Britain's new aircraft carrier to go to the Pacific on first mission
HMS Queen Elizabeth will head to the Pacific on her maiden mission.
LONDON — The UK's new aircraft carrier will be deployed to the Pacific on its first mission, in a show of "hard power" and "lethality" meant to support the country's global interests.
In a speech at the Royal United Services Institute, British Defence Minister Gavin Williamson said the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier will go to the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and the Pacific region on its first operational mission.
CNN reports that the 65,000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth was commissioned in 2017 and has a ski-jump flight deck. It's expected to be the centerpiece of the British Navy once it enters service in 2020.
British and American F-35 fighter jets will reportedly be embedded in the air wing of the carrier, which Williamson says will enhance "the reach and lethality of our forces" while reinforcing the U.S. as a close partner.
Williamson's speech came on the same day the U.S. sailed two Navy warships near the Mischief Reef in the Spratlys to challenge Beijing's territorial claims.
This prompted Chinese foreign ministry to issue a sharp rebuke telling the U.S. to stop "provocative actions" that violate China's sovereignty.
The South China Morning Post reports that Britain has repeatedly stated intentions to increase activity abroad, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, with plans to build a naval base in either Singapore or Brunei.
During his recent speech, Williamson also mentioned a plan to develop a squadron of network-enabled drones that can confuse and overwhelm enemy air defences.
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