Britain’s CVF Future Carriers: the Queen Elizabeth Class
December 20/17: Repairs Having recently returned from sea trails, the British Royal Navy’s $4.2 billion HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier will undergo repairs for a leak found on the vessel, caused by a shaft seal issue. British tabloid the Sun reported that the leak was letting in 200 litres of water every hour and the fix would cost millions of pounds. However, a defence source said the navy was aware the ship had an issue when it was handed over by manufacturers and the Sun said the builders would have to foot the repair bill. BAE Systems—who built the vessel as part of a consortium including Babcock, and the UK division of France’s Thales—said it was “normal practice for a volume of work and defect resolution to continue following vessel acceptance,” adding that the fix will be “completed prior to the nation’s flagship re-commencing her programme at sea in 2018.” BAE said the work would be carried out early next year and the issue would take just a couple of days to fix with no need for it to be taken into a dry dock.
Britain’s 1998 Strategic Defence Review (SDR) announced a big leap forward for the Royal Navy: plans to replace the current set of 3 Invincible Class 22,000t escort carriers with 2 larger, more capable Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) ships that could operate a more powerful force. These new carriers would be joint-service platforms, operating F-35B aircraft, plus helicopters and UAVs from all 3 services. Roles could include ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance), force projection and logistics support, close air support, anti-submarine/ anti-surface naval warfare, and land attack.
The scale of the CVF effort relative to Britain’s past experiences means that the program structure is rather complex. It has passed through several stages already, and is being run and conducted within an industrial alliance framework. There is also a parallel international framework, involving cooperation with France on its PA2 carrier as a derivative of the CVF design. This DID FOCUS article covers that structure and framework, ongoing developments, and the ships themselves as they move slowly through construction, and eventual fielding.
Salve, Regina: The Queen Elizabeth Class
The Future Air Wing
The CVF Carrier Program
Program Team: The Aircraft Carrier Alliance
On To Production
The CVF Program: Contracts and Key Events
2014 – 2017
2005 – 2007
CVF: Ancillary Contracts and Events
2013 – 2014
2010 – 2012
2006 – 2009
Appendix A: CVF Program Management
The Initial Roadmap
Additional Readings & Sources
Background: CVF Program
Background: Ancillary Technologies
Background: Air Wing
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