This is the moment the 65,000 tone HMS Queen Elizabeth cruises side by side with the FS Charles de Gaulle in the Mediterranean Sea during “cat and mouse” war games testing their ability to respond to enemy attacks.
The Royal Navy said in a statement that the HMS Queen Elizabeth and the F-35 fighter jets onboard spent several days in the Western Mediterranean training with the FS Charles de Gaulle in exercise ‘Gallic Strike’ last Friday (4th June).
The Royal Navy said that the first phase of Gallic Strike tested the ability of the two carriers to protect and defend against threats.
The FS Charles de Gaulle weighs 42,500 tonnes has an overall length of 261.5 metres (858 feet) and a top speed of 27 knots (50 kph).
While the HMS Queen Elizabeth is even heavier and longer than its French counterpart weighing 65,000 tonnes and measuring 280 metres (920 feet) in length with a higher top speed of 32 knots (59 kph).
During the following phase the UK F-35s of 617 Squadron RAF, ‘the Dambusters’, and US Marine Corps VMFA-211 conducted a simulated strike alongside the French’s Rafale twin-jet combat aircraft.
The Royal Navy’s First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, the US Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael Gilday and the French Navy’s Chef d’état-major, Admiral Pierre Vandier visited the ships during the exercise.
Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group said: “The fact that we are joined for this occasion by the heads of the navies of Britain, France and the United States is also significant.”
He added: “The Royal Navy could not have reached this point in our carrier renaissance so quickly without the support of our two most important strategic partners.”
Admiral Radakin said: “Today’s trilateral meeting between the Marine Nationale, the United States Navy and Royal Navy; the three NATO nuclear nations, and three carrier navies in the alliance, highlights our shared commitment to NATO”
The admiral’s comments come as tensions between NATO, the US and Russia continue to boil due to increasing tensions in the Arctic Ocean and the kremlin’s support for Lukashenko’s government in Belarus.
President Biden and Putin have a highly anticipated summit coming up in Geneva next Wednesday (16th June) where increasingly tense military relations between Washington and the Kremlin are expected to take centre stage.
Rear Admiral Marc Aussedat, Commanding Officer of the French Carrier Strike Group, said: “The ambitious dual-carrier operations of Gallic Strike confirms the strong and effective cooperation between French and British navies.”
The joint exercise came just days before President Macron is due to arrive in Cornwall for the G7 meeting which starts Friday (11th June).