A last blast of the trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Elephants

244

A sweary ranty guest post from IXION

With the naming of HMS Queen Elizabeth the RN has finally, (well 5 ish years from now, will have) had its wicked way with the taxpayer, and the other forces, and weirdly itself.

The RN is irrevocably committed to maintaining a Carrier Battle Group at the core of its operations so much so that the entire surface fleet over about 2000 tons is/ will be designed purchased and crewed, for that role.

In fact when one looks at re fit and upgrade paths etc, it is doctrine that if we send Nellie off to war against a peer or near peer enemy then the rest of the available fleet goes with it.

Indeed if the RN hierarchy could make “We want 2 and we won’t wait” Rhyme then it would be shouting it from the rooftops and leaking it to its friends in the press; whilst secretly manoeuvring to get the other forces budgets cut, or demanding other non-defence budgets are cut to pay for Dumbo.

Oh hang on a minute……

[box style=”3″]

And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow—
“Shadow,” said he,
“Where can it be—
This land of Eldorado?”

[/box]

(Don Ixion breaks out the troll food, climbs upon Rocinanti, and tilts one last time against the windmills of the carrier junkies.)

OK why have aircraft carriers?

ONE

Sea power 1.1 ever since they court marshalled Billy Mitchell if you want to command the sea against a peer or near peer enemy; then you have to command the air over that sea.

TWO

When we are using sea power to project land based power ashore, either as part of an amphibious assault or a land based operations a long way from home, then the carrier is the thing.

THREE

There are proponents of land based air power for this job: – unfortunately history teaches that such thoughts are largely bollocks. Land based long range air power for maritime warfare, is inadequate, lacks on the spot endurance, turns up late, or frequently not at all.

FOUR

So if we want to remain a world power, capable of projecting significant armed force around the world against peer or near peer enemies we need carriers.  We need to have one available at pretty much all times and loaded for bear, 36 or so top rank combat Aircraft , inherent Airborne early warning and all the rest, the support and escort ships to protect them and their mission specific accompanying vessels plus amphibious warfare ships if needed.

FIVE

When I first heard about the carriers I was genuinely cheered.  I thought at last the cash strapped 70’s that gave us the ‘through deck cruiser’ was being replaced with some kick-ass common sense about projecting our reformed more mobile armed forces, more capable of doing Gulf 1, so powerful as to act as a standing  deterrent to all sorts of Nameless Isles /Gibraltarian foolishness.

The RN was ‘BACK BABY FUCK YEA!’

SO WTF!  (As our texting children would say)

Why has ‘A hairy man crying alone in the wilderness’ ; taken it into his tortured soul to cry ‘Repent! Ye worshipers of Elephant shaped idols’.

Why has Ixion joined the Darkside (apart from the free Cookies).

What’s wrong with the Elephants

OR:

“If you must do this damn foolish thing don’t do it in this damn foolish way”

(Sir Humphrey Appleby)

ONE

If we are serious about them as ‘strike carriers’ or whatever sexy title you want to give them, then they need to carry a big load of planes and support them over an intensive cycle of operations.  It is admittedly my weakest criticism of them that they are ‘ light’ in the number of planes carried IMHO short of about 10-15 Fighter bombers, they are built to a size and budget constraint not to a requirement.

TWO

The fuckwitery of the procurement process, (worth an article in itself), meant that armour, armament, and functions (like task force command), were stripped from the original design.

To the point that they are much less capable than originally planned.

This is to the point; and those who criticise, those of us that point to the 500 million or so spent on the Queen Mary 2 and ask: – “Why are Elephants 6 times the cost of queens”?  Could; rather than asserting that commercial ships are much cheaper to build. Ask themselves what a thousand cabins with aircon and showers, internet connections, theatres casinos, and a waterpark  cost?

THREE

The intensive cycle of operations which carriers should be able to keep to requires intensive support. MARS and the Fort class, go some way but they are not being procured in the numbers required, and themselves require escorting in combat areas.

FOUR

And it is the escort thing that really bites. It is the fact that in a real shooting war the RN has about enough T45 to protect the CBG, and about the same of T26 when they arrive.  If we are going up against a peer or near peer enemy.

FIVE

It is points 3 and 4 that really matter.  Whenever the carrier comes up for discussion the carrier junkies appear:-  and Homer Simpson Like, mutter ‘MMM carrier airpower’ and a little bubble appears above their heads with a full on NIMITZ Battle group in it, with the red ensign flying, as The RN re-enters the pacific in force. To show (one more time), WE ARE STILL A WORLD POWER YOU KNOW…..

SIX

The problem us anti carrier nutters have, is that some of the carrier junkies are Admirals, with gold braid and barges, and Car parks (north).

There was one on Newsnight on Friday.

He actually said that ‘if Britain is to maintain control of world shipping we need these carriers’.

I would ask you to consider that for a minute.

By and large these days Ships are built in the far-east and eastern Europe.

They are then owned by German Doctors, or European shipping lines and ship Asian manufactured goods to Europe and the USA. They are shipped via shipping lanes to which an RN combat force is a distant memory, and registered in ports in Africa and South America.

SO.

Just exactly how do we ‘control world shipping’?????

If we do, then if and when we lose control of it, it will be because the commercial advantages of operating in London have gone east.

Not because of Nellie or Dumbo.

SEVEN

Our Admiral of the fleet (Newsnight), then started droning on about how, we invest more abroad than anyone else in Europe.

You know the ‘we are globally engaged’ fallacy.

It’s a fallacy that we are more globally engaged than anyone else, the Germans sell far more manufactured goods abroad than we do, yet I missed the bit about their new carrier the Graf Zeppelin being commissioned…..

EIGHT

The other Admiral – the one who can write, really let the cat out of the bag, when he stated that we needed these carriers to ‘Remain at the forefront of smart power’.

In other words they are status symbols.

NINE

The point worth expanding on is that we have built carriers without the sufficient supporting ships and infrastructure, for high level operations.

But when challenged, Carrier Junkies often accuse me of ‘putting up straw men’.  That carriers will not be sent to fight the Chinese, or Russia etc in the pacific; they are for fighting non peer enemies. Nearer to home in the Atlantic and the Med.
In which case they are in effect only going to be used as enlarged Invincibles. In which case they are too big and too expensive for the role.

After all we could have fitted 12-18 f35’s on smaller cheaper hulls.

ELEVEN

And this is the really big point one thing me and the Admiral of the fleet who can write agree with is that 1 aint enough.

1 is just a showcase.

I once watched a TV talk show when a lefty commentator was talking about how she had admitted she had given up trying to stop her children using the term Gay as abuse.  Not you understand about sexuality, but meaning flashy, showy, half hearted, not really up to it.

The elephant(s) are for want of a better term ‘A bit Gay’.

2 aint enough, we need 3 to give us the ability to always have one ready and to upgrade individually over their 50 year life.

1 cannot be always available, even though that is all we can support.

TWELVE

In effect our Navy has decide that it will sacrifice everything it has on the surface, on the altar of having a Carrier Battle Group to put us at the ‘top table’.

So what damage does all this do?

ONE

Well one is that everything that floats is spec’d and designed to be part of the carrier force.  If it can’t fight as part of that its no good for the RN.  The same RN that boasts all of the time, about its anti-piracy, anti-terrorist, anti-drug smuggling, actions…..

TWO

The cost of all this has reduced the funding available for all the above tasks and others mine warfare submarines etc.  The whole RN doctrine is not about what do we do with our carrier?  It’s a bit like if the Army was reduced to 1 tank regiment and then ran its entire doctrine about deploying and protecting it.

THREE

It maintains a view of we are a serious world power you know.

The fact that we can afford a rabbit fur coat, and not, to trouble the underwear department of Marks and Spencers, remains obscured by the shadow of these things.

These things will always of course be of some use. I am sure they will, be sent on this or that task.

Many pictures will be taken, BBC journo’s will be wined and dined, and get to stand on the prow talking to camera about how fucking wonderful they are, and will doubtless appear on every bit of recruiting material the RN can produce.

They would be used in a Libya Situation, proving their necessity, doubtless they will be deployed off the cost of Southend to protect us from international terrorism. etc etc.

Stuff you can do with a carrier but can actually do without anyway.

They are too weak for the role they were designed for.

They are too big and powerful for the role they will carry out.

The RN will / has reshaped itself into a one trick pony.

They will encourage exactly the type of half assed willy waiving that got us into trouble in Iraq and Afghan.

They will not ‘protect our commerce’ or ‘Our global engagement’

Although to be sure we will be told they will and the Square jawed sons of Nelson will not cease to tell anyone who will listen how important they are to UK’s trade.

They will dominate RN strategy and thinking it will all be about deploying and protecting ‘the carrier’.

We will have one.  We lose it we lose the RN as a fighting force.

There you have it. The reason I will go to my grave cursing the Elephants an all their junky supporters and all their works.

[box style=”3″]

“Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,”
The shade replied—
“If you seek for Eldorado!”

[/box]

 

 

292 Comments
  1. AJS says

    Magnificent

  2. Gloomy Northern Boy says

    ….err – so if we had three plus air wings you’d be much happier about the whole thing then? Better still if we revisited the whole for not with business? :-)

    GNB

  3. Rocket Banana says

    Hilarious :-)

    I read it all. I even noticed a distinct lack of number 10.

    However, I still don’t quite get what your issue actually is. Is it:

    1. We should have no carriers.
    2. We should have smaller, more numerous carriers.
    3. We should do it properly and have three big carriers and all the necessary escorts and support ships.
    4. We should not think they are the pillar of the Royal Navy.
    5. We should not get ideas above out station.
    6. We should (as a nation) fizzle away into obscurity and allow all and sundry to dominate our way of life.

  4. Rocket Banana says

    Must admit though that it’s pretty sobering to realise that IXION certainly has a point with…

    We will have one. We lose it we lose the RN as a fighting force.

    Although, fortunately, we will have two ;-)

  5. Nick says

    IXION

    I enjoyed reading that. I don’t know enough about the design, but I would have thought the task force C&C functions would be an easy fix as would adding Sea Ceptor or similar on the armament side (and no doubt that was Admiral Baldrick’s cunning plan ?). That laves just the armour point ? What do the US do in their designs we didn’t ? In any case, just how much money would we have saved by building a CdG sized carrier and fielding 20 instead of 35 F35 ?

    On your wider point, aren’t you really describing the entire British Defence policy of all three services ? Isn’t our whole aim to maintain “relevance” in the eyes of the US to keep our seat at the table as number 1 ally and the special relationship (Blair as Bush’s poodle/lap dog to be more succinct).

    I’m not saying I disagree with this part of HMG’s strategy (and arguably it is commensurate with the history of the UK and our current position as a top 5/6 world economy), but if you accept this as our strategic aim, then surely it follows that you want your military contribution as the number 1 US ally, to be consistent with the level of performance the Pentagon would require a similar sized US force to deliver.

    If we chose not to fill that role, then surely UK forces would be modeled more along that which Germany delivers (but arguably more maritime focused than Germany as a continental power), where we know there is little out of area capability and a less demanding technical spec for much of its equipment.

    Isn’t our real problem that we’re not (currently) prepared to spend sufficient cash (or perhaps spend wisely) to fund all of our day to day commitments as well as having the shiny toys for the near P2P engagement alongside our US Allies and that it seems (with Afghanistan/Iraq/Syria) that the majority British Public has accepted our second tier status as a major post-Imperial country and wants something closer to a German style national self defence force these days ?

    Cheers

    Nick

  6. MSR says

    The French have a carrier but their entire fleet is not composed solely of carrier escorts, as you say the RN will be.

    I agree with Simon. Your position is not clear, and the piece lacks a conclusion. Even the worst rants have a point at the end!

    As a carrier supporter, however, I share your concern that it will become the sole focus of RN thinking. If that happens the RN will simply have swapped its Cold War ASW specialism for an asymmetric era single battle group specialism and this, in its own way, will pervert the service’s function just as the ASW focus did.

    The carriers should be a component, not the reason for being.

  7. Nick says

    Simon

    Isn’t your point 6 (fizzle away) at the heart of the UKIP/Tory exit the EU (and bye bye Scotland) mind set of our current little Englander Nigel Farage et al ?

    We seem to have currently forgotten just what the UK actually is in global comparison terms in a bout of introspection ? We’re the 6th largest economy in the world (the recession having pushed France back to number 5) and we really can afford to a global player if we choose to. Let’s try to remember that realistically we’ll be a top 10 economy in size for quite a long time in absolute terms (and even when we do drop to top 15 it’ll be because the world economy as a whole has significantly increased in size not because we’ve shrunk) and it’ll be a very long time (if ever) before China/India/Brazil match the UK in the real national wealth measure – GDP/head).

    Cheers

    Nick

  8. wirralpete says

    @Ixion … question is do the next govt have the willpower to right the wrongs of sdsr2010 and reestablish HM armed forces back to a credible fighting force ?
    1. RN are getting ssn’s t26’s rfa’s with crewing requirements of 2/3 of current fleet. Therefore not an incredible jump to conclude manpower can be found to crew a second carrier over next 10 years from the resource budget.
    2. To have a credible number of aircraft then you have to fund 80 f35b, more merlin.
    3. You also have to fund 1 more ssn, 3 more t26, and fully fund mars sss, and also to be credible 12 poseidon mpa.
    4. You also have to fund a credible RM/16aab with 4 bn worth in each, extras perhaps from a ‘rifles bde’ .
    Otherwise what are they for?
    Answers on a postcard….

    1. uk economy is growing apace at 3% per annum therefore defence budget as a % of gdp grows at 3% per annum
    2. Please strip out public duties red arrows et al from defence budget and fund from duchy of lancaster revenues to enable a modest increase in army funding
    3. The 3% increase in gdp growth funds mpa extra merlins and f35b’s and also funds t26 ssn and proper mars sss. And a 6th typhoon sqn.

    Fantasy fleet rant over lol

  9. Nick says

    MSR

    aren’t you being a little unfair. When CdG was involved in Afghanistan and Libya campaigns, the French relied on the lack of naval opposition and the cover of the US/international fleet to deliver the protection needed. We would do exactly the same with QE/PoW in a similar situation down the line.

    If France needed to do independent force protection using CdG, then the French navy would need all of its current modern escorts just as we would. Surely the real argument is that its hard to envisage either ourselves or France acting alone ? In any case, apart from the US, only Russia, India (and soon China) could – theoretically – actually do independent maritime force projection anyway ?

    Nick

  10. monkey says

    The carriers to my mind are a self fulfilling prophesy , we have some first rate SSN in the Astute’s but not quite enough to support the carriers and ……(fill in as required),we have some first rate Guided missile destroyers in the Daring’s but not quite enough to support the carriers and ……(fill in as required),we will have some first rate ASW Frigates in the T26’S but not quite enough to support the carriers and ……(fill in as required) “so please Sir can we have more” and the list goes on to include more OPV to full fill the anti-whatever roles , new Mine hunters to keep the sea ways for the Fleet clear , new RFA to support the ever growing demands for resupply, “they can’t be in two places at once you know?” .
    The PLAN is I believe to get these Carriers into the Government’s mind set and grow the fleet out from there justifying the demands based on Government policy for wanting a Place on the World Stage.
    P.S. I am with the Admirals on this one.

  11. Daniele Mandelli says

    I read it all but cannot be bothered to attempt to answer all your points. But just a few.

    Might as well not have any Astutes either. After all, when might we need them?
    When might we need LPD’s?
    Why have a nice car in the drive?
    Why have money? Lets all be swampy living in a ditch……

    Agree with Nick, above. Really is the “Little Britain” mentality again, which is holding this country back.

    The comment of Simon above is also telling “6. We should (as a nation) fizzle away into obscurity and allow all and sundry to dominate our way of life.” Could not agree more with his points.

    We are a P5 member.
    We are top 10 economy nation.
    We are a G8 richest industrial nation.

    All reasons enough to have Aircraft Carriers.

    Or would you prefer we have the world clout of…?

    I also do not see why the entire RN should be committed to 1 CBG.

  12. Gloomy Northern Boy says

    @ Thread – And if we are to discuss Elephants (in rooms) in public spending terms let us give some proper attention to the humongously vast herd represented by Health (now a national religion, uncritically fed with gold by all comers); Education (practically doubled, and yet still we tumble down the international league tables) and Social Security (successfully keeping millions of decent people in immiserated poverty since about 1970)…

    And I speak as a retired Public Servant who has spent thirty years working for pay in areas where the failures of those systems intersect, and who still works more hours in a week running and developing community projects and working as a school governor in a very tough corner of Gloomyville than the average politician, academic or journalist who pontificates about them has spent in them throughout his or her entire gilded, self-important and utterly worthless life..!

    Ranting Gloomy. :-)

  13. mike says

    Couldn’t really see the point other than several arguments with hindsight.

    But I do agree that the RN has hollowed itself out for this, and when people say the second carrier could replace our last big amphib, Ocean, just sounds a tad desperate.
    Maybe, like the unnecessary expansion of 849NAS, they on purpose wanted it huuuuge so it would really be “too big to fail”! *tin foil hat*

    But well, whats done is done, hindsight is a wonderful thing… at least one will be coming into service… and the RN doesn’t have much more to cut off itself to pay for the second… so the Army and RAF will have to “pitch in”… you hear RN chiefs mention more and more the “use to the Army and RAF” they will provide… (and they’re right, these are more purple assets run by the RN) but it is a good thing the F35 will be shared, share the costs…on its own, the RN couldn’t budget for anything to fly off them!

  14. Random says

    Gloomey look at the NHS spending as a percentage of GDP vs france or gemany, or if you really want a laugh America. Please its really important if you care about defence not to let ruport murdoch land us with a imensivly exspensice private heath care system. The NHS is the only system where we can control costs, and we have been doing so just LOOK AT THE FIGURES! rising costs are due to an aging population and change in life styles, and the rising cost in treatment but we have managed so far to provide simliar level of care to other developed nations at reduced cost.

  15. DavidNiven says

    ‘We are a P5 member.
    We are top 10 economy nation.
    We are a G8 richest industrial nation.’

    But why should it automaticaly follow that we have the QE class aircraft carriers? I don’t think the Invincible class were an embarrassment were they? In that case we need a 500 FJ’s in the RAF fleet and a 250,000 strong army.

    There’s lots of arguments for equipment and capabilities but league tables and prestige should not be used for any of them.

  16. Hohum says

    Massively flawed post.

    By definition is the RN sails against a peer or near peer rival the entire navy will be going anyway. So we can strike that from the record.

    Second, carrier battle group? Really? Its not even a real aircraft carrier, its a big STOVL aviation platform that will get to play the role of LHA, CVS, and CVA as required, most of its life it won’t face anything more threatening than fishing boat with RPGs.

    The biggest problem with the anti-carrier brigade is that they think the British have built a USN style strike carrier, they haven’t, they have built a multi-role aviation ship. They also think they have spent a large amount of money on it, something else that is not the case.

  17. wirralpete says

    @Davidniven….
    My whole point you get a s**tload more bang for your buck if you invest in fj, and naval power projection, noone is goin to say lets do another iraq/afghan other than to kick in the door like in GW1 …. EVER
    We’ve learned that COIN operations just bleed money so libya/GW2 type ops are all we’re going to do in future …end of.
    So yes have a credible armoured division and RM/16AAB assault force but lets not kid ourselves we are ever goin to do COIN for 10 years ever again.

  18. Toby G says

    Well said Hohum

    I was going to ask precisely WHAT out of the RN will be required to sail with HMS QE or train with HMS POW, as the aircraft alone dictates that it is not a strike carrier but a CVS/LHA etc.

    Of course if things start to get heated, we could link up more support and enlarge the group as required, is this not feasible?

    Methinks in time unmanned sea launched drones will take over the F35 and EMALS will be installed on POW.

  19. wirralpete says

    @Toby G….
    Exactly can think of a few USMC sqns that would be itching to get aboard if we needed to ‘surge’ in a hot enviroment.
    However drones replacing f35’s maybe 25 years into the future :-)

  20. DavidNiven says

    @Wirralpete

    I think you’ve missunderstood my point. We choose the capabilities and equipment for what we want to achieve at the cost we can afford. Just because we are no5 in ‘x’ league, does not mean we have to have a certain type of capability. I’m not against the carriers, I just see them as an Invincible replacement but saying we need this and that because ‘we are who we are’ etc is a flawed approach to defence planning.

  21. wirralpete says

    @davidniven….
    However we are getting more capable ships at a manpower neutral cost perspective!
    With the ability to carry at least double the aircraft at a much higher sortie rate than the previous cvs?
    Oh and we’ve already spent the money or been nailed to a contract we cant get out of anyway ;-)
    Again keep going back to my point that t26 ssn mars etc are 2/3 crewing requirements of current vessels so is purely an equipment cost?
    GDP growing at 3 % p/a therefore increase defence by this amount to maintsain current 2% of GDP spent on defence?

  22. DavidNiven says

    X

    Agreed :-)

  23. Swimming Trunks says

    “I interviewed the last chief designer of CVA-01, Louis Rydill, just before he died, and he confirmed that he had said that the day the project was cancelled was the happiest of his life. However, that was not because he did not believe in the carrier case. It was because he felt that he had been forced to make so many compromises, and introduce so many risky design elements, because of size and budget restrictions, that the whole project had become a nightmare.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-28128026

    “Building the best and fielding only the best; it is arguable that Admiral Fisher started this habit when he was First Sea Lord and got rid of so many of Britain’s gunboats in order to provide manpower for his first rate Dreadnought Battleships of the Grand Fleet. Today it has led to navies, with Queens, with Rooks, with Bishops and Knights, but without Pawns; only First Rate ships are built and there are no cheap frigates or corvettes – that is the biggest problem. Without them there is no real chance for the presence that can alert, and even deter minor conflicts; allowing the First Rates to be saved for when they are really needed. The worst thing about all this, is that governments know there is the problem; the Black Swan concept was envisaged by the British Ministry of Defence/RN as the solution to the problem in 2012, but two years later the closest Britain has got to a small/affordable escort is the order for three new River-class offshore patrol vessels (OPVs).”

    http://www.europeangeostrategy.org/2014/07/centrepiecebut-rest-board/

  24. wirralpete says

    @ x and davidniven….
    Lol ;-) like it
    However what people fail to comprehend is that sdsr2010 was all about stripping out manpower and pension costs for the next 30 years to increase equipment budget ….
    20000 less army 3000 less navy 3000 less raf and 40000 less mod civil servants to pay for and their pensions into the future ….
    Makes you think spreadsheet phil ainr as stupid as he looks?

