Live missiles fired at sea off Scottish coast in military exercise

Twenty warships, three submarines and 150 aircraft have taken part in a UK-led multinational military exercise off the north-west coast of Scotland – including firing live missiles at sea for the first time in 15 years.

The full UK Carrier Strike Group assembled for the first time during an exercise in October last year, with aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leading a flotilla of destroyers and frigates.

The Strike Warrior 21 exercise was designed to push the Carrier Strike Group “to its limits” according to the Ministry of Defence, testing its response to a range of crisis and conflict situations, and “to ensure its readiness for any situation” when it is deployed on a seven-month global tour.

Military assets from 10 different nations took part in the exercise, which saw ships from a range of partner nations deploy a range of advanced threats against the group.

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State-of-the-art F-35 fighter jets conducted missile firings during the exercise while the UK’s two aircraft carriers – HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales – were able to meet each other at sea for the very first time.

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Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said the exercise had been “a huge success” and was an "example of the crucial role Scotland plays in the defence and security of the United Kingdom and that of our NATO allies.”

He added: “I commend those who took part in the exercise in the waters off north west Scotland and am fully confident their experiences will ensure that the Carrier Strike Group's seven month global deployment beginning this weekend will be a big success.

“I am proud that Scotland is at the forefront of flying the flag for global Britain, with Rosyth-assembled HMS Queen Elizabeth being a key part of the exercise and the Carrier Strike Group – as were submarines from Faslane, aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth, and many Scottish Armed Forces personnel.”

The exercise saw the Carrier Strike Group pitted against warships from NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 1 to prove it can undertake high-intensity operations in response to a broad range of crisis and conflict situations. As well as live missile firings at sea, activities included NATO integration training, mine counter measures operations and submarine exercises.

Forces from Denmark, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the USA and one non-NATO country, Australia, all took part in the final test of the Carrier Strike Group before it sets sail on a maiden operational deployment this weekend that will see it undertake engagements and exercises with 40 nations.

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