You think aircraft carriers are expensive...
Wait until you see the final bill for the F-35x!!
Is it possible that the fighters aboard might be more expensive than the ship that carries them?
Today saw her Maj QE2 smash a bottle of Islay malt whisky over her floating namesake at Fife's Rosyth dockyard, as she hailed "a new phase" in Blighty's glorious naval history. The carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is a 280-metre-long behemoth which promises a maritime capability equal to that of its voracious appetite for …
Well thats what you get if you don't build it here.....
At least the Lifting fans/engines are built in the UK for the F35 (rolls royce) but whether the computers will turn on is another matter... I remember at one point the US was refusing to hand over the source code.....
We have a great history of building amazing aircraft here in the UK & Europe, I can't see why we didn't build out own VSTOL fighter, at the very least we should never have sold off our Harriers!
" I remember at one point the US was refusing to hand over the source code....."
Wouldn't surprise me. We're the USAs Bestest Friend Ever when they need something from us (like helping them justify pointless invasions), but when we need something from them and they don't get much from it, its a different bloody story.
"We have a great history of building amazing aircraft here in the UK & Europe, I can't see why we didn't build out own VSTOL fighter,"
2 main problems:
A) We don't have the money and since no other european country has ever seemed that interested in VTOL we'd probably have to cough up for everything which wouldn't go down well with the usual "wot abaht 'ospitals-n-skools!" style of moron voter all politicians seem in thrall to these days.
B) The current crop of politicians don't seem that interested in supporting british industry anyway and when challenged just fall back on the EU fair competition rules. Which everyone else in the EU ignores anyway except us.
"at the very least we should never have sold off our Harriers!"
A textbook definition of extreme short term thinking. Even if we didn't have the money to run them they could have been mothballed with minimum maintenance until we did. But no, Osborne had to sell them off for a pittance. The man should be ashamed of himself.
Shirly if (presumably) your mates in the defence industry weren't such an incompetent bunch of theving vagbonds, footpads and skulking loafers, and could manage to just once fulfil a contract at least in the same decade it was supposed to be delivered in and at a cost within say 5000% of the original estimate, then we could have all the jump-jets and carriers we want... and still have enough money left over for me and the rest of the electorates schools and hospitals.
just a thought.
Check your facts before bleating again - in the UK 2013 budget there was twice as much on education, threes times as much on NHS, and nearly four times as much on pensions as spent on defence. If you had even the faintest knowledge about the way we procure weapons systems you would also know the majority of delays are due to the politicians using the armed forces as a political football, making ridiculous changes to requirements mid-project at the drop of an hat, and then poisoning the chalice (as Labour did with the carriers) when they realise they are not going to get re-elected.
cos killing people is soooooo much more important than say educating the ignorant, or providing sheltered accommodation to the mentally enfeebled.
both subjects I should have thought would be close to your heart* <kiss kiss>
* silly me, old fashioned thatcherite - no heart in the first place.
"cos killing people is soooooo much more important than say educating the ignorant, or providing sheltered accommodation to the mentally enfeebled...." I didn't say it was, I simply exposed the ignorance in your previous post. Nice to see you're maintaining your record as a bad loser.
".....old fashioned thatcherite - no heart in the first place." Always fun watching a Leftie shriek and whine when their fave bleat has been easily demolished with a single factual post.
"whether the computers will turn on is another matter... I remember at one point the US was refusing to hand over the source code....."
Pretty sure not having the source will not affect the computers turning on. Maintenance maybe but not boot up.
"Well thats what you get if you don't build it here....."
Yeah, because our Nimrods worked out so well.
There's no point us making our own aircraft: We only need a handful and the development costs are thus insane. Our new radios and the SA80 worked out so well, too.
The problem with the VTOLs we are ordering from the US is the same problem we'd have if we had made them ourselves... except less-so, because someone else does actually want the same plan (USMC). If we'd have built them ourselves the costs would have been even higher.
'Considering that Nimrods were Comet 1 airframes (yes, the very same that embarrassingly broke up in flight) I reckon they did pretty well.'
Yeah, until one blew up in mid air killing 14 people because BAe Systems lied about the safety case .
