Six Indian parliamentarians toured the UK’s brand new aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, on the 16th of January 2020 as part of the UK-India Chevening Parliamentarian Fellowship Programme.

Just to nip this in the bud before speculation starts, the vessel is NOT being sold to India. Last year, BAE Systems offered its Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier design to the Indian Navy. They did not offer India one of the currently in service British vessels, just the design.

The Indian Government is understood to have a requirement for a carrier in the 65,000 tonne range, similar to HMS Queen Elizabeth, to be known as the INS Vishal.

BAE Systems said:

“BAE Systems is pleased to have begun discussions with India about the potential for basing development of the second Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-2) project on the Queen Elizabeth class design. The design is adaptable to offer either ski-jump or catapult launch and can be modified to meet Indian Navy and local industry requirements.”

HMS Prince of Wales is one of two Royal Navy Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers and was commissioned on the 10th of December 2019. Its sister aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will operate in the Indian Ocean Region on her first operational deployment in 2021, say the Ministry of Defence in a news release.

The following is an excerpt from the aforementioned news release.

“The parliamentarians are in the UK for a week, focusing on five UK-India priorities: climate change, public healthcare, parliamentary democracy, finance, and defence and security. They were also hosted in the House of Lords, met the Chief Executive of University College London Hospital, and discussed cybersecurity at the University of Portsmouth.

The Chevening Parliamentarian Fellowship Programme is a week long programme in the UK which gives Indian MPs the opportunity to discuss key contemporary issues impacting the world with counterparts and other senior interlocutors in the UK. The MPs are meeting the UK’s top opinion formers and decision-makers to exchange ideas, solutions and develop future networks and contacts. The tailor-made programme focuses on leadership, international relations, social and public policy as well as issues relevant to both India and the UK such as clean energy, health, education and smart cities. The programme is hosted by London School of Economics (LSE).”

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Small point but Members of Parliament are not “officials”.

Steve Taylor

official -a person holding public office or having official duties, especially as a representative of an organization or government department.
“a union official”


Thank you for confirmation.


If India were to buy a CATOBAR version of the QEC this could feed across into a future upgrade assuming the F35b needs to be replaced before the carrier OSD.

Nigel Collins

I touched upon this in an earlier thread ChariotRider. By 2035 the carriers will be approaching their midlife refit point and Tempest should be entering service by then. Hopefully, EMALS should be working as well, so what aircraft will India have to fly from a prospective QE class carrier? Don’t forget, Sweeden will be onboard who have a great deal of experience in producing Gripen for carrier launch as do BAE Systems when they looked at developing a navalised version of Typhoon. At present, the thinking is behind a Loyal Wingman (UAV) to be launched from the carriers only which… Read more »


I think it depends on the rate at which the MOD buys the 138 F35s. The language used now tends to be along the lines of “an initial purchase of 48, with 138 to be purchased over the course of the production run”. So theoretically, we could be operating F35s for 50 years. In which case, the F35B would remain the backbone of the carrier air wing, augmented with some UAVs in the loyal wingman role. As such, I don’t think the MOD would bother converting the carriers to CATOBAR ops, or spending the extra development cash on a naval… Read more »

Nigel Collins

Unsure where it’s at currently, but clearly an area of great interest for Saab. What interests me how technologies will be shared among partner nations and what we can expect to see as the end result? Could we end up seeing two variants based around the same airframe design serving two individual countries requirements, or simply sharing the same technical advancements? As I’ve already mentioned, BAE wants to make Tempest as flexible and attractive to overseas buyers, so I guess we will have to wait until they announce the final concept phase in the next two years. On a side… Read more »


I imagine the Tempest programme will follow along the lines of Tornado and Typhoon, building on the working relationships between the British and Italian defence and aerospace industries, with the Swedes slotting in without much fuss, given the strong links between BAE Systems and Saab previously, and the amount of UK sourced avionics in the Gripen. I think Tempest will probably be a straight replacement for the Typhoon as well, although there’s still plenty of time for the whole thing to be cancelled and/or wound up into either a US led programme, just as BAe Replica fed into UK involvement… Read more »


India has been looking at the Gripen again, especially after the continuous problems and delays with the HAL Tejas program. The Naval version of the Tejas was rejected because the Indian Navy feels it is too heavy, and/or underpowered. Apparently the Mk2 Tejas, with the GE F414 will meet the requirements.