  25. Toby G says

    An article by Dr ‘Phoenix Tank’ Clarke is not really the way to argue the point of escort/group needs for CVF given track record

  26. Nick says

    wirralpete

    I have to disagree with you here:

    ” noone is goin to say lets do another iraq/afghan other than to kick in the door like in GW1 …. EVER
    We’ve learned that COIN operations just bleed money so libya/GW2 type ops are all we’re going to do in future …end of.
    So yes have a credible armoured division and RM/16AAB assault force but lets not kid ourselves we are ever goin to do COIN for 10 years ever again”

    The one thing history teaches us, is that we forget the lessons of the past and believe that it’s going to be different next time. Look at the US. In 1980 it wouldn’t have been conceivable that the US would commit to Afghanistan/Iraq after the trauma of Viet-Nam. yet they did, 25 years later. In fact they did do it differently (55,000 dead verse 5,000), but it was still unsuccessful.

    Do you really think that post Obama, a more neo-con focused post 2016 US government might not want to commit forces to Ukraine if (for example) the democratically elected government had suffered another 3 or 4 years of Russian supported and supplied insurgency ?

    The only way for the UK to avoid supporting the US in its next foreign policy adventure is by fundamentally changing our approach to “Defence” from being an internationalist focused player to a national self-defence force with limited overseas commitment capability (eg Japan, Germany). This might happen based on current public opinion, but this debate is coloured by austerity, pay freezes, standard of living decline and the fiasco of Iraq/Afghanistan. Things are likely to look quite different in 5 years time.

    Nick

  27. Rocket Banana says

    Queen = CVF (long range coverage)
    King = LPD (slow, without it there is little threat)
    Bishops = 2 x Bay (flexible but do not cover everything)
    Rooks = 2 x T45 (large, fast and hard-hitting)
    Knights = 2 x SSN (relatively slow and can slip past)
    Pawns = 4 x T26 and 4 x MCMV (clear the way)

  28. The Other Chris says

    If you do not design, build, man and operate enough First Rates to inform designers and planners on the next generation, you will lose the ability to retain First Rate capability.

    Once you reach a minimum level, you have to make a choice:

    1) Cannibalise your First Rate capability in favour of Second Rates;
    2) Forgo Second Rates in order to preserve your First Rate capability.

    What is the minimum level required to sustain a productive First Rate life cycle?

    Think Defence has already asked this question:

    http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2012/07/ever-decreasing-circles/

    Related discussion:

    http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2012/10/the-mods-spending/

    What wonderful archives!

  29. Hohum says

    Just read the Alexander Clarke piece, its hilarious. I am sure he is reasonably expert in British naval aviation in the 1920s and 30s but his grasp of modern international diplomacy and naval procurement is effectively zero.

  30. IXION says

    Hohum and others.

    My point is when ordered they were going to be full on strike carriers. Oh yes they were!

    Every graphic produced every simulation, showed (usually 2) carriers decks stuffed with jets. Surrounded by t45 and frigates. Most RN publicity 5 talked of them as strike carriers. They were light for that role in a real fight.

    What we have ended up with is a ship that will be used as an enlarged invincible/Ocean. Probably all we could have afforded in the first place. I did wonder at the time of my initial enthusiasm just how f**king big was that sofa they found the cash to run these things?

    If we buried the WASAWPYK walty thinking.

    Walty thinking in part because we simply can’t cash the cheques our ego is writing with our “we’re a world power coz we have a carrier’.

    We now have 1 enlarged invincible.

    We could do more with our limited budget.

    If instead we had gone from the start for an ‘enlarged” invincible. Style of ship. Say Juan Carlos style without a well deck or a bit bigger We could have saved a fortune! Afforded 2 if not 3 and saved ourself a fortune. And enhanced our existing capability.

  31. The Other Chris says

    How much does it cost to operate Illustrious?

  32. Hohum says

    The second rate/third rate/gun boat/sloop/corvette/blah blah blah is a favourite with certain naval historians enamoured with history before truly functional worldwide communications. Prior to that time Royal Navy officers would often have more power in regional diplomatic affairs than foreign secretaries for the simple reason they were on the scene and could get round on their ships which at the same time carried contingents of marines in addition to their own guns. The disparity of arms also meant that this usually provided some degree of local over-match. It is where this nonsense about alerting and deterring using small combatants comes from.

    It is all very quaint and makes for wonderfully romantic period stories but it is a world that is dead. The AK-47, IED and RPG have ended the over-match, global communications (our dear leaders now have video conferences) means that RN officers are no longer diplomats and that warning/insight into local affairs can be achieved by monitoring twitter. Influence is now a product of the possession of power and the willingness to use it, this requires the first rate platforms, and not much else.

  33. The Other Chris says

    Hohum is spot on.

  34. Hohum says

    IXION,

    One of the key design objectives of CVF, and one that by all accounts has more or less been achieved, was that they cost no more to run than an Invincible, so no cash to find.

    They were certainly not light to be Strike carriers, by displacement they are the second largest class of carriers in the world (after Nimitz/Gerald R. Ford) and you probably wouldn’t have saved much by buying smaller ships, additional smaller ships would have required more manpower (duplication of roles) and would have increased running costs.

    Whats wrong with an enlarged Invincible?

    And again, they really haven’t cost much when you consider how long they will be in service.

  35. Repulse says

    The reason why the RN has been hollowed out is not because of the carriers, but because of the defence cuts and ground wars. I think that the RN preserving carrier strike capability is essential and will be proved so in the longer term, yes it means that the high end navy will be focused around a carrier group (2 at a stretch), but it still means you can fight when needed.

    The seas will be the conflict zones where peer nations play in the future, without a credible force we can do nothing. As I’ve said elsewhere however something has to give and in my view the current RM / amphibious assault model needs a review.

  36. DavidNiven says

    ‘As I’ve said elsewhere however something has to give and in my view the current RM / amphibious assault model needs a review.’

    Could’nt agree more. we could re role 3Cdo to be our coastal/littoral raiders with brown water capabilty and fleet protection.
    The amphibious role could go to an army bde with 16 port and maritime and transferring the bulk of the CS/CSS units from 3 Cdo.

    The same for 16AAB, and use the paras more like the US Rangers.

  37. Think Defence says

    I think the point IXION is making is that as evisaged, the carriers were at the tip of this

    http://www.wantaghschools.org/cms/lib05/NY01001016/Centricity/Domain/814/equalitateral.gif

    Now, they are at the tip of this

    http://www.wantaghschools.org/cms/lib05/NY01001016/Centricity/Domain/814/isosceles.gif

  38. x says

    @ wirralpete

    I did read it. I have turned over a new leaf with my posting here, light and short, and infrequent. Too many here now sucking the life out of a site that was interesting and fun.

    If I could wave a magic wand would I replace CVF with something else? Just lately I have tended to think I would. For me the whole of idea of the UK “doing” carrier strike is and was bonkers. We could have built T45 to take TLAM (and SCALP-N too) in numbers and Astute with a dozen VLS tubes and contributed to the West collective strike more cost effectively. Odd that the UK throw TLAM in penny packets because of cost and capacity, and then spend £6 billion without the aeroplanes to do strike. CVF should have been built around E2 and then somebody should have gone to buy a jet, be it a Boeing or Dassault or Lockheed Martin. JFH was utter rhubarb. Crowsnest may be making progress but still smacks of cheap and cheerful and make do; oh that we could have come up with something that was innovative as Sampson. (Before somebody jumps on that I don’t mean Sampson in the air. I mean a solution for Crowsnest that was a big a jump as SeaVipe over SeaDart.) The lesson from that war was AEW is a necessity not a nice to have. We are about to enter a missile age similar to what Sandys thought we were about to enter in that white paper. Odd that the theme here is constantly that we only do stuff with the Americans, if you argue anything different you are a nut job, and yet the capability the RN decided to duplicate is the most expensive one the USN has. Oh! Gordon Brown is a kumquat. The expensive bits may mean a Cavour style carrier wouldn’t have been a third as cheap going on displacement but it would have been cheaper. 12 Astutes, more Darings as intended Atlas sonar (a la De Zeven) etc, more Merlins, 2087 for every T23, all operating under a comprehensive AEW umbrella from a command ship would probably have served us better. It might have secured a funding path to replace the amphibs with ships that fitted in with their USN counterparts in an area where we have maintain competency. (Never mind purchasing an aviation platform like Cavour where as much thought was given to amphibious ops as sea control not just a second string capability as CVF) I think the funding of QEC crewx, the trajectory of F35b, the trajectory of missile and UCAVs technology, the “need” to replace Torndado, recruitment of FJ pilots, may mean that give a decade or two they just won’t be viable. I see parallels with HMS Vanguard (1945).

  39. Corin Vestey says

    @ Hohum – your point about second/third-raters. Have you read TD’s piece on forward deployed Presence/Utility ships and either way do you see any value in having such vessels bearing in mind the Army 2020 idea of Adaptable Brigades/Battalions deployed in pre-conflict capacity-building efforts in, for example, Africa? Looking at the second-rate ship from the point of view of high-intensity conflict they are not much good (although it is not impossible to imagine the return of the armed trawler/merchantman if SGR) but is there not a real role to play in terms of strengthening local institutions at a practical level in areas where chronic instability and extremism are either flourishing or threatening to do so? Lower cost utility ships ( to be procured and manned as well as not instead of high-end warships) seem to be the only affordable way to maintain semi-permanent deployments around the globe (potentially handling some standing tasks too) while moving to a more fleet and flotilla focused RN and supporting the Army in their mooted role in capacity building.

  40. Rocket Banana says

    Just for a bit of fun…

    Why an Aircraft Carrier?

    By aircraft carrier we mean a vessel capable of launching and recovering fixed-wing, jet aircraft.

    There are likely to be plenty of other ships in the fleet capable of supporting rotary-wing aircraft and some of these aircraft make formidable attack assets. Furthermore, we also see a multitude of guided-missile, air-warfare destroyers capable of tracking hundreds of aircraft with extremely powerful radars and directing Mach 4 missiles to intercept incoming threats out to 100km. Additionally the destroyers and sub-surface nuclear attack submarines (SSN) can also launch scores of cruise missiles which can hit targets over one thousand miles away. We therefore need to ratify the need for extremely expensive carrier borne aircraft and their home amidst the waves.

    The traditional roles of jet aircraft are for air defence and strike (attack) missions. As noted above the same roles can now be provided by the guided-missile destroyer and a plethora of helicopters… or can they?

    With the advent of long-range Surface to Air Missile (SAM) technology also comes the advent of long-range cruise and ballistic missiles. In all cases however we generally need to know where the target is before launching our missiles. Due to the curvature of the Earth a surveillance aircraft at 12,500m can see only 400km. A fast jet at almost double the altitude (20,000m) can only see an additional 100km. This means that our fleet of huge warships can be targeted and the enemy can launch standoff weapons at us until the cows come home. It is very unlikely that our destroyers will be able to guide a missile accurately enough to intercept a relatively small aircraft at such a long range.

    We need fast jets to intercept enemy aircraft launching standoff missiles at us from 400-500km.

    We also find that although the likes of the AH-64 Apache Gunship are awesome machines; they can carry only relatively light weapons and are highly vulnerable to man-portable, air-defence missile systems (MANPADS). We would therefore have to rely on cruise missiles, such as the Tomahawk land-attack missile (TLAM), for heavy strikes from our guided-missile destroyers.

    At the time of writing these destroyers cost around £1b (one-billon pounds) and carry around one hundred missiles each costing around £500,000. This is a total cost per warhead of about £10.5m.

    If we compare this with even the small carrier being proposed here we can see that the cost per warhead is significantly less. We can estimate the cost of the carrier to be no more than £2b plus eight jets each costing around £100m. The cost per bomb is relatively insignificant at £20,000 each for a 1000lb JDAM. Each jet will carry two of these and each jet would be expected to undertake about 45 sorties over the course of a month long operation (720 bombs delivered). The total cost is £2814m, which works out at £3.9m per warhead. If we look at the £3b Queen Elizabeth class carrier with 30 jets and 2700 bombs delivered the total cost comes in at around £6054 and less than £2.3m per warhead.

    Carrier borne jets are a more cost effective way of delivering ordnance to target.

    Obviously using the destroyer’s cruise missiles is significantly safer so we would hope to have both with the opening stages of a conflict seeing cruise-missile strikes and the carrier borne jets delivering the sustained bombing campaign.

  41. jonesy says

    Ixion

    Do you think the QE’s are not strike carriers because they use the STOVL principle?. Plainly a nonsense…if delivered as advertised the F-35B will have similar or better reach to the original Hornet and far a superior sensor/weapons suite. That aircraft being a staple of USN carrier air wings for a couple of decades.

    STOVL makes sense for us for a very, very simple reason. No one, certainly not the Admiralty, wants to pay for the upgrade of the fleet air arm to match the fast jet capability of the Aeronavale. No one wants to have to fork out to upgrade basing to support, likely, three frontline sqdns and an OCU….not when theres half a chance we could be seeing frigate numbers dropping and we arent getting all the fleet subs we might like.

    So, seeing as we want to use RAF bases and would rather like RAF pilots to be able to operate from our decks, the CATOBAR route was never really viable. Arrested landing skills are perishable and its highly unfair to expect sqdn leader Farquar-Smith to come straight off a 3 month tour bombing Toyotas in the back of beyond, expect him to keep up his deck rating and then send him straight to the ship as it clears the Mandeb strait. STOVL deck rating is quite a bit less onerous a task…even the notoriously twitchy Harrier GR3 was able to deploy to very much smaller decks under the guidance of drivers who’d never attempted landing on one previously.

    STOVL then is an enabler that allows the ship to be Strike Carrier one day and humanitarian assistance node the next. It lets us run Carrier Strike without many of the associated costs of running naval air…or rather it allows those costs to be shared with the Light Blue….which amounts to the same thing. The size of the ship allows for the sustained sortie generation rate that a smaller hull with smaller airgroup couldnt. Its not a USN style carrier…its not meant to be one. It does fit our specifc needs very well though.

  42. The Other Chris says

    Possible CVF internal hangar arrangement for 6 Merlins, 16 F-35C and 4 Hawkeye:

    http://navy-matters.beedall.com/cvfimages/cvf-bae-ctol-hanger-med.jpg

    Source: Navy Matters, Part 24:

    http://navy-matters.beedall.com/cvf1-01.htm

    Recommended reading if you haven;t already, it’s been around a while and updated over the years.

  43. Hohum says

    Corin Vestey,

    The RN should absolutely be performing that role, but it doesn’t need specialist ships to do it. It can be achieved by the deployment of personnel to the target country and bringing the target country’s personnel to the UK. The service that should have such third rate ships is the country with the security problem, say Nigeria or Kenya as examples.

  44. monkey says

    Next we need to deploy CSW as Kings to escort properly our Queen and Prince.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v290/cg001/CSW21/Concept-CSW-21–Rev-00-15April2012–8×11.gif
    I propose King George VI as a class name , that should please dear old Liz.

  45. Hohum says

    Re STOVL/CTOL,

    This has been done so many times its ridiculous, and at this point irrelevant. In 2010 everyone wanted C because it flies further with more ordnance, it had the added bonus of looking less risky at that moment in time, the former becoming more important now the inevitable had been accepted that these two F-35 squadrons were also going to be Tornado GR.4 replacements. There was only going to be two squadrons, one badged FAA and one badged RAF, both would in reality RAF controlled. Going CTOL over STOVL would not have resulted in any significant change in the land based capital investment, the only change was on the carriers. By alluding to three squadrons and an OCU etc Jonesey is being disingenuous, there was a (supposedly) joint F-35 force of two squadrons with associated bits (OCU etc) the only question was what F-35 variant it would be.

    As an aside, the need to qualify F-35 pilots for CTOL and keep them qualified was considered entirely viable. The problem was the carrier conversion costs (and one suspects the risks these posed to keeping both ships).

  46. Nick says

    jonesy

    The F35B will actually (probably) make mostly computer controlled/assisted low speed rolling landings to maximize carry back capacity. BAe is actively investigating this right now. This should enhance capability significantly

  47. jonesy says

    Hohum,

    “Jonesey is being disingenuous, there was a (supposedly) joint F-35 force of two squadrons with associated bits (OCU etc)”

    Not so. Just doubtful that two frontline squadrons and even a significant OCU would’ve guaranteed even one full carrier airwing under normal crewing conditions. If you work on the principle of one squadron deploying as routine peacetime airwing and rotating personnel out through the course of a deployment you will end up with some pretty beaten airframes by the end of the deployment. Should the second carrier need to constitute a full carrier strike capability shortly into its next deployment those planes couldnt be guaranteed to be available. Emptying the OCU might work short term, but, short term only. The third squadron, as I believe the Aeronavale will be operating (11F, 12F and 17F) would be the logical answer.

    Nick,

    Indeed SRL may well be employed…save for circumstance of high bringback weight though vertical landing remains a valid option for deck recovery….and SRL is still a far cry removed from the need to CATOBAR deck qualify before a pilot could operate from the ship.

  48. Hohum says

    Jonesey,

    Depends what you call “a full carrier air wing”, there are only going to be two UK F-35B squadrons giving a maximum front-line UE of 24, I remember when CVF was going to have the capacity for 50 aircraft including up to 40 JSF’s and the UK was going to order 150 of them. I even recall being told how a surge could see a CVF in CVA configuration with 48 JSFs. In reality, QE is unlikely to ever carry many more than 12, especially now she has to make space for many more helicopters.

  49. Jonesy says

    Hohum,

    Required ‘Carrier Strike’ sortie rates, as they wuz, were contingent on a minimum of 3 sorties per cab per day. If I recall correctly first-day Key User Requirement was pegged around the 108 mark….indicating a surge airwing of 36. Also my recollection was that 617 and 809 were only initial squadron establishments on type?.

  50. All Politicians are the Same says

    @Hohum/Jonesy

    We should not talk about Carrier Air Wings but rather tailored air groups. Rear Admiral Harding outlined some of the possible packages last year. At the end of the day though, the mission, the threat and the availability of assets both air and maritime will drive the make up of the TAG. People flinging numbers about are just guessing.

  51. IXION says

    Hohum

    We had 3 invincibles.

    We have 1 Elephant.

    In effect the Elephant will operate as an invincible

    If we had wanted a 35000 ton invincible replacement 1 billion would have been a top price.

    Elephants have zero crew number increase over the invincibles. So a modern enlarged invincible should by the same process have a reduced crew. Oh and cost a lot less for 2 in service at any one time.

    BTW I am a fan of stovl. You will not find in my post any mention of cats and traps.

  52. Peter Elliott says

    A figure of 14 Merlin (9 ASW, 5 AEWC) has been talked of as a baseine for force protection.
    Add the ‘resident’ single squadron of F35B gets you 26 airframes (9+5+12)

    If the maximum normal loadout for an efficient deck is set at 40 then that leaves space for around 14 ‘other’ airframes flexible to task:
    Apache, Chinook or CHF Merlin.
    Or a visiting squadron of Fast Air from either RAF or an allied power.

  53. John Hartley says

    Oooh, don’t challenge me to make the camels/elephants a bit gay. Those F-35B would look lovely in desert pink, like those RAF Jaguars circa 1991. Then for the ships, a sauna, steam room & a skinny dip pool. Get Jasper Conran to design some tight fitting uniforms. Only sail to Ibiza, Sitges, Mykonos, Provincetown, Key West & Sydney.
    Getting back on subject, I partly agree with Ixion. We have neither fish, nor fowl, as these carriers were designed by clueless politicians. Blair wanted a big Nimitz type carrier , so he could pretend he was as powerful as the US President. Brown wanted to pay for a rowing boat. So we ended up with a hollow giant. Something that looks good at a fleet review, but will be a paper tiger in battle.
    All is not yet lost. If, & its a big if, the QE/PoW both stay in service & get decent air groups, with all the spares & weapons, plus enough escorts, then the UK will have a mighty big stick. If the politicians skimp, sell/scrap one carrier, then put the other in harms way with a tiny air group & escort, then we will have another WW2 style disaster (think Hood, Prince of Wales).

  54. Fedaykin says

    I must say “Great IXION, now that you have got that out of your system can the incessant and dull whining stop from various usually green leaning quarters”!

    Seriously the die is cast and wish people would just move on. I don’t wish to travel over old ground but as Jonesy would attest from my presance on Key Publishing forums I was very much in the CATOBAR camp. Once the switch back decision was made in 2012 and I started to see the details I realised the STOVL was the only realistic choice.

    To pick up a few points:

    “Why are Elephants 6 times the cost of queens”?

    Because they are not combat ships with all the associated systems and fire control measures. Add all that and your ship with a thousand cabins with aircon and showers, internet connections, theatres casinos, and a waterpark will cost far more. It is a simplistic overview of ship building.

    “In which case they are in effect only going to be used as enlarged Invincibles. In which case they are too big and too expensive for the role.

    After all we could have fitted 12-18 f35’s on smaller cheaper hulls.”

    That statement just shows you haven’t looked into the decision making around the size and design of the ships. I have lost count of the times I have read a comment by someone calling for three or so Cavour or Juan Carlos sized vessel and just how wonderful that would be without acknowledgement of the process that let to the current QE class size. 65 thousand tons+ is a carefully chosen size based upon political decisions made in the 1990’s.

    In the 1990’s the Royal Navy wanted three carriers to replace the Invincible class, they also wanted them to be a similar size to the Cavour or Juan Carlos designs. It would of offered a capability improvement over what they currently had. Problem was the politicians made it VERY CLEAR that the Navy could only have two regardless of size.

    Up to that point the Navy had based its plans on the sortie generation rate of two Invincible class carriers as a base line for an operation based on the presumption that the third would be in maintenance. With the politicians saying two carriers only the plans had to acknowledge that there might only be one available for an all out operation. A Cavour or Juan Class vessel is approximately 30 thousand tons, with one available and a cluttered deck your sortie generation rate is much less then two Invincible class carriers.

    That is what forced the size up to the current 65’000 ton mark, with one available we will get a sortie generation rate a bit better then two Invincible class.

    If the politicians in 98 had said “Yes lets buy three carriers” then more then likely three Cavour/Juan Carlos vessels would of been the order of the day.

    With only two ships on the cards the size was forced up to meet the operational requirements set upon them and gave the added benefit of giving a CATOBAR back up (ignoring the 2010 mess up on that issue).

