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Sunday, April 11, 1999 Published at 06:58 GMT 07:58 UK


HMS Invincible: Floating fortress

HMS Invincible: A tangible threat

The British aircraft carrier HMS Invincible is on its way to the Adriatic to increase Allied pressure on Slobodan Milosevic.

The vessel had been heading home from the Gulf where it had been helping to enforce the Iraqi no-fly zones.

Kosovo: Special Report
Invincible's Harriers are primarily air combat fighters but have a secondary bombing role, and will add to a British force of RAF Tornado bombers and Harrier ground attack aircraft, and the cruise missile-armed submarine HMS Splendid which is already in the Adriatic.

Facts and figures

  • HMS Invincible was built by Vickers Shipbuilders at Barrow-in-Furness, and was launched by the Queen on 3 May, 1977.

    [ image:  ]

  • Together with sister ships HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal, Invincible is the second largest vessel built for the Royal Navy since the 1950 - second only to the HMS Ocean.

  • The aircraft carrier is 208m long and has a displacement in water of 20,000 tonnes.

  • Powered by four Rolls-Royce Olympus Marine Gas Turbine engines from the same family as the Concorde engines, it has a top speed of 30 knots and cruises at 18 knots.

  • The engines drive two shafts through the largest reversing gearboxes installed in any ship in the world.

    [ image:  ]

  • Invincible is protected by the Sea Dart missile defence system, the Goalkeeper close-in weapons system - which can fire 4,500 rounds per minute - and by DLJ chaff rocket launchers designed to distract missiles.

  • The vessel can carry up to 24 aircraft. At the moment it is carrying Sea Harrier fighters and bombers. It also has Sea-King helicopters onboard - some anti-submarine, some kitted out with early warning radar-systems.

  • The ship's company of 1,200 includes 59 officers, 173 senior rates, 450 junior rates and 15 civilians; 120 are women.

  • The ship is the sixth in the Royal Navy to be called Invincible. Previous such vessels have served in St Vincent (1780), Alexandria (1882), Heligoland (1914) and Jutland (1916).

  • The line began with the capture of the 74-gun French warship L'Invincible off Finisterre in 1747.

    The Harriers

  • Invincible is carrying FA-2 and GR-7 Harriers. It has a ski-jump at the end of the flight deck which was made steeper during a refit. The ramp flings the planes into the air, allowing them to travel further and to carry more weight than they could on a conventional carrier. The planes do not require launching catapults. The system is known as a STOVL carrier - Short Take Off, Vertical Landing.

  • The FA-2 Sea Harrier is a fighter plane that carries medium-range air-to-air missiles. It can carry 30mm cannon, anti-ship missiles and bombs up to 1000lbs.

  • The GR-7 harrier is a fighter-bomber which is equipped to fight in difficult weather conditions and at night. Although Harriers have been in use for 25 years the GR-7 is a relatively new design. It can carry conventional and laser-guided bombs, armour-piercing rockets and sidewinder missiles. It also has two 25mm cannon.

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