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Several UK and US navy ships, including Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier start intensive gunnery exercise in East China Sea.

Image Credit: UK Ministry of Defence

Today the Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth along with HMS Kent, HMS Defender and HNLMS Evertsen of the carrier strike group joined the Expeditionary Strike Group 7 and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in the Philippine Sea. There they started a two-day gunnery exercise on an uninhabited tropical island.

The island, Farallon de Medinilla which is in the North Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean was bombarded by three F-35 jets squadrons. Two of them were from HMS Queen Elizabeth, while the other was from USS America. The island also received a bombardment from the naval guns of HMS Kent, Defender and HNLMS Evertsen.

It was fantastic to demonstrate the ability to coordinate joint fire support with US Expeditionary Strike Group 7 today, making use of ships from the UK and the Netherlands, as well as F-35Bs. And what an amazing way to conduct my first live Medium Calibre Gun firing.

Lieutenant Commander Conrad Rolfe, one of HMS Kent’s Principal Warfare Officers.

US marines also landed on the island and set up mortar positions, and than communicated with the navy that were spread out west of the Island. The marines provided the military vessels with targets for them to attack.

The huge naval exercise is clearly aimed at China. The latter has claimed most of the South China Sea and has been over the past few years threatening most South China Sea countries from accessing the sea without their permission. They have also transformed reefs into military bases to bolster their sovereignty claims of the sea.

This also comes days before the scheduled four-day Malabar naval exercise that will take place between August 26- 29th and will feature naval vessels and military aircraft from the Quad countries- USA, Australia, India and Japan.

More details to follow.

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