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MrHMSH
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Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Sun Feb 19, 2017 10:29 pm

My 1st foray into the military/space area of A.net, so forgive me if this has been discussed before.

The British govt initially went with the STOVL configuration for the carriers, making them specifically for the F-35B, but then changed their minds to CATOBAR and the F-35C, before doing another U-turn after costs spiralled (for a change).

But in light of the F-35's problems, would it have offered better capability and/or more cost effectiveness if they were made into CATOBAR carriers and gone with the F-35C or another competing aircraft (Super Hornet? Rafale? Navalised Typhoon?). And how would that have changed things for the RAG which is due to share the F-35s wth the RN.

And also, I've read that the carriers were designed 'for but not with' catapults and arrester gear, how difficult/costly would it be to go back to that option on the near-completed ships, if possible at all?

Rgds,
Martin
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:31 pm

My understanding was that the MoD/Government was lead to believe that the conversion would be a relatively simple case as the design would be 'fitted for but not with' as you say. However they never actually wrote that into the contract and when the UK government decided to make use of that option it was discovered that the change was anything but cheap and easy.

IIRC the switch would've required most of the top few decks to be entirely redesigned.

So the UK government made the decision at the time that having 2 carriers was better than none or one.

It's also a great lesson to remember that for commercial contracts that if it isn't in the contract don't believe anything the salesperson says.

It's also worth noting that since the rebaselining of the F35 program they've generally been on schedule and at or under budget. With the STOVL version having more capability than initially expected it seems. As the Royal Navy will be adding the capability for the F35B to do a rolling landing, thus being able to bring back more payload. Not quite as much as the C version, but lightyears ahead for the Harrier.
 
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moo
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Mon Feb 20, 2017 2:26 pm

ZaphodHarkonnen wrote:
My understanding was that the MoD/Government was lead to believe that the conversion would be a relatively simple case as the design would be 'fitted for but not with' as you say. However they never actually wrote that into the contract and when the UK government decided to make use of that option it was discovered that the change was anything but cheap and easy.

IIRC the switch would've required most of the top few decks to be entirely redesigned.

So the UK government made the decision at the time that having 2 carriers was better than none or one.

It's also a great lesson to remember that for commercial contracts that if it isn't in the contract don't believe anything the salesperson says.

It's also worth noting that since the rebaselining of the F35 program they've generally been on schedule and at or under budget. With the STOVL version having more capability than initially expected it seems. As the Royal Navy will be adding the capability for the F35B to do a rolling landing, thus being able to bring back more payload. Not quite as much as the C version, but lightyears ahead for the Harrier.


Design support for conversion to CATOBAR was infact in the original contract, it was just never actively maintained by the Labour government through multiple milestones, until it reached the point where there was no design support existing any more, which wasnt discovered until a design review was undertaken as part of the post SDSR decision - the argument was successfully made that the feature was effectively not pursued by the prior government and thus there was no breach of contract by the builders.
 
LightningZ71
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Tue Feb 21, 2017 12:15 am

Given the flight deck size on the two QE class carriers, there won't be a big difference in war fighting capability between the F35B and the Navy's C models. Largely, it will be a difference in range in favor of the C models. However, I do believe that the B is rated for more Gs and should be a slightly better dogfighter.
 
Ozair
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:53 am

LightningZ71 wrote:
Given the flight deck size on the two QE class carriers, there won't be a big difference in war fighting capability between the F35B and the Navy's C models. Largely, it will be a difference in range in favor of the C models. However, I do believe that the B is rated for more Gs and should be a slightly better dogfighter.

The C is 7.5G jet while the B is a 7G jet so really not much of a difference between them. Range and the ability to carry a 2k internal weapon are the main differences in capability between C and B.

Biggest issue though would be the RN becoming a cat and trap carrier force again. That would take a significant longer learning curve compared to operating the B which literally lands itself...

The B is a lot more flexible given its landing options and remains the best option for the UK for their carrier aviation.
 
ThePointblank
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:56 am

moo wrote:
ZaphodHarkonnen wrote:
My understanding was that the MoD/Government was lead to believe that the conversion would be a relatively simple case as the design would be 'fitted for but not with' as you say. However they never actually wrote that into the contract and when the UK government decided to make use of that option it was discovered that the change was anything but cheap and easy.

IIRC the switch would've required most of the top few decks to be entirely redesigned.

So the UK government made the decision at the time that having 2 carriers was better than none or one.

It's also a great lesson to remember that for commercial contracts that if it isn't in the contract don't believe anything the salesperson says.

It's also worth noting that since the rebaselining of the F35 program they've generally been on schedule and at or under budget. With the STOVL version having more capability than initially expected it seems. As the Royal Navy will be adding the capability for the F35B to do a rolling landing, thus being able to bring back more payload. Not quite as much as the C version, but lightyears ahead for the Harrier.


Design support for conversion to CATOBAR was infact in the original contract, it was just never actively maintained by the Labour government through multiple milestones, until it reached the point where there was no design support existing any more, which wasnt discovered until a design review was undertaken as part of the post SDSR decision - the argument was successfully made that the feature was effectively not pursued by the prior government and thus there was no breach of contract by the builders.

The main issue from my viewpoint as a project manager is that the later the change request is submitted, the more costly it is to do the change. If the ship is already past the design freeze stage and the components are already under production, it gets god-awful expensive just to do the change.

No design change is ever free; anyone selling that should be tarred and feathered.
 
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moo
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:55 am

ThePointblank wrote:
moo wrote:
ZaphodHarkonnen wrote:
My understanding was that the MoD/Government was lead to believe that the conversion would be a relatively simple case as the design would be 'fitted for but not with' as you say. However they never actually wrote that into the contract and when the UK government decided to make use of that option it was discovered that the change was anything but cheap and easy.

IIRC the switch would've required most of the top few decks to be entirely redesigned.

So the UK government made the decision at the time that having 2 carriers was better than none or one.

It's also a great lesson to remember that for commercial contracts that if it isn't in the contract don't believe anything the salesperson says.

It's also worth noting that since the rebaselining of the F35 program they've generally been on schedule and at or under budget. With the STOVL version having more capability than initially expected it seems. As the Royal Navy will be adding the capability for the F35B to do a rolling landing, thus being able to bring back more payload. Not quite as much as the C version, but lightyears ahead for the Harrier.


Design support for conversion to CATOBAR was infact in the original contract, it was just never actively maintained by the Labour government through multiple milestones, until it reached the point where there was no design support existing any more, which wasnt discovered until a design review was undertaken as part of the post SDSR decision - the argument was successfully made that the feature was effectively not pursued by the prior government and thus there was no breach of contract by the builders.

The main issue from my viewpoint as a project manager is that the later the change request is submitted, the more costly it is to do the change. If the ship is already past the design freeze stage and the components are already under production, it gets god-awful expensive just to do the change.

No design change is ever free; anyone selling that should be tarred and feathered.


Thats not what I said though...
 
VSMUT
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:48 am

A CATOBAR configuration would have been far more sensible. These carriers will remain in service for much longer than the F-35B will, so in other words, they are pretty much betting on somebody coming out with a STOVL replacement for the F-35B in the future. You can always be certain that the US Navy, China, Russia, France and India will require CATOBAR fighters for their future carrier operations, but it isn't given that anyone in the future is going to want a STOVL fighter however.
 
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:30 am

VSMUT wrote:
A CATOBAR configuration would have been far more sensible. These carriers will remain in service for much longer than the F-35B will, so in other words, they are pretty much betting on somebody coming out with a STOVL replacement for the F-35B in the future. You can always be certain that the US Navy, China, Russia, France and India will require CATOBAR fighters for their future carrier operations, but it isn't given that anyone in the future is going to want a STOVL fighter however.


This is precisely why, as I noted below, that the original contracts required design consideration be given to accommodating the conversion at a later date. Then the Labour government screwed it up by not enforcing those contractual requirements, which is why we had the flip flop in 2010/2011.
 
Ozair
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:01 am

VSMUT wrote:
A CATOBAR configuration would have been far more sensible. These carriers will remain in service for much longer than the F-35B will, so in other words, they are pretty much betting on somebody coming out with a STOVL replacement for the F-35B in the future.

I doubt the carriers will be in service longer than the F-35B. Realistically the carriers will serve for approx 40 to 45 years. The Invincible class served for 34 years, the USS Kittyhawk served for 48 years, the Audacious class served for 39 years, the Wasp LHDs are expected to serve for 45 years, the Foch and Clemenceau served for approx 45 years.

As far as the aircraft is concerned, the RAF/RN will receive F-35Bs all the way to 2028. The airframe has an 8000 hour lifetime so at 250 hours a year that is 32 years of service. With QE and POW entering service in 2017 and 2020 respectively 40-45 years of service will take them right out to expected F-35B retirement date, if the UK doesn't top up or order additional upgraded F-35B into the 2030s which is entirely possible.

