Aircraft Carrier Types
An aircraft carrier is a warship that serves as a seagoing airbase, equipped with a full-length flight deck and facilities for carrying, arming, deploying, and recovering aircraft. Typically, it is the capital ship of a fleet, as it allows a naval force to project air power worldwide without depending on local bases for staging aircraft operations. Aircraft carriers are expensive to build and are critical assets. Carriers have evolved since their inception in the early twentieth century from wooden vessels used to deploy balloons to nuclear-powered warships that carry numerous fighter planes, strike aircraft, helicopters, and other types of aircraft. While it is possible to launch heavier aircraft such as fixed-wing gunships and bombers (it has been done) from aircraft carriers, it is virtually impossible to land them.
There are many aircraft carrier types i.e escort carriers, fleet carriers, Amphibious assault ship, Anti-submarine warfare carrier and more the older aircraft carrier type was the Balloon carrier and balloon tenders
There is no single definition of an “aircraft carrier,” and modern navies use several variants of the type. These variants are sometimes categorized as sub-types of aircraft carriers, and sometimes as distinct types of naval aviation-capable ships. Aircraft carriers may be classified according to the type of aircraft they carry and their operational assignments. Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, RN; former First Sea Lord (head) of the British Royal Navy, has said, “To put it simply, countries that aspire to strategic international influence have aircraft carriers”.
As of December 2017, there are 41 active aircraft carriers in the world operated by thirteen navies. The United States Navy has 11 large nuclear-powered fleet carriers (known as supercarriers, carrying up to around 80 fighter jets each), the largest carriers in the world; the total combined deck space is over twice that of all other nations combined. As well as the fleet carrier/ supercarrier fleet, the U.S. Navy has nine amphibious assault ships used primarily for helicopters, although these also carry up to 20 vertical or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) fighter jets and are similar in size to medium-sized fleet carriers. China, France, India, and Russia each operate a single medium-size carrier, with capacity from 30 to 50 fighter jets. Italy operates two light fleet carriers and Spain operates one. Helicopter carriers are operated by Australia (2), Egypt (2), France (3), Japan (4), South Korea (1), Thailand (1) and the United Kingdom (1). The United Kingdom has a 280 m (920 ft) supercarrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, undergoing sea trials, scheduled to enter active service in 2020. Future supercarriers are under construction or in planning by China, India, Russia, the US, and the UK.
Basic types of Aircraft Carriers
USS Enterprise, a supercarrier of the U.S. Navy (left), sails alongside Charles de Gaulle, a fleet carrier of the French Navy (right), both of which have the CATOBAR configuration.