Learning From History (Why STOVL not CTOL on CVF)

jrwlynch

Lantern Swinger
#21
But can you answer why we went for a dieso electric propulsion system in the 1st place rather than nuclear, the frogs managed it with the Charles De Gaulle, and that is 20, 000 tonnes lighter than the QEs.
Because nuclear doesn't buy you that much in reality. You don't need F76 for the engines, but you still need F44 for the jets, plus ordnance (a US Nimitz-class will RAS ordnance every three days during high-intensity ops - even their bomblockers aren't bottomless) and especially food.

Meanwhile, nuclear means qualified watchkeepers which we're desperately short of anyway, higher costs, and political screams when you try to dock in many ports that don't want "noocular warships" exploding while moored up.

Again, even the USN are struggling to make the case for nuclear power on carriers, and while the French got one built their experience with it doesn't really fill me with enthusiasm.

As for my point about off the shelf aircraft, this would have been a stop gap until a suitable 5th generation aircraft was tried and tested, after all, how many F18s can you buy compared with 1 F35B?
About one for one, when you cost it out over the lifecycle: maybe less (the pilot training is shockingly expensive).


To repeat an earlier post on the costs and difficulties of qualifying pilots for arrested landings...

Some big broad handfuls, using dollars because I'm swiping numbers from the USN's experience; it'll drop short because it's mostly just looking at flying hours, no other costs. The following is almost certainly wrong, but it's wrong as an underestimate...

Firstly, you've got the flying hours for deck training; take a qualified fast jet pilot who can land on concrete, put them in something like a T-45 Goshawk (training plane not destroyer), and teach them to land on a moving carrier. That's about two or three hundred flying hours (40 weeks, 125 hops) for the USN; $1,500,000 immediately just in T-45 flying hours, plus you actually need the T-45s to fly (about $30 million per airframe at last rough check; the USN gets about 60 hours per aircraft per month out of them, considered excellent, but that ends up needing half an airframe per trainee in the pipeline). Consider that the USN's washout rate hovers at around 50%; if you want to sustain 48 trained pilots on an eight-year service commitment, you'll need to train about fifteen a year, so eight T-45s up front ($240 million) and $22.5 million per year steady state. (Just in airframes and flying hours, no salaries or other costs)

At that point you've built a force of 48 pilots who can land a T-45 on a carrier: transition training to F-35 will need more hours on a very expensive-per-hour Lightning ($32,000 per hour or so), and then the skills need to be maintained; the USN estimates their pilots, aboard a carrier in home waters during workup, are flying 30-32 hours a month to build and sustain their skills (about 50% more than their land-based contemporaries; all the usual requirements, plus staying current on carrier operations). Handwave away conversion courses (land-based F-35B pilots will need to transition too) but it still gets very expensive.

Ten hours, per pilot, per month, for an air wing of twelve Lightnings in normal jogging to stay carrier-competent; that's pushing fifty million dollars a year just to keep the embarked pilots current. If you want to surge to a larger air wing, you'll need warning time and some serious workup (and the capacity to conduct it, which will otherwise be sitting around idle annoying the Treasury) because a lot of your force are out of practice and will need to refresh; the USN reckon on having to requalify after each shore tour.

See where the costs start coming from? We're not looking at instructors and simulators, nor are we considering the cost of having an aircraft carrier steaming around in the SCXAs chasing the wind, plane guard helo aloft, while a succession of nuggets do touch-and-goes or arrested landings on her deck, and there's the risk of accidental losses; the US Navy and USMC's aviators suffer 20-odd Class A mishaps (loss of life or more than a million dollars' worth of damage) per year, with about ten aircraft lost and about ten dead, each year. Even assuming we're operating one carrier to their eleven, that's an aircraft and pilot a year gone; even if it's a (relatively) cheap T-45 that's an extra thirty million a year and a hole in the ORBAT.