    Now as for the Command and Control issue, that presumes the QE class have none. Which isn’t true, also lets see what happens when Illustrious and Ocean are paid off freeing up equipment to be installed on the QE class dead mans shoes style as has recent;y been done with the T45 and Bay class.

  55. Hohum says

    APATS,

    Yes, we all know that, that was the point of my last post.

    Jonesey,

    Christ, this is going back 15 years or more now. The 48 number was the max surge number I ever heard/saw though I suspect it was achieved by someone seeing the 50 number going “aha”! 36 was the usual throw around and it usually got rounded up to 40.

    The 809/617 initial establishment thing is a red herring. Current plan is to buy 48 F-35Bs to stand up two squadrons and associated bits (OCU etc). There remains an intention to procure more F-35s beyond that, HOWEVER, that is now under FCAS (which is a 2030 and beyond Typhoon replacement) and they may very well not be of the B variant. SDSR10 has taken the UK down to just 7 fast-jet squadrons, 5 are to be Typhoon and 2 are to be F-35B until FCAS (or whatever it morphs into) starts to appear.

  56. All Politicians are the Same says

    An awful lot of assumptions and statements being made here. “They will operate just like an Invincible” ? “We should have bought 3 35k ton carriers” “So we ended up with a hollow giant. Something that looks good at a fleet review, but will be a paper tiger in battle”

    @Fed and NAB have explained that the size issue was not random and as for escorts well we will have world class ASW and AAW escorts, as for air groups, it is 2014, lets see where we stand in 2020 when we actually start putting them to sea. What we have in spades is flexibility to tailor the make up to the mission.

    @hohum

    Nope your last post flung the usual guess work numbers around.

  57. Fedaykin says

    Further from earlier comment, the current design is based upon decisions and planning concepts laid down in the 1990’s in relation to what the Navy regarded as needed in relation to sortie generation for an all out type conflict. Any debate about that now can be best described as pointless grandstanding, I think this video makes the point!

  58. Hohum says

    IXION,

    The UK has not had 3 Invincibles since 2005 when Invincible herself was put into extended readiness and left to rot before being struck-off in 2010.

    Furthermore, QE class will operate as an Invincible and an Ocean combined, not just as an Invincible.

    Making it smaller would not have reduced the crew size, crew size is determined by the number of people required to make the ship function and not by the size of the ship. You can only reduce the size of the ship by reducing the number of functions required to operate it.

    Calling the QE class “Elephants” does not make you sound clever, it just comes across as churlish.

  59. Hohum says

    APATS,

    No it didn’t.

  60. x says

    Invicible availability has been all smoke and mirrors from not long after Ark Royal commissioned. They have never really followed the 3-for-1 pattern. The RN never had the budget, kit, or bodies to do such.

    FWIW Blair is a kumquat too.

  61. The Other Chris says

    Historical view on sortie rate requirements:

    In March 2005, the latest figures for JCA sortie generation from CVF were set at 108 launches in the first 24 hours, reducing to 72 per day for ten days and 36 for a further 20 days. A standard strike tailored air group was defined as including 30 JCAs (with up to 36 for short periods), with up to six anti-submarine Merlins and four maritime air surveillance and control (ASaC) aircraft.

    Source: http://navy-matters.beedall.com/cvf1-24.htm

  62. Fedaykin says

    @X

    That is all very nice but it doesn’t change the FACT that was what the QE class planning decisions were based upon.

    Again Grandstanding and Hindsight!

  63. Rocket Banana says

    Fedaykin,

    In the 1990′s the Royal Navy wanted three carriers to replace the Invincible class, they also wanted them to be a similar size to the Cavour or Juan Carlos designs. It would of offered a capability improvement over what they currently had. Problem was the politicians made it VERY CLEAR that the Navy could only have two regardless of size.

    Can you prove that please.

    It’s not a challenge, I really, really want a link demonstrating that very fact. I especially want to know which politician (and associated advisor) had no clue.

    Thanks.

    PS: My personal feeling is that CVF came about because of the lack of confidence and lack of existence of a STOVL jet. It is the smallest practical size for a CATOBAR… sorry NaB… CTOL carrier. ;-)

  64. x says

    @ Fedaykin

    Um. It isn’t hindsight. I stated what information the RN based its decision upon re CVF hull numbers and availability. As I was relating the circumstance before the decision it can’t be hindsight now. Or grandstanding. Or World of Sport……..

    EDIT: I will swap RN for MoD(RN)/HMG.

  65. Not a Boffin says

    A number of things in no particular order :

    1. The ships were designed against a requirement (which was tri-service endorsed btw), which was for a number of sorties over a five day period, with a particular value on the first day or two. That requirement was and remains well in excess of anything a CVS or CVS+ could be expected to deliver.

    2. The ships remain perfectly capable of meeting that requirement, provided that they can access a particular CAG/TAG when that requirement needs to be met. The final numbers of F35B are tbd at present and will remain so for a year or two.

    3. The ships are big not only because of the CAG/TAG but because of the need to minimise manpower, particularly for aviation moves. That leads to a large flight deck size which in turn affects the rest of the design.

    4. Stories regarding the removal of armour and protective measures need to be treated with a pinch of salt. The ships may not be as heavily protected as originally envisaged, but that does not mean there are only token amounts – far from it.

    5. The cost of the ships is more than we should be paying for them. However, that cost has largely been driven by two factors – the prolonged delays incurred prior to order, courtesy of people querying the size of the ship (not the endorsed requirement btw) as if they were somehow divorced and secondly because they are being built by a particular corporate entity against which the MoD is unable to credibly query price. Of course arbitrarily stretching the build period to meet a couple of in-year budget constraints in the overall Mod programme spreads didn’t help either. Nor did the abortive STOVL-CV-STOVL flip, but that last was frankly not a big contributor in the great scheme of things.

    6. Comparisons with Cunard liners are all very well, but those Cunard liners are only complying with Class Rules and SOLAS. They are also able to lay out their spaces to maximise outfit efficiency, whereas the QEC has to satisfy military and aviation efficiency, while accommodating several hundred tonnes of explosives, several thousand cubic metres of aviation fuel and diesel oil in close proximity to a couple of thousand people and in the expectation of both surviving and recovering from damage.

    7. The fact is that the ships are big enough to meet the actual requirement if we ever need it, through the relatively simple expedient of “adding more aircraft to the force” which is a much simpler and cheaper proposition than “adding more aircraft and hacking the ships to bits to get them to fit”. Protestations that they’ve eaten the budget are best countered by pointing out that over the (say) eleven years of build, they’ve averaged £550m pa, which is something like 1/15th of the E&SP. For a fifty year asset that isn’t too bad. Particularly if you consider smaller ships would be unlikely to come in under a programme cost of £4Bn, saving of the order of £100M pa in procurement, or less than two Typhoon pa, a squadron and a half in total.

    8. The strategic effect that they provide is that for the first time in some decades, European countries can – if push comes to shove – provide something approximating to the deterrent effect of a US CVN, which means the ever more stretched US CVN force can concentrate more on where its perceived threat is, which gets us some credibility all round. That doesn’t mean we can do it 24/7/365, but it does mean that we can provide that effect for some time, even with our limitations in RFA support. Something which the CVS (or even a CVS+) would be very hard-pressed to do.

    That isn’t being a carrier junkie – its recognising that small STOVL carriers don’t really do anything beyond local sea control and that we haven’t bought a full up strike CVN, but rather a ship that will be able to deliver a credible range of capability over the next 50 years.

  66. The Other Chris says

    What’s commonality like with US replenishment vessels? Could they theoretically help us sustaining a group if agreeable?

  67. John Hartley says

    I think the idea of cutting the RN carriers from 3 to 2, came from a left wing think tank, circa 1989-91, that produced a paper on how to cut HM Armed Forces after the Cold War. It was amazing how many politicians read & believed that paper. Not just Labour, but LibDem & even many Conservatives fell for it. I may still have a copy in the house, but God knows where it is. By the way, the lefties wanted the Army cut from 160,000 to 100,000, so it is interesting that a Conservative led coalition has cut the Army to a smaller size than 1980s hard left peaceniks wanted.
    I say again, QE/PoW are neutral as they stand. Both in service, suited & booted are a big stick. Just one, with a tiny air group/escort is a limp wrist. We shall wait & see what our political elite, decides to invest in.

  68. Fedaykin says

    @Simon

    Your starting point is probably the old Beedall Navy Matters site (at one time the best place for RN fleet information).

    He has an overview and pictures of the mid 1990’s studies based upon three 20,000 ton like for like Invincible class replacements:

    http://navy-matters.beedall.com/cvf1-03.htm

    Interestingly enough there was a mid 1990’s BAe-SEMA study to see if a thirty year SLEP was practical for the Invincible class. It was decided the risk was too great. It was the 1998 SDR that pegged the nascent program at two carriers thus forcing the size out to meet operational projections.

    This rather odd 1990’s documentary whilst not explicit on the matter is rather useful in understanding Royal Navy thinking about carrier operations at that time and how any future plans would work out.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wp4O4lAaog4

    I do vaguely remember some old articles and news reports, no doubt a dig around the Jane’s back archive would help.

    The point is any current debate has to take account of what the thinking was in the 1990’s.

  69. All Politicians are the Same says

    @TOC

    We can receive from US and indeed from other NATO vessels. So Dieso and AVCAT would not be an issue, food likewise though that would be interesting. The issue would be in Ammo and specific stores.

  70. Hohum says

    Fedaykin,

    None of those links support the claim you initially made. The 1998 SDR and policy documents accompanying it were clear that the new carriers would be substantially larger than the Invincibles, hardly a political trick.

  71. Fedaykin says

    @The Other Chris

    USN resupply vessels have to meet NATO standards so they would conform to ATP-16D:

    http://www.navy.mi.th/navedu/stg/databasestory/data/laukniyom/ship-active/big-country-ship/United-States/ATP/atp16dmtp16dc1.pdf

    An old version for the curious:

    http://www.hnsa.org/doc/pdf/unrep-atp-16.pdf

    A Rolls Royce sales brochure:

    http://www.rolls-royce.com/Images/RAS_BROCH_MMS54081_tcm92-15382.pdf

    So yes they can support our ships, actually USN RAS/UNREP support was vital in the build up to the Falklands war with them sending several tankers to Ascension where the fleet was gathering.

    Here is HMS Bulwark taking on fuel from the USNS John Lenthall:

  72. Fedaykin says

    @Hohum

    Use your eyes, they are official pictures and the writer has a reputation for accuracy on such matters.

    The RN was planning on three but the 1998 SDR gave them two. Prior to that the RN had other plans, what is hard to understand?

    1998 SDR said they can have two bigger carriers (you are not disputing that are you?) The RN then had to make that fit to their planning assumptions hence the drift up in size.

  73. Hohum says

    Fedaykin,

    Pictures, really, that’s all you have got? A few artists impressions from a very early concept study does not in any way justify this statement:

    “In the 1990′s the Royal Navy wanted three carriers to replace the Invincible class, they also wanted them to be a similar size to the Cavour or Juan Carlos designs. It would of offered a capability improvement over what they currently had. Problem was the politicians made it VERY CLEAR that the Navy could only have two regardless of size.”

  74. ArmChairCivvy says

    Food parcels would be interesting… APATS, you obviously attended this party?http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/feb/18/eat-of-battle-worlds-armies-fed

  75. Fedaykin says

    @Hohum

    Yes, followed by the 1998 SDR that makes my point. If you chose to see things differently fine, we will just have to not agree.

    Now do you have anything else to add Hohum?

    It also doesn’t change my main point that being all “Captain Hindsight” about decisions made in the 90’s is as someone else said Churlish. QE class is what we have can the whining please stop!

  76. Hohum says

    Fedaykin,

    It certainly does not prove your point. The 1998 SDR could quite easily have suggested two larger ships because that was the solution the military/civil service found most appropriate after an analysis of alternatives. You have provided no evidence that it was a decision forced by a politician. You should be more careful about making things up as people will call you out on it and as you are now finding out it will leave you looking rather silly.

  77. Paleo says

    Was I to die this moment, ‘Want of Frigates’ would be found stamped on my heart.

    Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson

  78. Not a Boffin says

    On 3 vs 2

    IIRC the options presented against ST(S) 7068 were for a three-ship class of CVS-like ships, to be operated as they were in the mid-90s, vs two larger ships, initially 40000 te based on the same level of concept design as the CVS-like ones. The choice was made for the two larger ships on the basis that they were less likely to be outgrown by their aircraft, were able to deliver substantially more effect compared to two CVS and were broadly cost-neutral, even a saving when you considering crewing. To the best of my knowledge that choice was recommended by whatever the Defence Management Board was called back then and presented to SoS (George Robertson at the time). Reasonably sure neither the Smiling Menace nor the Great Financial Genius were involved in the assessment, other than to endorse the recommendation.

    Growth to their current size occurred when realistic flying programmes in the tri-service OA scenarios were developed and it became clear that more deck space was required (as would also have occurred with the CVS-size ships). The bigger ships also offered a risk mitigation against the STOVL aircraft failing – something the CVS ships could never do.

    The CVS SLEP study was a mandated requirement of submissions to the MoD at Initial Gate, to show the cost and capability of the “do minimum” option. From memory, CVS needed a strip down to hangar deck and rebuild above and even then could only have half a dozen F35 (or SSF/FCBA as they were then) on the flightdeck. CVS also had a pitiful F76, F44 and air weapons capacity, making it a relatively cheap but ultimately useless capabiliity. Ali Baghaei hated having to pay for those projects because he couldn’t see the point – it was obvious a CVS refit could only provide a fraction of what was being asked for, but the procurement system insisted on examining the option. Both BMT and Devonport ML (as it was) were involved ISTR.

    You also have to remember that by the early 90s, the CVS were being operated in a two commissioned, one in reserve mode, basically because in the late 80s, HMG declined to buy the third airwing. The one in reserve mode was literally that – tied up in 3 Basin in Portsmouth – sealed with cathodics and dehumidifiers on and most sensors removed. That is NOT the same as being in refit – the ships were typically spending 18 months in reserve before being taken up to Rosyth (Guzz did the first couple) for a major refit usually lasting about 15 months, before entering the work-up cycle. So we’ve spent the last twenty years plus essentially running two carriers, albeit with a little more flex. Point is a carrier casualty with CVS still meant you had however long it took to repair the casualty, or fifteen months (whichever was worst) with just one available ship.

    People have looked very hard at how to maintain availability with two hulls – in fact it’s one of the KURs. It’s also a fact that sitting in 3 basin did not do the ships much good either. The ones that spent the longest there typically were in the worst material state, which is one reason why Lusty is the survivor, rather than Ark.

  79. mike says

    @ Fedaykin

    Good to see Capt. Hindsight returning!
    I rmemeber linking to that very vid… and it was on a CVF thread! lol

    The MoD is in desperate need of him!

  80. Hohum says

    NaB,

    I have no knowledge of that early period in terms of this project but based on how things usually work that sounds pretty much spot-on. Despite what some wannabe know-it alls like to claim politicians, usually only sign-off on suggestions developed by the military staff.

    Re the Invincibles, IIRC the 3 carriers/2 air groups thing was not unexpected or unusual. All the way back in the late 50s the plan was for 4 active fleet carriers but only 3 air groups. There might have been some brief discussion of 3 air groups in the late 70s but I have never seen anything to suggest it was considered after that.

  81. Fedaykin says

    @Hohum

    “I have no knowledge of that early period in terms of this project…”

    Well now you know ;-)

    “Despite what some wannabe know-it alls like to claim politicians, usually only sign-off on suggestions developed by the military staff.”

    What was that about being churlish? Look I think based upon my interpretation of what happened that it was very much a political driven decision. I said by all means disagree, but please don’t throw around childish underhand insults it is unbecoming and boring.

    As NaB said the size was driven by actual requirements not an RN need to have a me too fleet of big US style carriers.

  82. Fedaykin says

    @mike

    Ah Captain Hindsight as always here to not be any use whatsoever!

  83. Observer says

    Can we just admire the effort, ingenuity and dedication put into these instead of chest beating and gnashing our teeth? I believe that some of you know my preference for land based air coverage, so carriers are not exactly the apple of my eye, yet even I can appreciate them and their potential usefulness.

    Grats on the carriers, may they have a long and interesting life.

    Interesting naming convention though. If the first is “Queen Elizabeth”, shouldn’t the 2nd be either “Prince Charles” (though technically it is actually referring to Elizabeth the First) or “King James”? One is a specific person, the other (Prince of Wales) is a post.

  84. Fedaykin says

    @NaB

    I remember as a teenager looking at Ark Royal sitting in Portsmouth with all the air conditioning ducting going into her.

    Wasn’t there a very big refit fairly late into her life?

  85. Fedaykin says

    @Observer

    I wanted HMS Cromwell ;-)

  86. Hohum says

    Fedaykin,

    You made a claim and are unable to provide a single piece of evidence to support it. NaB has given his narrative and it seems far more informed and probable than your unsupported suggestion. Look, I get that you wanted to sound informed but you have been called out so its time to just let it go.

    Re Ark Royal, yes there was a refit that was completed (inc trials) in 2007. Invincible however was far more egregious, she received a refit less than two years before being mothballed never to return again.

  87. Not a Boffin says

    I don’t think I’d describe Fed as a wannabe, personally.

    Expectation post Corporate and retention of the third CVS was for a third CAG in the mid80s. Fifty-odd frames is a bit much for two squadrons of eight cabs and 899NAS.

  88. Fedaykin says

    @Hohum

    I did and explained myself, you just didn’t like it then decided to take a rather insulting swipe.

    I asked to just agree to disagree, you seem to think adding further insults will be more constructive.

    Thanks for that.

    Look this is an independent defence blog, I come here for a fun debate. Considering we all hide behind a veil of anonymity how informed we ALL are is open to interpretation. So if I am well informed or just want to imagine to be is rather immaterial. I have a position that I feel is perfectly defensible. I have said please differ.

    Sorry if you feel different, I am happy to move on but please stop being churlish.

  89. Hohum says

    NaB,

    You have me going back over my notes on this now. The original plan was for three Sea Harrier Squadrons with a UE of five aircraft each, however 802 was cancelled under the 1981 review. 809 was raised for the Falklands but was disbanded again at the end of 1982. I don’t know of any plans after that for a third front-line squadron.

  90. Rocket Banana says

    Carrying on with the 3-vs-2 debate…

    NaB said,

    The ships were designed against a requirement (which was tri-service endorsed btw), which was for a number of sorties over a five day period, with a particular value on the first day or two. That requirement was and remains well in excess of anything a CVS or CVS+ could be expected to deliver.

    But not well in excess of what two CVS can deliver.

    The same is true in a mixed TAG. Two hulls are more efficient operating 18 copters and 18 jets (or so).

    Same is true for copter only ops. There’s way more space on two CVS than on CVF. There’s enough room to launch 12 copters in a single wave from two Invincible sized decks, never mind about Cavour or America sized decks (8-10 each).

    So, although I’m not nit-picking. I find it amazing that it keeps getting touted.

    There are plenty of reasons why this nation should have gone for 3-4 CVS. Plenty of reasons why they offer a greater “surge” capacity and plenty of reasons why they would sustain an on task presence almost indefinitely therefore contributing to the scarce hulls needed for RN standing deployments.

    The only reason CVF gets the nod is that it mitigated the STOVL risk. Why is it that this seems to be slow in being admitted. It’s not a particularly difficult situation. I doubt many would think that we should scrap £6b of CVF because £6-8b of Wasp would be better now? Much better to live with reasonable decision-making and accept the consequences of hedging against future possibilities.

  91. All Politicians are the Same says

    @Simon

    You are a brave man selectively quoting NAB to try and make a point :)

    I note that you do not quote this part “The choice was made for the two larger ships on the basis that they were less likely to be outgrown by their aircraft, were able to deliver substantially more effect compared to two CVS and were broadly cost-neutral, even a saving when you considering crewing”

    Or indeed this part “CVS also had a pitiful F76, F44 and air weapons capacity, making it a relatively cheap but ultimately useless capabiliity”

  92. Phil says

    They may be needed in the future as carrier strike. In the meantime put a Commando on them and use them as an LHA.

  93. All Politicians are the Same says

    @Phil

    “They may be needed in the future as carrier strike. In the meantime put a Commando on them and use them as an LHA”

    When was the last time we conducted an amphibous invasion? Where as in comparison we quite regularly drop bombs and lob TLAM.

  94. Not a Boffin says

    Simon

    I rather think you’ll find QEC is in excess of what a couple of CVS can deliver. By some margin and with less manpower.

    CVS flighdeck area even post GWS30 removal was about 5000 sq.m with big chunks of that constrained by skijump, lifts etc. QE has a vastly more accessible and useful flightdeck well in excess of 12000sq.m.

    There is a reason that every single examination of carrier efficiency BAR NONE has shown that you get significant economies of scale.

    Haven’t even gone into relative fuel efficiency of one long hull vs two shorter ones – or their generating efficiency etc etc.

    Frankly, had we told everyone we were building two 30000 tonne conventionally powered ships for £6Bn – no one would have batted an eyelid. I watched this

    http://www.shipspotting.com/gallery/photo.php?lid=1904312

    leave Southampton this morning and she dwarfs QE.

    QE is bigger than a CVS – get over it people.

  95. Phil says

    When was the last time we conducted an amphibous invasion? Where as in comparison we quite regularly drop bombs and lob TLAM.

    Nobody said invasion. An amphibious force of Commando size has many uses. I believe the USMC have identified 26 or so such uses for a similarly sized force.

    When was the last time we HAD to drop bombs from a carrier?

  96. Hohum says

    Phil,

    I don’t mean to be pedantic but I think its the plane that drops the bombs, it just takes off and lands on the carrier….joking!

  97. All Politicians are the Same says

    @Phil

    “Nobody said invasion. An amphibious force of Commando size has many uses. I believe the USMC have identified 26 or so such uses for a similarly sized force.”
    We could use it for that if required, it is flexible.

    “When was the last time we HAD to drop bombs from a carrier?”
    I can tell you for a fact that the planners involved in Libya would have had your babies to have had QE and a decent air group but that is not my point.

    As I summed my position up yesterday what this gives us is the ability to do certain operations better and the capability to do some we previously could not do. So we might not have HAD to drop bombs from a carrier but we may well have chosen to do so if we had the sort of capability offered by the QE.

  98. Not a Boffin says

    Op Desert Fox might be a good example and certainly some of the Southern Watch missions that Lusty flew. Desert Fox was able to use Tornados because they were in Kuwait at the time. Had they been in Saudi or UAE, they’d have been unable to do so.