'Well thats what you get if you don't build it here'
As I understand it BAe are also making part of the fuselage of every F-35. In fact something like 20% of the total build is from UK industry, which over the course of the programme will probably be of greater value than if we had a 100% UK built aircraft and then only brought a hundred or so of them.
Why not busses? If you sail a carrier packed with aircraft to a foreign land you're really boxing yourself in as far as tactical options go. There's really only so much you can do with military attack aircraft and no matter what Admiral Blueblood says, none of those things are going to be novel, or even creative.
But sail an aircraft carrier full of big London busses to a foreign land and nobody will know what to do. Are the busses a gift? Have the British woefully misjudged the available surface road infrastructure in Kerplackistan? Have the British discovered anti-gravity technology and no longer need their aircraft to be aerodynamically efficient? Are the busses full of migrants? Are the busses Transformers?
See, nearly limitless options, none which justify attacking the bus carrier preemptively. Only a fool would launch an attack on such an enormous what-the-fuck. You can't shoot at things unless you know what's going on and nobody is going to know what the hell is happening when HMS Mass Transit anchors offshore. For a few days, even longer if you refuse to communicate, the British Navy will once again control the Seas.
Looks pretty scary to me, especially if they are using them in a ballistic manor. One route master double decker launched on the steam catapult at your enemy, maybe fill it with school children because they are a nightmare on public transport in packs.
(I mention steam catapults but I can't remember if they were being installed or not).
IIRC they're not being installed. The ship was to be capable of retrofit for convential aircraft - opening the purchase options considerably, but then BAe can back with a silly price for it, forcing the government to carry on with the F35x. (which it part builds)
OT. The caaier is a "shared resource" of the European Rapid Reaction Force. Which may go some way to explaining the distortion of the UK naval capacity that it represents.
If the carrier is a shared ressource, what other European naval force actually uses VTOL aircraft apart from Russia (and maybe some spanish Harriers/AV8's?) The other big european flat-top is the Charles de Gaulle, and without cats & traps, no way to operate Rafale's... I really think that BAe took the piss with their pricing and we are going to end up with an expensive but sub-optimal weapons system :(
No steam catapaults, fullstop.
The option was electric ones (which had yet to be developed) and BAE made it very clear they didn't want to install them by pricing retrofitting them at somewhat more expensive than building a new ship.
Of course having only ONE aircraft carrier won't be much use even if the UK really can pool resources with the French (I'll believe that when I see a Mirage sitting on the deck of the QE).
In typical UK MOD bungling style, it was going to have steam catapults, then it wasn't, then some fancy electro-magnetic linear motor catapult, then nothing. Multiply this sort of faffing about for every system aboard and I wonder it hasn't cost ten times its already staggering cost. Still six years to finish it, so plenty of opportunities to add / delete / add again countless bits of technology. . . .
> One route master double decker launched on the steam catapult at your enemy
No need to throw them, roll 'em out of the back of C-17. Apart from the comedy factor of being hit by a bus, it'd make an awesome airfield denial weapon; make them spend months picking up bits of fibreglass to stop it being sucked into jet engines.
I have a feeling a Routemaster is too tall to go in a C-17, but it does give us something to do with all the old Leyland Nationals.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Routemaster puts the cost of a new RouteMaster (aka 'Boris Bus') as £354,000, so those 470 units would come in at about £170 million (assuming no discount for bulk).
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26124894 gives the cost of an F35 at around £60m per plane (£150m+ if you allocate infrastructure, training, support etc.)
So, somewhere between 1 and 3 strike jets, or 470 buses. Now there's a strategic decision worth pondering, particularly if we could have ex-Gurkhas as conductors and Boris himself driving the lead vehicle through the gates of Kabul...
Kerb weight of a Routemaster 12.65 tonnes
Kerb weight of an F-35 22.4 to 31.8 tonnes
So a catapult should be able to throw a bus further. Give or take aerodynamics. Cheaper, and carry more rounds. With some chutes, may even be survivable but even if we do fit cats to the carriers, I doubt the Navy would let us try.
Here's a useful tip to keep in mind for the future. If, at any point, you have the desire to run comparative siege engine projectile experiments involving oversized public transports and military aircraft, just do it.
