Queen Elizabeth II took part in the solemn ceremony, who expressed confidence that the aircraft carrier would be evidence of British power at sea for the coming decades, as well as Princess Anna. According to Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of Defense of the United Kingdom, “the new aircraft carrier is the personification of British design and functionality that underlies the efforts to build armed forces that meet the requirements of the future.” It should be noted that the ship was introduced into the KWMF after the completion of the second stage of the sea tests, which were carried out off the coast of southern England from September 2017.
The second carrier of the HMS series "Prince of Wales" (R09) is also close to delivery. 8 September 2017 of the shipbuilding company Babcock Marine, located in Rosaite (Scotland), took place the official ceremony of baptism being built there in the dry dock of the British aircraft carrier "Prince of Wales". The ceremony was attended by the current Prince of Wales, Charles, and his wife, Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla, acted as the “godmother” of the new warship, smashing a bottle of Laphroaig 10-year-old whiskey on the body of the aircraft carrier.
The aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth
Contrary to popular belief, the new British aircraft carrier received not in honor of the now reigning Queen Elizabeth II, but in honor of her distant predecessor - the Queen of England and Ireland Elizabeth I, who ruled XDUMX-1558 - the last of the Tudors dynasty. It was during the years of her rule that England became the leading maritime power, and therefore the world power. The British themselves call the era of Elizabeth I the “golden age”. Not only because she successfully fought with external and internal enemies, but also because during the years of her rule art and science flourished. It was the time of Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare and Francis Bacon. Therefore, the name Queen Elizabeth was given the most modern British aircraft carrier deservedly so.
Today, the HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) aircraft carrier is the largest ship in the Royal Navy history its existence and the largest warship ever built in the country, its full displacement is 70 600 tons. This aircraft carrier, like its Prince of Wales sistership under construction, is three times larger than its predecessors, the British Invincible type aircraft carriers, and is comparable in size to the American aircraft carrier Nimitz or the French Charles de Gaulle. Carriers cost Britain a lot of money, if in 2007 the construction of two warships was estimated at 3,9 billion pounds, then after another revision of the contract in 2013, it was already 6,2 billion pounds (about 8,3 billion US dollars). At the same time, after commissioning of the Prince of Wales aircraft carrier, it is possible that it will become the largest KVMF warship ever, since due to some changes and improvements made to the project, its full displacement may exceed 3000 tons of aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth . The launch of the Prince of Wales is scheduled for 2019 year.
History of the construction of the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth
The idea to replenish the composition of KVMF large aircraft carriers originated in the UK at the turn of the XXI century. At the beginning of 2003, the Ministry of Defense of the country decided on a contractor for the construction of advanced warships - BAE Systems Corporation. The sketch project was executed by the British branch of the French company Thales. This project has already demonstrated that future ships are different from existing aircraft carriers — by the presence of not one, but two “islands” in the superstructure. The ship control services are located in the bow superstructure; in the aft superstructure there are aircraft and helicopter flight control services.
The aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth in the dock
For the first time, Des Brown, who was then Minister of Defense at the time, announced an order for the construction of two aircraft carriers, announced 25 on July 2017. The Queen Elizabeth class warships were designed to replace the Invincible class British light aircraft carriers (in 1980 - 2014, three ships of this class served in the KVMF). The contract for the construction of new aircraft carriers was signed on 3 on July 2008, with a specially created European consortium of Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA).
The construction of the lead aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth was carried out from 2009 to 2017 by the ACA consortium at the Babcock Marine shipyard (the former Rosyth Dockyard naval shipyard, which was privatized in 1997), located in the Scottish city of Rosyth. The Aircraft Carrier Alliance includes the British subsidiary of the French Thales Group (designer) and the British companies BAE Systems Surface Ships, A&P Group and Cammell Laird. It was the British consortium members who were responsible for the production of large-block hull sections, from which the aircraft carrier was later assembled, which was in the dry construction dock.
The process of creating a new aircraft carrier was divided into the construction of individual units weighing up to 11 thousands of tons, which were assembled at various shipyards in the UK. Later, the assembled blocks were delivered to the Scottish Rosyth, where they were assembled into a single unit. 4 July 2014, the ceremony of the baptism of the new ship. It was attended by Queen Elizabeth II, who made the "godmother" of the new British aircraft carrier. At a signal from the Queen of Great Britain a bottle of Bowmore whiskey was smashed aboard the ship.
The aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth
For the United Kingdom Department of Defense, the Royal Navy, and BAE Systems, Babcock, Thales UK, directly involved in building the ship, the launch of the first aircraft carrier of the series marked the end of a significant phase of work. Earlier, the British government has already delayed the development of the program for two years, which ultimately led only to its appreciation. The aircraft carrier construction program was even tried to be canceled altogether, the issue of selling them to third countries was considered, the decision was changed twice on which models of the F-35 aircraft would have to be based on aircraft carriers. All this delayed the process of building the first ship.
17 July 2014, the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) was launched from the dry dock and launched. 26 June 2017, the ship first set sail for sea trials. 16 August 2017, the aircraft carrier arrived at its permanent base - the main naval base of the KWMF, Portsmouth. Already in July, tests began with the participation of helicopters, the second phase of the test data was scheduled for December 2017 of the year. The first tests of deck F-35B aircraft from the aircraft carrier are scheduled to begin at the end of 2018, they will be held off the coast of the United States. Achievement by the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth and its airline group of initial combat readiness is expected in 2021, and full combat readiness is expected not earlier than 2023 of the year.
Design features of the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth
The development of mechanical designs of a modern British aircraft carrier was fully automated. Computer simulation tools were specially created by QinetiQ. The design of the ship's hull was carried out on the basis of the required 50-year service life. A feature of the hull of the new aircraft carrier was the presence of a springboard used for aircraft with a short takeoff and landing. The presence of the springboard and the absence of accelerating catapults makes the ship the only Russian heavy aircraft carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov. The hull of the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth has 9 decks, not counting flight. The flight deck of the ship provides for the simultaneous take-off and landing of aircraft, located in front of the springboard and has an elevation angle of 13 °.
The aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth
In contrast to the overwhelming majority of the traditional aircraft carriers, the Queen Elizabeth received two small superstructures. In the anterior are the premises of the ship management services, and in the rear - the flight control services of the aircraft carrier's air group. The advantage of this ship architecture is the increase in deck space, a more flexible distribution of space on the lower decks and a decrease in turbulent air flow, which may interfere with flying. The location of the services responsible for managing the flights of the air group in the rear part of the deck seems to be preferable, as it allows better control of such critical phases of the flight, as the approach and landing on board the aircraft carrier.
Like any other modern aircraft carrier, the British Queen Elizabeth is a real floating city, on board of which there is even a cinema and a large gym. There are also 4 large dining areas on board, which employ 67 catering workers. They are able to service up to 960 people in one hour. There is also a hospital designed for 8 beds (up to 8 serious bedridden patients), its own operating room and dental room, and its 11 medical staff services it. 470 ship cabins can accommodate 1600 people (by the number of beds), including 250 marines.
The power plant of the ship is integrated into an integrated electric propulsion system (Integrated Electric Propulsion - IEP). It includes two powerful Rolls-Royce Marine MT30 gas turbines with a capacity of 36 MW each (the same GTU installed on the latest American squadron type Zumwalt) and four Finnish-made Wartsila 38 diesel generators with a total power of 40 MW. The engines operate on generators, which provide electricity to the overall low-voltage network of the aircraft carrier and feed, among other things, electric motors that rotate two propeller shafts with fixed-pitch propellers. The power plant accelerates the ship with a total displacement of 70 600 tons up to speed 26 knots (about 48 km / h).
Lockheed Martin F-35B Fighter-Bomber
The ship is literally packed with modern equipment and possesses a high level of automation for almost all processes, thanks to which its crew consists of just 679 people. In this case, of course, the strengths of the ship include its automated command and control system, which is integrated with long-range radar, which allows you to simultaneously accompany up to one thousand air targets at a distance of 250 nautical miles (about 460 km). In addition, the ship is a special center for the commander of the carrier strike group (AUG).
Another feature of the ship is that it is the first aircraft carrier that was originally designed for the use of 5th generation aircraft. The Queen’s air group will be based on the American Lockheed Martin F-35B fighter-bombers (with vertical / short take-off / landing). The staffing of the aircraft carrier aircraft group in the “oceanic” version will be 24 F-35B fighter jets, 9 Merlin anti-submarine helicopters and 4 or 5 Merlin helicopters in the AWACS variant. In addition, the aircraft carrier will be able to take on board army helicopters aviation - AH-64 Apache, AW159 Wildcat and even CH-47 Chinook of various modifications. This is important, since the UK Ministry of Defense considers the ship and as a means of performing joint interspecific and coastal operations. The aircraft carrier originally provided space for 250 marines, while if necessary, the number of marines can be increased to 900 people.
