The new carrier, nicknamed Big Lizzie, will take part in the deployment alongside new-generation F-35 fighter jets from the UK and US. The ship’s first operational deployment will be announced by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson who will claim China and Russia have “blurred” the boundaries between peace and war. Mr Williamson will use a major speech to pledge the UK will stand up to enemies with traditional military power and a significant investment in Britain’s cyber warfare capabilities.
He will say Britain will use “hard power” to protect its interest and must be prepared to take military action against countries that “flout international law”.
And he will also insist NATO must be prepared to face up to the new threat posed by a “resurgent” Moscow following the collapse of the US-Russia intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty.
The alliance “must develop its ability to handle the kind of provocations that Russia is throwing at us”.
In a strongly-worded defence of an interventionist policy, Mr Williamson will say the price of failing to act in global crises had often been “unacceptably high” and Western powers could not “walk on by when others are in need”.
He will say: “To talk but fail to act risks our nation being seen as little more than a paper tiger.”
Mr Williamson will say the Government’s “Global Britain” mantra must involve “action to oppose those who flout international law”.
The Defence Secretary will say HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first mission will be part of “making Global Britain a reality”.
“Significantly, British and American F-35s will be embedded in the carrier’s air wing, enhancing the reach and lethality of our forces and reinforcing the fact that the US remains our very closest of partners.”
He will also confirm plans for new British bases in the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific.
Setting out how he plans to spend some of the £1.8billion extra funding for defence secured last year, Mr Williamson will promise a “very significant additional investment” in cyber capabilities including improving the UK’s ability to carry out its own online attacks and protect against hackers.
Mr Williamson will also promise quicker changes in military technology.
He will say: ”Against adversaries upping their spending and advancing technology, we have to respond.
“If we do not, we will find ourselves with fewer options when we face threats in the future.”