A naval officer looks up at the white ensign flying at the stern of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, which has been beset with technical problems
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – UK aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth commissioned in 2017 will not take part in NATO’s Steadfast Defender exercise due to a technical issue with a coupling on the vessel’s propeller shaft, the UK Royal Navy said on Sunday. HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier will set sail for the Steadfast Defender military exercise instead of HMS Queen Elizabeth “as soon as possible,” the statement read.”Routine pre-sailing checks yesterday identified an issue with a coupling on [HMS Queen Elizabeth] starboard propeller shaft. As such, the ship will not sail on Sunday,” the Royal Navy said on X. MilitarySteadfast Defender 2024: Key Facts About NATO’s Largest Drills Since 19881 February, 18:09 GMTOn January 18, NATO announced that it would kick off Steadfast Defender 2024 later in the month. The exercise, which is taking place in the Atlantic and Europe, involves around 90,000 troops from 31 allies and Sweden. The drills will last several months. During the exercise, the allies are planning to test out a conflict scenario against a “near-peer adversary” in accordance with Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which states that an attack on one ally is considered an attack against the entire NATO and allows for the provision of appropriate assistance.Steadfast Defender 2024 is the largest NATO military drills since 1988. Russia has zero illusions about the aims of these wargames. “The exercises are unprecedented, and they do not hide who they conducting these exercises against,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Earlier Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia “has no reason, no geopolitical interest, neither economic, political nor military – to fight with NATO countries.”Russia will keep an eye on the drills using diverse tool of military intelligence.