An aircraft carrier is a warship that serves as a seagoing airbase, equipped with a full-length flight deck and facilities for carrying, arming, deploying, and recovering aircraft.Typically, it is the capital ship of a fleet, as it allows a naval force to project air power worldwide without depending on local bases for staging aircraft operations. Carriers have evolved since their inception in the early twentieth century from wooden vessels used to deploy balloons to nuclear-powered warships that carry numerous fighters, strike aircraft, helicopters, and other types of aircraft. While heavier aircraft such as fixed-wing gunships and bombers have been launched from aircraft carriers, it is currently not possible to land them. By its diplomatic and tactical power, its mobility, its autonomy and the variety of its means, the aircraft carrier is often the centerpiece of modern combat fleets. Tactically or even strategically, it replaced the battleship in the role of flagship of a fleet. One of its great advantages is that, by sailing in international waters, it does not interfere with any territorial sovereignty and thus obviates the need for overflight authorizations from third party countries, reduce the times and transit distances of aircraft and therefore significantly increase the time of availability on the combat zone.
A warship or combatant ship is a naval ship that is built and primarily intended for naval warfare. Usually they belong to the armed forces of a state. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more manoeuvrable than merchant ships. Unlike a merchant ship, which carries cargo, a warship typically carries only weapons, ammunition and supplies for its crew. Warships usually belong to a navy, though they have also been operated by individuals, cooperatives and corporations.
The flight deck of an aircraft carrier is the surface from which its aircraft take off and land, essentially a miniature airfield at sea. On smaller naval ships which do not have aviation as a primary mission, the landing area for helicopters and other VTOL aircraft is also referred to as the flight deck. The official U.S. Navy term for these vessels is "air-capable ships".
Carrier-based aircraft, sometimes known as carrier-capable aircraft or carrier-borne aircraft, are naval aircraft designed for operations from aircraft carriers. They must be able to launch in a short distance and be sturdy enough to withstand the abrupt forces of launching from and recovering on a pitching deck. In addition, their wings are generally able to fold up, easing operations in tight quarters.
There is no single definition of an "aircraft carrier",and modern navies use several variants of the type. These variants are sometimes categorized as sub-types of aircraft carriers, and sometimes as distinct types of naval aviation-capable ships. Aircraft carriers may be classified according to the type of aircraft they carry and their operational assignments. Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, RN, former First Sea Lord (head) of the Royal Navy, has said, "To put it simply, countries that aspire to strategic international influence have aircraft carriers." Henry Kissinger, while United States Secretary of State, also said: "An aircraft carrier is 100,000 tons of diplomacy".
Naval aviation is the application of military air power by navies, whether from warships that embark aircraft, or land bases.
Admiral is a senior rank of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, which equates to the NATO rank code OF-9, outranked only by the rank of admiral of the fleet. Royal Navy officers holding the ranks of rear admiral, vice admiral and admiral of the fleet are sometimes considered generically to be admirals. The rank of admiral is currently the highest rank to which a serving officer in the Royal Navy can be promoted, admiral of the fleet being in abeyance except for honorary promotions of retired officers and members of the Royal Family.
Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, is a retired Royal Navy officer. After serving as a submarine commander, he commanded a frigate and then commanded an aircraft carrier on operational patrol off Sierra Leone. He went on to be Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation and then Commander-in-Chief Fleet. He served as First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval staff, the professional head of the Royal Navy, from July 2009 to April 2013. In this role he advised the British Government on the deployment of naval forces during operations around Libya. He was succeeded by Admiral Sir George Zambellas in April 2013.
As of July 2019, there are 41 active aircraft carriers in the world operated by thirteen navies. The United States Navy has 11 large nuclear-powered fleet carriers—carrying around 80 fighter jets each—the largest carriers in the world; the total combined deckspace is over twice that of all other nations combined. As well as the aircraft carrier fleet, the U.S. Navy has nine amphibious assault ships used primarily for helicopters, although these also carry up to 20 vertical or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) fighter jets and are similar in size to medium-sized fleet carriers. China, France, India, Russia, and the UK each operate a single large/medium-size carrier, with capacity from 30 to 60 fighter jets. Italy operates two light fleet carriers and Spain operates one. Helicopter carriers are operated by Japan (4), France (3), Australia (2), Egypt (2), Brazil (1), South Korea (1), and Thailand (1). Future aircraft carriers are under construction or in planning by Brazil, China, India, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. With the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the U.S. Navy is the third largest of the U.S. military service branches in terms of personnel. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the third-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force and the United States Army.
A fleet carrier is an aircraft carrier designed to operate with the main fleet of a nation's navy. The term was developed during World War II, to distinguish it from the escort carrier and other less capable types. In addition to many medium-sized carriers, supercarriers, as well as some light carriers, are also classed as fleet carriers.
An amphibious assault ship is a type of amphibious warfare ship employed to land and support ground forces on enemy territory by an amphibious assault. The design evolved from aircraft carriers converted for use as helicopter carriers. Modern ships support amphibious landing craft, with most designs including a well deck. Coming full circle, some amphibious assault ships also support V/STOL fixed-wing aircraft, now having a secondary role as aircraft carriers.
An anti-submarine warfare carrier is a type of small aircraft carrier whose primary role is as the nucleus of an anti-submarine warfare hunter-killer group. This type of ship came into existence during the Cold War as a development of the escort carriers used in the ASW role in the North Atlantic during World War II.
