The US has sent its Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 of eight F-35B fighter jets, known as the Wake Island Avengers, to the UK ahead of a record-setting joint strike force deployment aboard the UK’s newest aircraft carrier, the Pentagon said in a statement on Wednesday.
“U.S. Marine Corps 5th-generation aircraft flew more than 5,000 miles from their home station in Arizona to Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, ahead of their upcoming combined deployment with the United Kingdom’s newest aircraft carrier,” the statement said, adding that the squadron will “conduct final training for a carrier deployment aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth as part of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 21,” the statement said.
The deployment will form the largest 5th-generation carrier air wing in the world, it added.
“Now that we have arrived in the United Kingdom, we are reintegrating with our UK counterparts and focused on providing both the commodore of CSG-21 and US combatant commanders with ready, combat-capable, 5th-generation aircraft,” Wake Island Avengers commanding officer, Lt. Col. Andrew D’Ambrogi, said in the statement.
This deployment precedes the Carrier Strike Group 21’s worldwide disposition later this year, the Pentagon noted.
UK media reported on Monday that CSG 21’s 26-week-long record size mission will feature visits to India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore. Units from this group will undertake over 70 engagements in over 40 countries around the world.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth, the most powerful vessel in the British Naval history, will be carrying on deck eight F-35B Lightning II jets, four Wildcat maritime attack helicopters, seven Merlin Mk2 anti-submarine and airborne early warning helicopters, and three Merlin Mk4 commando helicopters.