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The Royal Navy: what's needed for the future?

Magic_Mushroom

War Hero
Oil slick,
Last I heard the weapon bay dimensions are identical on all 3 variants. There are some investigations ongoing regarding internal carriage of Meteor but I'm doubtful it'll happen. Likewise I'm fairly sanguine about 2000lb weapons. Collateral damage issues is driving the trend for smaller weapons these days and PW4 will fit, as will SDB.

Yep, F-35B will have less gas and manoeuverability than the A and C, but STOVL brings other advantages, not least the ability to operate from a wider variety of decks in J9s maritime scenario!
Regards,
MM
 

Oil_Slick

War Hero
They shortened the bay by 14" as part of the weight reduction program. Well considering part of the original UK mission objects were to be able to carry an AMRAAM in internally along with a 2,000LGB that did rather spoil the pudding.

As far as I'm aware, current UK plans only call for ASRAAM to be cleared for the plane.

I don't think we had any option, it was a fait acompli. Yes, big bombs are lees of an issue for CAS, but when you have to knock down a toughened target, only a big bomb will do.


Now, as part of a mixed force, the lack of a stealthy big bomb and BVRAAM capability is no big problem, USMC F-35B's will have USN F-35C's on tap to fly top cover… but as we are buying this as the 'one and only' naval option it's a short sighted decision.
 

Jay_Nine

Midshipman
Magic_Mushroom said:
J9,
I assume by BVRAAM you mean Meteor. If so, it is unlikely that Meteor will ever fit inside the F-35 weapons bays; it would be prohibatively expensive to design a shortened version for such a bespoke purpose or to redesign the weapon bays themselves.

Meteor could easily be carried under the wing (F-35 has no wingtip pylons) albeit at the expense of low observable (LO, ie stealth) qualities. However, I guarantee that the US will have a developmental roadmap for AMRAAM which will include a variant capable of fitting inside an F-35 weapons bay. I cannot envisage the US being willing to allow their F-35s to operate without a decent active missile. It is therefore entirely conceivable that the UK could procure some of these weapons for their own F-35s whilst Typhoon etc employed Meteor.

Regards,
MM

Sorry about the delay, MM - uni work got the better of me, and then there were a few problems with the PC.

Yes, sorry about that - I did mean Meteor. *looks sheepish*

Okay, so under the wings is doable - as I understand it, if anything gets mounted under the wings the low observability becomes impractical, though, so on that score it would seem that if we ever needed to load any F-35s up with as much ordnance as possible, they'd become conventional (i.e. little or no stealth capability) aircraft - not a major disadvantage compared to the other types of ordnance.

Hmm... I see. What sort of advantages might a... a developed AMRAAM have over the existing model? (Or at least, what sort would be reasonable for me to depict in the book?) I'm guessing a bit of extra range and improved capabilities for dealing with countermeasures might be on the cards - would those be reasonable qualities to depict such missiles as possessing? And... well, predicting how the procurement of such missiles might go is (probably) almost or completely impossible... but what sort of difficulties could I depict being encountered in the book? I mean, what chances are there that the US government might feel uncomfortable about the idea (or possibly the reverse - might it be reasonable to depict them backing such a purchase?), what sort of situations might be encountered during negotiations over where the missiles are manufactured, that sort of thing?

Thank you very much, MM, :)

Jay
 

Jay_Nine

Midshipman
Magic_Mushroom said:
Oil slick,
Last I heard the weapon bay dimensions are identical on all 3 variants. There are some investigations ongoing regarding internal carriage of Meteor but I'm doubtful it'll happen. Likewise I'm fairly sanguine about 2000lb weapons. Collateral damage issues is driving the trend for smaller weapons these days and PW4 will fit, as will SDB.

Yep, F-35B will have less gas and manoeuverability than the A and C, but STOVL brings other advantages, not least the ability to operate from a wider variety of decks in J9s maritime scenario!
Regards,
MM

Erm... with regards to these other decks... do you mean that F-35Bs could theoretically operate from LHDs? (Specifically Wasp-class landing helicopter docks?)

Okay, in my original plan I had those two amphibious warfare CVF variants, but NaB's convinced me that those probably wouldn't be good ideas and to go for an off-the-shelf buy of Wasps instead. (Well, with four of them and enough landing craft, we'd be able to deploy the whole of the Commando Brigade aboard just those four ships - the LSDs and LPDs could then bring an artillery air defence regiment to secure things behind them and all the provisions that could be crammed aboard.)

So... if we were to get F-35Bs AND LHDs, would we still then need to change the F-35B order to F-35Cs? (Sorry - I'm just trying to make sure I'm not getting the wrong idea here. :))

Thanks again, MM, :)

Jay
 

Jay_Nine

Midshipman
Oil_Slick said:
Now, as part of a mixed force, the lack of a stealthy big bomb and BVRAAM capability is no big problem, USMC F-35B's will have USN F-35C's on tap to fly top cover… but as we are buying this as the 'one and only' naval option it's a short sighted decision.

Erm... please stop me if I'm talking complete rubbish here :), but could larger bombs be carried under the wings? I mean, if the aircraft are performing CAS, would they need the low observability for that role?

