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Bonkers Carrier Question of the Week

Army Air Corps Defender

Its been a while since we discussed aircraft carriers so I thought I would kick off with a couple of bonkers questions.

1. Can you safely launch and recover a conventional fixed wing aircraft from the 300m deck and ski jump of the QE class aircraft carriers without impeding too much F35B and Merlin flight operations

2. Could that aircraft carry a useful payload in addition to appropriate protection and communications equipment.

I suppose the real question is why would you bother but it is still something to ponder.

A few fun videos to watch.

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84 Responses

  1. Video 2: USS Forrestal C-130 Hercules Carrier Landing Trials

    Lieutenant commander Stovall?

    I wonder if that had any impact on the STOVL acronym? Or is that a bonkers question too?

  2. “It’s been a while…”

    Hah. No it hasn’t.

    1. Probably. You would most likely install a waist catapult and use conventional carrier aircraft (CATOBAR). This is better than doing STOBAR ops like the Russians and Indians: STOBAR is horribly inefficient. You’d have to install arrestor wires in either case, so may as well stick in a cat, too.

    Would you use steam or electromag? Pros and cons either way: shop at Yank Mart for both.

    Would it interfere with F35B and Merlin ops? Of course. When doing both you’d only have half the deck available, and the half with cat and trap aircraft on it just happens to be the half you need for landing helos and F35Bs.

    And the cat and trap aircraft would interfere with themselves, too. A waist catapult would block the angled deck when in use, so you could either land or launch, never both simultaneously, which could get sticky in an emergency. As a STOVL carrier CVF can do both.

    2. Payload: yes, sure, why not? You’d be using regular catapult launched aircraft. Of course they can carry useful loads… that’s why catapults were invented!

    History lesson: an early BAE design for a 50K tonne hull featured a hinged ski jump that dropped out of the way so that bow catapults could be used. This would permit a mixed airgroup and, by allowing bow cats, an unobstructed landing zone. It was crap. Got filed on the same shelf as the idea for using giant fans pointed over the stern so that Typhoons could slow down enough to land… assuming you could fit them with hooks and completely redesign their entire airframe to take the shock… details, details. Heh… the pilot would need a periscope through the cockpit floor to see the deck on approach because the Tyohoons angle of attack at such a low speed would mean the nose would be pointed at the sky!

    When you think what we might have ended up with, the reality don’t seem so bad… that is to say, we have a design that will work!

  3. As you know a C-130 made several successful landings and takeoffs from the Forrestal without catapults or arresting gear.

    Probably possible to make a turbo-prop with a reversible prop (for braking) that could takeoff and land without assistance (given some wind over deck).

    It might be a way to take an AEW radar to higher altitude and further from the carrier. It might look something like this:

  4. For fixed wing AEW you’d only have to worry about 4-5 launch and land events each day. Probably the same again for carrier launched, fixed wing MPA.

    If you want to hold a tanker up that’s going to increase horribly, which will seriously hinder STOVL ops.

    So if you can minimise the number of times you need the whole deck to launch your aircraft over the ski-jump and are happy to move everything to one side (oo-er) and/or put them in the hangar to recover the aircraft then you could get the equivalent of over 300m of deck for both takeoff and landing.

    Which particular aircraft were you thinking about?

  5. OV-10X Bronco offered by Boeing recently for the US LAAR’s programme fitted with Thales Vigilance pods for the AEW role on the carriers. Maybe fit it out with the Wildcat system to act as a longer ranged ASW airframe, plus gunship for 3 Cdo? (could even do delivery of small loads of cargo as well)

  6. The typhoon post suggests that could launch without a catapult, so take off is little issue. Landing, I guess you would need an aircraft designed for the job, with low stall speed, reverse thrust and maybe even a drouge shoot.

    In theory I’d say its all possible. If no equipment is on the deck then operations could easily be mixed.

    But why bother? I wouldn’t.
    Tilt rota craft seem like they would be more flexible and useful. It would be a nice fantasy fleet to see the V22 or even an AgustaWestland AW609 derivative operating off the deck of a Royal navy ship.

  7. Just to add names to the frame, if the Bronco seems reasonable then possibly Textron’s Scorpion (much discussed in other threads) would also work; designed for short T/O & landing, similar 5hrs loiter, much higher dash speed and ceiling. A similar payload but unlike Bronco not reconfigurable to carry a handful of personnel or a stretcher. I wouldn’t know if the acquisition cost and running costs differ by much. Interestingly, the web suggests the wings are removable and may be replaced with different types to change the flight dynamics (lots of certification/training/documentation also necessary?) so you could have a long loiter ISTAR day followed by an intercept dogfight day with the same airframe using different wings. Although you’d imagine changing wings would probably be done about as often as Boxer IFV changes mission pods.

