Monday, May 29, 2006

Mini Aircraft Carriers for Australian Navy

Navantia Landing Helicopter Dock ship, Copyright Navantia, 10 August 2005
The Australian Defence Force is acquiring two new amphibious ships under the defence project plan JP2048. A decision will be made by 2007 between one of two designs to be built in Australia: the Spanish "Navantia" or French "Armaris Mistral". The ships are planned to carry 1000 personnel, six helicopters and 150 vehicles, including the M1A1 Abrams tank.

While described as "Landing Helicopter Dock" (LHD) ships, they look to the lay person like small aircraft carriers and could operate fixed wing V/STOL aircr, such as AV-8B Harrier II or the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, but this is not planned.

1 comment:

Tom Worthington said...

Writing in US Naval Institute Proceedings ("Carrier Aviation on the Move", July 2007), Norman Polmar suggests that the US Navy should consider buying more LHA/LHDs. He argues that five conventionally powered LHDs can be bought for the cost of one nuclear aircraft carrier.

The theoretical benefits of high speed and long range of a nuclear carrier have not been realized due to the need for non-nuclear support ships to keep up with them.

The LHD ships Polmar is referring to are 40,000 ton (Wasp Class), and so more than twice the size of the ships Australia is buying. However, the Australian ships have the advantage of already being equipped a "ski jump" on the flight deck for the AV-8B Harrier II, and F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. If the USA does move to use its LHD ships as aircraft carriers, this would make the Australian ships more viable in this role.