The UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG) has achieved a major milestone as it reached Initial Operating Capability (IOC) ahead of its first operational deployment this year, the Ministry of Defence announced.
The key IOC milestone means all elements of the carrier strike group from fighter jets to radar systems to anti-ship weapons have been successfully brought together and operated.
Both the air and naval elements of the CSG, led by aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, have now met this milestone, which includes qualified pilots and ground crews being held at short notice for carrier-based operations and trained to handle weapons and maintain the equipment.
Another marker of success at this stage includes the ability to deploy Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities such as frigates and destroyers, as well as both fixed and rotary wing aircraft including Merlin helicopters to operate alongside the carrier.
“This is a hugely significant milestone for HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy and the whole country. This achievement is a testament to the determination of our service personnel and industry workforce who have delivered this first-rate military capability, a capability held by only a handful of nations. I wish the entire Carrier Strike Group well ahead of their first operational deployment this year,” said Defence Minister Jeremy Quin.
Full operating capability for the CSG is expected by December 2023.