Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth could launch stealth jet attacks against Taliban in Afghanistan, First Sea Lord says
STEALTH jets are set to be flown from HMS Queen Elizabeth to Afghanistan to protect British and US troops from a resurgent Taliban, the head of the Royal Navy has said.
Admiral Tony Radakin, the First Sea Lord, said discussions were under way to deploy its embarked airwing of 18 F-35s to the country.
Under the proposals, the jets from 617 Squadron and the US Marine Corps would patrol the skies above Afghanistan as allied air bases are closed down.
All the 750 British troops and the remaining 2,500 American personnel are scheduled to leave by mid-July.
It’s understood that HMS Queen Elizabeth could be based in the Indian Ocean – which would be roughly a two hour flight for the F-35s to reach Afghan airspace.
‘That’s a discussion that is ongoing as we continue to monitor the posture and the reaction as we step out from Afghanistan,’ he told The Times.
In reference to how the Portsmouth-based aircraft carrier could be used, he said: ‘You could put the aircraft carrier in the safe space of the Indian Ocean with all of its logistics, all incredibly safe, and then you put aircraft over the top of Afghanistan in order to support the troops.’
HMS Queen Elizabeth set sail from Portsmouth last week.
She is spearheading Britain’s carrier strike group on it’s maiden 28-week deployment to the Far East and back.
Six Royal Navy ships, a US Navy destroyer and a dutch frigate are part of the task group.