A balloon carrier or balloon tender was a ship equipped with a balloon, usually tied to the ship by a rope or cable, and usually used for observation. During the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century, these ships were built to have the furthest possible view of the surrounding waters. After several experiments, the type became formalized in the early 1900s, but was soon to be superseded by the development of seaplane carriers and regular aircraft carriers at the beginning of World War I.
The escort carrier or escort aircraft carrier, also called a "jeep carrier" or "baby flattop" in the United States Navy (USN) or "Woolworth Carrier" by the Royal Navy, was a small and slow type of aircraft carrier used by the Royal Navy, the United States Navy, the Imperial Japanese Navy and Imperial Japanese Army Air Force in World War II. They were typically half the length and a third the displacement of larger fleet carriers. While they were slower, carried fewer planes and were less well armed and armored, escort carriers were cheaper and could be built quickly, which was their principal advantage. Escort carriers could be completed in greater numbers as a stop-gap when fleet carriers were scarce. However, the lack of protection made escort carriers particularly vulnerable and several were sunk with great loss of life. The light carrier was a similar concept to escort carriers in most respects, but were capable of higher speeds to allow operation alongside fleet carriers.
(note: some of the types listed here are not strictly defined as aircraft carriers by some sources)
A fleet carrier is intended to operate with the main fleet and usually provides an offensive capability. These are the largest carriers capable of fast speeds. By comparison, escort carriers were developed to provide defense for convoys of ships. They were smaller and slower with lower numbers of aircraft carried. Most were built from mercantile hulls or, in the case of merchant aircraft carriers, were bulk cargo ships with a flight deck added on top. Light aircraft carriers were fast enough to operate with the main fleet but of smaller size with reduced aircraft capacity.
A merchant aircraft carrier was a limited-purpose aircraft carrier operated under British and Dutch civilian registry during World War II. MACs were adapted by adding a flight deck to a bulk grain ship or oil tanker enabling it to operate anti-submarine aircraft in support of Allied convoys during the Battle of the Atlantic.
A light aircraft carrier, or light fleet carrier, is an aircraft carrier that is smaller than the standard carriers of a navy. The precise definition of the type varies by country; light carriers typically have a complement of aircraft only one-half to two-thirds the size of a full-sized fleet carrier. A light carrier was similar in concept to an escort carrier in most respects, however light carriers were intended for higher speeds to be deployed alongside fleet carriers, while escort carriers usually defended convoys and provided air support during amphibious operations.
The Soviet aircraft carrier Admiral Kusnetsov was termed a heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser. This was primarily a legal construct to avoid the limitations of the Montreux Convention preventing 'aircraft carriers' transiting the Turkish Straits between the Soviet Black Sea bases and the Mediterranean. These ships, while sized in the range of large fleet carriers, were designed to deploy alone or with escorts. In addition to supporting fighter aircraft and helicopters, they provide both strong defensive weaponry and heavy offensive missiles equivalent to a guided missile cruiser.
Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov is an aircraft carrier serving as the flagship of the Russian Navy. It was built by the Black Sea Shipyard, the sole manufacturer of Soviet aircraft carriers, in Nikolayev within the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR). The initial name of the ship was Riga; it was launched as Leonid Brezhnev, embarked on sea trials as Tbilisi, and finally named Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov after Admiral of the fleet of the Soviet Union Nikolay Gerasimovich Kuznetsov.
The Turkish Straits are two internationally significant waterways in northwestern Turkey. The straits create a series of international passages that connect the Aegean and Mediterranean seas to the Black Sea. They consist of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus. Both straits are connected to, as well as on opposite sides of, the Sea of Marmara. The straits and the Sea of Marmara are part of the sovereign sea territory of Turkey and subject to the regime of internal waters.
Aircraft carriers today are usually divided into the following four categories based on the way that aircraft take off and land:
The appellation "supercarrier" is not an official designation with any national navy, but a term used predominantly by the media and typically when reporting on new and upcoming aircraft carrier types. It is also used when comparing carriers of various sizes and capabilities, both current and past. It was first used by The New York Times in 1938, Ark Royal, that had a length of 209 metres (686 ft), a displacement of 22,000 tonnes and was designed to carry 72 aircraft. Since then, aircraft carriers have consistently grown in size, both in length and displacement, as well as improved capabilities; in defense, sensors, electronic warfare, propulsion, range, launch and recovery systems, number and types of aircraft carried and number of sorties flown per day.in an article about the Royal Navy's HMS
While the current classes in service, or planned, with the navies of China, India, Russia, and the United Kingdom, with displacements ranging from 65,000 ft) to 320 meters (1,050 ft) and varying capabilities, have been described as "supercarriers", the largest "supercarriers" currently in service are with the US Navy, with displacements exceeding 100,000 tonnes, lengths of over 337 meters (1,106 ft), and capabilities that match or exceed that of any other class.to 85,000 tonnes, lengths ranging from 280 meters (920
Several systems of identification symbol for aircraft carriers and related types of ship have been used. These include the pennant numbers used by the Royal Navy and some Commonwealth countries, the hull classification symbols used by the US, NATO and some other countries,and the Canadian hull classification symbols.
