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New carrier to be modified for amphibious operations

One of two new aircraft carriers for Britain's Royal Navy will be modified to carry helicopters for amphibious operations.

By Richard Tomkins
One of Britain's two new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers under construction. Photo courtesy Aircraft Carrier Alliance
One of Britain's two new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers under construction. Photo courtesy Aircraft Carrier Alliance

PORTSMOUTH, England, March 16 (UPI) -- One of Britain's new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers is to be modified to operate as an amphibious fighting platform for the Royal Marines.

The two carriers are being built by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a consortium of British companies. The first is set for commissioning in 2017.

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"The SDSR [Strategic Defense and Security Review] is committed to maintaining amphibious capability," defense procurement minister Philip Dunne said recently in Parliament. "We will be making modifications to one of the two Queen Elizabeth carriers to ensure that that persists for the life of that platform."

Dunne's revelation was made in an answer to a question from an MP and followed a government announcement that the Royal Navy's helicopter carrier, HMS Ocean, was being scrapped.

HMS Ocean provides aerial support for the Royal Marines.

The modified QEC aircraft carriers, which will operate as part of a Royal Navy Maritime Task Group, will be able to deploy as many as 40 helicopters to support the marines on operations. Among the helicopters will be Apache attack helicopters, Merlins, Chinooks and Wildcats.

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