    Had we been able to offer a QE-like capability, Op Veritas would have been the next, unless people fancied operating out of UAE and AARing all the way around Iran.

    Op Ellamy would definitely have been one too had we retained GR9.

  99. x says

    We lob TLAM’s in ones and twos. If firing TLAMs was a major consideration for the RN as I have said lots of times Astute would have VLS and T45, being the first large modern escort of the post Cold War post GW1 era, would have had strike length VLS from the get go. Good grief how many TLAM could we buy for one F35b? If cruise missiles were a major concern for the RN then they would have invested in SCALP-N too.

  100. All Politicians are the Same says

    @X
    “We lob TLAM’s in ones and twos.” Precisely because that is the capability we have and the contribution we can make. QE changes that equation totally.

  101. John Hartley says

    Phil. As we have not had long range carrier strike since the old Ark Royal retired in 1978, its not the actual dropping of bombs, but rather when we would have, had we had the capability. The link someone posted said that with air refuelling, the F-35B might, just about, have a strike radius of 1000 miles. So we could have joined US carrier aircraft in bombing the Taliban government in Afghanistan in late 2001, had we had the capability then. Also, the Libyan campaign. While I hope we can keep out of Iraq, if we did have to help out with a few airstrikes, then using a carrier avoids putting boots on the ground.

  102. Rocket Banana says

    NaB,

    When I say CVS I mean the 30,000 tonne CVS we would have built, which would have exactly the same kind of efficiencies as CVF because she would be new and would also take advantage of all the work Amazon has done in warehouse automation ;-)

    Can you link a pic of how the deck of CVF can spin up 14/18 Merlin, ‘cos 2 x Cavour/America Class can?

    As for fuel efficiency well for the size she’s more fuel efficient. But if we had 3-4 America Class we’d only be pootling one around at a time, sustaining a task, which would consume about 80% of the fuel that CVF will burn. Yes, when I have to “surge” two (for the few months every 30 years) into theatre they will be less efficient, but not most of the time. So not only are these smaller carriers cheaper to fuel, they also deliver a standing task meaning they save the cost of three frigates. Meaning that if you want to examine the relative efficiencies of manpower you also have to bear in mind this opportunity cost too.

    A link to these “examination of carrier efficiency” docs would be brilliant – because my examination, every way I cut it, puts 4 x America class (with well deck) way better use of money than 2 x CVF and 2 x LPD for this country. The only angle that puts CVF at the top of the list is if you have to hedge the STOVL risk or if you’re intending to supplement the fleet with a LHD and can leave CVF to undertake serious strike duties.

  103. Phil says

    We could use it for that if required, it is flexible.

    I support CVF for two reasons.

    1. It might be needed in its original guise as a strike carrier in the future. The future is uncertain and carrier strike from scratch takes longer than 5 years to generate.

    2. It is a flexible ship, able to do everything from disaster relief to war fighting against a peer. I think that’s good value for money and ties in with the strengths of the Navy (it is as useful in peacetime as wartime, possibly more so).

    BUT

    In the short term I see little imperative for carrier strike capability. There’s occasions when it would be nice perhaps, but there’s been one scenario in 100 years where we, as a country, have HAD to use carrier air. I think this should temper the enthusiasm for strike.

  104. Hohum says

    Making the QE class smaller would not have made it “more efficient” as I pointed out above a ships crew is defined by the number of people required to make it work, not by how big the ship is. If anything having additional ships would likely have substantially increased the manpower requirement due to the need for extra personnel for everything from maintaining the now multiplied propulsion lines to manning the multiplied ops rooms etc. Ships have gotten bigger because bigger is more efficient, this is especially true of aircraft carriers.

  105. Phil says

    So we could have joined US carrier aircraft in bombing the Taliban government in Afghanistan in late 2001, had we had the capability then.

    (a) Why would we have?

    (b) You’d need overflight rights anyway so why not ask for basing rights?

    I am not saying carrier strike is totally sans utility at the moment. I am saying CVF will in practice turn out to be a useful vessel for a range of other air based capabilities and will spend most of its time doing those with a token F35 flight embarked.

  106. Not a Boffin says

    Simon

    “Your examination” works every way you cut it, because you’re making it up in fantasy scenario land, possibly with the use of a spreadsheet. A good example would be the need to have 14-18 Merlin turning and burning. What are they doing? Lord alone knows what your hypothetical standing tasks that these ships are undertaking entails, but the ships won’t be alongside, which means they’ll be burning fuel and because they’re bigger than a DD/FF they’ll be using more power. Quite how they replace a DD/FF in a standing task is again unclear.

    The QEC efficiencies are very little to do with warehousing technology and much more to do with eliminating un-necessary activities through the use of space. Much more difficult on a smaller ship.

  107. x says

    @ APATS

    There is some merit in stepping up to try to plug falling USN CBG numbers. Especially if we were buying CTOL carriers, had 60 FA18s on order, and a brace or three of E2. But at the moment we appear to be buying a problematic platform in F35b in tiny numbers and far from cheap that will probably mean that the F35 squadrons will mimic JFH in deployment cycles. How much is F35b these days? What are the projected costs? And there is chance that technology will pass the venture by once we. Aren’t we already cut off from the USN UCAV programme? Yes we could fill QE’s hangars with USMC airframes but even in these straightened times the USN isn’t exactly short of flat tops if it wants to concentrate USMC airframes. The only other argument is that by buying manned aircraft the UK is putting skin in the game; if launching Storm Shadow from 250nm out is putting pilots at extreme risk. And that is if in a decades or three times there is wetware in the cockpit. How much to train a pilot these days? £5 million or so. Running a squadron per year? Isn’t it somewhere in the region of £20 million and up?

    The capability the UK is missing isn’t a carrier for strike because we have missile carrying platforms. What we are missing when it comes to strike and what would have been a more pragmatic buy and garnered back a bit of independence from or should that make us a bit less dependent upon the US is a constellation of these…….

    http://cdn.satellitetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/TDX-Formation.jpg

    You do know that the RN was the pioneer satellite user in HMAF? Beyond comms a service that operates at global distances needs the ability to look at distance places.

    One more thing. Last amphibious operation……….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Al_Faw_(2003)

  108. Not a Boffin says

    “So we could have joined US carrier aircraft in bombing the Taliban government in Afghanistan in late 2001, had we had the capability then.

    (a) Why would we have?

    (b) You’d need overflight rights anyway so why not ask for basing rights?”

    The same reason the US did and the French for that matter. Your basing rights options were initially limited to Iran and Pakistan, with some of the ex-Soviet Stans later. Not exactly viable, so lots of missions launched from DG and CVNs with overflight through Pakistani airspace. Overflight is a lot easier to get than basing for combat ops. See the example of Desert Fox/Southern Watch mentioned earlier. It also avoids the FP issues.

  109. All Politicians are the Same says

    @X

    Remember when we talk about carrier strike and aircraft in general, they are inherently flexible platforms, something a missile can never be. A missile does not ride of the snooping MPA, vis id the closing target or conduct strike ops from a Carrier in April and CAS for Percy from an airfield in October.

    I ignored your first 2 paragraphs as I refuse to be drawn into people guessing costs, numbers, deployment profiles etc. we have a GE and an SDSR to go through, with no doubt some unforeseen strategic shock in the next 5 years which will make a mockery of official planning let alone our assumptions.

    What QE brings to the party is that it is large enough to allow us the flexibility to adjust how we use it.

  110. The Other Chris says

    T45 Strike Length VLS: The money saved by going with A50 rather than A70 (or Mk.41) is relatively small. Strike Length VLS paired with SAMPSON clearly provided BMD capability. At the time of design/fitting that was a particularly sensitive diplomatic issue.

    By comparison A70/Mk.41 on a T26 with Artisan is clearly intended for conventional strike. Not that much of a hot potato.

    Aster 30 Block 2 developments are a different kettle of fish, as is our current stance. cf HMS Daring role in BMD trials.

    Still hoping for Mk.41 on T45 btw.

  111. Rocket Banana says

    NaB,

    …making it up in fantasy scenario land, possibly with the use of a spreadsheet…

    Oh, that old chestnut again ;-)

    How about six Merlin company assault with two Apache escorts whilst maintaining a fleet-defence CAP pair and loitering CAS over the landing site? Can CVF do that?

  112. The Other Chris says

    Yes.

    The 10 landing spot planning clearly stated Company level first wave lift with full support.

  113. El Sid says

    @Simon
    So what are you actually proposing – LHA-6’s without a well deck or LHA-8’s (or LHD-8’s as a ship that actually exists) with a well deck? And are you proposing a licence of the US design or starting with a clean sheet?

    Under current budgets the cousins are spending over $10bn – so almost exactly £6bn – to buy two LHA-6 and one LHA-8. Given that they are building them not in six yards but in just the one, which has long experience of building similar ships and didn’t need major capex to do so. And of course they didn’t have the one-eyed genius making big changes to the contract within six months of signing it.

    It all gets a bit alternate reality, but it’s plausible that three LHA-6/8 would have cost £7-8bn if built in the UK at the same time as CVF – or perhaps more likely we would have ended up with two for £5bn. So you’re already spending any cash you’ve gained from the LPD capex budget, and that’s before you get onto the operational budget. Hence the question – are you getting LHA-8 to replace the Albions, or sticking with LHA-6 for air operations? Because welldecks come at the expense of a lot of stuff that keeps you flying – it’s less about day 1 as day 2 and day 5. Think about it, every time a F-35B takes off, that’s 6 tonnes of JP-5 – without external tanks. 72 sorties in a day is 432 tonnes. How many days can your small carriers sustain that kind of drain on stores?

    Another advantage of a big stores capacity is that it gives you more flexibility to carry different weapons “just in case” – particularly useful for something like the F-35 which will have a lot of different weapons cleared for it.

  114. x says

    @ APATS

    Nobody is saying that the RN doesn’t need a large aviation ship. You can choose to ignore my guestimates but you can’t deny that the costs of procuring and sustaining F35b would buy more cruise missiles each year than we ever fired by a factor or more.

    We are talking about strike not CAS. Are the former conducted at (relatively) fixed targets such as infrastructure and command control centres etc? If a frigate fires a missile at target from say 250nm out how is that different from an aircraft doing the same? It isn’t. There has to be a time when the button is pressed and what ever happens. As for CAS really you want to go there? What is going the price for F35b again how many helicopters, drones, PGM and supporting would that buy? There are plenty of options for future Army to handle their own CAS.

    And don’t call them Percy it is rude. ;)

    It seems we flip flop here between things being “flexible” and “we can’t do everything” (ie leave to the Yanks) as it suits.

    I note the USMC want to keep AV8x in service until 2030. I wonder if the Puma refit money would have been spent on our own Harriers?

  115. All Politicians are the Same says

    @X
    “Nobody is saying that the RN doesn’t need a large aviation ship. You can choose to ignore my guestimates but you can’t deny that the costs of procuring and sustaining F35b would buy more cruise missiles each year than we ever fired by a factor or more”

    Concur on cruise missiles but you know my views on the extra flexibility offered by manned fixed wing aviation.

    “We are talking about strike not CAS. Are the former conducted at (relatively) fixed targets such as infrastructure and command control centres etc? If a frigate fires a missile at target from say 250nm out how is that different from an aircraft doing the same? It isn’t. There has to be a time when the button is pressed and what ever happens. As for CAS really you want to go there? What is going the price for F35b again how many helicopters, drones, PGM and supporting would that buy? There are plenty of options for future Army to handle their own CAS.”

    An aircraft ensures man in the loop up until launch, allows the aircraft to be used to extend the missiles range and can after firing conduct other missions. So an F35 could ripple 2 storm shadow, tank and then take up a CAP station with internal AIM 120-D, in the face of a possible response, or conduct its own DAMASS on certain missions. yes their are plenty of options for the army to conduct CAS but none of them can also do Strike, CAP and SEAD. That is the flex you get.

    “And don’t call them Percy it is rude” Better than Pongo :)

    We cannot do everything but by procuring platforms that can do several things we maximise what we can achieve.

  116. El Sid says

    @Observer
    If the first is “Queen Elizabeth”, shouldn’t the 2nd be either “Prince Charles” (though technically it is actually referring to Elizabeth the First) or “King James”?

    Nooo – both just don’t seem quite right, partly because they’ve not been used for warship names before (and realistically the RN has so many unused names with history that new ones are unlikely), and also neither are really notable enough, it’s really quite rare for an RN ship to be named after a monarch (although Queen Charlotte has had four, bizarrely). I’ll contradict that first point right away and say that I would have preferred the second CVF to be HMS Queen Victoria – not least because sticking with queens means that we can call them simply the Queen class rather than the current jumble of alphabet soup. Although by the time she commissions we could be onto Queen Kate… and there’s a good chance she’ll end up being called Ark Royal in any case. Then we could have built a third to be called Eleanor of Aquitaine pending a sale to France….

    And capital ships tend to be named inconsistently – think of the Colossus class carriers, with adjectives, concepts and mythology all jumbled up together, or the original QE class battleships – QE, Warspite, Barham, Valiant, Malaya. The worst in recent times has to be the Seawolf class which for a three-boat class is a right dog’s dinner – one “proper” fishy name, one state and one politician.

  117. Repulse says

    If we expecting the majority of future UK operations to be done with partners then there are many more of them with DDs / FFs (or LPDs / LHDs for that matter) than strike carriers. As such, being a little light on escorts is an easier problem to solve if needed.

    I’d mitigate this by scrapping the LPDs without replacement and finally ending up with 8 ASW T26s plus 8 T27s (T26 with extended rear mission bay without TAS) by the end of the 2030s. The T27s would be dual purpose – escorts for the CBG or the AAG (Army Amphibious Group based on RFA ships), And mother ships for the remodelled RMs I mentioned earlier.

  118. IXION says

    Various posters, (I have rolled a few views up together for convenience which may slightly distort some views).

    NAB HOHUM and others

    I get it that a lot of clever experienced people exactly the kind that you would want to draw up a spec for a carrier drew up the spec that led to the Elephants.

    It was worked out about how much fuel/weapons we wanted to fit in it and the somewhat innovative double island deck layout,, (continuing the Great British tradition of leading in such matters), has I understand helped generate the required sortie rate. OK the Elephants were designed to a specific job.

    I also get it that making a ship smaller does not necessarily make it that much cheaper, or necessarily reduce it’s crew requirements.

    I also get it that when we had 3 CVS, we only really kept 2 in service- that we kept 1 tied up rusting is not necessarily and endorsement of the storage policies of the RN, Nor the durability of the design. I recall when they entered service- (yes I am that old), that they were described built for speed rather than heavily built warships.
    But we did manage to keep 1 pretty much ready to go.

    However….

    When we drew up the spec for them, we also drew up a spec for the support fleet- how’s the 8 t45’s going? etc etc, the necessary Astutes?

    All that spec however goes out the window does it not?

    We are putting 18 f35 on them (if we are lucky) for normal operations. so all that sorte rate and weapons loads etc does not really count for much does it?

    IF we had started out cutting our cloth to our pockets and had started with a ship for 18, is anyone seriously suggesting it would weigh 65 000 tons? Go on I dare you!

    ‘It’s an LPH Ocean replacement’ etc, is just ex poste facto justification. Because we have them they will be used for everything from ‘Flag waiving’ to being use to prop the door open of the gents bog in Devenport. It is not what they were designed for – or at lest what RN published what they were designed for. Naturally all these features have been designed in with quarters for a battle group, storage for their weapons passageway widths, heads etc??? Or is it just “They have a big space where the jets should be, so we can stuff some troops in there”? ‘Hey look we’re joint’.

    OH and captain hindsight? Its only hindsight if you haven’t been saying it for 10 years….

    OH Yeah; and whoever said it only cost £550 mill a year? That’s all right then. I thought we were talking real money!

  119. All Politicians are the Same says

    @ Ixion

    “When we drew up the spec for them, we also drew up a spec for the support fleet- how’s the 8 t45′s going? etc etc, the necessary Astutes?”

    The escort package required for QE will depend completely upon where it is operating and the threat. A US CBG transiting the Med splits after the STROG and the CV will only have 1 escort until they rejoin for the Suez transit. In any normal peacetime deployment 2 T23/t26 and a T45 will more than suffice , supplemented by assets already in the AOR. If we get in a shooting war that would increase to at least 4 and 2 but in the vast majority of shooting wars we have Allies. Much has been made of the US pivot and in terms of CVN etc they have but they have also made a decsion to give 6th Fleet and extra 4 Burkes. Now add a Burke and maybe a De Zeven Provinciën or a Saschen to 4 T26 and 2 T45 with an astute in associated support and you have a very very serious escort package.

    “We are putting 18 f35 on them (if we are lucky) for normal operations. so all that sorte rate and weapons loads etc does not really count for much does it?”

    The sortie rate is designed for first day of conflict operations where a suitable TAG to achieve it would be deployed, not a peace time cruise or an intervention. Take Sierra Leone as an example, zero air threat, zero ASW threat but CAS would be useful so we maybe take 12-18 F35 for CAS and intimidation but would want Green Merlin, maybe Chinook and probably Apache, add on some AEW cabs and 2 or 3 ASW merlin just in case and you have your TAG. TAG is mission and threat dependent.

    “IF we had started out cutting our cloth to our pockets and had started with a ship for 18, is anyone seriously suggesting it would weigh 65 000 tons? Go on I dare you!”

    Nobody even used 18 as a planning figure, the reason we arrived where we are has been explained several times.

    “It’s an LPH Ocean replacement’ etc, is just ex poste facto justification. Because we have them they will be used for everything from ‘Flag waiving’ to being use to prop the door open of the gents bog in Devenport. It is not what they were designed for – or at lest what RN published what they were designed for. Naturally all these features have been designed in with quarters for a battle group, storage for their weapons passageway widths, heads etc??? Or is it just “They have a big space where the jets should be, so we can stuff some troops in there”? ‘Hey look we’re joint’.

    No it is a statement of its inherent flexibility as a maritime aviation platform. Not its primary purpose but then we tend to adapt and get on with it in the forces :)

  120. x says

    @ IXION

    heads not bog

    The Fleet is too lopsided now and I am not too convinced by cleverness and maintaining capability and regenerating if needed etc. etc. and so on. As I said above if you speculate war within anybody soon then you are a nut job. And so we keep all this ghost capability just in case which only goes so far. If you were to push for a basic fleet of,

    12 x AAW destroyer (Daring meets De Zeven Provinciën-class)
    12 x ASW frigates (T23 leading to T26 after Italian FREMM)
    12 x SSN

    you would be accused of being profligate. Yet not to far back that was our base line plus extra frigates. Speculate a step further to add,

    3 x CVS (even though in practice only 2 operable)
    3 x amphibi’s (which we have even though they poor, slow, small)
    6 x patrol frigates

    and it really is fantasy fleet time.

    I don’t know. If F35b doesn’t fly then we are looking sick.

  121. IXION says

    APATS

    I actually don’t give a flying fox what we started with.

    In the CVS we had a vstol capacity for a max of 18 aircraft we had 2. We have replaced that with one.

    Without a significant increase in budget it was always a pipe dream to try and run 2 with 30 planes on etc.

    We have ended up with ships that carry the same number as the ones we had before.

    That result is not earth shatteringly unexpected really is it??????

  122. x says
  123. All Politicians are the Same says

    @Ixion

    Do you make a point at all there? We rarely if ever had 2 CVS available to us as remember each CVS required the same amount of manpower as as a QE and had a very low ability to carry Avcat and Ammo.
    You again make an assumption to support your case in this instance 2. You infer we had 2 CVs when we rarely did and assume we will only ever have 1 QE.
    Apart from that I do not believe you actually address any of my points.

  124. IXION says

    APATS

    When I say we had 2 i meant we had to in service. in fact we pretty much only had one ‘ready to go’ or at sea at any one time.

    However we had and used the ‘light carrier’ capability because we could afford to use it.

    WE have in QE, 1 ship which will not be available 365.

    It was obvious at the time and since (see TD’s posts about sweet shops etc) that without a significant budgetary increase the Navy could not afford to run 2 full spec Elephants. The suspicion remains; (and not just with the Hairy man of the Wilderness), that the Admirals wanted to get the ships, and then use their existence to force the govt to pay for all the necessary support and aircraft.

    We are where we are, and I do not suppose they should be scrapped but. it is pure bollocks to suggest we are were we are because of great forward thinking, or that these things were designed as big LPH.

  125. All Politicians are the Same says

    @Ixion

    “However we had and used the ‘light carrier’ capability because we could afford to use it.”

    same amount of manpower required, greater automation, much greater capability and flexibility. As well as far greater endurance. Simple facts.

    “WE have in QE, 1 ship which will not be available 365.”
    Until we get POW in service at least. As talked about by the Defence Sec, worst case we will rotate them like the LPDS.

    Lats paragraph is a tad bitter and as explained several times in here, not even correct.

  126. Not a Boffin says

    “How about six Merlin company assault with two Apache escorts whilst maintaining a fleet-defence CAP pair and loitering CAS over the landing site? Can CVF do that?”

    Yes. So where’s your 14-18 come from?

  127. IXION says

    OK APATS

    Where as it been explained about how these being big LPH with the necessary or even basic features of such a ship designed in?

    Please provide me with a reasonable citation for here when these things were ordered, or when their continued existence was threatened, that it was said they would deploy generally with a reduced complement of roughly half the aircraft they were designed for?

    There is a huge amount of after the event justification about these ships.

    Is there a captain Ex Poste Facto?

  128. All Politicians are the Same says

    @Ixion

    These are not big LPHs and as i said that is a secondary role but here is a good question for you, what are the requirements for an LPH and which does QE not meet?

    “Please provide me with a reasonable citation for here when these things were ordered, or when their continued existence was threatened, that it was said they would deploy generally with a reduced complement of roughly half the aircraft they were designed for?”

    You make yet another assumption, these vessels have always been designed around a Tailored Air Group. Show me an example where it ever said they would always deploy with all the aircraft they could fit on. The QE have always been designed to operate with a TAG, I even offered you an example yet you continue to jump up and down seizing on the rapidly diminishing assertions you made that have not already been disproven.

  129. Overseas says

    What’s new about this?

    The CVF’s are all about making sure non-peer rivals or potential aggressors don’t get smart, sailing around the Med, popping over to Norfolk, and every three to five years wandering down EoS for a mooch. Defence diplomacy.