So to qualify forty-eight for a surge, and keep twelve pilots up and skilled, we're looking at $240 million up front and a bit over seventy million a year in running costs, even assuming no accidents. Over a thirty year life, that's more than two billion dollars in extra costs, in order to save $800 million on the airframes because the -C is cheaper than the -B. (Lose one T-45 a year in landing accidents, which is in line with USN experience, and the cost goes up by another billion)

See why the numbers simply don't add up for CATOBAR, and why it actually becomes a very inflexible asset when all the realities of trying to surge the embarked airwing to 30-odd F-35Cs hits the rocks of "just give us a year and a shedload of cash to get all our pilots back in date for night landings..."?



Another lesser issue is that, given that we're unlikely to be using the QECVs as pure carriers but as hybrid CV/LPH, STOVL trades off some range and payload on the Lightnings (which are still awesomely better than SHar regardless of version) but sterilises less deck space and needs less time to recover F-35Bs at the sort of high-stress "too many landings in not enough time" moments that high-intensity warfighting generates.

But, the main point is that it's difficult and expensive enough to qualify pilots for CATOBAR ops that even the USN struggles with it over eleven carriers and their relatively bottomless budget, and nations with one or two CVs find it very difficult (cruel comments that the reason the recent Kusnetsov cruise only ever had one Flanker airborne, was because they were down to one pilot who was deck-qualified for their STOBAR ops, are unverified but funny)
 
#22
The reactor (or reactors) for the QE class would need to be much larger than those for an SSN/SSBN.

As digger says, the cost would be astronomical, and probably double, if not triple, the cost of the carriers.
 
#24
I will admit I have had my eyes opened in regards to the QEs, and F35B (if they ever iron out the wrinkles that is). Now I wonder if I should ask the question, should they have gone for the x32 over the x35?
 
#25
I will admit I have had my eyes opened in regards to the QEs, and F35B (if they ever iron out the wrinkles that is). Now I wonder if I should ask the question, should they have gone for the x32 over the x35?
Should have been designed around, and deployed with upgraded F18. (IMHO) I stand by to be corrected by those better acquainted with the subject.;)
 
G

guestm

Guest
#26
Great thread. And although I can't believe we're STILL having the c&t v STOVL debate in 2015, it's good to see those in the know dropping some truth bomb edification. It's honestly tiresome how often you have to go through this with ex-RN when QEC comes up as a subject of conversation.

This should be the goto thread for whenever this debate comes up again.
 
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#27
Great thread. And although I can't believe we're STILL having the c&t v STVOL debate in 2015, it's good to see those in the know dropping some truth bomb edification. It's honestly tiresome how often you have to go through this with ex-RN when QEC comes up as a subject of conversation.

This should be the goto thread for whenever this debate comes up again.
Seconded.
 
#29
And although I can't believe we're STILL having the c&t v STVOL debate in 2015,
Ibelieve it's because the ones who flew or crewed C&T carriers, believe this is the only way to use a carrier.

A STOVL carrier gives you the option to utilise a varied TAG, for instance 12 F35B for Air Support and then a mixture of Helos for EMF. Running 2 CVN isn't viable, if 1 is in a reactor refuel then you would be relying on the other carrier being available for a R2 role
 
#30
STOVL Vs CTOL when I was on the CVF design team, (swing that lamp) trying to get Catapult info out of the yanks was almost impossible when we eventually had some it turned out or last fitted catapults were newer in design than the yanks. Built by a Scottish Firm whom in recent times make hydraulic motors.
The yanks thought/hoped we would pursue a new catapult system, not steam.

We looked at alternative’s and gave our findings to the customer, too expensive to develop on the budget available, so STOVL was chosen with the vessel to be designed to have space to fit a steam plant and catapult at a later date, even though she was not supposed to have a refit?

Just think some fly boys big office is in the area to fit steam plant, I bet he/she will whinge like a twat when they re-embark to find palatial office is now a broom cupboard.

