Aircraft carriers


The largest and most advanced warships ever built for the Royal Navy, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are the nation's future flagships.

While work continues to bring HMS Prince of Wales to life at Rosyth, HMS Queen Elizabeth has been undergoing sea trials since leaving the Scottish dockyard in June and entered her new home in Portsmouth for the first time in August. Initially the ships will carry helicopters from their own dedicated squadron. 

The vast flight deck and hangar can accommodate any helicopter in Britain’s military inventory. From 2020, however, our punch will be delivered by the F35 Lightning II, the world’s most advanced stealth fighter-bomber.

Both ships have been constructed in numerous shipyards in one of the most demanding and revolutionary shipbuilding programmes ever undertaken, with the pieces being slotted together in a specially-extended dry dock at Rosyth on the Forth to create two 65,000-ton leviathans.


Explore Weapons & Missiles

  • Weapons and Equipment
  • Phalanx

    Phalanx Close-in weapon

    Phalanx is one of the deadly last lines of defence for Britain's warships. Capable of engaging targets around one mile away, it is a radar-controlled Gatling gun which fires 20mm shells, spewing out 3,000 rounds a minute.

    Designed to engage incoming enemy aircraft and missiles if they penetrated a ship or task group's outer ring of defences such as Sea Viper or Sea Dart.

    During Operation Telic, Phalanx guns were removed from ships and used to defend Basra airport, the hub of British operations,they  saw extensive action against incoming rockets and mortars fired by insurgents.

  • Crowsnest

    Crowsnest Helicopter-borne early warning system

    Crowsnest uses high power radar to provide long-range air, maritime and land tracking capabilities, and will be an integral part of future carrier operations. The Crowsnest system will be fitted to the Royal Navy's fleet of upgraded Merlin Mk2 helicopters.

operations Westlant 18

Britain's new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is deployed to the east coast of the United States for her maiden F-35 Lightning flying trials. Joined by her task group, including HMS Monmouth, it marks the first time F-35 stealth jets have flown from the carrier's flight deck. As well as the vital deck trials, the deployment also involves exercises to prove the ship's ability to operate with other nations’ ships and aircraft.

Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers Future

An island nation needs a powerful navy. A simple fact, often forgotten. Go behind the scenes of the new aircraft carrier and discover its true scale and ambition.

Read about the new carrier
The first 617 Squadron F-35B Lightning aircraft make their way across the Atlantic ocean to their new home at RAF Marham.

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She is the Royal Navy's largest ever warship with a full displacement of 65,000 tonnes

Queen Elizabeth Carrier


Air Engineering Technician

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