The UK’s new £3 billion aircraft carrier has been put forward for drills in the Far East, according to The Times. It comes as UK and China have bee
The UK’s new £3 billion aircraft carrier has been put forward for drills in the Far East, according to The Times. It comes as UK and China have been at odds over Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s 5G network, and over the new Hong Kong security law. The US has also pilled on pressure on the UK to take a firmer stance against Beijing.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth will set sail next year according to new plans from military chiefs.
The aircraft carrier is set to be accompanied by a fleet of warships, including two Type 45 destroyers and two frigates.
HMS Queen Elizabeth will also be deployed with two squadrons of F-35B Lightning II jets, likely to be from the RAF and the US Marine Corps.
The Times revealed that the deployment is meant to counter an increasingly aggressive China.
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Plans have also been drawn up to send sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, to the region when it finishes training.
The aircraft carrier is said to be around 18 months behind HMS Queen Elizabeth in terms of battle readiness.
A source told the Times: “One carrier will support NATO in the North Atlantic.
“Where else are you going to put the other? On the main trade routes and to counter the emerging threat of China.
“It would be an allied task group, a British carrier, but a coalition of the willing.
“That’s how it’s being looked at.”
But a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “HMS Queen Elizabeth and its escorts will offer the United Kingdom a world-class sovereign carrier strike capability.
“No decision has been made on HMS Queen Elizabeth’s deployment.”
The deployment plans follow the US training in the South China Sea, deploying their own two aircraft carriers to the area last week.
The move infuriated China, and Beijing state media threatened the ships.
The plans also follow Prime Minister Boris Johnson enraging Beijing with his stance on the new Hong Kong security law.
The controversial new legislation allowed China to criminalise collusion with foreign forces, and curtails pro-democracy protests and freedom of speech in the city.
In response, Mr Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab approved plans to offer around 3 million Hong Kongers a “route to citizenship”.
Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to London, said the offer was a “gross interference”.
He added: “The UK government keeps making irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs.”