10 Largest Aircraft Carriers in Service
Identifying 10 Largest Aircraft Carriers in Service is not a tough task as only a few country has aircraft carrier. An aircraft carrier is a warship with a full-length flight deck and facilities for carrying, arming, deploying, and recovering aircraft that serves as a seagoing airbase. 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. It is extremely expensive to build and important to protect.
If a country want to be a blue water navy then it must have one or more aircraft carriers. Recently India has announced construction of INS Vishal. It is going to be a super carrier with Load Displacement of more than 65000 tons. Most importantly it will be nuclear powered to ensure long endurance. It will be commissioned into Indian Navy in 2025.
As of May 2015, there are thirty-seven active aircraft carriers in the world within twelve navies. In terms of Load displacement & aircraft carrying capacity these are the 10 largest aircraft carriers in service.
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10 Largest Aircraft Carriers
1. USS Nimitz, USA
The Nimitz Class, with a full load displacement of 106,300 mt, is the world’s largest aircraft carrier. Its maximum length is 333m. United states have 10 such carriers. It is powered by two nuclear reactors which ensures it a long endurance.
The first carrier in the class was deployed in May 1975, while the tenth and last ship, USS George HW Bush (CVN 77), was commissioned in January 2009. Advanced fighters such as F-16 & F-18 are deployed on Nimitz Class Super Carriers.
2. Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia
Admiral Kuznetsov is the only operational aircraft carrier in the Russian Navy. It has a displacement of 58,500 to 67,500 tonne and its maximum length is 305m. The design of the Kuznetsov class implies a mission different from that of American carriers. It is intended to support and defend strategic missile-carrying submarines, surface ships, and maritime missile-carrying aircraft of the Russian fleet.
In its fleet defense role the Kuznetsov ’s P-700 Granit anti-ship cruise missiles, 3K95 Kinzhal surface-to-air missiles, and Su-33 (Flanker-D) aircraft are its main weapons. Admiral Kuznetsov is conventionally powered by eight gas-fired boilers and four steam turbines, each producing 50,000 hp (37 MW), driving four shafts with fixed-pitch propellers.
3. Liaoning, China
Liaoning 16 is also a Kuznetsov class carrier. It was originally known as multirole aircraft carrier Riga for the Soviet Navy, she was launched on December 4, 1988, and renamed Varyag in 1990. In shape and size it is almost equivalent to Admiral Kuznetsov of Russia.
The aircraft carrier is armed with Type 1030 CIWS, HQ-10 missiles and anti-submarine warfare rocket launchers. It occupied by 24 Shenyang J-15, 6 Changhe Z-18, 4 Ka-31 and 2 Harbin Z-9. It is powered by steam turbine propulsion system. Its maximum range is around 7,130 km.
4. USS America (LHA-6), USA
It is the fourth American warship to be named for the United States of America, is the America Class assault ships for the U.S. Navy. It was commissioned in October 2014.
With a displacement of 45,000 tons & 257.3 meters Length, It is the fourth largest aircraft carriers operational in the world. It is going to be configured with 20 F-35B strike fighters. It is propelled by two conventional marine gas turbines.
5. INS Vikramaditya (R33), India
INS Vikramaditya is a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier which entered into service with the Indian Navy in 2013. It has displacement volume of 45,400 tons and maximum length of 283.5 meters , which makes it the 5th largest aircraft carrier in in the list of 10 largest aircraft carriers in the world.
It is powered by 4 geared steam turbines which produces 135MW power. It has the maximum range of 25,000 km at 33 km/h speed. Vikramaditya is armed with 4 x AK-630 CIWS, Barak 1 Barak 8 (Long Range Surface to Air Missile). It can carry Maximum of 36 aircrafts; 30 × Mikoyan MiG-29K multi-role fighters, 6 × Kamov Ka-31 AEW&C and Kamov Ka-28 ASW helicopters.
6. Charles de Gaulle (R91), France
The Charles de Gaulle (R91) aircraft carrier, the first French nuclear-powered surface ship, is the largest warship in Western Europe.It is also the only nuclear-powered carrier in service outside of the US Navy. It can support the operations of 40 fixed wing aircraft and helicopters including Rafale M, Super Étendard, E-2C Hawkeye, SA365 Dauphin, EC725 Caracal and AS532 Cougar.The vessel with a full load displacement of 42,000 ton carries 1,350 ship’s company and 600 air wing.
7. Sao Paulo, Brazil
Sao Paulo is a Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier currently in service with the Brazilian Navy. Sao Paulo (A12) have displacement weight of more than 32,800 tons at full load. Originally it was commissioned in French Navy in 1963 as Foch (R99). It was sold to Brazil in 2000. The Sao Paulo can occupy 1,920 crew, including 1,338 ship’s company and 582 Air Group crew. Its flight deck can accommodate 39 aircrafts including fighters, fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.
8. Cavour, Italy
The Cavour has a displacement of 27,900 tons but can reach more than 30,000 tons at full military capacity, after improvements done in 2008. It is propelled by General Electric/Avio LM2500+gas turbines providing 88.000 hp. The Cavour features a 232.6m x 34.5 metre flight deck, which can accommodate 20 fixed-wing aircraft & helicopters.
9. INS Viraat, India
INS Viraat was the flagship of the Indian Navy before INS Vikramaditya was commissioned in 2013. The last British-built ship serving with the Indian Navy. It is the oldest carrier in service in the world. It is a Centaur-Class aircraft carrier. INS Viraat has a full load displacement of 28,700 ton and carries up to 30 fixed and rotary wing aircraft, such as Sea Harrier, Westland Sea King, HAL Chetak and HAL Dhruv.
Due to the warship’s age and cost of maintenance naval headquarters is considering to decommission Viraat by 2017.
10. Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi is an Italian aircraft carrier and the first Italian ship built to operate fixed-wing aircraft. It is the smallest aircraft carrier in the list of 10 largest aircraft carriers. It is 180 meters long and has Load displacement of 13000 tons. It is equipped with short take-off and vertical landing aircraft (STOVL) aircraft and helicopters. Giuseppe Garibaldi was involved in combat air operations off Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya.