Future Aircraft Carrier
The Fleet Air Arm will lead the introduction of the Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers into Service. Some of the images below are computer generated. More information can be found at the Aircraft Carrier Alliance website.
The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) confirmed both carriers would be built. In May 2012, reversing a previous decision, the Government announced the Short take-Off/Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35B would be the variant to fly from the new carriers. The total number of F-35B to be procured by the MoD will be confirmed in the 2015 Strategic Defence & Security Review.
The carrier could have 12 F-35s embarked. It will also be able to carry up to 12 Chinook or Merlin transport and 8 Apache attack helicopters enabling support for a broad range of operations including carrier strike, landing a Royal Marines Commando group and assisting with humanitarian crises or evacuation of UK nationals.
HMS Queen Elizabeth was named by Her Majesty The Queen 4 July 2014 and floated out of the dry dock on 17 July 2014 (video here). She will arrive in her future home port of Portsmouth in two years' time; the Prince of Wales is due to join the Fleet towards the end of the decade. After her launch and trials, HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to be handed over to the RN in four years’ time. She’ll begin flying training with F35 Lightning II jump jets from 2018. See a computer simulation of the carrier in action here. HMS prince of Wales is due to be handed over tothe RN in 2019.
Portsmouth Harbour is being readied for the arrival of the two carriers. The existing channel used by ships needs to be widened and deepened to accommodate the new carriers. The berths in the base itself need to be excavated and a suitable turning circle provided in the north of the harbour – the draught of the sisters will be 11 metres (36ft).