Aircraft carrier

Aircraft carrier

Overview
An aircraft carrier is a warship
Warship
A warship is a ship that is built and primarily intended for combat. Warships are usually built in a completely different way from merchant ships. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuvrable than merchant ships...

 designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase
Airbase
An airbase is a military airfield that provides basing and support of military aircraft....

. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force
Navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

 to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations. They have evolved from wooden vessels used to deploy balloon
Balloon
A balloon is an inflatable flexible bag filled with a gas, such as helium, hydrogen, nitrous oxide, oxygen, or air. Modern balloons can be made from materials such as rubber, latex, polychloroprene, or a nylon fabric, while some early balloons were made of dried animal bladders, such as the pig...

s into nuclear-powered
Nuclear propulsion
Nuclear propulsion includes a wide variety of propulsion methods that fulfil the promise of the Atomic Age by using some form of nuclear reaction as their primary power source.- Surface ships and submarines :...

 warships that carry dozens of fixed wing and rotary-wing
Rotorcraft
A rotorcraft or rotary wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air flying machine that uses lift generated by wings, called rotor blades, that revolve around a mast. Several rotor blades mounted to a single mast are referred to as a rotor. The International Civil Aviation Organization defines a rotorcraft...

 aircraft.

Aircraft carriers are typically treated as the capital ship
Capital ship
The capital ships of a navy are its most important warships; they generally possess the heaviest firepower and armor and are traditionally much larger than other naval vessels...

 of a fleet and are extremely expensive to build and important to protect: of the nine nations which possess an aircraft carrier, seven of these navies only possess one such ship.
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Encyclopedia
An aircraft carrier is a warship
Warship
A warship is a ship that is built and primarily intended for combat. Warships are usually built in a completely different way from merchant ships. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuvrable than merchant ships...

 designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase
Airbase
An airbase is a military airfield that provides basing and support of military aircraft....

. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force
Navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

 to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations. They have evolved from wooden vessels used to deploy balloon
Balloon
A balloon is an inflatable flexible bag filled with a gas, such as helium, hydrogen, nitrous oxide, oxygen, or air. Modern balloons can be made from materials such as rubber, latex, polychloroprene, or a nylon fabric, while some early balloons were made of dried animal bladders, such as the pig...

s into nuclear-powered
Nuclear propulsion
Nuclear propulsion includes a wide variety of propulsion methods that fulfil the promise of the Atomic Age by using some form of nuclear reaction as their primary power source.- Surface ships and submarines :...

 warships that carry dozens of fixed wing and rotary-wing
Rotorcraft
A rotorcraft or rotary wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air flying machine that uses lift generated by wings, called rotor blades, that revolve around a mast. Several rotor blades mounted to a single mast are referred to as a rotor. The International Civil Aviation Organization defines a rotorcraft...

 aircraft.

Aircraft carriers are typically treated as the capital ship
Capital ship
The capital ships of a navy are its most important warships; they generally possess the heaviest firepower and armor and are traditionally much larger than other naval vessels...

 of a fleet and are extremely expensive to build and important to protect: of the nine nations which possess an aircraft carrier, seven of these navies only possess one such ship. There are 20 active aircraft carriers in the world, with the U.S. Navy operating 11 out of the total .


History




The 1903 advent
Wright brothers
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur , were two Americans credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903...

 of heavier-than-air, fixed-wing aircraft was closely followed in 1910 by the first experimental take-off of such an airplane from the deck of a United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 vessel (cruiser ), and the first experimental landings were conducted in 1911. Seaplane tender
Seaplane tender
A seaplane tender is a ship that provides facilities for operating seaplanes. These ships were the first aircraft carriers and appeared just before the First World War.-History:...

 support ships came next; in September 1914, the Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes...

 Wakamiya
Japanese seaplane carrier Wakamiya
Wakamiya was a seaplane carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy and the first Japanese aircraft carrier. She was converted from a transport ship into a seaplane carrier and commissioned in August 1914. She was equipped with four Japanese-built French Maurice Farman seaplanes...

 conducted the world's first successful naval-launched air raids. It lowered four Maurice Farman
Maurice Farman
Maurice Alain Farman was a French Grand Prix motor racing champion, an aviator, and an aircraft manufacturer and designer.-Biography:...

 seaplanes into the water using its crane, which were taking off to bombard German forces and could be retrieved back from surface afterwards.

The development of flat top vessels produced the first large fleet ships. In 1918, HMS Argus
HMS Argus (I49)
HMS Argus was a British aircraft carrier that served in the Royal Navy from 1918–1944. She was converted from an ocean liner under construction when the First World War began, and became the world's first example of what is now the standard pattern of aircraft carrier, with a full-length flight...

 became the world's first carrier capable of launching and landing naval aircraft. Carrier evolution was well underway in the mid-1920s, resulting in ships such as and Hōshō
Japanese aircraft carrier Hosho
Hōshō |phoenix]]") was the world's first commissioned ship that was designed and built as an aircraft carrier,The HMS Argus pre-dated Hōshō and had a long landing deck, but was designed and initially built as an ocean liner. and the first aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy...

. 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. The Washington Naval Treaty
Washington Naval Treaty
The Washington Naval Treaty, also known as the Five-Power Treaty, was an attempt to cap and limit, and "prevent 'further' costly escalation" of the naval arms race that had begun after World War I between various International powers, each of which had significant naval fleets. The treaty was...

 of 1922 affected aircraft carrier plans. The U.S. and UK were permitted up to 135,000 tons of carriers each, while specific exemptions on the upper tonnage of individual ships permitted conversion of capital ship hulls to carriers such as the s.

During the 1920s, several navies started ordering and building aircraft carriers that were specifically designed as such. This allowed the design to be specialized to their future role and resulted in superior ships. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, these ships became the backbone of the carrier forces of the United States, British, and Japanese navies, known as fleet carrier
Fleet carrier
A fleet carrier is an aircraft carrier that is designed to operate with the main fleet of a nation's navy. The term was developed during the Second World War, to distinguish it from the escort carrier and other lesser types...

s.

