Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to be based in Far East as UK bans Chinese tech firm Huawei from Britain's 5G network

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MILITARY top brass are drafting up new plans to base one of Britain’s new £3.1bn aircraft carriers in the Far East, it has been claimed.

HMS Queen Elizabeth has been earmarked for the role, according to reports in The Times.

The 65,000-tonne warship, which alongside her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales is the largest vessel ever built for the Royal Navy, is already expected to deploy to the region on her maiden voyage next year.

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The naval leviathan is set to be involved in joint military exercises with allies such as the United States and Japan, The Times reported today.

HMS Queen Elizabeth returning to her home port of Portsmouth 2nd July 2020. Picture: Bryan Moffat/bryanmoffat.comHMS Queen Elizabeth returning to her home port of Portsmouth 2nd July 2020. Picture: Bryan Moffat/
HMS Queen Elizabeth returning to her home port of Portsmouth 2nd July 2020. Picture: Bryan Moffat/

It comes amid simmering tensions between London and Beijing, as well as Whitehall’s row over whether to include Chinese tech giant Huawei in Britain’s new 5G mobile phone network over security fears.

As well as carrying out exercises in the region, Portsmouth-based Queen Elizabeth will also act as a floating platform for trade talks, sources have said.

HMS Prince of Wales, which also cost £3.1bn to build, is expected to deploy on her maiden mission in 2023.

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Defence chiefs hope to split the huge vessels, spearheading two carrier strike groups, on opposite sides of the globe.

An unnamed source told The Times: 'One carrier will support Nato in the north Atlantic.

'Where else are you going to put the other? On the main trade routes and to counter the emerging threat of China.'

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The Ministry of Defence has said ‘no decision’ had been taken on HMS Queen Elizabeth’s deployment.

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As previously reported, the vessel is expected to make her way from Portsmouth early next year, heading to the Mediterranean and Gulf before heading to the Far East.

When she embarks on her lengthy voyage, she’ll carry two squadrons of F-35B Lightning II stealth combat jets – one from American and one from the UK – and will be shadowed by two Type 45 destroyers, two Type 23 frigates, two tankers and helicopters.

Australia and Canada ‘could be invited to provide escort warships or submarines to complete the flotilla,’ The Times added.

‘It would be an allied task group, a British carrier, but a coalition of the willing,’ a source told the paper.

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Relationships between China and the west have nose-dived in recent months.

Senior sources say 'a perfect storm' of diplomatic rows over Hong Kong, Huawei and Covid-19 could lead to an all-out attack by Chinese-backed hackers.

The warning comes as the government formally blocked Chinese tech firm Huawei from being involved in Britain’s superfast mobile network.

Digital secretary Oliver Dowden revealed the U-turn in parliament today, following sanctions from Washington.

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UK mobile providers have been banned from buying new Huawei 5G equipment after December 31 and they must also remove all the Chinese firm’s kit from their networks by 2027.

Mr Dowden said the move would delay 5G rollout by a year.

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