The United Kingdom’s first aircraft carrier in more than 30 years is just months from sea trials. HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to be fully operational by 2020, with her sister ship Prince of Wales following in 2023. The two ships will give the United Kingdom a powerful capability to fight at sea and attack targets under water and on the ground.
Britain will soon have two larger carriers with complements of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are the largest ships ever built for the Royal Navy, displacing 70,600 tons and 920 feet long. The Queen Elizabeth will have a crew of 679, and attached Fleet Air Arm personnel will double that number. As a bonus, it can carry up to 250 Royal Marines for helicopter assault operations.
The carriers were originally set to use catapults to launch airplanes, but the price ballooned and the Royal Navy opted to do without them. Instead, the Queen Elizabeth class features an angled ski deck on the ship’s bow to launch airplanes. This will allow F-35B Joint Strike Fighters to do rolling takeoffs with heavier weapon loads and achieve greater ranges
Queen Elizabeth will carry approximately 12 F-35Bs during normal operation, plus a number of Merlin helicopters for anti-submarine and utility duties. In a crisis the air wing will surge to up to 40 planes, including 36 F-35Bs.
SOURCES – Popular Mechanics, Youtube