The aircraft carrier was used extensively in World War II, and several types were created as a result. Escort aircraft carrier
Escort aircraft carrier
The escort aircraft carrier or escort carrier, also called a "jeep carrier" or "baby flattop" in the USN or "Woolworth Carrier" by the Royal Navy, was a small and slow type of aircraft carrier used by the British Royal Navy , the Imperial Japanese Navy and Imperial Japanese Army Air Force, and the...

s, such as , were built only during World War II. Although some were purpose-built, most were converted from merchant ships as a stop-gap measure to provide air support for convoys and amphibious invasions. Light aircraft carrier
Light aircraft carrier
A light aircraft 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 ½ to ⅔ the size of a full-sized or "fleet" carrier.-History:In World War II, the...

s, such as , represented a larger, more "militarized" version of the escort carrier concept. Although the light carriers usually carried the same size air groups as escort carriers, they had the advantage of higher speed since they had been converted from cruisers under construction.

Wartime emergencies also spurred the creation or conversion of unconventional aircraft carriers. CAM ship
CAM ship
CAM ships were World War II-era British merchant ships used in convoys as an emergency stop-gap until sufficient escort carriers became available. CAM is an acronym for catapult aircraft merchantman. A CAM ship was equipped with a rocket-propelled catapult launching a single Hawker Sea Hurricane,...

s, like , were cargo-carrying merchant ships which could launch but not retrieve fighter aircraft from a catapult. These vessels were an emergency measure during World War II as were Merchant aircraft carrier
Merchant aircraft carrier
Merchant aircraft carriers were bulk cargo ships with minimal aircraft handling facilities, used during World War II by Britain and the Netherlands as an interim measure to supplement British and United States-built escort carriers in providing an anti-submarine function for convoys...

s (MACs), such as . Submarine aircraft carrier
Submarine aircraft carrier
Submarine aircraft carriers are submarines equipped with fixed wing aircraft for observation or attack missions. These submarines saw their most extensive use during World War II, although their operational significance remained rather small...

s, such as the French Surcouf and the Japanese I-400 class submarine
I-400 class submarine
The Imperial Japanese Navy submarines were the largest submarines of World War II and remained the largest ever built until the construction of nuclear ballistic missile submarines in the 1960s. They were submarine aircraft carriers able to carry three Aichi M6A Seiran aircraft underwater to their...

, which was capable of carrying three Aichi M6A Seiran
Aichi M6A
The Aichi M6A Seiran was a submarine-launched attack floatplane designed for the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II...

 aircraft, were first built in the 1920s but were generally unsuccessful at war.

Modern navies that operate such ships treat aircraft carriers as the capital ship
Capital ship
The capital ships of a navy are its most important warships; they generally possess the heaviest firepower and armor and are traditionally much larger than other naval vessels...

 of the fleet, a role previously played by the battleship
Battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

. The change took place during World War II in response to air power becoming a significant factor in warfare. This change was driven by the superior range, flexibility and effectiveness of carrier-launched aircraft. Following the war, carrier operations continued to increase in size and importance. Supercarrier
Supercarrier
Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial...

s, displacing 75,000 tonnes or greater, have become the pinnacle of carrier development. Some are powered by nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

s and form the core of a fleet designed to operate far from home. Amphibious assault ships, such as and , 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 a secondary capability to operate VSTOL aircraft.

Lacking the firepower of other warships, carriers by themselves are considered vulnerable to be attacked by other ships, aircraft, submarines, or missiles. Therefore, aircraft carriers are generally accompanied by a number of other ships to provide protection for the relatively unwieldy carrier, to carry supplies, and to provide additional offensive capabilities. This is often termed a battle group or carrier group, sometimes a carrier battle group
Carrier battle group
A carrier battle group consists of an aircraft carrier and its escorts, together composing the group. The first naval task forces built around carriers appeared just prior to and during World War II. The Imperial Japanese Navy was the first to assemble a large number of carriers into a single...

.

Before World War II international naval treaties of 1922
Washington Naval Treaty
The Washington Naval Treaty, also known as the Five-Power Treaty, was an attempt to cap and limit, and "prevent 'further' costly escalation" of the naval arms race that had begun after World War I between various International powers, each of which had significant naval fleets. The treaty was...

, 1930
London Naval Treaty
The London Naval Treaty was an agreement between the United Kingdom, the Empire of Japan, France, Italy and the United States, signed on April 22, 1930, which regulated submarine warfare and limited naval shipbuilding. Ratifications were exchanged in London on October 27, 1930, and the treaty went...

 and 1936
Second London Naval Treaty
The Second London Naval Disarmament Conference opened in London, the United Kingdom, on 9 December 1935. It resulted in the Second London Naval Treaty which was signed on 25 March 1936.- Description :...

 limited the size of capital ships including carriers. Aircraft carrier designs since World War II have been effectively unlimited by any consideration save budgetary, and the ships have increased in size to handle the larger aircraft. The large, modern of United States Navy carriers has a displacement nearly four times that of the World War II–era , yet its complement of aircraft is roughly the same—a consequence of the steadily increasing size and weight of military aircraft over the years.

Modern significance


Today's aircraft carriers are so expensive that many countries risk significant political and economic, as well as military, ramifications if they were ever to lose one during operation. Also, observers have opined that modern anti-ship weapons systems, such as torpedoes and missiles, have made aircraft carriers obsolete as too vulnerable for modern combat. Countries appear, however, willing to take the risks in building and fielding aircraft carriers because of the geo-political and military prestige they give by being able to project power at some distance from their national land boundaries. Furthermore, aircraft carriers facilitate quicker projections of military power into local and regional conflicts.

