0 $
2,500 $
5,000 $
1,870 $

British Navy Plans To Get Queen Elizabeth-Class Aircraft Carriers Combat Ready In 2023

Support SouthFront

British Navy Plans To Get Queen Elizabeth-Class Aircraft Carriers Combat Ready In 2023

Click to see full-size image

On December 4th, the British Royal Navy’s two newest aircraft carriers docked together for the very first time at their home base in Portsmouth. The HMS Prince of Wales has been docked there since November 2019.

It was joined by the HMS Queen of Elizabeth, which is the lead ship of the class, after it returned from the US where it took part in test flights of its F-35B Lightning fighter jets.

Major upgrade work has been carried out on the jetties at Portsmouth to allow the two giant ships to berth beside each other.

The outlining of the project began back in 1997, when it was established that the Invincible-class carriers needed replacement after a long service.

The initial concepts were for an aircraft carrier that is bigger than the Invincible-class, and has the capability for vertical and/or short take-off and landing (VSTOL) aircraft.

Operational analysis suggested that 50 aircraft would be needed to ensure campaign success in medium-intensity scenarios and would probably require a ship displacing at least 38,000 tons.

The decisions of the 1998 Defence Review were generally sound and promised the navy would have “two 40,000-ton aircraft carriers, with a complement of up to 50 aircraft and helicopters each. The first will have an in-service date of 2012”.

In 1999, the Key User Requirements were laid down, which the future aircraft carriers needed to cover:

  • Interoperability – able to contribute to joint and international operations
  • Integration – able to integrate with the joint battlespace and support air group operations with command, control, communications and intelligence functions
  • Availability – able to provide one operational ship available at all times
  • Deployability – able to deploy worldwide
  • Sustainability – able to mount sustained operations
  • Aircraft – able to deploy offensive air power without host-nation support
  • Survivability – have a high probability of surviving damage
  • Flexibility – able to operate the largest possible range of aircraft
  • Versatility- able to operate in the widest range of roles.

Initially, the assessment phase began in 1999 and by 2001 it became clear that the UK would be part of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

In September 2002 it was confirmed the design would be an ‘adaptable carrier’ configured with a ski jump for STOVL but capable of being fitted with catapults and arrestor gear if required at some point in the future. The displacement had by now grown to 60,000 tons.

In December 2002 the Thales/BMT Alpha concept was selected by the Integrated Project Team (IPT) as the preferred design, beating the proposal from BAE Systems who had been expected to win. The Alpha was seen as more innovative and technically developed than the BAES design.

The Alpha shit, however, was found too expensive and unaffordable, and thus other designs were proposed. The Bravo and Charlie had various issues, related to durability, among other things.

British Navy Plans To Get Queen Elizabeth-Class Aircraft Carriers Combat Ready In 2023

Click to see full-size image

In 2005 BMT announced it has tested 4 different CVF hull form models and assessed them for propulsion efficiency, maneuverability, seakeeping and noise signatures. It also investigated skeg length, rudder size, transom stern flaps and bulbous bow designs.

The basic Delta concept went through many further iterations and development before the design was considered sufficiently mature by late 2006 for detailed cost estimates to be drawn up prior to ordering long-lead items. Complex funding and industry arguments held up progress considerably but Queen Elizabeth class ships were finally ordered on 25 July 2007.

The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers have a large, 16,000m2 flight deck in a flexible layout optimized for best aircraft traffic flow with a single runway and ski ramp.

The 4,727m2 (29,000 metre3) hangar has a maximum capacity of about 20 x F-35s or a larger number of helicopters.

Without the need for catapults, the QEC can utilize the large gallery deck for aviation offices, aviation stores and an aircrew refreshment bar.

Selecting a large ship offers a generous allowance for weight growth margins of up to 16% for additional equipment to be added through the planned 50-year life of the ship.

The ship has Integrated Electric Propulsion (IEP), four electric motors drive twin shafts in a conventional arrangement.

Two gas turbines and 4 diesels provide the power for propulsion, electronics and the hotel load with a large extra margin of power available for future requirements.

