Discover HMS Queen Elizabeth: the Royal Navy’s “F-35” aircraft carrier
HMS Queen Elizabeth is a powerful aircraft carrier – Britain “once ruled the waves” and the Royal Navy was once the greatest naval force in the world. As well as being at the forefront of battleship design, during World War I the Royal Navy developed the first true aircraft carrier with an unobstructed flight deck.
That was then.
Today, the Royal Navy has a fleet of around 70 ships, including 13 frigates and six destroyers. But under the ‘Global Britain’ initiative, the fleet now includes two aircraft carriers. This marked a significant turning point for the United Kingdom’s Senior Service, which had seen HMS dismantled royal arch in 2011.
Last year, HMS queen elizabeth – the largest aircraft carrier in service with the Royal Navy at 280 meters long is three times larger than royal arch – completed her maiden voyage, which lasted nearly seven months and saw her head through the Suez Canal to the Far East and back. During this long deployment, she was joined by eight other warships and some thirty-two aircraft. At 3,700, it was the largest Royal Navy flotilla to leave the UK for decades.
The flagship of the Royal Navy
The lead ship of the new queen elizabeth-the class of aircraft carrier, “Big Lizzie” as she is affectionately nicknamed by her crew, is named in honor of the first HMS queen elizabetha World War I super-dreadnought, which in turn was named after Queen Elizabeth I. Like her namesake, she has a crest adorned with Tudor roses and the motto, “Semper Eadem” – “Always the same.”
Commissioned in May 2008, the vessel was laid down in 2009 and began sea trials in 2017. She entered service in 2020. At a reported cost of £3.2 billion, the 65,000 tonne supercarrier is also the most expensive warship ever built for the Royal Navy. The carrier’s crew consists of about 700 officers and sailors, but including aviation, the number increases to 1,600.
Unlike the US Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, it is a conventionally powered warship. Its four Wärtsilä diesel generators are each capable of producing a total of 11 megawatts of electricity, enough to power a town of 25,000 people. She had a top speed of 25 knots.
Another notable difference with the American aircraft carriers – which have catapults – is the fact that the HMS queen elizabeth uses a ski jump style cockpit. The carrier’s planned air wing typically consists of 24 to 36 F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighters – the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the fifth-generation stealth fighter produced by Lockheed Martin – and 14 helicopters. The carrier is capable of launching 24 vertical takeoff/landing (VTOL) aircraft in five minutes and has a maximum recovery rate of 24 aircraft in as many minutes.
At peak capacity, the carrier can carry more than 65 aircraft.
On its recent maiden deployment, the aircraft carrier embarked F-35Bs from the Royal Air Force‘s 617 Squadron, “The Dambusters”, and United States Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, “Wake Island Avengers”. In June 2021, these aircraft conducted combat operations in support of the UK’s anti-ISIS Operation Shader and the US’s Operation Inherent Resolve in the Middle East. It was the first time that American fighters had taken part in a combat mission from a Royal Navy aircraft carrier since 1943, when American pilots operated aboard HMS Victorious (R38) during World War II.
In addition to carrying what has been described as the most dominant fifth-generation jet fighter in service today, the carrier’s air wing is also comprised of nine naval Merlin HM2 medium-lift anti-submarine helicopters as well only four or five Merlin helicopters for the first flights in flight. alert assignments. For land operations, the carrier can also carry a mix of other helicopters, including the CH-47 Chinook, AH-64 Apache, Merlin HC4 and Wildcat HM2.
In addition to the airwing, HMS queen elizabethThe armament consists of three Phalanx CIWS (Close-in weapon systems), four DS30M Mk2 30 mm cannons and six miniguns. The carrier is equipped with an S1850M long-range radar, a Type 997 Artisan 3D medium-range radar, and an Ultra Electronics Series 2500 (EOS) electro-optical system.
As Britain can no longer ‘rule the waves’, the Royal Navy’s flagship will serve as an important symbol of ‘Global Britain’ and a powerful deterrent to adversaries of the UK.
Today’s editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites. He writes regularly on military hardware and is the author of several books on military headgear, including A Gallery of Military Headdress, available on Amazon.com. Peter is also a contributing writer for Forbes.