Types



By role


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 carrier
Merchant aircraft carrier
Merchant aircraft carriers were bulk cargo ships with minimal aircraft handling facilities, used during World War II by Britain and the Netherlands as an interim measure to supplement British and United States-built escort carriers in providing an anti-submarine function for convoys...

s, were bulk cargo ships with a flight deck added on top. Light aircraft carrier
Light aircraft carrier
A light aircraft 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 ½ to ⅔ the size of a full-sized or "fleet" carrier.-History:In World War II, the...

s were carriers that were fast enough to operate with the fleet but of smaller size with reduced aircraft capacity.
  • Anti-submarine warfare carrier
    Anti-submarine warfare carrier
    An ASW carrier is a type of small aircraft carrier whose primary role is to hunt and destroy submarines...

  • Helicopter carrier
    Helicopter carrier
    Helicopter carrier is a term for an aircraft carrier whose primary purpose is to operate helicopters. The term is sometimes used for both ASW carriers and amphibious assault ships....

  • Light aircraft carrier
    Light aircraft carrier
    A light aircraft 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 ½ to ⅔ the size of a full-sized or "fleet" carrier.-History:In World War II, the...

  • Amphibious assault ship
    Amphibious assault ship
    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...

  • Seaplane tender
    Seaplane tender
    A seaplane tender is a ship that provides facilities for operating seaplanes. These ships were the first aircraft carriers and appeared just before the First World War.-History:...

     & seaplane carriers
  • Balloon carrier
    Balloon carrier
    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 beginning of the 20th century, these ships were built to have the furthest possible view of the...

     & balloon tenders

By configuration


There are three main configurations of aircraft carrier in service in the world's navies, divided by the way in which aircraft take off and land:
  • Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR
    CATOBAR
    CATOBAR is a system used for the launch and recovery of aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier...

    ) - these carriers generally carry the largest, heaviest, and most heavily armed aircraft, although smaller CATOBAR carriers may have other limitations (weight capacity of aircraft elevator, etc.). Three nations currently operate carriers of this type: the United States, France, and Brazil for a total of thirteen in service and potentially two more when the Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth class is complete.
  • Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR
    STOBAR
    STOBAR is a system used for the launch and recovery of aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier, combining elements of both STOVL and CATOBAR .Aircraft launch under their own power using a ski-jump to assist take-off STOBAR (Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery) is a system used for the...

    ) - these carriers are generally limited to carrying lighter fixed-wing aircraft with more limited payloads. STOBAR carrier airwings, such as the Sukhoi Su-33
    Sukhoi Su-33
    The Sukhoi Su-33 is an all-weather carrier-based air defence fighter designed by Sukhoi and manufactured by KnAAPO. It is a derivative of the Su-27 "Flanker" and was initially known as the Su-27K. The aircraft was first used in operations in 1995, aboard the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov...

     and future Mikoyan MiG-29K
    Mikoyan MiG-29K
    The Mikoyan MiG-29K is an all-weather carrier-based multirole fighter aircraft developed by the Mikoyan design bureau. The MiG-29K was developed in the late 1980s from MiG-29M....

     wings of the Admiral Kuznetsov are often geared primarily towards the air superiority and fleet defense roles rather than strike/power projection tasks which require heavier payloads (bombs, air-to-ground missiles). Currently, only Russia possesses an operational carrier of this type, with India and China each preparing a similar carrier.
  • Short Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL
    STOVL
    STOVL is an acronym for short take off and vertical landing.This is the ability of some aircraft to take off from a short runway or take off vertically if it does not have a very heavy payload and land vertically...

    ) - limited to carrying STOVL aircraft. STOVL aircraft, such as the Harrier Jump Jet
    Harrier Jump Jet
    The Harrier, informally referred to as the Jump Jet, is a family of British-designed military jet aircraft capable of vertical/short takeoff and landing operations...

     family and Yakovlev Yak-38
    Yakovlev Yak-38
    The Yakovlev Yak-38 was Soviet Naval Aviation's first and only operational VTOL strike fighter aircraft, in addition to being its first operational carrier-based fixed-wing aircraft...

     generally have very limited payloads, lower performance, and high fuel consumption when compared with conventional fixed wing aircraft; however, newer STOVL aircraft such as the F-35 have much improved performance. This type of aircraft carrier is operated by India, Spain, and Italy with five in active service; the UK and Thailand each have one active carrier but without any operational STOVL aircraft in inventory. Some also count the nine US Amphibious Assault ships in their secondary light carrier role boosting the overall total to sixteen.

By size

  • Supercarrier
    Supercarrier
    Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial...

  • Fleet carrier
    Fleet carrier
    A fleet carrier is an aircraft carrier that is designed to operate with the main fleet of a nation's navy. The term was developed during the Second World War, to distinguish it from the escort carrier and other lesser types...

    , the standard sized carrier of a navy.
  • Light aircraft carrier
    Light aircraft carrier
    A light aircraft 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 ½ to ⅔ the size of a full-sized or "fleet" carrier.-History:In World War II, the...

  • Escort carrier

Flight deck



As "runways at sea," modern aircraft carriers have a flat-top deck design that serves as a flight deck
Flight deck
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...

 for the launch
Takeoff
Takeoff is the phase of flight in which an aerospace vehicle goes from the ground to flying in the air.For horizontal takeoff aircraft this usually involves starting with a transition from moving along the ground on a runway. For balloons, helicopters and some specialized fixed-wing aircraft , no...

 and recovery
Landing
thumb|A [[Mute Swan]] alighting. Note the ruffled feathers on top of the wings indicate that the swan is flying at the [[Stall |stall]]ing speed...

 of aircraft. Aircraft are launched in a forward direction, into the wind, and recovered from astern. Carriers steam at speed, for example up to , into the wind during flight deck operations in order to increase the wind over the deck to exceed 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, plus it makes recovery safer by reducing the difference between the relative speeds of the aircraft and ship.

