HMS Ark Royal (R07)
Until December 2010, 22 aircraft;
- Multi Mission - Strike, ASuW and ASW
12 x Harrier GR.7/9
10 x Sea King ASaC, and Merlin HM Mk.1 helicopters
- Multi Mission - Strike and ASuW
18 x Harrier GR.7/9
4 x Sea King ASaC, and Merlin HM Mk.1 helicopters
HMS Ark Royal is a decommissioned light aircraft carrier and former flagship of the Royal Navy. She was the third and final vessel of Invincible-class. Built by Swan Hunters on the River Tyne and launched in 1981 by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, she followed sister ships HMS Invincible and HMS Illustrious into service in 1985.
Affectionately known as The Mighty Ark, she is the fifth Royal Navy ship to have borne the name of the 1587 flagship that defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588. Originally intended to be named Indomitable to match the rest of the class, this was changed due to the public reaction to the loss of the Ark Royal name after the scrapping of the previous Ark Royal in 1980, after 30 years' service.
Slightly larger than her sister ships, and with a steeper ski-jump ramp, Ark Royal carried the STOVL (Short Take Off and Vertical Landing) Harrier Jump Jet aircraft, as well as various helicopters. With a crew complement of over 1,000 sailors and aviators, she saw active service in the 1990s Bosnian War and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.
Originally due to be retired in 2016, Ark Royal was instead decommissioned on Friday 11 March 2011, as part of the Navy restructuring portion of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review. After Ark Royal's decommissioning HMS Albion replaced her as the Royal Navy flagship.