  8. Key requirement is ability to carry an F135 engine.

    C-130 and V-22 are the only two mentioned so far that meet that criteria, and I wouldn’t want to gamble with a C-130…

    Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!

  9. Let’ s remove this rqrmnt by parking one engine on any CVF at sea… Does that make one or two?

    No delivery risk (dvlmt & testing) and a known cost that can be fully recovered by returning the piece(s) to wherever the engines are routinely swapped/ replaced?

    “Key requirement is ability to carry an F135 engine.”

  10. Well the only really bonkers carrier question would be: five or six? :D

    Don’t see why the UK would need the capability to deliver an F135 engine, given that we will only ever be embarking 12 or max surge to 24. Lots of space (and much less cost/fuss) to simply take some spares with you.

    Fixed wing AEW is pure fantasy fleets for the foreseeable future – helos it is. But QE/PoW will be around for the thick end of five decades so who knows. Would like to think a tilt rotor will find its way on board eventually – perhaps even a gunship version!

    The Seaphoon was only ever Plan D at best. My own preference would have been CTOL from the off either with Super Hornets or Rafales, (look at the F-35C in the long term) but hey ho.

  11. There are lots of STOL cargo turboprop planes of all sizes , all capable of rough field landing at MaxTakeOffWeight with no headwind so structurally all ready there.So landing a cargo/mission pods (just for you TD

  12. There is no reason an updated Bronco could not be configured as an EOV-10X, or “Bronco AEW.2,” use the ski-jump for takeoff and land without using arresting wires on a ship as large as the QE/PoW. An unmodified OV-10X, “Bronco GR.1,” could support your sonar-dipping helos by carrying/dropping sonobuoys/depth charges/torpedoes even if you didn’t configure it as an ASW aircraft. Lots of useful things a Bronco could do for the RN carriers as well as the task force, the RMs, etc. One airframe, two or three versions, much more economical to operate than F-35B Lightnings or helos with greater time on station.

  13. Whilst much has been made about the “Successful” C-130 trials on the Forrestal the US Navy itself regarded them as pretty much a failure as it caused more problems then it solved. The most major issue being the entire deck had to be cleared for the C-130 to operate off the carrier seriously impeding flight operations. In the end they went for a smaller custom type and quietly forgot about the whole C-130 idea.

    OV-10 operations off US carriers whilst interesting are probably not the way forward in any practical sense. The aircraft is small and and not particularly high performing so I am not sure how much benefit is derived trying to shoe-horn the AEW or any other role onto it.

    Going for a larger STOL type operating without the arrestor gear (or even with it) generates more problems than it solves. There would be need for a training stream, the deck would have to be cleared for operations and there is the risk of a fouled deck if things go wrong.

    If we want a fix wing type on the QE class as they are currently configured we are far better stumping up for USMC spec MV-22 and slotting into their support infrastructure for the type.

  14. “Key requirement is ability to carry an F135 engine.”

    In which case there is also the C-27J.oh wait,you can offcourse launch missiles from a C-27,well sort off…in theory that is so why bother carrying F-35’s at all?-)



  15. As much as I love the above ideas for the Bronco, both AEW & as a compliment to the Lynx/Merlin would the aircraft have the ability to generate enough power to operate the gear, particularly the ASEA radar pods? Also is it pressurised ?

    I’m sure there are heaps sat in the desert over in the States going fairly cheaply but would all the tinkering & updating not end up making them awfully pricey?

  16. Further to my earlier post.
    Landing cargo/mission pod after a sortie light on fuel into an artificial 20 knt headwind should be no problem. V-22 would be much more versatile as the USMC have proposed for the C-2 COD replacement as it could directly land on escorts with supplies/crew replacements not having to clog up the flat top where the supplies/crew have to be transferred to helicopters to get them to the escorts. Also they can be used in an assault from an escorts marine detachment directly and en-mass as well as supplying 10t lift. In the end hybrid helicopters will take over but they are a dozen years away.

  17. You could easily launch and recover a Swordfish which is the most numerous fixed-wing naval strike aircraft we have currently….

  18. @GW
    By the time BAE have tried to re-wing it, fitted upgraded avionics and sensors (new compass and altimeter and given the crew an eye test) it would be ten years late and £10bn over budget

  19. @Jules: very clean design, a bit “Beverly” :-)

    Wonder how it would have stacked up against the E2/C2?

  20. @Dahedd – The original OV-10s were not pressurized, but if Boeing is going to new build them (which is the plan for the OV-10X) they could be. Even at a higher price point than rebuilding surplus originals, they would still be tons cheaper than almost anything else that could operate from the QE/PoW.