|CV||Generic aircraft carrier|
|CVB||Large aircraft carrier (retired)|
|CVAN||Nuclear-powered attack carrier|
|CVG||Flight deck cruiser (proposed)|
|CVHA||Aircraft carrier, Helicopter Assault (retired)|
|CVHE||Aircraft carrier, Helicopter, Escort (retired)|
|CVV||Aircraft Carrier (Medium) (proposed)|
|CVL||Light aircraft carrier|
|CVN||Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier|
|CVS||Anti-submarine warfare carrier|
|LHA||Landing Helicopter Assault, a type of amphibious assault ship|
|LHD||Landing Helicopter Dock, a type of amphibious assault ship|
|LPH||Landing Platform Helicopter, a type of amphibious assault ship|
The 1903 advent of heavier-than-air fixed-wing aircraft with the Wright brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, was closely followed on 14 November 1910, by Eugene Burton Ely's first experimental take-off of a Curtiss Pusher airplane from the deck of a United States Navy ship, the cruiser USS Birmingham anchored off Norfolk Navy Base in Virginia. Two months later, on 18 January 1911, Ely landed his Curtiss Pusher airplane on a platform on the armored cruiser USS Pennsylvania anchored in San Francisco Bay. On 9 May 1912, the first airplane take-off from a ship underway was made from the deck of the Royal Navy's pre-dreadnought battleship HMS Hibernia. Seaplane tender support ships came next, with the French Foudre of 1911. Early in World War I, the Imperial Japanese Navy ship Wakamiya conducted the world's first successful ship-launched air raid: on 6 September 1914, a Farman aircraft launched by Wakamiya attacked the Austro-Hungarian cruiser SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth and the Imperial German gunboat Jaguar in Kiaochow Bay off Tsingtao; neither was hit. The first carrier-launched airstrike was the Tondern Raid in July 1918. Seven Sopwith Camels launched from the converted battlecruiser HMS Furious damaged the German airbase at Tondern, Germany (modern day Tønder, Denmark) and destroyed two zeppelin airships.
The development of flattop vessels produced the first large fleet ships. In 1918, HMS Argus became the world's first carrier capable of launching and recovering naval aircraft. As a result of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, which limited the construction of new heavy surface combat ships, most early aircraft carriers were conversions of ships that were laid down (or had served) as different ship types: cargo ships, cruisers, battlecruisers, or battleships. These conversions gave rise to the US Lexington-class aircraft carriers (1927), Japanese Akagi, and British Courageousclass. Specialist carrier evolution was well underway, with several navies ordering and building warships that were purposefully designed to function as aircraft carriers by the mid-1920s. This resulted in the commissioning of ships such as the Japanese Hōshō (1922), followed by HMS Hermes (1924, although laid down before Hōshō in 1918) and Béarn (1927). During World War II, these ships would become known as fleet carriers.[ citation needed ]
The aircraft carrier dramatically changed naval warfare in World War II, because air power was becoming a significant factor in warfare. The advent of aircraft as focal weapons was driven by the superior range, flexibility, and effectiveness of carrier-launched aircraft. They had greater range and precision than naval guns, making them highly effective. The versatility of the carrier was demonstrated in November 1940, when HMS Illustrious launched a long-range strike on the Italian fleet at their base in Taranto, signalling the beginning of the effective and highly mobile aircraft strikes. This operation in the shallow water harbor incapacitated three of the anchored six battleships at a cost of two torpedo bombers.
World War II in the Pacific Ocean involved clashes between aircraft carrier fleets. The Japanese surprise attack on the American Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor naval / air bases on Sunday, 7 December 1941, was a clear illustration of the power projection capability afforded by a large force of modern carriers. Concentrating six carriers in a single unit turned naval history about, as no other nation had fielded anything comparable. Further versatility was demonstrated during the "Doolittle Raid", on 18 April 1942, when US Navy carrier USS Hornet sailed to within 650 nautical miles (1,200 km) of Japan and launched 16 B-25 bombers from her deck in a retaliatory strike on the mainland, including the capital, Tokyo. However, the vulnerability of carriers compared to traditional battleships when forced into a gun-range encounter was quickly illustrated by the sinking of HMS Glorious by German battleships during the Norwegian campaign in 1940.
This new-found importance of naval aviation forced nations to create a number of carriers, in efforts to provide air superiority cover for every major fleet in order to ward off enemy aircraft. This extensive usage led to the development and construction of 'light' carriers. Escort aircraft carriers, such as USS Bogue, were sometimes purpose-built but most were converted from merchant ships as a stop-gap measure to provide anti-submarine air support for convoys and amphibious invasions. Following this concept, light aircraft carriers built by the U.S., such as USS Independence, represented a larger, more "militarized" version of the escort carrier. Although with similar complement to escort carriers, they had the advantage of speed from their converted cruiser hulls. The UK 1942 Design Light Fleet Carrier was designed for building quickly by civilian shipyards and with an expected service life of about 3 years. They served the Royal Navy during the war, and the hull design was chosen for nearly all aircraft carrier equipped navies after the war, until the 1980s. Emergencies also spurred the creation or conversion of highly unconventional aircraft carriers. CAM ships were cargo-carrying merchant ships that could launch (but not retrieve) a single fighter aircraft from a catapult to defend the convoy from long range land-based German aircraft.
