U.S. Navy F/A-18s fly above HMS Queen Elizabeth

The U.S. and U.K. co-hosted carrier strike group exercise Saxon Warrior 2017 to demonstrate interoperability and capability to respond to crises and deter potential threats

Taken on Aug. 5, 2017 the interesting photos in this post show an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the “Tomcatters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31, bottom, and an F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the “Blacklions” of VFA-213 fly in formation above the HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) during exercise Saxon Warrior 2017.

The U.S. and U.K. co-hosted carrier strike group exercise demonstrates interoperability and capability to respond to crises and deter potential threats.

Noteworthy as reported by The Telegraph members of Britain’s new carrier strike group are engaged with the U.S. Navy and other international allies in Exercise Saxon Warrior, aboard American aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush (CVN 77).

Commander Betton, commander of the Royal Navy’s carrier strike group, told the Press Association the two new carriers (in the form of HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales) marked a huge step for UK defence that would “usher in a new era of carrier strike activity.”

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F/A-18E Super Hornet VFA-31 Tomcatters, AJ100 / 166776. CVW-8, USS George H. W. Bush CVN-77, 2014

Speaking aboard USS George HW Bush, he added: “Carrier enabled power projection, which is the formal term for this capability, offers strategic choice to Her Majesty’s Government. The ability to scale from humanitarian assistance, response to natural disasters, through to a poise to try and deter a potential conflict and if necessary to engage as a serious tier one partner in the international coalition to take our place at the top table. As a United Nations permanent security council member, I feel it’s firmly the right thing for the United Kingdom to be doing.”

Betton was echoed by Captain Ken Houlberg, the UK carrier strike group chief of staff, who claimed: “It’s got hard power tools that can deliver capability across the spectrum of conflict, from humanitarian and disaster relief through defence engagement to full high-end war fighting with our coalition allies.

“It sets Britain apart.”

Cmdr Betton said the two British carriers would operate at a high state or readiness, with one or the other always available at short notice to undertake carrier strike operations.

Cpt Houlberg concluded: “We’ve got to get from two carriers the sorts of things the Americans get from a lot more, and that’s going to be quite a challenge, but it’s something I’m confident we can deliver.”U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets fly above Royal Navy HMS Queen Elizabeth

Photo credit: Capt. Jim McCall / U.S. Navy

Artwork courtesy of

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