  21. @Kent

    No it would be “Tons cheaper” running a bronco derivative off the QE class whichever way you cut it, helicopters are still the cheapest off QE class in its current configuration lets break it down:

    1) Development and purchase cost: We have to fund not only the restart of the Bronco program which as of yet has no customer but also fully fund the development and integration of new systems onto what will be a totally unique type with no other customer. That will be a tall order considering it is not that big an aircraft and would probably struggle to power all the kit plus it is a slow low altitude STOL type which is less then ideal for a medium to high altitude AEW role. It would probably even struggle to out perform Merlin in the same role.

    2) Training costs: We would need a fixed wing carrier training stream for our unique type. We would have to pay for pilots to go to the US for basic carrier qualification then convert them onto type. Our arrestor gear less carriers would require unique training and we will only have one available at a time. Now add to that the unique and specialised training to support the deck crew.

    3) What happens if the deck is fouled?: Hardly bags of range with a Bronco, what do you expect the pilot to do in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean if the deck becomes fouled? If there is no tanker available and it will be too far to divert. They will have to ditch with all the associated risk and the loss of a highly expensive aircraft.

    4) It will impede on the flight operations of our STOVL configured carriers: Our carriers do not have an angled deck, the crew would probably have to clear the deck for one to land.

    There are probably many more but it is frankly a total non-starter. If we really want a fixed wing capability for our current STOVL configured carrier the only realistic option currently is an MV-22 variant. Anything else is just fantasy land.

  22. @Fedaykin –

    1. Good luck with the inexpensive CV/MV-22B. The CV/MV-22B and the Bronco have the exact same service ceiling: 25,000 feet. Service ceiling on the Merlin is 15,000 feet.

    2. Who is going to train your CV-22 pilots? Talk about a “unique type.”

    3. Hardly bags of range with a loaded CV-22, either. If the deck is fouled on the QE/Pow, might not be able to land a CV-22 either considering it’s over eighty feet from prop tip to prop tip.

    4. Ohmigod! Deck apes might have to respot aircraft because some other aircraft might need to land (usually on a schedule of which everyone is aware since they operate on a regular basis? What is the world coming to?

    I’m not saying that the Bronco is the end-all-be-all for the new carriers. I’m just saying that the option shouldn’t be overlooked.

    Just for fun:

  23. With a potential 50 year life-span who the heck know’s what kind of air-group and set of capabilities they could be operating by the end of their service life’s. UCAV’s for long-range strike/bomb-truck stuff as well as over-watch? Tilt-rotor’s for troop-carrying, AEW, ASW, COD, general utility and light surface strike stuff?

    Even if we keep using Merlin’s or other helo’s for AEW then yes it’s not going to be as super-duper as Hawkeye, but it’s hardly the first capability that the American’s can afford and the rest of the world can’t. A helicopter platform gives the UK a 90% solution which isn’t such a terrible thing.

    CVF was never going to emulate a Nimitz carrier-group except in certain fan-boys minds. Nations the world over are eager for carrier aviation but known they can’t afford what the USN has to play with and are seeking other alternatives. Even the USN itself will have a very hard time keeping 10 super-carriers in the decades to come. A convincing argument can and probably will be made that they should look to the America class (or maybe even something CVF shaped?) as a more cost-effective and flexible way of projecting aerial power.

    The big problem is the high cost and technical problems the F35B is facing and the fact that it is the only game in town. But technical issues will get ironed out and the unit price will hopefully come down over time as well.

    If the RN holds it’s nerve and political system keeps in mind just what real power projection offers then the UK could end up with a seriously flexible and capable ace up it’s sleeve. Problem is asking people to look beyond the immediate problems and see the long-game, the big picture.

    The amount of luck CVF has needed to get this far doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence though.

  24. @Kent

    1) No it isn’t cheap but taken as a whole it would be cheaper than your Bronco idea. The vanilla Bronco has the same service ceiling as the MV-22 without all the electronics you are proposing. Once the electronics are on plus fully loaded up with fuel it is hardly going to impress

    2) MV-22 is a variation on the helicopter theme training wise that is far simpler for pilots and deck crew alike than what you are proposing with Bronco

    3) Yes but MV-22 could land on a number of other vessels in any task force, forget that with Bronco and considering the size of QE class I still think there would be space to land even if the deck was fouled

    4) Yes they would have to clear the deck as our QE class don’t have an angled one or we would have to set up a crash barrier every time. That takes time and eats into the operational capability of a STOVL carrier

    Look I am not particularly advocating for the MV-22 but a Bronco AEW is verging on the absurd IMHO. In the end Merlin is good enough for our needs at the moment when we have far more important stuff like funding a serious F-35B buy before we would start messing about with the OV-10. If you want an AEW class radar that can fly higher than Merlin in a combat situation then dispatch one of the F-35B with a light missile load and drop tanks and run it in a race track pattern and data-link it back to the ships.

