The United States Navy revealed that aircraft from the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group and the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group 21 performed combined military drills for the first time.
On August 26, the two strike groups performed combined interoperability flights in the US Navy’s 7th Fleet. The aircraft performed sorties designed to evaluate joint integration techniques and procedures, including as mid-air refuelling, during the flights.
The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group was embarked with aircrafts from the Carrier Air Wing Two that included four F-35C Lightning IIs, five F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, two EA-18G Growlers and one E-2D Advanced Hawkeye.
The U.K. Carrier Strike Group 21 aircraft included a total of four F-35Bs from two different squadrons.
“Integrating British and U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs into a flight with U.S. Navy F-35Cs continues to reinforce the tactical flexibility and interoperability of the F-35,” Col. Simon Doran, U.S. senior national representative to the U.K. Carrier Strike Group, said Wednesday in a press release.
“Additionally, the mission further demonstrates the F-35s ability to support distributed maritime operations,” Doran said.
Capt. Tommy Locke, commander of the Carrier Air Wing Two, said in a statement that the exercises combined the fight generation capabilities of a joint strike fighter aircraft from two services and a partner nation with the capabilities of the entire air wing.
He said the exercise demonstrated the value of having agile fifth-generation maritime power in the Indo-Pacific region.
The training was also the first time the U.K. Carrier Strike Group 21 engaged with the F-35 “C” model assigned to Carrier Air Wing Two. Previously, Britain’s two F-35B squadrons had been deployed together with the HMS Queen Elizabeth.