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North West England's

Future Aircraft Carriers

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HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth,  the two new aircraft carriers are being built in sections called ‘mega-blocks’ largely pre-outfitted , at shipyards in ther UK. They are then shipped  to a dry-dock at Rosyth in Scotland for final assembly and integration.

The  new aircraft carriers will come into service with the Royal Navy  to replace the ‘Invincible’ class with more capable vessels. The ships will cost over £3 billion.The official Royal Navy CVF website Click here  describes the aircraft carrier programme indicating the ships will come into service in a 2014-16 timeframe.

Northwest England’s shipyards early involvement in the aircraft carrier project was as follows: 

  • Barrow-in-Furness is undertaking destailed design work on megablock 3.
  • Birkenhead is building some of the flightdeck.

Operational Roles of the Aircraft Carriers

The Aircraft Carriers will be at the heart of the UK’s Force Projection capability, deploying offensive air power through 34-40 STOVL aircraft. Each "carrier" will have capability to accommodate catapult and arrester gear, but they will not be fitted initially.

The "carriers" may  support up to 150 sorties per day by multi-role aircraft, 4 airborne early warning aircraft and helicopters.

Each carrier will have the following characteristics:

Propulsion non-nuclear – integrated full electric, 4 gas turbines,
In-service life 30+ years
Length 275m*
Beam 75m
Speed over 25 knots
Displacement 60,000 tonnes
Range 8-10,000 nautical miles
Aircraft STOVL Variant Lockheed Martin F35 – up to 36 aircraft*
Crew 600-800

Construction of the first of the carriers began on 7 July 2009 when First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jonathon Band said:

"The QE Class, together with the supporting aircraft forming the Carrier Strike, represent a step change in defence’s capability, enabling Britain to deliver airpower from the sea wherever and whenever it is required. This strategic effect, influence and, where necessary, direct action will give us an unprecedented range of options to deal with the challenges of an uncertain world at a time and place of our choosing.”

“These ships are not just spare airfields, they are an instrument of national power: the ‘big stick’ which can be waved by the Government in areas of strategic interest to influence, coerce and deter.”

For more details about the carrier capability see:




Aircraft carrier bow arrives in Rosyth

View the video and news story here



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Tel: +44 (0)1229 314100

Email: stuart@fedf.co.uk

KOFAC Sept Newsletter
Keep Our Future Afloat
The Future Aircraft Carrier
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"Barrow remains an untapped source of production capability and could... play a significant role in the coming shipbuilding programme."

Source: Rand, page 153 The UK's Naval Shipbuilding Industrial Base (2005), Report to UK MoD

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