  25. Why is delivering F135 engine is a requirement? Take five with you.

    @the other Chris, please explained why this is a requirement if the ship has the room to take additional engines? Are there real reasons or are you just repeating what you read? What logistical reasons would there be?

    How about you put that engine on a repleshmient ship as an alternative? How about you fly out an engine to next port?

    It makes no sense to keep parroting “delivering engine is a requirement”

    Listen, RN will not have both carries out at the same time, so you can make contingency plan to have an engine where you need it.

    So stop making up bullshit requirement… Please

  26. emailittome,
    Where do you get off speaking that way? He’s making a suggestion in a thread entitled ‘bonkers carrier QOTW’, which to most would encourage outside the box thinking. Whats the harm in asking the question? As it happens IIRC the USN have that requirement from their COD birds and find it useful, being that they’re the most experienced carrier operators in the world, I think looking to capabilities they deem useful is a pretty sensible idea.
    I’ve come up many ‘off the wall’ ideas/suggestions/questions here that to those on here with far more knowledge and experience than I, have seemed stupid, but haven’t been responded to in that manner. In fact the guys that know what they’re on about have offered me polite and patient explanations to why it wouldn’t work and been happy to answer and improve my understanding. I don’t see how your rather unfriendly reply was supposed to generate debate or indeed anything other than a slanging match.
    Also as it happens from being a regular reader here for the last year or two I’d actually say that TOC does know what he’s talking about and very much doubt his idea was anything close to ‘bullshit’ He definitely knows a lot more than me and I’m fairly sure than you too.
    If you think the idea is an extravagance or not needed fair enough and your counter suggestions at first read actually make me think there probably are areas that need money ahead of F135 COD, but the rude tone makes me wonder if you’re worth having a proper conversation with. Am guessing its just been a bad day, which happens to us all. I just thought TOC and anyone making the effort to join in deserves more respect than that for contributing to the conversation.
    So stop making bullshit comments (and stick to your good points)…. please :)

  27. @emailittome

    You’re the one suggesting lugging around a half billion dollars worth of engine and lift fan systems across two carriers in less than ideal storage and maintenance conditions.

    Currently the UK has no COD requirement (in a C-2 sense) at all. At least announced publicly. Should one be added (as suggested as a discussion point by the thread), I humbly venture that the solution should be able to shift an F135 so as to cover a full range of anticipated CVF COD tasks in a single logistics fleet.

    Currently there are only two aircraft in the world that have been equipped and tested to perform the task of delivering an F135 to a carrier and these are the C-2 and the CV-22. Neither the USMC nor USN are giving away much on the results of these tests.

    The C-2 cannot land on a STOVL oriented CVF (EDIT: Or a Wasp/America…). Ergo…


    Merlin is fairly close to Bronco performance (speed, range/endurance, altitude) with a heavier payload, space for a larger number of local operators and more power available via the three turbines to juice beefier sensors and comms.

  28. Since a lot of the discussion has been about AEW capability what about a BAE hawk? The US navy operate a variant after all.

    Personally I agree with challenger, I think the planned capability will suffice. That being said, I do advocate using the hawk for more than training, load it with brimstone and I think you have a winner

  29. Sharkbait,

    Personally i’d love to see the Hawk upgraded and used in few other roles than training (there are several that have been mentioned here in the past), it would suffice for the majority of situations we’ve been in over the last 25 years. But in this instance wouldn’t the problem be that it would need cats/traps? This then means all the problems highlighted above…

  30. @cky, thats why I suggested it, perhaps with 300m and a ski jump it could make it, but I don’t know. Landing maybe with a head wind and a drouge?

    I completely agree, it would suffice, particularly in the Iraq campaign atm, it could fit fine (And cheaply). As a second tear attack aircraft, it would fit in well with the low cost, fexibile force their going for ATM. In the future using the typhoon for bomming old pickup trucks will be a very efficient method of burning cash!

    Operating costs per hour:
    Typhoon : 70-90k
    Tornado : 35-50k
    Hawk : 5-10k
    F35 : 30k ( projected, will probably end up being double (or triple))

    Just on that basis it seems like a winner, plus commonality of parts, minimal extra training, very robust, proven, british built and much lower unit cost it seems like a good idea on paper. I can’t think of a credible reason why not…..