You're not going to get permission for that sort of thing. Trust me on this, there's a threshold beyond which no bureaucrat or elected official is capable of rationalizing what you've written on the Application for Special Use Permit. At best, you've made next Christmas very painful for the bureaucrat's family that has to feed their institutionalized and straightjacketed father turkey purée through a straw. At worst you'll be shot immediately.
However, if you're bold, and somehow manage to acquire all the elements necessary for your experiment, it's highly unlikely anyone will stop you. Firstly, it's just never a good idea to interfere with people who can round up a giant bus, a fighter aircraft and an enormous catapult in the same place. Common sense will shield you. Secondly, even the thickest, most aggressive and well armed person is going to want to see what happens. If it's impressive enough you'll remain safe. If you blow it you'll probably be shot, but being shot for just for asking was a real risk you've already sidestepped, so you're 100% further than you would have been. Carp Areadime!
"Here's a useful tip to keep in mind for the future. If, at any point, you have the desire to run comparative siege engine projectile experiments involving oversized public transports and military aircraft, just do it."
Some further thoughts.
F-35 has 191kN of thrust compared to the Routemaster. Which does not list it's power in the datasheet. So to make it fair, we may need to add JATO. This would likely increase YT hits.
We don't actually need the F-35 and asking if we can launch the aircraft without it using it's engine is likely to lead to a swift showing of the door. Possibly at terminal velocity.
EMAL is inside Lakeland AFB. I doubt painting the bus Navy blue or OD will fool them. I also doubt telling any Marines on guard that you're testing a next-gen amphibious assault vehicle would help. That would likely result in lethal force being applied on the grounds of self-defence. They get screwed over by contractors enough already.
Mythbusters on the other hand do seem to be on good terms with the US military..
The problem with launching a bus, car or indeed upright piano from a steam catapult is that it doesn't weigh as much as a fully loaded jet fighter. This means if you use the same steam pressure as you'd use for a jet on a bus the underdeck parts of the catapult will fuse together at the end of the run due to the much higher terminal speed. So ultimately it's still only going to come off the end of the ship at around 140 knots.
Of course if you're not worried about writing off the catapult it could be quite interesting...
> This means if you use the same steam pressure as you'd use for a jet on a bus the
> underdeck parts of the catapult will fuse together at the end of the run
The catapult bits (on a Nimitz-class, anyway) are adjustable to cope with different aircraft types.
ISTR there have been a few (near-) cockups due to trying to launch the wrong type of plane. Same with the arrester gear.
> So ultimately it's still only going to come off the end of the ship at around 140 knots.
Still be cool to watch, though...
That's kind of my point, they adjust for different aircraft by altering the steam pressure, it's really the only variable there is. That's why in the linked pictures of cars and pianos going off the bow they don't go that far to avoid damaging the cat. Although you do wonder why they didn't try full pressure on the piano they launched off the Ark at the end of her last commission, it's not like they were going to use it again!
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Yes, because we as a country have needed lots of anti-submarine and surface combat ships recently haven't we... Oh wait, no, nearly all of our wars in the last 20 years have been about air power.
So, why would we invest in anti-sub and surface combat destroyers?
And why wouldn't we invest in more air based weaponry?
"So, why would we invest in anti-sub and surface combat destroyers?"
I'm guessing it's in case an opponent thinks "nearly all of our wars in the last 20 years have been about air power. They won't be expecting our submarine/destroyer/shark-with-laser-weapon attack!"
So, why would we invest in anti-sub and surface combat destroyers?
Because you just might need them again within the decades-long lead time involved in floating a new class of warship?
Because it just makes sense to have at least a little versatility in your expensive weapon systems?
And why wouldn't we invest in more air based weaponry?
Because surface-to-air should only be a measure of last resort.
When enemy aircraft can launch sea-skimming missiles at you from well over the horizon, what you really need to be doing is sending your own aircraft to meet them, and do as far away from your big, slow, sitting-duck boats as you can.
The Royal Navy learned exactly the wrong lesson from the Falklands conflict. Back then Argentinian aircraft nearly devastated the UK's task force while it was "parked" just off-shore, due to woefully insufficient air cover.
But what TPTB seem to have decided is that what they needed back then were more AA ships, when what they really needed were more Sea Harriers (and carriers to fly them off of, of course).
That would explain why I remember reading that a single Type 45 destroyer can wipe out the entire air force of South America...
