Aircraft Carriers | BAE Systems | United Kingdom

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Aircraft Carriers

QEC naming ceremony
The Queen Elizabeth (QE) Class Aircraft Carriers will be the biggest warships ever constructed in the UK, each providing our armed forces with a four acre military operating base, which can be deployed anywhere in the world.

Three times the size of the Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers, these huge ships use the latest technology and equipment, enabling them to operate with a streamlined crew of 679.

A key driver is the carriers’ cutting-edge weapons handling system, which can move armaments to the flight deck six times faster, bringing the number of people required to operate the system down from 160 to just 48 crew members.

The separation and distribution of power generation machinery on the QE Class increases the survivability of the ships, while the electric propulsion system enables the prime movers to operate more efficiently, reducing less fuel consumption and running costs.

The highly integrated mission system is the brains of these ships. Bringing together tactical, navigation, command information and mission control data it can support multiple aircraft operations and task force group command functions. The twin islands design separates the running of the ship from this activity giving greater visibility of the complex flying operations.

With its complement of embarked aircraft the QE Class will be the centre piece of Britain’s military capability and will be versatile enough to be used for operations ranging from supporting war efforts to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.


Key Facts

Displacement: 65,000 tonnes
Length: 280 metres
Maximum beam: 70 metres
Top speed: 25 knots
Range: 10,000 miles
Crew size: 679
Embarked forces: up to 921


BAE Systems is the lead member of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a unique partnering relationship between BAE Systems, Babcock, Thales and the UK Ministry of Defence, working to deliver the two QE Class aircraft carriers. 

We have played a key role in the design and construction of the ships, with huge sections of the hulls and the island structures having being built by us at sites in Glasgow and Portsmouth. Hundreds of our employees are now in Rosyth working alongside our Alliance partner Babcock on HMS Queen Elizabeth completing the inspection programme, setting systems to work and preparing the ship for its crew to move on board ahead of sea trials in summer 2017 as well as conducting the testing and commissioning of HMS Prince of Wales which is now structurally complete.

We are also responsible for the development of the sophisticated mission system which will be the brains of these ships and the high tech radar technology.  

The first of class is expected to be fully operational by 2020.