VSMUT wrote:
You can always be certain that the US Navy, China, Russia, France and India will require CATOBAR fighters for their future carrier operations, but it isn't given that anyone in the future is going to want a STOVL fighter however.


As for CATOBAR being more sensible, it isn't. Neither Russia, China nor India operate CATOBAR carriers for a start. China is planning a couple but the livelihood of the UK buying a Chinese carrier aircraft is pretty remote.There is little difference in range capability between the F-35B and the Rafale operating from CDG, Flanker/Fulcrum operating from Kuznetsov or Tejas operating from Virat and F-35B comfortably outclasses all current and planned carrier aircraft.

What CATOBAR is though is a lot more expensive, at least 150% of the cost of operating the currently configured QE class and probably more. Additionally, the EM catapult wasn't available for use, consigning the UK to using a steam catapult for the next 45 years with all the downsides of steam and none of the upside of EM (which would be especially useful for future UAV ops).

As for a STOVL replacement, an UCAV capable of STOVL operations in the late 2030s early 2040s is very possible and probably likely for a whole bunch of reasons besides carrier compatibility. That would additionally reduce hours on the F-35B fleet extending the airframe operating life in British service.
 
VSMUT
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:11 pm

Ozair wrote:
I doubt the carriers will be in service longer than the F-35B. Realistically the carriers will serve for approx 40 to 45 years. The Invincible class served for 34 years, the USS Kittyhawk served for 48 years, the Audacious class served for 39 years, the Wasp LHDs are expected to serve for 45 years, the Foch and Clemenceau served for approx 45 years.

As far as the aircraft is concerned, the RAF/RN will receive F-35Bs all the way to 2028. The airframe has an 8000 hour lifetime so at 250 hours a year that is 32 years of service. With QE and POW entering service in 2017 and 2020 respectively 40-45 years of service will take them right out to expected F-35B retirement date, if the UK doesn't top up or order additional upgraded F-35B into the 2030s which is entirely possible.


The Super Hornet fleet started reaching its limits in less than 15 years. Even 20 years would be optimistic for the F-35B, and we don't even know what sort of issues will pop up with that type. You are also betting on the F-35B lasting in production for that long, which I seriously doubt. Even assuming the extremely optimistic hopes of 2700 orders, that amounts to only 14 years of production at the rates the JPO is hoping for. That means production will end just 5 years after the final RAF F-35B is delivered, even less if Trump reduces the order in favour of Super Hornets and other alternatives, you detract the number that has already been built and that other customers are likely to reduce orders as a result of not getting the expected amount of work initially promised. Additionally, the F-35B will be positively outdated by that time (as if it wasn't already).


Ozair wrote:
What CATOBAR is though is a lot more expensive, at least 150% of the cost of operating the currently configured QE class and probably more. Additionally, the EM catapult wasn't available for use, consigning the UK to using a steam catapult for the next 45 years with all the downsides of steam and none of the upside of EM (which would be especially useful for future UAV ops).


A CATOBAR system might be more expensive, but a carrier without off-the-shelf aircraft is even more expensive.

"Consigning" the UK to use steam catapults? Lol, what sort of joke is that? Steam catapults work fine today, and will remain in service for the next 40+ years elsewhere. Do you honestly expect the US Navy to phase out the Ronald Reagan and George Bush any time soon? Both of those have a 50+ year life expectancy! :lol:
 
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:58 pm

VSMUT wrote:
Ozair wrote:
I doubt the carriers will be in service longer than the F-35B. Realistically the carriers will serve for approx 40 to 45 years. The Invincible class served for 34 years, the USS Kittyhawk served for 48 years, the Audacious class served for 39 years, the Wasp LHDs are expected to serve for 45 years, the Foch and Clemenceau served for approx 45 years.

As far as the aircraft is concerned, the RAF/RN will receive F-35Bs all the way to 2028. The airframe has an 8000 hour lifetime so at 250 hours a year that is 32 years of service. With QE and POW entering service in 2017 and 2020 respectively 40-45 years of service will take them right out to expected F-35B retirement date, if the UK doesn't top up or order additional upgraded F-35B into the 2030s which is entirely possible.


The Super Hornet fleet started reaching its limits in less than 15 years. Even 20 years would be optimistic for the F-35B, and we don't even know what sort of issues will pop up with that type. You are also betting on the F-35B lasting in production for that long, which I seriously doubt. Even assuming the extremely optimistic hopes of 2700 orders, that amounts to only 14 years of production at the rates the JPO is hoping for. That means production will end just 5 years after the final RAF F-35B is delivered, even less if Trump reduces the order in favour of Super Hornets and other alternatives, you detract the number that has already been built and that other customers are likely to reduce orders as a result of not getting the expected amount of work initially promised. Additionally, the F-35B will be positively outdated by that time (as if it wasn't already).




Ozair wrote:
What CATOBAR is though is a lot more expensive, at least 150% of the cost of operating the currently configured QE class and probably more. Additionally, the EM catapult wasn't available for use, consigning the UK to using a steam catapult for the next 45 years with all the downsides of steam and none of the upside of EM (which would be especially useful for future UAV ops).


A CATOBAR system might be more expensive, but a carrier without off-the-shelf aircraft is even more expensive.

"Consigning" the UK to use steam catapults? Lol, what sort of joke is that? Steam catapults work fine today, and will remain in service for the next 40+ years elsewhere. Do you honestly expect the US Navy to phase out the Ronald Reagan and George Bush any time soon? Both of those have a 50+ year life expectancy! :lol:


Firstly, given that the RN/RAF F-35B's will of course use the ski jump for take off and a rolling (or if lightly loaded) vertical mode for landing, that's two major stresses to an airframe gone already.
Conventional carrier aircraft take a pounding, we all know that, this is not however that the F-35B will have to do.
So I would be far less confident in assertions about the lifespan of the F-35B as compared to conventional carrier aircraft.

To the catapult issue, though it's true that at one stage at least, being converted to a CATOBAR config. was considered in the CVF design, this was always assumed to be for electro-magnetic cats, since a steam cat would need some major changes beyond installing the cats and traps, above and beyond what the - so far unproven - electro-magnetic ones in theory would need.
More cost, more crew, more delay.

Another assumption, which given the size of the QE's is commonplace, is that they are meant to replicate a USN CVN, the CVF's are not, on some deployments they will have an airgroup of F-35B's, ASW and AEW Merlins, on others they will be used as a large LPH, loaded to Royal Marines, Chinooks, Merlin utility choppers, as well as Apaches and Lynx Wildcats, or a mix of the two, depending on the mission requirements.
So in some instances a QE carrier will deploy, even after the F-35B RN and RAF units are operational, without then on board since a particular deployment does not require them.
(RAF F-35B's will also no doubt be deployed at times as their Harriers once were, with nothing to do the the carriers).

Then, as stated, next year it will be 40 years since the RN last did CATOBAR operations, whereas it will be 8 (due to premature Harrier retirement from a government that really wanted to axe the QE's too - the contract terms made that too expensive, not that they should moan, after all Labour were only doing what the Conservatives did in the 1980's when they ordered Trident and Labour, then in opposition, were against it).
Still, it's a much easier learning curve for the RN as they get back into fast jet operations with the F-35B.

The F-35B has it's limitations true, however it is the most versatile of the variants and for the UK, buying a limited number on a limited budget, it makes the most sense, just as it did when it was still called JSF and the UK brought into the program early on the industrial/technical level.
 
Ozair
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Wed Feb 22, 2017 2:29 am

VSMUT wrote:
The Super Hornet fleet started reaching its limits in less than 15 years. Even 20 years would be optimistic for the F-35B, and we don't even know what sort of issues will pop up with that type.

Pointblank indicated why the early Supers are maxing out hour wise, they were worked hard in ops over AFG and built up a very large number of hours. Of course an airframe will only last 15 years if you fly it 350 or 400 hours a year opposed to the expected 200-250. The SH also starts as a 6,000 hour aircraft compared to 8,000 for all F-35 variants.

Additionally, the F-35 is being tested out to three times the airframe hour limit, so 24,000 hours. Testing has already identified issues at certain hour points which has been addressed with either changes in materials or strengthening.

VSMUT wrote:
You are also betting on the F-35B lasting in production for that long, which I seriously doubt. Even assuming the extremely optimistic hopes of 2700 orders, that amounts to only 14 years of production at the rates the JPO is hoping for. That means production will end just 5 years after the final RAF F-35B is delivered

As per the current SAR F-35A is scheduled to be acquired by the USAF all the way until 2038 and operated until 2070. The USN will continue to acquire F-35B/C until 2031. There is no reason that a customer could not purchase an F-35B in 2038. As with the F-15/16 and 18 production lines which continued long after US orders finished it is pretty likely the F-35 line will continue past 2038 as well. Of the three variants the A and B model have far and away the most export potential so we will likely see additional B orders in the 2030s.

