The United Kingdom announced Monday it will send a new aircraft carrier and two squadrons of F-35 fighter jets to the South China Sea as part of a mixed U.K./U.S. deployment.
British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute think tank that the UK and its allies in the West should be ready to "use hard power to support our interests," and confirmed the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the only active aircraft carrier in the Royal Navy, will be deployed to the South China Sea along with American and British F-35 jets.
China has laid claim to most of the South China Sea, which is used by several countries, including the U.S., as an important shipping lane.
"And we are seeking to use our global capabilities to strengthen our global presence," Williamson said in his remarks.
"I can announce the first operational mission of the HMS Queen Elizabeth will include the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and the Pacific region, making Global Britain a reality," he continued. "Significantly, British and American F35s will be embedded in the carrier's air wing. Enhancing the reach and lethality of our forces and reinforcing the fact that the United States remains our very closest of partners."