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TED
TED
June 18, 2014 10:27 am

Not sure how it demonstrates a “can do attitude”. If its designed for it and they train for it doesn’t that mean we should expect them to do it?

Merlin video was much better but was struck by how tail low the hover attitude was.

x
x
June 18, 2014 11:30 am

Very brave of the 2.5 ringer to mention “biologicals” in his spiel, I bet the PR bods cringed at that…..

Peter Elliott
June 18, 2014 11:39 am

Interesting to consider what this exercise may show about planning for QEC’s TAG.

9 Cabs embarked to ripple 2 in the air ‘On Task’ for 5 days. But that is 2 ‘On Task’ for ASW, not including any for Crowsnest. So if there is both an air and a subsurface threat would we see more than 9 HM2 embarked? Maybe 12 cabs to give 3 sustained ‘On Task’.

Any problem embarking 3 sqadrons of Fast Air with 12 HM2 also on board? Probably not if we accept a meaningful amount of deck parking.

Given the UK will (initially at least) only stand up 2 squadrons of Fast Air how many Chinooks or Apaches could we also then squeeze in? And is there any space left for CHF HC4? What if we then wanted to add a visiting USMC or Italian squadron?

Suddenly that huge hull is looking quite well filled. Which is why it will be interesting to see if HMS Ocean carries on for a while after 2016, and if QEC #2 ever exercises as a dedicated ‘Commando Carrier’ with Green as well as Grey cabs aboard.

A single high readiness CEPP hull will be all we see for years at a time. But if we never exercise the ‘Commando Carrrier’ concept we might have to find some things out the hard way if we ever need it in a hurry.

Chris
Chris
June 18, 2014 11:52 am

Ted – Merlin’s genesis, EH-101, was intended to be a civil passenger helicopter with 140kt or so cruise. Apparently civilian passengers can’t abide nose-down attitudes in flight (?) so the rotor is forward of horizontal CoG. With drag at full speed the aircraft is almost horizontal, they told me. If I remember right in the hover its about 7 degrees nose up but its a long time since I was involved on the project. I do recall some of the pilots being wary of rapid descent into the hover over rolling seas at night where they thought the tail rotor might get wetter than desirable.

TED
TED
June 18, 2014 12:17 pm

Ah that would explain it. Still should cheer up the crews flying crowsnest sorties

mike
mike
June 18, 2014 12:22 pm

Remember that a Merlin will also be needed to be airborne for every launch and recovery of aircraft.

I imagine we will see a QEC with a good air group more often than we’ll see one with a full escort rather than a guard ship and RFA…

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 18, 2014 12:51 pm

“Remember that a Merlin will also be needed to be airborne for every launch and recovery of aircraft.”

I wouldn’t bet on that. Planeguard / Angel is one of those “utility” roles that has slipped through the cracks in the maritime helicopter requirement. There won’t be a modern equivalent of the 771 SK5 you can see on the video.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
June 18, 2014 1:01 pm

Would be fun to see the calculations on mission cycles and how they would impact on the composition of the air (rotor &) wing:
– repeating, light touch as for the required deck movement, replenishing/ rearming
– plenty launched in one go, rearranging more than just the deck chairs
– the frequency of movements between hangar/ deck as a minimum

Even on the much bigger decks the solution is pulsing: highest intensity can only be kept up for a day or two. Answer: rotate the carriers (which we will do, of course)

x
x
June 18, 2014 1:20 pm

@ Peter E

4 for 1 is the average I “use” when thinking about these lofty matters. I would hope the RN is planning on 8 ASw + 4 ASaC/AEW.

Still sceptical about all this module stuff. It will be useful to switch stuff. But I bet when it happens it will take a few litres of WD40 to get the bolts undone…..

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
June 18, 2014 1:27 pm

X, I would think along that sort of ratios, too.

But would you not say the WD40 is expended before boarding the a/c (r/c?), so that the ratio is right against the (asessed) threat picture, rather than doing it on the hoof, onboard?

Rocket Banana
June 18, 2014 1:40 pm

I think they were carrying 9 Merlin to sustain about three flights (two on-task, and one in-transit).

That’s a 3 for 1 ratio.

If you’ve only got a single flight however you cannot “spare” into another flight’s airframe pool so you would be better with 4 airframes.

If we go Vigilance (i.e. bolt-on, bolt-off) we should be able to deliver ASW and AEW with 12 Merlin. However if we have dedicated Crowsnest we may end up with 13 (or 14 Merlin if we want to try and maintain a ready SAR).

