The British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth commanded a carrier strike group for a two-week exercise in preparation for a 28-week deployment.
The drill, dubbed Exercise Strike Warrior, will have over 20 warships, three submarines, and 150 aircraft. Eleven NATO and allied nations will be present, according to a statement issued by the Royal Navy on Saturday.
The aircraft carrier will participate in simulated combat with “warships from NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 1 in waters off north-west Scotland to prove it is capable of undertaking high intensity operations against the most demanding adversaries,” according to a Royal Navy release.
British assets involved will include the ships HMS Defender, HMS Diamond, HMS Kent and HMS Richmond, as well as a squadron of helicopters.
The exercise is the UK Carrier Strike Group’s final test before embarking on a global deployment to the Mediterranean Sea, India, and the Asia-Pacific area.
Several NATO countries’ warships will participate in the tour, including the United States, whose guided missile destroyer USS The Sullivans will be part of the carrier strike force.
In January, the USS Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group achieved initial operational readiness, or formal qualification for participation in the Royal Navy.
Marine Corps F-35B fighter planes began performing takeoffs and landings on the aircraft carrier in October 2020.