Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Principe de Asturias operates as the flagship of the Spanish Navy and support the Harrier II series of jump jet aircraft

The Principe de Asturias is a conventionally-powered aircraft carrier in service with the Spanish Navy and is of all Spanish construction. Though fielding a relatively limited air arm (when compared to her contemporaries), she nonetheless represents a vital cog in ocean-going operations for the Spanish Navy. Just passing her twentieth anniversary in operational service, the Principe de Asturias is assured of several more decades as Spain's premiere carrier platform for some time to come.

Design is of a conventional one, with an island superstructure located starboard and aft of amidships. Her superstructure is dominated by a massive array of antenna and sensors. The most distinct visual identifier of the type is in the single straight flight deck which angles up at the bow in what is generally referred to as a "ski jump", angled at some 12 degrees. This type of angled deck served vitally in short take-off operations of the native aircraft onboard.

Her air group consists of the AV-8B Harrier II VTOL jump jet aircraft and is further augmented by a series of helicopters used in search and rescue, observation and reconnaissance, anti-submarine / anti-ship operations and airborne early warning operations. The carrier can carry can field a total of 29 aircraft as needed.

Being a conventionally-powered system, the Principe de Asturias relies on twin General Electric brand LM2500+ gas turbine engines in a COGAG (COmbined Gas And Gas) configuration. This mechanical configuration basically implies that two gas turbines are connected and powering a single propeller shaft allowing for both or a single turbine to power the single shaft. The system also allows for greater fuel efficiency. The Principe de Asturias is protected by a battery of 4 x FABA Meroka Mod 2B Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS) and a further 12 x 20mm Oerlikon L120 cannons. Her systems and sensors consist of various search radars, control radars, laser designation radars and electronic countermeasures. A crew of 600 sailors make up the standard complement with an additional 230 airmen making up the air group.

The Principe de Asturias was first ordered in 1977 and laid down in 1979 by Bazan's Shipyards. She was launched in 1982 and officially commissioned in 1988 making her homeport out of Rota Naval Air Base. As of this writing she is currently in active service with the Spanish Navy. The name "Principe of Asturias" (or "Prince of Asturias") is a Spanish title generally passed along to the heir of the Spanish throne.



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