Britain's aircraft carrier is to be joined on her maiden deployment by a US ship as the navy faces its "biggest test for a generation".
The MoD says HMS Queen Elizabeth will be joined by USS The Sullivans, a Destroyer, and a detachment of US Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft.
The deployment to the Asia-Pacific region is expected to include port visits in Oman, Singapore, South Korea and Japan.
Military chiefs hope the mission will cement international ties and demonstrate Britain’s readiness to conduct global operations alongside allies.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “I am delighted that the UK now possesses a 21st century Carrier Strike capability, which has been greatly assisted by the unswerving support and cooperation of the United States at all levels over the past decade.
“This deployment embodies the strength of our bilateral ties and reflects the depth and breadth of this vital defence and security partnership.”
However, the deployment, which will include other British assets such as ships, submarines and aircraft, has been dubbed the Royal Navy’s "biggest test for a generation".
Tom Sharpe, a former Royal Navy commanding officer, says "the eyes of allies and adversaries alike" will be watching the deployment.
“One element to be ready for is the Chinese Navy operating in close proximity to the Task Group.
“This kind of intelligence gathering is a core naval activity and doesn’t have to be aggressive. However, it can become so very quickly; different languages and operating procedures combined with rapid closing ranges means the risk of miscalculation could be high.
“The Russian Air Force and Iranian Navy have a habit of passing well inside what would normally be deemed safe operating distances.”
MoD officials will need to understand the different audiences to be messaged on the initial operational mission of Britain's new 65,000 ton aircraft carrier later this year, he says.
The MoD said the Carrier Strike programme had reached “initial operating capability” in December following a series of multinational exercises throughout 2020.
It means all elements from fighter jets to radar systems to anti-ship weapons have been successfully brought together and operated. Anti-submarine warfare equipment will be included but the MoD gave no further details.
“The US Navy has for years been looking to allies to support its stretched carrier fleet operations, a call answered often only by the excellent but expensive French Charles de Gaulle carrier,” Mr Sharpe said.
“For all the talk of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s warfighting capabilities for the majority of her service life she will be a tool of influence rather than direct action.
“Who are the audiences for this deployment: the UK taxpayer, Xi Jinping, the Defence industry, Joe Biden?
“Get this deployment - and the messaging - right, and British hard and soft power will be increased. But get it wrong and Britain’s standing on the world stage could be diminished.”