Naval Air: April 12, 2003

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: The United States remains the only country to field fully capable conventional take-off and landing aircraft carriers, but a number of European countries are following the American lead and building smaller, more versatile assault helicopter carriers like the US Tarawa-Class LHAs and Wasp-Class LHDs. 

Half of the size of a Nimitz-class carrier, these ships normally deploy with a battalion of Marines, displace about 40,000-tons, and perform a variety of roles. With short take-off Harriers (or the F-35B replacement) they can perform sea control or strike missions. Cargo helicopters and ground troops allow them to perform amphibious assaults or peacekeeping deployments. Some roles with enthusiasm in peace-minded Europe include mine-sweeping or delivering humanitarian aide. Most of these ships support large hospital suites to care for the embarked troops or alternatively, refugee populations.

By 2015 European nations will commission ten ships of this type and South Korea will build two more.

This chart compares several of the small carriers now being built or proposed with the US LHDs already in service. Not included are those classes already in service, as many are reaching the ends of their useful lives.
 

Country

Name

 Qty

Disp (tons)

1st Blt

Flight Deck

Well

Troops

Air

US

Wasp

7

40,500

1989

Yes

Yes

1700

23 Helos
6 Harriers

UK    

CVF 

2

60,000

2012

Yes

No

(TBD)

50 Various

France    

deGaulle

2

40,600

2000

CTOL

No

(800)

40 Aircraft

France    

Mistral    

2

21,000

2005

Yes

Yes

450

20 Helos

Belgium/
Luxembourg

Mistral 

1

21,000

TBD

Yes

Yes

450

20 Helos

Italy

Andrea Doria 

2

26,500

2007

Yes

No

450

9 Helos
5 Harriers

S. Korea  

  TBD

2

19,000

2007

No

Yes

600

10 Helos

Spain  

 LL-Project

1

25,000

TBD

No

Yes

450

20 Helos

NOTES: 
Quantity indicates the total number planned for the class.
1st Built is the year the first unit will be commissioned.
Flight Deck indicates if the ship has a full length flight deck that would allow short-take off type operations.
CTOL indicates conventional take-off and landing with catapults and arresting gear.
Well indicates if the ship has a docking well for amphibious landing craft.
Troops Number in parentheses indicates troops are not normally deployed.

- -Andy Wagner


 


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