The Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group will conduct naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal on July 22-23, en route to the South China Sea. The armada will return with tri-service exercises in the port of Karwar from October 21 to 23 and on the high seas off Goa from October 24 to 27.
By Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
POSTED JUL 21, 2021 11:40 AM IST
The Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier Strike Group will focus on Quad and the Indo-Pacific when the naval force exercises with the Indian Navy’s Rajput-class guided missile destroyer, a submarine from attack and an anti-submarine warfare plane in the Bay of Bengal en route to the South China Sea.
An armada of 12 warships, more than 30 aircraft, two submarines and more than 4,500 members of the Indian and Royal Navy will exercise July 22-23 as part of the annual Konkan exercise. The Elizabeth CSG makes a first deployment with state-of-the-art F-35B fighters on board and is accompanied by top-of-the-line destroyers from the United States and the Netherlands. The CSG, after training with the Indian Navy, will move to the Indo-Pacific and train with the Japanese, South Korean, New Zealand and Australian navies.
Elizabeth CSG’s deployment is part of Britain’s post-Brexit Indo-Pacific tilt and part of the Quad Coalition of Democracies’ efforts to deal with growing ambitions and aggression from the Chinese Navy in the Indo-Pacific. As part of this effort, Britain has decided to permanently station two of its patrol vessels in the Indo-Pacific to ensure freedom of navigation and the rule of law at sea.
The Elizabeth CSG will train with Japanese maritime forces and will call at Yokosuka, the home port of USS Ronald Reagan, the only US super aircraft carrier deployed forward. Japan’s urgency to increase its military capabilities and deepen military cooperation with Quad and other allies comes at a time when China has emerged as the country’s main security threat. Just last week, Chinese propaganda machines threatened to neutralize Japan if it interferes in Taiwan or the East China Sea by saying Beijing would reconsider its non-use option first. Japan has an ongoing land dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
After visiting the Indo-Pacific, CSG Elizabeth will conduct tri-service exercises with the Indian Army off the coast of Goa in the Arabian Sea. The joint exercises will take place from October 21 to 23 in the port of Karwar and on the high seas from October 24 to 27 with complex amphibious landing maneuvers and joint operations in the three spectra. CSG Elizabeth will stop at the ports of Karwar and Mumbai with senior Indian Army officials aboard the aircraft carrier for operational meetings.