Queen Elizabeth (QE) Class Aircraft Carriers

Image - Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier
The Queen Elizabeth (QE) Class Aircraft Carriers are the largest 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. We are responsible for the development of the sophisticated mission systems with our employees working on the brains of these ships.

Hundreds of our employees are in Rosyth working alongside our Alliance partners on HMS Prince of Wales which is now around 85% physically complete. Her programme of testing and commissioning continues to gather pace throughout 2018, ahead of sea trials in 2019.

HMS Queen Elizabeth entered service into the Royal Navy in December 2017 and is currently undergoing operational sea trials, preparing for the first deck landing of an F-35B Lightning II jet as part of her next phase of trials.


Queen Elizabeth
Class Programme

See Product Family