On CATOBAR carriers, a steam-powered catapult
Aircraft catapult
An aircraft catapult is a device used to launch aircraft from ships—in particular 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...

 is used to accelerate conventional aircraft to a safe flying speed by the end of the catapult stroke, after which the aircraft is airborne and further propulsion is provided by its own engines. On STOVL or STOBAR carriers aircraft do not require catapult assistance for take off; instead an upwards vector is provided by a ski-jump at the forward end of the flight deck. Which form of assistance provided is dependent on aircraft design and performance and is part of the overall design of the carrier and aircraft as a system.
Conversely, when recovering onto a CATOBAR or STOBAR carrier, conventional aircraft rely upon a tailhook
Tailhook
A tailhook, also arresting hook or arrester hook, is a device attached to the empennage of some military fixed wing aircraft...

 that catches on arrestor wires stretched across the deck to bring them to a stop in a short distance. Helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

s and V/STOL
V/STOL
Vertical and/or short take-off and landing is a term used to describe aircraft that are able to take-off or land vertically or on short runways. Vertical takeoff and landing describes craft which do not require runways at all...

 (Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing) aircraft usually recover by coming abreast 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.

Conventional ("tailhook") aircraft rely upon a landing signal officer
Landing signal officer
Landing Signal Officers are naval aviators specially trained to facilitate the "safe and expeditious recovery" of naval aircraft aboard aircraft carriers. Originally LSOs were responsible for bringing aircraft aboard ship using hand signals...

 (LSO, sometimes called "paddles") to monitor the plane'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 optical landing system
Optical Landing System
An optical landing system is used to give glidepath information to pilots in the terminal phase of landing on an aircraft carrier...

 have provided information on proper glide slope, but LSOs still transmit voice calls to approaching pilots by radio.

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.

Key personnel involved in the flight deck include the shooters, the handler, and the air boss. Shooters are naval aviator
Naval Aviator
A United States Naval Aviator is a qualified pilot in the United States Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard.-Naming Conventions:Most Naval Aviators are Unrestricted Line Officers; however, a small number of Limited Duty Officers and Chief Warrant Officers are also trained as Naval Aviators.Until 1981...

s or Naval Flight Officer
Naval Flight Officer
A Naval Flight Officer is an aeronautically designated commissioned officer in the United States Navy or United States Marine Corps that specializes in airborne weapons and sensor systems. NFOs are not pilots per se, but they may perform many "co-pilot" functions, depending on the type of aircraft...

s 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
Commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

) 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.

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
Bolter (aviation)
In naval aviation, a bolter is when an aircraft attempting to land on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier touches down, but fails to catch an arrestor cable and come to a stop...

, to become airborne again without the risk of hitting aircraft parked forward. The angled deck also allows simultaneous launching and recovery of aircraft.

The superstructure of a carrier (such as the bridge
Bridge (ship)
The bridge of a ship is the room or platform from which the ship can be commanded. When a ship is underway the bridge is manned by an OOW aided usually by an AB acting as lookout...

, flight control tower
Control tower
A control tower, or more specifically an Air Traffic Control Tower , is the name of the airport building from which the air traffic control unit controls the movement of aircraft on and around the airport. Control towers are also used to control the traffic for other forms of transportation such...

) are concentrated to the starboard side of the deck in a relatively small area called an "island", a feature pioneered on the HMS Hermes
HMS Hermes (95)
HMS Hermes was an aircraft carrier built for the Royal Navy. The ship was begun during World War I and finished after the war ended. She was the world's first ship to be designed and built as an aircraft carrier, although the Imperial Japanese Navy's was the first to be commissioned...

 in 1923. Very few carriers have been designed or built without an island. The "flush deck" configuration proved to have very significant drawbacks, complicating navigation, air traffic control and had numerous other adverse factors.

A more recent configuration, originally developed by the Royal Navy but since adopted by many navies for most smaller carriers, has a ski-jump ramp at the forward end of the flight deck. A ski jump is a fixed ramp at the end of the flight deck with a curved incline. This was first developed to help launch short takeoff and vertical landing
STOVL
STOVL is an acronym for short take off and vertical landing.This is the ability of some aircraft to take off from a short runway or take off vertically if it does not have a very heavy payload and land vertically...

 (STOVL) aircraft. STOVL aircraft such as the Sea Harrier
BAE Sea Harrier
The British Aerospace Sea Harrier is a naval VTOL/STOVL jet fighter, reconnaissance and attack aircraft, a development of the Hawker Siddeley Harrier. It first entered service with the Royal Navy in April 1980 as the Sea Harrier FRS1 and became informally known as the "Shar"...

 can take off at far higher weights than is possible with a vertical or rolling takeoff on a short flat deck on STOBAR
STOBAR
STOBAR is a system used for the launch and recovery of aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier, combining elements of both STOVL and CATOBAR .Aircraft launch under their own power using a ski-jump to assist take-off STOBAR (Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery) is a system used for the...

 carriers. A ski jump works by converting some of the forward rolling motion of the aircraft into a jump into the air at the end of the flight deck, the jump combined with the aiming of jet thrust partly downwards by swiveling exhaust nozzles on aircraft with this feature allows the heavily loaded and fueled aircraft 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 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): large, slow planes such as the E-2 Hawkeye
E-2 Hawkeye
The Grumman E-2 Hawkeye is an American all-weather, aircraft carrier-capable tactical airborne early warning aircraft. This twin-turboprop aircraft was designed and developed during the late 1950s and early 1960s by the Grumman Aircraft Company for the United States Navy as a replacement for the...

 and heavily laden strike fighters like the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a twin-engine carrier-based multirole fighter aircraft. The F/A-18E single-seat variant and F/A-18F tandem-seat variant are larger and more advanced derivatives of the F/A-18C and D Hornet. The Super Hornet has an internal 20 mm gun and can carry air-to-air...

 and Sukhoi Su-33
Sukhoi Su-33
The Sukhoi Su-33 is an all-weather carrier-based air defence fighter designed by Sukhoi and manufactured by KnAAPO. It is a derivative of the Su-27 "Flanker" and was initially known as the Su-27K. The aircraft was first used in operations in 1995, aboard the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov...

 do 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 catapult assistance, although the Su-33 does launch with a light fuel and weapons load from a ski jump. Another disadvantage is on mixed flight deck operations where helicopters are also present such as a US LHD or LHA 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 USMC Harriers but is somewhat mitigated by the longer rolling start provided by a long flight deck compared to many STOVL carriers.