    Against a peer rival we A) wouldn’t be alone, and B) in not being alone would form one piece of a larger (US) carrier fleet.

    Mark my words when the natives see HMS QE dropping anchor it’ll make a big difference to ‘bilateral discussions on mutual understanding and shared goals’.

    That said, I often mull over the idea that the UKRN should have 25 Astutes, as many MPA’s as you can carry, and bugger everything inbetween.

  130. Brian Black says

    It’s often said that the carriers will remain in service for fifty years, as the whopping cost of getting hold of the ships doesn’t look quite so eye-watering when you divide it by fifty.

    But what was the last Royal Navy warship to actually remain in Royal Navy service for fifty years?

    Extended periods as museum ships, or training ships, and so on (Victory, Caroline, and the like) is just cheating. As is time served in reserve after leaving active service, or time in reserve between construction and commissioning (common practice in ye olden days).

  131. The Other Chris says

    @BB

    We’ve tended to sell off vessels to other Navy’s where they’ve served out the rest of their life. Some of them have served for decades.

  132. wf says

    @Brian Black: that’s how the US operate their carriers, although they have a major refit half way along

  133. John Hartley says

    Well the Great War battleships that also served through WW2, had a service life of around 35 years. HMS Hermes was laid down at the end of WW2, did not launch til the late 1950s, served til the mid 1980s & is still in service with the Indians.
    As for QE/PoW, they are large, austere ferries. It is not them, but what you put on them that counts. There is room for a good amount of F-35B, spares , weapons, Merlins (& if I had my way, a few V-22 tankers, Firescout UAV, CH-53K King Stallion heavylift). While I am playing fantasy fleet, 17 not 13 T26.

  134. Rocket Banana says

    Yes…

    How?

    …So where’s your 14-18 come from?

    Probably the same place CVF’s 36 x F35Bs come from – A distinct lack of need and an awful lot of want. Two company assaults plus AH escorts? Mass evacuation/extraction? Support for the entire UK/Dutch EU battlegroup? Simply the operation as two LPH/LHD under US carrier (or land based) airpower at 150% the capability of CVF… in two separate locations… with redundancy.

  135. Rocket Banana says

    PS: Great game last night. Nice to see speed and agility slicing through a poor defence.

  136. Rocket Banana says

    El Sid,

    JC, Cavour, Wasp, America. I think the point is that we could have built 3-4 of the same hull. The hull would specifically NOT be fitted by the same company that builds the hull. I may even suggest the hull be built outside of the UK as we seem either incapable of building them on budget, or incapable of contracting companies that do not shaft the nation.

    The hull would be designed to have a well deck, garage and a hangar. It would be diesel-electric powered with the option to use GT (so that means a generator but not the turbine fitted). The GT would be mounted high to avoid wastes of space in terms of up/downtakes.

    When operating as a carrier the well deck would not really get used. The vehicle deck would be used to carry spares and weapons. These would be moved using the same kinds of overhead gantries used on Wasp, but automated. A lift would take the parts or ordinance to either the hangar or flight deck. Access to this lift would be through an airlock. The dock down tanks would be used to accommodate extra fuel, as per America. Etc, etc, etc…

    What it gets to is a swing-role ship. Something that can be re-roled anywhere between LHA-6 and LHD-8.

    Total cost estimate is around £6b for three ships.

    Total manpower requirement would probably be around 600 per ship (1800 total).

    If we had gone this way we would have replaced Invincible and Ark Royal with the first ship (which would now be operational), Lusty and Ocean with a second (which would just have been launched) and Albion and Bulwark with a third. Admittedly if would have been difficult to get a fourth.

    It wouldn’t actually matter if F35B were a turkey. The ships would still be of value as LHDs rather than the world’s most embarrassing LPH… not that I think this will be the case with CVF.

    The three ship would then contribute to the highest threat standing task and would be fitted with frigate type self-defences (predominantly Artisan and CAMM). This would allow us to budget to build only 10 x T26, all of which would have tails. We would then be able to operate two task forces when necessary – one with a ship roled as a carrier, the other with a ship roled as an amphibious assault ship.

    All I’ve done is taken 3 x Invincible and 3 x Albion/Ocean and bolted one on top of the other to get some economies. I’ve also acknowledged that “carrier strike” is not a priority and that fleet air defence, amphibious support and potential commonality with the USMC is.

    My main point in previous posts is that I can only do this if I accept that I lose naval jet air if F35B fails. If I definitely want to keep naval jet air I have to build CVF. It’s the only driving reason to design a 65,000 tonner STOVL/CTOL adaptable carrier.

  137. ArmChairCivvy says

    @JH, indeed, Hermes only recently came out of refit. May have as much to do with not enough of serviceable Harriers as with the ships condition, until they can withdraw it with the new ones coming in. If we have had our carrier controversies, it has been quite amusing to watch the steel getting rusty while the design support contract for the indigenous carrier has been ping-ponged between Italy and France.

  138. Hohum says

    There really is not point in arguing with CVF haters, their arguments are derived from an irrational desire to be contrarian rather than any rational analysis of the facts. That is why we get endless repetitive claims, already shown to be false, that a larger numbers or smaller ships would be cheaper and more effective. Neither is true as has been demonstrated.

  139. The Other Chris says

    How:

    You’re thinking purely in terms of hot aircraft on landing spots taking off, with cold aircraft then being brought up from beneath decks, as that’s the limitation imposed on your CVS model by deck and hangar size (applies to USMC LHA/LPD’s).

    The CVF deck is more than large enough to maintain aircraft away from the landing spots and has had thought applied as to how you hold passengers in standby positions ready for fast and safe boarding of aircraft on the spots.

    The first ten hot aircraft on spots lift off, warm (hot?) aircraft are then handled into position, rapidly boarded from the appropriate passenger arrangements, takes off and then can join the existing wave as comparatively little time has elapsed compared to your alternative view.

    As APATS/NaB have said, the room available on CVF allows for procedures that are simply not possible or vastly more difficult/dangerous for smaller vessels which cost a similar amount (or sometimes more) to operate.

    This doesn’t just apply to handling below decks.

    The size also allows you sustain higher sortie rates for longer. Not just in terms of physically storing supplies and spares but in terms of maintenance space for full repairs and the reduced impact of tying up spots for planned/unplanned VERTREP, passenger transfer, rescues, emergencies, turnaround and CAS/CAP ski-jump take-offs.

    EDIT: If you want to play extreme top trumps I’m counting ten aircraft on spots, ten more on the deck with the lifts able to convey four at a time to support a “wave”.

  140. Dunservin says

    @Simon

    When I say CVS I mean the 30,000 tonne CVS we would have built, which would have exactly the same kind of efficiencies as CVF because she would be new and would also take advantage of all the work Amazon has done in warehouse automation ;-)

    Why be constrained by tonnage/size when steel is cheap and air is free? It’s not as though you are paying ground rent on the acreage of water occupied. Besides, the most expensive bits like crew, propulsion, auxiliaries, weapons, sensors, C4I, etc., would have to be replicated in smaller vessels anyway.

    The two QECs are not cramped bastardised ASW helicopter carriers like the old CVS or even purpose-built ships with similar constraints and inadequacies. They are thoughtfully-designed vessels large enough (steel is cheap and air is free) to be configured for a wide range of aviation roles including strike, fleet air defence, over the horizon assault (accommodation for 1,000 troops), close air support, NEOs, disaster relief, etc., as requirements dictate for the next 50 years.

    P.S. For all Amazon’s automation, does it seriously believe in operating several poky warehouses, the most expensive bits of which are replicated, or fewer larger ones with plenty of scope and flexibility for reconfiguration and expansion? ;-)

    http://imgur.com/gallery/uHZbW

  141. The Other Chris says

    That we’re discussing company level airlift together with traditional carrier operations without even getting to the RM small craft carried in davits or the rear ramps shows you how flexible the class is :)

  142. Rocket Banana says

    Steel may be cheap and air may be free but the bigger a ship the more it costs to run in both fuel and manpower. Yes, it’s more efficient on a £/payload basis, but a bus is more efficient than a Mondeo on the same measure.

    One tends to size assets for average (or possibly upper-quartile) use and “surge” by combining multiples.

    Perhaps I’ll settle for one CVF and two LHDs ;-)

    The pic of the Amazon warehouse is not what I expected. I must be thinking of somewhere else. Something like this…

    http://img.directindustry.com/images_di/photo-g/automatic-storage-systems-cases-containers-12590-6847669.jpg

  143. Rocket Banana says

    ToC,

    I like CVF’s davits, but I prefer this ;-)

  144. The Other Chris says

    Amen. Love me a good well deck :)

    I’m broadly in the CVF and STOVL camp, but I do not want CVF at the cost of Ocean/Albion/Bulwark and the others.

    I don’t think we can support a US-style LHD though. Too many crew. Too costly to operate. I keep looking at the Vladivostok and Sevastopol being constructed for Russia and wondering about military sales bans. Even then, they’re not quite… you know.

  145. Fedaykin says

    @Simon

    “Steel may be cheap and air may be free but the bigger a ship the more it costs to run in both fuel and manpower. Yes, it’s more efficient on a £/payload basis, but a bus is more efficient than a Mondeo on the same measure.”

    NaB is probably better to pick this one up but:

    1) They are built to have the same manning as the Invincible class so that makes your first point mute.

    2) Your other point, well hydrodynamics disagrees with you. The bigger you are the more fuel efficient. As Brunel found applied in the Victorian era that the carrying capacity of a ship increases as the cube of its dimensions, whilst the water resistance only increases as the square of its dimensions. For the same engine in a larger hull you can burn less fuel. Add in the 12-15% performance improvement of the more bulbous bow, modern diesel, gas turbine and electric propulsion and you will find the Carrier alliance are expecting the completed ships to burn less fuel.

    Remember the Invincible class had four Olympus turbines as its prime movers whilst QE class is electric drive and can chug along using the diesels if so needed.

  146. Jules says

    When the time comes we need to replace Albion, Bulwark and Argus with two LHD’s whether they are Spanish, Juan Carlos , Frenches or BAE is irrelevant to me anyway but I’d rather they were bigger than circa 20,000 so that puts the Sevastopol etc on the back burner.
    We buy two to replace three and aviation training is carried out by whichever of the two LHD’s or Carriers is working up or heading for a refit, we need to operate all of em, as the ship transits to the training role thru refit cycle, we can bung RFA on it? We could pull thru all the command and control kit from Albion and Bulwark.
    I’d like to see something the size of the Canberra or indeed Cavour, maybe cavour is a bit high end, wonder if we put in a cheeky offer what the Italians would do?

  147. wf says

    Certain amount of fantasy fleets here :-)

    Personally, I find it hard to understand the attraction of US style LHD’s. If you want to lift a lot of troops by helicopter, it’s a fair guess you are keen to remain a long way offshore for safety’s sake, about 100 miles away, eg the radius of the average heli. But the dock portion really cannot be more than 25 miles away since the offload rate, even with LCAC/PASCAT type LCU’s will crash. So, as a matter of practicality, such a ship needs to be in two places at once. Moreover, the effort at merging both the H and D costs a lot of money.

    Instead of this, accept CVF or any carrier for that matter, is the best platform for “vertical envelopment”, and build four cheap LPD’s. Like Fearless, they can have hanger space and can be a FARP, but primarily they are there to move real tonnages ashore, rapidly.

    As a matter of practicality, we really cannot have only one of anything, and a minimum of two is better. Just building one is a stupid waste, and effectively, no military force can risk a campaign on just one mission critical asset.

  148. Challenger says

    Don’t get me wrong i think it’s a fantastic aircraft but I don’t hear half as many people complaining about the £20+ billion Typhoon project which will see a paltry 107 air-frames only reach full operating capability in 2018 after already being around for 15 years and only having another 15 years of service before it’s officially planned OSD.

    Yes CVF is costing £6 billion, but the project delays and u-turns that effectively doubled the price-tag are the fault of the politicians and shouldn’t detract from whether we want or need CVF and how effective a capability package it can become.

    Things like CAMM, armour, a command/control suite are all fairly easy and cheap to remedy when the ships go into their first refits and the lack of them is part of a wider culture of ‘fitted for not with’ capabilities that aren’t a unique indictment of CVF and is a criticism that has to be leveled at T45, Typhoon and a lot of other systems in the same breath.

    The planned initial air-group of 12 F35B and up-to 14 HM2 Merlin (9 ASW/5 AEW) is a pretty bloody decent level of capability that will only be beaten by the USN and roughly matched by the French, Indians (and maybe someday the Chinese) for many, many years to come. And of course we would all like to see carriers heading off around the world chock full of jets, but a flexible air-group of 26+ jets and helicopters that can respond to a variety of different situations, with plenty of room left for surge air-frames and hopefully the odd 24 F35B exercise ever few years sounds pretty good to me under the circumstances.

    Of course their are concerns over the wider ability to provide acceptable levels of RFA support and enough escorts to flesh out the wider carrier group. However i firmly believe these ships (assuming we keep both CVF on a one in service one in reserve arrangement like the Albion’s) will quickly prove their worth. Humanitarian aid, excising with allies and flying the flag, carrying/deploying a commando, providing ASW/AEW cover, mounting CAP, providing CAS to ashore elements, and that’s before we get to ‘strike’ which yes may have been the apparent party piece of clunky CVF computer drawings in 1998 but was clearly never affordable on anything like the level we wanted and the USN has come to expect.

    I don’t see anything wrong with CVF having a different, adaptable role to that originally envisioned. With a possible 40-50 year life i find it inconceivable that they won’t prove their worth on countless occasions, and i completely agree that 2x large ships is better than 3x smaller ones in terms of manpower, efficiency and future proofing (who know’s what could be flying off them in 2050). As someone already pointed out it’s a fallacy that we ever had all 3 Invincible ready for deployment, 1 was always effectively laid up, with 1 deployed with Harriers and either the other or Ocean after 1998 deployed with helicopters.

  149. The Other Chris says

    @wf

    The vessels carried in the Dock element of a US style LHD certainly is a limitation.

    The Royal Marines do not use landing craft in the same way as the USMC, with the LCU Mk. 10 able to operate independently for two weeks.

    They’re not so much ship to shore connectors as raiding mother craft when used in that sense.

  150. x says

    Re: Invincibles

    4 Ollies and that huge stupendous reversing gearbox too. Not the best way to do things. But cheaper than manning what would have still be the sensible option even in the 1970s a steam plant. Look at Wasp.

  151. Repulse says

    Can someone please give me a credible scenario where we would be landing a force of 1,800 RMs directly on a beach in peace time or war time via LPDs / LHDs? If the situation is that hot that you can’t helicopter troops into a secured landing zone, then its going to be too hot to park your shiny LPD / LHD offshore and for that number of troops to make a difference in my view.

    Also, everyone seems to be obsessed by LHDs as the ultimate ship, but I feel in reality they are too big / vulnerable to be close to shore and too small for any serious strike capability. Now that we have them I would not trade a single CVF for one or even two LHDs.

    What we should be doing is analysing the likely scenarios and working out within our confined resources what we can do and how. In my view scraping the LPDs in the longer term and replacing them with multi-role “support” Frigates (aka T27s).

  152. Rocket Banana says

    Fedaykin,

    In response to your points above…

    1. They have the same manning as the old un-automated Invincible class, but not the same as a new build CVS (Cavour at 451 for example).

    2. I think you got the wrong end of the stick. Yes, the “carrying capacity” rises with the cube and the “wetted area” rises with the square, but notice that they both rise. A 65,000 tonne ship will use more fuel than a 30,000 tonne ship even if the fuel per unit payload is better for the 65,000 tonner. Hence my silly example about the bus which is bigger and more “efficient” in terms of payload per unit fuel, but guzzles significantly more fuel than an average family car.

    So “the bigger you are the more fuel efficient” is true only if you are talking about fuel efficiency per unit payload. That is why smaller cargo operators cannot afford an E-Class (not Merc ;-) ), they’d be mostly empty but still need vast amounts of fuel.

  153. x says

    @ Repulse

    May I ask you a question? Do you think a LHD is just a smaller aircraft carrier? I

  154. Kent says

    @APATS – Rations? Hope y’all can develop a taste for fried okra!

    @All – Counting on the USN/USMC to assist the RN in protecting your own national interests might well be a pipe-dream. While the current occupant of the White House is very good at whining for allies to support his misplaced and abortive adventurism, good luck with getting him to support the UK in keeping the Falklands or anywhere else important to YOU. If the “Idiocracy” doesn’t reject the failed policies of the current administration and puts another leftist would-be strongman (“I have a phone, and I have a pen.”) in the White House, I seriously doubt that you could count on us as a faithful ally. So, while you may think that the CVF(s) will operate as part of a joint US/UK task force with lots of USN escorts in the event of a P2P confrontation, you may very well be wrong if the US keeps going all “open borders,” “amnesty,” and “appeasement.”

    Just sayin’, y’all might be working from a false premise.

  155. Rocket Banana says

    Repulse,

    I can see where you’re going with the 1800 RM landing (or lack of it) but there is a school of thought that suggests that you should fight the enemy where they are not.

    Perhaps this would help :-)

    You can use the speed and agility of a vertical assault (especially with V22, if they worked as advertised) to break an enemy defence, just like Germany did last night (and previously to us). You have to accept the high chance of attritional losses but ultimately the effect gained can far outweigh the size/cost. The main problem with the theory is that it’s been shown to fail more often that it’s been shown to succeed. To the point that there is probably a level at which you can “slip in” quickly and undetected, which tends to drift towards your support frigates or things like Absalon.

  156. All Politicians are the Same says

    @Kent

    The premise we are working from is that it is most likely the US that would be the one to kick of any P2P confrontation. So the fact they may not dramatically lessens the likelihood of us getting involved in one at all :)

  157. Fedaykin says

    @Simon

    1) Don’t change the goal posts to suit your argument. You were saying it had a heavier crewing requirement, it doesn’t in comparison to CVS. Bringing up Cavour to suit your argument is asinine.

    2) Carrier alliance is clear that it is not going to burn more fuel then the Invincible class. So this is a rather mute argument isn’t it.

  158. IXION says

    Hohum

    All I was doing- (years ago now) was asking questions.

    Like, if we cant afford to run theses things properly why are we bothering / wasting money/taking very risky tactical and strategic punts.

    IMHO if we go around telling the world “Look at the size of our carrier” then we had better be ready to use it and support it and protect it in a shooting war. Much of the support infrastructure that went with the whole 2 big carrier navy has been cut back or dropped. During the early part of WW2 we held the Eastern empire on a bluff. when it was called by the Japs we suffered bloody reverse after bloody reverse. Some of us see these things as potential floating Singapores.

    Never mind the choices made about not funding what else we could have had or do: – in order to pay for them.

    Certain choices have been made- Those making those choices are trumpeting the success of those choices and that in effect we are where we are because of their master plan.

    They are also saying how flexible this ship is as if

    a) The flexibility of a 65 000 ton floating warehouse was a surprise
    and
    b) It was always designed and intended as such.

    Both those and other uses are ex post facto justification.

    We are stuck with them as my post acknowledges.

    But

    ‘Be careful what you wish for- you just might get it’ comes to mind.

  159. Jules says

    Whose playing fantasy fleets, I don’t think anyone is really, we all know that Albion and Bulwark will not go on forever, they are a little lacking on the helicopter front IE no hanger, a quantity of large frigate style LPD’s which could also provide NGS as well as two Heli spots each may be a move of genius to be honest! A big LCS and a mini Mistral in one, I’m noticing that US is having troubles with LCS.
    http://www.defense-aerospace.com/articles-view/release/3/155257/deployment-revealed-lcs-risks%2C-uncertain-costs.html
    So maybe we should take a slightly different tack from the US navy and have a fleet of modded type 26’s say 8 ASW and 8 Landing. Bin Albion and Bulwark and the GP type 26 altogether and bung the Comms facilities straight onto the QE’s?

  160. Jules says

    And before someone cries “We haven’t got enough Merlin’s”!
    They’d each be deployed with two Chinook’s and an Apache! He He He…

  161. Fedaykin says

    I suppose the question is what was the intended OSD for Albion and Bulwark? Considering they are both being rotated rather then run in parallel it probably has shifted a bit…maybe.

    I don’t expect any serious push by the RN to replace them until well into the next decade also there are other nagging issues like T26 numbers and replacement (if at all) of useful RFA types like Argus and Diligence.

  162. Fedaykin says

    Answering my own question:

    Albion 2033
    Bulwark 2034

    That is just way too far away to be even putting any kind of serious thought into it.

  163. Phil says

    Like, if we cant afford to run theses things properly why are we bothering / wasting money/taking very risky tactical and strategic punts.

    So it’s less risky to not have such a capability even though we may need it and to develop it would take longer than for the average historical threat to develop?

    Perhaps you’d have a stronger argument if you at least tried to look beyond the next 5 years.

  164. Repulse says

    @X: “May I ask you a question? Do you think a LHD is just a smaller aircraft carrier?”

    Absolutely not – at best it can be for a very small number of aircraft for a very short duration. I see it more as transport for aircraft to a trouble zone to be operated fully from a land base.

  165. Jules says

    That’s the only time I’d like to see fixed wing on an LHD, when being transported to a trouble zone Escorted by a type 45!
    F35B gives us that option in that they could fly a shortish hop to their Airfield from the LHD without having to port in a trouble zone…

  166. Phil says

    I see it more as transport for aircraft to a trouble zone to be operated fully from a land base.

    That’s a bit odd. Just fly them there!

    What can 1800 men offshore do you asked earlier.

    Well the old mission set for an MEU was:

    Raid
    Limited Objective Attack
    NEO
    Show of Force
    Reinforcement
    Security
    Training
    Civil Actions
    Deception Operations
    Fire Support Coordination
    Counterintelligence
    Initial Terminal Guidance
    SIGINT
    Tactical Recovery of Aircraft
    Clandestine Rescue
    Specialised Dems
    Hostage Rescue

  167. Jules says

    @Fedaykin

    Thanks for that info, indeed 2034 is a long way off, another four SDSR’s!

  168. The Other Chris says

    “We haven’t got enough Merlin’s!”
    – Jules

    @All

    Odds on us “marinising” the Puma’s? ;)

  169. Repulse says

    @: Fedaykin “That is just way too far away to be even putting any kind of serious thought into it.”