    (A bit off topic but I think its an interesting discussion)

  31. Sharkbait,

    I’ve no idea if it could take off from a QE without cats/traps, had assumed no but don’t know enough to say for definite.
    When you look at the operating cost though it really makes a case for using it in other roles even if it can’t. Would also save precious airframe hours on our Typhoons/F35s (in future). I think it could make a great little CAS/COIN/light strike aircraft. I wonder if it could also do some ISR type roles if fitted with the right kit/pods etc? Didn’t we use Hawks to back up the F3 Tonkas during the cold war in the mixed fighter force thing, so why not do a new version of that for those types of roles? Again, i’m only guessing but being a simpler design, wouldn’t it be easier to support closer to the front?
    I’m only an interested amateur but to me a multi-role Hawk would be a real asset, thats affordable and could also have some real export potential?
    Would actually make a really interesting topic if someone who knows more than i fancied writing it?

  32. @cky7 – TheOtherChris is a big boy, he doesn’t need you to come to his defense. Don’t worry about how I write, it’s a free country, you can be offended, I don’t have to temper how I write to appease you.

    @TheOtherChris – Let’s stop perpetuating this ridicules notion that delivering F135 engine via COD as some sort of requirement. It’s silly to even suggest it. I’ve heard this “requirement” before and it’s always been a mystery why this is even comes up…

    “You’re the one suggesting lugging around a half billion dollars worth of engine and lift fan systems across two carriers in less than ideal storage and maintenance conditions.”

    Ermm, excuse me, but you’re lugging around 2 Billion dollars worth of planes and you might need to replace and engine or two so… it sure beats trying to create method of trying to get an engine to the carrier in a middle of an ocean.

    and “Less than ideal storage and maintenance conditions”??!?!? you’re on a aircraft carrier, you got bombs and missiles on board, you got storage and maintenance areas. Use it, seal it up it a Climate control container… it makes more sense than trying to get a non carrier aircraft to land on a carrier…

    Sorry if I came off as an ass… not the intention.

  33. @TOC

    I would wait for the next generation Tiltrotor to be built before splashing the cash on the Osprey and the Sikorsky X2 technology might be a better option still.

    As for COD, could we not just design and build a container that could be dropped into the sea for the F35 engine in emergencies or carry a few more spares on the carrier than is the norm for the Americans?


    ‘It will impede on the flight operations of our STOVL configured carriers: Our carriers do not have an angled deck, the crew would probably have to clear the deck for one to land’

    But would that not be the case for the F35 as well? are we not going to use Shipborne rolling vertical landing (SRVL) when operating the aircraft so as to maximise bring back weight, if the deck is fouled would the other aircraft have to jettison expensive ordnance to land vertically?

    If the deck is fouled and their is no tanker available the Bronco has about the same range as the F35 so the problem would be the same for that aircraft as well.

    As for power, would we not be fitting more modern engines with increased power margins (and an improved power to weight ratio) etc to run the avionics?

    The Bronco could be used as an ISTAR platform in addition to it’s other uses until we have developed a UAV to operate from our carriers.

  34. @DN

    Would normally be inclined to agree (I particularly like the optimal speed rotor work that’s out there from both Karem and AW, the math is very… elegant).

    The results coming out of RR’s 17% power boost to the Allison’s is starting to change my opinion somewhat though. The HV-22 being proposed is very much no-frills and much more no-nonsense than the MV-22 all-singing-all-dancing suggestions of the past. Pressurisation is still the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle for that aircraft however.

    I think @APATS summed up the multiplicative effects a utility aircraft for CVF far, far better than I can last month.


    There is currently no Royal Navy requirement for Carrier Onboard Delivery. See @TD’s RAS article above as well as UNREP and VERTREP.

    When the requirement did exist (up to Gannet COD4) the process, and that of the US Navy currently, was and is based on the principles presented in “Economic considerations in the use of carrier onboard delivery aircraft” (Mazzitelli, 1967).

    Suggest you start there and follow the subsequent adaptations.


    I’m sure there needs to be some form of National Society for the Prevention to Cruelty to Engines given all the suggestions for long-term shipborne storage and Apollo-like splashdown deliveries to vessels in the South Atlantic! ;)

    I’ll make a few calls and see what Christmas Appeals we can establish with the help of Ewan McGregor.

    Just £2 a month could save an RTM322 from substandard sled attachment this year…

  35. Come on TOC, you know yourself that the technology exists to store an engine in a way to protect it from the environment for at least the longevity of a deployment. As for Apollo like splash downs I want to see more of it’s use in the Navy, especially for welfare packages! ;-)

  36. It’s certainly something that will cause a few headaches. If we assume a normal fj det of 8 aircraft then 5 engines would be a very high number to carry around. Although having said that, the options to move them about aren’t cheap. Although having some form of onboard ATi would imagine would be useful for all manner of things. Not sure if we can afford either, might have to be a classic british bodge.