Automation has been used wherever possible, especially for weapons and stores handling to reduce manning needs. Modern waste disposal equipment is fitted to make the ship as environmentally friendly as possible.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth (named after Queen Elizabeth I, not the current British monarch), was laid down on July 7th 2009. It was launched on July 17th, 2014, commissioned on December 7th, 2017.

On June 26th 2017, the new carrier left Rosyth for the first time to commence sea trials. Flight trials with helicopters began in July 2017 and the F-35B Lightning fighter jet trials began in 2019 and were finalized in December 2019.

The aircraft carrier is expected to enter full combat duty sometime in 2020.

The HMS Prince of Wales had some issues, rather political than anything else, and mostly related to costs.

The 2010 Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR) declared that the UK needed only one aircraft carrier. However, penalty clauses in the contract meant that cancelling the second vessel would be more expensive than actually building it.

The SDSR, therefore, directed that the second aircraft carrier, Prince of Wales, should be built but upon completion be either mothballed or sold.

The Royal Navy’s 2012/13 yearbook stated “both carriers are likely to be commissioned and may even be capable of operating together”. In 2014, then Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the HMS Prince of Wales would be commissioned and used.

Construction of the ship began in 2011 at Rosyth Dockyard and ended with launch on 21 December 2017.

The completed Prince of Wales began sea trials in September 2019 and first arrived at its new home base of HMNB Portsmouth in November 2019.

The ship is to be formally commissioned into the Royal Navy at a ceremony in Portsmouth on 10 December 2019.

It is expected to enter full combat duty sometime in 2023.

The warships have the following characteristics:

  • Displacement: 65,000 tons;
  • Length: 284 m;
  • Beam: 39 m – waterline; 73 m – overall;
  • Draught: 11 m;
  • Decks: 16,000 m2, 9 decks beneath flightdeck with hangar covering the centrepiece of two decks;
  • Installed power: 2 × Rolls-Royce Marine Trent MT30 36 MW (48,000 hp) gas turbine engine; 4 × Wärtsilä 38 marine diesel engines (4 × 16V38 11.6 MW or 15,600 hp);
  • Propulsion: Full integrated electric propulsion; 4 × GE Power Conversion 20 MW (27,000 hp) Advanced Induction Motors and VDM25000 Drives; 2 × shafts; fixed pitch propellers;
  • Speed: upwards of 25 knots;
  • Range: 10,000 nautical miles;
  • Troops: between 250 and 900;
  • Complement: 679 crew, not including the air element, in total 1,600;
  • Sensors and processing systems: S1850M long range radar; Type 997 Artisan 3D medium range radar; Ultra Electronics Series 2500 Electro Optical System (EOS); Glide Path Camera (GPC);
  • Armament: At least 3 × Phalanx CIWS; 30-mm DS30M Mk2 guns; Miniguns;
  • Aircraft carried: It would typically carry 40 aircraft, with a total possible load of 50, they include: F-35B Lightning II; Chinook; Apache AH64; Merlin HM2 and HC4; Wildcat AH1 and HMA2; Merlin Crowsnest AEW;
  • Aviation facilities: Large flight deck with ski jump; Hangar deck; Two aircraft lifts. In total it could potentially carry more than 70 aircraft, depending on the types loaded.

Initially, it was reported that the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers were expected to be capable of carrying forty aircraft, a maximum of thirty-six F-35s and four helicopters. Commodore Jerry Kyd has stated that it could carry up to 70 F-35Bs fighter jets.

The 2010 SDSR anticipated the routine peacetime deployment of twelve F-35Bs, with a surge force of 24 F-35Bs ready to join the carrier; and a number of helicopters. Fourteen Merlin HM2 will be available, as a Maritime Force Protection package on the carriers with typically nine in anti-submarine configuration and five with Crowsnest for airborne early warning.

Alternatively a Littoral Manoeuvre package could include a mix of Royal Navy Commando Helicopter Force Merlin HC4, Wildcat AH1, RAF Chinooks, and Army Air Corps Apaches.