Aircraft carriers in service






Aircraft carriers are generally the largest ships operated by navies. A total of 22 aircraft carriers in active service are maintained by ten navies. In addition, the People's Republic of China's Navy
People's Liberation Army Navy
The People's Liberation Army Navy is the naval branch of the People's Liberation Army , the military of the People's Republic of China. Until the early 1990s, the navy performed a subordinate role to the PLA Land Forces. Since then, it has undergone rapid modernisation...

 possesses the former Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 aircraft carrier Varyag
Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag
Varyag was to be an Admiral Kuznetsov class multirole aircraft carrier of the Soviet Union. She was known as Riga when her keel was laid down at Shipyard 444 in Nikolayev December 6, 1985. Design of the carrier was undertaken by the Nevskoye Planning and Design Bureau...

. Australia, Brazil, France, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom, United States and the People's Republic of China also operate vessels capable of carrying and operating multiple helicopters.
Classes currently in service:
Brazil (1)
  • NAe São Paulo (A12): 32,800 ton ex-French carrier FS Foch (launched 1960), purchased in 2000.

France (1)
  • Charles de Gaulle (R 91): 42,000 ton nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, commissioned in 2001.

India (1)
  • INS Viraat
    INS Viraat
    INS Viraat is a Centaur class aircraft carrier currently in service with the Indian Navy. INS Viraat is the flagship of the Indian Navy, the oldest carrier in service and one of two aircraft carriers in the Indian Ocean Region.The Viraat was completed and commissioned in 1959 as the Royal Navy's...

    : 28,700 ton ex-British carrier HMS Hermes
    HMS Hermes (R12)
    HMS Hermes was a Centaur-class British aircraft carrier, the last of the postwar conventional aircraft carriers commissioned into the Royal Navy.-Construction and modifications:...

     (launched 1953), purchased in 1986 and commissioned in 1987, scheduled to be decommissioned in 2019.

Italy (2)
  • Giuseppe Garibaldi (551): 14,000 ton Italian STOVL
    STOVL
    STOVL is an acronym for short take off and vertical landing.This is the ability of some aircraft to take off from a short runway or take off vertically if it does not have a very heavy payload and land vertically...

     carrier, commissioned in 1985.
  • Cavour (550): 27,000 ton Italian STOVL carrier, commissioned in 2008.

Russia (1)
  • Admiral Flota Sovetskovo Soyuza Kuznetsov: 67,500 ton Kuznetsov class STOBAR
    STOBAR
    STOBAR is a system used for the launch and recovery of aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier, combining elements of both STOVL and CATOBAR .Aircraft launch under their own power using a ski-jump to assist take-off STOBAR (Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery) is a system used for the...

     aircraft carrier. Launched in 1985 as Tbilisi, renamed and operational from 1995.

Spain (2)
  • Principe de Asturias (R11)
    Spanish aircraft carrier Principe de Asturias
    The Príncipe de Asturias , originally named Almirante Carrero Blanco, is an aircraft carrier, the flagship of the Spanish Navy...

    : 17,200 ton STOVL
    STOVL
    STOVL is an acronym for short take off and vertical landing.This is the ability of some aircraft to take off from a short runway or take off vertically if it does not have a very heavy payload and land vertically...

     carrier, commissioned in 1988.
  • Juan Carlos I (L61): 27,000 ton, launched in 2008, commissioned 30 September 2010.

Thailand (1)
  • HTMS Chakri Naruebet: 11,400 ton carrier based on Spanish Principe De Asturias design. Commissioned in 1997. By 1999, only one AV-8S Matador/Harrier was still operable due to lack of spare parts and age

United Kingdom (1)
  • HMS Illustrious
    HMS Illustrious (R06)
    HMS Illustrious is the second of three Invincible-class light aircraft carriers built for the Royal Navy in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She is the fifth warship and second aircraft carrier to bear the name Illustrious, and is affectionately known as "Lusty" to her crew...

    : 22,000 ton STOVL carrier, commissioned in 1982. Originally there were three of her class but the other two have since been retired. Regular RN fixed wing aircraft carrier operations ended after first Sea Harrier and then Harrier fighters were retired as a cost saving measure.

United States (11)
  • USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
    USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
    USS Enterprise , formerly CVA-65, is the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the eighth US naval vessel to bear the name. Like her predecessor of World War II fame, she is nicknamed the "Big E". At , she is the longest naval vessel in the world...

    : 93,500 ton nuclear-powered supercarrier commissioned in 1961. First nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Scheduled for decommissioning in 2013, may be extended to 2014–2015.
  • Nimitz class
    Nimitz class aircraft carrier
    The Nimitz-class supercarriers are a class of ten nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in service with the United States Navy. With an overall length of and full-load displacements of over 100,000 long tons, they are the largest capital ships in the world...

    : ten 101,000 ton nuclear-powered supercarriers, the first of which was commissioned in 1975. A Nimitz class carrier is powered by two nuclear reactor
    Nuclear reactor
    A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

    s and four steam turbine
    Steam turbine
    A steam turbine is a mechanical device that extracts thermal energy from pressurized steam, and converts it into rotary motion. Its modern manifestation was invented by Sir Charles Parsons in 1884....

    s and is 1,092 feet (333 m) long.

The United States Navy has the world's largest carrier fleet with eleven supercarrier
Supercarrier
Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial...

s in service, one under construction and two more planned. The US Navy also operates nine 40,000 ton amphibious assault ships
Amphibious assault ship
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...

 which have a straight through flight deck and are sometimes used as light carriers but their primary mission is launching US Marine Corps expeditionary missions deploying marines by helicopter with a few STOVL Harrier II fighters and gunship helicopters for air support and CAP
Combat air patrol
Combat air patrol is a type of flying mission for fighter aircraft.A combat air patrol is an aircraft patrol provided over an objective area, over the force protected, over the critical area of a combat zone, or over an air defense area, for the purpose of intercepting and destroying hostile...

