Since her departure from Rosyth, HMS Queen Elizabeth has already had shots fired across her bow even before becoming operational.

Thankfully they are only verbal shots, as she currently has limited defensive capabilities and escorts due to undertaking sea trials.

Her first trip into open water has left some in awe of the vast size and sheer complexity of a project that has taken 8 years to build, however she has still managed to come under considerable scrutiny and defamation from a multitude of military and government officials, all wanting to voice their perspective. The 70,600 Tonne Aircraft Carrier has been criticised by some for being ‘a white elephant’, mocked by the Russians ‘for being a convenient target’ and even slated ‘for having no aircraft’ by various groups.

Despite all this negativity, most defence minded people are remaining optimistic and until she becomes fully operational around the early 2020s, we won’t truly comprehend the full benefits and capabilities of this grand vessel.

So what might we expect HMS Queen Elizabeth operations to cover?

Well, unlike its US counterparts we can assume it will be a much more flexible asset, used as a conventional Fleet Carrier for some missions and a dual purpose lead Ship for others.

The versatility that the Navy expects of its new £3 Billion acquisition means it could take over from a US Navy Carrier Group in the Middle East, providing air cover or strike missions against terrorist organisations, supported by its own fleet of escorts, either RN vessels or an international coalition.

It could then be required to support the UN in peacekeeping operations in Africa, or elsewhere in the world, in which case it can hold 250 Royal Marines on-board with the ability to deploy in an amphibious capacity.

Another role it may fulfil is supporting during a humanitarian mission, whether it be a migrant crisis similar to the one currently in the Mediterranean or when natural disasters occur, like searching for a downed Airliner or earthquakes in South America.

No matter what the government tasks its new carrier to do, it is clear to see she is crucial to the Royal Navy’s expeditionary warfare role and will also enable the UK to tackle multiple and changing threats across the globe.


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Mike Saul

The QE carriers and F35B have huge warfighting potential, however that lack of self defence systems and supporting assets is a concern which is not being addressed.

The Falklands showed us that even third world country armed with a small number of modern weapons have potential to eliminate our expensive assets.

Our navy needs multiple layers of defence and within each layer multiple weapon systems.


I think she’ll be fitted with phalanx/goalkeeper CIWS at later date. I’d like to know if an AAR capable aircraft will be operated by the RN. Unless they intend having AAR refuelling pods?
Merlin helicopters equipped with crowsnest will provide the AEW capability, similar in role to the E2 hawkeye.


I agree. I can’t see why the carriers aren’t equipped with at least Seaceptor, other than to save a few quid. Even better, if they had Sylver VLS, the ASTER missiles carried could be controlled by the radar on the accompanying T-45s.

Steve H

I’m disappointed that these 2 Carriers don’t have the Sea Ceptor, which is a phenomenal system by the way and is the best on the market. I hope that the bean counters don’t have the final decision on this, how much does a Sea Ceptor cost to install and how bad would it be if one of the £3 Billion warships were lost due to lack of a system like the brilliant Sea Ceptor?


i have to admit.given it took 8 years to build plus another 2/3 before being fully operational i would have thought it would have it,s own defensive system other than a few phalanx guns,something to defend itself from torpedo attack possible a decent chaff system as well as other equipment because unlike the USA who have a lot of destroyers/frigates to protect carriers we do not,and given the size i reckon at least bare minimum 2/3 destroyers and the same with frigates,to protect our carrier but we just do not have enough if we are carrying on with other deployments… Read more »

Thomas Elliott

Personally I think a safe battle group to defend our new carriers should consist of a full compliment of aircraft. Plane and helicopter, followed by a minimum of 2 type 45s, 4 frigates, two subs and at least one missile cruiser. Even if we only have 2 missile cruisers in our navy. If we were to deploy both carrier groups, then that will require the bare minimum to operate safely and successfully; 2 aircraft carriers ( with full plane and helicopter compliment) 2 missile cruisers 4 type 45s 8 frigates 4 subs (be it two astute and 2 vanguard or… Read more »


Missile cruisers? What are you talking about?


And you don’t put your nuclear deterrent SSBN’s anywhere near your carrier group, for goodness sake.


Whatever its future holds from what I have been seeing on a marine tracking site the QE has been doing some serious mileage since it left Rosyth and been ‘at it’ 24 hours a day. OK its had to do some photo opportunities as well but it has certainly covered a much bigger distance at higher speeds than the Ford Class managed in its few days of ‘sea trials’ recently. Some of the track patterns have been seriously impressive and I would love to have been on her when she did some big turns at 20+ knots! God bless her… Read more »


If the tracking is right she’s turned on a sixpence at close to full pelt at least a dozen times. Shame we don’t have video.


Talk it down why don’t you. Such a typical British trait that helped to lose the Empire. All this blather is vapid and not worthy of any intelligent in depth comment.

Mark L

Well said maurice10!


I thinks she looks really good and im saying that as a person who supported our last two real carriers The Ark and Eagle
Was really impresive watching those Phantoms and Buccs
And to get mail when in the middle of the ocean being brought in by Gannets
Godsend that was before the advent of the internet
But and its a very big But —–
She needs her own armament and ships to protect her I would think it would be easier to fit her with missiles than to build more ships as that takes time


“helped to lose the Empire” behave yourself


Well let’s face it, the gin was cheaper…..what!


