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HMS Illustrious
Harrier's coming in to land
Royal Navy Sea King Mk 6 and 7

Carrier Air Power

Carrier Air Power is a uniquely flexible political and military tool. In any potential conflict, it offers the following benefits:

  • Stay hidden over the horizon, or be visible inshore to suit military and political objectives
  • Operate in theatre for extended periods without host nation support
  • Project power far inland

The flexibility of aircraft carrier operations has further advantages; nations often impose restrictions on the use of their airspace or airfields. Similarly bad weather or inadequate facilities sometimes restrict airfield operations. Experience has shown that the ability of a sea-based 'airfield' to move at high speed to an area where conditions are better, means an aircraft carrier is less likely to be limited in this way.

The flexibility of the United Kingdom's carrier operations is ably demonstrated by the ability to choose embarked aircraft according to the mission requirements. The Harrier GR7 is used as a Multi-role combat aircraft. Sea King or Chinook helicopters can be used for troop carrying and amphibious assaults.