In the Royal Navy, the historic ship name Invincible was used for the seventh time in creating the Invincible class of light aircraft carriers. The three ships of the class, HMS Invincible (1980), HMS Illustrious (1981), and HMS Ark Royal (1985) were commissioned between 1980 and 1985. At the time they were conceived, the primary requirement was for anti-submarine warfare, with flagship facilities.
At first, due to budgetary sensitivity over the carrier designation, they were called "through deck cruisers". When they were certified to operate the Sea Harrier, however, it was accepted they were true carriers.
Their basic aircraft complement is two squadrons of Sea King helicopters, one for airborne early warning and anti-surface warfare, and one for anti-submarine warfare and search and rescue. In addition, they can operate Sea Harriers for close air support, reconnaissance, or air superiority.
As demonstrated in the Falklands War, they have the facilities to be a task force flagship. They can also carry a Royal Marine Commando with its vehicles, Chinook medium transport, Lynx, Sea King and Apache ground attack helicopters.
- Aircraft Carriers of the Royal Navy, HM Forces