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How Long is an Aircraft Carrier?

2 views | By Hangar.Flights Contributor | Last updated on November 21, 2022

How long is an aircraft carrier? The answer to the question depends on the carrier class, classification, and type of aircraft type. An aircraft carrier is the supreme war platform of any nation and the crown jewel of a Navy’s arsenal. You really can not comprehend the massive size of an aircraft carrier until you see one in person. Those mega-behemoths are akin to floating cities with several thousands of individuals working and living in them for several months.

Since the British launched the first aircraft carrier in 1924 (HMS Hermes), aircraft carrier length has increased exponentially over the last one hundred years. Today, ten countries operate the twenty-three longest aircraft carriers in active service, with the United States Navy operating eleven of the longest aircraft carriers worldwide.

How Long is an Aircraft Carrier?

We will reveal the length of an aircraft carrier by class, classification, and country. Our list will consist only of the longest active service aircraft carriers. This might displease some readers who feel we unjustly exclude their favorite aircraft carrier. However, we believe it is essential to keep feeding our readers the most relevant information possible, so we exclude mothballed aircraft carriers of significant length.

You need to continue reading if you are interested in knowing how long is an aircraft carrier. We have to continue reading to know long is an aircraft carrier. We have all the juicy snippets of information guaranteed to keep you engaged till the end. These include information on each aircraft carrier’s background and technical specs.

Hint: nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are among the longest aircraft carriers on this list.

How long is an aircraft carrier?

An aircraft carrier is a sea-going airbase for military aircraft operations. Thus, there is a need for enough runway space to allow airplanes to take off and land. Early aircraft carriers like the HMS Argus (172.2 m/565 ft long), the USS Langley (165.2 m/542 ft), and the Japanese carrier Hōshō (168.25 m/552 ft long) are considered diminutive by today’s aircraft carrier standards.

By the Second World War, aircraft carriers’ lengths grew to over 200 meters to accommodate more powerful fighter jets with higher landing speeds. The average overall length of a modern aircraft carrier ranges from over 200m to 300 m (656 ft – over 984 ft), with supercarriers like the USS Gerald R. Ford exceeding 330 m (1,082 ft).

What is the world’s longest aircraft carrier?

At 333 m (1,092 ft), the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) has the honor of being the longest aircraft carrier in the world. The supercarrier is the world’s most advanced aircraft carrier, and the lead ship of Ford Class aircraft carriers was designed to replace the current Nimitz carrier class. Commissioned in July 2017, the aircraft carrier has a 4.5-acre flight deck with parking space for over sixty aircraft. It has 25 decks and an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) for aircraft launches. Propulsion and electric power come from two A1B nuclear reactors, each producing 350,000 shaft horsepower (260 MW) and 125 megawatts (168,000) of electricity.

What is the world’s shortest aircraft carrier?

Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian Navy’s aircraft carrier in the anti-submarine warfare carrier (ASW) class and the second of the Italian Navy’s two operational aircraft carriers. It has an overall length of 180.2 m (591 ft) and, by default, is the world’s smallest active aircraft carrier. The Giuseppe Garibaldi is designed to operate short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft and helicopters. It is not equipped with a catapult or arresting gear for assisted aircraft take-off and landings.

How long is an aircraft carrier in each country?

Brazil

Atlântico (A140)

  • Vessel Class: Ocean
  • Length: 203.4 m (667 ft)
  • Tonnage: 21,500 t
  • Propulsion: 12-cylinder gas turbine
  • Type: Vertical Take off and Landing (VTOL)
  • Commissioned: 29th June 2018 (Brazilian Navy)

How Long is an Aircraft Carrier?

The NAM Atlântico (A140) navy vessel is a Brazillian aircraft carrier and the country’s flagship. At 203.4 m (667 ft), the Atlântico is one of the longest aircraft carriers in the world. The Ocean Class vessel was commissioned in 1998 as the HMS Ocean, a Royal Navy British warship. But it was sold to the Brazilian Navy for £80.3 million ($105.8 million) after its decommissioning from the Royal Navy in 2018.

Spain

Juan Carlos 1 (L61) 

  • Vessel Class: Juan Carlos 1
  • Length: 231 m (758 ft)
  • Tonnage: 26,000 t
  • Propulsion: Electric-Diesel
  • Type: Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL)
  • Commissioned: 30th September 2010

How Long is an Aircraft Carrier?

