Aircraft Carriers by Country 2022

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An aircraft carrier is a massive warship that functions as a mobile airstrip and warplane hangar for the military. These ships have a flight deck and enough space to carry, arm, maintain, refuel, and deploy aircraft without needing a local air base.

Aircraft carriers and their varied roles

Both variations of carrier play a vital role in modern warfare, largely due to their capacity and mobility. The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), for instance, is a United States Navy supercarrier that can carry and deploy more than 75 aircraft, delivering massive surveillance, support, and combat capability nearly anywhere in the world. Modern nuclear-powered carriers can make up to 400,000 gallons of fresh water a day and go decades without needing to refuel.

During times of peace, aircraft carriers can also serve humanitarian causes. The USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) assisted tsunami relief efforts in Southeast Asia in 2004, the USS Harry Truman (CVN 75) helped provide freshwater and supplies in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) provided food, medical supplies, hospital services, and more than 400,000 gallons of drinking water to victims of the Haitian earthquake in 2010.

Which countries in the world have aircraft carriers (and how many)?

As of 2021, there are an estimated 46 aircraft/helicopter carriers in service worldwide. The United States has 11 aircraft carriers and 9 "helo" carriers, nearly as many as all other countries combined, followed by Japan and France, each with four. Eleven other nations have at least one carrier, and several more are under construction.

  • United States - 20 (11 aircraft carriers, 9 helo carriers)
  • France - 4 (1 aircraft carrier, 3 helo carriers)
  • Japan - 4 helo carriers (two of which are being converted to light aircraft carriers)
  • China - 3 (2 aircraft carriers, 1 helo carrier)
  • Italy - 2 aircraft carriers (one specialized for submarine hunting)
  • United Kingdom - 2 aircraft carriers
  • Australia - 2 helo carriers
  • Egypt - 2 helo carriers
  • South Korea - 2 helo carriers
  • India - 1 aircraft carrier
  • Russia - 1 aircraft carrier
  • Spain - 1 aircraft carrier/helo carrier (can be either)
  • Brazil - 1 helo carriers
  • Thailand - 1 helo carrier

Aircraft carriers vs helicopter carriers

Although aircraft carriers are best known for launching fixed-wing (or variable-wing) fighter planes, the list above demonstrates that roughly half of what we call aircraft carriers today are technically helicopter carriers. Slightly smaller than "traditional" aircraft carriers (but still enormous), helo carriers are often referred to by sub-type labels such as amphibious assault ship, landing platform helicopter (LPH), landing helicopter assault (LHA), or landing helicopter dock (LHD) to differentiate them from their larger brethren.

Traditional aircraft carriers typically carry dozens of fighter jets such as the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet or the T-45 Goshawk, as well as a smattering of specialized transport, electronic warfare, or surveillance craft and a handful of helicopters. Helo carriers reverse that ratio, fielding fleets predominantly composed of helicopters—especially the many variants of the SH-60 Seahawk—complemented by "short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) or "vertical and/or short take-off and landing" (V/STOL) aircraft such as the AV-8B Harrier II or the F-35B Lightning II.

Certain smaller carriers can alternate roles depending upon their current air fleet. For instance, Spain's Juan Carlos I is a helo carrier when carrying a full fleet of 30 helicopters, but it functions as a light aircraft carrier when its fleet consists of 10-12 helicopters and 10-12 planes (Harrier IIs or Lightning IIs).

Every Aircraft Carrier and Helicopter Carrier in the World (Currently Commissioned):

Aircraft Carriers by Country 2022

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Aircraft Carriers by Country 2022

Country Number of Aircraft Carriers 2022 Population
United States20334,805,269
France465,584,518
Japan4125,584,838
Australia226,068,792
South Korea251,329,899
Italy260,262,770
United Kingdom268,497,907
Egypt2106,156,692
China21,448,471,400
Spain146,719,142
Thailand170,078,203
Russia1145,805,947
India11,406,631,776

Aircraft Carriers by Country 2022

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