British Navy : In the summer of 2021, the British expedition of the 21st Carrier Strike Group of the Royal Navy, led by the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, faced serious problems: an acute shortage of materiel, regular accidents, the loss of an expensive fighter aircraft and an “unexpectedly” aggressive reaction of Russian ships. The UK has neither the money nor the opportunity to organize a second expedition in 2022. So says military expert Alexander Mozgovoy.
After agreeing on a naval mission with Washington, the carrier strike group, formed from British, American and Dutch ships, first of all went to the Mediterranean Sea, and the destroyer Defender and the frigate Evertsen decided to try their luck in the Black Sea. In both cases, the British Navy was “targeted,” according to an article by Alexander Mozgovoy, which was published in the National Defense magazine.
“No sooner had the British squadron entered the waters of the Eastern Mediterranean than “dry” and “MiGs” hung over it. Russian ships also advanced to escort the aircraft carrier strike group: the Moskva missile cruiser, frigates, small missile ships and submarines. If necessary, Russian aircraft were able to “shoot down” the flagship of Her Majesty’s fleet, like a woodcock on a forest lawn,” the expert noted.
The actions of the navies of the NATO countries were a demonstration of military power. But she was questionable. Moreover, the MiG-31K fighters and Tu-22M3 long-range bombers did not even need to be near the British squadron. The range of the Kh-32 anti-ship missiles installed on these aircraft is 1,000 kilometers, and the Kh-47M2 missiles are completely capable of hitting sea targets at a distance of up to 1,500 kilometers.
According to the expert, Russian aircraft only needed to get target designation for Queen Elizabeth and other ships of the British fleet in order to strike.
An attempt by Defender and Evertsen to violate Russian territorial waters off the coast of Crimea on June 23, 2021 was unsuccessful. At first, the British destroyer decided to ignore the warnings of the Russian border patrol ship, but after a warning fire, the intruder had to hastily leave Russian territorial waters.
According to a military expert, “the operation to contain Putin in the Mediterranean failed.” “Moreover, the Diamond destroyer suffered an inopportune engine breakdown, and the Defender’s main power plant failed. For this reason, as soon as Defender and Evertsen reunited (in the Mediterranean. – “MK” ) with the combined squadron, the British expedition hurried to the Suez Canal to go to the Indian Ocean.
But even there, the carrier strike group ran into trouble. After exercises with Japanese, Indian, Singaporean, Malaysian and Thai ships, the British squadron entered the South China Sea, where they began to be closely watched by Chinese submarines armed with long-range anti-ship cruise missiles. Therefore, the carrier strike group was ordered to keep a distance and behave as carefully as possible.
Several accidents happened during the expedition. For example, a British American-made F-35 fighter jet worth $134 million crashed into the water, not having time to break away from the aircraft carrier’s springboard. One of the servicemen committed suicide due to unclear circumstances. All British, American and Dutch ships returned to their bases on December 9, 2021.
The author analyzed the level of combat readiness of the British Navy. “The defensive capabilities of the ships of the Royal Navy so far leave much to be desired,” he said. “According to British experts, the destroyer Defender during the “incident” off the coast of Crimea, where the Russian reaction was decisive, could not have repelled the attack of Russian aircraft and ships by any means.”