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Analysis: British Navy unveils components of its UK Carrier Strike Group UKCSG


According to information published by the British Royal Navy on February 16, 2021, the British Navy unveils the components of its UK Carrier Strike Group that comprises different types of ships and aircraft including the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier with Merlin helicopters and F-35B fighter aircraft, Fleet Auxiliary’s fast fleet Tide-class tanker, Type 23 also called Duke-class frigate, Type 45 also called Daring-class guided missile destroyer and Astute-class nuclear powered submarine (SSN). They’re all vital pieces of kit, each with their own role to play in the modern Royal British Navy.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 The British Navy Carrier Strike Groups includes Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier with Merlin helicopters and F-35B fighter, Type 23 frigate, Type 45 destroyer, Tide-class tanker ship and Astute-Class submarine. (Picture source British Navy)


The role of the UK Carrier Strike Group is to act as a self-contained force that can work independently or as part of wider operations. It is compatible with NATO and will often include our allies. That means while the carrier herself and her F-35 Lightning jets are ever-present, the rest of the formation can be made up of submarines, warships and support vessels from other Navies.

The UK Carrier Strike Group offers cutting-edge air, surface and underwater defence, but it is also a focal point for the worldwide democratic activity that is more powerful than any weaponry.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier is able to carry up to forty aircraft, with a normal maximum load of thirty-six F-35s and four helicopters, but she has also a theoretical surge capacity of up to 72 aircraft. The aircraft carrier can be also used as a Maritime Force Protection package with nine anti-submarines Merlin HM2 and five Merlin Crowsnest able to conduct airborne early warning missions. The ship can also carry a mix of Royal Navy Commando Helicopter Force Merlin HC4, Wildcat AH1, RAF Chinooks, and Army Air Corps Apaches.

Merlin Mk4 is a new aircraft type for the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF). It will advance capability for the primary customer, The Royal Marines.

The Merlin Mk2 helicopter entered service in 2014 as an upgrade for the original 1990’s Mk1 naval version. Its role is to supply the UK’s Maritime Force Protection and airborne anti-submarine warfare capability for the foreseeable future.

The F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions. It is also able to provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Lockheed Martin is the prime F-35 contractor, with principal partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. The aircraft has three main variants: the conventional takeoff and landing F-35A (CTOL), the short take-off and vertical-landing F-35B (STOVL), and the carrier-based F-35C (CV/CATOBAR)

The Type 23 frigate also called Duke class is a class of frigates built for the United Kingdom's Royal Navy. The ships are named after British Dukes, thus leading to the class being commonly known as the Duke class. The ships are armed with eight Harpoon surface-to-surface missiles in two four-cell launchers and vertical-launch Seawolf (GWS 26 Mod 1 VLS). Harpoon is a medium-range (90km) anti-ship missile using inertial and active radar guidance. VLS Seawolf is a surface-to-air missile with command to line of sight (CLOS) guidance and radar and electro-optic tracking. It has a range of 6 km.

The Type 45 also called Daring-class is an Anti-Air Warfare Destroyer conceived to protect UK and allied/coalition forces at sea and in the littoral against the full range of enemy aircraft and anti-ship missiles. In addition she has a wide suite of capabilities including Maritime Force Projection through Naval Fire Support and Littoral Manoeuvre.The Type 45 represents a quantam leap in surface warfare design and capability reflecting innovation, foresight and an eye to the future in virtually every aspect. High speed, extended endurance and aggressive capability combine to provide robust, versatile and economic maritime effect.

The Tide-class tankers are built to support the UK’s new aircraft carriers and their task groups, delivering fuel to power both the warships and the jets and helicopters. They are flexible, state-of-the-art, double-hulled vessels which will provide a key future underway replenishment at sea capability and support to the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

The Astute class is the latest generation of nuclear-powered fleet submarines (SSNs) in service with the British Royal Navy. The class sets a new standard for the British Royal Navy in terms of weapons load, communication facilities, and stealth. The submarine is equipped with six 21 inches (533mm) torpedo tubes able to launch Tomahawk Block IV cruise missiles and Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes. 


Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier British Navy unveils components of its UK Carrier Strike Group UKCSG 925 001
Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier (Picture source British MoD)


F 35B fighter aircraft British Navy unveils components of its UK Carrier Strike Group UKCSG 925 001
F-35B fighter aircraft. (Picture source British MoD)


Merlin helicopter British Navy unveils components of its UK Carrier Strike Group UKCSG 925 001
Merlin helicopter. (Picture source British MoD)


Tide class fleet tanker ship British Navy unveils components of its UK Carrier Strike Group UKCSG 925 001
Tide-class tanker ship (Picture source British MoD)


Type 23 Duke class frigate British Navy unveils components of its UK Carrier Strike Group UKCSG 925 001
Type 23 also called Duke-class frigate. (Picture source British MoD)


Type 45 Daring class missile destroyer British Navy unveils components of its UK Carrier Strike Group UKCSG 925 001
Type 45 also called Daring-class guided missile destroyer. (Picture source British MoD)


Astute class submarine British Navy unveils components of its UK Carrier Strike Group UKCSG 925 001
Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine. (Picture source British MoD)