Before World War II, international naval treaties of 1922, 1930, and 1936 limited the size of capital ships including carriers. Since World War II, aircraft carrier designs have increased in size to accommodate a steady increase in aircraft size. The large, modern Nimitzclass of U.S.N. carriers has a displacement nearly four times that of the World War II–era USS Enterprise, yet its complement of aircraft is roughly the same—a consequence of the steadily increasing size and weight of individual military aircraft over the years. Today's aircraft carriers are so expensive that some nations which operate them risk significant political, economic, social and military impact if a carrier is lost, or is even sent to a potential crisis zone or used in conflict.[ citation needed ]
Modern navies that operate such aircraft carriers treat them as the capital ship of the fleet, a role previously held by the sailing galleons, frigates and ships-of-the-line and later steam or diesel powered battleship. This change took place during World War II in response to air power becoming a significant factor in warfare, driven by the superior range, flexibility and effectiveness of carrier-launched aircraft. Following the war, carrier operations continued to increase in size and importance, and along with, carrier designs also increased in size and ability. Some of these larger carriers, dubbed by the media as "supercarriers", displacing 75,000 tonnes or greater, have become the pinnacle of carrier development. Some are powered by nuclear reactors and form the core of a fleet designed to operate far from home. Amphibious assault ships, such as the Wasp and Mistral classes, serve the purpose of carrying and landing Marines, and operate a large contingent of helicopters for that purpose. Also known as "commando carriers" or "helicopter carriers", many have the capability to operate VSTOL aircraft.
Lacking the firepower of other warships, carriers by themselves are considered vulnerable to attack by other ships, aircraft, submarines, or missiles. Therefore, an aircraft carrier is generally accompanied by a number of other ships to provide protection for the relatively unwieldy carrier, to carry supplies and perform other support services, and to provide additional offensive capabilities. The resulting group of ships is often termed a battle group, carrier group, carrier battle group or carrier strike group.
There is a view among some military pundits that modern anti-ship weapons systems, such as torpedoes and missiles, or even ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads have made aircraft carriers and carrier groups obsolete as too vulnerable for modern combat.On the other hand, the threatening role of aircraft carriers has a place in modern asymmetric warfare, like the gunboat diplomacy of the past. Furthermore, aircraft carriers facilitate quick and precise projections of overwhelming military power into such local and regional conflicts.
Carriers are large and long ships, although there is a high degree of variation depending on their intended role and aircraft complement. The size of the carrier has varied over history and among navies, to cater to the various roles that global climates have demanded from naval aviation.
Regardless of size, the ship itself must house their complement of aircraft, with space for launching, storing, and maintaining them. Space is also required for the large crew, supplies (food, munitions, fuel, engineering parts), and propulsion. US aircraft carriers are notable for having nuclear reactors powering their systems and propulsion. This makes the carrier reasonably tall.
The top of the carrier is the flight deck, where aircraft are launched and recovered. On the starboard side of this is the island, where air-traffic control and the bridge are located.
The constraints of constructing a flight deck affect the role of a given carrier strongly, as they influence the weight, type, and configuration of the aircraft that may be launched. For example, assisted launch mechanisms are used primarily for heavy aircraft, especially those loaded with air-to-ground weapons. CATOBAR is most commonly used on USN fleet carriers as it allows the deployment of heavy jets with full loadouts, especially on ground-attack missions. STOVL is used by other navies because it is cheaper to operate and still provides good deployment capability for fighter aircraft.
Due to the busy nature of the flight deck, only 20 or so aircraft may be on it at any one time. A hangar storage several decks below the flight deck is where most aircraft are kept, and aircraft are taken from the lower storage decks to the flight deck through the use of an elevator. The hangar is usually quite large and can take up several decks of vertical space.
Munitions are commonly stored on the lower decks because they are highly explosive. Usually this is below the water line so that the area can be flooded in case of emergency.
As "runways at sea", aircraft carriers have a flat-top flight deck, which launches and recovers aircraft. Aircraft launch forward, into the wind, and are recovered from astern. The flight deck is where the most notable differences between a carrier and a land runway are found. Creating such a surface at sea poses constraints on the carrier. For example, the fact that it is a ship means that a full-length runway would be costly to construct and maintain. This affects take-off procedure, as a shorter runway length of the deck requires that aircraft accelerate more quickly to gain lift. This either requires a thrust boost, a vertical component to its velocity, or a reduced take-off load (to lower mass). The differing types of deck configuration, as above, influence the structure of the flight deck. The form of launch assistance a carrier provides is strongly related to the types of aircraft embarked and the design of the carrier itself.
There are two main philosophies in order to keep the deck short: add thrust to the aircraft, such as using a Catapult Assisted Take-Off (CATO-); and changing the direction of the airplanes' thrust, as in Vertical and/or Short Take-Off (V/STO-). Each method has advantages and disadvantages of its own:
On the recovery side of the flight deck, the adaptation to the aircraft loadout is mirrored. Non-VTOL or conventional aircraft cannot decelerate on their own, and almost all carriers using them must have arrested-recovery systems (-BAR, e.g. CATOBAR or STOBAR) to recover their aircraft. Aircraft that are landing extend a tailhook that catches on arrestor wires stretched across the deck to bring themselves to a stop in a short distance. Post-WWII Royal Navy research on safer CATOBAR recovery eventually led to universal adoption of a landing area angled off axis to allow aircraft who missed the arresting wires to "bolt" and safely return to flight for another landing attempt rather than crashing into aircraft on the forward deck.