Designed as one of the world’s most advanced amphibious assault ship-aircraft carriers, the Juan Carlos 1 is a carrier-based aviation platform with a ski jump for STOVL aircraft landings. Currently in service with the Spanish Navy (Armada Española), the 231 m (758 ft) long Juan Carlos 1 can deploy AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft and the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II fighter jet from its 12O ski ramp. It uses a diesel-electric propulsion system consisting of 2 x General Electric 1,975 MW gas turbines delivering power to a pair of azimuthal pods.

Italy

Cavour (C 550) 

  • Vessel Class: Cavour
  • Length: 244 m (801 ft)
  • Tonnage: 30,000 t
  • Propulsion: 4 x General Electric/Avio LM2500+ gas turbine, 88,000 kW (118,000 bhp)
  • Type: Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL)
  • Commissioned: 27th March 2008

How Long is an Aircraft Carrier?

The Cavour is a light aircraft carrier measuring 244 m (801 ft), and the Italian Navy’s flagship vessel. It can deploy fixed-wing V/STOL aircraft on its 180 x 14 meters runway, including Harrier fighter jets and Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning IIs.  Additionally, the Cavour operates as a loading platform for helicopter air operations.

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Japan

Izumo (DDH-183)

  • Vessel Class: Izumo
  • Length: 248m (814 ft)
  • Tonnage: 27,000 t
  • Propulsion: 4 x GE/IHI LM2500IEC gas turbine Electric/Avio LM2500+ gas turbine, COGAG, two shafts.
  • Type: Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL)
  • Commissioned: 25th March 2015 (Izumo)
    27th March 2017 (Kaga)

How Long is an Aircraft Carrier?

Japanese aircraft carrier JS Izumo originally began life as a helicopter carrier, but in December 2018, the Japanese government began making plans to convert the ship into a light aircraft carrier. After its conversion, the Izumo became the first Japanese aircraft carrier since the end of World War II to operate fixed-wing aircraft.

Kaga (DDH-184)

JS Kaga (DDH-184) is a ship of the Izuma class currently converting into an aircraft carrier. Originally commissioned as a multi-purpose operation destroyer, the 248m (814 ft) ship is marginally longer than the World War II aircraft carrier Kaga.

France

Charles de Gaulle (R91) 

  • Vessel Class: Charles de Gaulle
  • Length: 262 m (860 ft)
  • Tonnage: 42,000 t
  • Propulsion: Nuclear
  • Type: Catapult Assisted Take-Off Barrier Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR)
  • Commissioned: 18th May 2001

How Long is an Aircraft Carrier?

The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is the largest warship commissioned in Europe since the launching of the HMS Ark Royal in 1950. It is the only European nuclear-powered surface vessel and, at 262 m (860 ft) long, one of the world’s longest aircraft carriers. The Charles de Gaulle operates an assortment of fighter jets launched from its expansive flight deck by two 75 m C13-3 steam catapults in the bow and across the front landing area.

India

INS Vikrant (2013)

  • Vessel Class: Vikrant
  • Length: 262 m (860 ft)
  • Tonnage: 45,000 t
  • Propulsion: 4 x General Electric LM2500+gas turbine, 2 x Elecon COGAG gearbox
  • Type: Short Takeoff Barrier-Arrested Recovery (STOBAR)
  • Commissioned: 2nd September 2022

How Long is an Aircraft Carrier?

At barely two months old, India’s INS Vikrant is the newest aircraft carrier on our list of the longest aircraft carriers in active service. It is 262 meters long and is the first aircraft carrier designed and built in India. INS Vikrant has a STOBAR operation with a ski jump and can deploy various aircraft, including MiG-29K fighter jets alongside Kamov Ka-31 attack helicopters and HAL Dhruv NUH utility helicopters.

INS Vikramaditya (R33)

  • Vessel Class: Vikramaditya (modified Kiev-class)
  • Length: 284 m (932 ft)
  • Tonnage: 45,400 t
  • Propulsion: 8 turbo-pressurized boilers, 4 shafts, 4 geared steam turbines, generating 180,000 horsepower (134,226 kW)
  • Type: Short Takeoff Barrier-Arrested Recovery (STOBAR)
  • Commissioned: 16th November 2013

How Long is an Aircraft Carrier?

The INS Vikramaditya is India’s longest aircraft carrier and was a modified Kiev-class carrier named Admiral Gorshkov previously in service with the Russian Navy. After its decommissioning in 1996, the Indian government expressed interest in the ship and acquired it for $2.35 billion. The INS Vikramaditya is a STOBAR-type carrier capable of operating fixed-wing and rotary aircraft.

