UK aircraft carrier to visit Asia next month

A fleet of British warships and military aircraft billed as the “largest concentration of maritime and air power to leave the UK in a generation” will depart next month for visits to India, Singapore, Japan and South Korea in a display of Britain’s ambition to exert a much stronger presence in Asia.

New aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, the most powerful surface vessel in the Royal Navy’s history, will set sail next month for Asia with eight fast jets on board.

It will be accompanied by six Royal Navy ships, a submarine armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, 14 naval helicopters and a company of Royal Marines.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the mission aimed to show that Britain was “not stepping back but sailing forth to play an active role in shaping the international system”.

“When our Carrier Strike Group sets sail next month, it will be flying the flag for Global Britain – projecting our influence, signalling our power, engaging with our friends and reaffirming our commitment to addressing the security challenges of today and tomorrow, ” he said.

The deployment is expected to last about six months.

Last month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the Indo-Pacific region would become Britain’s defence and foreign policy focus as the UK reconsiders its place in the world order after leaving the European Union.

Johnson had planned to visit India to boost trade and investment ties as part of that plan, but he was forced to cancel the trip after the coronavirus pandemic worsened in India. — AP

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