If the aircraft are VTOL-capable or helicopters, they do not need to decelerate and hence there is no such need. The arrested-recovery system has used an angled deck since the 1950s because, in case the aircraft does not catch the arresting wire, the short deck allows easier take off by reducing the number of objects between the aircraft and the end of the runway. It also has the advantage of separating the recovery operation area from the launch area. Helicopters and aircraft capable of vertical or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) usually recover by coming abreast of the carrier on the port side and then using their hover capability to move over the flight deck and land vertically without the need for arresting gear.
Carriers steam at speed, up to 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph) into the wind during flight deck operations to increase wind speed over the deck to a safe minimum. This increase in effective wind speed provides a higher launch airspeed for aircraft at the end of the catapult stroke or ski-jump, as well as making recovery safer by reducing the difference between the relative speeds of the aircraft and ship.
Since the early 1950s on conventional carriers it has been the practice to recover aircraft at an angle to port of the axial line of the ship. The primary function of this angled deck is to allow aircraft that miss the arresting wires, referred to as a bolter, to become airborne again without the risk of hitting aircraft parked forward. The angled deck allows the installation of one or two "waist" catapults in addition to the two bow cats. An angled deck also improves launch and recovery cycle flexibility with the option of simultaneous launching and recovery of aircraft.
Conventional ("tailhook") aircraft rely upon a landing signal officer (LSO, radio call sign paddles) to monitor the aircraft's approach, visually gauge glideslope, attitude, and airspeed, and transmit that data to the pilot. Before the angled deck emerged in the 1950s, LSOs used colored paddles to signal corrections to the pilot (hence the nickname). From the late 1950s onward, visual landing aids such as the optical landing system have provided information on proper glide slope, but LSOs still transmit voice calls to approaching pilots by radio.
Key personnel involved in the flight deck include the shooters, the handler, and the air boss. Shooters are naval aviators or naval flight officers and are responsible for launching aircraft. The handler works just inside the island from the flight deck and is responsible for the movement of aircraft before launching and after recovery. The "air boss" (usually a commander) occupies the top bridge (Primary Flight Control, also called primary or the tower) and has the overall responsibility for controlling launch, recovery and "those aircraft in the air near the ship, and the movement of planes on the flight deck, which itself resembles a well-choreographed ballet."The captain of the ship spends most of his time one level below primary on the Navigation Bridge. Below this is the Flag Bridge, designated for the embarked admiral and his staff.
To facilitate working on the flight deck of a U.S. aircraft carrier, the sailors wear colored shirts that designate their responsibilities. There are at least seven different colors worn by flight deck personnel for modern United States Navy carrier air operations. Carrier operations of other nations use similar color schemes.
The superstructure of a carrier (such as the bridge, flight control tower) are concentrated in a relatively small area called an island, a feature pioneered on HMS Hermes in 1923. While the island is usually built on the starboard side of the flight deck, the Japanese aircraft carriers Akagi and Hiryū had their islands built on the port side. Very few carriers have been designed or built without an island. The flush deck configuration proved to have significant drawbacks, primary of which was management of the exhaust from the power plant. Fumes coming across the deck were a major issue in USS Langley. In addition, lack of an island meant difficulties managing the flight deck, performing air traffic control, a lack of radar housing placements and problems with navigating and controlling the ship itself.
Another deck structure that can be seen is a ski-jump ramp at the forward end of the flight deck. This was first developed to help launch STOVL aircraft take off at far higher weights than is possible with a vertical or rolling takeoff on flat decks. Originally developed by the Royal Navy, it since has been adopted by many navies for smaller carriers. A ski-jump ramp works by converting some of the forward rolling movement of the aircraft into vertical velocity and is sometimes combined with the aiming of jet thrust partly downwards. This allows heavily loaded and fueled aircraft a few more precious seconds to attain sufficient air velocity and lift to sustain normal flight. Without a ski-jump launching fully loaded and fueled aircraft such as the Harrier would not be possible on a smaller flat deck ship before either stalling out or crashing directly into the sea.
Although STOVL aircraft are capable of taking off vertically from a spot on the deck, using the ramp and a running start is far more fuel efficient and permits a heavier launch weight. As catapults are unnecessary, carriers with this arrangement reduce weight, complexity, and space needed for complex steam or electromagnetic launching equipment, vertical landing aircraft also remove the need for arresting cables and related hardware. Russian, Chinese, and future Indian carriers include a ski-jump ramp for launching lightly loaded conventional fighter aircraft but recover using traditional carrier arresting cables and a tailhook on their aircraft.
The disadvantage of the ski-jump is the penalty it exacts on aircraft size, payload, and fuel load (and thus range); heavily laden aircraft can not launch using a ski-jump because their high loaded weight requires either a longer takeoff roll than is possible on a carrier deck, or assistance from a catapult or JATO rocket. For example, the Russian Su-33 is only able to launch from the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov with a minimal armament and fuel load. Another disadvantage is on mixed flight deck operations where helicopters are also present such as a US landing helicopter dock or landing helicopter assault amphibious assault ship a ski jump is not included as this would eliminate one or more helicopter landing areas, this flat deck limits the loading of Harriers but is somewhat mitigated by the longer rolling start provided by a long flight deck compared to many STOVL carriers.