.

Future aircraft carriers


Several nations which currently possess aircraft carriers are in the process of planning new classes to replace current ones. The world's navies still generally see the aircraft carrier as the main future capital ship, with developments such as the arsenal ship
Arsenal ship
An arsenal ship is a concept for a floating missile platform intended to have as many as five hundred vertical launch bays for mid-sized missiles, most likely cruise missiles...

, which have been promoted as an alternative, seen as too limited in terms of flexibility.

China


China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 bought an unfinished Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag
Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag
Varyag was to be an Admiral Kuznetsov class multirole aircraft carrier of the Soviet Union. She was known as Riga when her keel was laid down at Shipyard 444 in Nikolayev December 6, 1985. Design of the carrier was undertaken by the Nevskoye Planning and Design Bureau...

 in 2001 from Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, supposedly to turn it into a floating casino. Pictures taken while in port suggest this plan has been abandoned and show that work is being carried out to maintain its military function.

In late December 2008 and early January 2009, there were multiple reports of China building two conventionally powered aircraft carriers
Future Chinese aircraft carrier
Since the 1970s, the People's Liberation Army Navy has expressed interest in operating an aircraft carrier as part of its blue water aspirations, and press reports have frequently quoted senior Chinese military officials as expressing an intention to build aircraft carriers...

 displacing 50,000–60,000 tonnes, possibly to be launched in 2015. In December 2010 China's State Oceanic Administration
State Oceanic Administration
State Oceanic Administration is an administrative agency subordinate to the Ministry of Land and Resources, responsible for the supervision and management of sea area in the People's Republic of China and coastal environmental protection, protecting national maritime rights and organizing...

 announced that this vessel would be finished one year earlier, in 2014. A nuclear powered carrier is planned for launch around 2020.

According to James Nolt, senior fellow at the World Policy Institute in New York, it might take China many years to develop the technology, training, and operational capability necessary for an effective carrier.

As of 10 August 2011, China is now sea-testing its first aircraft carrier. Its only claimed purposes are training and research, i.e. for the present time it is officially assigned for non-combat activities.

France


The French Navy
French Navy
The French Navy, officially the Marine nationale and often called La Royale is the maritime arm of the French military. It includes a full range of fighting vessels, from patrol boats to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and 10 nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are capable of launching...

 has set in motion possible plans for a second CTOL aircraft carrier
Future French aircraft carrier
PA2 is a planned new aircraft carrier developed for the French Navy by Thales Naval France and DCNS from the Thales UK/BMT design for the future British Queen Elizabeth class....

, to supplement Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle (R 91)
Charles de Gaulle is the flagship of the French Navy and the largest Western European aircraft carrier. She is the tenth French aircraft carrier, the first French nuclear-powered surface vessel, and the first and so far only nuclear-powered carrier completed outside of the United States Navy...

. The design would be much larger, at 65,000-75,000 tonnes, and would not be nuclear-powered like Charles de Gaulle. There are plans to base the carrier on the current Royal Navy design
Royal Navy CVF programme
The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers are a two-ship class of aircraft carrier being built for the Royal Navy. HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to enter service in 2016 and HMS Prince of Wales in 2020. HMS Queen Elizabeth will not be built to a CATOBAR configuration, but the second ship HMS...

 for CATOBAR
CATOBAR
CATOBAR is a system used for the launch and recovery of aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier...

 operations (the Thales
Thales Group
The Thales Group is a French electronics company delivering information systems and services for the aerospace, defense, transportation and security markets...

/BAE Systems
BAE Systems
BAE Systems plc is a British multinational defence, security and aerospace company headquartered in London, United Kingdom, that has global interests, particularly in North America through its subsidiary BAE Systems Inc. BAE is among the world's largest military contractors; in 2009 it was the...

 design for the Royal Navy is for a STOVL carrier which is reconfigurable to CATOBAR operations.)

On 21 June 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy is the 23rd and current President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra. He assumed the office on 16 May 2007 after defeating the Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal 10 days earlier....

 decided to place France's participation in the project on hold. He stated that a final decision on the future of the French carrier would be taken in 2011 or 2012. British plans for two aircraft carriers will go ahead as planned and were in no way conditional on French participation.

India


India started the construction of a 40,000-tonne, 260-metre-long Vikrant-class aircraft carrier in April 2005. The new carrier will cost US$762 million and will operate MiG-29K, Naval HAL Tejas
HAL Tejas
The HAL Tejas is a lightweight multirole fighter developed by India. It is a tailless, compound delta-wing design powered by a single engine. It came from the Light Combat Aircraft programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India's ageing MiG-21 fighters...

 and Sea Harrier aircraft along with the Indian-made helicopter HAL Dhruv
HAL Dhruv
The HAL Dhruv is a utility helicopter developed and manufactured by India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited . Dhruv was first announced in November 1984. The ALH was designed with assistance from MBB in Germany. The Dhruv first flew in 1992; but, due to the changing demands of the Indian Army and...

. The ship will be powered by four turbine engines and will have a range of 8,000 nautical miles (14,000 km), carrying 160 officers, 1,400 sailors, and 30 aircraft. The carrier is being constructed by a state-run shipyard in Cochin. The ship is scheduled for commissioning in 2014.

In 2004, India agreed to buy the Admiral Gorshkov
Soviet aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov
Admiral Gorshkov was a modified Kiev class aircraft carrier of the Russian Navy, originally named Baku. Sometimes Gorshkov is considered a separate class due to its improvements including a phased array radar, extensive electronic warfare installations, and an enlarged command and control suite...

 from Russia for US$1.5 billion. It is named INS Vikramaditya
INS Vikramaditya
INS Vikramaditya is the new name for the former Soviet aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, which has been procured by India, and is estimated to enter service in the Indian Navy after 2012....

, and was expected to join the Indian Navy
Indian Navy
The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the armed forces of India. The President of India serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff , usually a four-star officer in the rank of Admiral, commands the Navy...

 in 2008 after a refit. However, delays in the refit were announced in July 2007, and the carrier will now be ready by 2012.