  37. How about we just keeping one or 2 engines on the cvf to support the half dozen planes it will have then if a new engine is needed we fly one out to an airhead and the supply ship or cvf can pick it up when it calls into port it’s not as if where bobbing round in the Pacific a 1000 miles from anywhere. It would probably be cheaper just to fly a replacement jet out and use the broken one as a spares donor.

    Best answer so far is why would you bother. Its getting turned in a self licking lollipop spending lots and lots of money we don’t have to deliever a small UK fast jet capability and be a U.S. marine corp landing pad.
    That’s goes for bronco/v22 cod, istar, tanker, Aew variant hawk brimstone firers as well.

    We’re using reapers over Iraq that’s your “cheap” alternative to fastjets.

  38. ‘Best answer so far is why would you bother’

    Trouble is that moment past a few years ago, we now have the prospect of operating 2 expensive assets as cheaply as possible and to squeeze the most utility out of them that we can. Cameron has already publicly stated that the second carrier will enter service, without saying where the funding will come from are we sure about our end numbers of F35’s yet?

    How do we make them affordable and useful in the non peer conflict we will probably find ourselves in 90% of the time?

  39. DN

    Not quibbling about using the carriers the navy’s paying the price for them and the piper will be looking paying for keeping the 2 in service.

    Helicopters and scan Eagles would make them quite useful in non peer conflicts. They’ll be used more like a lha than a CVN. They had neither aew or cod planes for decades. A chinook can transport what ever is required.

    The whole thing with cv22 being used as cod planes or aew planes has been dreamed up in the us because the navy had originally said it would buy some to make the U.S. marines buy make sense financially. Now there facing budget cuts and the navy doesn’t want to buy any more cv-22 que media power point presentations.

  40. I dont understand why there is so much talk about replacing an engine. I would suggest its not possible to do on board. It is a very complex task made more complicated by the lift fan. The F35b had a shaft coming out the front of it, which I assume will need a laser alignment rig (standard in gas turbine industry) , which I assume they won’t have on board because they tend to be massive

    @mark last I read the reaper has only flown twice with aramemts , and has only fired them once in Iraq, vs the 100’s of sorties made by the tornado

  41. Yes they will be changeable onboard, no reason that because they have a drive shaft you would need a laser rig. Most engines have a shaft to drive a gearbox albeit smaller, same principles though.

  42. Shark bait

    They’ve been changing engines for decades at sea on helicopters and on planes. Takes a few hours mind. You used to have to take the harriers wing off to do it.

    More to do with were the reapers are flying I would think. Theyve been shooting at stuff for years over Afghanistan. Where they’ve fleshed out a lack of fastjet numbers.

  43. Getting back on topic – what about something like an An-28? There are a number of similar aircraft that could take off on QE’s 280m without a catapault. I’m sure this could be used for a number of the carrier support roles.

  44. seeing as the “bonkers” bit is giving us carté blanche to post fantasy stuff, I always liked this prototype as it didn’t have chuffing great big props to avoid!! (nice deck landings too)

  45. forgot to mention those small props means it can carry out conventional landings, unlike the osprey! If this is 60’s tech how hard would it be to recreate/improve with 21st century tech?

  46. Different parts of FJ wear at different rates or the humungeous internal sensor system in the F35B will tell the service crew to check the engine/replace a part. With limited available airframes carrying complete spare engines and lift fans is a good idea to turn the aircraft round as quick as possible . You can only so much stock though so you may have to fly replacements in.
    On another note Nimitz class have a jet engine live test bay in the stern so they can run up the engines to full power on a test bed .

  47. PaulG – liked the tilt-wing – a much better solution in my opinion to the current fad for tilt-rotors. Probably quieter as well as being able to operate conventionally. Out of interest, what happens on the likes of V22 when the tilt mechanism gets stuck rotors-forward? Are there explosive bolts that shear the blades off so the thing can glide the last few feet? Or does everyone bail out and let the machine crash?

    The tilt-wing does seem to suffer quite a lot of wing flapping around the root, but then it was a prototype. You’d hope by production any fatigue points would have been re-engineered.

  48. You’ll like the Clean Skies 2 tilt rotor. Similar principles, though large rotors are desirable. Less disk loading for example.

  49. TOC – I thought high disc loading was theoretically more efficient? Hence the heavier Merlin having a smaller rotor disc than the lighter SeaKing?