The U.S. Navy has the largest carriers in the world, and currently has eleven in service. The UK has two 65,000 tonne STOVL carriers in sea trials. These will enter service in 2020. The navies of China, France, India, and Russia each operate a single medium-sized fleet carrier. The US has nine similarly sized Amphibious Warfare Ships. There are three small light carriers in use capable of operating both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, Italy operates two, and Spain one.
Additionally there are fourteen small carriers which only operate helicopters serving the navies of Australia (2), Brazil (1), Egypt (2), France (3), Japan (4), South Korea (1), and Thailand (1).
The Canberraclass of landing helicopter docks is based on the Spanish vessel Juan Carlos I. The two ship class, built by Navantia and BAE Systems Australia, represents the largest ships ever built for the Royal Australian Navy.
HMAS Canberra underwent sea trials in late 2013 and was commissioned in 2014. Her sister ship, HMAS Adelaide, was commissioned in December 2015. The Australian ships retain the ski-ramp from the Juan Carlos I design, although the RAN has not acquired carrier-based fixed-wing aircraft.
The Brazilian Navy commissioned the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship and helicopter carrier HMS Ocean on 29 June 2018 in the United Kingdom, which was renamed Atlântico. The helicopter carrier package for Brazil includes an Artisan 3D search radar, KH1007 surface surveillance radar system, four 30 mm DS30M Mk 2 remote weapon systems and four Mk 5B landing craft. However, the three original 20 mm Mk 15 Block 1B Phalanx close-in weapon systems, the torpedo defence systems and 7.62 mm M134 machine guns were removed from the ship before its transfer to Brazil. The ship displaces 21,578 tonnes, is 203.43 m long and has a range of 8,000 nautical miles. She has been undergoing maintenance work by Babcock and BAE Systems since February. Scheduled to reach its homeport, Arsenal do Rio de Janeiro (AMRJ), on 25 August, Atlântico will undergo operational sea training under the Royal Navy's Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) programme.
It was reported in 2017 that Brazil was interested in purchasing Ocean from the UK as a replacement for São Paulo which was withdrawn from service in 2017 following multiple mechanical failures. The Royal Navy released an asking price of £80.3 million (US$105,800,871), which the Brazilian Navy called "convenient". In December 2017, the Brazilian Navy confirmed the purchase of Ocean for (GBP) £84.6 million (equivalent to R$359.5M and US$113.2M). The ship was decommissioned from Royal Navy service in March 2018, and after undertaking a period of maintenance in the United Kingdom, is expected to arrive in Rio de Janeiro by the end of 2018 with the intention of being fully operational by 2020.
One STOBAR carrier: Liaoning was originally built as the 57,000 tonne Soviet Admiral Kuznetsov-class carrier Varyagand was later purchased as a stripped hulk by China in 1998 on the pretext of use as a floating casino, then partially rebuilt and towed to China for completion. Liaoning was commissioned on 25 September 2012, and began service for testing and training. On 24 or 25 November 2012, Liaoning successfully launched and recovered several Shenyang J-15 jet fighter aircraft. She is classified as a training ship, intended to allow the navy to practice with carrier usage. On 26 December 2012, the People's Daily reported that it will take four to five years for Liaoning to reach full capacity, mainly due to training and coordination which will take significant amount of time for Chinese PLA Navy to complete as this is the first aircraft carrier in their possession. As she is a training ship, Liaoning is not assigned to any of China's operation fleets.
A second carrier was launched on 26 April 2017. She is the first to be built domestically, to a modified Kuznetsov-class design. The Type 001A aircraft carrier started sea trials on 23 April 2018,and is scheduled to enter service in 2020.
Chinese officials stated that a third carrier, also known as Type 002 carrier is being constructed in the Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard. She will be the first Chinese aircraft carrier to use catapult take off system.In May 2019, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies released satellite images of what they said was the third carrier under construction at Jiangnan Shipyard near Shanghai.
Egypt signed a contract with French shipbuilder DCNS to buy two Mistral-class helicopter carriers for approximately 950 million euros. The two ships were originally destined for Russia, but the deal was canceled by France due to Russian involvement in Ukraine.
On 2 June 2016, Egypt received the first of two helicopter carriers acquired in October 2015, the landing helicopter dock Gamal Abdel Nasser. The flag transfer ceremony took place in the presence of Egyptian and French Navies' chiefs of staff, chairman and chief executive officers of both DCNS and STX France, and senior Egyptian and French officials.On 16 September 2016, DCNS delivered the second of two helicopter carriers, the landing helicopter dock Anwar El Sadat which also participated in a joint military exercise with the French Navy before arriving at its home port of Alexandria.
Egypt is so far the only country in Africa or the Middle East to possess an aircraft carrier.
1 CATOBAR carrier: Charles de Gaulle is a 42,000 tonne nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, commissioned in 2001 and is the flagship of the French Navy (Marine Nationale). The ship carries a complement of Dassault Rafale M and E‑2C Hawkeye aircraft, EC725 Caracal and AS532 Cougar helicopters for combat search and rescue, as well as modern electronics and Aster missiles. She is a CATOBAR-type carrier that uses two 75 m C13‑3 steam catapults of a shorter version of the catapult system installed on the U.S. Nimitz-class carriers, one catapult at the bow and one across the front of the landing area.
