The UK Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious will soon begin seven weeks of sea trials following a successful 16-month refit programme.

The refit includes the Defence Information Infrastructure, installation of the Bowman communications system and Surface Ship Torpedo Defence.

The capability upgrades will provide a coherent infrastructure for information sharing across the defence sector network.

After successful completion of the sea trials, HMS Illustrious will return to the fleet by the end of July 2011.

The 686ft-long, 22,000t carrier belonging to the Invincible Class aircraft carriers will be replaced by the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The £40m refit programme was undertaken by Babcock with close partnership between UK Ministry of Defence, the ship’s staff and BAE Systems.