Spain Builds STOVL Carriers: Australia and Turkey Buy In


2015-02-15 The main mission profile of the Juan Carlos I class LHD is power projection to any theater of operation.

As an amphibious assault ship, it can transport a battalion-sized unit of 1,000 troops along with 150 vehicles, including battle tanks, for a marine landing.

Even more significantly, the Juan Carlos I class LHD can carry STOVL aircraft as well.

The ship has already replaced Spain’s aircraft carrier the Principe de Asturias. In Spanish, the LHD ship is referred to by the abbreviation BPE, standing for Buque de Proyeccion Estrategica or Strategic Power Projection Ship, more accurately reflecting its purpose.

The ship has been exported to Australia and forms the basis for the new Canberra class of amphibious ships as well as a version built for Turkey.

With regard to Australia, the website Naval-Technology noted in an article published on 2/9/15:

The second group of four landing helicopter dock landing crafts (LHD landing crafts) for the Royal Australian Navy arrived in Sydney 5 February.

The landing crafts departed from Navantia Bay of Cádiz on 27 December 2014, and arrived to the HMAS Waterhen base, where they will be commissioned to the Defence Materiel Organization (DMO).

Navantia delivered the first four units in May 2014. These landing crafts and the last four units, to be delivered in mid-2015, will operate with the ALHD ‘Canberra’ and the ALHD ‘Adelaide’.

Overall length of the ship is 23.30m, while the flotation length is 21.27m. The width is 6.40m and the depth of the vessel is 2.80m.

Meanwhile, the ship also features two 809kW diesel engines, and two waterjet propellers, which allows it to travel at a speed of more than 20 knots. It can also carry a full load 190 miles.

According to an article by Micha’el Tanchum published on 2/14/14 about the Turkish variant:

In late December 2013, Turkey took a major step in altering the naval balance in the eastern Mediterranean by contracting the construction of a multi-purpose amphibious assault ship that can function as an aircraft carrier, potentially providing Turkey an unprecedented measure of sea control in the region…..

In March 2012, then-commander of the Turkish navy Admiral Murat Bilgel outlined Turkey’s strategic objective “to operate not only in the littorals but also on the high seas,” with “high seas” referring to the eastern Mediterranean.

Bilgel identified the Turkish navy’s intermediate goals for the coming decade as “enhancing sea denial, forward presence, and limited power projection capacity.”

Turkey’s new Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) will cost between one half to one billion dollars and will provide Ankara with its desired forward presence in the eastern Mediterranean….

The new Turkish LHD, to be built by the Turkish shipyard SEDEF and Spanish shipbuilder Navantia, will be a variant of Navantia’s Juan Carlos I class L-61 ship used by the Spanish Navy.

After Spain, Turkey will be only the second country to possess a Juan Carlos I class vessel.

The Australian navy’s two Navantia-built ships, the HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide, once commissioned, will constitute the Australian fleet’s largest vessels.

Similarly, Anakara’s new LHD will dwarf the Turkish fleet’s largest ships.

While ships in Turkish Navy’s Gabya class have a 4,100 ton displacement, Turkey’s new Juan Carlos I class LHD will have a displacement of 27,079 tons.

Recently, the Spanish Ministry of Defense released a video showing the ship at sea.

Credit: Spanish Ministry of Defense


The ship currently carries Harriers but could carry F-35Bs as well.

And both Australia and Turkey are thinking along these lines.

With regard to Turkey, the website Navy Recognition published this article on January 4, 2015:

Turkish-German media Deutsch Tuerkische Zeitung is reporting that during the last meeting of the Turkish National Security Council (in presence of the Turkish President) the decision was made to built the future LHD (Turkish designation: LPD Project) as an aircraft carrier capable to deploy the F-35B, the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the Lockheed Martin built Joint Strike Fighter.

The vessel should be delivered to the Turkish Navy by 2019.

Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) announced in December 2013 that it selected Sedef shipyard as winner of its LPD tender and that final contract negotiations with this shipyard could begin.

Sedef shipyard in Turkey offers a design based on Juan Carlos LHD under the collaboration with Spain’s Navantia.