Agree. I can’t see us fitting catobar to QE.
I think the Brazilians scrapped their former French Clemenceau class carrier Sao Paulo in favour of former HMS Ocean so they won’t be customers for a naval Gripen.
Maybe the US would sell India some retired US Marine AV8Bs as F-35B comes into service.

andy reeves

the failure to design a vstol typhoon was a big mistake(nothing new there)


Actually, I wouldn’t have bothered with a V/STOL Typhoon, but I would have opted for a CATOBAR Typhoon version developed from the outset, as the French did with the Rafale, and built CATOBAR carriers in the aftermath of the Falklands. When the new carriers were ready we could’ve have kept one of the Invincibles for amphib assault instead of building Ocean, and sold the other two off.


If your a small country with the technology to make a 5th gen fighter hover why would you waste your time with catapults


Because it is inherently inefficient, more expensive and offers less performance, range and payload than a conventionally powered aircraft. Also my point is that we should have commenced construction on the carriers in the 1980s, once we had learned the lesson of the Falklands, rather than just add a AEW radar to a Sea King and a better AI set to the Sea Harriers then carry on as we were. At that time, it would have been prohibitively expensive for the UK to build a 5th generation supersonic stealth V/STOL fighter aircraft by ourselves, while also being involved in the… Read more »


CATOBAR Typhoon would of been preferred. I don’t think VSTOL was ever on the cards.
If we can get the airframe numbers up I think we have the best two aircraft out there by far with f35 and typhoon. Throw into the mix loyal wingman and we got one hell of a force. Just need to sort AAR for the carriers. Could we lease 4/6 Ospreys??? I know Airtanker prohibits this currently but we are in desperate need of carrier AAR

andy reeves

the f 35 will be an obsolete design in ten years.




I just hope we don’t do a Nott on the carrier. So easy to flog off the silver at 1/2 price, say 1.5m GBP. Please not Nott!

andy reeves

wouldn’t be the first time the silvers gone, the type 22’s were barely run in before being retired and sold

Harry Nelson

What I found strange with the B3 T22 was that they weren’t sold, given that Chile have just purchased 2 Adelaide/OHP frigates of a similar age?

Fernando Wilson L.

The Type 22.3s were specifically not offered for sale. Chile asked directly for them at least two times and they were refused. Appearantly it had something to do with the strategic SIGINT systems installed, that even after removal, left traces that were considered risky.

Paul T

Indeed – especially as they bought the ex HMS Sheffield.


‘JUst to nip this in the bud the vessel is not being sold to India,’ UKDJ.

I don’t believe that for a second. We will see, Cummings wants to get rid of these socialists ships don’t you know.


How can 65,000 tons of ship have political beliefs?
Are the planes Tories?

Joseph R

get rid of them? and.. replace them with something bigger?


Or sell to India and replace them with 2 or 3 America class with well docks and sell Albion and Bulwark to Brazil.

Your faithfully
D. Cummins

andy reeves


andy reeves

buy a second hand Nimitz and bring back’the press’ to get a crew


Andy, you might not believe it but the ‘press’ is still permited and is still legal under naval regulation. It caught me by supprise buy I came across it when I was studying naval history.
I think the reason is that the RN is by Royal Perogative whilst the Army and RAF is by Government statute.


Ron-do you mean the real press or conscription? If the former then the lads need to keep their wits about them down at the pub!


