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Aircraft Carriers by Country 2024

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. Most aircraft carriers specialize in either planes or helicopters, though a few carriers can serve in either capacity.

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.

Total Carriers
Aircraft Carriers
Helicopter Carriers
United States20119
United Kingdom220
South Korea202

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):

CountryShip NameAircraft or Helicopter?Entered Service
United StatesNimitz (CVN-68)Aircraft carrier3 May 1975
United StatesDwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69)Aircraft carrier18 October 1977
United StatesCarl Vinson (CVN-70)Aircraft carrier13 March 1982
United StatesTheodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)Aircraft carrier25 October 1986
United StatesWasp (LHD-1)Helicopter carrier29 July 1989
United StatesAbraham Lincoln (CVN-72)Aircraft carrier11 November 1989
United StatesGeorge Washington (CVN-73)Aircraft carrier4 July 1992
United StatesEssex (LHD-2)Helicopter carrier17 October 1992
United StatesKearsarge (LHD-3)Helicopter carrier16 October 1993
United StatesBoxer (LHD-4)Helicopter carrier11 February 1995
United StatesJohn C. Stennis (CVN-74)Aircraft carrier9 December 1995
United StatesBataan (LHD-5)Helicopter carrier20 September 1997
United StatesHarry S. Truman (CVN-75)Aircraft carrier25 July 1998
United StatesIwo Jima (LHD-7)Helicopter carrier30 June 2001
United StatesRonald Reagan (CVN-76)Aircraft carrier12 July 2003
United StatesGeorge H.W. Bush (CVN-77)Aircraft carrier10 January 2009
United StatesMakin Island (LHD-8)Helicopter carrier24 October 2009
United StatesAmerica (LHA-6)Helicopter carrier11 October 2014
United StatesGerald R. Ford (CVN-78)Aircraft carrier22 July 2017
United StatesTripoli (LHA-7)Helicopter carrier15 July 2020
ChinaLiaoning (16)Aircraft carrier25 September 2012
ChinaShandong (17)Aircraft carrier17 December 2019
ChinaHainan (31)Helicopter carrier23 April 2021
ChinaGuanxi (32)Helicopter carrier26 December 2021
ChinaAnhui (33)Helicopter carrier01 October 2022
FranceCharles de Gaulle (R91)Aircraft carrier18 May 2001
FranceMistral (L9013)Helicopter carrier1 February 2006
FranceTonnerre (L9014)Helicopter carrier1 December 2006
FranceDixmude (L9015)Helicopter carrier27 December 2012
JapanHyūga (DDH-181)Helicopter carrier18 March 2009
JapanIse (DDH-182)Helicopter carrier16 March 2011
JapanIzumo (DDH-183)Helicopter carrier25 March 2015
JapanKaga (DDH-184)Helicopter carrier22 March 2017
AustraliaCanberra (L02)Helicopter carrier28 November 2014
AustraliaAdelaide (L01)Helicopter carrier4 December 2015
EgyptGamal Abdel Nasser (1010)Helicopter carrier2 June 2016
EgyptAnwar El Sadat (1020)Helicopter carrier16 September 2016
IndiaVikramaditya (R33)Aircraft carrier16 November 2013
IndiaVikrant (R11)Aircraft carrier02 September 2022
ItalyCavour (C 550)Aircraft carrier27 March 2008
ItalyGiuseppe Garibaldi (C 551)Aircraft carrier30 September 1985
South KoreaDokdo (LPH-6111)Helicopter carrier3 July 2007
South KoreaMarado (LPH-6112)Helicopter carrier28 June 2021
United KingdomQueen Elizabeth (R08)Aircraft carrier7 December 2017
United KingdomPrince of Wales (R09)Aircraft carrier10 December 2019
BrazilAtlântico (A140)Helicopter carrier29 June 2018
RussiaAdmiral Kuznetsov (063)Aircraft carrier21 January 1991
SpainJuan Carlos I (L-61)Helicopter carrier30 September 2010
ThailandChakri Naruebet (911)Helicopter carrier10 August 1997
TurkeyAnadolu (L-400)Helicopter carrier10 April 2023

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Total Carriers
Aircraft Carriers
Helicopter Carriers
United States20119
United Kingdom220
South Korea202

Which country has most aircraft carriers?

The United States is the country with the most aircraft carriers, with 11 traditional aircraft carriers.

How many aircraft carriers does China have?

China has a total of 2 aircraft carriers, although it does also have 3 helicopter carrier as well.

Which countries have a nuclear powered aircraft carrier?

The only two countries in the world that have nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are the United States and France.

How many aircraft carriers does NATO have?

NATO, which is an acronym for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has a total of 16 aircraft carriers.

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