The Royal Navy’s 20,710-ton Invincible-class vertical/short takeoff and landing (VSTOL) aircraft carrier Illustrious was alerted between July 1998 and March 1999 to gain an 8% increase in flight deck parking area to starboard of the ski-jump take-off ramp. This and other modifications will facilitate the operation of the new Joint Force 2000 fixed-wing aircraft complement of up to eight Royal Navy Sea Harrier FA.2 and Royal Air Force Harrier GR.7 fighter-bombers, plus four Sea King AEW.2 radar surveillance and two Sea King HAS.6 antisubmarine helicopters. Removed to accommodate the 75-foot by 59-foot deck expansion was the ship’s twin-railed launcher for Sea Dart surface-to-air missiles, whose below-decks magazine volume now is devoted to ordnance stowage for the GR.7 Harriers. The two Type 909 radar director-illuminators for the Sea Dart system have been retained to provide height-finding support for air controlling.
By A. D. Baker III