VSMUT wrote:
even less if Trump reduces the order in favour of Super Hornets and other alternatives,

Incorrect… The review by Mattis is looking at the capability/cost benefit of the F-35C versus the SH, not the F-35B. The USMC is committed to being an all F-35B fast jet force and any reduction in F-35C may actually benefit USMC F-35B numbers.

VSMUT wrote:
you detract the number that has already been built and that other customers are likely to reduce orders as a result of not getting the expected amount of work initially promised.

Numbers have remained pretty consistent now for a long time but workshare reductions to a partner nation will certainly not reduce numbers. The program continues to deliver real industrial benefits in high tech industries to the partner nations. I don’t hear a single one of them complaining about workshare…

That workshare will continue through the entire life of the type, so 2070 for USAF aircraft, as well as the potential to win additional work on future F-35 upgrade programs.

VSMUT wrote:
Additionally, the F-35B will be positively outdated by that time (as if it wasn't already).

So please share with us what will supersede it and why the F-35B is already outdated? F-35A was at Red Flag recently and demonstrated exceptional performance in the most high end threat scenario possible including massed advanced Red Air, double digit SAMs and dense EA from red assets. That was with Blk 3i aircraft and minimal training on the aircraft.

VSMUT wrote:
A CATOBAR system might be more expensive, but a carrier without off-the-shelf aircraft is even more expensive.

There is no might but well done… Instead of addressing the valid point that the UK carriers you claim will have no aircraft will retire in approx. 40-45 years, well balanced with the F-35B service life for the UK, you continue a false claim with no supporting evidence.

VSMUT wrote:
"Consigning" the UK to use steam catapults? Lol, what sort of joke is that? Steam catapults work fine today, and will remain in service for the next 40+ years elsewhere. Do you honestly expect the US Navy to phase out the Ronald Reagan and George Bush any time soon? Both of those have a 50+ year life expectancy! :lol:

Yes steam catapults being used for the next 40+ years, the US will have Nimitz class CVNs in service for that long but the design isn’t capable of being retrofit for EMALS expect at crazy cost. The USN will also continue to receive EMALS equipped carriers every 5-7 years for the foreseeable future so in 40 years will have replaced all Nimitz except for CVN-76 and 77. The French will too operate steam because it is doubtful they will have the funding to replace their current carrier anytime soon. If and whe they do the will go EMALS, given they already use US steam CAT systems.

China is reportedly already testing an EMALS, as referenced by this link, http://www.popsci.com.au/tech/military/ ... too,412162

While India has been talking with the US about EMALS technology on their next carriers as per here, http://thediplomat.com/2015/04/this-us- ... tant-edge/

Russia meanwhile keeps talking about future carriers. The latest model from 2015 showed a carrier with two ski jump positions and two EMCAT positions... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_23000E
 
LightningZ71
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Wed Feb 22, 2017 4:11 pm

quoted from above...
"There is little difference in range capability between the F-35B and the Rafale operating from CDG, Flanker/Fulcrum operating from Kuznetsov or Tejas operating from Virat and F-35B comfortably outclasses all current and planned carrier aircraft."

Actually, the F-35B takes about a 200nmi range hit as compared to the Rafale-M (maybe less, the only specs I can find are for the land based -A model and the -M weighs a few hundred pounds more), whereas the F-35C has 200+nmi more range. The difference here is a combination of the lift fan gear on the -B taking up fuel space on the -C, and the fact that the -C can use the CAT to have a heavier take off weight (more fuel). It has considerably more range than the ski-jump using Fulcrum and does anyone REALLY know what the final production tejas will be capable of in any form? Last I heard, the Indian navy thought it was way overweight and unsuitable.

CATOBAR will always have an advantage over ski-jump equipped carriers for a few reasons:
It allows launching planes at full operating weight without having to use as much of the deck as ramp carriers have to use for light weight launches, and significantly less deck space as ramp carriers use for full weight launches (Look at the launch path guides marked on the Russian carrier, the long one is for full weight Flanker launches, and the short ones are for lighter weight launches.)
It allows a higher launch and recovery pace for flight ops (all existing ramp carriers have a single ramp that can launch two at near the same time at best, US cat carriers are equipped with 4 cats which can support four full weight launches at full tempo)
More efficient use of deck space as cats take up less space than the area cleared for ramps and ramps can't be used as a helicopter landing area in cases of alternate ship use (think relief efforts).

I do not disagree that CATOBAR is a much more expensive system to maintain. Those benefits come with considerable construction and upkeep costs and also make your fighters a bit heavier to handle the stresses imposed by the launching and landing systems. This is largely why the US and France are the only current users of such a system (and why China is the only other country seriously looking at them for future carriers).
 
Ozair
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:30 am

LightningZ71 wrote:
Actually, the F-35B takes about a 200nmi range hit as compared to the Rafale-M (maybe less, the only specs I can find are for the land based -A model and the -M weighs a few hundred pounds more), whereas the F-35C has 200+nmi more range.

The Rafale M is somewhat of a different beast to the land based model. For starters it is payload limited off the French carrier and sacrifices a hardpoint. That means the Rafale often has to choose payload over fuel or vice versa. One of the French Admirals discussed this post Libya. The F-35B's range of 450nm are determined off a LHD non ski-jump take-off distance of 600ft. The UK are factoring 450ft with a ski-jump for the same full fuel internal weapon load out but could extend that distance and take more payload.

LightningZ71 wrote:
CATOBAR will always have an advantage over ski-jump equipped carriers for a few reasons:
It allows launching planes at full operating weight without having to use as much of the deck as ramp carriers have to use for light weight launches, and significantly less deck space as ramp carriers use for full weight launches (Look at the launch path guides marked on the Russian carrier, the long one is for full weight Flanker launches, and the short ones are for lighter weight launches.)
It allows a higher launch and recovery pace for flight ops (all existing ramp carriers have a single ramp that can launch two at near the same time at best, US cat carriers are equipped with 4 cats which can support four full weight launches at full tempo)
More efficient use of deck space as cats take up less space than the area cleared for ramps and ramps can't be used as a helicopter landing area in cases of alternate ship use (think relief efforts).

While I don't overly have an issue with what you have written there are a number of variables to consider. The French have a max sortie rate of 100 missions in a day from the CDG as each CAT shot takes approx one minute. The aircraft also have to be recovered. The advantage a STOVL aircraft has is that you don't lose CAT launch positions to land aircraft. Either way, the difference in sortie rate really isn't much...

LightningZ71 wrote:
I do not disagree that CATOBAR is a much more expensive system to maintain. Those benefits come with considerable construction and upkeep costs and also make your fighters a bit heavier to handle the stresses imposed by the launching and landing systems. This is largely why the US and France are the only current users of such a system (and why China is the only other country seriously looking at them for future carriers).

Not just more to maintain but the continual quals required to maintain CATOBAR currency for aircrew has previously been immense. USN aircrew were judged more on their ability to land the jet than to fight with the jet...

F-35C and to a lesser extent SH has made that much easier. The advanced landing features of the F-35C allows it to hit the third wire every time, so much so in land based testing it was so precise it was tearing up that one spot on the runway.
 
LightningZ71
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:10 pm

Magic carpet is truly an amazing system. Being able to land with that degree of accuracy on a moving runway is very impressive.
 
iamlucky13
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Fri Feb 24, 2017 6:41 am

It's a very large, expensive ship to dedicate solely to V/STOL. It seems to me a bit wasteful to have invested in such a large flight deck only to limit themselves to the B-model, and pretty much eliminate, as I understand it, the possibility of utilizing fixed wing AWACS, COD, and other low T/W aircraft. I've read that the Merlin AWACS won't be too far behind the Hawkeye in mission endurance, but it definitely will be in service ceiling (and therefore horizon) and payload, which means the size and power of the radar and other gear. Also, when catapults were still in the plan, did the UK ever express an interest in Growlers?

Given the smaller complements compared to US carriers, I'm not sure sortie rate is as big of a deal to the UK as it is to the US, but I can only imagine the lower internal fuel and lower takeoff weights (which also affects the option the compromise on stealth with external fuel stores, in addition to weapons load). The F-35B apparently has no tailhook, and the QE2's will have no arrestor gear. Does the inability to do barrier assisted landings affect recovery rate, weather limits, or landing weights?

Could the F-35C have operated from the QE2's in STOBAR fashion?

Of course, all that is irrelevant now. Had they made their key decisions earlier on and decided to stick with the F-35B and no catapults, I tend to think the UK would have been better off with 3 (or 4, depending on the cost of such an option) smaller carriers. That's means smaller air wings, of course, but more operational flexibility and increased availability.
 
