Royal Navy is presently having two Invincible class aircraft carriers namely HMS Illustrious (R06) commissioned on June 20, 1982 and HMS Ark Royal (R07) commissioned on November 1, 1985. Any warship has a standard life cycle of 25 to 30 years with planned maintenance. Royal Navy planned in 1998 itself to replace the present aircraft carriers with two larger, ‘ Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF)’.
It has taken ten years to finally go ahead with the procurement and a contract to build two aircraft carriers were signed by MOD on July 03 onboard HMS Ark Royal currently the Fleet Flagship.
Some of the interesting features of the CVF to be built for the Royal Navy are:
- To be commissioned as HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince Of Wales by 2014 and 2016 respectively.
- The carriers will be the biggest and state of the art warships ever constructed for the Royal Navy.
- Each 65,000 tons carrier will be of the same size as QEII cruise ship and the present carriers are of 20,600 tons only.
- Contracts value is in the region of £3 billion.
- Contracts were signed with the newly-formed UK maritime Joint Venture, BVT Surface Fleet, and the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA).
- ACA is an innovative alliance comprising industry participants and MOD – in which MOD acts as both client and participant.
- Industrial participants for the manufacture phase are: the BAES/VT planned Joint Venture, Thales, Babcock and BAES (Surface Ships & Insyte).
- To create or sustain around 10,000 UK jobs at the peak of production.
- The carriers will deploy offensive air power to be provided by a Joint Force Air Group (JFAG) which primarily consists of a combination of the Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) and the Maritime Airborne Surveillance and Control (MASC) system.
- JCA/MASC will be capable of operating in all weathers, day and night, to provide carrier strike, as well as air defence for the carrier and offensive support for ground forces ashore.
- The JFAG will also operate helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) from all three Services in a variety of roles that could include anti-submarine/anti-surface warfare, attack and support.
- The Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the Lockheed Martin F35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has been selected to fulfil the JCA role.
- The carriers will also be able to operate GR9 Harriers.
Here is a comparison of CVF with other aircraft carriers in the world from Royal Navy.
Here are the Facts and Figures of CVF.
Update: August 10
New powerful UK-designed and manufactured Artisan radar, under a £100M contract with BAE Systems Insyte will be fitted in the new aircraft carriers under construction. Read more from Royal Navy.
Update: September 07
The Royal Navy is to get a hi-tech system to automate and track the movement of large quantities of munitions on board its two new aircraft carriers. Read more from Royal Navy.
Update: October 07
Rolls-Royce, a world leader in marine solutions, has won a £96 million contract to provide power and propulsion equipment, including four gas turbines, for HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. Read more from Rolls-Royce. Also read from Royal Navy.
Update: October 12
L-3 MAPPS has announced that its Marine Systems UK Ltd. unit has been awarded a design and production contract for the integrated platform management system (IPMS) for the UK’s Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) project. The contract was awarded by Thales UK which leads the CVF Power and Propulsion Sub-Alliance including L-3 Marine Systems UK. Read more from L-3 MAPPS.
Update: December 11
Credit crisis and global recession is bound to delay the 3 billion-pound ($4.5 billion) aircraft-carrier project: HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. Read more from Bloomberg.
Update: January 18, 2009
£90m worth of contracts have been announced for steelwork, modular cabins, galley equipment and other components for the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, HM Ships Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales. Read more from the Royal Navy.
Update: January 31
Update: March 24
The Aircraft Carrier Alliance has now placed sub-contracts for almost 40% of the total value of the materials and equipment required to build both ships, and the shipyards are proceeding with full scale production. The UK’s future aircraft carriers are becoming a physical reality – the Queen Elizabeth Class. Read more from MOD, UK News.
Update: July 07
The steel-cutting ceremony for HMS Queen Elizabeth (QE) class aircraft carrier took place at BVT Surface Fleet’s ship yard in Govan, on July 07. Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, assisted by BVT apprentice Scott Ballingal, performed the first cut of steel. Read more from MOD, UK News.
Also view a video clip from BBC World News: Tentative boost for shipyard
Update: July 14
View the latest animated video clip of Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers to know how they will look when they are finished. The video is from the Royal Navy: Queen Elizabeth Class Latest Video
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