The aircraft carrier is the ultimate symbol of military strength. Enormously large and with a full fleet of combat aircrafts on its deck, they are floating airbases free to move about in the open ocean, ready to engage with enemy states. A nation equipped with an aircraft carrier has the power to project its military might beyond its shores. They are the flagship of a navy’s fleet.
Aircraft carriers are prohibitively expensive which is why very few nations have them. On last count, there was forty-two active aircraft carriers on duty, operated by only fourteen countries of the world. Nearly half of them are operated by the US Navy, of course. Japan and France have four each. Egypt, Italy, and Australia have two. The rest—Russia, the UK, Brazil, South Korea, India, China, Spain and Thailand—operate one each. Nine more carriers are currently being fitted out and two more are undergoing sea trials. Singapore is going to get one soon, and so is Turkey. Dozens more are being planned.
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Thaliand’s only aircraft carrier, HTMS Chakri Naruebet, in the South China Sea in 2001.