They are planning to defend it again...(I hope so anyway, those damned Argentinians are trying a land grab! the Falklanders want to remain British!)
Amazingly, the Royal Navy have other ships for anti-sub operations... For example, the Astute class subs. My point was more one of why is it a problem that the Type 45 surface vessel has a purpose specific to how it is actually going to be used when other ships and boats can do those things already...
@localzuk And yet a comparably sized American vessel throws in anti submarine and anti surface, in addition to the core anti aircraft mission; it does this for a considerably lower outlay. When you have less than thirty major combat ships in your fleet, that last thing you need is the idiotic level of specialisation found in the Type 45.
Western wars in the last two decades may have had a big air power element, but not an air superiority element. See, air superiority requires your enemy to have aircraft to be superior over. That hasn't been a problem in quite some time.
Western militaries have been grossly misusing air superiority aircraft as light bombers and that's just as stupid as parking nuclear submarines in the Persian Gulf (ICBM's are fairly launch site agnostic you know). F-35's and such are cool and all, but if you're going to fight a ground war from the air, F-35's and such are just about the dumbest, most expensive, least efficient way possible to do it.
I'll admit 'Top Gun: Long Range Bomber' or 'Top Gun: Drone' isn't Oscar material. But if you're not planning on occupying and claiming dominion over a foreign land then sailing little airplanes to the place you want to bomb really doesn't make any sense. If expansionism isn't in the cards you can just fly airplanes to your target then fly back home. You don't need to land if you don't want to annex the country. For Christ's sake, you could put 800-1000 Kamikaze drones on an aircraft carrier deck and have a drone factory inside.
The details are irrelevant. If the goal is to purchase the most appropriate military equipment based on recent wars then anything that needs to land outside your country is as dumb as using donkeys as mobile SAM emplacements.
'Oh wait, no, nearly all of our wars in the last 20 years have been about air power.
'So, why would we invest in anti-sub and surface combat destroyers?'
Because the next war we fight will probably be in the future, not the past?
Also because modern submarine technology is very advanced, and still improving. Look up "Shinano" to see what can happen to an immense aircraft carrier that meets a submarine without adequate escort.
A good chunk of the escort group of a US capital carrier is antisubmarine. (And it includes a couple of submarines too)
An unescorted aircraft carrier might as well have big targets painted on all available surfaces. You can't let _anything_ unfriendly get within 50 miles of the thing.
Carries sonar, carries anti-sub helicopters, carries a 4.5-inch gun, and some will carry Harpoon (why not all?), so it's not that useless. It's optimised for air-defence, and could end up with Tomahawk as well, but it does look as though paying for the carriers has compromised the outfitting of the Type 45 ships.
The carriers aren't quite tail wagging the dog, but add the plan for new Trident subs, and you wonder if the Admirals and Politicians are trying to compensate for certain anatomical defects.
Yep the kit will cost more than the ship that carries it thats if it isn't all cancelled by spending cuts in the time it takes to build her and the inevitable re-estimates of final cost which will only go up.As for the both the seasoned carrier crew which we no longer have and the full complement of ships to protect the carrier which we haven't got.........
Wasn't there a notion of "sharing" the carrier deck space with out allies not so long ago?
Vulture Central's backroom gremlins can't help but wonder why the MoD want to park buses, rather than F-35 fighter jets, on their shiny new aircraft carrier. As regular Reg readers know, the defence industry got away with murder when the Queen Elizabeth class were ordered.
Probably because the Buses actually work.. http://gizmodo.com/all-us-and-uk-f-35s-are-being-grounded-again-because-1599593347
470 London buses is a nice little talking point to hide the fact that our only aircraft capable of using the flight deck are helicopters. The only fighter plane capable of using this vessel in the future is the MD Lightning II F35B STOVL which will be about $ouch! each and will have the aerodynamics of a brick should its sole forward engine fail, whilst its weapons carrying bay is full of vertical takeoff engine, to boot.
So we have an aircraft carrier at 290ft the longest we have ever had, dependent on the avilability of one possible aircraft because the aircraft carrier does not have a nuclear powered engine and does not have, therefore a steam catapult to launch many different types of aircraft; this has to be the worst weapons procurement programme in British history for which we have to thank the cretins in the Labour Party and Conservative Party who could not order pizzas for a party without screwing up.
