The largest ever fleet of F-35 fighter jets to be deployed aboard an aircraft carrier has been tasked with supporting the global fight against Daesh.
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The UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) 617 Squadron (The Dambusters) will operate a fleet of F-35B Lightning fighter jets in support of Operation Shader — the UK’s contribution to the campaign against terrorist group Daesh (formerly known as ISIS) in Iraq and Syria.
The jets, which will be deployed next month from HMS Queen Elizabeth, will form part of Carrier Strike Group (CSG21), leveraging advanced sensors, mission systems and stealth technology to carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations.
The deployment will mark the first time in over a decade since UK fighter jets are embarked on an operational aircraft carrier, and will represent the largest ever fleet of F-35Bs to operate from the maritime domain.
“The F-35B Lightning jets will pack a potent punch against Daesh and help prevent them from regaining a foothold in Iraq,” Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said.
“This is a prime example of the UK Armed Forces stepping forward with our allies to confront persistent threats around the world. It is Global Britain in action.
Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key, added, “This deployment represents the embodiment of the UK’s Joint Expeditionary Capability and utilising the F-35Bs in the fight against Daesh will further demonstrate our commitment to securing their global defeat.”
March 2021 marked two years since Daesh’s final loss of territory in Syria, however, the Ministry of Defence noted there remain “significant numbers of Daesh terrorists” in the region.
As such, the UK has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting the global fight against the terrorist group alongside the Iraqi Security Forces and NATO allies.