United Kingdom

Queen Elizabeth (R08)

  • Vessel Class: Queen Elizabeth
  • Prince of Wales (R09)
  • Length: 280 m (920 ft)
  • Tonnage: 65,000 t
  • Propulsion: Integrated Electric Propulsion
  • Type: Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL)
  • Commissioned: 7th December 2017 (Queen Elizabeth)
    10th December 2019 (Prince of Wales)

How Long is an Aircraft Carrier?

Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers of the Royal Navy consist of two STOVL type ships; Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales. Both 280-meter-long aircraft carriers are among the longest currently in active service. The Queen Elizabeth-class carriers have no catapults and arrestor wires for aircraft craft and recovery. They are designed specifically to operate Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II stealth multirole fighters, attack and transport helicopters.

Russia

Admiral Kuznetsov (063)

  • Vessel Class: Kuznetsov
  • Length: 306.5 m (1,006 ft)
  • Tonnage: 58,600 t
  • Propulsion: Steam turbines, 8 turbo-pressurized boilers, 4 shafts, 200,000 hp (150 MW)
  • Type: Short Takeoff Barrier-Arrested Recovery (STOBAR)
  • Commissioned: 21st January 1991

How Long is an Aircraft Carrier?

Initially proposed as the lead ship of the Admiral Kuznetsov class of aircraft carriers, the Admiral Kuznetsov is a Soviet-era warship and is currently the flagship of the Russian Navy. It is a 1,000 feet behemoth designed to transport fixed-wing and rotary aircraft around the globe. It is currently undergoing refitting at a Murmansk dry dock.

China

Shandong (17)

  • Vessel Class: Type 002 (modified Kuznetsov class)
  • Length: 305 m (1,001 ft)
  • Tonnage: 60,000 – 70,000 t
  • Propulsion: Conventional steam turbines, 4 shafts
  • Type: Short Takeoff Barrier-Arrested Recovery (STOBAR)
  • Commissioned: 17th December 2019

How Long is an Aircraft Carrier?

Shandong (17) is a STOBAR type aircraft carrier in service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy of People’s Republic of China. At 1,001 meters long, it is one of the longest aircraft carriers in active service and the PRC’s first domestically produced aircraft carrier. The Shandong has a 12O ski jump angle compared to the 14O ski jump angle on the Liaoning (People’s Liberation Army Navy of the People’s Republic of China) and a smaller island. An enlarged hangar allows the Shandong to operate up to forty-eight aircraft, including People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force Shenyang  J-15 fighter jets and attack helicopters.

Liaoning (16)

  • Vessel Class: Type 001 (modified Kuznetsov class)
  • Length: 306.4 m (1,005 ft)
  • Tonnage: 60,900 t
  • Propulsion: Steam TV12 turbines, 8 KVG-4 boilers, 4 shafts, 200,000 hp (150 MW)
  • Type: Short Takeoff Barrier-Arrested Recovery (STOBAR)
  • Commissioned: 25th September 2012

How Long is an Aircraft Carrier?

China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning was formerly an uncompleted Soviet aircraft carrier that was abandoned after the fall of communism. The 68% complete warship was put up for sale in 1998, and the Chinese govt bought the vessel through a broker and completed its construction, commissioning the vessel into the People’s Liberation Army Navy of People’s Republic of China service in 2012. The Liaoning is 306.4 m (1,005 ft), making it the longest aircraft carrier after the Nimitz and Gerald R. Ford class of aircraft carriers.

United States

Nimitz-Class

  • Vessels: Nimitz (CVN-68), Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), Carl Vinson (CVN-70),
  • Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72),
  • George Washington (CVN-73), John C. Stennis (CVN-74), Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), Roland Regan (CVN-76), George HW Bush (CVN-77).
  • Length: 333 m (1,093 ft)
  • Tonnage: 101,600-106,000 t
  • Propulsion: Nuclear
  • Type: Catapult Assisted Take-Off Barrier Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR)

How Long is an Aircraft Carrier?

United State Navy’s Nimitz class comprises ten aircraft carriers measuring 333 m from bow to stern. The class bears the name of the lead-ship USS Nimitz, which was commissioned in 1975. All Nimitz-class ships held the record as the longest aircraft in active service until the USS Gerald R. Ford joined the fleet in 2017. All Nimitz-class ships have nuclear propulsion consisting of two A4W pressurized water reactors producing 260,000 shp (190 MW). The nuclear reactors give the ships twenty years of operating range and have a service life of more than fifty years.

Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78)

  • Vessel Class: Ford
  • Length: 337 m (1,106 ft)
  • Tonnage: 101,600 t
  • Propulsion: Nuclear
  • Type: Catapult Assisted Take-Off Barrier Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR)
  • Commissioned: 22nd July 2017

How Long is an Aircraft Carrier?

The USS Gerald R. Ford is the longest aircraft carrier in active service. It is the US Navy’s longest aircraft carrier in active service and the second longest commissioned in the United States after the USS Enterprise (CVN-65). Gerald R. Ford is the world’s largest warship in terms of displacement and the largest aircraft carrier in the world. As the lead ship of her class of nuclear-powered new-generation aircraft carriers, Gerald R. Ford replaced the decommissioned USS Enterprise (CVN-65). The nine proposed ships in the class would eventually replace the Nimitz class.

How long is an aircraft carrier’s runway?

For those wondering how long is an aircraft carrier, it is important to know its runway length because an aircraft carrier needs a runway for planes to take off and land. The average length of an aircraft carrier runway is 300 feet. However, the figure depends on the vessel type and country. Generally, aircraft carrier runways range between 570 and 853 feet.

  • American aircraft carriers like the Nimitz class have a 300 feet runway, and the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) runway is 250 feet long.
  • Italian warship Cavour (C 550) has a 590 feet runway with a 12O ski jump.
  • The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle’s runway is 670 feet long.
  • India’s indigenous warship, INS Vikrant, has a 666 feet long runway.
  • Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth class ships have a short 524 feet runway for STVOL Joint Strike fighter jets and a longer 853 feet for conventional fighters.
  • Aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov of the Russian Navy has three runways on its flight deck; two 295 feet runways and a single 590 feet runway.

Runway on an Aircraft Carrier with designation marking

How much does it cost to build an aircraft carrier?

You might be wondering about the relevance of this subsection to the topic of how long is an aircraft carrier. But it is just as important to know how much an aircraft carrier costs as its length. Besides, having an idea of how much these vessels cost will make you appreciate them more.

The average cost of an aircraft carrier is between $100 million to $6 billion, not counting the ships in the carrier battle group. Countries looking for a cheaper deal can buy a decommissioned aircraft carrier from another country. Here are the costs of the aircraft carriers on our list.

NameCost
NAM Atlântico (A140)$113.2 million 
Juan Carlos 1$600 million
Cavour $1.441 billion
JS Izumo (DDH-183)113.9 billion Yen
JS Kaga (DDH-184)115 billion Yen
Charles de Gaulle ( R91) $3.110 billion
INS Vikrant (2013)$2.9 billion 
INS Vikramaditya (R33)$2.35 billion
HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08)£3 billion 
HMS Prince of Wales (R09)£3 billion
Shandong (17)$4.5 billion
Liaoning (16)$20 million
Nimitz-Class$8.5 billion
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78)$13 billion

How tall are aircraft carriers?

Although aircraft carriers are more notable for their length than their height, they often tower over conventional battleships. At 76 m (250 ft), the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is the tallest aircraft carrier. The largest aircraft carriers can have over twenty decks, with a massive island (command center) stacked on top.

Below are some jaw-dropping figures.

NameHeight
Juan Carlos 158 m (190 ft 3 in)
JS Izumo (DDH-183)49 m (160.761 ft) 
Charles de Gaulle ( R91) 66.5 m (218 ft)
INS Vikrant (2013)60 m (197 ft)
INS Vikramaditya (R33)60 m (196 ft)
HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08)56 m (184 ft)
HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08)56 m (184 ft)

Why aren’t there more aircraft carriers in the world?

We would love to see more aircraft carriers, but the sad truth is that very few countries can afford one. The number of active aircraft carriers has declined during the past three decades as they grow older and require more costly maintenance. Several countries have retired part of their aircraft carrier fleet as a result.

Only two countries, the United States and China, are currently building new aircraft carriers, while other countries are upgrading their carrier fleet.

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Conclusion

Future aircraft carriers will get longer if the current trend is anything to go buy. Although the United States has a history of operating the longest aircraft, China may be the country to watch when it comes to building the new generation of the longest aircraft carriers in the world.