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Friday, April 16, 1999 Published at 23:47 GMT 00:47 UK


UK

HMS Invincible joins Nato

Great significance is being attached to Invincible's presence

The aircraft carrier Invincible has officially joined Nato's forces in the Adriatic.

Brits in Balkans
The 20,000 tonne ship, carrying seven sea harrier jets and a fleet of helicopters, joined the allies' offensive against Serbia as of midnight on Friday.

Its crew is adjusting to the new weather conditions, having spent nearly three months in the blistering heat of the Gulf.

Captain James Burnell-Nugent said the risks involved in the conflict against Serbia were greater than those near Iraq.

"The weapons systems are much same, but the risks and threats are greater," he said.


[ image: Invincible was diverted to the area on its way home from the Gulf]
Invincible was diverted to the area on its way home from the Gulf
Rear Admiral Ian Forbes, commander of the United Kingdom Task Group, said the carrier's role was not just symbolic.

"We are making a strong political statement displaying our commitment to resolve and end the crisis," he said.

"In addition, the deployment of the Invincible has a clear military purpose. The Sea Harriers on the carrier are the first air defence force deployed in the region by the UK and it increases the number of British combat aircraft by 30%."

One pilot admitted that their political role could be as great as any military action carried out.

"At the end of the day perhaps we are here more as a political statement than what we can bring to the party," he said.

"But that may well turn out to be the most effective thing."



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