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HMS Queen Elizabeth to be committed to NATO

04 June 2019
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A British Army Apache AH1 landed on HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time on 3 June. The UK has committed the carrier to NATO’s Readiness Initiative. Source: Crown Copyright

The Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth , will be made available to NATO under the alliance's Readiness Initiative when it becomes operational in 2021, outgoing prime minister Theresa May announced on 4 June. "NATO will soon be able to call on the UK's Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and F-35 fighter jets to help tackle threats around the world," she said.

The Readiness Initiative was launched by NATO leaders during their 11-12 July 2018 Brussels summit, where they approved the so-called 'Four Thirties', committing to making 30 mechanised battalions, 30 air squadrons, and 30 warships ready for rapid reinforcement during a crisis within no more than 30 days by 2020, drawing on existing national forces.

The Readiness Initiative aims to help NATO face threats from the east, south, and further afield.

UK Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said on 4 June, "Be it projecting influence for peace, standing ready to fight, or delivering vital aid around the world, HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship, ... Prince of Wales , will fly the flag of a Global Britain. Nothing symbolises the leading role that we play in NATO more than our nation's future flagship being ready to respond to any challenge that the alliance may face."

This was preceded on 3 June by a British Army announcement on its website that one of its WAH-64 Apache AH1 attack helicopters landed on HMS Queen Elizabeth on 3 June.

The landing of the helicopter, from 656 Squadron Army Air Corps, kicked off three days of platform ship integration testing (PSIT) and evaluation under the UK's Joint Helicopter Command. This will assess the compatibility of the attack helicopter with Queen Elizabeth 's operating systems, including moving it on the flight deck and hangars, maintenance and arming, and using the aircraft lifts.

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