    Sorry, I disagree. The T26 programme stretches out to 2036, so this is well within the timeframe. If we want to look at a variation beyond the 8 ASW T26s then we probably need to start looking at a T27 in the early 2020’s as we would be building from 2028 at the latest. I’m also, thinking if there is a benefit to go with the T27s first, then the T26s… Reason being is that some of the “young” T23’s will still be good ASW ships for a while yet. It would also allow for a timely re-org of the RMs and possible benefits of more available “Escorts” earlier.

  170. Jules says

    @Phil

    Currently they are not flying anywhere!
    Bit negative that though…
    1800 Blokes is still a useful force judging by that little list…

  171. Jules says

    @ the other Chris, unfortunately Bristow’s et al, seem to be doing too good a job of marinising Puma’s with very unfortunate results…
    Lets not go there eh?
    I know a few blokes who work offshore and they are none too keen now…

  172. ArmChairCivvy says

    RE
    “Answering my own question:

    Albion 2033
    Bulwark 2034

    That is just way too far away to be even putting any kind of serious thought into it.”

    They are the Shining Armour, when will the accompanying Sancho Panchaz, the Bays, be due for retirement? Reading the ozzie deport on what was found in sea trials, could be rather soon. Then the utility of these two rather good ships on their own would be rather curtailed?
    – I am intrigued by the 1000-man force to be launched from the CVF… Call it a Coy,plus some command elements that are likely to stay onboarded?
    – so, prepare for scenarios with no LPH, the other Albion still in the mothballs, and no usable Bays
    … What is your landed force now going to be looking like?

  173. x says

    @ Repulse

    OK just so we all know what you think.

    @ Jules

    That is 1800 men with 3 ships full of equipment, equipment that doesn’t have to be flown in and lots of aircraft too.

    Re Puma. Yes I can’t see the MoD buying or using Puma at sea. Saying that the Super Puma (I think) would be a good Sea King replacement.

    @ Phil

    Look at you defending the USMC. Warms the cockles of me heart so it does.

  174. Jules says

    @Repulse
    Makes a lot of sense that, I’m sure they could stretch out the lives of the 8 required Dukes to 2036, it’s not as if Armament wise they would not be relevant?
    Ok then if we make a type 27 first then and we’ve got six years or so to get the first one in the water, what you going to bung on it? Just wondering how big the aft landing area could actually be made, without upsetting the Seakeeping of the vessel?
    5 incher up front and Artisan, with some anti missile defence but thats about as far as I’ve got really…
    Worth going Diesel Electric on these to free up a little more room in the vessel for other kit, as they have no real need to be super quiet?
    Might have to get a Ship Bucket Account…

  175. Jules says

    @ArmChairCivvy
    Always on my mind that a bigger ship offers more utility simply because it has more storage space for well… Stuff…
    Albion and Bulwark would make for Brilliant Mother ships for Stuff, of whatever type for whatever mission, if your going to have a Thunderbird two make it a big un!

  176. Jules says

    @X

    Yes Super Puma (Caracal?) variants are a lot different to the Puma I briefly had a go in, years ago, the fully marinised one may be a good Sea King replacement but there are more modern choppers out there now for that. Certainly seen Puma’s Modded with all sorts of kit in the past and it may be a mature solution in some ways, they do seem to have a few problems around the salty stuff though, maybe I’ve just got an anti French Bias, i don’t know…

  177. monkey says

    @Simon & Fedaykin
    To add fuel to your fire.
    Re fuel consumption on QE v Invincible class.
    Someone mentioned it earlier the Invincible’s used four Rolls Royce Olympus TM3 (19mW each) based on the Olympus 593 aircraft engine core. The QE’s use two Rolls Royce MT30 (35mW each) based on the Trent 800 aircraft engine core.
    I couldn’t find figures for the marine versions but this came up for the original cores.
    “The Olympus 593 has a thrust-specific fuel consumption (TSFC) of 1.190 lbm/(lbf*h), meaning that 1.190 pounds of fuel needs to be burned to provide one pound of thrust for one hour. On the other hand, the Trent 800 on the 777 has a TSFC of 0.557, requiring roughly half the fuel to produce the same amount of thrust.”
    An updated Invincible class would also benefit from 50 years of GT fuel efficiency improvements. Not with standing that the QE can also use its Wärtsilä diesels (a total of 40mW capacity) to power the propulsion as they feed into the same grid which no doubt the ‘new’ Invincible’s would have benefited from along with 40 years of hydrodynamic improvements such as a ram bow and improved propeller shape .
    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-uWAPOX-LRqg/TbVHtBK7AII/AAAAAAAAAD4/Sp8BHKrmIMk/s900/DSCF1421.jpg
    The one thing the QE Class has is very big fuel bunkers ,not only for its own fuel but for the aircraft fuel .
    The F35 will use about 8t of fuel per sortie at say 50 sorties per day for 5 days that’s 2000t per 5 day operation (off Vietnam carriers there ran sorties for weeks) .The Merlin helicopters again would consume 4t per 5hrs airborne (say 4hr shifts for the AEW and 1hr transfer) gives minimum 6 sorties per day for 5 days is 120t per 5 day operation , same consumption for ASW say 2 running gives for just three helo’s in the air at any one time gives 360t / 5 days.
    Refuelling I believes stop aircraft operations so a QE could sustain ops much longer before having to cease to replenish.

  178. x says

    @ Jules re Caracal

    That’s the one. It seems to have a lot of good features and seems a safer bet than NH90.

    http://cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/photos/1/7/2/1213271.jpg

    I think the Chinese are buying some.

    EDIT: It first flew in 2005 so not that old.

  179. Repulse says

    @Phil: My ref to 1,800 RMs wasn’t specifically about the number (though I’ll come on to talk about that below), it was more about the way of getting them ashore – e.g. via a LPD well dock on LCUs onto a beach. What capability does this really give the UK?

    If a Multirole Frigate could carry 200 men with supporting LCVPs/CB90s/Rhibs, a rear mission bay with ramp to offload amphibious vehicles, space for a couple of Wildcats, whilst providing NGS and local AAW support, then you have a much more effective package than the current model IMO. These can take on smaller tasks, and also multiple platforms can be combined with a larger force on the CVF (some distance away) to get your 1,800 as needed.

    BTW – I know others disagree, but I still think that a CoLT (http://www.potomacinstitute.org/attachments/466_Goulding%20Rifle%20Company%20Experiment.pdf) type structure for the RMs would be interesting.

  180. Phil says

    What would this more effective package be able to do that has genuine utility?

  181. ArmChairCivvy says

    @x,
    china has got used to doing things that way, cfr.
    http://www.militaryfactory.com/aircraft/detail.asp?aircraft_id=338

  182. John Hartley says

    If we were to buy a few CH-53K King Stallions then it would not matter that QE/PoW do not have landing craft, as this heavy lift chopper can take a 12.2 ton armoured vehicle 110 miles inland.
    My fantasy QE air group. 8 Merlins, 3 V-22 tanker, 3 CH-53K heavylift, 2 Firescout UAV, so 16 helicopters/tiltrotors, then 18 F-35B peacetime, or 24 in wartime. Should be enough to handle most situations.

  183. The Other Chris says

    @x and @Jules

    There’s a bit of work to get the Army’s models up to spec. Not all galvanised, coated and drains/flotation fitted from what I can gather.

    As an aside, Northrop Grumman offered to zero-hour and refurbish Gazelle’s into optionally manned versions using Firescout kit in written evidence to the Defence Committee.

    No, indeed the offshore crowd not too happy! Those I’ve been talking to are happy about the S-92’s coming in to replace the Sea Kings. Unsure about the untried AW189’s but heartened at the gearbox heritage.

    I’m a bit ambivalent towards the Caracal. It doesn’t set my heart racing.

  184. El Sid says

    @IXION
    You claim not to “give a flying fox what we started with” but in fact you seem obsessed with what was and wasn’t thought/planned/intended in 1998 or 2004 or whenever. Me, I look at where we are now.

    You only see “We have ended up with ships that carry the same number as the ones we had before” Yes, we could have perhaps have built two Cavour-ish ships for say £2bn each. But what that that extra billion gives us is option value. Looking at the air-ship system as a whole, building the ships is the rate-limiting step, it’s slow but relatively cheap compared to a full deck of modern fighters. So that gives us the flexibility to have one squadron deployed routinely (compare with the 4-6 Harriers often found on CVS in the 2000s), if it all blows up then we will be able to scrape together a full CVF-load of F-35 to send in harm’s way. Then we’ve got 6-9 months to see what we can scrape together for PoW to do a Lusty-in-1982 panic scrounging men and materiel from wherever we can – but at least you could potentially see new planes off the assembly line in that time (with some major queue-barging) and if we didn’t have 72 serviceable airframes there are other operators that we could potentially lease from (and likewise with manpower, no doubt for a Falklands-style adventure we might end up training up Tiffy crew on F-35). It’s far from ideal, things like harmony guidelines would go by the wayside (but then this would be full-on war), crews wouldn’t be fully trained, and it’s not as good as having 72 aircraft and two ships ready to go from the start – but then it’s also a heck of a lot cheaper. And a Falklands panic is the worst case scenario, one also has the option for doing a Sweden in response to a changed strategic situation – the Ukraine situation has suddenly released extra funds and political will to increase the forces over a period of years – but they’d quite like results sooner rather than later.

    It’s relatively quick to build up air forces, much slower to build up the inventory of big ships, because you can’t just buy them from Amazon. Aside from design time, QE will have taken 12 years from contract to first cruise – that’s the time from there being an Iron Curtain to 9/11. OK, it’s a first of class and there’s been political delays, but even at the height of the Cold War the USN managed at best just over 7 years from contract to service (Roosevelt) even when they had an established pipeline. So you go to war with the ships you have – it calls to mind the Lion and H-class battleships that were laid down just before WWII started but were scrapped on the slipway. Partly because they wouldn’t be completed before the brass thought the war would be over, partly because there was competition for men and yards from other parts of the war machine.

    You can argue the politics of a defence budget of ~2% of GDP, the same as at the height of the Pax Britannica – but that’s where we are. What it buys us is two big carriers, fitted with one squadron and for three squadrons of F-35B. Never mind coulda-woulda-shoulda, that’s where we are today. Was that what was planned before the credit crunch? No. Does two big carriers have option value over two small carriers? Yes. Is that option value worth £1bn/ship? Probably.

  185. x says

    TOC said “There’s a bit of work to get the Army’s models up to spec.”

    Um………. ;)

    I like the S92…………..imagine if we had bought Sea Hawk…………. ;) :)

    Sea King is a hard act to follow.

  186. Repulse says

    @Phil: “What would this more effective package be able to do that has genuine utility?”

    I think on a limited scale everything you listed for a MEU. Don’t get me wrong, I still see that a Reaction Brigade being the main fighting force at scale and more akin to a MEU but it could be delivered by the RFA supported AAG (Army Amphibious Group) or by air or land.

  187. as says

    Why The US Navy Should Build Smaller Aircraft Carriers
    http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/why-the-us-navy-should-build-smaller-aircraft-carriers-1600899834/all

    Ok its an American article but it contains some relevant arguments.

  188. x says

    The MEU are seen by the USMC as a minimum to get anything useful done. The UK could perhaps get by with 1000: a whole commando, a battery of guns, some engineers, and the absolute minimum of logistics support. Enough vehicles to move the commando and guns would be good. The only USMC capability missing what I think would be useful for the RM to have would be a cavalry squadron but that would be absolute luxury (and with Simiatr going no appropriate vehicle as LAV would be too big). 200 men and some ribs wouldn’t be worth the trouble. 200 in QE with the helicopters and the balance of the force in an LPD and LSD(A) yes; in a frigate with nowt no.

  189. Observer says

    as, that article is wrong in the costings. It cost almost the same to run a large carrier as it does to run a smaller one. In fact, it costs a lot more to run many smaller ships than a single big carrier. As for the “more ships dispersal” argument, the US has 11. Think that is not enough? And many people quote the 1:1 overhaul figures, but frankly I have my doubts that any ship can spend half its life in drydock doing maintenance unless it was forced by “budgetary concerns”.

  190. All Politicians are the Same says

    @Observer

    “that article is wrong in the costings. It cost almost the same to run a large carrier as it does to run a smaller one”

    Go and read the article again and note the Nuclear vs conventional argument and the fact that they are talking about reducing the most expensive through life cost, man power from 5,000 to about 700.

  191. Phil says

    @Repulse

    200 people is barely anything. There’s nothing left to dig them out of the shit. And our forces have form when it comes to barrelling into situations that quickly get tastier than we thought. There’s no mass, no resilience, no reserve, no ability to sustain and precious little strength to concentrate or to provide its own FP. There’s a jolly good reason why you don’t see any countries tossing company sized groups (SF perhaps excepted) into sticky situations on their own.

  192. Observer says

    APATS, I did. The nuclear option vs conventional doesn’t work IMO, the usage and cost of oil based fuel is larger than the use of nuclear as a power source, not to mention the doubling of all the equipment being used. As for the crew numbers, it’s not due to the ship size. My guess is that the newer carriers automate heavily while the old ones are still manpower intensive, not to mention the crewing is for the height of the cold war, without the “Peace Dividend” manpower and aircraft cuts that reduced the size drastically.

  193. All Politicians are the Same says

    @ Observer

    Gerald Ford will have 5,000 members of the ship company, QE 700. You ignore the support and basing requirement as well for Nuclear vessels, the hugely expensive Nuke watch keeping courses etc. Nukes are expensive, as the author quite correctly identifies there are reasons why the US no longer goes Nuke for surface vessels other than Carriers.

  194. Repulse says

    @X: Sorry do not agree on the uselessness of 200 men with helicopters / vehicles – a similar number retook South Georgia in operation Operation Paraquat. Fewer men rescued UK nationals from Bengazi in Libya.

    Plus 4 multi role support Frigates with a SSS would give you your 1,000 men if really needed.

  195. Observer says

    APATs, maybe it does bear a bit more thinking through, but it seriously contradicts some of the old studies done on this specific topic.

    It looks like the author starts with the conclusion then works his reasoning around the premise. If he went with the reason and showed sums first, I would be a lot more receptive. This looks more like trying to support a specific POV.

    Not that I’m not guilty of that too, ironic I know.

  196. Phil says

    Sorry do not agree on the uselessness of 200 men with helicopters / vehicles

    Fine, your opinion. But bear in mind what we sent to South Georgia was a task organised force for a specific mission. We didn’t have 200 men bobbing around waiting for something to kick off.

  197. Repulse says

    @Phil: Happy to disagree, but to be clear I’m not advocating have 200 RMs permanently based on each ship – it would depend on the specific mission / deployment.

  198. x says

    @ Repulse

    I have Perkin’s book on Paraquat you should get a copy it is a good read.

    As for not believing me see what Phil said.

    As for SBS in he Libya well yes they did get away with it. Good for them. Google,

    “Hasty Generalization, Misunderstanding Statistics or Non-Representative Sample”

    And yes I realise that by revealing I know about such things as logical fallacies it means that I will no longer be able to post crapity, crap arguments and ignore parts of others’ posts that may, just may, prove me wrong for my own amusement but I have just got to save Repulse from himself. ;)

  199. Jules says

    @The Other Chris

    Quite agree on the choppers it’s a dropped ball to me and a simple force multiplier that should be fielded, if a ship has a big enough deck why not use Chinook and Apache? They are just choppers like the rest, best to ensure they don’t fall to bits because it’s a bit salty though!
    If we end up with Marines RAF and Navy on the Carriers all at once why not the Army Air Corps too?
    Marinisation is pricey though as an afterthought, I would think, basically something to be done on an overhaul cycle so not quick to do throughout a fleet?
    Still think it should be done though, we have very few Helicopters around and the biggest two fleets currently or will be, seem to be the Chinook and Apache, so lets get them some wellies!
    Still think all the Lynx should end up with the Navy, Army needs a chopper that can land a full squad, not in dribs.
    Six blokes exiting from a chopper is not enough to scare the enemy but a Dirty Dozen???

  200. Rocket Banana says

    Fedaykin,

    Sorry for the slow reply.

    1) Don’t change the goal posts to suit your argument. You were saying it had a heavier crewing requirement, it doesn’t in comparison to CVS. Bringing up Cavour to suit your argument is asinine.

    2) Carrier alliance is clear that it is not going to burn more fuel then the Invincible class. So this is a rather mute argument isn’t it.

    1. I didn’t. You put “CVS” in the above. I merely said “the bigger a ship the more it costs to run in both fuel and manpower”.

    2. I was under the impression that CVF needs 5000 tonnes of fuel for 10,000nm at 15 knots. I compare with 2000 tonnes of fuel for 7000nm at 15 knots on Vince, or 1500 tonnes of fuel for 8000nm at 15 knots on Ocean, or 2000 tonnes of fuel for 7000nm at 16 knots on Cavour. They are all significantly less than 0.5 tonnes per nautical mile.

    Can you provide a link for this Carrier Alliance statement as I’m intrigued?

  201. ArmChairCivvy says

    You can just think of SOAR and Mogadishu, when you next plan sending a couple of hundred in helos/ vehicles, without a back-up plan, RE
    “Sorry do not agree on the uselessness of 200 men with helicopters / vehicles

    Fine, your opinion. But bear in mind what we sent to South Georgia was a task organised force for a specific mission”

  202. ArmChairCivvy says

    Just to be clear, agree with Phil (you being one of the formulations for passive, but not the best choice here)

  203. mickp says

    I think Repulses ‘T27’ idea has merits. It would allow a CVF task group to be unhindered by dragging a slower LPD around and with a couple of T27s, helpfully doubling up as task group escorts, and the space on CVF, you could probably carry up to 3 reinforced companies around, possibly a whole RM commando. Evacuation, humanitarian relief, securing an airstrip for immediate reinforcement. SF support surely all capabilities within the scope of that. Large LPDs seem to be a once every 30 year thing with the chance to plan – wouldn’t 3 Bay, or Bay replacements in RFA guise be ample cover for that eventuality? However, with the life in the Albions (and I can’t believe we would scrap them early), any decision on a T27 variant is possibly some way off, after the T26 ASW run.

  204. Rocket Banana says

    Why have a few T27 follow CVF around when CVF is carrying a couple of RM companies, three (or four, not sure) LCVP and half-a-dozen green Merlin?

  205. mickp says

    @Simon, I agree it can but the T27 would give you the option to detach some of the RM capability, maybe closer to shore with organic self defence and NGFS. CVF could be ‘strike heavy and RM light’ . Just giving future options.

  206. Rocket Banana says

    mickp,

    Fair enough. Are we talking an Absalon style frigate then?

    I rather like the idea of a frigate sized ship having an LCVP, a RHIB and a copter (or two) for a light intervention / SF role.

    I’ll leave it to other’s here to argue if there is actually any point in such a light force in the world we currently live in.

  207. Fedaykin says

    @Simon

    1) Yes you did. You first said QE class had a heavier manning requirement. I corrected you and said not in comparison to Invincible/CVS. You then admit that you were wrong but then bring up Cavour as if that was your real argument. Sorry that is a change of the goal posts in my eyes.

    2) Aircraft Carrier Alliance web site in reference to the new QE class:

    “The ships will use an electric propulsion system that enables the prime movers to operate more efficiently and therefore burn less fuel, saving running costs.”

  208. Rocket Banana says

    Fedaykin,

    1) Yes you did. You first said QE class had a heavier manning requirement [than what?]. I corrected you and said not in comparison to Invincible/CVS [yes, you brought up CVS, not me]. You then admit that you were wrong [no, I admitted that in comparison to CVS (the point you brought up) they have a similar manning requirement] but then bring up Cavour as if that was your real argument [if you read the thread before I make it perfectly clear that when I state CVS I mean a 30,000 tonner, not Invincible – I made the point to NaB]. Sorry that is a change of the goal posts in my eyes.

    2) Aircraft Carrier Alliance web site in reference to the new QE class:

    “The ships will use an electric propulsion system that enables the prime movers to operate more efficiently and therefore burn less fuel, saving running costs.” [again, than what?]

    I read that as the fact that an “electric propulsion system…burns less fuel”. Did you do comprehension at school?

    Seems to me you read things that aren’t actually there. The passage from Aircraft Carrier Alliance doesn’t even mention “CVS” or “Invincible” or even “previous carriers” on the entire page.

  209. The Other Chris says

    I don’t see the difference between a T27 and a T26 without a TAS.

    Apologies if I’ve missed a description. Could you expand on what a T27 does differently please?

  210. Repulse says

    @Simon: “I rather like the idea of a frigate sized ship having an LCVP, a RHIB and a copter (or two) for a light intervention / SF role.” Spot on my view – and I would replace the LPDs for more of these (along with the T26s GPs), to get more.

    Please note, I am proposing a remodelling of the RM to be a light intervention force, brown water navy and maritime security force. The brigade / Commando level operations could be done at a big stretch, but the bulk of such land based duties would be the responsibility of Army’s Reaction Force. If they need to get there by sea then the RFA can deliver them via a secured port. If you don’t have a port, then we don’t go. That is the real crux – by having this position what do we really lose?

  211. Repulse says

    @ToC: “I don’t see the difference between a T27 and a T26 without a TAS.” – A rear mission bay / ramp for deploying amphibious vehicles and ability to accommodate 200 RMs. The early T26 designs are close, before they realised that a rear door and a TAS didn’t work together. I would also, reject any suggestion of TLAM etc.

  212. Fedaykin says

    @Simon

    So we are talking about different things.

    Fine.

    It doesn’t change the reality that QE class does not have larger manning beyond the Invincible class (also known as CVS). I apologise for the confusion but on the other hand bashing the QE class over manning in respect of the Cavour class is asinine when it was designed to not have a greater manning burden then the Invincible class. Arguing that because a Cavour class can be more lean manned is in my eyes arguing from hindsight and hence pointless.

    As for fuel burn? What do you mean “Then what”? The statement from the Carrier Alliance (the people building it) is abundantly clear. Also I pointed out the hydrodynamics issue way back. It is very simple:

    Larger hull = more efficient.

    Unless hydrodynamics and physics have changed without anybody telling me.

    The Invincible class have four direct coupled Olympus gas turbines vs two turbofan derived MT30 and 4 Wartsilla diesel sets feeding into an electric propulsion system. That by its very nature is going to burn less fuel combined with the hydrodynamic benefits of a larger hull. Actually if they had done a keel up build they could of chosen an even more hydro dynamically beneficial hull but that would be arguing from hindsight.

    Sorry I don’t want to have an argument and I apologise if you feel that I am being unfair but I think you are wrong in your original assertions about efficiency.