3 amphibious assault ships: Mistralclass, 21,500 tonne full deck amphibious assault ships with hospital and well deck.
1 STOBAR carrier: INS Vikramaditya, 45,400 tonnes, modified Kiev class. The carrier was purchased by India on 20 January 2004 after years of negotiations at a final price of $2.35 billion. The ship successfully completed her sea trials in July 2013 and aviation trials in September 2013. She was formally commissioned on 16 November 2013 at a ceremony held at Severodvinsk, Russia.
India started the construction of INS Vikrant, a 40,000-tonne, 260-metre-long (850 ft) aircraft carrier in 2009. The new carrier will operate MiG-29K and naval HAL Tejas aircraft along with the Indian-made helicopter HAL Dhruv. The ship will be powered by four gas-turbine engines and will have a range of 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 kilometres), carrying 160 officers, 1,400 sailors, and 40 aircraft. The carrier is being constructed by Cochin Shipyard. The ship was launched in August 2013 and is scheduled for commissioning in 2021.
A second carrier, INS Vishal, with a displacement of over 65,000 tons is planned and likely to be nuclear-powered with CATOBAR system to launch and recover heavier aircraft and unmanned combat aircraft. The project is in the design phase as of April 2015 [update] .
2 STOVL carriers:
Italy plans to replace aging aircraft carrier Garibaldi, as well as one of the San Giorgio-class landing helicopter docks, with a new amphibious assault ship, to be named Trieste. [ citation needed ]The ship will be significantly larger than her predecessors with a displacement of 33,000 tons at full load. Trieste is to carry the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter.
4 helicopter carriers:
1 STOBAR carrier: Admiral Flota Sovetskovo Soyuza Kuznetsov: 55,000 tonne Admiral Kuznetsov-class STOBAR aircraft carrier. Launched in 1985 as Tbilisi, renamed and operational from 1995. Without catapults she can launch and recover lightly fueled naval fighters for air defense or anti-ship missions but not heavy conventional bombing strikes.[ citation needed ] Officially designated an aircraft carrying cruiser, she is unique in carrying a heavy cruiser's complement of defensive weapons and large P-700 Granit offensive missiles. The P-700 systems will be removed in the coming refit to enlarge her below decks aviation facilities as well as upgrading her defensive systems.
The Russian Government just recently gave the green light for the construction of the Shtorm-class aircraft carrier. This carrier will be a hybrid of CATOBAR and STOBAR, given the fact that she utilizes both systems of launching aircraft. The carrier is expected to cost [ clarification needed ]. Once commissioned, she will replace Admiral Kuznetsov.
One Dokdo-classamphibious assault ship 18,860 ton full deck amphibious assault ship with hospital and well deck and facilities to serve as fleet flagship.
South Korea believes it can procure 2 light aircraft carriers by 2036, which will help make the ROKN a blue water navy.
Juan Carlos I: 27,000 tonne, specially designed multipurpose strategic projection ship which can operate as an amphibious assault ship and aircraft carrier. Juan Carlos I has full facilities for both functions including a ski jump for STOVL operations, is equipped with the AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft. Also, well deck, and vehicle storage area which can be used as additional hangar space, launched in 2008, commissioned 30 September 2010.
TCG Anadolu L-408 is a planned amphibious assault ship (LHD) of the Turkish Navy that can be configured as a light aircraft carrier. Construction began on 30 April 2016 by Sedef Shipbuilding Inc. at their Istanbul shipyard and is expected to be completed in 2021.[ citation needed ]
One offshore helicopter support ship: HTMS Chakri Naruebet helicopter carrier: 11,400 tonne STOVL carrier based on Spanish Príncipe de Asturias design. Commissioned in 1997. The AV-8S Matador/Harrier STOVL fighter wing, mostly inoperable by 1999, was retired from service without replacement in 2006. As of 2010, the ship is used for royal transport, helicopter operations, and for disaster relief.
One STOVL carrier: the 65,000 tonne Queen Elizabeth was commissioned in December 2017 with Initial operating capability scheduled for 2020.HMS
The Royal Navy is constructing the second of its larger STOVL Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, HMS Prince of Wales to complete replacement of the three now retired Invincible-class carriers. Prince of Wales was floated for the first time in late 2017 and is expected to begin sea trials in 2019. Each Queen Elizabeth-class ship is able to operate around 40 aircraft during peacetime operations, up to 50 during wartime, and will have a displacement of 65,000 tonnes.
11 CATOBAR carriers, all nuclear-powered:
Nine amphibious assault ships carrying vehicles, Marine fighters, attack and transport helicopters, and landing craft with STOVL fighters for CAS and CAP:
The current US fleet of Nimitz-class carriers will be followed into service (and in some cases replaced) by the Gerald R. Fordclass. It is expected that the ships will be more automated in an effort to reduce the amount of funding required to maintain and operate the vessels. The main new features are implementation of Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) (which replace the old steam catapults) and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Following the deactivation of USS Enterprise in December 2012, the U.S. fleet comprised 10 fleet carriers, but that number increased back to 11 with the commissioning of Gerald R. Ford in July 2017. The House Armed Services Seapower subcommittee on 24 July 2007, recommended seven or eight new carriers (one every four years). However, the debate has deepened over budgeting for the $12–14.5 billion (plus $12 billion for development and research) for the 100,000 ton Gerald R. Ford-class carrier (estimated service 2017) compared to the smaller $2 billion 45,000 ton America-classamphibious assault ships, which are able to deploy squadrons of F-35Bs. The first of this class, USS America, is now in active service with another, USS Tripoli, under construction and 9 more are planned.
