12 Countries Have Aircraft Carriers But Only One Has A $13.3 Billion Warship

In this article, we discuss the 12 countries that have the most aircraft carriers, including the only naval power that has a $13.3 billion warship. You can skip our detailed analysis on key trends and players in the naval industry and head over directly to our article titled: 5 Countries Have Aircraft Carriers But Only One Has A $13.3 Billion Warship.

Aircraft carriers are critical naval assets that allow planes to land and take off from in the sea. Their history dates back to 1910 when a US pilot named Eugene Ely flew a plane from the deck of an American cruiser in Virginia, and then later in 1911 famously made a landing on the Pennsylvania battleship in San Francisco Bay. Over the decade that followed, several naval powers experimented to develop their aircraft carriers for use during conflicts.

The most notable among these include the HMS Argus which was developed by the British Navy during World War I; and the USS Langley – the first aircraft carrier to join the fleet of the US Navy in 1922. However, it was not until the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that truly marked the entrance of aircraft carriers in military conflicts. Since then, even today, they are the most potent platforms for naval warfare.

Manufacturers, over the years, have ensured that aircraft carriers evolve with time. Today, these are larger in size and come equipped with armored and angled flight decks, landing signal systems, steam-powered catapults, and latest electromagnetic and gear technology to address challenges faced by older carriers from heavy weights and high landing speeds of aircrafts. There are also various variants of these aircraft carriers now, such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, helicopter carriers, amphibious assault ships, and multipurpose carriers.

Disputes and conflicts in different parts of the world have propelled navies to procure aircraft carriers. As a result, the global aircraft carrier industry is forecasted to grow at 2% between 2023 and 2028, with the Asia-Pacific region likely to be the fastest growing region during this period when it comes to procurement of these giant war machines.

In the United States, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. (NYSE:HII) is leading the industry with its expertise in designing and building nuclear-powered carriers for the US Navy, including the much-famed next-generation aircraft carrier class Gerald R. Ford that would enable the American Navy to meet naval operational needs of the 21st century. The American Navy does not only procure these ships from Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. (NYSE:HII), but also receives service facilities from the company during the life of the aircraft carrier. In 2022, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. (NYSE:HII) generated $10.67 billion in revenues.

2023 has again been a great year for the company, which is reflected in its financial performances in the third quarter of the year. Below is an excerpt from Thomas E. Stiehle, Executive VP and CEO, in Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. (NYSE:HII) Q3 2023 Earnings Call:

“Our third quarter revenues of $2.8 billion increased approximately 7.2% compared to the same period last year, and represents a record third quarter result for HII. This increased revenue was largely attributable to growth at Mission Technologies and Ingalls shipbuilding. Operating income of $172 million increased by $41 million or 31% from the third quarter of 2022, and operating margin of 6.1% compared to operating margin of 5% in the same period last year.”

Another key contributor to the US Navy’s strength is General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE:GD), which has been designing ships for the US Navy since 1960. In April this year, the company won a seven-year contract worth $847 million for repair, maintenance, and modernization of the aircraft carriers operated by the US. General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE:GD) is also currently constructing an ESB 8 expeditionary sea ship and two John Lewis class fleet oilers for the American Navy.

Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT), which is known for its expertise in aerospace, has also played an active part in enhancing the US military’s naval strength by taking part in sea-based tests of aircraft carriers.

Gerald R. Ford Aircraft Carrier Program

Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carriers are nuclear-powered carriers being developed by Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. (NYSE:HII), for the US Navy to replace the Nimitz class aircraft carrier design. The Ford class would be an improved version of the Nimitz, and would include features that would allow the carriers to have more aircraft deployments, higher electrical power for ship systems, fewer sailors, and reduce 50-year operating and support costs for each ship by an estimated $4 billion. The American Navy has plans to have at least four Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carriers – CVN-78, CVN-79, CVN-80, and CVN-81.

The CVN-78 carrier was procured in 2008. The overall procurement cost for this warship was estimated to be $13.3 billion then. It was commissioned in 2017 and became operational in December 2021. Between October and November of 2022, the CVN-78 was deployed for its first operational stress test in the Atlantic waters, during which it completed more than 1,250 aircraft flights.

