Friday, May 7, 2021

Britain sending a huge naval force through some of Asia’s most stressful waters


“When our Career Strike Group (CSG) sets sail next month, it will hoist the flag for Global Britain – reflecting our influence, signaling our power, connecting with our friends and protecting today and tomorrow Confirms our commitment to meet the challenges., “Britain’s Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace said on Monday.

“The UK is not stepping back to play an active role in shaping the 21st century international system, but is moving forward,” Wallace said.

The strike group will be led by the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, which will mark its first deployment. The ship, which is one of the UK’s two aircraft carriers, is the largest warship sent by Britain to the sea.

A ministry statement said the carrier would have two destroyers, two anti-submarine frigates, one submarine and two auxiliary supply ships.

The ministry said a United States Navy-guided missile-destroyer group would depart from the Netherlands along with a frigate that would be tasked with air defense.

Air power within the group will focus on RAF F-35B stealth fighters and US Marine Corps F-35Bs, all flying from the deck of a 65,000-ton aircraft carrier.

When a version of this carrier strike group sailed together during a military exercise last fall in Scotland, the Ministry of Defense said it had “launched fighter jets to operate at sea from Royal Navy carriers since HMS Hermes in 1983.” The biggest concentration. ”

It also said that it was “the largest aerial group of fifth-generation fighter aircraft at sea anywhere in the world.” Fifth generation fighter aircraft are the most advanced warplanes in the air.

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The International Institute for Strategic Studies says the UK carrier strike group “will be the most capable flotilla deployed by a single European navy in recent years.”

“While it will not mimic the US Navy carrier strike group, it will likely be closer to it than anything else currently deployed by any other naval force.”

Britain released in March Comprehensive review of its military and foreign policy, In which it recognized an inclination towards Indo-Pacific in the coming decade.

In Monday’s carrier strike group announcement, the Ministry of Defense said the deployment was aimed towards a deeper UK security role in the region, with plans for India, Japan and South Korea, as well as US forces in the region.

Britain's aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in New York on October 19, 2018.

It will also highlight a five-power defense agreement between Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the UK, one of Britain’s oldest security relations. The Ministry of Defense said that the exercise will be held on the 50th anniversary of the Barsama Lima Defense Agreement.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said that during the Pacific visit, the strike group would visit 40 countries. The ministry said the trip, which would see the strike group pass through the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean en route to the Pacific, would cover approximately 30,000 miles (48,280 kilometers).

Britain has not issued an exact route for the strike group in the Indo-Pacific, but a planned trip to Singapore will put the South China Sea at its doorstep and the most obvious and direct route to its stops would be through Japan and South Korea. .

China claims almost all 1.3 million-square-mile South China Sea As its sovereign territory, and it has condemned the presence of foreign warships as a root of tension in the region.

In March, when asked about the British deployment, as well as French military activity in the South China Sea, China’s Defense Ministry said that Beijing would “allow any country to intervene in regional affairs on the pretext of ‘freedom of navigation’ and territorial Strongly opposes harming the common interests of “. country. “

The UK carrier group is expected to pass through the self-governing island east of Taiwan, which China also claims as part of its territory and around which Beijing has been increasing its naval and air deployments in recent months.

In its defense review, the British government faced the challenges posed by China.

“China’s growing power and international assertiveness is the most important geopolitical factor of the 2020s,” the review noted Beijing as “the biggest state-based threat to the UK’s economic security”.

The review stated that Britain planned to increase its military presence around the world.

The scope of the career strike group was announced on Monday.

Commodore Steve Moorehouse, commander of the strike group, said in a statement, “The most important deployment of its kind for a quarter of a century, it is a visual demonstration of the resurgence of the Royal Navy after decades of contracting.”

“As our nation redefines its place after World-Brexit, it is a natural embodiment of the government’s ‘Global Britain’ agenda. And against the backdrop of growing instability and competition, it is geared towards the United Kingdom’s global security. Denotes commitment. ” Moorhouse said.

Japan welcomed the UK’s announcement, saying the carrier strike group’s visit would take long-term relations between Tokyo and London to a “new level”.

According to a statement from Japan’s Ministry of Defense, the deployment also said it would “demonstrate the UK’s commitment and Japan-UK cooperation to maintain and strengthen the ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ in the area of ​​security and defense” is.”

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