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US F-35s launch airstrikes on ISIS from British carrier – first foreign aircraft carrier combat mission since WWII

An F35B Lightning flies by the HMS Queen Elizabeth, June 2021. (U.K. Royal Navy photo)
June 23, 2021

U.S. and U.K. F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters took off from U.K. Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) this week, marking the first time U.S. warplanes have taken off from another nation’s aircraft carrier since World War II.

The U.K. Royal Navy announced the mission in a Tuesday press release, stating the advanced U.S. and U.K. fighter jets launched from the aircraft carrier to conduct airstrikes against Daesh, another name for the Islamic State terrorist group also known as ISIS. The Royal Navy statement did not specify where the coalition strikes were directed.

U.K. Royal Navy Cpt. James Blackmore, Commander of the Carrier Air Wing, said the joint U.S. and U.K. strikes are significant “as the first combat mission flown by U.S. aircraft from a foreign carrier since HMS Victorious in the South Pacific in 1943.”

The mission is also the first combat mission launched from the HMS Queen Elizabeth since it commissioned in 2017 and the first maritime strike operations launched by the U.K. in the decade since the U.S., U.K., and other international forces launched a military intervention against Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi in 2011, ushering in the collapse of the Gadaffi government.

U.S. F-35s embarked aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth back in September of 2020, as the Royal Navy aircraft carrier deployed from its U.K. base.

“HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first missions against Daesh will be remembered as a significant moment in the 50-year lifespan of this ship,” said Royal Navy Commodore Steve Moorhouse, the Commander U.K. Carrier Strike Group.

“The involvement of HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Air Wing in this campaign also sends a wider message,” Moorehouse continued. “It demonstrates the speed and agility with which a UK-led Carrier Strike Group can inject fifth generation combat power into any operation, anywhere in the world, thereby offering the British Government, and our allies, true military and political choice.”

There are 18 U.S. and U.K. F-35s aboard the HSM Queen Elizabeth, according to the Royal Navy statement.

Royal Air Force 617 Squadron, known as “The Dambusters,” and the U.S. Marine Corps Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, known as the “Wake Island Avengers,” participated in Tuesday’s airstrikes over the Middle East, according to UNSI News.

Marine Corps Col. Simon Doran, the U.S. representative to the U.K. CSG, said “U.S. Marine Corps aircraft supporting OIR from a Royal Navy aircraft carrier demonstrates how effectively interoperable our combined naval forces are.”

CNN reported HMS Queen Elizabeth is leading the UK’s Carrier Strike Group 21, which is on a seven-month, 30,000-mile mission that is expected to go as far as South Korea and Japan and include a transit of the contested South China Sea.