Following the deepening military ties between the U.S., Great Britain, and the rest of the ‘QUAD,’ Australia, Japan, and India, expanded under President Trump, the deployment of the multinational HMS Queen Elizabeth (‘Big Lizzy’) Carrier Strike Group now to the western Pacific is sending a powerful signal.
It is part of what U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin calls “integrated Deterrence.”
“All carrier groups are – they’re not just a military deployment, they are a political deployment,” said Ben Wallace, the U.K. Secretary of State for Defense. “They’re a political statement. And they provide tremendous opportunity.”
But a multinational, integrated force like this one is even more powerful.
The ‘Big Lizzy’ task force consists of U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Royal Netherlands Navy, and Royal Navy units, hosting a mixed squadron of U.S. Marine and British Air Force F-35Bs. The F-35s, in particular, provide a serious multiplier effect.
We have written previously about ‘cross-decking’ F-35s across allied warships.
This fleet, carrying F-35s into the Pacific, writes Admiral Scott Swift, USN (Ret.) in 19fortyfive.com, “signals to the PRC that we still have the most modern capabilities in the world. Moreover, it’s a powerful message of allies and partners working together to deter aggression and keep the Indo-Pacific free and open.”
He added: “If we are going to deter the PRC over the next six years, we need two things in particular: Deployable modern capability and close coordination with our allies and partners.”
In his recent piece Admiral Swift also wrote:
F-35s are a visible, modern, capable deterrent, as a critical and compelling instance of overmatch both America and its allies have available to deploy today, in numbers. This capability resident in so many allied and partner air forces is critical to address “the Davidson Window” over the next six years.
F-35s – whether land or sea based – are key to keeping the PRC on its heels today and into the future. The PRC knows well that F-35s can shoot down their aircraft well before they’re even seen, penetrate their missile defenses undetected, and destroy targets on land or sea.
The PRC faces a network of like-minded and integrated F-35 nations in the Pacific – Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore – as well as the United Kingdom and the United States. This is what integrated deterrence looks like.
And Adm. Swift should know, he served as the commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, Director Navy Staff, and Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet. ADN