    Lets just let it lie

  213. Fedaykin says

    @Simon

    “I read that as the fact that an “electric propulsion system…burns less fuel”. Did you do comprehension at school?”

    Sorry missed that, yes I did. Thanks for throwing in an insult…I have been trying to be magnanimus and not too personal. It is a clear statement. “Burns less fuel”, it is a clear statement of less than what was before => Invincible class.

    That is how I chose to interpret it and I think it is clear.

  214. Rocket Banana says

    Fedaykin,

    Lets just let it lie Okay.

    Sorry to throw an insult but I felt it was a measured response to the use of the word “asinine”. Again, let’s leave it be and accept that I think we may well just have both been on different pages, or possibly the same page, but at different times. :-)

  215. Fedaykin says

    @Simon

    Probably different books ;-)

    Heck you know how petulant I can get!

    To be honest my issue is the hand-wringing and general arguments from hindsight (not you per say) going on especially as hindsight is rather subjective and some people are just ignoring the original design process of the QE class. It wasn’t designed to be big out of some “We want a big carrier for the sake of it” lobby (excepting the odd armchair admiral who seem to think the UK should have ten Nimitz class carriers or something). They were designed to specific sortie generation and manning considerations.

    That is what we have now and the grown up thing is to get on with things.

  216. The Other Chris says

    @Repulse

    Thank you.

  217. Repulse says

    @x / Phil: Just so we are clear – I am not proposing that 200 RMs can cover all the scenarios that currently a RM Commando does – quite the opposite.

    The key point being made was that 200 RMs were “completely without merit” as a structure – I disagree. Another example is the 100 marines deployed to the Iraq Embassy recently – they were there as a token of course, but could facilitate an evacuation of act as security if the situation deteriorated. I can also see merit for a Iraq situation when the UK were protecting the Oil platforms. These scenarios in my view are becoming more frequent and are more relevant than landing a RM Commando on a beach.

  218. El Sid says

    @Fedaykin
    FWIW, I’d read ““The ships will use an electric propulsion system that enables the prime movers to operate more efficiently and therefore burn less fuel” as being pretty unambiguous in meaning “burning less fuel than if the same prime movers in the same QEC hull were hooked up to an old-style CODAG type arrangement”. It’s talking relative efficiency of the system between the prime movers and the shafts, not the absolute amount of fuel consumed by CVF and CVS.

  219. Not a Boffin says

    “JC, Cavour, Wasp, America. I think the point is that we could have built 3-4 of the same hull. The hull would specifically NOT be fitted by the same company that builds the hull.”

    Thereby demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of shipbuilding in any way shape or form. I can hardly wait for the anguished cries of “Canberra”, “Iver Huitfeldt”, but unfortunately, they’re used when the context is not understood. Here’s your bits of Iver Huitfeldt.

    http://www.wsy.lt/wbs/index.php/en/products/gallery/blocks

    Note how what they’re supplying is relatively small (<100 te) blocks of complex curvature and minimal outfit. The reason they're doing that is because they're trying to exploit the lower labour cost in Eastern European shipyards for the bits of steel that typically require the most manhours (bow and stern units) where 450 mh/te is not unusual and where there is little outfit work. You might save £1.5M per 100te unit, less your transport costs, but you typically only get three or four of them per ship, tops.

    For the remainder of the steel units, the labour content comes right down and the outifit content goes right up, so you don't realise those benefits, in fact it ends up costing you. This is precisely why QE is taking so long to complete above the hangar deck. Relatively small units completed at satellite yards, which need high outfit content once you get to the build yard. They're doing it because there wasn't the steel fabrication capacity in Govan and Portsmouth on the original timeline, or big enough sheds to build above the flight deck, but note how when the timeline slipped, some of PoW units were reallocated to Portsmouth from A&P. In this case, it's also costing more because although teh steel is virtually all flat (ideal for the panel line at A&P), you have to stitch them together at rosyth and then start putting a large proportion of the outfit – particularly electrical – in the ship. Nothing on this earth burns manhours like sparkies pulling and reeving cables.

    "The hull would be designed to have a well deck, garage and a hangar. It would be diesel-electric powered with the option to use GT (so that means a generator but not the turbine fitted). The GT would be mounted high to avoid wastes of space in terms of up/downtakes."

    Not sure why you think not fitting the gas generator would save you money. Most of the cost is in the overall generator unit. More interesting is how you think you can fit a big GTA outboard of the longiutudinal bulkheads in a size constrained (beam and draft aren't easy on 30000 te) ship.

    "When operating as a carrier the well deck would not really get used. The vehicle deck would be used to carry spares and weapons. These would be moved using the same kinds of overhead gantries used on Wasp, but automated. A lift would take the parts or ordinance to either the hangar or flight deck. Access to this lift would be through an airlock. "

    Have you any idea what the impact of that little statement is in terms of electrical systems, HVAC, systems routing, access etc? Vehicle decks tend to require free and relatively unfettered access to other spaces – not a lift and an airlock! Magazine spaces tend to require the exact opposite. You might find one or two little issues with moving munitions around on a gantry crane as well….

    "The dock down tanks would be used to accommodate extra fuel, as per America. Etc, etc, etc…" Again, will not survive first contact with Mr MARPOL, let alone considering contamination, pump rates, segregation of systems, etc.

    "All I’ve done is taken 3 x Invincible and 3 x Albion/Ocean and bolted one on top of the other to get some economies."

    No. What you've done is take a figurative crayon and/or a spreadsheet and assume that what you want can be achieved on 30000 tonnes with 600 bodies. My 9-yr old can do that, with predictable results. A bit like a poor Brazilian team that isn't quite sure what it's doing meeting a bunch of highly trained boxheads, who know exactly what they're doing and why.

    I’m not even going near LPD/FF hybrids where similar amateur hour comments would apply.

  220. mickp says

    @Simon, yes, I was thinking about the T27 being sort of an Absalon type ship – a real GP ship that gives utility of a fleet escort but with flexibility of a company plus of RM with kit, a few boats and helos. I think these would have more utility going forward than traditional LPDs, which can then be reserved for RFA Bay type ships.

    I think that means I am supportive of Repulse’s idea

  221. IXION says

    NAB

    Straight non trick question?

    If I came to you in 1999 and said the Invincibles will be shagged in 10 years, can you sketch a design that is more rugged has more room for stores, and supplies, and big enough to handle the worst case scenario aircraft size wise for 18 of the new f 35. + 4-5 of the new Merlin choppers…. How big would it have been – Assuming the same use scenario as the Invincibles?

  222. The Other Chris says

    By the sound of it the T26 mission bay / hangar will be suitable for what’s being discussed. From what’s publicly available it’s a sizable space with flexible davit and helideck access already.

    Instinct’s suggesting that cost of redesign for a stern bay would negate the cost savings of what would be left out.

  223. IXION says

    NAB

    Serous question if we wanted a ‘new Invincible’:- to take 18 f35 – and 4 -5 merlin, with better layout for reduced crewing, and more stores and supplies, then, how big would such a ship have to be?

  224. monkey says

    @Ixion
    “OK why have aircraft carriers?”
    53% of the world’s population lives within 120 miles (less than 200 km) of a coastline. The number is expected to reach 75% by 2050,hopefully by then we will have our first batch of F35’s :-)
    The ‘enemy’ tends to try to take and hold or operate from or near population centres so that means we can bomb them, I mean reduce the enemies infrastructure and ability to supply.

  225. x says

    ” I am proposing a remodelling of the RM to be a light intervention force, brown water navy and maritime security force. ”

    That’s it I can’t stand any more I will see you all in a few weeks.

  226. Phil says

    I am not proposing that 200 RMs can cover all the scenarios that currently a RM Commando does – quite the opposite.

    Nobody has said that 200 men don’t have an abstract value. But to do what you propose, to spend an awful lot of money to deliver a sub-unit, is I don’t think a sensible allocation of resources.

    These scenarios in my view are becoming more frequent and are more relevant than landing a RM Commando on a beach.

    The Commando should land the 200 men. Just because you have a Commando does not mean you need to deploy it all. But a Commando could comfortably deploy a Coy Group to do the same jobs and have 2-3x more Coy Groups in reserve. That’s what you should do. Not go in with the leastest. You go in the with mostest you can.

  227. Not a Boffin says

    Why do you want to take 18 F35B? (Before you answer, you’d best understand the most Harriers we ever embarked was 16, of which half were the much smaller SHAR).
    What do you want to do with them (ie what roles do you want them to perform simultaneously?)
    How many sorties per day?
    What’s the flypro?
    Do you want the cabs to SRVL?
    What are the merlins for?
    How many to be hangared at once?
    What support do you want the AE department to provide?
    How fast do you want the ship to go? (Max & cruise?)
    How long do you want to operate before RAS(L), RAS(A), RAS(S)?
    What accommodation standards?
    What stability standards?
    What Rules?
    How long will the ship remain in service?

    Have you got £30k?

  228. The Other Chris says

    @x

    Due to reinventing of wheels?

  229. John Hartley says

    Well back in 1993, Mike Critchley was talking about the preliminary studies forCVSG(R), the Invincible replacement. Invincibles were roughly 16,000 tons standard or 20000 full load. I assume CVSG(R) was meant to put right the limitations of the Invincibles as the preliminary new design would have been a standard displacement of 20,000 to 25,000 tons , so I guess that would be around 27,000 to 35,000 full load.

  230. Rocket Banana says

    NaB,

    Thanks for bothering to refuel the fire. However, I will not continue to annoy you. I do however have a couple of questions…

    Is it not true that Nimitz floods her fuel tanks with water for ballast when they are low and then has to extract this water later on?

    Also, do you happen to know the peek sortie rate that USS Bonhomme Richard and USS Bataan generated in 2003 when operating as “Harrier Carriers”? It might just put these myths to bed.

  231. Not a Boffin says

    Mike Critchley had probably seen the same early studies I’ve got. Their overall output is reported in the RINA Warship 97 paper. However, those studies only had the answers to about half (if that) of the questions posed above, because all they were supposed to do was set an outline budget in the LTC. They were done using a fairly crude tool called CONDES, which balances weight, volume and areas to a fairly low level of definition.

    Once you start to answer those questions it becomes clear that the ships will tend to get bigger……

  232. Rocket Banana says

    How many sorties per day? 64 JET + 6 AEW
    What’s the flypro? CAP + CAS (1+45 cycle)
    Do you want the cabs to SRVL? No.
    What are the merlins for? AEW
    How many to be hangared at once? 33%
    What support do you want the AE department to provide? Don’t know what AE is ;-)
    How fast do you want the ship to go? (Max & cruise?) 28/15 knots
    How long do you want to operate before RAS(L), RAS(A), RAS(S)? 42 days with 5 days sustained aviation ops
    What accommodation standards? 6 per cabin with en-suite wetroom.
    What stability standards? Same as Invicible
    What Rules? Lloyds
    How long will the ship remain in service? 30 years

  233. Not a Boffin says

    Nimitz (designed in the late 60s) may have used water-compensated tanks (quite probably the FFO tanks used to refuel her escorts rather than JP5 bunkers), but not as a regular event, more as a damage control capability. The frequency with which they RAS JP5 is such that I doubt they’d ever get to the point where such was needed.

    Our T42s and T22s both had a significant proportion of their F76 bunkers as water-compensated, because they had been designed in a similar time frame and frankly by the 90s their stability had got to such a point that there was no alternative way of getting a stability certificate. It made fuel management a nightmare, added all sorts of corrosion issues to the ship to the point that about ten years ago an A&A was raised to add 450 tonnes of lead ballast to the batch 3s. To the best of my knowledge it was never fully implemented, not least because there were no viable spaces to put that quantity of lead in the ship and the effect on the overall structural loading was “interesting”. Would have needed sorting had we kept the ships longer though…..

    However – the MARPOL regulations don’t allow water-compensation for new build ships (which is why QE has separate F76, F44 and WB tanks – another reason why she’s a little large) and we choose to comply for all sorts of reasons. There is also a difference between temporarily filling a tank with SWB for a short interval (couple of days) and the longer periods you’d use in a dock ship, particularly once you’ve unloaded your force. Things start growing, water gets into the paint coatings and generally sea-creatures (dead or alive) and water are anathema to aviation fuel systems, even with filtration.

    The USMC get up to all sorts of things, but “peeking” isn’t one I’m familiar with. No actual figures for OIF, but by all accounts VMA211 flew 360 sorties in one month from Bonnie Dick, which by my rudimentary maths is 12 per day. It all depends on what they’re doing and what they’re trying to do simultaneously, hence the list of questions to Ixion. Just as a point of reference, those 16 harriers we managed to put on a CVS could just about generate 30-odd sorties per day, based on three full flushes of the deck and virtually nothing else could happen in between. It’s all about what you’re trying to achieve and the flypro to do it, which is why the initial CVF concept designs that basically crammed the aircraft in wherever there was space changed dramatically once the flypro was understood.

  234. Not a Boffin says

    Why are you flying cyclic ops?
    What’s your threat axis?
    Why is there only 15 hours AEW coverage?
    How many cabs up at one time?
    What AL state & posture?

    Why are you using a 1970s stability standard?

    Have you got £30k?

  235. All Politicians are the Same says

    @NAB

    Do not be mean.

    CAP stations and make up as well as alert states are an Ops matter which will be decided upon after assessing the threat and most likely threat axis. There will be a max surge and sustainable options but the way they are employed is an Ops planning issue :)
    I assume he is talking 6×4 hour AEW sorties.

  236. Rocket Banana says

    NaB,

    Hang-on. A detachment of 12 x AV8-B from the USMC delivered 40 sorties in a day from (I think) Ark Royal before her retirement.

    Now, I can understand how shoving 1.5 times as many aircraft onto the deck of Ark would not improve sortie rate I can’t quite understand why on something as large as a Wasp the 20 or so embarked harriers can’t surge to 60 or so on day 1.

    Four sorties per day for a Harrier on day 1 is not unrealistic for the one’s on deck is it?

  237. Rocket Banana says

    Why are you flying cyclic ops? Because I want to sustain a reactive CAP/CAS presense – I’m not sold on “strike”.
    What’s your threat axis? Forward and left a bit.
    Why is there only 15 hours AEW coverage? There isn’t. I’m running 6 x 5 hour AEW sorties on 1-hour overlap.
    How many cabs up at one time? 4.
    What AL state & posture? None. I’m on CAP. Reverting to DLI after the “surge”.

    Why are you using a 1970s stability standard? ‘Cos I don’t know any modern ones. I want the same sea state operability that we need for ops in the Atlantic and the same turn speed as Vince to evade torps, etc.

    Have you got £30k? Now I realise the real reason for the questions ;-)

  238. Not a Boffin says

    APATS

    You and I both know that your alert posture determines your deck spot, what the air weapons cycles and turn-rounds are and what the launch interval is. Particularly for a lean-manned flightdeck – that’s why they’re important.

    I guessed he’s using a 4hr AEW sortie, but not using any Merlin I’ve ever seen!

    And he still hasn’t got £30k…..

    Simon

    Neither of us know what they were doing on Ark. You can generate shed loads of sorties if you’re just doing touch n go’s to familiarise yourself with a foreign ship and her air procedures for example. Doesn’t mean you can do the same on real missions.

    As for whatever they were doing on an LHD, it really all comes down to what they’re actually doing (which neither of us know for sure), rather than some average sorties per day figure. I know what the NATO planning values for peak and sustained rates used to be, put it that way.

    Cyclic ops is more to do with Strike than reactive ops.

    Stability isn’t sea state and no-one will sign off on a 1970s safety standard…

  239. Rocket Banana says

    I know what the NATO planning values for peak and sustained rates used to be, put it that way.

    3 and 1.5?

    What do I get for my £30K?

  240. Rocket Banana says

    I guessed he’s using a 4hr AEW sortie, but not using any Merlin I’ve ever seen!

    AW101 Merlin in four-tank configuration ;-)

  241. monkey says

    I thought the Merlin’s maximum endurance is four hours 50 minutes, how much do you remove for returning against headwinds ,safety margin if flight deck clog up etc.
    In the AEW role how far did the SeaKing’s stray from the ship?
    AugustasWestlands own site takes states 6.5Hrs with this being with no payload but I guess the military reduce this already
    http://www.agustawestland.com/product/aw101-1

  242. Rocket Banana says

    It should be pretty obivous that when I say “four-tank” I actually mean “five-tank” :-(

  243. All Politicians are the Same says

    I have seen the Italian Merlins fly 4hr plus missions when employed as “mini MPAs” in support of Active Endeavor. Not the entire time on station but airborne for up to 270 minutes. Now they were not carrying weapons or hoisting an AEW radar, they were also able to transit at an economical cruise speed. So how relevant that is I know not, somebody on here is bound to though :)

  244. Not a Boffin says

    £30k gets you a set of outline arrangement drawings, R&P calcs, initial stability assessment, weight, volume, area balances, machinery layout, deck spot drawings, initial stability assessment and possibly a scheme of complement. Certainly a list of assumptions underpinning the design.

    Does AW101 work from a CofG perspective in four tanks? With Crowsnest fitted?

  245. All Politicians are the Same says

    @NAB

    A SOC? Do not go there, total nightmare. I worked on the SOC for Ark when she was first used as an LPH, not fun.

  246. Red Trousers says

    APATS, a truly purple nightmare. Your SOC for Ark Royal and my Establishment for a new TA Regiment back in the early 90s for which I was the first Regular Adjutant. I still have scars on my back from that experience. EVERYBODY had an opinion, and mine was the only correct one. Or at least, mine was the only opinion that I submitted to ACGS’ staff. The rest were filed in the bin. ;)

  247. Rocket Banana says

    NaB,

    Shame. I was hoping for a proof-of-concept ;-)

    PS: I’ll settle for 56 jet sorties at 1+45, I was doing 1+30 in my head!

  248. El Sid says

    @IXION
    if we wanted a ‘new Invincible’:- to take 18 f35 – and 4 -5 merlin, with better layout for reduced crewing, and more stores and supplies, then, how big would such a ship have to be?

    Obviously it depends as preceding comments make clear! But you can look around at how other navies approach the problem. Most of the modern Harrier carriers are around 250m long and 35m beam, with light load displacements around 25-30,000t – but they’re more aimed at moving Marines around so their air groups are probably a bit smaller than you’re looking for, particularly when you consider that the F-35 is significantly bigger than the Harrier :
    http://navy-matters.beedall.com/images/jsfcompair.jpg

    Cavour is perhaps the closest to a pure carrier – 244x39m with a typical air group of 12 F-35B and 8 Merlin, you could squeeze a couple more on as overload perhaps.
    Although Juan Carlos at 231x32m can take 19 F-35B in theory, it’s not much cop as an aircraft carrier as it’s much more focussed on amphibious ops, reflecting its heritage as the bastard first cousin once removed of the Bays. Wasp/Makin Island at 258x36m has a similar mission; the new Americas are about the same size but are more about shifting Marines by air. In fixed wing mode they have 20 F-35B and two Seahawks so pretty close to what you want?

    de Gaulle is similar length to these – 262m, but the angled flight deck means she’s much wider, 64m – in theory she can carry up to 40 planes but in reality it’s not a lot more than an America. A QEC isn’t much longer – 280m – and is 39m beam at the waterline, what makes the difference is that even without an angle, her flight deck is 70m wide. So at a horribly crude level, QEC fits two Cavour flightdecks onto a hull that’s not much bigger than the Cavour’s, giving you much more room to shuffle aircraft around if you don’t care about eg fitting through the current Panama Canal which is what determines the beam of the Wasps/Makin Island/Americas.

  249. Repulse says

    Oh dear I seem to be upsetting some here – best stop Amateur Hour as NaB likes to put it. Apologies for daring to question the status quo.

  250. IXION says

    NAB

    Sorry I should be more specific.

    In effect I am looking for a replacement for the CVS doing the same sort of of job,- same sortie rate, etc just sized up to deal with much bigger aircraft and more generous fuel and weapons stores.

    As for 18 it was to allow for 16 with room to swing a cat. s for Merlins I was think AEW, + anti sub/ general purpose. so 4-6.

    OK I know that’s not exactly a design spec. but in published data its the sort of load an Elephant will carry usually. I just wondered if we started with a ship designed for that spec how big it might be. I am no ship designer but I would have thought given the givens – a little less than 40,000 tons?

  251. Rocket Banana says

    IXION,

    If we wanted a 16-18 jet + AEW carrier and didn’t want to pay NaB for his drawings you can just buy me a pint and I’ll tell you it’s 32,000 tonnes, 240m long, have a 32m waterline beam and approximately an 8.4m draught.

    It would carry around 2800 tonnes of ships fuel for a range of about 7500nm and about 1800 tonnes of aviation fuel to service the above airgroup. It would be fitted with 2 x 9MW Wärtsilä diesels for economic cruise at 15 knots and two 36MW MT30s for a sprint speed of 28-29 knots.

    Interestingly it demonstrates the efficiencies of the larger CVF hull as my power-plant is not far off that required to push CVF to 25 knots.

    Operationally it would also be able to operate in a sea-control role keeping two jets aloft, two ASW Merlin at 50nm and another AEW Merlin at about the same distance with all Merlin operating a “ripple” through spot zero on four-hour sorties. Two lifts would (annoyingly) be holes in the deck but would be able to service the entire airgroup even with one lift inoperable (albeit with difficulty).

    If you want to bolt a well deck under it, just buy Wasp :-)

  252. monkey says

    @El Sid
    The Panama canal expansion is due for completion next year

  253. El Sid says

    @monkey
    I know – that’s why I said the “current” Panama Canal. But that’s why the America is the size she is, and that looks like being their standard Marine aviation hull for the foreseeable. It’s the right size for an MEU, and of course a lot of ports in the Americas are geared around Panamax-shaped ships.

  254. Not a Boffin says

    If you want a CVS that can take F35B vice Harrier, then you’re talking about Cavour. What that gets you is the ability to either keep a 2 ship CAP airborne with a limited alert, run an AEW line and a ripple 2 dipper line with some latent potential to do the odd CAS mission.

    Or, if you go FW heavy, push three 8 ship missions with 2 spares a day, with an AEW line.

    The more pertinent question, (and this is at the heart of the whole thing) is why would you want to?

