A few days ago the process of handing over to the British navy the first new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier began. Although preparations for combat readiness will begin only next year, the training of future crews has started on board. This is a great opportunity to take a look at the floating British pride – these are the most important British ships in the fleet for years.
There will be two aircraft carriers in the Queen Elizabeth class. These are respectively HMS “Queen Elizabeth” whose reception process has already begun and HMS “Prince of Wale”, which has not yet been launched and its reception is scheduled for 2019-2020. Both these ships will form the might of the British fleet over the next several decades. They will fill a gap in the fleet of British aircraft carriers, which since August last flight has no fleet in this fleet of one ship in this category.
Construction of the first aircraft carrier of this class began with the keel position in 2009. Subsequent work was carried out by the British shipyards so well that already in the summer of 2014 the first copy was launched and the final assembly was started. Today, the stage of construction will begin training its future staff and start the reception process, which will last until the completion of work next year. What is important, the British have ensured that their national companies play a key role in the process of establishing this ship. The main contractor is BAE Systems, which is responsible not only for the creation of their best aircraft carrier, but also for active involvement in the design and manufacture of F-35 aircraft to operate from its decks. Most onboard systems and armaments are also ordered in UK companies. UK authorities are ensuring that every possible pound of over £ 6 billion worth of orders is returned to domestic businesses.
The time of the appearance of “Queen Elizabeth” and “Prince of Wales” is not accidental. It is perfect in time with the delivery of new, state-of-the-art F-35 multirole aircrafts. The British ordered 48 of these “B” models, designed for short take off and fully vertical landing. In the ordering portfolios of the islanders there is an option to order another 90 of this type, so the crew of both ships will not be able to complain about the lack of work associated with operating the aircraft operating from them.
The Queen Elizabeth class ships have a displacement of 65,000 tons. For this design, this translates into space for up to 40 planes and helicopters (20 of which can be stored in a huge hangar below 29,000 sq. M). Using one of the two elevators, the aircraft in the hangar is able to be aboard in just one minute. In a situation of approaching an attack such reaction time is essential. For this reason, a lightweight, semi-autonomous defense system was also taken aboard. It consists of a set of three Phalanx CIWS systems deployed on each side that is capable of destroying a rapidly approaching enemy missile. This is complemented by a set of several 30 mm caliber parcels and a dozen or so revolutions of the M134 Minigun rotary plow.
Early detection of the enemy requires a modern and highly efficient radar system. For this purpose, the ultra-modern, passive S1850M long range radar, which is capable of displaying up to 1000 opponents within 400 kilometers of the aircraft carrier, can be displayed on the radar operator’s screen. It is supported by the precision British BAE Systems 997 Artisan 3D radar, which is able to capture high accuracy even fast-moving targets within 200 kilometers. It has built-in systems that allow it to resist the attempt to “deceive” it through enemy radar jammers. Another important element of the on-board electronic defense system are modern optical heads for tracking and tracking enemies from long distances.
Interestingly, the marine seawater processing and treatment system is capable of producing up to 500 tonnes of fresh water per day. With enough stock it is sufficient for a 680-person crew (the ship alone can accommodate up to 1,600 sailors and airmen). There are 40 chefs who serve more than 1400 eggs a day, 640 servings of bacon, 1500 sausages and 1000 loaves of bread each day. Floating city requires huge social infrastructure.
On board this aircraft carrier, in addition to the most modern multirole fighter jets in the F-35 world will also operate Chinook UK transport helicopters, AgustaWestland AW159, AW101, AH64 Apache combat helicopters and aircraft for electronic combat and early recognition.