In 2018 the Committee of Public Accounts determined that build cost of the two carriers was £6.212 billion, and operational costs up to March 2021 were estimated at £0.6 billion.

Costs for the aircraft were uncertain at the current developmental position but were estimated up to March 2021 to be £5.8 billion on initial F-35s and £0.3 billion on the Crowsnest radar system for Merlin helicopters.

Important additional equipment such as communication equipment and related software for the F-35 was not yet funded. The whole life cost of the first 48 F-35s was roughly estimated as £13 billion, or over £270 million per F-35.

Naturally, no development is without its problems and in August 2019, the commanding officer of the HMS Queen Elizabeth said the ship experienced “weekly” floods. Captain Steve Moorhouse said the ship was ready to sail, nevertheless.

“The design is absolutely world class but it’s inevitable that seals and valves can fail if you haven’t run systems for years, it’s not a surprise.

Floods are part of the business, the really reassuring thing is that my sailors responded exactly as you would want them to, so all done and dusted, we are ready to sail.”

The incident was not the first flood reported on the carrier in previous years. In 2017, weeks after the Queen commissioned it into the navy, it suffered a shaft seal leak, which reportedly let in 200l of water each hour, costing millions of pounds to fix.

Back then, A Ministry of Defense spokesperson insisted that while “minor repairs continue” and “cosmetic after-effects remain, these do not affect the ship’s safe operation”.

It is also worthwhile to mention that as the ships will utilize F-35B fighter jets, their issues should also be kept in mind.

Following the decommissioning of the last HMS Illustrious, the last Invincible-class aircraft carrier in the Royal Navy, the UK currently has no active aircraft carriers.

Both the HMS Queen Elizabeth and the HMS Prince of Wales are to enter combat duty at a future point. The HMS Queen Elizabeth, the lead ship, was commissioned in December 2017, and it is expected to fully uptake its tasks sometime in 2020, while the HMS Prince of Wales is to be commissioned on December 10th, 2019 and should enter full combat duty sometime in 2023.

Aircraft carriers are primarily a tool of power projection and a rather safe way of carrying out strikes on states and rebel groups with no effective air defense and missile capability. So, one of the main questions is against who the UK is planning to use its brand new aircraft carriers.


Support SouthFront


Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
opet ja

Hmm maybe ships will be ready, but I doubt F-35b will be ever ready…

Jens Holm

F35s are better then F16 and working very well. The problems has been they are very expensive for the price and not that much better.

So Your critisism makes no sense.

Its also true those ships is more like an upgrade. I dont see retro:)


Good, nice to see the UK improving its military forces with two brand new aircraft carriers, more NATO members should step up and do the same. NATO’s biggest nemesis is definitely Russia, although China is also becoming a major threat to Japan, South Korea and the Philippines in Asia. Hopefully Western countries wake up before it’s too late, Russia, China, North Korea and Iran all need to face harsh sanctions, the sooner the better.

Hasbara Hunter

How does it feel to be a Loser? Desperate little fecker Keep on talking in here…saves Palestinian Kids’ Lives… as long as you write… no time for Slaughter, Organ-Harvesting & Headshots…


A few tens of thousands of new homes would benefit the the population of the UK far more that these vulnerable floating coffins.

AM Hants

How many refits has the poor old girl had, since before and after she entered active service?

When with the F35s be in working order?


In a statement , the UK Defence Ministry spokeshuman said that :- ‘ We are all working very hard to give both carriers Botox refits and the F35 is a priority that our propaganda experts are also working hard on and once it gan get a hard on the US F35 will be as one with the carriers’. :)

AM Hants

Haha, I should not laugh. Old ladies and plumbing problems, so not a good look, especially when loitering around the Solent.


Congratulations to the United Kingdom. But remember this carefully, weak countries without a strong military might see this aircraft carrier as a disaster and a nightmare for them. But for countries like Russia or China and some of their other allies will see aircraft carriers as they see large dolls floating in the sea, not a threat to them but an easy target. So if this aircraft carrier aims to intimidate Russia or China then it’s useless. Today the aircraft carrier is only useful for attacking and scaring countries where the military is weak and doesn’t have weapons to fight back.