The real press, it seems that there was never a law passed by Government for the ‘impressment’ of men, so there is no Act or Law for Government to scrap. Impressment of men in time of need by the State for the Navy Royal is by Royal Perogiative, basically it means if the Queen decides she needs extra men for Her Royal Navy then well the lads down the local pub need to watch out. Its why there is no oath of alliegance in the RN or RM officers, joining the RN in itself is given allegiance to the crown… Read more »


The chairman and board have complete confidence in the manager…..

andy reeves

as if. the WHOLE M.O.D should be shut down as ‘being not fit for purpose ,’turn off the lights, lock the doors and give all those desktop admirals an archer boat, and send them to sea.


The I.N. might also do very well with an updated Audacious class design. Simple, robust, wartime proven design. Similar to the Hermes in the S. Atlantic. She wasn’t a comfy ship but one produced with hard won lessons from the war. I understand the Invincible had to have things like the paneling torn out of corridors to get at conduits and systems in the middle of the S. Atlantic. There was a reason for all the “ugly” exposed electrical and utility runs etc… In WW2 things had to fixed by the crew at sea – no other choice.



The Indians have got to be interested in the feasibility of the QE design plus arrestor wires.
Hows the former Admiral Gorshkov getting along these days?

andy reeves

who cares we might as well have heroes back.


And let’s not give our innovations away – like we often do.

andy reeves

often do? usually do more like.


Absolutely. I’m fed up with British technology, skills and jobs being gifted to competitors!
They should pay what it is worth.

andy reeves

‘where do you put your aircraft? have you got any of them erm not yet. but we will soon(not)

andy reeves

spies more like


Of course the Indians are considering buying one. Perhaps not strongly, but considering at the right price. They do have a legacy of VSTOL too so you can see why. Why does George say “to nip the story in the bud….”? No one knows what SDSR 2020 contains but we know the RN needs a lot of investment. By selling one, the MOD could easily afford 5 or 6 additional escorts, SSNs or auxiliaries. Also, the MoD wouldn’t be tied to so many F35B, so the order could be limited to 48 and then additional Typhoon/Tempest/F35A ordered. It is highly… Read more »

Nigel Collins

I think the answer to our money problems lies here.

Defence In The 2020s

“A major issue is the affordability of the equipment plan. Each year the MOD publishes its equipment and support budget for the next decade. The National Audit Office said the 2018 plan is “unaffordable,” with forecast costs exceeding budgets by £7 billion. These figures are likely to change when the 2019 plan is published.”


When you say escorts do you mean T31s? Because I don’t think selling one carrier would bring in enough of a windfall to cover the cost of 5-6 T45s, T26s, or Astutes. Besides, any money raised from the sale would go to filling the procurement black hole, and anything after that will stay with the Treasury. While it makes financial sense to delay the purchase of the F35s as the MOD has done to get a better price, it does leave the carriers vulnerable to claims they are not much use. It never looks good to have aircraft carriers without… Read more »


The facts are these as I see it. The country has just voted to start re-engaging with the wider world as an independent country. It makes sense for the 5th largest economy to have military back up to support its diplomacy and be able to defend its interests. The French have discovered 1 carrier doesn’t cut it. You need 2 for continuous operations or you soon get found out, just as Russia has with its smokey joe version of a carrier. For the same reason we keep 2 assault ships because you need two ships for continuous operation. There is… Read more »


I agree we need at least 2 carriers, but unfortunately some people in Parliament and some people on the fringes of government don’t! It’s not just the aircraft carriers, any defence procurement project that runs over budget and behind schedule can soon find itself in the crosshairs of the Treasury. I know the foreign aid budget is often brought up, but ultimately government departments have separate budgets for a reason, to cover the costs of different government priorities. And, let’s face it, if the foreign aid budget was cut to nothing, I doubt very much any of that money would… Read more »


I didn’t do the maths and calculate one QEC=x destroyers, y frigates, z subs. I just meant that an immediate windfall (say 1bn) and then more billions over 10, 20 or 50 years of lifetime costs. This budget could be redirected to bolster other areas where there are shortages. I know there are shortages everywhere but Dominic Cummings May say “I will tell Boris to approve a 0.5% uplift if you can save $5bn lifetime costs by selling QE and reducing f35b order” for instance, you get my drift. It may even be worthwhile.