In July 2008, Russia increased the total price to US$2.2 billion because of unexpected cost overruns due to the deteriorated condition of the ship. In December 2008, India decided in favour of purchasing Admiral Gorshkov as the best option available. In February 2009, Russia asked for an additional $700 million over the originally contracted price for the completion of the reconstruction of the Admiral Gorshkov, bringing the total requested price to $2.9 billion. On 8 December 2009, it was reported that India and Russia ended the stalemate over Gorshkov price deal by agreeing on a price of US$2.2 billion.

In December 2009, Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma said at his maiden navy week press conference that concepts currently being examined by the Directorate of Naval Design for the second indigenous aircraft carrier, the IAC-2, are for a conventionally powered carrier displacing over 50,000 tons and equipped with steam catapults (rather than the ski-jump on the Gorshkov/Vikramaditya and the IAC) to launch fourth-generation aircraft.

Japan


Since the end of World War II, Japan has commissioned no full-fledged aircraft carrier. , the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
The , or JMSDF, is the naval branch of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, tasked with the naval defense of Japan. It was formed following the dissolution of the Imperial Japanese Navy after World War II....

 has two small helicopter carriers (Hyūga class
Hyuga class helicopter destroyer
The are a type of helicopter carrier being built for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force . Two ships of the class were built to replace the two 7,000-ton Haruna-class helicopter destroyers. The new ships are the largest combatant ship operated by Japan since the Imperial Japanese Navy was...

).

The Ministry of Defense is building a new helicopter carrier (22DDH
19000t class destroyer
The 19500t class destroyer is a new helicopter carrier class of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force . The ships of this class will be the largest surface combatants of the Japanese navy, superseding the Hyūga class helicopter destroyers in terms of size.-Construction:The Ministry of Defense ...

). The vessel is 248 meters [813 feet] long and 19,500 tons, comparable to Italian light carrier Cavour and Spanish Juan Carlos I.

Russia


Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral
Admiral
Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...

 Vladimir Masorin
Vladimir Masorin
Admiral of the Fleet Vladimir Vasilyevich Masorin is a retired Russian admiral who commanded the Caspian Flotilla in 1996-2002 and the Black Sea Fleet in 2002-2005...

 officially stated on June 23, 2007, that the Navy was considering the specifications of a new nuclear aircraft carrier design for the class that was first announced about a month earlier. Production of the carriers is expected to start around 2010 at the Zvezdochka plant in Severodvinsk
Severodvinsk
Severodvinsk is a city in the north of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia, located in the delta of the Northern Dvina River, west of Arkhangelsk. Administratively, it is incorporated as a town of oblast significance . Municipally, it is incorporated as Severodvinsk Urban Okrug. The city was founded as...

, where a large drydock, capable of launching vessels with more than 100,000 ton displacement, is now being built. In his statement, Admiral Masorin said that the general dimensions of the project have already been determined. The projected carrier is to have nuclear propulsion, to displace about 50,000 tons and to carry an air wing of 30–50 air superiority aircraft and helicopters, which makes her roughly comparable with the French Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle (R 91)
Charles de Gaulle is the flagship of the French Navy and the largest Western European aircraft carrier. She is the tenth French aircraft carrier, the first French nuclear-powered surface vessel, and the first and so far only nuclear-powered carrier completed outside of the United States Navy...

. "The giants that the US Navy builds, those that carry 100–130 aircraft, we won't build anything like that", said Admiral Masorin
Vladimir Masorin
Admiral of the Fleet Vladimir Vasilyevich Masorin is a retired Russian admiral who commanded the Caspian Flotilla in 1996-2002 and the Black Sea Fleet in 2002-2005...

. The planned specifications reflect the role, traditional in the Russian Navy, of the aircraft carrier as an air support platform for guided missile cruisers and submarines.

The Russian naval establishment had long agreed, since the decommissioning of the Kiev-class
Kiev class aircraft carrier
The Kiev class carriers were the first class of fixed-wing aircraft carriers built in the Soviet Union....

 carriers, that the only operational carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, was insufficient, and that three or four carriers were necessary to meet the Navy's air support requirements. However, financial and organisational turmoil in the 1990s made even the maintenance of Admiral Kuznetsov a difficult undertaking. The improvement in Russia's economic situation after the year 2000 has allowed a major increase in defence spending. Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky
Vladimir Vysotsky (Admiral)
Vladimir Sergeyevich Vysotskiy , Volodymyr Serhiyovych Vysotskiy; is a Russian admiral and former Commander of the Russian Northern Fleet...

 announced on Navy Day
Navy Day
Several nations observe or have observed a Navy Day to recognize their navy. The term is also used in Britain to mean an open day at a dockyard such as HMNB Portsmouth, when the public can visit military ships and see air displays, roughly along the lines of an American Fleet Week .- Argentina...

 2008 that Russia plans to build five or six carriers of the new design for deployment in the Northern and Pacific fleets, starting around 2012–2013. The new carrier groups are planned to be at full strength around 2050–2060. According to sources from the United Shipbuilding Corporation
United Shipbuilding Corporation
United Shipbuilding Corporation is a open joint stock company in Russia which unite shipbuilding, repair and maintenance subsidiaries in western and northern Russia, and in the country's Far East, to streamline civilian shipbuilding using military facilities. The corporation was established by a...

 the new carriers will carry new fifth-generation fighters as well as unmanned aerial vehicles and have a displacement of up to 60,000 metric tons.

While planning for new carriers, and carrying out design projects, the Russian government has not committed to building the carriers. Russia's economic climate is not yet sufficient to allow the construction and support of additional carriers in the short term.

The Russian Navy expects to have a blueprint for the next generation aircraft carrier by the end of 2010.

