back to article MoD to bin F-35B navy jumpjets in favour of tailhook birds?

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is set to make a major change to the design of the new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy, according to a newspaper report. It's suggested that the ships will now be equipped with catapults and arrester wires, allowing them to operate normal carrier aircraft rather than the complex, expensive …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not STOVL...

    "short-takeoff/vertical-landing (STOVL) jumpjets like the famous Harrier"

    Actually, the Harrier and F-35 are both technically VTOL jets, however, weight requirements for fuel and armaments make them operationally STOVL, (hence the acronym S/VTOL is sometimes used).

    Until the F-35 enters operational service in 2010, the Harrier, alongside the Russian Yak-38, remain the only operational S/VTOL jets in the world.

  2. Ian Ferguson
    IT Angle

    War news

    This genuinely isn't a troll, I find Lewis Pages' articles interesting and excellently researched; but I'm just wondering why The Reg, an IT news site, runs so much military vehicular news?

    I realise there is a IT tech / mechanical tech interest crossover, but The Reg gives commercial vehicle news just about the right coverage (ie. articles about electric vehicles and other innovations).

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    stupid arse titles

    Will be nice to have decent carriers.

  4. Was Steve
    Thumb Up

    Would Tories really bin the carriers?

    Another excellent article Lewis, please keep up the good work! :)

    I would question whether it would be at all likely for the Tories to scrap the carriers. Whilst it's true that they don't have ties to Scottish ship-building towns, it would be very short sighted of them (And I'm not saying that they can't be) to inflame the unions and the scots and by stopping the programme. The other thing is that the carriers will allow government of whatever colour to project british power overseas, something the Tories especially love.

  5. Hate2Register

    Bow down to the Scots!

    It's extremely unlikely that a new Tory government will cancel the carrier program. 1/ They have signed up to Labour spending commitments on health and defence. 2/ Tories fought the Falklands campaign, and are sold on the need for carriers. 3/ Causing job losses in Scotland will give ammunition to the Scottish nationalists, at a time when the London government will be trying to suppress secessionist noises (that's why our 2 last PMs have been Scots, and half of the cabinet).

    Scottish concerns punch above their weight at Westminster (for the reasons above). Indeed, as a Scot, I look forward to the day when English people will be our willing and dutiful slaves. Only joking.. (or am I..).

  6. Osiris
    Jobs Horns

    "Jobs bloodbath at Rolls"

    Am I the only one that thought Stevie had gone on a killing spree from that sub-title?

  7. Adam 10

    Re: Bow down to the Scots

    Aha, that's what we Welsh want you to think!

    "What shall we do tonight, Brains?"

    "Same thing we do every night boyo! Try to take over the world! Now there's lovely boy, get us an oggy, man!"

  8. F1reman

    another great article

    I always read about this kinda stuff in El Reg months before I see it in the popular press.

    I read today an article on the bbc about a hutton commissioned report which apparently describes botched MoD spending on things like helicopters and fighter planes. Read about all that here yonks ago.

    Thanks, always makes for very interesting reading tech site or not.

  9. jason 7

    You know how this is going to end though.....

    We end up with catapult equipped carriers at extra delay and cost.


    We still end up with the VTOL F-35B rather than the cheaper C variant, which will have restricted software that we cant service and will therefore, sit mothballed till the MOD morons hope the storm blows over.

    Meanwhile troops at the sharp end still go without the basic standard kit.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I too, thought that Mr Jobs had gone postal from the title :/

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If the future is an electro-magnetic launcher, won't the planes electrics be fried when it gets launched ?

    Or is the flight-desk going to cover in lovely tin foil ?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Causing job losses in Scotland will give ammunition to the Scottish nationalists, at a time when the London government will be trying to suppress secessionist noises"

    However, given that there are no Tory MPs in Scotchland, have never really been any and are unlikely to be any in the near future it would assist the Tories in Westminster if all the Scottish seats were removed from the count - either by all being SNP or by not being allowed to sit.

    Personally I think the SNP support is all bluster anyway, sure it is good to protest and you have an alternative to New Labour other than the Tories (New, New labour) or the LibDems (New Labour Lite) but I strongly doubt that the Scots would actually vote for independence if given the choice.

    Too much hassle, too much to lose and with the EU based work / movement / etc. rules it would not really make any difference nationally. You know you'd never get to keep the deterrent and a "deal" would be done on the Oil/Gas to funnel the profits elsewhere before any was handed over.

  13. Sean O'Connor 1


    By the time the carriers are built I bet all aircraft will be pilotless drones anyway.