LightningZ71
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Fri Feb 24, 2017 7:44 am

Actually, with the addition of the Ski Jump on the QE carriers, their F-35Bs will be slightly more capable than US ones. The Ski-Jump allows them to have a slightly higher take-off weight as compared to the flat decked US assault ships. It's not a huge difference, but its something. The US opted not to use a ski jump for their assault carriers to preserve two additional helicopter landing positions. Given the evolving nature of the US marine assault doctrine, that may change in the future (using helicopters to land troops instead of landing craft seems less doable these days given the ever increasing A2AD proliferation in the world.)

As for the other questions The F-35B can do rolling or vertical landings. Given the size of the QE carriers, rolling landings on them without barriers can still allow a significant bring-back mass. Given the current configuration, it will be unsafe to attempt landings while also doing launches. This will limit operational tempo a bit, but, given the sort of missions that the QE will likely undertake, it won't be a big deal. Magic Carpet should allow landings in all sorts of flyable weather, so I wouldn't think that it should be a major limitation either. The listed minimum take-off distance for the F-35 (I'm assuming the A model) is around 550 feet. That number is for a minimum fuel, no payload, completely clean launch. The QE is roughly 900 feet long, with a blast deflector located around 650 meters from the bow. So, technically, yes, it is possible that a minimum weight F-35C could take off from the QE without a cat. IT won't be able to do much except go around and land again (minimum 700 feet listed), but it is possible.

I agree in principle with your idea about three or four smaller assault carriers, but, given the staffing problems that the RN has right now, they'd never be able to crew them. They can't currently crew the two QE carriers they have planned. But, the design really doesn't make a whole lot of sense without a CATOBAR setup.
 
VSMUT
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Fri Feb 24, 2017 9:31 am

Ozair wrote:
Pointblank indicated why the early Supers are maxing out hour wise, they were worked hard in ops over AFG and built up a very large number of hours. Of course an airframe will only last 15 years if you fly it 350 or 400 hours a year opposed to the expected 200-250. The SH also starts as a 6,000 hour aircraft compared to 8,000 for all F-35 variants.


And what makes you think that the F-35B will be exempt from potential future prolonged bombing-campaigns?


Ozair wrote:
Incorrect… The review by Mattis is looking at the capability/cost benefit of the F-35C versus the SH, not the F-35B. The USMC is committed to being an all F-35B fast jet force and any reduction in F-35C may actually benefit USMC F-35B numbers.


They are built on the same line. Reduce orders for one, and you reduce orders for the entire line. No more orders, line shuts down. Very simple concept.


Ozair wrote:
Numbers have remained pretty consistent now for a long time but workshare reductions to a partner nation will certainly not reduce numbers. The program continues to deliver real industrial benefits in high tech industries to the partner nations. I don’t hear a single one of them complaining about workshare…

That workshare will continue through the entire life of the type, so 2070 for USAF aircraft, as well as the potential to win additional work on future F-35 upgrade programs.


Lol. You mean like Denmark has received pretty much nothing in terms of workshare since ordering the jet? Or how Italy is complaining about "broken promises"?

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/ita ... n-promises


Ozair wrote:
So please share with us what will supersede it and why the F-35B is already outdated?


Nothing will, finally you get the point! Now that the Brits have decided to rely solely on the F-35B, they will face a reality where it has either gone out of production, or that it will be a 40-year old design. Nobody else is interested in STOVL fighters, everyone else will have moved on to the next generation of CATOBAR/STOBAR fighters.


Ozair wrote:
you continue a false claim with no supporting evidence.


Ahh, I see. You've run out of arguments, so now you turn to the typical paid-LM contributor method of personal attacks. Give it up, we all know you work on behalf of LM, you only ever post on the mil-av forum by defending or promoting LM products, or by denigrating LMs competitors.


Ozair wrote:
Yes steam catapults being used for the next 40+ years, the US will have Nimitz class CVNs in service for that long but the design isn’t capable of being retrofit for EMALS expect at crazy cost.
...so in 40 years will have replaced all Nimitz except for CVN-76 and 77. The French will too operate steam because it is doubtful they will have the funding to replace their current carrier anytime soon.


So what you are saying is that steam catapults would have been completely valid and useful for the next 40+ years, and that Britain won't be the sole operator of steam catapults in that period.

:smile:
 
Ozair
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:07 pm

VSMUT wrote:

And what makes you think that the F-35B will be exempt from potential future prolonged bombing-campaigns?

??? If the F-35B lasts only 15 years in service because it has flown its hours then it has served the purpose it was purchased for. The early SH have done their time and served well but have run out of their hours, simple as that.

VSMUT wrote:
They are built on the same line. Reduce orders for one, and you reduce orders for the entire line. No more orders, line shuts down. Very simple concept.

The F-35C represents approx 10% of total expected orders for the F-35 and 35% of those are for the USMC who would be happy to purchase more Bee over C anyway. The F-35C has essentially zero export potential. If it got cancelled, and not even Trump/Matis is talking about cancelling it, it would impact only the USN. Reality is it will be purchased and there is every chance, once the USN starts operating it, that they will order more than the 260 planned.

VSMUT wrote:
Lol. You mean like Denmark has received pretty much nothing in terms of workshare since ordering the jet? Or how Italy is complaining about "broken promises"?

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/ita ... n-promises

Italy has a production line, a FACO, and already has significant workshare including Leonardo manufacturing 835 sets of wings for the jet, nearly 1/4 of all expected production. Given they are ordering 90 jets they are doing very well. The article you quoted is referencing new contracts being awarded with some Italian firms missing out. These contracts were always designed to be awarded to the lowest bidder within the partner nations. Industrial work is not guaranteed, being a partner gives a nation's industry the opportunity to participate. If they want more work, they need to be more competitive.

As for Denmark,

Through the most recent verification process, Danish companies have verified a total amount of USD 373,974,986 from Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney.

40 % of the order volume was directly placed by Lockheed Martin, whereas 2 % was placed by Pratt & Whitney. The remaining 58 % are orders placed by Lockheed Martin’s subcontractors. Since Denmark entered into the development phase in 2002, a total of 15 Danish companies have received JSF orders from Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney or subcontractors.

Given it was only just mid last year that Denmark actually ordered 27 jets industrial work is expected to rise now LRIP is finishing.

For both countries there will be industrial work for many many years given production will be ongoing till 2038.


VSMUT wrote:
Nothing will, finally you get the point! Now that the Brits have decided to rely solely on the F-35B, they will face a reality where it has either gone out of production, or that it will be a 40-year old design. Nobody else is interested in STOVL fighters, everyone else will have moved on to the next generation of CATOBAR/STOBAR fighters.

You didn't answer the question. The USMC is operating the F-35B, what do you expect they will use when the F-35B retires? Italy is operating the F-35B, what do you expect they will operate when the F-35B retires? With the UK that is three nations that will operate F-35B off small carriers.

As I indicated already, a UCAV that is STOVL capable is certainly possible and even likely by 2040. The UK also did not go for F-35B just for the RN, they will operate the force in a similar way to JFH, where they can pool RAF/RN pilots together. With how easy it is to operate the F-35B off a carrier, it will, just as it did in 1982 when RAF Harrier pilots operated off RN carriers with essentially no training, allow them to supplement RN crews in the event of a crisis.

VSMUT wrote:
Ahh, I see. You've run out of arguments, so now you turn to the typical paid-LM contributor method of personal attacks. Give it up, we all know you work on behalf of LM, you only ever post on the mil-av forum by defending or promoting LM products, or by denigrating LMs competitors.

Really? Perhaps if you should review my posting history. Previous to 2008 I was immensely critical of the F-35 and I post on all matters in Mil Av, not just on the F-35. I don't post in civ-av much anymore although I still read plenty, it just isn't where my main interests are.

But that doesn't change the fact that you made a false claim as we can investigate it now to show. Look at the following list of aircraft carriers in service, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aircraft_carriers_in_service The majority in service are VTOL or STOVL capable, 25 of 40 (yes not many of those nations operate VTOL/STOVL aircraft but the platforms are capable of it). Look at the number currently under construction, 6 of 11 are VTOL or STOVL capable. There is clearly a demand for a VTOL/STOVL aircraft.

Even more so, you claimed that
VSMUT wrote:
You can always be certain that the US Navy, China, Russia, France and India will require CATOBAR fighters for their future carrier operations, but it isn't given that anyone in the future is going to want a STOVL fighter however.

Clearly, Russian, China and India do not operate CATOBAR carriers nor manufacture CATOBAR fighter jets nor is the UK, except for a radical and highly unlikely political shift, going to order a Russian or Chinese CATOBAR aircraft if it was built. If we put your no-one wants a STOVL fighter jet in the future claim against the number of potential platforms to operate STOVL aircraft, and the number currently being manufactured, it is clearly a false claim and you have not provided any evidence to support it.