"... the worst weapons procurement programme ..."
It depends if you think the purpose of the programme is to defend the realm or provide jobs for favoured areas.
Gordon Brown signed a contract which meant it was cheaper to build the thing and throw it away than to stop work. Rosyth is in the neighbouring constituency to his. I think there may be a link.
> will have the aerodynamics of a brick
In fact, a brick probably flies quite a bit better than a fighter jet¹. By design.
Manoeuvrability or however the fuck you spell that is on one end of the scale while stability is on the other, and fighter jets need to be manoue... manuou... maneuu... able to change course quickly.
¹ The latter has got lots of computers that keep the thing in the air, unlike most bricks².
² Cue the Flying Brick Arduino project.
This new aircraft carrier is there so we can return illegal immigrants to their homelands,and the buses are to distribute them to their original villages. They should be able to carry 30 000 illegals a time, assuming they are all laid closely enough together in the hangars below deck.
Moe comfortable for the victims and probably cheaper than Ryanair, it seems a win win idea.
From simulator studies, the thrust-to-weight of a Typhoon is enough to get off a ski-jump deck of this size without a cat - just needs an arrestor system adding to the flight deck. The ship wouldn't need as much alteration as for full CATOBAR capabilities. Problem would be getting other aircraft off the deck (AEW&C - E-2C Hawkeye, for example), or sticking to relying on ground-based cover or more limited altitude helo AEW.
Thrust-vectoring variant of the EJ200 engine is possible, to assist in lower-speed approaches, and the airframe is robust enough (especially if there's no need to beef up the front gear to cope with cat launch). A naval version for our carriers wouldn't seem to be very difficult to create - STOBAR and not CATOBAR - already used by the Russian navy. Rafale & Typhoon have required thrust-to-weight (at least through simulation testing); it maybe that F35C can also meet the requirements - which, if confirmed, really will limit the take-up of F35B.
True re: Flankers, but the test simulations I've read about were for a 'full load' Typhoon on peace-time power (thrust-to-weight would be about 1.16 nominal, max fuel, no weapons, down to 0.76 for max everything). They can push harder if required, at the expense of engine life, on the current state of engine development.
They also calculate the T2W with the dry weight of the plane (not ever going to fly like that though), however, max payload would be less than 7500kg from the RAF aircraft; according to Eurofighter GmbH, the additional weight of a navalized typhoon would be around 500 Kg above the land-based aircraft. In most cases, a naval Typhoon would be on fleet defence unless in a conflict situation, so would fly a lot lighter without the more bulky stores - maybe 1000-1500kg (half-a-dozen air-to-air missiles about 150kg each, not really much need for extra fuel, but there if needed). For conflict, add air-to-surface cruise missile at 1200kg or so, drop tanks, etc. and push through the gate to get off the deck.
It still beats the F35B - maybe a max of 6800kg, with over 4000kg of that hanging unstealthily outside the fuselage bays (why have a stealthy jet that isn't that stealthy until after it's dropped stuff? Not all will be drop-tanks...). Naval Typhoon makes more sense in so many ways.
' not really much need for extra fuel'
You always need extra fuel!
I'm also not totally convinced by simulations from the people trying to sell you the aircraft, especially when BAe Systems are involved. I'm also not convinced by the argument that it would mostly be on fleet defence, if we'd had them for the last decade they would have been doing what the USN has been and launching with a full air to ground load, crossing over Pakistan and supporting ground forces in Afghanistan.
The recovery options for Typhoon aren't great either, all the simulations I've read about pointed out that to get down to landing speed the nose would be so high the pilot wouldn't be able to see the ship. And it's not a small ship.
> You always need extra fuel!
Fuel management is an art, and a hard to master one. Neither too little nor too much fuel is a good thing.
Fuel, range, and payload: the more you have of one of those, the less you can have of the other two. The sweet spot depends entirely on the mission.
'Fuel management is an art'
True, but I've never been in a position where I've thought 'oh, if only I had less fuel and couldn't fly as long'!
My point was more that you should have the option of launching with a full fuel load as a matter of course which doesn't appear to be an option with a theoretical navalised Typhoon.
