Aircraft Carriers by Country 2023

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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):

Country Ship Name Aircraft or Helicopter? Entered Service
United States Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) Aircraft carrier 22 July 2017
United States Nimitz (CVN-68) Aircraft carrier 3 May 1975
United States Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) Aircraft carrier 18 October 1977
United States Carl Vinson (CVN-70) Aircraft carrier 13 March 1982
United States Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) Aircraft carrier 25 October 1986
United States Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) Aircraft carrier 11 November 1989
United States George Washington (CVN-73) Aircraft carrier 4 July 1992
United States John C. Stennis (CVN-74) Aircraft carrier 9 December 1995
United States Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) Aircraft carrier 25 July 1998
United States Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) Aircraft carrier 12 July 2003
United States George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) Aircraft carrier 10 January 2009
United States America (LHA-6) Helicopter carrier 11 October 2014
United States Tripoli (LHA-7) Helicopter carrier 15 July 2020
United States Wasp (LHD-1) Helicopter carrier 29 July 1989
United States Essex (LHD-2) Helicopter carrier 17 October 1992
United States Kearsarge (LHD-3) Helicopter carrier 16 October 1993
United States Boxer (LHD-4) Helicopter carrier 11 February 1995
United States Bataan (LHD-5) Helicopter carrier 20 September 1997
United States Iwo Jima (LHD-7) Helicopter carrier 30 June 2001
United States Makin Island (LHD-8) Helicopter carrier 24 October 2009
France Charles de Gaulle (R91) Aircraft carrier 18 May 2001
France Mistral (L9013) Helicopter carrier 1 February 2006
France Tonnerre (L9014) Helicopter carrier 1 December 2006
France Dixmude (L9015) Helicopter carrier 27 December 2012
Japan Hyūga (DDH-181) Helicopter carrier 18 March 2009
Japan Ise (DDH-182) Helicopter carrier 16 March 2011
Japan Izumo (DDH-183) Helicopter carrier 25 March 2015
Japan Kaga (DDH-184) Helicopter carrier 22 March 2017
China Liaoning (16) Aircraft carrier 25 September 2012
China Shandong (17) Aircraft carrier 17 December 2019
China Hainan (31) Helicopter carrier 23 April 2021
Italy Cavour (C 550) Aircraft carrier 27 March 2008
Italy Giuseppe Garibaldi (C 551) Aircraft carrier 30 September 1985
United Kingdom Queen Elizabeth (R08) Aircraft carrier 7 December 2017
United Kingdom Prince of Wales (R09) Aircraft carrier 10 December 2019
Australia Canberra (L02) Helicopter carrier 28 November 2014
Australia Adelaide (L01) Helicopter carrier 4 December 2015
Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser (1010) Helicopter carrier 2 June 2016
Egypt Anwar El Sadat (1020) Helicopter carrier 16 September 2016
India Vikramaditya (R33) Aircraft carrier 16 November 2013
Russia Admiral Kuznetsov (063) Aircraft carrier 21 January 1991
Spain Juan Carlos I (L-61) Helicopter carrier 30 September 2010
Brazil Atlântico (A140) Helicopter carrier 29 June 2018
South Korea Dokdo (LPH-6111) Helicopter carrier 3 July 2007
South Korea Marado (LPH-6112) Helicopter carrier 28 June 2021
Thailand Chakri Naruebet (911) Helicopter carrier 10 August 1997

Aircraft Carriers by Country 2023

Aircraft Carriers by Country 2023


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Aircraft Carriers by Country 2023