Smaller Carriers??

Discussion in 'The Fleet' started by London, Jan 14, 2007.

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  1. The current debate about the new RN carriers seems to suggest that we'll either get the full 65,000 behemoths with Joint Strike Fighters or the programme will be cancelled altogether.

    I haven't heard any arguments for buying a couple of smaller carriers (30,000+ tons) with a cheaper 'off the shelf' aircraft such as the Rafale.
    Surely if we cannot afford the large carriers, the RN should have a 'fall-back' position such as this.

    Better to have smaller carriers than none at all.
  2. I agree, although with the state of build quality in the UK these days, I think we would be better off buying in, perhaps from Germany for example.
  3. As far as I'm aware, the design process did examine smaller carriers of varying configurations and it was determined that 65,000 tons was the bare minimum required to meet the objectives established in the SDR.
  4. What about we forget about the aircraft, which are very expensive in themselves, and build the biggest carriers we can afford?

    We could let the crabs provide the JSF capability (i.e. the RN don't foot the cost of aircraft), or be a platform for allied aircraft, whilst maintaining the option to add our own if required.

    Aircraft can be acquired faster than carriers, and buying an 'option' to function as a big fcuk-off carrier, even if we only plan to use it at maybe 25% capacity initially, would give us a long-term capability we would otherwise have to battle for again in the future.

    Unless, of course, we're not sure we want them.
  5. The cost would still come out of the same (MoD) budget though.

    As we've managed quite well with 3 mini-carriers since the early 80s, I can't see why slightly larger replacements along the same lines wouldn't be sufficient.

    If more more is going to be needed for the army, the danger is that the RN will lose its carrier capability entirely if it persists with the large carriers. Although the Rolls-Royce option is the best, better to have a Mondeo than nothing at all.
  6. I disagree with your statement that we have managed quite well since the early 80s. Had we had a carrier like the old Ark Royal with Buccaneers, Gannets and Phantams, I believe that the Falklands conflict would have been resolved without the loss of any ships.
  7. I agree. The limitations of the 'though-deck cruiser' have become all too apparent, particularly if you want a mixed air wing of air defence and CAS aircraft, as well as helicopters to boot.

    The larger air wing and the flexibility it will provide will, hopefully, return the RN to having a 'true' carrier capability and the power capabilities they provide.
  8. But given financial restraints, this could be a couple of 35-40,000 ton carriers with 40 planes each rather than the 65,000 ton carriers currently planned.
  9. chieftiff

    chieftiff War Hero Moderator

    I don't think you have really thought this one out!
    a. The crabs already foot the cost for fixed wing aircraft, think GR7/9, I effectively work for Strike Command although I am paid by Fleet.
    b. Aircraft cannot be acquired faster than Carriers, just look at Typhoon, the time to design, develop, test and build a modern advanced military aircraft would, I expect, scare the boots off you!
    c. It is beyond mad to suggest that we build a platform on which allied aircraft would operate, the amount of time required to train and practice for operations from that platform would result in those allied aircraft being almost permanently based on the vessel, we are talking fixed wing deck ops here, not slinging a helo on and off.
  10. chalky wrote: As far as I'm aware, the design process did examine smaller carriers of varying configurations and it was determined that 65,000 tons was the bare minimum required to meet the objectives established in the SDR.

    ... SDR? Seems such a long time ago and to think we thought the cutbacks of that era were terrible. :roll: :roll:

  11. The whole rationale behind the carriers is that they must provide a significant contribution to airpower in theatre. That means a big deck. We have not managed "quite well" with CVS and certainly not in terms of strike. The best we could do in the Gulf in 2001 was put up two four-ship SHAR/GR7 combo's once a day, twice at a stretch, which still needed significant USN support to get over the beach. That is not to denigrate in any way what those lads did, but in essence it was not a military capability, but rather a political statement from UK.

    The "smaller" ships have been extensively looked at and just can't provide the sortie rate required for long enough and more importantly run the risk of becoming too small for future ops well before their mid-life, as CVS did. To get funding for a programme these days you have to be able to justify that capability - buying a ship less capable than the military requirement and saying we'll "make do" or "manage", will get that programme sh1tcanned sharpish.

    In any case, going to a smaller ship now would put the programme back another five years at least and would not result in a massive cost-saving (you're talking tens of £M tops, not the hundreds you'd need to make a real dent in the cost). I am personally struggling to understand how these simple (and they are) ships cost £1.5Bn each. There is around 25000 te of steel in the design as is, at say £700 /te and a competent shipyard should be able to get the manhours per tonne down to 150 hrs /te. At a labour rate of £20/hr plus 100% overhead, I make that £167M per ship (12% of total). I know outfit materials and rates are much more expensive, but not by that extent - particularly for a ship with bog-all in the way of weapons.

    In any case, as pointed out by Brains, aircraft programmes are massively more expensive - Typhoon is upwards of £30Bn. I'd remember that before talking about "unaffordable" ships.
  12. Fukc the costs. What was the cost of loosing ships in the Falklands?
    Plus how can you put a financial cost on the lives of the officers and men lost needlessly in the conflict.

    One big one is better than two little ones.
  13. So are you saying that in terms of military capability there's not much point in retaining CVS until 2012?
  14. Interesting question. I suppose you have to look at how effective they are militarily vs the cost of maintaining them in a role they are incapable of fully operating in. You would also have to trade off this with having 4 years of a total absence of 'carrier' ops vs how much knowledge will be carried over to the QE class if they were maintained. Given that one of the current batch has been re rolled permanently to a commando carrier, it's looking more and more like an academic argument.

    My position would be 'yes'. They still have a role to play in limited operations, but I just don't think we should ever be under the impression that what we're currently operating is a carrier in the fullest sense as, if nothing else, it gives the bean counters an excuse to say that 'three 20,000 ton carriers has done us well so far, why not the future?'.
  15. The manufacturing industry in Britain today is fcuked, and with that sort of attitude, Lamri, is there any point in having these carriers, as there's bugger all left to defend.
  16. Chalky's hit most of the high points. The only other reason to keep CVS would it's original role. We still need somewhere to put the cabs - despite the fervent wishes of some in town, the submarine threat has not vanished.

    If you want to put 12-14 GR7 on a CVS and bomb someone, then yes, thats a military capability, but if there's any air threat or decent IADS then we will be needing some external help. At least in 2001 the FAA could provide it's own OCA.....
  17. chieftiff

    chieftiff War Hero Moderator

    Whilst I am not disagreeing with your point I feel the need to point out that this 'fact' is in fact not (a fact). I was there (on the flight deck) and I can distinctly remember pushing a lot more sorties out than that, a lot more! Would love to discuss the launch capability of a Harrier FA2 or GR7/9 from CVS, the limitations, requirements, arming times etc but it wouldn't be appropriate, needless to say you have it very, very wrong! When we put out 2 x 4 ship pushes it was not the flight deck or the ship limiting aviation capability.
  18. We'll look pretty stupid when the French order their new carrier in April if we cancel ours.
  19. I think we'll look pretty stupid anyway when theirs comes in on time and on budget and smells better as well.

    On the other hand, they did make a right pig's ear of the CDG so maybe our frog-munching brethren might not show us up just yet.

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