".....My point was more that you should have the option of launching with a full fuel load as a matter of course which doesn't appear to be an option with a theoretical navalised Typhoon." But not necessarily a problem if you consider a take off with full load but less fuel, then top-up from a buddy tanker. The technique has been used for decades to allow strike aircraft to get off carriers with a full load of weapons and still go a good distance, or for fighters on extended CAP. IIRC, it was in use with the F-4 Phantom since 1959 for exactly the purpose of getting a fully loaded Phantom off of smaller carriers.
True, but if the best you can do is launch a Typhoon with an air to air load and partial fuel I can't see you getting a second one off the deck with enough fuel to transfer across. With the F-4 the catapults could get you off the deck with a full air to ground weapons load and as much fuel as you had room for. The second Phantom could then load up with full internal and external fuel and top up a number of other aircraft once they'd climbed to altitude and got to a more efficient flight regime.
A better comparison might be the Buccaneer S1, which like the Typhoon, couldn't get off the deck with a full weapons load and fuel because of some rather anaemic engines and weak catapults on the carriers in service. In that case tankers were used, but they were normally Scimitars, which could launch with full internal fuel and an external tank on each pylon. But that's not an option for Typhoon as if we had a fighter that could launch with that much payload we'd probably want to use it instead!
TL;DR, You need a tanker that can carry lots of fuel, Typhoon can't.
".....You need a tanker that can carry lots of fuel, Typhoon can't." Ignoring buddy-refuelling tanks, you mean? The tanker doesn't need to carry a full load as it only needs fuel for takeoff, climb, circle whilst waiting for the other Typhoons, and then descent and landing. But, if you want to go there, we could also lease V-22 Ospreys as the USMC is already developing them as tankers for F-35Bs with up to 12,000Lbs of fuel (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_Boeing_V-22_Osprey#Refueling_capability). Should be enough.
'Ignoring buddy-refuelling tanks, you mean?'
There's not a lot of fuel in buddy-buddy tanks*, normally the tanker also transfers fuel from it's internal tankage and as many external tanks they can hang off the thing. Ideally you want a tanker carrying as much fuel as possible, not launching one tanker per fighter as you'd soon run out of room on the boat.
There's also the issue of arrested landings where you need a tanker airborne to top up anyone who's delayed landing for whatever reason** otherwise you soon run out of aircraft as they typically only plan to have enough fuel for a couple of approaches, to minimise landing mass. For VSTOL aircraft this is less of a problem as they seem to get the landing right first time.
V-22 could work and would be an idea for F-35 as well, plus they'd make a more useful AEW platform. Alas I don't think the Treasury/Defence Logistics would be happy adding another type to the UK order of battle as they've spent the last few years trying to get us down to two fast jet and four helicopter platforms. Although it's still going to be a decade or so for that last one to pan out.
*In absolute terms there's quite a bit but not in fast jet terms and then half the tank is gubbins for transferring fuel.
**Either messing up their own approach a number of times, or someone else doing it and causing the recovery time to slip right.
".....Alas I don't think the Treasury/Defence Logistics would be happy adding another type to the UK order of battle as they've spent the last few years trying to get us down to two fast jet and four helicopter platforms...." Personally, I'd choose the Osprey as the Chinook replacement when that fleet has to be retired.
'Scimitars had fallen out of operational use at sea by 1966.'
As had the Buccaneer S1 which was the model that couldn't get off the deck with full weapons and fuel. The S2 had about 50℅ more thrust so was far less limited in what it could launch with and so less reliant on tankers. And actually useful as a tanker.
If you want to be really pedantic you could point out that of the two carriers that deployed the Mk1 Buccaneer only Eagle carried Scimitar tankers as Victorious didn't have the room. This meant the Vixens of 893 had to double up as tankers as the S1 Bucc was pointless in the role as it couldn't carry enough spare fuel, much like a marinised Typhoon would be.
> True, but I've never been in a position where I've thought 'oh, if only I had less fuel and couldn't fly as long'!
You've never been in that position because you've never done any commercial or military flying. Or even dropped skydivers, for that matter.
Come to think of it, you totally sound like a certain type of PPL. In that case I hope you never take full pax and full tanks on a jolly, because if you do, on a regular spamcan you're probably overweight and/or out of CoG limits. Talk to a qualified instructor at next opportunity.