I tend to see CVF’s airgroup based around these 12 Merlin rather than anything else. Obviously (and hopefully) disembarking them to surge 36 jets.

x
x
June 18, 2014 1:42 pm

@ ACC

I see what you are saying. But I think after £6 billion on these platforms not being able to have a basic standard ship’s flight of 12 biggish helicopters would be a bit poor. We can bang on about tailored air groups and threats etc. (and more RN “ooh aren’t we clever” as cover for “can’t afford”) but there has to be basic “weapons fit” no? The reason why countries operate carriers is concentration of force. It is not as if they are going to be operated at USN CBG tempos. To be honest I would have hoped the RN would have been pushing for 12 ASW and 4 ASac/AEW airframes. Going to look very empty, politicians are going to notice, ad then questions will be asked.

http://www.jeffhead.com/worldwideaircraftcarriers/qe-hangar-00.jpg

PS: One of the reasons I keep making that tongue in cheek suggestion about the RAF operating the new Chinook in a RN cooperation squadron not just proof of concept …….

x
x
June 18, 2014 1:45 pm

@ Simon

How long before your maintenance schedules impact on 3 aircraft? This exercise was for 5 days, what about 10 day crisis or 20 day crisis or 100 day crisis?

Rocket Banana
June 18, 2014 1:52 pm

x,

I guess there comes a point where you simply can’t take enough cabs.

Even with 3 per flight one could just about assume the cabs land non-mc each time. It all depends on just how non-mc they are and how long they take to fix.

If you’re going into a sub hot-spot then hopefully you’ll have a few escorts worth of Merlin too. Alternatively you can re-role the 12 Merlin as three flights of 4 and drop the AEW, or use a shared spare and allocate 10 Merlin for ASW and use only two for incidental AEW or surface search.

The point I was really making is that the modular AEW “pod” makes a lot of sense in allowing airframes to be multipurpose.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
June 18, 2014 2:11 pm

I’d have thought that a large part of any constraint on modularity would be crew training. You need different skills for AEW and for ASW.

I don’t think I could do either job, as I’ve got a particular hatred of high hovers in helicopters. Don’t know why, and normal flight is fine and I don’t suffer from vertigo. I just think that all of that rotating disc above is held on by a few nuts and bound to come off suddenly!

Rocket Banana
June 18, 2014 2:13 pm

RT,

The other modular component of a Merlin is the crew. Surely you pick AEW crew for AEW ops and ASW crew for ASW ops.

PS: The main nut is called the “Jesus Nut” :-)



ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
June 18, 2014 2:24 pm

The Chinese will quickly modify this piccie http://www.jeffhead.com/worldwideaircraftcarriers/qe-hangar-00.jpg into a new board game:
in how many moves can you yank one out of the hangar, into the lift?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 18, 2014 3:46 pm

One would hope that the “modularity” bit only extends to issue of the cab from Merlin IOS (“Depth”) or the MHF to the individual squadrons. “Ownership” of the cab is an integral part of flight safety, never mind OC.

Brian Black
Brian Black
June 18, 2014 5:26 pm

See, it’s all very well saying steel is cheap and air is free; but after spending a few billion on the design and engineering to turn that cheap steel and free air into a couple of big ships, you still need shit loads of mega-expensive aircraft to be able to do anything with them.

The sooner we find someone to bomb, the better. Get our money’s worth.

Rocket Banana
June 18, 2014 5:51 pm

BB at al,

Just for reference how much does an airbase cost to build (devoid of aircraft)?

NaB,

IOS? OC? Are you saying that they should come out of Culdrose depth maintenance pre-configured as ASW/AEW? I think I can see your point but would hope that you could (if needed) just “snap on” a Vigilance pod, slide in a 19 inch rack processing unit, and use your embarked Merlin HM2/3 for AEW. I’m assuming things like displays and consoles are generic now?

WiseApe
June 18, 2014 6:04 pm

Just watched the first vid so far. Are there really “thousands” of submarines out there? I wonder how many times he’s been told not to exaggerate? ;-)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
June 18, 2014 6:14 pm

Simon, not much:
“”By the time the base complex was completed in 1999, it had cost the government of Saudi Arabia more than $1 billion and covered well over a hundred square miles,” found Air Force historian Daniel L. Haulman.” The Prince Sultan AB was built from scratch and held the same number of people and aircraft (USAF) than what would be on a carrier. And it was built from scratch.

mr.fred
mr.fred
June 18, 2014 6:28 pm

“See, it’s all very well saying steel is cheap and air is free; but after spending a few billion on the design and engineering to turn that cheap steel and free air into a couple of big ships, you still need shit loads of mega-expensive aircraft to be able to do anything with them.

The sooner we find someone to bomb, the better. Get our money’s worth.”
A flippant comment I know, but doesn’t it follow that we should also seek to get our money’s worth from our atomics in a similar fashion?

