Throughout 2020, Turkish authorities were discussing with the United Kingdom the acquisition of an aircraft carrier, either new or second-hand, according to the Middle East Eye. Interest was shown for the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier that has recently entered service within the Royal Navy or the former Invincible-class light aircraft carrier.
The Queen Elizabeth-class is the biggest warship ever built in Europe. It carries the F-35B Lightning II fighter jets. The first ship of the class, HMS Queen Elizabeth, was commissioned in December 2017 and became the flagship of the Royal Navy in January 2021.
Three ships of the Invincible-class were built in the 1980s. They employed the British Aerospace Harrier until the aircraft’s retirement in 2010. The last light aircraft carrier of the class, the HMS Illustrious, was decommissioned in 2014.
If the British government refused to sell either of those ships, it would have offered technical assistance to Turkey in order to build its own aircraft carrier, according to reports. The UK Department of International Trade could not confirm nor deny that information.
Whether or not it will receive help from the United Kingdom, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the country would commission a locally designed aircraft carrier, bringing Turkey “to the first league” in this area. It remains to be seen which aircraft the ship would carry.
Turkey is in the process of commissioning an amphibious assault ship, the TCG Anadolu, for its Navy. It was initially conceived as a light aircraft carrier for the F-35B. But in July 2019, the US authorities excluded Turkey from the F-35 program over its decision to acquire the Russian S-400 air defense system.