Juan Carlos I is one of Spain’s most powerful warships, with a length of 231 m and a displacement of 27,000 tons.
Juan Carlos I is not a pure aircraft carrier, she has the same features and roles as the American Wasp-class amphibious ship but has a ski-jump ramp to supports fighters.
Juan Carlos I has never participated in combat, only participating in a number of exercises conducted by NATO.
The aircraft carrier is considered a symbol of a nation’s naval power. In this area, the United States is at the forefront with 11 super-powered nuclear carriers in the payroll. Followed by Russia and China with ships using conventional engines. In addition, there are some countries that also own carriers, although they are not really prominent and are rarely used in military campaigns.
Heavy load, modern equipment, with ability to travel far away for a long time, that’s what can be said about Juan Carlos I – one of the world’s best multi-purpose amphibious assault ship-aircraft carrier.
Juan Carlos I played an important role in the Spanish army, not only as a strategic amphibious ship but also as a light carrier. Basically, Juan Carlos I has a similar role to the American Wasp-class amphibious vessel, but has been added with a ski-jump for the fighter. Her strength is AV-8 Harrier II fighters, along with the ability to operate CH-47 Chinook and V-22 Osprey hybrid helicopters.
Construction of the ship started in May 2005 simultaneously at the Navantia Shipyards in Ferrol, Galicia. The ship was built with state-of-the-art technology and modular systems. Sea trials commenced in 2009 and the ship was finally delivered to the Spanish Navy on September 30th 2010.
This warship is named in honor of Juan Carlos I, the former king of Spain. Since 2013 it replaced in service the Spanish Principe de Asturias light aircraft carrier. It was a cost cutting measure, due to Spain’s budget problems, as these warships are rather different. Australia built two ships of the same design, locally known as Canberra class.
Designed as an aircraft carrier, the vessel’s displacement for air operations is 26,000t, and has a flight deck of 202 metres, with a ski-jump ramp. The ship’s flight deck has eight landing spots for Harrier, F-35 Lightning II or medium-sized helicopters, four spots for heavy helicopters of the CH-47 Chinook or V-22 Osprey size. The hangar can accommodate 12 aircraft. The ship has two elevators, with a capacity to carry bigger aircraft in the future.
Juan Carlos can carry up to 30 aircraft, when used in the aircraft carrier mode. The ship provides accommodation for 900 marines and can carry up to 46 Leopard 2 or similar main battle tanks. The Juan Carlos can carry four mechanized landing craft or one hovercraft in the stern dock. Vessel can also play an important role in disaster relief operations.
Powering this Landing Helicopter Dock is a combined diesel-eLectric and gas turbine propulsion system. The electric engines are powered by one gas turbine and two diesel generators. The electric propulsion system helps the ship reduce fuel consumption, gas emissions and noise and vibrations. It helps lower maintenance costs; reduction of necessary space and high manoeuvrability. With such an engine system, the ship has a range of 9,000 nautical miles at 15 knots.
Not merely a transport ship, Juan Carlos ship is equipped with a single vertical launch system for ESSM or RAM missiles. Other weapons include four 20 mm Oerlikon Close-In Weapon Systems, 2 Basic point defense missile system (BPDMS). In addition, the ship is also equipped with 4 12.7mm machine guns for close-range targets.
The vessel has satellite, data and voice communication systems in place. The crew and the defence staff on board will be able to receive commands and communication from data links. Information can be received and sent through sensors and equipment. The combat system has capabilities to share data with the combat systems of other units by integrating the information.
Australia was Spain’s first export customer, Australia received two ships, HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Canberra, which were designated as Canberra-class. Australian Canberra class ships have the same dimensions, as the Spanish Juan Carlos I, but different internal layout and island superstructure.
Even though both the Spanish Juan Carlos I and Australian Canberra class ships are multi-functional, the Juan Carlos I has stronger air wing and the Canberra class ships have stronger amphibious assault capability.
A derivative of Juan Carlos ship is Turkey’s TCG Anadolu. Navantia will provide design, technology transfer, equipment and technical assistance to Sedef Shipyard of Turkey for the design and development of TCG Anadolu.
The Turkish ship will be greatly modified from the design of the Juan Carlos vessel to match its navy. The Turkish Landing Helicopter Dock program was estimated to cost $1 billion. It will be optimized for F-35 fighters, expected to be purchased from the United States. The plan is like that, but tensions between the two nations on the issue of S-400 air defense systems will probably cause Turkey to recalculate its plans.
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