  14. I didn't do IT.

    Re: EMP

    A low level EMP-like effect can be achieved with a rapidly expanding or contracting magnetic field. Electronics would be affected if they are in the field as it moves, or if they move through the field.

    A linear drive with a (unshielded) electronics package that maintains relative positions would not be greatly affected by the field, if they are both moving in the same vector (speed/direction).

    There are designs for Faraday shielding of a linear drive path; a static screen/coil around and down the length of the drive path, leaving the shuttle groove open, and a screen that moves with the shuttle long enough to shield the plane, overlapping the surrounding drive shield. The magnetic lines of force then bend around and leave the area above the shuttle (the plane) in a clear bubble as it moves. Having the shuttle screen lock home at the end ensures that the plane does not cross these lines of force at the end of the acceleration cycle.

    Also, most military electronics are shielded or hardened from interference/EMP, but YMMV. If it is affected, hopefully the pilot would not need the GPS to go down the runway of the ship...

  15. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    @AC re EMP

    What's the flight-deck made of? Wood? (sorry, that was the WW2 Yank carriers, wasn't it).

    I think that the couple of inches of steel needed to support the weight of the planes would be at least as good as tinfoil at stopping the magnetic leakage from the linear motors.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Conventionally powered carriers?

    Never understood the decision not to go nuclear for these carriers. The extra space available for accommodation, provisions, aircraft fuel and weapons as a result of not needing to store fuel oil and fresh water (I know they use de-salination plants on conventional ships, but these take power) should make the decision a no-brainer. Add to this the effective removal of a distance limit between RAS for fuel, steam catapults, good supply of power for control systems and crew comfort, and we get some really potent ships.

    USS Enterprise used modified SSN (Ship, Submersible, Nuclear) reactors. We have experience building these (currently PWR2 Core H in Astute class submarines), so could do this as well, and I would not have thought there would be a huge difference in cost of development. We would have to produce some large steam turbine plant, but surely there is expertise here as well, as we build steam turbines for the subs.

    Only downside is the Greens, but I guess that they would probably not want the carriers built at all.

  17. twelvebore

    Nuclear option

    I'm wondering whether the MoD might be thinking that the option for nuclear-powered carriers might be back on the table given the delayed time-table. The next government is likely to have a lot less grass-roots party issues with nuclear-powered-<insert powered thing here> than the current one.

  18. Dave Bell

    And why now?

    We don't know what, if any, truth is behind the story.

    But if the American electric catapult program was going better than expected, the MoD might well know.

    Some of us old-time Space Nuts remember O'Neill and his mass driver. This might not be the leap into the dark that some think. You used to be able to ride on a train with a linear motor at Birmingham airport. Twenty years later, they're all over the place.

    Or it could just be politics and slipshod journalism.

  19. Tom 107

    Doubtful about this story ...

    Lewis Page's analysis begs the obvious question that, if it is so obvious that STOVL is inferior to CV, why has the UK based its strategy for carrier-borne capability around STOVL?

    Possible reasons are that the Royal Navy is a 'STOVL Navy', having operated jumpjets off small carriers for so long, and not the full-size thing. Clearly, CV aircraft will offer superior performance to STOVL, but this was true of Phantom vs Harrier, F-14 vs AV-8 and so on, the UK apparently reluctant to return to full-size carriers, even when funds were more available.

    More rationally, the MOD may have thought that full-size carriers & CV aircraft were too expensive, or else it simply didn't know, then as now. Of course ditching JSF STOVL reads like a good news for the Navy today, but looking just at the aeroplane ignores wider issues ... the F35B is being de-risked, and will get there in time - where is the equivalent de-risking activity for the cats & traps that the Navy will need for its carriers, also noting that since the UK would be the first and so far only country to try to catapult-launch aircraft without steam, the UK would foot much of the R&D bill. Sounds very unlikely at the moment, don't you think?

    I think what is behind this story is that MOD sees STOVL is getting a bit expensive, and it may help put the heat on industry for a bit if the customer says it is toying with the idea of going elsewhere ...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A title is required.

    "Royal Navy ships will be propelled by gas turbines". What, calor gas? Does this give them the ability to refuel in the Falklands?

  21. Charles 9

    @Tom 107

    Actually, most of the R&D for an electromagnetic catapult is being borne by the US--its first intended use is for CVN-78, the US Navy's next aircraft carrier.

  22. Peter 6


    We should have listened to Lewis and bought some American "off the shelf" Aircraft Carriers from Walmart last time Gordon Broon was in America...