The CVN-79 was procured in 2013 for an estimated $12.7 billion dollars and is currently being built with improved processes. By its next maintenance period, it will be capable of deploying Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT)’s F-35C fighter jets. It is scheduled to be delivered to the US Navy in July 2025. The CVN-80 and CVN-81 are likely to join the naval fleet in 2028 and 2032 respectively.

12 Countries Have Aircraft Carriers But Only One Has A $13.3 Billion Warship

12 Countries Have Aircraft Carriers But Only One Has A $13.3 Billion Warship


Since only one country has a $13.3 billion warship, it is ranked first in our rankings. For the rest, we have listed countries that have aircraft carriers in ascending order of the number of carriers they possess. Navies that have more carriers rank higher. In the case where countries had the same number of aircraft carriers, we used tonnage to rank one over the other. Data has been sourced from our recent article, 12 Countries With Most Aircraft Carriers.

Let’s look into the 12 countries that have aircraft carriers including only one that has a $13.3 billion warship.

Top 12 Countries That Have Aircraft Carriers But Only One Has A $13.3 Billion Warship:

12. Thailand

Aircraft Carriers: 1

Thailand’s HTMS Chakri Naruebet is not just the country’s but also Southeast Asia’s only aircraft carrier. It is the smallest carrier in the world, with a displacement of 11,486 tons. It was commissioned in the Thai Navy in 1997 and also includes accommodation facilities for the royal family of Thailand.

11. Brazil

Aircraft Carriers: 1

Initially constructed as HMS Ocean by the United Kingdom, the aircraft carrier was renamed Atlantico by Brazil after it was acquired from the Royal Navy in 2018. Atlantico is now South America’s only aircraft carrier and has a tonnage of 21,500. The Brazilian navy plans on using the ship to operate drones.

10. Spain

Aircraft Carriers: 1

Spain’s Juan Carlos I is a multipurpose vessel that can be used both as an amphibious assault ship and a light aircraft carrier. It has a displacement of 26,000 tonnes and a range of 9,000 nautical miles. Juan Carlos I is equipped with facilities required to launch the Spanish military’s Harrier fighter jets.

9. Turkey

Aircraft Carriers: 1

TCG Anadolu is Turkey’s only aircraft carrier and is equipped with aviation facilities that allow the Turkish military to use the ship to launch and land aircrafts on. Ankara is planning to equip the carrier with Bayraktar TB3 after Turkey’s talks with the US for Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT)’s F-35 jets broke down due to the Turkish government acquiring air defense missiles from Russia. The TCG Anadolu has a displacement of 27,000 tons.

8. France

Aircraft Carriers: 1

France’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, FS Charles de Gaulle, is one of the most potent carriers in the world due to the deployment of a fine mix of aircrafts such as Rafale fighters, E-2 Hawkeye aircrafts, and military helicopters. 

FS Charles de Gaulle has a tonnage of 45,000. France plans on replacing it with Porte-Avions Nouvelle Génération at some point in the 2030s. The new carrier is likely to have a displacement of 75,000 tons.

7. Russia

Aircraft Carriers: 1

Russia also has only one aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, which was commissioned way back in 1991. The ship travels at a speed of 29 knots, has a range of 8,500 nautical miles, and tonnage of 58,000. The old carrier has suffered multiple breakdowns in the sea in recent years, and is currently undergoing maintenance and upgrade. According to Russian media group TASS, Admiral Kuznetsov is likely to re-enter naval service by the end of 2024.

6. Italy

Aircraft Carriers: 2

Italy is one of the few countries to have more than one aircraft carrier – the Giuseppe Garibaldi and Cavour. The former is now old and set to be replaced by Trieste. It was commissioned in 1985 and has taken part in several NATO operations in Libya and Afghanistan. Cavour, on the other hand, is equipped with modern aviation facilities, and is the only Italian carrier to launch and recover F-35 fighter jets.

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Disclosure: None. 12 Countries Have Aircraft Carriers But Only One Has A $13.3 Billion Warship is originally published on Insider Monkey.

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