'You've never been in that position because you've never done any commercial or military flying. '
Wrong on both counts. I've never thought 'oh, if only I had less fuel and couldn't fly as long'!, this doesn't mean I've always flown with a full fuel load it just means on those occasions I haven't I've cursed Westlands for their general inability to manufacture a half decent aircraft, or the passengers for never saying no to dessert.
These enormous ships will sail around pointlessly (well, one of them will, the other will rust away swinging at anchor in Devonport or somewhere) with no planes to fly until the Jihadis perfect their cheap and cheerful drones which they will then launch in their 100s, swamping whatever defence we've managed to afford, to sink them.
This will be a slaughter like Churchill arranged for Repulse and Prince of Wales at the hands of the Japanese. This involved the casual sinking in less than 20 minutes of wrongly conceived, poorly protected, badly constructed, vastly expensive capital ships - the pride of the bloomin Navy, they were, as Uncle Albert might have said - that were in the wrong place with no possible role other than to provide targets for Japanese navy bombing practice .
That we are still annually butt fucked by our defence industry, venal politicians and hapless civil servants is a never ending catastrophe that inevitably leads to the death of our young men (and women now) whenever the guns start firing.
Our military is led by officers who would much rather defeat the other services than any enemy. The RAF considers it a point of honour - a bit like Cardigan and the French in Oh What a Lovely War - to sink the Royal Navy whenever it can, regardless of the consequences for the national interest, and the army just stands on the sidelines hoping that it will be remembered that soldiers in action need to be delivered, supplied and extracted and that takes ships, planes and helicopters.
We spend a lot of money - probably not as much as we should, but enough - and get bugger all in terms of modern effectiveness for it. It would be cheaper to simply pay off any emerging enemy. And a lot less lot bloody.
10 December 1941 en route to Singapore and returning from a sortie intended to intercept the Japanese invasion force heading to Malaya. The Admiral had declined the air cover offered by local squadrons (RAAF and RNZAF) and a carrier had not yet reached Singapore.
First attack on Prince of Wales at about 11:40
Destruction of the struts holding the propeller shaft means the unrestrained shaft (turning at full power) damages the seals and bulkheads and causing severe flooding. The list to one side and loss of auxiliary power meant most of AA guns were unable to operate and limited the ability to pump out water, or steer her.
Repulse - a cut down battleship design built in record time in 1915/1916 and lacking compartmentalisation and anti-torpedo bulges - is hit (for the first time) at 12:20 by torpedoes
Repulse rolls and sinks at 12:33
Prince of Wales hit by bombs at 12:41
Prince of Wales sinks at 13:18
Churchill forced a very reluctant admiralty to send Repulse and Prince of Wales which were originally intended to be accompanied by HMS Indomitable (whose force of Fairey Fulmars would have terrified the Japanese - not) but the admiralty very cleverly arranged for Indomitable to be damaged in the Caribbean thus preventing its sailing with the two ships and its inevitable loss.
The admiralty knew the game was up for battleships but were determined not to lose one of their modern carriers (which, interestingly, were reasonably well designed but had no aircraft to speak of - ring any bells?) and, anyway, where would you want to be in the world if your ship couldn't sail?
Churchill gained his naval operations experience running the Gallipoli campaign 20 odd years earlier of course.
...without the tin cans and other screening elements this huge target needs to actually be able to operate. Given that the Brylcreem brigade scuppered the last attempt at updating our carriers and left the way open for the down-sizing of the tin cans, perhaps the budget for rebuilding our screening force should come from them?
Natch, it'll never happen. Aerial superiority is another of those phrases they like to throw out like it trumps everything else, never mind they had to move Singapore to make their case that we don't need to rule the waves. One wonders how the Falklands would have turned out had the Invincible and her Harriers not been available.
Good luck to HMS Queen Elizabeth and her crew. I have a feeling they're going to need it
/me raises glass to a willing foe and sea room...