    ...for the record, my coat was bought "off the shelf" from Barneys at New York..

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Sean O'Connor 1

    Almost. Vide Predator C and X-47 UCAV. They'll use a manned plane to chaperone them until the bots turn on us, cheers

  24. Emilio Desalvo

    Gas and gangs...

    A gas turbine mostly runs on jet fuel...

    Well, I still think that Italy should have ganged up with the UK to build four conventional carriers...

    Or should...

  25. Trygve

    @Tom 107

    " if it is so obvious that STOVL is inferior to CV, why has the UK based its strategy for carrier-borne capability around STOVL?"

    Because - a STOVL carrier is a bit cheaper to build in the short run, and the UK has been run for the last 50+ years by a various cheapskate morons with aspirations, who given a choice between buying:

    - five generic spanners for £5 each, once

    - one chrome-vanadium socket wrench for £30, once

    - one flimsy chrome-plated socket wrench for £20, replacing when it breaks every year

    will go for the last option, every time. Hence why the UK armed forces are always broke, always using the wrong kit, and always pissed off.

    In the past it's always been a choice between STOVL carriers or no carriers. No doubt if they ever get round to aquiring a proper CATOBAR carrier they will cancel all the minesweepers & destroyers to pay for it, so it daren't leave port.

  26. serviceWithASmile

    re: lee & hate2register

    I may just disagree with "strongly doubt that...scots will vote for independance".

    We are just pissed off enough to do it if given half a chance, I think. Personally I don't think it's the way forward, but I also think that it could work if everyone wanted it to.

    It would be the kind of token independance that still means we're more or less the same country, except that we might start checking passports at the border. And I don't see a reasonable way of splitting the navy, air force and / or army, not to mention such national services as the NHS and police etc, so that would all most likely just stay in place, and some deals be agreed about us staying in said forces/services and being granted protection in return. But this would never happen, there would be alot of backhanders involved behind the scenes with politicians, many many people defecting to / from scotland from other places or going back to other places, arguments about all of the above, it would be a bloody mess.

    In essence, the only way it would work is without politicians.

    I agree with the reasons *why* people want it, however. Having 3 governments worth of legislation and decision making above you is not a good feeling, when you only really have a say in 2 of those (if that).

    *Just in case theres any confusion -,,*

    Oh and I'm not getting dragged into the "england doesn't vote on scottish matters but scottish mps vote on english matters" debate. I don't care. 3 govs is 3 too many, regardless of who lives in which one and what they say.


  27. jason 7

    Scots and power....

    ....Not sure what they are worried about. Seems half of the labour cabinet are Scots.

    Thats a level of power and influence us english would love to have once again.

    Then again if independance meant no scot was allowed to be part of the english govt...yessss vote away please!

  28. Anonymous Coward

    (marine/aviation) GASoline TURBINES

    The same sort of engine as used to power many current warships and (some) jet aircraft.

    To quote my favorite marketing gimmick,


    (Penguin, 'cos we don't have a Meerkat icon. Where is our Meerkat icon??)

  29. Alan Edwards

    Which is easier to do

    Which is the easier landing to do, at night, in a howling gale? An arrester hook or vertical?

    Not that it'll make any difference to the decision...


  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    About time they did some sensible..

  31. Trygve

    @AC 10:36

    "GASoline"??? Rubbish. Nobody runs large warships (or large aircraft) on gasoline - too flammable, too bulky and too expensive.

    Gas, produced by the combustion of something (usually kerosene/diesel) acting directly on the turbine blades, as opposed to being used to boil water which the acts on the turbine blades as in the more traditional STEAM turbine.

  32. IvyKing

    @AC - Conventionally powered carriers

    The reactors, A2W, used in the USS Enterprise were specifically designed for that ship and had about three times the output of contemporary reactors used on the SSN's (and contemporary SSBN's). The Enterprise could steam at full speed with just four of her eight reactors according to several people I've known with USN nuclear experience.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AvGas *is* Kerosene

    Oops my bad. Sorry, forgot a few people without specific knowledge of the aviation industry might be found loitering on an IT wesbite...

    AvGas is another name for the specific fraction of Kerosene used in aircraft engines - it's subtley different from the fractions used for heating etc, and plenty different from the stuff used in nuke-powered steam turbines (as opposed to marine /gas/ turbines) - that's why I put

    "(aviation/marine)" at the front of the title for that post. I think you'll agree AvGas is a lot quicker and easier to write than the specific details for exactly which Kerosene fraction you want, no?

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like