In the standard state, the aircraft carrier's air group will include up to 40 aircraft, however, as noted by the British military, if necessary, the ship will be able to take on board up to 70 aircraft. On the hangar deck of an aircraft carrier with an area of 155 on 33,5 meters and a height from 6,7 to 10 meters can accommodate up to 20 aircraft. Their rise to the flight deck is carried out with the help of two powerful elevators, each of which is able to simultaneously lift two F-35B fighter-bomber to the take-off deck, having spent 60 seconds on it. The elevators are so powerful that together they can lift the entire crew of the ship, noted in the company BAE Systems.
DRLO helicopter Merlin Mk2 with Crowsnest system
The aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth is designed for 420 sorties during 5 days with the possibility of carrying out operations at night. The maximum intensity of departures is - 110 for 24 hours. The maximum takeoff intensity of the aircraft is 24 in 15 minutes, the landing is 24 in aircraft in 24 minutes. There are no aerofinisers and accelerating catapults on board, without alteration, the ship can only take on board short-cut / vertical take-off / landing planes.
The weakest element of the “Queen” can be called defensive armament, which is represented only by various artillery installations. In particular, the three 20-mm six-barrel rapid-fire artillery mounts of the Phalanx CIWS short-range defense. This naval anti-aircraft artillery complex, designed to combat anti-ship missiles with subsonic and supersonic flight speeds (up to 2-x speeds of sound), for its distinctive appearance received the nickname R2-D2 in the US Navy. In addition to this complex, there is an 4 modern 30-mm DS30M Mk2 submachine gun and a number of machine guns designed to protect against asymmetric threats - terrorists and pirates in small boats.
For weak defensive weapons and large sizes, the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth has already been called a convenient target for Russian anti-ship missiles. That was exactly what the Russian Defense Ministry said in response to the words of British Defense Minister Michael Fallon that "the Russians will look at the aircraft carrier with envy." Defensive weapons, indeed, the weakest point of the new British ship. On the other hand, it is built within a completely different concept of application. Unlike the only aircraft carrier in the Russian fleet, which carries a large number of various weapons, including anti-ship missiles and is able to operate autonomously, the British "Queen" is designed to be used as part of the AUG, when it will reliably cover numerous escort ships and submarines boats.
Anti-aircraft artillery complex Phalanx CIWS
The fact that the largest ship of the British fleet is vulnerable to anti-ship missiles, and experts say the British think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). According to them, an anti-ship missile worth less than half a million pounds is able to at least deactivate a British aircraft carrier worth more than three billion pounds. "A salvo from 10 of such missiles would cost the Russian budget less than 4 a million pounds, it is much easier to destroy such targets by concentrating fire on them than developing something of the same level to fight on an equal footing," the RUSI experts report.
Tactical and technical characteristics of the aircraft carrier HMS «Queen Elizabeth» (R08):
Displacement - 70 600 t (full).
Length - 280 m.
Width - 73 m.
Height - 56 m.
Draft - 11 m.
Engines: two Rolls-Royce Marine Gas Turbine MT30 gas turbines with a capacity of 36 MW each and four Wartsila diesel generator sets with a total power of about 40 MW.
The maximum travel speed is up to 26 knots (48 km / h).
Cruising range - to 10 000 nautical miles (about 19 000 km).
The autonomy of swimming is 290 days.
The crew of the aircraft carrier - 679 man.
Marines - 250 man.
Total capacity - 1600 people (together with the personnel of the air group, according to the number of beds).
Air Group: up to 40 fighters and helicopters including up to 24 5 fighter-bombers-generation Lockheed Martin F-35B, to 9 antisubmarine helicopters AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin HM2 and 4-5 the Merlin helicopter AEW variant. If necessary, can take on board up to 70 aircraft.
Defensive armament: 3 Phalanx CIWS, 4x30-mm 30mm DS30M Mark 2 anti-aircraft artillery guns and machine guns to counter asymmetrical threats.
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