Speaking in St. Petersburg, Russia on 30 June 2011, the head of Russia's United Shipbuilding Corporation said his company expected to begin design work for a new carrier in 2016, with a goal of beginning construction in 2018 and having the carrier achieve initial operational capability by 2023. Several months later, on 3 November 2011 the Russian newspaper Izvestiya reported that the naval building plan now included (first) the construction of a new shipyard capable of building large hull ships, after which Moscow will build two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers by 2027. The spokesperson said one carrier would be assigned to the Russian Navy's Northern Fleet at Murmansk, and the second would be stationed with the Pacific Fleet at Vladivostok. Defense analysts familiar with the Russian military speculate that while Russian Navy admirals and Russian shipyard owners want to build new aircraft carriers, it is far from certain that the Russian Parliament will authorize the spending of tens of billions of dollars it would cost to build the facilities, warships, and aircraft required to support two aircraft carrier battle groups.

United Kingdom


The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 has signed a deal to build two new larger STOVL/CATOBAR aircraft carriers, the Queen Elizabeth-class, to replace the three Invincible-class
Invincible class aircraft carrier
The Invincible class is a class of light aircraft carrier operated by the British Royal Navy. Three ships were constructed, , and . The vessels were built as aviation-capable anti-submarine warfare platforms to counter the Cold War North Atlantic Soviet submarine threat, and initially embarked...

 carriers. The ships are to be named and . They will be able to operate up to 40 aircraft, and will have a displacement of around 65,000 tonnes. The two ships are due to enter service in 2016 and 2018 respectively, two years later than originally planned. Their primary aircraft complement will be made up of F-35C Lightning IIs
F-35 Lightning II
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth generation multirole fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability...

, and their ship's company will number around 1450. The two ships will be the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy. Although initially designed to be configured for STOVL operations, at least one of the carriers will be built to CATOBAR
CATOBAR
CATOBAR is a system used for the launch and recovery of aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier...

 configurations to allow the F-35C to be operated, as announced in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review
Strategic Defence and Security Review
The Strategic Defence and Security Review was announced by the newly formed Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government of the United Kingdom in May 2010, and published on 19 October 2010...

.

United States


The current US fleet of Nimitz-class
Nimitz class aircraft carrier
The Nimitz-class supercarriers are a class of ten nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in service with the United States Navy. With an overall length of and full-load displacements of over 100,000 long tons, they are the largest capital ships in the world...

 and USS Enterprise
USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
USS Enterprise , formerly CVA-65, is the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the eighth US naval vessel to bear the name. Like her predecessor of World War II fame, she is nicknamed the "Big E". At , she is the longest naval vessel in the world...

 carriers are to be followed into service (and in some cases replaced) by the Gerald R. Ford-class. It is expected that the ships will be more automated in an effort to reduce the amount of funding required to maintain and operate its supercarrier
Supercarrier
Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial...

s. The main new features are implementation of Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) (which replace the old steam catapults) and unmanned aerial vehicle
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

s.

With the decommissioning of the in May 2009, the U.S. fleet comprises 11 supercarriers. The House Armed Services Seapower subcommittee on 24 July 2007, recommended seven or maybe 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 Ford-class carrier (estimated service 2015) compared to the smaller $2 billion 45,000 ton America-class amphibious assault ships able to deploy squadrons of F-35B.

See also


  • History of the aircraft carrier
    History of the aircraft carrier
    Aircraft carriers are warships that evolved from balloon-carrying wooden vessels into nuclear powered vessels carrying dozens of fixed and rotary wing aircraft...

  • Modern US Navy carrier air operations
    Modern US Navy carrier air operations
    Modern United States Navy aircraft carrier air operations include the operation of fixed wing and rotary aircraft on and around an aircraft carrier for performance of combat or non-combat missions. Modern United States Navy aircraft carrier flight operations are highly evolved, based on experiences...

  • Project Habakkuk
    Project Habakkuk
    Project Habakkuk or Habbakuk was a plan by the British in World War II to construct an aircraft carrier out of pykrete , for use against German U-boats in the mid-Atlantic, which were beyond the flight range of land-based planes at that time.The idea came from Geoffrey Pyke who worked for Combined...

  • Seadrome
  • Mobile offshore base
    Mobile offshore base
    In the defense industry of the United States, a mobile offshore base — or MOB — is a concept for supporting military operations where conventional land bases are not available...

  • Hull classification symbol
    Hull classification symbol
    The United States Navy, United States Coast Guard, and United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration use hull classification symbols to identify their ship types and each individual ship within each type...

  • Unsinkable aircraft carrier
    Unsinkable aircraft carrier
    An unsinkable aircraft carrier is a term sometimes used to refer to a geographical or political island that is utilized to extend the power projection of a military force...


Other types of aircraft carriers

  • Anti-submarine warfare carrier
    Anti-submarine warfare carrier
    An ASW carrier is a type of small aircraft carrier whose primary role is to hunt and destroy submarines...

  • Helicopter carrier
    Helicopter carrier
    Helicopter carrier is a term for an aircraft carrier whose primary purpose is to operate helicopters. The term is sometimes used for both ASW carriers and amphibious assault ships....

  • Amphibious assault ship
    Amphibious assault ship
    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...

  • Seaplane tender
    Seaplane tender
    A seaplane tender is a ship that provides facilities for operating seaplanes. These ships were the first aircraft carriers and appeared just before the First World War.-History:...

  • Balloon carrier
    Balloon carrier
    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 beginning of the 20th century, these ships were built to have the furthest possible view of the...

  • Airborne aircraft carrier
    Airborne aircraft carrier
    Airborne aircraft carriers are aircraft which can launch other aircraft. These typically are large aircraft that launch fighter-interceptor planes.-Dirigible aircraft carriers:...

  • Submarine aircraft carrier
    Submarine aircraft carrier
    Submarine aircraft carriers are submarines equipped with fixed wing aircraft for observation or attack missions. These submarines saw their most extensive use during World War II, although their operational significance remained rather small...

  • Flight deck cruiser
    Flight deck cruiser
    The flight-deck cruiser was a proposed type of warship, designed by the United States Navy during the period between World War I and World War II. Combining features of aircraft carriers and light cruisers, several designs were proposed for the type, but none were approved for construction...


Related lists


External links