Firstly, we could simply buy/lease some AV-8B Harrier IIs from the Yanks, the USMC being committed to using theirs until 2030. Secondly, we could fit an arrestor system and fly a number of current jets off the ski-ramp using rocket-assisted take-off packs, leased F/A-18s being one option, and that does not require a steam generating capability. As I understand it, USAF F-16s also have hooks for emergency landing use, and I'm pretty sure the Norwegians use RATO packs for getting their F-16s off very short runways. I'm sure the US has a few we could lease. The third option is simply RAF MQ-9 Reaper drones, which can fulfill most of the Third World combat scenarios, with the added bonuses of not risking aircrew and allowing us to carry much more than 40-odd. A mix of Reapers and RATO-equipped Typhoons would seem to cover most requirements.
Well, the F-16's are useless in a carrier configuration, the airframe is not build for it(One does not simply strengthen a airframe). The Arrestor is more a experimental emergency braking system next to the parachute system. Its not advisable to use it if you want to avoid lengthy inspections.
Why 470 London buses instead of a smaller number of F35s? Let me list the reasons...
1. Buses are cheaper, the Conservatives are all about saving money you know.
2. Buses are more reliable, the Conservatives are very reliable about reliability.
3. Bus drivers are cheaper to train than fighter pilots (see point 1 above). These drivers won't be unionised (Conservatives all let out a big sigh).
4. Buses, London buses in particular, are more manoeuvrable than the F35. Who knew? Not the RAF and RN that's for sure...
5. London buses are faster than the F35, can sustain supersonic speeds for longer while using less fuel in the process (see point 1 above).
6. London buses have a proven kill record, one considerably better than the F35 in fact. So far the F35 has only been proven to kill budgets, London buses have killed actual people!
7. Buses are basically more airworthy and mission-capable than the F35. Who knew? London commuters, that's who.
Is there no-one in the Navy, the government or the procurement teams who realises that without a catapult, the ship is virtually useless as an aircraft carrier?
Even if your strike aircraft are capable of unassisted takeoff with a useable payload (which is not a given) how about all the ancilliary aircraft normally used in carrier operations?
An aircraft carrier will normally have a complement of AWACS (or AEW) planes to provide eyes over the horizon, these (like for instance the EC2 Hawkeye) need a catapult to get off the deck with sufficient fuel load to be useful.
Then you have Carrier Onboard Delivery. All the mail, spare parts, personnel transfers etc are collected and delivered by aircraft: helicopters don't have the range and payload necessary, so again, you need an aircraft which will require an assisted takeoff to be of any practical use.
So, what actual use is this shiny new carrier? None, that I can see.
The decision to go VSTOL rather than have catapults was made a long time ago by someone who didn't understand that just because we were currently using Harriers didn't mean we always would be. And by a long time ago I mean last century, and presumably by someone who didn't understand the question.
However it may surprise you to know that many countries operate carriers using helicopters for AWACS, such as the Sea King Mk7, and manage to do COD with helicopters without dying of scurvy or running out of spares. Is it the gold plated perfect solution, no, but it works. People have even won wars with it.
I mean it's probably no problem at all to purchase 470 double-decker buses for a photo-op when it's about such a large ship. The cost of that is just negligible. While it's much harder to buy such buses normally.
So if you buy 470 double-decker buses out of the military PR budget, make that photograph, and then sell them to local communities for a symbolic price, you will have made a serious improvement to the public transport infrastructure.
Just to say... I have spent half an hour reading this comment thread, and I don't think you could find a better combination of sensible, informed opinion and riotous, tasteless humour anywhere on the planet. When I think I could have wasted that time reading, say, The Times or The Guardian...
Great work, guys!
Discussions above have considered the tactical impact of arming the carrier with busses and the effect on other countries when launched. I wonder how many bumbling, incompetent, greedy bureaucrats and politicians could be carried in those vehicles. I suppose 470 busses could carry 35,000 to 40,000 of them - could be a double bonus. They’d quite good as ‘fire and forget’ weapons. Maybe the Golgafrinchans could advise before we all get wiped out by virulent overheads.
And that is the major weakness of an aircraft carrier. It needs lots and lots of aviation fuel because whatever its storage capacity might be, in intensive flying operations, it needs topping up very frequently. And if it's non-nuclear engined, it needs a lot of fuel just to keep steaming round. A cunning enemy wouldn't both trying to penetrate a carrier air group's defences - simply disrupting the (very) vulnerable flow of supply ships would bring things to a grinding halt very quickly.
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