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The backbone of the Royal Australian Navy is the Australia class aircraft carriers. These aircraft carriers are based on the French Clemenceau class aircraft carriers, but are altered significantly to fit Australian requirements. The carriers have served for approximately 30 years, and replacement in fifteen years is anticipated.

HistoryEdit

Increasing unreliability, and unavailability of parts for HMAS Melbourne led the RAN to initiate plans for a replacement as early as 1970. In 1972, having determined that no British or American design would fit the RAN's requirements, and that it would be uneconomcial to design a carrier inside Australia, the RAN chose the French Clemenceau class, modified for Australian requirements and systems. The most significant modifications were to the aviation fuel system (to allow for segregation of fuels which was considered necessary for operating turbine and piston powered aircraft). The carrier was started in 1980, and construction proceeded quickly for completion in 1986. The HMAS Melbourne was retired in 1982, and Fleet Air Arm personnel trained on the French aircraft carrier Foch, and in the United States for several months.

The A-4G Skyhawks operated on the Melbourne were to be re-roled as interim attack aircraft. A new attack aircraft was being considered, with the options Vought A-7E Corsair II, and the Dassault Super Etendard. The Government Aircraft Factory made a third proposal, a thorough modernisation of the A-4G Skyhawk (together with US-surplus A-4Fs). The French believed that the RAN had promised to purchase the Super Etendard, however the RAN felt it could purchase whatever it felt necessary. This led to the first controversy associated with the carriers when the French Government and Dassault sued the Australian Government for breach of contract after the RAN chose the GAF A-4AU Aussie Skyhawk. The Australian Government won the case and the Skyhawk went ahead with the aircraft entering service in 1984. The second ship, HMAS Vengeance, entered service in 1981.

The new Skyhawks have little in common with the A-4G Skyhawks of the HMAS Melbourne. The upgrade included zero-timing the airframe, fitting of a non-afterburning F404 turbofan (the latter made by CAC, the makers of the afterburning F404 used on the RAAF's Hornets), a new navigation system, a glass cockpit, and the APG-67 radar. The Skyhawks have the ability to use AIM-9L/M Sidewinders, Maverick and Pengiun anti-surface missiles, and Sparrow and Derby air to air missiles.

The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation modified the RAN's S-2 Trackers to turboprop power, and later to incorporate modern avionics and weapons.

The ships have been fired on once, in 1991 an Iraqi Silkworm was fired at HMAS Australia, but was (ironically) shot down by HMAS Sydney.

Australia has stated that it will follow the French example, and replace its ships with two CATOBAR aircraft carriers based on the British CVF design. They have already been named HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Sydney.

AircraftEdit

1979-1984Edit

  • 16 Douglas A-4G Skyhawk
  • 6 Grumman S-2G Tracker
  • 4 Westland Sea King Mk. 50
  • 2 Westland Wessex HAS31B

1984-1986Edit

  • 16 GAF/Douglas A-4AU Skyhawk
  • 6 Grumman S-2G Tracker
  • 4 Westland Sea King Mk. 50
  • 2 Westland Wessex HAS31B

1986-1989Edit

  • 16 GAF/Douglas A-4AU Skyhawk
  • 8 CAC/Grumman AS-2T Turbo Tracker
  • 4 CAC/Grumman E-1T Turbo Tracer
  • 2 CAC/Grumman C-1T Turbo Trader
  • 4 CAC/Grumman KC-1T Turbo Trader
  • 4 Westland Sea King Mk. 50
  • 2 Westland Wessex HAS31B

1989-2002Edit

  • 16 GAF/Douglas A-4AU Skyhawk
  • 8 CAC/Grumman S-2T Turbo Tracker
  • 4 CAC/Grumman E-1T Turbo Tracer
  • 2 CAC/Grumman C-1T Turbo Trader
  • 4 CAC/Grumman KC-1T Turbo Trader
  • 6 S-70B-2 Seahawk

Present Air GroupEdit

  • 16 GAF/Douglas A-4AU Skyhawk
  • 8 CAC/Grumman AS-2T Turbo Tracker
  • 4 CAC/Grumman E-1T Turbo Tracer
  • 2 CAC/Grumman C-1T Turbo Trader
  • 4 CAC/Grumman KC-1T Turbo Trader
  • 6 S-70B-2 Seahawk

ShipsEdit

  • HMAS Australia (R22) - Commissioned: 1979
  • HMAS Vengeance (R23) - Commissioned: 1981


SpecificationsEdit

Displacement
  • 22,000 tons (standard)
  • 32,780 tons (loaded)
Length 265 m (869 ft)
Machinery
  • 6 x Indret boilers
  • 4 x steam turbines
  • 126,000 shp
Speed 32 knots (59 km/h)
Armament 4 Phalanx 20mm CIWS
Aviation facilities
  • Angled flight deck
  • Two steam catapults
  • Four-wire arrested landing system
  • Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System
Aircraft
  • Up to 40 (more detail in main text)
  • 16 GAF/Douglas A-4AU Skyhawk
  • 8 CAC/Grumman AS-2T Turbo Tracker
  • 4 CAC/Grumman E-1T Turbo Tracer
  • 2 CAC/Grumman C-1T Turbo Trader
  • 4 CAC/Grumman KC-1T Turbo Trader
  • 6 S-70B-2 Seahawk

ProfileEdit

http://i277.photobucket.com/albums/kk56/Sheriff__001/AUCVClemenceau1-1.jpg
HMAS Australia with current aircraft
http://i277.photobucket.com/albums/kk56/Sheriff__001/AUSCVClemenceau_1986.png
HMAS Australia with older aircraft

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