As we look ahead, the trend is smaller UAV airframes being operated in a maritime environment off smaller flat deck platforms (see the increase in Mistral, Juan Carlos sized platforms being ordered) and a STOVL airframe is positioned to take advantage of that trend.
VSMUT wrote:
So what you are saying is that steam catapults would have been completely valid and useful for the next 40+ years, and that Britain won't be the sole operator of steam catapults in that period.

:smile:

No, what I said is steam is not the way of the future and to expand that no one is building a new steam catapult aircraft carrier... no one! Why would the UK go steam when every one else recognizes the benefits that EMALS has over steam.
 
Ozair
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:37 pm

iamlucky13 wrote:
It's a very large, expensive ship to dedicate solely to V/STOL. It seems to me a bit wasteful to have invested in such a large flight deck only to limit themselves to the B-model, and pretty much eliminate, as I understand it, the possibility of utilizing fixed wing AWACS, COD, and other low T/W aircraft. I've read that the Merlin AWACS won't be too far behind the Hawkeye in mission endurance, but it definitely will be in service ceiling (and therefore horizon) and payload, which means the size and power of the radar and other gear. Also, when catapults were still in the plan, did the UK ever express an interest in Growlers?

The F-35B and the doctrine of STOVL is really perfect for what the UK wants to do and the funding they have available. For AEW there is a prospect of a V-22 equipped with a large radar or more likely and already going through testing are a fleet of smaller networked UAVs with AEW payloads.

No Growler interest from the UK but the USMC will integrate the NGJ onto the F-35B and that will be more capable than anything current growler has and far more suited to the types of missions the UK would fly in the future. It also doesn't introduce another type to the fleet.

iamlucky13 wrote:
Given the smaller complements compared to US carriers, I'm not sure sortie rate is as big of a deal to the UK as it is to the US, but I can only imagine the lower internal fuel and lower takeoff weights (which also affects the option the compromise on stealth with external fuel stores, in addition to weapons load). The F-35B apparently has no tailhook, and the QE2's will have no arrestor gear. Does the inability to do barrier assisted landings affect recovery rate, weather limits, or landing weights?

UK has a rolling landing profile but the vertical bring back is significantly more than the Harrier, which essentially was zero ordnance.

iamlucky13 wrote:
Could the F-35C have operated from the QE2's in STOBAR fashion?

Probably with only a small payload but the added complexity of landing on a STOBAR platform is just not worth the additional long term cost.

iamlucky13 wrote:
Of course, all that is irrelevant now. Had they made their key decisions earlier on and decided to stick with the F-35B and no catapults, I tend to think the UK would have been better off with 3 (or 4, depending on the cost of such an option) smaller carriers. That's means smaller air wings, of course, but more operational flexibility and increased availability.

The RN is very aware of what operating three smaller platforms would have been provided and given they moved from three smaller to two larger they have a fair idea of the benefits they will get.
 
iamlucky13
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Sat Feb 25, 2017 2:20 am

Ozair wrote:
iamlucky13 wrote:
Could the F-35C have operated from the QE2's in STOBAR fashion?

Probably with only a small payload but the added complexity of landing on a STOBAR platform is just not worth the additional long term cost.

How does it really balance out though? Vertical landings are also complex, as are mixed-lift rolling landings. The F-35's flight control system surely reduces the workload substantially for the F-35B compared to the Harrier, but it also will for the F-35C compared to the Hornet, and the far high Harrier mishap rate compared to the Hornet does not seem to support your suggestion that barrier assisted is the more complex landing strategy.

Ozair wrote:
iamlucky13 wrote:
Of course, all that is irrelevant now. Had they made their key decisions earlier on and decided to stick with the F-35B and no catapults, I tend to think the UK would have been better off with 3 (or 4, depending on the cost of such an option) smaller carriers. That's means smaller air wings, of course, but more operational flexibility and increased availability.

The RN is very aware of what operating three smaller platforms would have been provided and given they moved from three smaller to two larger they have a fair idea of the benefits they will get.


I do not see how that argument can be made, given that the sizing of the carriers seems to have been driven by intent to protect for CATOBAR and F-35C compatibility, then later abandoned.

In particular I fail to see why the RN would have committed to 70,000 ton carriers if V/STOL had been the clear plan. It appears the politics and the procurement process drove them to where they are today, rather than a consistent capabilities goal and analysis of what best fits that goal.

The US experience has been that it's a struggle to maintain a 25% deployment and 60% total fleet availability rate. With only two carriers, the UK simply can not expect to have a carrier in theater anywhere near continuously for a prolonged conflict. That's a very significant factor to keep in mind if not mooted by a CATOBAR requirement that effectively precludes procuring a larger number of ships.
 
LMP737
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Sat Feb 25, 2017 2:42 am

Well of course they should have gone with good old fashioned steam catapults and arresting gear. Then the RN would have had more of choice than just the F-35. E-2D Hawkeyes would have been a welcome addition or maybe even some Growlers.
Never take financial advice from co-workers.
 
Ozair
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Sat Feb 25, 2017 10:07 am

iamlucky13 wrote:
I do not see how that argument can be made, given that the sizing of the carriers seems to have been driven by intent to protect for CATOBAR and F-35C compatibility, then later abandoned.

The SDR published in 1998 stated the following,
"the emphasis is now on increased offensive air power, and an ability to operate the largest possible range of aircraft in the widest possible range of roles. When the current carrier force reaches the end of its planned life, we plan to replace it with two larger vessels. Work will now begin to refine our requirements but present thinking suggests that they might be of the order of 30,000–40,000 tonnes and capable of deploying up to fifty aircraft, including helicopters.

So, always two larger vessels. Additionally, the carriers were designed for STOVL, with the intent to be capable of being modified to CATOBAR at a later date if necessary.
On 30 September 2002, the MoD announced that the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force would operate the STOVL F-35B variant. Also announced was that the carriers would take the form of large, conventional carriers, initially adapted for STOVL operations. The carriers, expected to remain in service for fifty years, were designed for but not with catapults and arrestor wires. The carriers were thus planned to be "future proof", allowing them to operate a generation of CATOBAR aircraft beyond the F-35.

What we know is someone let the side down on future CATOBAR compatibility.

iamlucky13 wrote:
In particular I fail to see why the RN would have committed to 70,000 ton carriers if V/STOL had been the clear plan. It appears the politics and the procurement process drove them to where they are today, rather than a consistent capabilities goal and analysis of what best fits that goal.

In 2004 testifying before the House of Commons, The first Sea Lord, Alan West said the following,
The reason that we have arrived at what we have arrived at is because to do the initial strike package, that deep strike package, we have done really quite detailed calculations and we have come out with the figure of 36 joint strike fighters, and that is what has driven the size of it, and that is to be able to deliver the weight of effort that you need for these operations that we are planning in the future. That is the thing that has made us arrive at that size of deck and that size of ship, to enable that to happen. I think it is something like 75 sorties per day over the five-day period or something like that as well.

So number of aircraft was the final determiner on size, not future CATOBAR compatibility.

Above quotes are taken from the wiki page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Elizabeth-class_aircraft_carrier sourced from hansard records of the time.

iamlucky13 wrote:
The US experience has been that it's a struggle to maintain a 25% deployment and 60% total fleet availability rate. With only two carriers, the UK simply can not expect to have a carrier in theater anywhere near continuously for a prolonged conflict. That's a very significant factor to keep in mind if not mooted by a CATOBAR requirement that effectively precludes procuring a larger number of ships.

It was always going to be two carriers... As for needing more carriers, the UK foresee their carriers operating within Coalition operations. Should another Falklands type scenario occur then one dedicated carrier should be available with additional flat top support from Ocean.
 
iamlucky13
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Sun Feb 26, 2017 4:50 am

Ozair wrote:
iamlucky13 wrote:
I do not see how that argument can be made, given that the sizing of the carriers seems to have been driven by intent to protect for CATOBAR and F-35C compatibility, then later abandoned.

The SDR published in 1998 stated the following,
"the emphasis is now on increased offensive air power, and an ability to operate the largest possible range of aircraft in the widest possible range of roles. When the current carrier force reaches the end of its planned life, we plan to replace it with two larger vessels. Work will now begin to refine our requirements but present thinking suggests that they might be of the order of 30,000–40,000 tonnes and capable of deploying up to fifty aircraft, including helicopters.

So, always two larger vessels. Additionally, the carriers were designed for STOVL, with the intent to be capable of being modified to CATOBAR at a later date if necessary.


