formidable air power to our adversaries," Britain's Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said a press release.

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The launch from the HMS Queen Elizabeth also "marks the Royal Navy's return to maritime strike operations for the first time since the Libya campaign a decade ago," Carrier Air Wing Commander Captain James Blackmore said in the release.

"With its fifth generation capabilities, including outstanding situational awareness, the F-35B is the ideal aircraft to deliver precision strikes, which is exactly the kind of mission that 617 Squadron has been training for day-after-day, night-after-night, for these past few months," Blackmore added.

VMFA-211 and Britain's 617 Squadron both flew F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft during the combat missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, according to the U.S. Marine Corps.

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"U.S. Marine Corps aircraft supporting OIR from a Royal Navy aircraft carrier demonstrates how effectively interoperable our combined naval forces are," Col. Simon Doran, US. senior national representative to the British Carrier Strike Group, said in a press release.

Blackmore noted that the combat mission was the first "flown by U.S. aircraft from a foreign carrier since HMS Victorious in the South Pacific in 1943."

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