  50. The reverse. Less power required for hover with lower loading on the disc.

    Osprey should have had larger rotors per the original designs, however it was restricted in folding dimension to fit older carrier hangars. One of the reasons why the Allison’s turbine exhaust is needed to assist at higher takeoff weights (and/or hot/high).

  51. Guess the take home message is 1) If you want to build a carrier, saving till you can build a full fat cats and traps one might be a good idea and 2) Make sure you can afford to fully stock it with planes first.

    And message 0.1: Figure out why you need it and how to use it first.

  52. I still think a 65,000 ton STOVL only carrier is madness. Adding wires for STOBAR, makes sense to me. Yes, cats & traps is better if you can afford a Nimitz, but if you cannot, then STOBAR is 2nd best. STOBAR cannot achieve the same tempo of launches as CATOBAR, but how often would the RN need such intense operations? Can we really not send an F-35C off that land based, trial ski ramp to see if it would still have better range/payload than an F-35B? Some may have a fit of the Vapours at the idea of STOBAR or operating 2 aircraft, but having one sqn of F-35B for all weather defence of the fleet, plus another sqn of F-35C for long range heavy strike, makes sense as a QE/PoW airgroup to me.

  53. JH, you can always afford to build one, even a Nimitz. It just depends on how long you have to save for it.

  54. As an enlightenment to those advocating splash-down boxes for turbofan engines. The RR (and GE) limit for a ‘bump off’ (my old airline term, other terms are available) ie, the maximum difference between surfaces an engine could take was 2.5cm, and that was on a travelling jig (which was heavier than the engine).

    …greater than this and the fans had to be rebalanced, the ablative blade strip and shaft bearings removed and inspected. The whole engine would have to be inspected for loose couplings etc. In all 8-12hrs work.

    I’m reliably informed (by those who know) that water can be a bit ‘hard’ to land on… I wonder how thick the shock absorbing layer will have to be…

    …equally I wonder how big the container will have to be to actually float, with 5t+ in it.

    No- I think if you’re going to have COD, it makes sense to be able to shift an engine.

  55. “Out of interest, what happens on the likes of V22 when the tilt mechanism gets stuck rotors-forward? Are there explosive bolts that shear the blades off so the thing can glide the last few feet? Or does everyone bail out and let the machine crash?”

    In the event that the aircraft has to land with its rotors facing forward, the proprotor blades are designed to shred themselves. This is to avoid lumps of metal and plastic impacting the fuselage.

    They are designed to fail in such a way that they will turn into strands of composite material upon impact (Broom Stranding). This eliminates the hazard of large chunks of flying rotor traveling in every direction in a crash situation.

  56. Osprey is worth investing in now. Significant capability, now mature, with significant potential for expansion of the mission set and interoperability with the USMC. Anyone suggesting we wait for the next good idea in future rotorcraft should remember that Chinook has been around since 1962, new aircraft are still being built and it will be a workhorse for many years to come. A small buy to provide AAR, if nothing else, would deliver a significant increase in strike capability for the carriers. Merlin is now fully committed to; so no reason now to hold off investing in Osprey.

    Affordability? Let’s sack off some of those never-to-be-used-again ground forces, shall we?

  57. V22 osprey as a tanker is piss poor. Its off load capacity is less than f18 super hornet in tanker config and would most likely require the receiver to get lower and slower than any other tanker of jets.

  58. The QE class lifts are designed to hold the V-22 as a requirement (or two unfolded Chinooks side by side) .
    The Osprey is the only tried and combat tested game in town which has almost all of the bugs worked out of such an complex machine. It fits the bill for long range maritime cargo support and long range maritime combat insertion , its AAR is limited and as yet no AEW/MPA mission sets and should be steered well clear of untill someone else has paid for and implemented it successfully.

  59. If you were wanting to buy a v22 there is only two missions you would be selling it on that is SF insertion or csar. Israel were recently offered 6 for 1.3 billion dollars which was at a discount from normal. Is it worth the cost?

  60. @Mark
    There’s also COD for resupplied of critical items/personnel at sea but no to buying a small number and the big training,logistics and basing costs as well as the upfront costs ,we should train to be able to house and flight deck handle them on board the QE class by embedding our personnel on USN ships so when the neighbors come knockin were awaitin

  61. ‘Osprey is worth investing in now’

    Personally I’d wait and see what comes out on top in the US Future vertical lift program. We’ll get better economies of scale and the design will fit all the missions we would want. If we were going to buy the Osprey would not the time have been a few years ago as a Sea king AEW replacement?

    ‘Affordability? Let’s sack off some of those never-to-be-used-again ground forces, shall we?’