It’s not talking down – it’s fact! Personally, I love the QE carriers and am so glad they weren’t sacrificed on the altar of SDSRs past. That said, why are we soon to be the only carrier operating nation that DOESN’T feel the need to have self-defence missiles? Even the mighty US carriers – which are better protected by escorts that ours will ever be – STILL have their own SD systems – Sea Sparrow, Sea RAM etc.,. What makes us think we don’t need them?? Utter folly.


They’ll get protection by the time the ships are fully capable. I also believe for the majority of their time, the carriers will not face enemies that could sink them. Most of their roles will be similar to Ocean’s, just a lot more. Imagine, what the RN can do with vessels of such size. Allow for greater operational freedom, where they can help fight and protect countries, as well as offering hospital and emergency provisions on a greater scale. If and when their roles requires confrontation on an Falkland type scenario, then the MOD will ensure adequate escort, above and… Read more »


Hi Maurice,
Seems most people (inc myself) are very happy and proud.
However, being wilfully blind to the absence of any planned missile CIWS is the kind of attitude that ignored the panzers at Arnhem and that the radios only worked in the desert which lost us Operation Market Garden.


She’s a beauty, an aircraft carrier is essential to a country with overseas commitments/territories which we have.

16 years since the De Gaulle was commissioned, twice the size of our carriers at the time, now soon we will have a pair of supercarriers, balance has been restored.


70,600? RN says 65,000.


Wikipedia says 70600 James


Hm, Wikipedia says a lot of things, much of which is nonsense. RN repeatedly refers to 65k. MoD too.


It has a displacement of 70,600 tonnes according to the Royal Institute of Naval Architects.


Her weight was revised up by the builders, why the RN don’t accept that I don’t know


One would hope that someone ‘in charge’ would read the comments on these forums and remedy the deficiency in self defence capability.
Michael Fallon-where art thou??

Mike Saul

From the engineer website

“The ship was originally expected to weigh 65,000 tonnes, but is now thought to have a displacement of 70,600 tons. What caused this discrepancy?

The displacement of the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers upon delivery to the customer will be approximately 65,000 tonnes, which is the same as the predicted displacement when we started the manufacturing phase, although the design allows for weight growth in excess of 70,000 tonnes through the service life of the ship due to upgrades.”

Fat Dave

The UK just doesn’t need carriers of this size and obsolescence. What the UK needed was 3-4 smaller, better armed replacements for Invincibile, capable of carrying 6 Lightning aircraft.
If the UK ever deployed the QE2, it would become a CoG all of its own. In the Falklands campaign, the carriers were withdrawn out of the way, lest their were attacked. The same applies to QE.


Clearly you know better than the UK (and US) military, although you seem to think the carrier is an Atlantic liner.


Such a ship would be utterly useless; 6 F-35b’s would not be enough for any serious operations, and with the armaments you want it’d probably be a £2bn, 20/25 thousand tonnes ship. You would have a much less effective ship for not much cheaper, with then possible problems with no LPD capable ships once HMS Ocean retires.


Not arming QE with SeaCeptor, SeaRAM, or even SeaViper is the same kind of attitude that stops the RN from fitting VLS to the Type 45s or greater armament on the Albion class ships. Penny pinching in the wrong areas wrapped up in a doctrine of specialists ships for different tasks – 45s just for air defence etc. We have a small navy so each ship should be properly armed.


There are issues that need to be addressed such as a point defence missile system. But as usual, whilst i’m sure the RN want it, the penny pinching politicians that have done so much damage to our armed forces don’t! Our Military are doing their with disgustingly limited funding, lets hope there’s more money to pay for add ons in the future!

Nick Bowman

I don’t think the problem is that the politicians are penny pinching as much as they have a rigid doctrine. They put domestic manufacture and the support of BAE Systems first and actual capabilities second. I wrote to one defence minister who said that there is no appetite for (read votes in) a greater focus on defence. What they really need to do is allow competitive bidding for major defence contracts. That would surely lead to the attainment of better value for money.


I suspect the self defence guns on the QE class are probably intended to defend against small inshore attack craft rather than Exocet type missiles. USS Cole type scenarios. If she sails with a Type 26 or Sea Ceptor equipped Type 23 and a Type 45 with full load out I think there will be 96 missiles available to defend against even a swarm attack of ASMs. I think she will be safe enough until the Chinese and Indians perfect and market mach 7 Brahmos anti ship technology or anti carrier ballistic missiles. Then it’s a new ball game, lasers… Read more »

Steve H

To be honest, I don’t think that there’s ever been a piece of military hardware that HASN’T been unfairly criticised, poo pooed and/or ridiculed by media hacks in the free press….. it’s just what they do. If you look at any brand new design of aircraft, naval asset, missile, armoured vehicles, personal weapon or others, they all have teething problems… it’s perfectly normal. It isn’t exclusive to the West either…. as the Media try and make it is, the Russians and the Chinese face even more problems, because its not reported on or made public due to their control over… Read more »