Canberra’s Commander Air, Commander Paul Moggach, told IHS Jane’s that the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) commissioned first-of-class landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra in Sydney on 28 November.
Thus, the sealift capability of the RAN has been dramatically increased. Based on the design of the Spanish Navy’s aircraft carrier Juan Carlos, the Canberra can embark, transport, and deploy more than 1,000 troops and their equipment from alongside or by helicopter and landing craft.
Canberra will be joined in 2016 by sister ship HMAS Adelaide (LHD 01). The hulls of both ships were constructed by Navantia at its Ferrol facility in northwest Spain and subsequently transported by heavy-lift ship to BAE Systems in Melbourne for addition of the superstructure, fitting out, and systems integration.
Design changes for the RAN included upgrades to air conditioning, Australian explosives standards in the magazines, enhanced firefighting and medical facilities, and four Typhoon remote-controlled 25 mm weapons systems at each corner of the hull for close-in defence. The Australian-developed Nulka hovering anti-missile decoy will be fitted at a later date.
The flight deck is configured for simultaneous operation of four medium-sized helicopters, such as the NHIndustries NH90 (MRH90 in Australian service) or the Sikorsky S70A-9 Black Hawk, or four Boeing CH-47D/F Chinooks. Up to eight medium helicopters can be accommodated in the hangar, and up to 18 can be carried if the light vehicle deck is also utilised.
The four Navantia-built LCM-1E watercraft carried by each LHD can transport a maximum load of 54 tonnes via the ship’s well deck.
The ultimate goal of these efforts – an Amphibious Ready Group: a battalion-based combat team with enablers that will involve about 2,000 troops and require both LHDs to transport – is scheduled to be operational by 2017.
Initial operational capability (IOC) for Canberra is expected to be reached in 2016, enabling the ship to participate in that year’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.
Earlier this year Prime Minister Tony Abbott ordered an assessment of the benefits of the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and modifying the LHDs to operate them. Unfortunately, the general reaction from senior defence sources of the Royal Australian Navy has been that additional capability would not be justified by the time, cost, and risk involved.
As it is known from open sources, the fourth American warship named for the United States of America – USS America (LHA-6) can fulfill battle missions when configured with 20 F-35B strike fighters. USS America has been modified to make her better able to withstand the great amounts of heat generated by the F-35B’s engine exhaust when taking off or landing vertically. Intercostal structural members will be added underneath flight deck landing spots seven and nine to more closely perform timed cyclic flight operations without overstressing it. Other changes may involve re-adjusting some ship antennas to allow for a clear flight path.
From this, we can conclude that it is not so easy to accommodate aircraft carriers like Australian HMAS Canberra (LHD 02) or Japan Izumo (DDH-183) for using with new multirole fighter F-35B Lightning II.
Length Overall 230.8 m
Length Waterline 207.2 m
Beam 32 m
Design Draft 7.18 m
Full Load Displacement 27,831 t
Crew and Embarked Forced Accommodation 1,403
Propulsion 2 x Siemens 11,000 kW PODs
Bowthruster 2 x 1,500 kW Brunvoll/Siemens motors
Stabilisers 2 x Fincantieri
Generators 1 x 22,000 kW GE LM2500 Gas Turbine and 2 x 7,680 kW Diesel
Integrated Platform Management System Navantia – Sistemas
Fresh Water 6 x Reverse Osmosis Plants (each 25 t/day)
Sewage 2 x Treatment Plants
Maximum Speed 20+ kts
Economic Speed 15 kts
Maximum Range 9,250 nm
Endurance 45+ days
Flight Deck 4,750 m²
Dock (including ramp) 1,165 m²
Heavy Cargo Garage 1,410 m²
Light Cargo Garage 1,880 m²
Hangar 990 m²
Garages, Hangar and Well Dock 1,350 lane metre (2.9 m wide)
General Store Rooms 1,079 m²
Future Growth Margin 672 t