The Invincible class was designed in 1966. Initially, the ships were designed as a helicopter cruiser
Entering service in the 1980s, the Royal Navy’s Invincible-class aircraft carriers served diligently until 2014. The Invincible class was designed in 1966. Initially, the ships were designed as a helicopter cruiser, but later, due to the complex requirements of the world situation, the Royal Navy had to redesign, turning Invincible into an aircraft carrier class.
The vessels were built as aviation-capable anti-submarine warfare platforms to counter the Cold War North Atlantic Soviet submarine threat, and initially embarked Sea Harrier aircraft and Sea King HAS.1 anti-submarine helicopters.
When completed, the Invincible had a displacement of about 22,000 tons, a length of 209 m, a beam of 36 m, and a draft of 8 m. The Propulsion system was a Combined gas and gas configuration consisting of four Rolls-Royce Olympus TM3B gas turbines and eight Paxman Valenta diesel generators, with a combined output of 100,000 hp. The ship’s maximum speed was 28 knots, the range was 7,000 nautical miles.
During building both the Invincible and the Illustious were fitted with 7° ski-jump ramps, while the Ark Royal has a 15° ramp. In February 1982 it was announced that the Invincible was to be sold to Australia as a helicopter carrier to replace HMAS Melbourne, leaving only two carriers in British service. However, the deal was cancelled after the Falklands campaign, as it was realised by the government that three carriers ought to be available to ensure two in service at any one time.
The standard air arm constituted eight Sea Harrier VTOL aircraft and nine Sea King naval helicopters. This total was later increased for improved operational capability. The helicopters were equipped for Anti-Submarine Warfare or Anti-Ship role depending on mission need.
The Invincible class carriers were eventually decommissioned due to their age and replaced by the new, much larger and much more capable Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.