Rocket Banana
June 18, 2014 6:30 pm

Thanks ACC.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
June 18, 2014 6:32 pm

Simon,

I’m not saying you are wrong, but I have a strong suspicion that the AEW/ASW modularity swap abouts are going to involve some significant systems engineering, both initial / non-recurring and the a lesser amount of re-checks / re-certs at each swap over.

EVERYTHING is going to have to be electrically / electronically /TEMPEST tested against EVERYTHING else on the platform, there’ll be air-safety pedantry up the yin yang, DAOS approvals, test rigs, etc. then there will be a set if qualifications issued that mean it won’t be easy to do what you want to do. That is just the once off stuff. Out on an aircraft carrier, it is going to involve dozens of engineers, further checks, signing forms, changes to procedures as things like depth charges won’t be certified to be next door to AEW radars belting out kilowatts of radiation, so they’ll have to be de-mounted and taken away for storage after the morning’s ASW mission… The list of things probably really will be endless.

Apart from anything else, onboard systems on the platform may need changing or altering. The AEW version is going to need to produce lots of power. That much power introduces both analogue and digital (and magnetic, come to think of it) fuzziness and distortion which might wreck a dipping sonar’s day, or at least it’s’ internal electronics.

Then there’s the comms fit outs. I can guarantee they will be different for each role.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
June 18, 2014 10:39 pm

What was the elecro-magnetic ping that set the waepons off and almost sank the Enterprise to the bottom of the S. China Sea?
” things like depth charges won’t be certified to be next door to AEW radars belting out kilowatts of radiation”

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
June 19, 2014 3:43 am

Operating Merlin HM2s off RFAs and Escorts would free up space on the Carrier. The question though is can the T-45 and the planned T-26 operate a helicopter the size of the Merlin. The T-23 was desighned to so if they cannot it would be a step backwards. A good idea would be for any future RFA designed to support the Carrier group to be able to operate 2 Merlins in both VERTREP and ASW roles. This capability would also lend itself to other non warfighting roles.

CheshiteCat
CheshiteCat
June 19, 2014 7:33 am

Lord Jim

Both the T45 and T26 have flightdecks capable of operating a Chinook, so Merlin would be no problem.
T45’s routinely deploy with a Lynx (on occasion 2) as ASW isn’t really their thing and so it would be a waste of a precious cab, but have definitely seen images of a Merlin on the deck and in the hangar.
I would imagine that the above would be no different for the T26, although they would of course routinely deploy the Merlin as ASW is what they’re designed to do.
As for the RFA’s, the Forts and Waves are already capable of operating multiple Merlins, and certainly the Forts have exercised this for ASW screening. Whilst the new Tides are again capable of operating a Chinook and I believe hangaring two Merlins.

Hope the above helps
CC

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 19, 2014 1:45 pm

“Are you saying that they should come out of Culdrose depth maintenance pre-configured as ASW/AEW? I think I can see your point but would hope that you could (if needed) just “snap on” a Vigilance pod, slide in a 19 inch rack processing unit, and use your embarked Merlin HM2/3 for AEW. I’m assuming things like displays and consoles are generic now?”

Irrespective of whether they come out of CU preconfigured, the point is that even if you could swap configuration seamlessly, the people operating the cab require completely different skillsets, which means you will need two different squadron organisations. As RT suggests you’ll probably also need different test schedules etc which means that although flipping the cabs between the squadrons while on board might be theoretically possible, the practicalities suggest otherwise. What it might do is reduce the total numberof cabs in “depth” as it will be one fleet vs two.

Operating the dippers (or baggers) from RFA is OK as a concept, but has three big disadvantages. Firstly it puts size into the RFA ship in an area where (to deconflict from RAS points, cargo holds etc) it’s difficult to use the space efficiently. Secondly, there’s an inherent conflict between running a ripple programme and having a deck available for VERTREP. Prestaging stores for a big VERTREP tends to knock out most of your flight and hangar deck. Finally your ASW co-ordination becomes more difficult (as you’ll be split over at least two ships) and so does your AAW because your baggers won’t be able to be told what to do by the FJ lads (!). Yes you can videoconf (EMCON permitting) but it’s not quite the same as having a beer debrief in the wardroom with your oppo – particularly if normally based at different stations – and let’s be honest CU and Marham are not exactly next door……

Of our current RFA (ex Argus) only Vic is really capable of operating multiple cabs. The old Forts can fit a couple (and then only with MASF support) – Waves and Tides can only host one.

The T26 cabs will be different as they are usually the extension of their ships sensor system rather than an integral part of the screen/dipper programme – depending on threat / environment.