Yes, two to replace two is an understandable baseline, and the estimate there is up to 1.8 times the displacement of the existing carriers, not 3.2 times the displacement. My point was not really so much about a third carrier, but about the cost of achieving what they deemed necessary, although lower costs might alternatively have allowed a third carrier, and that would have represented a significant increase in overall availability.

Ozair wrote:
iamlucky13 wrote:
In particular I fail to see why the RN would have committed to 70,000 ton carriers if V/STOL had been the clear plan. It appears the politics and the procurement process drove them to where they are today, rather than a consistent capabilities goal and analysis of what best fits that goal.

In 2004 testifying before the House of Commons, The first Sea Lord, Alan West said the following,
The reason that we have arrived at what we have arrived at is because to do the initial strike package, that deep strike package, we have done really quite detailed calculations and we have come out with the figure of 36 joint strike fighters, and that is what has driven the size of it, and that is to be able to deliver the weight of effort that you need for these operations that we are planning in the future. That is the thing that has made us arrive at that size of deck and that size of ship, to enable that to happen. I think it is something like 75 sorties per day over the five-day period or something like that as well.

So number of aircraft was the final determiner on size, not future CATOBAR compatibility.


Except at that time, as your prior quote attests, they were "designed for but not with catapults and arrestor wires."
 
LightningZ71
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:30 am

From what I have been reading on many other sites, the RN is having major manpower problems. They will barely be able to staff the two carriers that they have (likely having only one real crew and just swapping them back and forth between the two carriers as they go through refit and maintenance cycles) much less be able to put together a full crew for three. The only hope that the RN has is for greater and greater amounts of automation.
 
Ozair
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Sun Feb 26, 2017 9:24 am

iamlucky13 wrote:
Yes, two to replace two is an understandable baseline, and the estimate there is up to 1.8 times the displacement of the existing carriers, not 3.2 times the displacement.

Three carriers to two, there were three Invincible class carriers. When the requirements were investigated a larger size was deemed more suitable to generate the required sorties. There is a saying in ship building, that steel is cheap and air is free...

iamlucky13 wrote:
My point was not really so much about a third carrier, but about the cost of achieving what they deemed necessary, although lower costs might alternatively have allowed a third carrier, and that would have represented a significant increase in overall availability.

The requirement was not for three carriers, it was the already quoted ability to generate a 36 aircraft deep strike using JSF aircraft and maintain 75 sorties a day for a 5 day period. That determined the size and subsequent cost of the carriers, nothing else.

iamlucky13 wrote:
Except at that time, as your prior quote attests, they were "designed for but not with catapults and arrestor wires."

The intent was to make them capable of being converted to CATOBAR but that fell away amidst the years of delay and contract changes. As a result the UK Government announced a change to CATOBAR but subsequently reversed that decision when the extent, and cost, of the modification became apparent. I doubt the Government even considered the greater life cycle costs of CATOBAR.

LightningZ71 wrote:
From what I have been reading on many other sites, the RN is having major manpower problems. They will barely be able to staff the two carriers that they have (likely having only one real crew and just swapping them back and forth between the two carriers as they go through refit and maintenance cycles) much less be able to put together a full crew for three. The only hope that the RN has is for greater and greater amounts of automation.

Indeed although they are not alone in that struggle. Good news is QE will be well automated and probably a lot more comfortable to serve on given the increased size. The below graphic shows that although the QE is three times the displacement of the Invincible Class it has only 1.6 times the crew and carries double the number of aircraft. I also think that number of 40 is low and could be increased if necessary, just like a Nimitz/Ford carries 70 today but Cold War fit-out was closer to 90.

Image
 
johns624
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:12 pm

Ozair wrote:
As for needing more carriers, the UK foresee their carriers operating within Coalition operations. Should another Falklands type scenario occur then one dedicated carrier should be available with additional flat top support from Ocean.
Wrong. Ocean is being retired when the QE and PoW come online. If one is used as a commando carrier, that is just to justify its existence. With the shrunken Royal Marines, they have more than enough amphibious capability now. The Albion, Bulwark and Bay classes are plenty. What the RN is lacking is escorts for the amphibs and capital ships. One Daring and one Type 23 are permanently laidup due to lack of manpower.
 
Max Q
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:05 am

Can't get over how bizarre and unnecessary that second island on the QE class is.


Is it my imagination or does the Ford class have a significantly wider flight deck than Nimitz ?
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.
 
GDB
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 8:50 am

Can't get over how bizarre and unnecessary that second island on the QE class is.

Do you think the designers put it there to look 'bizarre' and what would be the point of it being 'unnecessary?'
It's the flight control - amongst other things - for the flightdeck/airgroup. This configuration also has some RCS reduction (not hugely in a 60,000 ton ship but some), it also takes lessons from the last QE class, conventional carriers of around the same size cancelled in the mid 1960's, where the large island it was found would case wind disruption over the deck, this CVA class had one large island.
 
johns624
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:22 pm

GDB wrote:
C, where the large island it was found would case wind disruption over the deck, this CVA class had one large island.
Doesn't seem to affect the US Navy carriers.
 
ZaphodHarkonnen
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:25 pm

Max Q wrote:
Can't get over how bizarre and unnecessary that second island on the QE class is.


It wasn't done on a whim. There are a couple of public reasons for it. First is the argument it places the ship and flight operations at positions that better suit their needs. The bridge wants to be towards the bow for a better view of where they're going and the flight ops want to be towards the stern for watching launches and landings. Another argument is that it provides better damage resiliency as either island can take over full control in a pinch should the other be disabled. It also helps physically separate the power generation as the gas turbines are split into two well separated compartments with intakes and exhausts going through each island.

You can see some of this in the Ford class as well as the island has been moved more towards the aft to improve flight ops. The different navies have simply chosen different ways and accepted different limitations to solve the same problem. There is no perfect solution.

Is it my imagination or does the Ford class have a significantly wider flight deck than Nimitz ?


Just your imagination.

The flight deck width of the Nimitz class is 252 feet and the Ford class is 256 feet.

http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_displ ... d=200&ct=4
 
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Channex757
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Wed Mar 15, 2017 1:45 am

The QE class has been beset by poor decision making all the way. BAE Systems wasn't appointed as lead contractor on this project as they were not judged to be able to manage it, so other companies were brought in (such as THALES) to hold their hand. Long story, but BAE's history of delays and overruns was getting old.

The Strategic Defence Review of the Coalition government was a catastrophe for all the armed services. Billions got wasted on cancelled projects and Harrier was parked then sold off, leaving no STOVL capacity until the F-35B comes online. The F-35C farce is well documented above.

QE and PoW will both ship a good number of helicopters too. The design of the carrier is also modular, allowing for mid-life upgrade work without having to gut the ship. Not going nuclear was a huge error as it drastically reduces the range of the carrier. There is also provision for disaster relief work including desalination plants and some capacity for ship-to-shore power.

Their main function though is to provide STOVL. That's a necessity for the Navy. The RN has experience of fighting a war using Harriers and there just isn't any kind of substitute for the manoeuvrability STOVL brings to battle. Even considering F-35C was an expensive joke. It's part of the RN history though; politicians meddling and cancelling. Britain could have had a supersonic VTOL capacity in the 1980s if BAe-Hawker had been allowed to bring the Super Harrier into service.
 
GDB
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:49 am

'QE and PoW will both ship a good number of helicopters too. The design of the carrier is also modular, allowing for mid-life upgrade work without having to gut the ship. Not going nuclear was a huge error as it drastically reduces the range of the carrier. There is also provision for disaster relief work including desalination plants and some capacity for ship-to-shore power'.

I am not aware that the RN has ever thought of going nuclear on surface ships, it might have been briefly considered when the CVA program began in the very early 60's but it was soon rejected. At the time the main effort in this area was getting nuclear powered SSN's and after 1963, the Polaris carrying Resolution Class built.
These alone were very demanding on the combination of the Atomic Energy parts of the government and science ministries and contractor Rolls Royce to deliver. The first RN SSN, HMS Dreadnought, had a US supplied reactor, after that it was UK designs based on that plant, which with each new class of SSN became more separate from the Dreadnought's reactor as a design.
Before an entirely new wholly RR plant series started with the Vanguard Class Trident subs, PW1, the PW2 on the Astute SSN's.
It was never going to be considered for the CVF. They never even started any kind of design of a plant for a large ship like a carrier.
 
GDB
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:15 am

johns624 wrote:
GDB wrote:
C, where the large island it was found would case wind disruption over the deck, this CVA class had one large island.
Doesn't seem to affect the US Navy carriers.


That's because the CVA-01 differed from a US carrier;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CVA-01
 
iamlucky13
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:03 am

Channex757 wrote:
Not going nuclear was a huge error as it drastically reduces the range of the carrier.


The cost is problematic as is. Opting for nuclear power wouldn't have made things any cheaper, even if they went with a variation on an existing reactor. Nor has the Royal Navy really moved towards a doctrine of long-duration deployments with minimal replenishment.

