Britain set to deploy aircraft carrier to the Red Sea

The British government is preparing to deploy an aircraft carrier to the Red Sea in order to counter the threat of drone and missile attacks from Houthi rebels.

The Royal Navy is preparing to step in to replace USS Dwight D Eisenhower when it returns to America. As the Houthis warned of a “long-term confrontation” in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

On Tuesday, James Heappey, the armed forces minister, said that the UK may “cooperate with the Americans” and step in to “plug a gap” in the Red Sea.

The UK has two aircraft carriers designed to carry F-35 fighter jets. One is HMS Prince of Wales, which would face its first combat operation if deployed. The other is HMS Queen Elizabeth, which has been sent into combat once before.

Mohamed al-Atifi, the commander of Iran-backed Houthi forces, stated on Tuesday that the group is ready to engage in a prolonged conflict in the Red Sea. Since November, the group has launched several drone and missile attacks against both commercial and naval ships in the area.

The attacks are causing major delays for global shipping. They are rerouting tankers and container ships around Africa to avoid the narrow Bab al-Mandab strait. It serves as the entry point to the Red Sea between Yemen and Djibouti.

Britain and the US have launched two rounds of joint air strikes on Houthi drone and missile sites. They are using American F/A-18 Super Hornet jets from USS Eisenhower and the RAF’s Typhoons launched from a base in southern Cyprus.

However, Mr. Heappey said the US carrier, nicknamed “Ike,” must soon return to the US. “The Eisenhower can’t stay there forever. So there’s a thing about just maintaining a carrier presence in the region where we might cooperate with the Americans. To provide a capability there,” he told The House magazine.

He said Royal Navy carriers could be used “when the Eisenhower goes home… if we were needed to plug a gap in US deployments”.

Further Plan Of UK

The plans come after weeks of calls for the UK to deploy one of its £3.1 billion aircraft carriers based in Portsmouth.

The Telegraph reported earlier this month that a shortage of navy personnel had affected both HMS Queen Elizabeth and RFA Fort Victoria. The ship supplies ammunition, food, and other essentials to the carrier while at sea. As a result, HMS Queen Elizabeth was not fully prepared for deployment. Lord West, the former First Sea Lord, previously criticized the UK for not deploying a carrier to protect commercial ships. Calling it “absolutely extraordinary”. However, on Tuesday, Mr. Heappey stated that there was no real need for more carriers to be present in the region than what the Ike (USS Dwight D. Eisenhower) could provide.

A sea trial of HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2019 was aborted after the ship sprung a leak. However, a defense source said both carriers were ready to deploy if necessary. They stressed the “interoperability” between US and UK forces after American F-35B jets took off from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth. During Operation Shader against Islamic State in 2021.

The aircraft carriers can serve as a base for F-35s. CREDIT: Harald Tittel/DPA.

A source has indicated that if they make a decision, they will customize the package accordingly. The two squadrons of F-35 jets are expected to reach “full operating capacity” in the UK next year. However, each carrier has the ability to accommodate up to 36 jets.

Cameron is open to a Palestinian state

On Tuesday, Lord Cameron, the Foreign Secretary, traveled to Oman. He is expected to call for stability over the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea and urge the de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East.

Earlier, Lord Cameron said Britain was considering whether to recognize a Palestinian state formally. He told a reception of Arab ambassadors in London that the Government had a “responsibility” to work towards a two-state solution, which would result in an independent Palestinian state coexisting with the nation of Israel.

Houthi supporters rally against the USA and Israel at a rally in Sana’a, Yemen. CREDIT: YAHYA ARHAB/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Shutterstock

“Most important of all is to give the Palestinian people a political horizon so that they can see that there is going to be irreversible progress to a two-state solution and, crucially, the establishment of a Palestinian state,” he said.

“We have a responsibility there because we should be starting to set out what a Palestinian state would look like. What it would comprise? How it would work and, crucially, looking at the issue of recognising a Palestinian state, including at the United Nations.”

Outline one of the actions

In Oman, the Foreign Secretary will reiterate Britain’s commitment to delivering aid to Yemen. They also outline the actions the UK is taking to deter the Houthis from targeting ships in the Red Sea.

The news came after Joe Biden said he had made a decision on how to respond to Iran-backed militants in Iraq and Syria. Along with those who fired on an American base in northern Jordan on Sunday, killing three US troops.

Asked if he believed Iran was responsible for the attack. The president said: “I do hold them responsible in the sense that they’re supplying the weapons to the people who did it.”

Washington pledged a “very consequential” response to the attacks. John Kirby, the White House’s National Security spokesman, said the US had still not identified the specific group that attacked the US base. But believed the militants had Iranian backing. 

He stated, “We have not yet completed the analysis, but it clearly shows that groups backed by the IRGC and Hezbollah are behind the work.”

Iran’s envoy to the United Nations. Amir Saeid Iravani warned that Tehran would swiftly respond to any attack on its territory, its interests, or nationals outside its borders, state media reported on Wednesday.

Kataib Hezbollah, the group blamed for the fatal drone attack, said on Tuesday it would halt its attacks on American forces in the Middle East.

“We’re announcing the suspension of our military and security operations against the occupying forces . To avoid any embarrassment for the Iraqi government,” it wrote on its website.

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