HMS Queen Elizabeth and Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier: two different concept of naval air combat

On April 29, the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed from Portsmouth for a long sea trial campaign. Previously, the entire crew was tested against the coronavirus, in order to avoid the Royal Navy from experiencing the same setbacks as the US Navy or the French Navy. This test campaign should qualify the aircraft carrier for its first operational deployments, expected now for next year. From 2021, therefore, the Royal Navy should once again have naval air capacity, for the first time since the withdrawal of Harrier aircraft in 2010.

The future of the British naval aviation is therefore taking shape around its two new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales (CVF type), but also the vertical take-off and landing (STOVL) onboard fighter, the F-35B. If this aircraft was also chosen to equip the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour, the Queen Elizabeth class has operational capabilities far superior to that of Italian and Spanish ships (or the former British Invincible class for that matter). In this, the Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales are positioned operationally as “real” aircraft carriers.

HMS Prince of Wales is the second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier. It was commissioned in December 2019, two years after the Queen Elizabeth.

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