Their main function though is to provide STOVL. That's a necessity for the Navy. The RN has experience of fighting a war using Harriers and there just isn't any kind of substitute for the manoeuvrability STOVL brings to battle. Even considering F-35C was an expensive joke.


Most other F-35 customers seem to consider conventional takeoff and landing variants a substitute when STOVL isn't needed, as did everybody who had the opportunity but declined to buy Harriers during its production history. Even the RAF was interested mainly for operating from forward bases without full runways, not for the unusual ACM capabilities.

As far as I know, although they trained on VIFF'ing, Royal Navy pilots in the Falkland's War did not actually use the technique. I would actually be very interested to read the details if you know of a source that contradicts my understanding.
 
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Channex757
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:53 am

The nuclear issue is not upfront cost but ongoing.

Upfront it would have cost more, but reactors at sea are fuel and forget. Carriers need tankers to bunker fuel during deployments and that's a large added extra cost down the road. The new Ford class has three onboard nuclear power plants so QE would possibly need two for redundancy and capacity. Being able to fuel them and then not need any bunkering for ten years or whatever interval would work is a major plus, and the only additional fuel would be jet fuel and diesel for the standby generators.

Regarding Harrier capability,I refer to policy rather than the day-to-day operational stuff. The top brass and the politicians make those decisions at procurement level and certainly STOVL would be on the minds of those making the F-35B decision at the time because Harrier had served well and publicly in its role. That leads to an expectation of the plane being able to do STOVL, otherwise the Sea Typhoon would have ended up being the UK's buy.
 
GDB
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:15 am

'As far as I know, although they trained on VIFF'ing, Royal Navy pilots in the Falkland's War did not actually use the technique. I would actually be very interested to read the details if you know of a source that contradicts my understanding.'

That's true, after the first fighter to fighter engagement on 1st May 1982, against Mirage III's, there wasn't any serious attempt to go after the Sea Harriers. It wasn't VIFF'ing that done it, it was highly trained RN and RAF (Harrier pilots on loan to the RN), who had done extensive ACM training against other types including the USAFE Aggressor unit based in the UK at the time and French AF Mirage III's on the way down to the Falklands.

After coming off worst, the Argentines instructed their pilots to avoid engaging the Harriers, the specialist interceptor Mirage III unit, a few aircraft lighter now, were also held back due to the fear that the next Vulcan attack might be against the mainland, an air base perhaps. It was unfounded due to it being dangerous politically, a step the UK would not take, except maybe with special forces on recce, as well as the fact that getting to the Falklands the most the refuelling chain of Victor tankers could provide - barely - and likely Vulcan crew fatigue, in an aircraft flying missions at least three times the duration it was designed for.

For the F-35B, even less likely 'air-show' type aspects of VSTOL will be needed for air combat, with internal AIM-120's - later likely replaced with Meteors, as well as ASRAAM's, the sensor package and LO, will make it a formidable air defence asset. That's not it's primary mission because it's the less likely potential one it might have to do, compared to strike/attack missions. Still it could be needed for AD. Or Air Policing, something the much shorter ranged Harrier F/A.2's took their turn in providing with other NATO assets in the 1990's over the former Yugoslavia at various times.
 
Ozair
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:40 am

Channex757 wrote:
The nuclear issue is not upfront cost but ongoing.

Upfront it would have cost more, but reactors at sea are fuel and forget. Carriers need tankers to bunker fuel during deployments and that's a large added extra cost down the road. The new Ford class has three onboard nuclear power plants so QE would possibly need two for redundancy and capacity. Being able to fuel them and then not need any bunkering for ten years or whatever interval would work is a major plus, and the only additional fuel would be jet fuel and diesel for the standby generators.

Not quite. Even the US found that operating conventional carriers was less costly that nuclear ones and that conventional carriers were more available given less extensive maintenance. From a GAO report in 1998,

GAO noted that: (1) its analysis shows that conventional and nuclear carriers both have been effective in fulfilling U.S. forward presence, crisis response, and war-fighting requirements and share many characteristics and capabilities; (2) conventionally and nuclear-powered carriers both have the same standard air wing and train to the same mission requirements; (3) each type of carrier offers certain advantages; (4) for example, conventionally powered carriers spend less time in extended maintenance, and as a result, they can provide more forward presence coverage; (5) by the same token, nuclear carriers can store larger quantities of aviation fuel and munitions and, as a result, are less dependent upon at-sea replenishment; (6) there was little difference in the operational effectiveness of nuclear and conventional carriers in the Persian Gulf War; (7) investment, operating and support, and inactivation and disposal costs are greater for nuclear-powered carriers than conventionally powered carriers; (8) GAO's analysis, based on an analysis of historical and projected costs, shows that life-cycle costs for conventionally powered and nuclear-powered carriers (for a notional 50-year service life) are estimated at $14.1 billion and $22.2 billion (in fiscal year 1997 dollars), respectively;

http://www.gao.gov/products/NSIAD-98-1

Remember, as good as a nuclear carrier is, neither the US nor the UK now have any active nuclear powered surface escorts. The US ended nuclear cruiser production years ago and the UK has never operated a nuclear powered surface escort. Hence nuclear carriers are still reliant on replenishment for their conventionally powered escorts.

That is not to say that nuclear power at sea does not have its advantages, and the US clearly values nuclear propulsion for its carriers, but there is more to it than simply refuelling as evidenced by nuclear carriers being significantly more costly over their operational lives.
 
LightningZ71
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:57 am

Nuclear power for US carriers is largely all about maintainin the flight wing. It allows the carrier to sustain high tempo operations for longer as it allows carriage of more jet fuel and other flight supplies as opposed to a similarly massed and sized conventional carrier. The reason that the conventonal carrier was as effective as the nuclear ones in the Gulf War was due to the limited amount of steaming that any of the carriers did as well as the largely undisputed logistics tail that supported the carriers. They also didn't conduct sorts at their maximum rates, opting instead for a slower, more sustainable rate throughout the duration.

As for replenishment and maintenance costs, a large part of the changes in the Ford class was specifically aimed at improving it. The Nimitz Is a hell of a platform, but it is designed for survivability over serviceability. The Ford tips the balance back the other way a bit.
 
iamlucky13
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:01 am

Channex757 wrote:
The nuclear issue is not upfront cost but ongoing.

Upfront it would have cost more, but reactors at sea are fuel and forget.


Edit - I see several other replies were made while I was writing this. Not trying to gang up on you. We were just all typing at the same time. /edit

They're actually very much not. They require larger engineering crews and more complex maintenance to ensure the safe operation of the reactors, and their refueling overhauls, including the cost of maintaining the facilities and expertise to perform the work, are extremely expensive, especially if spread over a smaller fleet. Whether a nuclear carrier fleet is worthwhile is a question the Navy revisits from time-to-time, and in the US the conclusion has been yes because of the capabilities they offer, not because of the cost. At sea replenishment is as much if not more so in the mind of the USN a tactical risk as it is an economic cost. You can read more about that here:
https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GAOREPORT ... D-98-1.pdf

Investment, operating and support, and inactivation and disposal costs are
greater for nuclear-powered carriers than conventionally powered
carriers. GAO’s analysis, based on an analysis of historical and projected
costs, shows that life-cycle costs for conventionally powered and
nuclear-powered carriers (for a notional 50-year service life) are estimated
at $14.1 billion and $22.2 billion (in fiscal year 1997 dollars), respectively.


By the way, the Navy disagreed with the size of the GAO's nuclear life cycle cost analysis here, but still concurred the cost is greater.
 
gtae07
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Sat Mar 18, 2017 2:09 am

IMHO the UK's STOVL vs CATOBAR decision simply came down to cost.

Even with things like Magic Carpet, CATOBAR operations take a significant investment in fixed equipment (catapults and wires), training, and practice, both on the part of the pilots and the deck crews. Look at the time that US carrier squadrons devote to landing practice.

STOVL doesn't require that level of dedicated landing practice, particularly with the F-35B, and doesn't require the heavy machinery--simply a big enough flat space. It's not too much of an exaggeration to say that you could take a pilot from another F-35 model, have them fly a single STOVL sortie in the sim, and then send them to the boat. The RAF carrier-qualed Harrier pilots for the Falklands in not too much more time. So not only do the RN crews not have to spend as much time practicing shipboard landings and eating up airframe hours doing so, their RAF bretheren can be sent to the boat to augment the air wing in a tiny fraction of the time it would take to carrier-qualify A model pilots in the C.

