With China’s first aircraft carrier completing sea trials this week, we thought it would be good to look at other countries that operate aircraft carriers.
Aircraft carriers give nations so-called blue water navies, with the ability to project military power far from their nation's shores. The carriers often are good neighbors, too, as essential platforms for disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.
Brazil: The Brazilian navy operates the Sao Paulo, a French Clemenceau-class light aircraft carrier it acquired from France in 2000. The Sao Paulo can carry up to 40 aircraft and operates with a mix of A-4 jets and helicopters. It was originally commissioned in France in 1963.
France: The French navy operates the Charles de Gaulle, a nuclear-powered light aircraft carrier. The de Gaulle can carry 35 to 40 aircraft and about 2,000 personnel. It entered service in 2001. Most recently the de Gaulle has been supporting NATO operations over Libya.
India: The Indian navy operates the INS Viraat, formerly the British carrier HMS Hermes, which it acquired in 1987. Viraat is a vertical short takeoff and landing carrier with displacement of almost 29,000 tons. It can carry up to 12 fighter aircraft and nine helicopters.
Italy: The Italian navy has two carriers in service, the 10,000-ton, vertical short takeoff and landing Guiseppe Garibaldi and the Cavour, also a vertical short takeoff and landing carrier with at 26,660 tons. Garibaldi was launched in 1985 and has been used as part of the NATO operations over Libya. Cavour was launched in 2004 and was used in Haiti earthquake relief actions in 2010.
Russia: The Admiral Kuznetsov is designated as a aircraft-carrying cruiser. It became fully operational in 1995. The ship carries more than 20 Su-33 fighters and 16 to 18 helicopters. The ship is now on a cruise to train flight crew in the Barents Sea, according to rusnavy.com.
Spain: The Spanish navy’s Principe de Asturias was commissioned in 1982. A short takeoff and landing vessel, Principe de Asturias can carry 12 jets and 12 helicopters and has a crew of 830, including its air wing.
Thailand: The Royal Thai Navy operates the HTMS Charki Naruebet, a vertical short takeoff and landing carrier based on Spain’s Principe de Asturias. It has a crew of about 600, including its air wing. It carries six jets and six helicopters.
United Kingdom: HMS Illustrious is an Invincible-class vertical short takeoff and landing carrier. Commissioned in 1982 and with a crew of 1,000, Illustrious is Britain’s last active carrier and will be decommissioned when new full-size carriers come on line later this decade.
United States: The U.S. Navy has 11 active carriers, 10 of them nuclear-powered Nimitz-class carriers that displace about 100,000 tons. Nimitz carriers carry about 5,700 crew and air wing. Each carrier has about 85 planes and helicopters.