One of Britain’s new £3billion aircraft carriers could be sent to the Far East under new plans drawn up by military chiefs, reports today suggest.
The class leading HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to visit the region during its maiden grand voyage next year.
The aircraft carrier is set to be involved in joint military exercises with allies such as the United States and Japan during the visit, according to the Times today.
The move is likely to be seen as a counter to China’s increasingly assertive attitude in the region and beyond.
And the reports of the voyage comes amid growing tension between London and Beijing, as well as the government’s row over whether to include Chinese tech firm Huawei over security fears and growing pressure from America to exclude them from the process.
The class leading HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to visit the Far East during its maiden grand voyage next year
The HMS Queen Elizabeth (pictured right with sister ship HMS Prince of Wales – left) is set to be involved in joint military exercises with allies such as the United States and Japan during the visit, according to the Times.
On its Far East voyage The Queen Elizabeth is to be accompanied by other warships, including two Type 45 destroyers and two frigates, while it will also have two squadrons of F-35B Lightning II jets (pictured)
On its Far East voyage The Queen Elizabeth is to be accompanied by other warships, including two Type 45 destroyers and two frigates, while it will also have two squadrons of F-35B Lightning II jets.
It is likely one of those squadrons will be from the RAF while the other could be from the US Marine Corps, the Times reports.
As well as taking part in military exercises, the carrier, which along with its sister ship HMS Prince of Wales is the largest ever built by the British Navy, will also provide a platform for trade talks, the Times, quoting an unnamed defence source, reports.
The HMS Prince of Wales, which also cost £3billion, is said to be around 18 months behind its sister ship in terms of deployment.
Once completed, defence chiefs hope to base one of the carriers in the Indo-Pacific region.
A source told the Times: ‘One carrier will support Nato in the North Atlantic.
The HMS Prince of Wales (pictured) is said to be around 18 months behind its sister ship in terms of deployment.
It is likely one of those squadrons of F-35B fighter jets (pictured) will be from the RAF while the other could be from the US Marine Corps, the Times reports
‘Where else are you going to put the other? On the main trade routes and to counter the emerging threat of China.’
Meanwhile the Ministry of Defence last night said ‘no decision’ had been taken on the HMS Queen Elizabeth’s deployment.
It comes as ministers fear China could unleash a devastating online attack on Britain – dubbed a ‘cyber-9/11’ – amid increasing tensions between London and Beijing.
Senior sources say ‘a perfect storm’ of diplomatic rows over Hong Kong, the tech giant Huawei and Covid-19 could lead to an all-out attack by Chinese-backed hackers.
The warning comes as the Government prepares to formally announce a U-turn that would block Huawei from helping build Britain’s superfast 5G mobile network.
After Australia adopted a similar hard line, it was hit by a sustained large-scale cyber attack.
Boris Johnson has also infuriated the Chinese Communist Party with his tough stance on Beijing’s clampdown on Hong Kong’s freedoms and calls for an inquiry into the true source of coronavirus, which is suspected to have accidentally leaked from a Wuhan laboratory.
Senior sources say ‘a perfect storm’ of diplomatic rows over Hong Kong , the tech giant Huawei and Covid-19 could lead to an all-out attack by Chinese-backed hackers (file photo)
Security chiefs fear that, in a worst-case scenario, state-sponsored attacks would cripple computer networks, leading to phone and power blackouts and bringing hospitals, government and businesses to a halt.
Meanwhile ministers are braced for a backlash from Beijing today when they confirm a ban on Huawei’s involvement in the 5G network.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden will announce that telecoms firms will be banned from installing new equipment supplied by the Chinese giant by Christmas.
He will also order firms to rip out all existing Huawei kit by the middle of this decade.
Huawei executives held last-ditch talks yesterday with officials from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in the hope of watering down the plans.
The Huawei ban follows intense pressure from Donald Trump to deny China a foothold in the West’s critical infrastructure.
Tough American sanctions have prevented the firm from using any US-patented technology in its microchips
But a Whitehall source said the ban would go ahead, adding: ‘It’s fair to say Huawei won’t be very happy with the result.’
Inside Britain’s most powerful warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth
At 280 metres long, with a lifespan of half a century and a flight deck of four acres, HMS Queen Elizabeth is Britain’s largest and most powerful warship ever built.
Here are the facts and figures behind the vessel which was officially commissioned into the Royal Navy December 7, 2017
HMS Queen Elizabeth, pictured, weighs some 65,000 tonnes and has a top speed of 25 knots and a four-acre flight deck
- The aircraft carrier weighs 65,000 tonnes and has a top speed in excess of 25 knots.
- A number of ship building yards around the country were involved in the build – these include Govan and Scotstoun in Glasgow, Appledore in Devon, Cammell Laird in Birkenhead, Wirral, A&P on the Tyne in Newcastle and Portsmouth.
- A total of 10,000 people worked on construction of the ship, made up in sections at yards around the UK and transported to Rosyth, Fife, where it was assembled.
- It is the second ship in the Royal Navy to be named Queen Elizabeth.
- The ship has a crew of around 700, that will increase to 1,600 when a full complement of F-35B jets and Crowsnest helicopters are embarked.
- There are 364,000 metres of pipes inside the ship, and from keel to masthead she measures 56 metres, four metres more than Niagara Falls.
- Facilities onboard include a chapel, a medical centre and 12-bed ward, staffed with GPs, a nurse and medical assistants, as well as a dentist and dental nurse.
- There are also five gyms on the warship which include a cardiovascular suite, two free weight rooms and a boxing gym.
- Regular fitness circuit sessions and sporting activities such as basketball and tug of war are held in the hangar and on the flight deck, with weights and other items stored inside the flight deck ramp.
- The Captain of the ship was Angus Essenhigh
- There are five galleys on the warship which is where the food is cooked and those on board eat their meals everyday. This includes two main galleys, the bridge mess and an aircrew refreshment bar.
- The distribution network on board manages enough energy to power 30,000 kettles or 5,500 family homes.
- Its flight deck is 280 metres long and 70 metres wide, enough space for three football pitches.
- The entire ship’s company of 700 can be served a meal within 90 minutes, 45 minutes when at action stations.
- Recreational spaces enjoyed by the crew feature televisions and sofas, as well as popular board games including the traditional Royal Navy game of Uckers.
- Each of the two aircraft lifts on HMS Queen Elizabeth can move two fighter jets from the hangar to the flight deck in 60 seconds.
- The warship has a range of 8,000 to 10,000 nautical miles, and has two propellers – each weighing 33 tonnes and with a combined 80MW output of power – enough to run 1,000 family cars or 50 high speed trains.