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Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF)

Queen Elizabeth Class

Part 1

             Article Parts 

 1. Current Project Status and

  2. Specification

  3. The Project and its Origins

  4. Role

  5. Smart Procurement

  6. Project Schedule

  7. Procurement Process I
      (until Jan 2003)

  8. Procurement Process II  
      (until July 2007)

  9. Procurement Process III
      (latest situation)

10. Management and Industry

11. Aviation Operations

12. STOVL or CV F-35?

13. Platform Design ...

14. ... and Redesign

15. C4ISR Facilities

16. Operational Concepts

17. Crew, Accommodation &

18. Propulsion and Engineering

19. Manufacture

20. Build Problems and UK

21. Basing and Support

22. Costs

23. Air Group

24. Aviation Requirements and

25. Catapults and Arresting Gear

26. Armament and Armour

27. Operations

28. Names

29. CVF Links



(Above) Bidders were required to develop both Short Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) and Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) CVF concepts-  these images of the Thales/BMT design concept were released in June 2002

In September 2002 the MOD said that the new carriers would be completed in a STOVL configuration, but should be "adaptable" to CTOL configuration if required later - with catapults and arresting gear replacing the bow 'ski-jump'.


(Source: Thales CVF Team)

 (Below) This graphic of the 'Alpha' CVF first appeared in March 2003.  Although the design concept developed by consortium lead by the Thales  had been selected, the MOD ordered them to form an alliance with the BAE Systems for the construction of the ships. 

Cost estimates in the Spring of 2003 were far in excesses of the available budget, leading to intense cost reduction efforts and a multi-year delay to the project  


(Source: Thales France)

(Source: 7seas)

(Above) This small scale (perhaps 1:300) but still very interesting model of CVF was displayed on the Thales stand at Euronaval in October 2004.  It was the first public showing of the reduced cost "Delta" design  and significant differences can be observed compared with the "Alpha" graphics released in the first half of 2003 (more shown on this page here).  The most notable changes are the prominent raked funnels on each island, the apparently reduced electronics fit (although some antennae will be hidden inside the new new stealth technology masts), the shortened hull length ahead and aft of the forward island, the reduced flightdeck width (and thus hull sponsons) aft, and the split bow ski-jump with deck parking to starboard.


(Above) These graphics of the CVF "Delta" concept were issued in October 2004, the first for 17 months.  Compared with the earlier "Alpha design, hull length has been cut from the bow section and immediately aft of the forward island.

Major changes to the flight deck layout are obvious, as is the potential for fitting an angled landing lane in the future.  Note that the side-by-side JSF launch positions have been deleted, there is now just a single JBD alongside the aft "FLYCO" island.  The MT30 gas turbine alternators are mounted in the massive sponsons directly below each island. 

The aft island had been greatly simplified and both islands incorporate obvious stealth or signature reduction features.  What appears to be an Alenia Marconi Systems S1850M long range radar is atop the forward island, but no Sampson multifunction radar is fitted. 

Self defence systems are relatively light, although a Vulcan Phalanx system and a DS-30B light cannon can be seen in small sponsons on the port and starboard forward quarters. 


(Above) These pictures of the CVF CTOL (or CV) variant did not appear until early 2006, but are probably contemporary with the STOVL variant above.

Contingency plans exist to complete the second CVF in a CTOL configuration if the Americans cancel the STOVL F-35B variant. The first will still be completed in a STOVL configuration to operate the Harrier until it leaves service.  (Source: JSF Team)


(Source: Thales UK)

(Above) These are two of several images that first publicly appeared in June 2005, I don't have a copy of the others.  There are no obvious great differences from earlier graphics, presumably indicating that the design has now matured and stabilised.  


(Above) Extracts from a DCN video showing French and British CVF carriers in company.  (Source: Beedall)


(Above) A series of updated CVF graphics were published in December 2005 to support the announcements made that month.  (Source: MOD)



(Above) This graphic was also used by the MOD in December 2005.  Interestingly it shows a CTOL configured CVF.  It appears to be an update of a graphic first used in 2003. (Source: MOD)


(Above) Profile of CVF Delta dating to 2006.  Stated to be 280 metres long, 9 metres draft, air draft 47 metres, 9 decks. (Source: ACA)



(Above) The first new set of static graphics of CVF UK since 2005 were published in August 2007.  The French influenced redesigned bow can be seen, some changes have also been made to the islands and the port side of the flight deck (presumably to improve standardisation with the French PA2). (Source: MOD)


(Above) For comparison purposes, an image of the French CVF variant that I received in early 2007.  (Source: DCN)


(Above) These pictures also began to trickle out between August 2007 and the end of the year.  The last picture shows a F-35B making a vertical landing but the design is now expected to support shipborne rolling vertical  landings  (Source: MOD)


(Above) These graphics also appeared at the end of 2007, further significant revisions have been made to the islands compared to the pictures above.  A long range S1850M search radar is shown fitted atop the fore island,  it is unclear whether this will actually be fitted in addition to the Artisan 3D medium range radar - rather incorrectly depicted on the aft island.    (Source: MOD)


Short take-off and ship borne rolling vertical landings using the STOVL F-35B were favoured by 2008, however the CV F-35C with its requirement for catapult launches and arrested landings remains a fall back option if the F-35B encounters serious problems.  This graphic from early 2008 shows a F-35C on final approach.  (Source: Thales)



For the history of the CVF design in artists impressions, including early or unlikely CVF designs,
see here.

For the deck layouts of the various CVF designs considered, see here.

Type Designation: Aircraft Carrier (CV)

Name No Builders First Steel Cut  (2) Floated Out (1,2) Completed (2) In Service (2,3)
HMS Queen Elizabeth R? Carrier Alliance (4) [1/2009] [2013] [2014] [late 2014]
HMS Prince of Wales R? Carrier Alliance (4) [2011] [2015] [2016] [late 2016]
[Richelieu?] R92? Aker Yards (St Nazaire) & DCN (Brest) [2011] [2015] [2016] [2017]

1. The RN carriers will be composed of blocks assembled in dry dock, so the traditional term "launched" does not apply.
2. These are rough estimated dates based upon hints from industry sources in early 2008, assuming a firm order for the ships by mid 2008 and a build time of 5 years (this is the public domain).
3. In July 2007 the official target in service dates for the two RN ships were announced to be 2014 and 2016.  However contracts for their construction had still not been signed by May 2008 and a revision of their in-service dates to 2016 and 2018 can be expected. 
4. A consortium of British shipyards will build the hull superblocks:- BVT Surface Fleet Ltd at the former BAE Systems Barrow and Govan shipyards, and also at the former VT Shipbuilding Portsmouth shipyard, plus Babcock Engineering Services at its Rosyth dockyard.  Final assembly and completion will also be at Rosyth. Other yards and companies will compete for major subcontracts.


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  2004-13 Richard Beedall unless otherwise indicated.