Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Ark Royal

Classified was a "light" carrier and part of the Invincible class of British carriers, the Ark Royal sports an aircraft complement of various types that include the Sea Harrier jump jet aircraft (fighter and bomber versions), Sea King and Merlin type helicopters with a standard group consisting of 5 Harriers and 10 Sea Kings. Her most notable characteristic was the sloped ramp at the extreme edge of her flight deck, which sat to the port side with a superstructure at the starboard. Self-defense was accomplished through a layout of 3 x Phalanx CIWS anti-missile systems and additional 2 x 20mm cannons for anti-aircraft defense. Additionally, the class can mount 1 x twin launchers for Sea Dart surface-to-air missiles (later removed in 1999), shoring up the defense of what use to be a weakness in the design.

The Ark Royal (originally to be called the HMS Indomitable) represented a fitting addition to British naval power at the end of the century, considering the name had been in use for decades in other forms including an aircraft carrier used in World War 2. This new carrier came at a time when the fleet carrier program was all but gone from Royal Navy consideration and a new initiative was put forth for a carrier to operate an air group of the Sea King type helicopters. Later in development, it became apparent that the Royal Air Force's Harrier jump jet aircraft would also be a prime candidate for consideration for use on the carrier (known in the Royal Navy inventory as the Sea Harrier) and the Ark Royal's role was officially defined.



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