In a report to Congress in February 2018, the Navy stated it intends to maintain a "12 CVN force" as part of its 30-year acquisition plan.
A few aircraft carriers have been preserved as museum ships. They are:
The Wasp class is a class of Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) amphibious assault ships operated by the United States Navy. Based on the Tarawa class, with modifications to operate more advanced aircraft and landing craft, the Wasp class is capable of transporting almost the full strength of a United States Marine Corps Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), and landing them in hostile territory via landing craft or helicopters as well as providing air support via AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft or F-35B Lightning II stealth strike-fighters. All Wasp-class ships were built by Ingalls Shipbuilding, at Pascagoula, Mississippi, with the lead ship, USS Wasp, commissioned on 29 July 1989. Eight Wasp-class ships were built, and as of June 2018, all eight are active.
Landing platform helicopter (LPH) is a term used by some navies to denote a type of amphibious warfare ship designed primarily to operate as a launch and recovery platform for helicopters and other VTOL aircraft. As such, they are considered a type of helicopter carrier.
STOBAR is a system used for the launch and recovery of aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier, combining elements of both short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) with catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR).
Landing helicopter assault (LHA) is the United States Navy's hull classification symbol for the general purpose helicopter-carrying amphibious assault ships of the Tarawa and America classes.
An aircraft catapult is a device used to launch aircraft from ships, most commonly used on aircraft carriers, as a form of assisted take off. It consists of a track built into the flight deck, below which is a large piston or shuttle that is attached through the track to the nose gear of the aircraft, or in some cases a wire rope, called a catapult bridle, is attached to the aircraft and the catapult shuttle. Different means have been used to propel the catapult, such as weight and derrick, gunpowder, flywheel, air pressure, hydraulic, and steam power. The U.S. Navy is developing the use of Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch Systems with the construction of the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers. Catapulted aircraft land like conventional aircraft, sometimes with the help of arresting gear.
A helicopter carrier is a type of aircraft carrier whose primary purpose is to operate helicopters. A helicopter carrier has a large flight deck that occupies a large part of the ship, which can extend the full length of the ship like HMS Ocean of the Royal Navy (RN), or only partway, usually aft, as in the Soviet Navy's Moskva class, the Chinese Navy's Type 0891A or the RN's RFA Argus. It often also has a hangar deck for the storage of aircraft.
CATOBAR is a system used for the launch and recovery of aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier. Under this technique, aircraft launch using a catapult-assisted take-off and land on the ship using arrestor wires.
The America-class amphibious assault ships of the U.S. Navy are designed to put ashore a Marine Expeditionary Unit using helicopters and MV-22B Osprey V/STOL transport aircraft, supported by AV-8B Harrier II or F-35 Lightning II V/STOL aircraft and various attack helicopters. The first of these warships was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in 2014 to replace USS Peleliu of the Tarawa class; as many as eleven will be built. The design of the America class is based on that of USS Makin Island, the last ship of the Wasp class, but the "Flight 0" ships of the America class will not have well decks, and they have smaller on-board hospitals in order to give more space for aviation uses.
USS America (LHA-6), is an amphibious assault ship of the United States Navy and the lead ship of her class. The fourth U.S. warship to be named for the United States of America, she was delivered in spring of 2014, replacing Peleliu of the Tarawa class. Her mission is to act as the flagship of an expeditionary strike group or amphibious ready group, carrying part of a Marine expeditionary unit into battle and putting them ashore with helicopters and V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, supported by F-35B Lightning II aircraft and helicopter gunships.
Aircraft carriers are warships that evolved from balloon-carrying wooden vessels into nuclear-powered vessels carrying scores of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. Since their introduction they have allowed naval forces to project air power great distances without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations.
Cross-deck is naval jargon which may refer to either informal, ad-hoc sharing of resources between naval vessels, or the use of carrier decks to host aircraft of foreign allies, aircraft from other ships in the same navy, or as re-fueling platforms for naval aircraft to extend flight operations beyond the range of the aircraft type. The operations may be entirely within a single navy, or between allied navies such as defined in the HOSTAC agreement. This may be required for ferrying aircraft or supplies, power projection operations involving fixed or rotary-wing aircraft, or to provide flexibility in operating limited numbers of specialized aircraft over a wide theatre of operations. Spare parts that can be lifted by helicopter are often crossed decked between ships operating compatible equipment, to reduce redundancy in carrying spares.
In aviation, a ski-jump is an upward-curved ramp that allows aircraft to take off from a runway that is shorter than the aircraft's required takeoff roll. By forcing the aircraft upwards, lift-off can be achieved at a lower airspeed than that required for sustained flight, while allowing the aircraft to accelerate to such speed in the air rather than on the runway. Ski-jumps are commonly used to launch airplanes from aircraft carriers that lack catapults.
Subsequent design modifications produced such variations as the light carrier, equipped with large amounts of electronic gear for the detection of submarines, and the helicopter carrier, intended for conducting amphibious assault. ... Carriers with combined capabilities are classified as multipurpose carriers.
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