The reason for non-Nuclear was simple the customer gave a design constraint which said not to be nuclear powered, the propulsion system was chosen to give a best fit linier power transfer to props.
We did not originally go for props we went for 4 big egg whisks and bow thrusters. Egg whisks far too out there for the customer, so they said they wanted shafts and not egg whisks, and bow thrusters to expensive.

So whatever the limitations are to the fly boy’s toys, they were chosen to be cost effective.
 
#31
We did not originally go for props we went for 4 big egg whisks and bow thrusters. Egg whisks far too out there for the customer, so they said they wanted shafts and not egg whisks, and bow thrusters to expensive.
I need a bit of enlightening here Sumo.
WTF are egg whisks? (apart from culinary items).

Disregard. I've googled "egg-beater propulsion" and am currently being educated...
 
#32
I need a bit of enlightening here Sumo.
WTF are egg whisks? (apart from culinary items).

Disregard. I've googled "egg-beater propulsion" and am currently being educated...
Ballistic
QE2 propulsion use big egg whisks so was tried and tested.
IN ADDITION TO SUPPLYING AUXILIARY SHIP'S SERVICE and hotel service requirements via transformers, the electrical power generated is used to drive the two main propulsion motors, one on each propeller shaft. The maximum output of each motor is 44 MW giving QE2 a top speed in excess of 32 knots. They are of synchronous salient pole construction, are 9m diameter, and weigh over 400 tons each, representing the largest marine motors ever built
 
#33
Ballistic
QE2 propulsion use big egg whisks so was tried and tested.
IN ADDITION TO SUPPLYING AUXILIARY SHIP'S SERVICE and hotel service requirements via transformers, the electrical power generated is used to drive the two main propulsion motors, one on each propeller shaft. The maximum output of each motor is 44 MW giving QE2 a top speed in excess of 32 knots. They are of synchronous salient pole construction, are 9m diameter, and weigh over 400 tons each, representing the largest marine motors ever built
Cheers Sumo. I'm scanning You Tube and the rest of the web at the moment.
 

wave_dodger

MIA
Book Reviewer
#35
The reactor (or reactors) for the QE class would need to be much larger than those for an SSN/SSBN.

As digger says, the cost would be astronomical, and probably double, if not triple, the cost of the carriers.
Comparing CVF to a US CVF, roughly, we get 4 acres of flight deck they get 4.5 acres. They are around 100, 000 tonnes whereas CVF is 70, 000. Big differences, then look at manning - it's enormous. A lot of the manning and space issues are driven by the kettle and the steam systems, all largely drawn upon 50 year old designs.
 
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wave_dodger

MIA
Book Reviewer
#36
Should have been designed around, and deployed with upgraded F18. (IMHO) I stand by to be corrected by those better acquainted with the subject.;)
The usual argument goes that we could buy hundreds of F18s, but the reality is we don't need hundreds and more importantly couldn't recruit nor train those crew or maintainers for those numbers. Perhaps even more importantly as capable platforms, as they are, they will age quickly even with the latest upgrades.

So we've set our eye on a smaller number of more capable [subjective but time will tell] platforms that have different operating characteristics (all explained above) but which should meet the more advanced threats that we'd need larger numbers of more conventional aircraft to achieve.

In sum we're trying to future proof our capability, keeping the numbers achievable and realistic.
 
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#37
I wonder whether the conventional wisdom on this debate is right after all.

It would probably have made more sense to have refitted HMS Eagle and scrapped the Ark Royal rather than keep the latter. Eagle, I think, was in a much better state of repair and she displaced 54,100 tons at the end of her life, compared to the Ark's 53,900. The Ark's reputation seemed to have saved her for a few short years.