    I agree, I’d reduce Army numbers further to pay for retention, training and fully mechanising the remaining formations or to give a cash injection to the RAF, not for running a second carrier for the USMC though.

  62. I would concentrate on maintaining and enhancing a three way Merlin fleet (ASW, AEW and Commando) and the Wildcat fleet (adding dipping sonar). Osprey may add in some areas and we perhaps should try them out on a CVF but there are too many other priorities

  63. Have to agree that V-22 is a ‘nice to have’ but in no way essential considering the 80% capability provided by the Merlin and Chinook fleets.

    Instead we should study them, host them, trial them, and use them to inform the specification for the eventual Merlin replacement many years hence.

  64. There is nothing on the books for an F35 buddy refuelling system. The USN will use F18 for that role for the foreseeable future. Piss poor it might be, but an Osprey based refueller could top up a pair of F35s launching at near max weight when carrying 2 Storm Shadow. Give the F35 the legs it needs, and suddenly you have a carrier based deep strike capability that is worth every penny of a four ship Osprey tanker force. Reach, poise, sustain, strike at will.

    The U.S. FVLP will not deliver a mature platform for another ten years at least.

  65. ‘The U.S. FVLP will not deliver a mature platform for another ten years at least.’

    There’s no rush, we won’t have our first sqn of F35’s flying off the carrier until 2020 a few more years won’t hurt.

  66. Only figure I’ve seen is 5400 kgs for the extra fuel that a proposed V22 could offload. That’s not much at all for a serious op. Useful for a limited op with small numbers of aircraft as a top up, not much more though. Whether it’s worth it is another matter. How much for some useful numbers, say 8, £1.5bn? Seems about right ballpark.

  67. Bit of a straw man to suggest we do not need COD going forward because we’ve not needed it for 30 years.

    That’s roughly the timeframe for winding down before selling HMS Hermes and all the supporting aircraft. Arguable whether the concept of operations for the Invincible-class as Harrier and ASW Helicopter carriers needed the infrastructure compared to the longer duration tours for a “full” carrier.

    Worth considering whether diverting vessels to collect required equipment is operationally costly or not and issue requirements accordingly. May turn out in the final analysis that RAS, Merlin and Chinook are all we need after all.

    My prediction? We’ll see the US asked to resupply Queen Elizabeth with a CV-22 (maybe even an HV-22, who knows?) before we buy or own fleet. Likely as part of the tighter naval operations recently announced.

  68. Tas

    Targets requiring stormshadow on a 5th gen low observable aircraft will require more support than can ever be provided from v22 on the deck of an aircraft carrier.


    Ok I’ll say 60 years where on the list of priorities of gapped capabilities do you thing a v22 purchase sits given we’ve got merlins, chinooks, supply ships ect.

  69. I refer back to the MPA discussion with regards costs. This also represents a capital heavy, personnel light capability within the unallocated and contingency scope.

    If you decide there’s a requirement.

  70. @Mark
    I don’t think the V-22 would be overall cost effective unless shared with say SOF where the Chinook does not have the range or respond speed needed for a particular op or shared across the fleet ( T45 and T26 can land a Chinook ) so for resupply over dispersed fleet for limited but critical payloads could be useful . Dedicated for the CVF though it would be too expensive for what it brings to the party. We should train to handle, refuel , rearm them though so we can at least stage/support our cousins.

  71. My recommendation is to provide a spare F135 within something about 16m long and 11m wide. The same thing also carries a spare ejector seat, computer, undercarriage struts, etc.

    So for every, say, flight of four we can carry, say, an additional 1/2 jet meaning lead and wing-man require 9 jets. Also great for attrition losses too. We could then carry 18 to keep two pairs aloft or perhaps 36 to sustain eight in the air for a few days.

    In a real war what’s more likely to happen, an engine failure or shot up wings?

    If we had put a ski-jump on the bow that was a little wider (Kuznetsov style) then I’d be all for shoving some wires across the deck. You could launch a RATO Herc and catch it with a barricade when needed. As it stands however, I’m not sure it’s particularly safe.

  72. @Simon

    You mean buy extra aircraft just so you can rob them?

    In answer to your question, in my experience, a engine change is more likely.

  73. IIRC, during the Cold War period, US carriers used to carry spare planes for pilots who lost theirs in combat, so it’s more likely for someone to get a new plane and strip the damaged one for spares than to use the new one for spares and continue using the damaged plane.

    BTW, is there a need for your carrier AAR to be VTOL? Why not use a 3rd F-35 with drop tanks for topping up? You don’t get another class of vehicle to service and IIRC the V-22 is not drop tank capable, which means that it can’t carry as much fuel as an F-35 configured for AAR.

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