British F-35s to launch operation against Islamic State targets 

The planes from the 617th Squadron of the Royal Air Force will operate from the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to help prevent the terrorist organization from regaining a foothold in Iraq   

F-35B fighters on the deck of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in May. Photo: REUTERS/Bart Biesemans

The HMS Queen Elizabeth, the newest aircraft carrier in the British Royal Navy, which is carrying a squadron of F-35B stealth fighters, is to start attacking Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria in the coming days.   

The British Ministry of Defence announced on Saturday that the 617th Squadron of the Royal Air Force, known as "The Dambusters", will assist the military operations against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The British minister for the armed forces, James Heappey, said that the stealth fighters will help prevent Islamic State from regaining a foothold in Iraq.   

Commodore Steve Moorehouse, commander of the strike group being led by the Queen Elizabeth, tweeted that there has been a change in the strike group's mission. "To date, we've delivered diplomatic influence through exercises & engagements – now we deliver the hard punch of maritime based air power," he said. 

One of the aims of the operation, called "Shader", is to deliver 5th generation combat power into any mission, in any theater, at any time. The UK Defense Journal website reported that the strike group, whose flagship is the Queen Elizabeth, is made up of 15 warships from Britain, the U.S. and the Netherlands, and includes marines from the U.S. Marine Corps.        

The flotilla is on a seven-month deployment that will include stops at 40 countries. 

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