At a Royal Academy of Engineering briefing with an audience of over 200 today, John Coles CB FREng will explain how the challenges of building the Royal Navy’s largest ever warships have been met and how the MoD remains on course to provide the UK armed forces with the most capable aircraft carrier force outside the US.

The Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) project will replace the Royal Navy’s three Invincible class aircraft carriers with two larger, more capable warships – each approximately 65,000 tonnes and second in size only to the US Nimitz carriers. CVF will carry the short take–off, vertical landing variant of the new Joint Strike Fighter, the Lockheed Martin F-35B, which is replacing the Harrier. However, as the new carriers will operate for 40–50 years, they have been designed to accommodate catapults and arrestor gear if required in the future to fly conventional aircraft.

The Aircraft Carrier Alliance has worked hard to achieve a cost-effective solution, resulting in a design that can operate over twice as many aircraft as the current Invincible class – despite the fact that the F-35B is larger and heavier than the Harrier. CVF will also have increased strategic capability with a 75 per cent longer range without refuelling. It is the first carrier to be designed with a split ‘island’ superstructure, improving control of flight deck operations.

Each new carrier will only require the same sized crew as an Invincible although they are much larger ships, with three times the displacement. They also have ground-breaking environmental and safety features – they will be the first Royal Navy ships to incorporate a ballast water treatment system and a fully integrated waste management system. In another first for the Navy, CVF will also incorporate emergency evacuation routes direct to lifeboats, so crew members will not have to plunge into freezing water in order to evacuate.

Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering