According to information released by the British Royal Navy on February 16, 2021, the British Navy is unveiling the components of its British Carrier Strike Group which includes different types of ships and planes including the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier with Merlin helicopters and aircraft from F-35B fighter. , Fleet Auxiliary’s Tide-class fast tanker, Type 23 also known as Duke-class frigate, Type 45 also known as Daring-class guided missile destroyer and Astute-class nuclear powered submarine (SSN). These are all essential parts of the kit, each with their own unique role to play in the modern British Royal Navy.
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British Navy Carrier Groups include the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier with Merlin helicopters and an F-35B fighter, a Type 23 frigate, a Type 45 destroyer, a Tide-class tanker and an Astute-class submarine . (Image source British Navy)
The role of the UK Carrier Strike Group is to act as an autonomous force that can work independently or as part of larger operations. It is compatible with NATO and will often include our allies. This means that while the aircraft carrier itself and its F-35 Lightning jets are still present, the rest of the formation may consist of submarines, warships, and support ships from other navies.
The British Carrier Strike Group offers state-of-the-art air, surface and submarine defense, but it is also a focal point for global democratic activity that is more powerful than any weaponry.
The aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is capable of carrying up to forty aircraft, with a normal maximum load of thirty-six F-35s and four helicopters, but it also has a theoretical surge capacity of up to 72 aircraft. The aircraft carrier can also be used as a maritime force protection package with nine Merlin HM2 anti-submarines and five Merlin Crowsnest capable of conducting airborne early warning missions. The ship can also carry a mix of Royal Navy Commando Helicopter Force Merlin HC4, Wildcat AH1, RAF Chinooks and Army Air Corps Apaches.
Merlin Mk4 is a new type of aircraft for the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF). It will advance the capabilities of the primary customer, the Royal Marines.
The Merlin Mk2 helicopter entered service in 2014 as an upgrade to the original Mk1 naval version from the 1990s. Its role is to provide the UK with the capability to protect maritime forces and combat sub- airborne navy for the foreseeable future.
The F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather multirole stealth combat aircraft designed to perform both air superiority and strike missions. It is also able to provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the F-35, along with major partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. The aircraft has three main variants: the conventional F-35A take-off and landing (CTOL), the F-35B short vertical take-off and landing (STOVL) and the on-board F-35C (CV / CATOBAR)
The Type 23 frigate also known as the Duke class is a class of frigates built for the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom. The ships are named after the British Dukes, so the class is commonly referred to as the Duke class. The ships are armed with eight Harpoon surface-to-surface missiles in two vertical launch four-cell and Seawolf launchers (GWS 26 Mod 1 VLS). Harpoon is a medium range (90 km) anti-ship missile using inertial and active radar guidance. The Seawolf VLS is a surface-to-air missile with visual command guidance (CLOS) and radar and electro-optic tracking. It has a range of 6 km.
The Type 45, also referred to as the Daring Class, is an anti-aircraft destroyer designed to protect British and Allied / Coalition forces at sea and on the coast against the full range of enemy aircraft and anti-ship missiles. In addition, it has a wide range of capabilities, including the projection of maritime force via naval fire support and coastal maneuver. The Type 45 represents a quantum leap in surface warfare design and capability, reflecting innovation, foresight and an eye to the future in virtually every aspect. High speed, extended endurance and aggressive capability combine to provide a rugged, versatile and economical maritime effect.
Tide-class tankers are built to support the UK’s new aircraft carriers and their task groups, providing fuel to power both warships, jets and helicopters. They are flexible, state-of-the-art double-hulled ships that will provide a key future in-sea refueling and support capability for Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
The Astute class is the latest generation of nuclear submarines (SSN) in service with the British Royal Navy. The class sets a new standard for the British Royal Navy in terms of weapons load, communications and stealth. The submarine is equipped with six 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes capable of launching Tomahawk Block IV cruise missiles and heavy Spearfish torpedoes.
Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier (UK MoD image source)
F-35B fighter plane. (Image source UK Ministry of Defense)
Merlin helicopter. (Image source UK Ministry of Defense)
Tide-class tanker (source of UK Ministry of Defense image)
Type 23 also known as the Duke-class frigate. (Image source UK Ministry of Defense)
Type 45 also known as Daring-class guided missile destroyer. (Image source UK Ministry of Defense)
Astute-class nuclear submarine. (Image source UK Ministry of Defense)