Between the lower "capital cost" for the ship, the lower training cost, and the flexibility to augment the embarked air wing, I think that's why the UK stayed with the STOVL carrier. Yeah, at the aircraft level it's a capability hit in payload and range, but from the national level, better the STOVL capability you have than the CATOBAR one you can't afford.
 
iamlucky13
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:14 am

Granted that STOVL operations require less investment in supporting equipment. That's the primary point, after all. Not only eliminating catapults and wires, but also allowing smaller deck sizes.

However, claiming STOVL is easier than CATOBAR operations seems less clear to me. I know the amount of automation and flight envelop protection the F-35B can benefit from means I can not draw conclusions solely based on the prior generation, but the AV-8 family had a very high accident rate - For the AV-8B the rate is reportedly 3 times that of the USMC's F-18's.

If the F-35B reverses the situation compared to the F-35C, I would expect (and approve of) Lockheed and the USMC to be gushing about how vital F-35 funding is for ensuring the safety of their aviators, in addition to the numerous other benefits of the F-35 over the Harrier.
 
Ozair
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:46 am

iamlucky13 wrote:
However, claiming STOVL is easier than CATOBAR operations seems less clear to me. I know the amount of automation and flight envelop protection the F-35B can benefit from means I can not draw conclusions solely based on the prior generation, but the AV-8 family had a very high accident rate - For the AV-8B the rate is reportedly 3 times that of the USMC's F-18's.

If the F-35B reverses the situation compared to the F-35C, I would expect (and approve of) Lockheed and the USMC to be gushing about how vital F-35 funding is for ensuring the safety of their aviators, in addition to the numerous other benefits of the F-35 over the Harrier.

Pretty likely that will happen. The important thing to remember is that the F-35B, except when vertical landing or short take-off, operates as a conventional fighter aircraft and the lift system is never engaged above 250 knots. The interesting thing is a lot of the initial aircrew for the F-35B in USMC service have come from F/A-18s and there have been no issues with the transition.

Some first hand accounts of aircrew who have converted onto the F-35B.

Transitioning from Harrier/AV-8B and F/A-18 to F-35B:

Capt. Brian Miller, who came from the F/A-18D, explained the transition in simple terms: “In a Hornet, we had a center stick. In the F-35, we have a sidestick. I don’t even think about the difference now. Once I landed and took off in the simulator a couple of times, I was comfortable the stick location.”

Learning the F-35B’s short takeoff/vertical landing procedures:

“You would think former Harrier pilots would have an advantage with the F-35B STOVL modes since they have experienced those modes before,” continued Miller. “They may be more versed in the engineering dynamics and physics of STOVL operations. But in terms of cockpit controls, STOVL mode in the F-35 is almost completely backwards from the Harrier. So F-18 pilots may have an advantage since they don’t have to unlearn STOVL habits.”

…and from another pilot Capt. Jonathan Thompson, a former Harrier pilot now with the VFMA-121: “The F-35B is designed to be very intuitive in hover mode,” he explained. “To a pilot coming from a conventional fighter, hover mode is intuitive. Push down on the stick and the aircraft goes down. Pull back on the stick and the aircraft goes up.” Hover mode control in a Harrier, however, is a little different. Up and down movement is controlled with the throttle. Left and right movement is controlled with the stick.

“Whereas I used to pull back on the stick to point the thrust down to land the Harrier in hover mode, I push forward on the stick to land the F-35 in hover mode,” Thompson continued. “That said, the F-35B hover technique is just as easy to learn and just as easy to become second nature. Former AV-8 pilots just have to be more deliberate until STOVL mode operations become more routine. Short takeoffs and vertical landings are some of the skills and habit patterns we develop in the simulator.”

http://aviationweek.com/blog/pilot-reaction-flying-f-35b
 
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moo
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:30 am

iamlucky13 wrote:
Granted that STOVL operations require less investment in supporting equipment. That's the primary point, after all. Not only eliminating catapults and wires, but also allowing smaller deck sizes.

However, claiming STOVL is easier than CATOBAR operations seems less clear to me. I know the amount of automation and flight envelop protection the F-35B can benefit from means I can not draw conclusions solely based on the prior generation, but the AV-8 family had a very high accident rate - For the AV-8B the rate is reportedly 3 times that of the USMC's F-18's.

If the F-35B reverses the situation compared to the F-35C, I would expect (and approve of) Lockheed and the USMC to be gushing about how vital F-35 funding is for ensuring the safety of their aviators, in addition to the numerous other benefits of the F-35 over the Harrier.


I have no idea whether it has made it to US flown Harriers, but when the RAF retired its Harriers in 2010, they were just about to receive a fully automated landing system upgrade, which had been developed and proven. That would have basically eliminated most landing accidents - and the F-35B has such automation built in from the get go, so its accident rate due to handling issues is going to be much much lower right from the start.
 
LightningZ71
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:51 pm

I have a feeling that the Royal Navy really won't miss much from the F-35c with their B models. This will partly be due to how hamstrung the C and A models are because of the B model, but also because of how capable the fully developed f-35B is supposed to be.
 
aklrno
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Sat Apr 08, 2017 2:15 am

All this talk of steam catapaults...... exactly where would the British carriers get the steam? I suspect the huge cost of steam catapults is the steam generating equipment because diesel/turbojet generators don't make much steam. Perhaps if they have some excess generating capacity in the future they could add EM catapults. The Nimitz and Ford carriers each have two (not three as someone said) truly enormous teakettles in the basement. All the older US and British carriers had steam turbines with oil-fired boilers IIRC. The steam pipes need very large risers going from the engine room to the flight deck. Not easy to add later.

And the question about two islands. Was that a necessity of having large air intakes and exhaust uptakes that nuclear carriers don't have? US carrier islands can be much smaller without those requirements, and their are special considerations to be sure the exhaust gases don't poison the deck crews and damage the aircraft (they are acidic).
 
Max Q
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Sat Apr 08, 2017 5:52 am

Not convinced, to build a carrier of this size and limit it's use to the F35 and helicopters seems irrational and a waste of space.

The RN wanted to get a 'proper' aircraft carrier again but then they penalized it unecessarily, just because the F35 can do
STOVL doesn't mean you make that your only option.


And they could have retrained for conventional ops, maybe cost a bit more but how much difference does that really make
when you're talking billions anyway ?


They could be operating a very capable air wing with any carrier certified aircraft in the future, very short sighted.
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.
 
GDB
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Sat Apr 08, 2017 8:43 am

Max Q wrote:
Not convinced, to build a carrier of this size and limit it's use to the F35 and helicopters seems irrational and a waste of space.

The RN wanted to get a 'proper' aircraft carrier again but then they penalized it unecessarily, just because the F35 can do
STOVL doesn't mean you make that your only option.


And they could have retrained for conventional ops, maybe cost a bit more but how much difference does that really make
when you're talking billions anyway ?


They could be operating a very capable air wing with any carrier certified aircraft in the future, very short sighted.


Again! the RN is not trying to replicate a USN CVBG, it is not irrational to have an air-group of F-35B's and various numbers of various choppers, depending on the mission, for the expected missions it will perform.

The size was to maximise flexibility, after studies showed that a smaller ship would not be much cheaper, since they all need the systems, plant, aircraft.. The steel is cheap.

Add in the UK's own experience in using VSTOL, the first to use jet VSTOL with the RAF Harriers from 1969, the first to use them in combat, the UK invested heavily and early in what was then JSF, in particular the VSTOL system from RR. A Harrier replacement was the reason the UK joined the program in the first place.

In the 1990's, the RN as part of the deny flight operations over the former Yugoslavia, sent a CVS and Harrier F/A.2's. Apparently their USN counterparts were at first dismissive, what good could a Harrier do in that mission?
This is because they assumed the RN's Sea Harriers were like their AV-8's, (actually they compared them with the by then retired USMC AV-8A's) no radar (this was prior to some USMC AV-8B's getting refitted with some), only defensive AIM-9's. When they were told that these Sea Harriers had been modernised with a new radar - as good as on the F-18 - as well as AMRAAM BVR missiles they were very surprised!

It seems we are seeing a bit of this again with CVF, assuming what is good for the needs of the USN, is the same for the RN. That's before you get to the vast difference in sizes between the respective armed forces.
 
Max Q
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Re: Should the UK have stuck with the CATOBAR configuration for the QE-class carriers?

Sun Apr 09, 2017 5:39 am

Yes, the Sea Harrier was a superb aircraft, combined with the Invincible class 'mini carrier' the RN had a surprisingly effective
platform as was seen in the Falklands.

But if you want real flexibility, build a larger ship and equip it to operate ANY carrier capable type, they like the F35 so much
then you can buy the C version. Just because the RN had so much success with the S Harrier on a smaller deck doesn't
mean you're committed to VSTOL from then on, this was a compromise forced on them after the cancellation of CVA01.


A big deck carrier should make the most of its space, otherwise, what's the point ? might as well build three more updated
Invincible class.
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.

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