    A two ship CAP actually provides little other than the ability to keep targetting aircraft honest and at arms length, intercept unknown contacts (not necessarily with any great effect), but at least ID them. It is useful to defend a maritime force, but does not offer the ability to counter much more than the occasional probe. Filling three CAP stations against an iron-bomb equipped force on Corporate only gave an attrition rate (by which I mean prevented attack, rather than shoot-downs) of less than 50% and that took 2.5 CVS and twenty-plus cabs. Not clever against anyone with a more extensive ASM threat. Likewise, the eight ship mission does give you a good strike package, but tends to indicate that you’ll be facing some form of threat, which means you probably need some self-defence as well.

    People tend to make the erroneous assumption that CVS & Harrier delivered a militarily effective and useful capability. What it actually delivered was what could be accommodated in the legacy ship design, which is not the same thing. If you had a deck full of SHAR (or AV8B II+) then at least you could protect a maritime force against a modest air threat, but not do much else. Ditto, a deck full of GR9 lets you run lots of CAS, but only where there is very limited or no air threat.

    When the CVF programme was CVSG(R) and later CV(R), the tri-service scenarios showed that to bring something worthwhile to the party, as well as maintain the ability to defend a maritime force against an air threat, we were going to have to provide capability beyond CVS/SHAR, in order to justify any replacement programme. In the era of capability management, you don’t necessarily just replace what you currently run, you first determine whether it is contributing now, then whether it will do so in the future and if not, what needs to be added to the capability to make it justifiable. You then do the cost-benefit analysis to determine whether it is worth the expense. The analyses back then all showed that CVS capability was not militarily significant and that if you wanted to provide a significant capability, then you needed either fewer bigger ships or more smaller ships. The latter cost more to build and operate and were not “future-proof”, hence the choice of two larger ships as the preferred option. None of which is rocket science, but did result in bigger ships, which resulted in a significant proportion of people concentrating entirely on the size of the ships relative to CVS and spending the next eight years trying to get the programme cancelled, irrespective of the economics or the capability to be delivered and at significant cost.

    At this point, a number of people are going to start jumping up and down going “only 12 aircraft, only 12 aircraft” as if this was some sort of permanent state of affairs, set in stone. Those 12 aircraft will allow us to run a credible AD posture with some alert which can be beefed up if we have to go up against anyone more serious, but more to the point, the big deck allows us to deliver a militarily significant contribution beyond that if required. It’s literally a question of putting more aircraft on the ship, which can be as little as a week provided Joint Force Dave is supported by all, or as much as five years if we have to buy more cabs and train more aircrew. That’s very different to being unable to do it because the ship isn’t big enough in the first place. Someone else has already pointed out the length of time it takes to build the ship. It’s taken longer than that to get the thing approved in the first place – all because they’re bigger than their predecessors.

    It’s often said that Ark + GR9 would have been useful on Ellamy. It would, but only because the Libyans had no effective air threat. Had such a threat existed credibly, it would have been a very different campaign, not least because you couldn’t run sufficient CAP Typhoons from Italy (over 500 miles away) to do so without more air tankers than you could lay your hands on.

    One should never underestimate the strategic effect the ships will have as well. Being able to substitute (albeit to a lesser, but still credible level) for a USN CVBG is a valuable european and UK lever. The only ship capable of that right now is CdG, you don’t see the Spanish, Italians or even us when we had CVS plus Harrier being asked to cover for a US group, ever. Simply because there is insufficient inherent capability in the ship to be credible.

  255. x says

    Only if F35b flies. The USAF needs A. But the USN and USMC have options to get around the need for buying C and B. Is China going to able to knock out of the air FA18 easily within the next 2 decades when they are still chasing an FA18 like capability of their own? And of course the US aren’t standing still. Everything from new FA18 buys to PGM to (new) AH to X47 say that a US buy of the minor F35 variants isn’t a sure thing. Still not convinced that we will see 6 or so F35b flying from LHD, too complicated and too big. As I said way up at the top if CVF had been built as CTOL carrier from the get go and we had 48/60 FA18 and a clutch of E2x on order then it would be a different matter. What always makes me smile here is that is you push here for kinetic capabilities early you are met with “with who are we going to go to war?” and yet discuss a decidedly uncertain future for F35b and you are met with “in the future, blah, blah, blah, flexibility etc.”. How many aircraft carrier classes did we build after the KGV class, and how many battleships? And that’s where we are at today The current US CV are useful because they are extant, they work, just like say the USN Iowa’s at the end of WW2. The old Vanguard wasn’t useful because it was built too late and there was only one. Two QEC are like having that one Vanguard.

  256. Rocket Banana says

    NaB,

    I was going to respond with the fact that two of the dinky carriers can deliver sea-control and strike/CAS, but will refrain. Instead I’d like to ask you a personal question. One where you answer from your position rather than towing the line for either the Royal Navy, or British shipbuilding…

    What would you rather have defending your countries interests?

    2 x CVF + 2 x Albion
    3 x Cavour + 2 x Albion
    4 x Wasp

    They’re all around the £8b mark and both Cavour and Wasp can be assumed to be F35B-ed.

  257. Topman says

    @x

    Do you think the B version has a geniune air of uncertainity in entering service?

  258. x says

    I would put it at 75% and falling. Normally when I say that I am met with “the won’t cancel F35” and there is a world of difference between the whole programme going and one or two variants. Trials are trials and trials are done to see what is wrong as much as to see what is working. USAF needs A, the DoN has options. The money situation isn’t getting any better. There is a world of difference between AV8, a small mud mover that could do a bit more, and F35, a large attack aircraft that is complicated as Typhoon. If you look at USMC AV8 operations they are the same as the original RAF need; immediate support from an austere field. F35b is like getting Tornado to do the job. Capability grows yes as technology improves but are we seeing too much capability with F35b in LHx? Especially when other technologies are coming from below to fill the CAS gap. And there will always be a proper carrier close by with fast air that is CAS qualified. The American LH may have been scaled for MV22 and F35b but deck space is still cramped. How many precision shells and munitions could you buy for the running costs of (half) an F35b? We shall see. Let’s hope I am wrong.

  259. Kent says

    @Topman @x – The F-35B will enter service because there is no other option. It may not be everything everyone wants it to be, but it’s a damn’ sight better than empty decks on carriers. Since the ill-timed retirement of the Harrier II GR.9s and the wearing out of USMC Harrier II AV-8B Pluses, there has to be something to replace them. Of course, you could spend the money meant to pay for the F-35Bs to pay for design work on an entirely new class of CATOBAR carrier or refit the CVFs with EMALS after spending all that money to build them. Then you’d still have to build the new carrier and buy regular carrier aircraft to operate from it. Delays and more money, more money, more money.

    BTW, comparing the F-35B to Typhoon is a waste of time. The Typhoon isn’t operating off any carriers, and from my scrying bowl I don’t see a Sea Typhoon in development.

  260. Topman says

    @x

    That’s interesting, I would put it higher not for any technical reason, but for it’s primary user of the B version, the USMC don’t really have many options. They also have alot of clout politically I can’t see them carrying the can. That said I don’t think any of the services in the US have got any great options.
    I wonder how much the USMC actually operate from austere locations. Properly as well not just the odd trip. Personally I’d be very wary of anyone claiming any reasonable amount of ops from a bare base.
    Possible so, right next to the well founded airbase ;)

  261. All Politicians are the Same says

    The USMC is pretty commited to it and the USN want them to have it as carrier availability to support MEU ops is going to decrease over the next few years. Ex Deputy Commandant Lt Gen Trautman in an interview said.

    We need multirole airplanes because we use our airplanes in various roles,” Trautman said.

    “Sometimes we’ll use our aviation combat element to shape the deep fight for the Marine Expeditionary Force, for example.”

    But the Marine air combat element can also be used independently of the ground force for a multitude of missions, Trautman said.

    The addition of the F-35B to the Marine Corps arsenal will allow the service air combat element to “exponentially” increase its performance in all of its mission areas.

    “People who remain wedded to legacy airplanes really don’t know what they’re talking about,” Trautman said.
    “The key here is two fold. It’s the low observable capability, but really that capability is in my mind less of a value added proposition than the fact that the F-35 is a flying sensor.”

    The USMC’s eventual goal is to be able transfer the reams of sensor data gathered by the F-35’s avionics suite and provide that information to other aircraft like the Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey, Bell AH-1Z Cobra or the tactical air command center and—eventually–even down to individual fire teams. “The dissemination of that information is not going to occur overnight,” Trautman said. It will take time to implement, “but it’s coming.”

    The increased situational awareness generated by the F-35 should also help to reduce fratricide incidents during the CAS mission.

    “It’s going to make our ability to operate safely in a close air support mode much better than it has been in the past,” Trautman said.

  262. x says

    http://images.defensetech.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/X-35BandHarrier.jpg

    Um. Odd not many photos of Harrier and F35b side by side.

  263. x says

    This is fun………..

    http://i233.photobucket.com/albums/ee106/OPEX-Afghanistan/Harriercarrier.jpg

    Note F35b on the might-have-been design. And Harrier on the Invincible/

    Reminds me of some of the VSTOL Spurance idea.

  264. Challenger says

    I’m assuming a ship 3 times the size of an Invincible and close to twice the size of any potential medium 30-40,000 ton vessel can carry a meaningful amount of troops, equipment, stores, munitions etc alongside a sizeable (lets say 12 jet and 10-14 helo) air-group where as with anything half or two-thirds smaller it becomes very much a choice of either/or?

  265. Not a Boffin says

    Two dinky carriers cost more (procurement and operation) to deliver the same effect. When you go to the bar, do you order a pint or two halves?

    I don’t toe the line for either the RN or what’s left of british shipbuilding – I don’t need to. As for what I think we should have, I’d go for two QE and 2-3 LHD, not Mistral/JC and not Wasp either. Not fussed about the LHD being F35 capable, more important to be able to carry a Cdo and supporting RW, LC and vehicles and sustain them, with some help from LSD(A).

    Other than QE, we don’t know the costs, despite what Wiki says or what ships cost 10 years ago. Personally, I’d like to think we could get the LHD for £3-£3.5Bn for the three, but not with the current MoD/BAE set up. But that’s fantasy fleetism, which I tend to abhor.

  266. Rocket Banana says

    NaB,

    That wasn’t one of the options.

    When you go to the bar and the options are Stella or Kronenbourg do you order Red Stripe?

    However, I’m willing to offer one CVF + 2-3 LHD as an £8b option if you like.

  267. The Other Chris says

    The F-35 problems are, in the majority, variant-agnostic in the three testing schedules streams at this point.

    B specific capabilities have been largely delivered and tested prioer to and including Block 2B (including the management required to support SRVL). I’d have to double-check which Block the C specific capabilities complete(d) in. From memory of the publicly available presentations I don’t think arrestor issues were dependent on software modifications.

    If the USAF indeed need the A and are willing to push to complete the corrective work required to deliver, the B and C are pretty much included.

    My educated guess is that the UK will order in time for Block 3i production onwards, as this represents a hardware refresh running the same 2B software that the USMC go into initial operation with next year.

    I view the F-35 engine fire, though serious, with less concern than the Trent 1000 incident on the Qantas A380 and the Saturn failure on the T-50. The important point to remember is nobody’s been hurt by any of the programs, suggesting that sensible precautions and design decisions are being made all round.

    For all the Lockheed Martin vitriol floating around, P&W are respected aero engine developers: They’ll work out what happened[1] to the F135 on the F-35A test aircraft and correct it.

    [1] Initial F135 incidnet findings: F-35 engine failure likely not systemic

  268. Not a Boffin says

    A lager drinker. I see.

    You’re not in charge of the options, as your cost equivalence is invalid.

    I’ll stick with a decent pint, 2 QE and 2-3 LHD thanks.

  269. ArmChairCivvy says

    Interesting things brewing in the desert grave yard for naval aircraft (assumed dead and buried)
    “half decade later, Lockheed, the aircraft’s original manufacturer, wants to resurrect the Vikings from their collective grave in Arizona”

    http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/the-navy-should-bring-the-40-year-old-s-3-viking-back-f-1561134099

  270. DavidNiven says

    @ACC

    Could the S3 take off from the ski ramp of our carriers and land without a cable, if fitted with reverse thrusters?

  271. The Other Chris says

    I know it’s a bit sad but during the CTOL/STOVL flip for the CVF I was more excited by the possibilities of S-3 (and the C-2) operating from the carriers!

    The S-3 is a very interesting platform, maybe it’s the “niche factor” that intrigues. Refuelling probe, MAD boom, cabin, heated bomb bay, pylons, sonobuoy launchers, sensors, reasonable performance, thousands of hours left on the airframes.

    If the US aren’t interested in a C-3, maybe there’s scope for a UK (albeit land based) fleet?

    Anyone got the number to call to inquire? APATS?

    More background reading for you:

    http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/89m-for-fy-2007-support-of-the-usns-s3b-vikings-02777/

    Underside:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/49/S-3B_underside.JPEG

    And a nice cutaway:

    http://xbradtc.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/s-3-diagram-001.jpg

  272. Not a Boffin says

    The S3 (or more precisely an airframe that could meet the Common Support Aircraft requirement) is always of interest.

    However, even when QE was going to be CTOL and no-one had a clue about any sort of MPA capability, no-one was really serious about the S3 – I asked. You could have envisaged a force of (say) 20-25 cabs, operating from Seahawk using common Observer and MSO streams as the Grey Merlin providing a UK MPA capability (albeit reduced from MRA4). It would also have helped keep some FAA and RAF aircrew in gainful employment and provided the MPA and CAG/TAG tanker requirement for the carriers when stood up.

    Trouble is, depending on who you believe, there are fatigue issues with the undercarriage and you’d need a new mission system as the old sonics were ripped out years ago. That said, a new build fuselage would sort the fatigue and I’d assume a Merlin MS (without the dipping sonar) ought to be relatively straightforward to integrate, particularly as the prime is LM. The S3 was capable of acting as a mini-JSTARS even back in the 90s with a particularly trick ISAR pod.

    It will never be able to operate from a STOVL carrier though, irrespective of your thrust reversers.

    I think they’re on a losing wicket now as E2D is in full rate production, so a C2 refresh would offer all sorts of commonality, particularly if you gave it a modular AAR package. V22 could do most of it as well, but is very disruptive on decks.

    What is certain is that the US will have to deal with CSA at some stage. Burning F18 hours on tanking and relying on a handful of SH60 for ASW is not a sutainable position. Shame there’s no money…..

  273. Rocket Banana says

    No, I am most certainly NOT a lager drinker. How very dare you! ;-)

    I find it intriguing that you can’t pick one. Anyone would think you are singularly responsible for naval procurement and/or specification and am worried I’ll go running to papers.

    Humour me… because, just like we’ve managed to reduce the crewing requirements on CVF, I have faith in the capabilities offered by more modern automation and AI.

  274. The Other Chris says

    @NaB

    I’m at least glad you asked the question! Thank you!

    Any movements or discussions on some form of COD facility for CVF? Is it all planned as RAS/VERTREP so far?

    What’s your opinions on the suitability of (M/C)V-22(B)?

  275. Not a Boffin says

    It’s not that I can’t pick one, I just think that :

    A) Your list is incomplete and there are better options
    B) Your cost equivalence is invalid (see A)

    That said, preference in descending order :

    2 x QE + 2-3 LHD
    2 x QE + 2 Albion
    4 x Wasp
    3 x Cavour & 2 LPD

    Prevailing logic is that small ships are always compromised and less efficient, AI or no AI. There comes a point where you can’t actually reduce crews by automation any more, which is one reason you’ll find that the T45 has a larger complement than for example the T23.

    As far as COD (and VERTREP for that matter) for QE is concerned, there is (or was) a paper programme looking at force logistics as a whole. However, no-one is taking it particularly seriously AFAIK.

    The removal of the Sea King HC4 and particularly HU5 in a couple of years is going to leave a big gap in terms of “utility” cabs. Half a dozen extra Merlin HC4 in a squadron tasked outside CHF (or more precisely JHC), able to provide dets like 815NAS or 829NAS would go a long way to fixing that.

  276. Rocket Banana says

    NaB,

    Thank you.

    A) Like what?
    B) Fair enough, but I hope your list might have put to bed a few “ideas”.

  277. Kent says

    Ah! I see someone else has jumped on the S-3 Viking bandwagon! A great, compact airframe with tons of capability that is available on an effectively “right damn’ now” basis. With the advancements in computer technology since they were stupidly (IMHO) retired, they might be able to do the S-3A ASW and S-3B Sea Control missions in a single a/c (Call it the S-3C for convenience sake.) In pursuing a submarine contact, the on-station loiter time makes ASW helicopters look ephemeral, and, the maritime patrol/sea control/precision strike capabilities to cover vast distances over sea and land far removed from a friendly land base make it an airborne swiss army knife. Add to that a tanker version (KS-3C?) and you have a full house.

    Then, of course, there’s the need for a real, credible AEW/AWACS platform that helicopters can’t reasonably supply. http://airlinebuzz.com/forums/showthread.php?51444-THE-CHICKEN-WORKS-The-Random-Collection/page5 This would obviate the need to add another airframe (E-2 Hawkeye) to a carrier air group.

  278. Slightly Agricultural says

    @Repulse and the general “Coy of Marines” idea… think people are underestimating how much room 200 blokes and their stuff need. You’re talking about pretty much doubling the complement of the ship. It works on Lusty etc. because they have space, and the hangar deck to admin on once the matelots deign to drag all their stowed kit down from the rafters. Plus a great big flight deck for PT, shooting etc. Bottle them up on a frigate and they’re going to go stir-crazy (cue roll-mats, nudity and general bad behaviour).

    I’ve always been sceptical of the figures for T45 as well. You can’t just randomly cram 40+ extra blokes onboard (Unless they have massive amounts of extra berths/capacity designed in, which I doubt). Not unless you want an awful lot of very unhappy bootnecks, which (knowing a few) is not something i’d encourage!

  279. Kent says

    Addendum – Almost forgot that LM offered a COD option on the S-3, too.

  280. monkey says

    @Slightly Agricultural
    From
    http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/our-organisation/the-fighting-arms/surface-fleet/destroyers/hms-daring
    “There is enough space on board to host a Royal marines detachment of up to 60-men strong ”
    Maybe its like how many we can fit in a mini (the old one) when I was a teenager or just racks from this it looks like it.
    http://navy-matters.beedall.com/images/t45-accomodation.gif
    the grey bit is for the marines

  281. Repulse says

    “2 x QE + 2-3 LHD
    2 x QE + 2 Albion
    4 x Wasp
    3 x Cavour & 2 LPD”

    Or 2 x QE + more T27s :)

    @Slightly Agricultural: Agree on the need for RM space to be designed in, but done properly I can’t see how this would be insurmountable.

    Sorry it’s Friday… I’ll stop now…

  282. x says

    SA said ” how much room 200 blokes and their stuff ……. (cue roll-mats, nudity and general bad behaviour).”

    True. Two problems I can fore see. Extra beer not just for drinking but for that odd pastime of the “beer fight” and then there is the small problem of extra plant and tanks for more fresh water for all those extra showers.

  283. WiseApe says
  284. jedibeeftrix says

    Robert Gates talking about the putative B3 and read-across to the elephants:

    “Looking ahead, it makes little sense to pursue a future bomber—a prospective B-3, if you will—in a way that repeats this history. We must avoid a situation in which the loss of even one aircraft—by accident, or in combat—results in a loss of a significant portion of the fleet, a national disaster akin to the sinking of a capital ship. This scenario raises our costs of action and shrinks our strategic options, when we should be looking to the kind of weapons systems that limit the costs of action and expand our options.”

    An area where I am sympathetic to IXION’s argument.

  285. Chris says

    Jedi – I read that as “adequate numbers are needed to cope with attrition – numbers are important” – if that’s right, I am in 100% agreement with the man. If on the other hand he meant “we cannot afford to lose a single platform therefore we must make them invulnerable to all current and future threats” then in my opinion he is in la-la-land.

  286. Topman says

    I took it too mean, smaller cheaper more numerous complimentary systems, no single platform point of failure.

  287. El Sid says

    @x
    The money situation isn’t getting any better….And there will always be a proper carrier close by with fast air that is CAS qualified.

    Reading the runes at the moment, that first statement means your second statement is false. I can’t remember a time when the tide’s been running so heavily against the big-deck CVN’s. Most grown-up approaches to sorting the USN’s budget involve cutting several, and it’s more than just talk as the recent attempt to retire the George Washington before its $4bn refuelling demonstrated. OK, so that’s the sort of thing that the politicians will always kick up a storm about, but it does seem that similar questions are being asked over there about how often the CVNs ever have more than half their potential airwing on board, and whether a LHA wouldn’t be good enough , particularly West of Hormuz. See eg http://www.informationdissemination.net/2014/07/carrier-debate-has-geographic-solution.html and various articles on USNI.

    LM’s been quite clever with the politics, aside from the fact that the USMC will never go Gucci when they could have suits of pure gold hand-woven by virgins, the fact that “Europe” “depends” on the F-35B means that it’s much harder to cancel. If anything the C is probably more vulnerable.

    Is China going to able to knock out of the air FA18 easily within the next 2 decades when they are still chasing an FA18 like capability of their own? And of course the US aren’t standing still. Everything from new FA18 buys to PGM to (new) AH to X47 say that a US buy of the minor F35 variants isn’t a sure thing.

    Beer is calling so I’ll just say that I’d be more confident than you. X-47 isn’t really relevant on these timescales, though it could be for NGAD(fka F/A-XX), the way things are going NGAD will end up being a F35 derivative rather than a threat to F35. We’ll see.

  288. El Sid says

    @TOC/Kent

    On S-3’s – it’s been talked about often enough. Trouble is that you’re looking at similar or more work to rescuing P-3’s from the boneyard, which costs ~$35m/aircraft with all the advantages of a design in widespread use. You’d have huge fixed costs in qualifying all the modern gear on the S-3, spread across a handful of airframes.

    And the US direction is pretty clear – V-22 as Greyhound replacement, and UCLASS as an unmanned approximation to the S-3. In time UCLASS might get a bit more fighty at the margins, but it’s primary job will be that utility role.

  289. The Other Chris says

    @El Sid

    I think we need a tag/flag on comments sometimes to indicate when we’re getting wistful and drifting away from the sensible. Maybe a “glass of whiskey” icon?

    One possible midlife crisis I’m planning involves restoring an S-3, if that puts it into context? ;)

    (EDIT: I would, however, merrily talk for hours on how we could go about bringing them into service. That’s definitely a project team I’d leap at the chance to join!)

    Still not entirely sold on V-22 replacing Greyhound. I can appreciate where the pressures are coming from however it seems a very shoehorned choice. Lack of a pressurised cabin for starters.

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