London, July 14 (Jiji Press)–British military leaders are drawing up a plan to deploy a group of warships to the Far East region, The Times reported Tuesday.
A carrier strike group, including the HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was commissioned into the British Royal Navy in 2017, will set sail for the region early next year and stay in the area for a while, the British newspaper said. The deployment is aimed at countering China’s increasing maritime presence, and the warships are expected to conduct joint exercises with Japan and the United States, it said.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest and most powerful vessel in the British navy, with a total length of 280 meters and total weight of 65,000 tons. The state-of-the-art aircraft carrier is manned by 700 personnel, and the crew reaches up to 1,600 when including personnel for aircraft on the ship.
The Far East deployment will be its first major voyage. It will carry two squadrons of F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters and will be accompanied by Type 45 destroyers, The Times said. One of the squadrons will likely comprise F-35Bs from the British Royal Air Force and the other from the U.S. Marine Corps, it said.
The military chiefs are considering asking Japan and the United States, which have F-35 fighter jets, to contribute air force units to the strike group, and as well as the inclusion of submarines and other vessels from allies such as Australia and Canada, the newspaper said.