HMS Queen Elizabeth joins French aircraft carrier for 'game of cat and mouse' in the Mediterranean
BRITAIN’S new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has joined forces with the French navy’s flagship for the first time in an historic display of military might.
The UK’s 65,000-tonne carrier and her embarked F-35 stealth fighter jets spent a few days training with the French carrier FS Charles de Gauelle and French Rafale aircraft in Exercise Gallic Strike in the Mediterranean.
In the western Mediterranean, the two ships and their respective task groups showcased how the navies could work together on future operations and take forward the Anglo-French Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF).
The rendezvous also gave the Royal Navy’s First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin, US Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday and the French Navy’s Chef d’état-major Admiral Pierre Vandier the chance to visit both ships and discuss future partnerships.
Admiral Radakin said: ‘Today’s trilateral meeting between the Marine Nationale, the United States Navy and Royal Navy; the three Nato nuclear nations, and three carrier navies in the alliance, highlights our shared commitment to Nato, and our bold steps towards ever greater interoperability and interchangeability.
‘The Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment is a clear demonstration of this: a Royal Navy carrier, which will become the Nato carrier, supported by allied fighter jets, frigates and destroyers, working as one.’
The first phase of Exercise Gallic Strike saw Queen Elizabeth and Charles de Gaulle take part in ‘cat and mouse’ style war game, with both task groups testing the others’ abilities to protect and defend against threats.
Next, it was the turn of the jets with UK F-35s of 617 Squadron RAF, ‘the Dambusters’, and US Marine Corps VMFA-211 conducting simulated strike missions with the French’s Rafale twin-jet combat aircraft.
Gallic Strike came towards the end of the French carrier’s deployment, which took her task group into the Indian Ocean and Gulf.
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Commodore Steve Moorhouse, commander UK carrier strike group, said: ‘I warmly congratulate the men and women of Charles De Gaulle on the successful completion of their recent operational deployment.
‘As the UK carrier strike group prepares to begin its own journey to the Eastern Mediterranean and Indian Ocean, our meeting today offers a glimpse into the possibilities for future carrier cooperation between our navies.
‘The fact that we are joined for this occasion by the heads of the navies of Britain, France and the United States is also significant. The Royal Navy could not have reached this point in our carrier renaissance so quickly without the support of our two most important strategic partners.’