Would fixed-wing aircraft have made much difference? The Sea Harriers did admirably well but mainly due to the AIM-9L Sidewinder, which was better than anything the Argentines had. The Phantoms would have carried the Skyflash for longer-range interception, to be sure, but they may have lacked the maneuverability of the Harrier. Also, the troops benefited from having reasonably good numbers of aircraft primarily meant for close support (i.e. the Harrier) rather than heavier and technically more capable aircraft, but which were unproven in that role. Even today, the Tornado is a better close support plane than the Typhoon. Will a clunky F35B be better than a Harrier or Jaguar? We'll probably find out.

Hermes and Invincible carried thirty four Harriers between them in the Falklands conflict. Hermes carried the vast majority (twenty six) and her loss would have been fatal. Yet the make-up of the fleet's fixed-wing element was ideal for an expeditionary force, for the reasons outlined above. The Harriers operated extremely well in their secondary air-defence role. The gaps in air defence were due to lack of adequate missile and CIWS coverage. If every ship had been fitted with Sea Wolf, it's doubtful many Argentine Skyhawks or Exocets would have got so close. You can't pin too much on planes.
 

jrwlynch

Lantern Swinger
#38
Would fixed-wing aircraft have made much difference? The Sea Harriers did admirably well but mainly due to the AIM-9L Sidewinder, which was better than anything the Argentines had.
In retrospect, the AIM-9Ls didn't make a difference; we could have used AIM-9Gs for all the shots taken with the same expectations of success.

The Phantoms would have carried the Skyflash for longer-range interception, to be sure, but they may have lacked the maneuverability of the Harrier. Also, the troops benefited from having reasonably good numbers of aircraft primarily meant for close support (i.e. the Harrier) rather than heavier and technically more capable aircraft, but which were unproven in that role.
Phantoms were well proven for close air support (Vietnam, Israel) so not an issue, and intercepting Skyhawks and Daggers they'd be very effective (better radar, more missiles). Agility wasn't much of an issue, the only turning fight I recall was against a Pucara that got away from Saint Sharkey and his wingman. The game changer for the air battle would have been the Gannet AEW, but then we nearly got Sea King AEW ready in time anyway.

However, the reliability of the carrier would be a major concern, and the foul weather might have put her deck out of limits at inconvenient times - a factor the Harriers were less susceptible to.

The gaps in air defence were due to lack of adequate missile and CIWS coverage. If every ship had been fitted with Sea Wolf, it's doubtful many Argentine Skyhawks or Exocets would have got so close..
True, but Wolf and CIWS were both new (the US only fitted its first Phalanx mounts in 1981. Short of a crash-build of Type 22s (which were already causing concern as to their costs) or rushing the (difficult) Sea Wolf refit onto more Leanders, not sure what could credibly have been done at the time.
 
#39
Deck limits,STOL Cats & Traps, pale into insignificance when you ain't got engineers of all trades to do the job. Now or in the future unless you are relying on French or yanks to operate them, remember it was French techies that were loading Excocet for the Argies.
 

wave_dodger

MIA
Book Reviewer
#40
Also, the troops benefited from having reasonably good numbers of aircraft primarily meant for close support (i.e. the Harrier) rather than heavier and technically more capable aircraft, but which were unproven in that role. Even today, the Tornado is a better close support plane than the Typhoon. Will a clunky F35B be better than a Harrier or Jaguar? We'll probably find out.
It's unfair comparing Typhoon and Tornado. The Tornado is almost 36 years old (from entry to RAF service) and has undergone a significant number of modifications and upgrades. Typhoon by comparison is a sprightly 12 years old and just maturing as a platform.

The Harriers operated extremely well in their secondary air-defence role. The gaps in air defence were due to lack of adequate missile and CIWS coverage. If every ship had been fitted with Sea Wolf, it's doubtful many Argentine Skyhawks or Exocets would have got so close. You can't pin too much on planes.
I'm not sure much will be different in our future force; we're relying upon screens of T45 and T26 to protect our capital ships and using F35 on CAP. The one benefit since the 80s is that our EW/RESM/CESM has become significantly more advanced and should be a determining factor in any engagement.
 
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