What are you talking about? It is the Russian leadership that uses propoganda all day long to intimidate the Russian public from the big bad NATO. Truth is, Russia can’t face the combined forces of all NATO, that’s why Putin is trying to turn Turkey against the alliance and Erdogan is stupid enough to buy S-400 over F-35. Russia and China protect Iran and North Korea, that alone shows the world how those 4 countries have the same dictatorship mentality, and how dangerous they are. I hope you enjoy living in the cold cold Russia man, atleast you have a very high longevity there ;)

Hasbara Hunter

You don’t know what you are talking about boy….an upcoming American Civil War II is more relevant for you ZioNazis…All eyes are pointed in the Direction of your Kidkilling Khazarian Criminal Freehaven… Believe me people know…you Parasites are in a deep pile of shit…


I will not argue with people like you, people who already know the truth but still spread lies. Trying to explain everything to Zionist scum like you is time-consuming and useless. Cold? Yes, of course, we are very happy and fortunate to live here, thousands of times more beautiful and happy than your dirty shithole. I have explored every inch of Palestinian land that you stole and you call Israel. You can fool other goyim through your media but not to people like me. You little zionist!


Good, then live in minus 40 and enjoy it, tell your Ruskis in Syria to leave too and join you there where they belong. Moreover, you can take your Palis from here and place them in Siberia, I’m sure they would love Russia (after all you are so great!). Clown :)


Oy vey..! Not all goyim can be fooled. Now go cry to your wall …u little zionist..! hahaha


But why cry Joe? Is that because all your food is frozen and you use generators from WW2 era? :(

Hasbara Hunter

Them ZioNazis loved WWII…they could rob them Jews…

Wayne Nicholson

“It is the Russian leadership that uses propoganda all day long to intimidate the Russian public from the big bad NATO”

Ahhh yes everything coming out of Russia is propaganda while the USA is the bastion of journalistic freedom. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fHfgU8oMSo

“Truth is, Russia can’t face the combined forces of all NATO”

Truth is Russia knows that IF they faced “the combined forces of NATO” the resulting war would leave the survivors searching rubble for bodies ….. to eat.

“that’s why Putin is trying to turn Turkey against the alliance and Erdogan is stupid enough to buy S-400 over F-35”

Nope …. it was Europe and the US that sanctioned Russia over The Crimea and Syria so it’s Russia that is finding new markets for it’s products and new security alliances. Erdogodan’s choice wasn’t between the S-400 and the F-35 …. it was about finding honest reliable trade and security partners. The USA chose the Kurds over Syria and the EU are happy to have Turks die for them on the front lines of NATO but still won’t let them in the EU.

“Russia and China protect Iran and North Korea, that alone shows the world how those 4 countries have the same dictatorship mentality, and how dangerous they are.”

Actually NK and Iran are doing just fine defending themselves however Russia and China DO trade and have good relations with NK and Iran because they have no reason not to. OTOH how stupid would the Russians and Chinese have to be to allow these countries to be defeated and occupied by the USA?


I force myself to observe Western ‘News’ now , in order to see how politicised the so called Free Press is.

It will not end well and the fragile citizens of the West will not be able to survive a shooting war.


Exactly :)

Jens Holm

So why do they opponents have aircraft ships themselves.

You are right about the use of them. They are very good transporters for conventional wars. But thats what we mainly doo.


The only ‘enemy’ building them is China, partly because it wants to bully its weaker neighbours in the South China sea and partly because of vanity (‘great powers have carriers, so we have to have one too’).

Hasbara Hunter



comment image

Hasbara Hunter

Perhaps a more important item might be:
Will the British Monarchy still exist in 2023?


It certainly needs to lose the family hangers on who benefit from government largesse.


Putin: ‘Not interested in building aircraft carriers, only in sinking them.’
Iran: ‘Once were were scared of aircraft carriers, now we see them as opportune targets.’
English shipbuilders: Heartfelt THANK$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x