By the way, i’m Being flippant. Does dom Cummings yield that kind of influence?


That is the question!


I understand what you are saying, but I would counter that we made a commitment to build two 70,000t carriers because we believed that this would meet our strategic needs into the 21st century, based on careful consideration as to what would provide the best service. We didn’t build one 70,000t carrier, or 3 30,000t carriers for a reason. 2 x 70,000t carriers were what was considered the best option. Now that we have them, I don’t think we should throw one away because of maintenance costs, which have been budgeted for. I’m not saying it’s not important to consider… Read more »


Question for the Naval Shipbuilders amongst yous-if India did go for a QE, what scenario would be most likely- a sale on the basis of’plot and plan’ with the build being in India or build in Scotland with the capability and infrastructure still freshly in place and well refined? (compare the time scale of PoW to QE and note how much quicker was the latter) Would an Indian shipyard be capable of such a build?


..sorry-was the FORMER..


I’d assume something along the lines of Type 26 and Australia. Knowledge transfer with build in India. Most of the UK yards involved in the ACA are now stuck into other things. Portsmouth shio building is gone, as is Appledore. Cammels gearing up for Type 45s, Rosyth gearing up for Type 31 and Govan started on Type 26. Not saying these yards wouldn’t appreciate the work but restarting wouldn’t be easy and more importantly India will want the work. Though I hear us Scots were promised all shipbuilding by Modi and it would be a betrayal if we didn’t get… Read more »


“..It would be a betrayal if we didn’t get the work.” Haha Robert-fear not. If the MoD promised Scotland all the work then it will happen. I mean seriously-have you ever known a politician to lie? 🙂

Levi Goldsteinberg

India have a new(ish) national defence policy called ‘Made in India’ – they won’t buy anything off the shelf anymore. All has to be done domestically and that’ll be the same for this 3rd QE-class. Best Brit shipbuilders will get out out of it are building components and systems


Certainly insist on high UK manufacturing content, not swapping items out for made in india components. Government should insist on this, they have the final say on whether the design can be sold, I doubt BAe will offer any rebate to the MoD so the best way for the UK Government, workers and us as tax payers to benefit is to maximise % of the work. It would be challenging for the UK to ship over large blocks but those where made up of smaller blocks. Certainly propulsion and other systems we should insist these are UK manufactured. Basically the… Read more »


I would not enter into a deal with the Indians to build an Indian custom version of QE either here or in India.
But I would sell them QE as is for £3b , not a penny less. Cash on the nail.
Plus offer to assist with any modifications.


That’d still be a better deal for us. We paid $3bn for a Russian junk that we’ve to burden ourselves with for next 15 years. Prince of Wales with F-35Bs will be cheaper stop-gap solution until we build our own CATOBAR carrier with Rafales.


I wouldn’t hold my breath. Indian procurement takes decades, just look at MMRCA 2.0


One of the reasons the MMRCA or Tejas took forever to produce was the ambition was outweighed by the industrial capability. By this I mean the design was significantly above the capabilities for local industry to not only create but manufacture. The design went through at least eight iterations and three different prototypes below the design was finalised. This was because the whole package was a very steep learning curve. It was the first locally produced aircraft that used digital flight controls. So not only did they have to understand how the flight control laws worked but also how to… Read more »

Geoffrey Hicking

Sometimes the longer a nation takes to develop a skill, the better they are at the end. China, Russia, Germany… all developed naval stuff quickly. Now the U-boat fleet is permanently in dock, and Russkie subs are rusting. Hopefully, the more chaotic and slow India’s technological progress, the better they will be at the end. I’m probably wrong, but I hope not.


idk if you’ve noticed, HAL also made Tejas naval version, and it did landing and take off from the aircraft carrier too. Tejas is here to stay.