Reflecting on CSG21 with the USMC's F-35B-equipped VMFA-211

Equipped with British and American F-35Bs, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) successfully completed her first operational deployment in December 2021. US Navy Lt Cdr Rick Burgess (Ret) details the mission through the eyes of VMFA-211 – the USMC F-35B unit that embarked on the carrier – and how it further strengthened the UK-US alliance.

USMC VMFA-211 F-35B launches from HMS Queen Elizabeth in South China Sea 29-07-21 [MOD Crown Copyright/Petty Officer Jay Allen]
An F-35B Lightning II from the USMC’s VMFA-211 ‘Wake Island Avengers’ launches off HMS Queen Elizabeth’s ski-jump while the aircraft carrier was operating in the South China Sea on July 29, 2021. The ski-jump was the only significant difference in flight-deck operations for the USMC pilots, who are used to short take-offs from the flat decks of US Navy amphibious assault ships.
MOD Crown Copyright/Petty Officer Jay Allen

The deployment of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 (VMFA-211) ‘Wake Island Avengers’ on board the Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, for the UK-led Carrier Strike Group 2021 (CSG21) was remarkable in many aspects, not least of which was an expression of commitment to the long-enduring UK-US alliance.

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