Also, concerning the BAe budgetary/time/quality control problem, I had an odd idea whilst flossing last night - what if someone bought BAe, took them over? And instituted shakeups, reforms, that sort of thing - extracted the proverbial digit from the metaphorical orifice and cleaned up their performance, dragged them kicking and screaming into the new(ish) century? Please let me know if this is patently a non-starter! :)
 

bigbungy

Badgeman
the_matelot said:
He's welcome to spout drivel-that's what the gash barge is for however I am sick of people slating wrens constantly when, shock horror, some of them are actually very good at their job . They've had around 15 years to adjust to females serving at sea and his comments served only to indicate that females only go to sea to make up the numbers which is a load of bull. I've got very little time for people like that. I've known plenty of lads who were more of a burden in a divisional sense due to attitude or inability to do the job than some of the females onboard.

Now back to the discussion at hand.

18 Type 45's? I'll have what he's smoking... :D

oooooooooooh Strike a sore point dear ?
 

Magic_Mushroom

War Hero
J9,

Okay, so under the wings is doable

Anything carried externally on the F-35 would compromise its LO qualities. However, I believe that the Spams have examined using stealthy underwing weapons pods in which to carry additional stores. As a rough indication of what the F-35A and C may carry, see this unclass sales brochure diagram. Some of the weapons shown are aspirational, but you get a general idea. F-35B should be similar.



Hmm... I see. What sort of advantages might a... a developed AMRAAM have over the existing model?

Any developed AMRAAM would likely have some/all of the following:

1. Ramjet power and/or/with throttle capability as used on the Meteor. Current missile engines are simply on max burn until they run out of fuel and then use their remaining energy to coast to the target. Meteor will have an engine 'throttle' which will allow the engine thrust to be varied once it's accelerated to cruise speed and altitude. That saves fuel so the thing can accelerate and conduct more aggressive supersonic 'end-game manoeuvres' against an evading target. This is especially important in a very long range shot, or against 'difficult air targets' such as missiles or UCAVs which could engage in very high g manoeuvres.

2. Improved clutter/ECM rejection.

3. Imaging Infra red for terminal homing and as a means of rejecting towed radar decoys.

The US may be a little hesitant to release some of that technology, especially since our decision to buy Meteor closed the door to some US missile technology exchange (think similar technology transfer issues as we currently exprience with the F-35).

...do you mean that F-35Bs could theoretically operate from LHDs?

Yes, with ease. Ditto Spanish or Italian carriers and the Aussies are also considering buying a small LHD type vessel and converting some of their F-35A/C buy into Bs. The only drama F-35 presents is the effect of hot exhaust gasses on thin helicopter carrier decks. NaB will know more about such engineering triv! :yawnstretch:

Similarly, the F-35B is more able to operate from short, austere airfields. That's why the RAF wanted that variant.

...if the aircraft are performing CAS, would they need the low observability for that role?

Depends on the scenario. In an Afghan type threat scenario now, no. In a more conventional scenario where the bad guys have large numbers of mobile overlapping 'double digit' SAM systems over the battlefield (eg 2S6, SA-17 and SA-20). Absolutely, stealth could be a significant advantage here.

...what if someone bought BAe, took them over? And instituted shakeups, reforms, that sort of thing - extracted the proverbial digit from the metaphorical orifice and cleaned up their performance, dragged them kicking and screaming into the new(ish) century? Please let me know if this is patently a non-starter!

Don't even go there. BAeS are absolute chisellers who will cock up, poorly engineer and then quote contract loopholes to over charge any project. Exhibit A: Nimrod MRA4. :toilet:

Regards and merry Xmas to everyone.

MM :santa:
 

Jay_Nine

Midshipman
Magic_Mushroom said:
The US may be a little hesitant to release some of that technology, especially since our decision to buy Meteor closed the door to some US missile technology exchange (think similar technology transfer issues as we currently exprience with the F-35).

Okay... what if we wanted to just purchase the next generation AMRAAM, rather than trying to get access to the technology behind it? I mean, is it likely that we might need to modify it in the future? Or could we get away with just buying in next generation AMRAAMs for the F-35 fleet only? (*embarrassed shrug* Sorry if that's not a particularly good idea, I'm just trying to come up with a solution and it's pretty hit and miss.)


Magic_Mushroom said:
Yes, with ease. Ditto Spanish or Italian carriers and the Aussies are also considering buying a small LHD type vessel and converting some of their F-35A/C buy into Bs. The only drama F-35 presents is the effect of hot exhaust gasses on thin helicopter carrier decks. NaB will know more about such engineering triv! :yawnstretch:

Similarly, the F-35B is more able to operate from short, austere airfields. That's why the RAF wanted that variant.

Okay, that sounds like good news... would you mind if I ran this scenario by you?

We need to have the two CVFs plus their air groups. No debate there.

From what NaB's told me, it sounds as though it would be difficult and excessively expensive to buy a third CVF carrier.

So... what if we bought two CVFs, four or five ordinary Wasps, and two or three more Wasps modified to carry F-35Bs as... well, I keep wanting to refer to the Wasp variants as 'escort carriers', like we had back in the war. (Come to think of it, didn't the Americans have a few?)

As I understand the problems with the CVF order from Beedall's Navy Matters site, one of the biggies is that there's only going to be two of them, and possibly a third for the French. (No guarantees, though.) As a result, there'll be times when one of our CVFs is in the same situation that HMS Invinicible is now - in long-term maintenance, unavailable for twelve to eighteen months. (I know that Invinicible is only available after eighteen months, and that even that's a bit dubious - I'm referring to the CVFs with the twelve to eighteen month time scale.) The result of this is that we'd have only one carrier.

But if we had Wasp escort carrier variants, whenever one of our CVFs is undergoing that level of maintenance and isn't available for ops, could we use the escort carriers to make up the difference, even just temporarily?

I appreciate that the escort carriers probably won't carry even half of what a CVF will be able to, but if they can carry, say, a dozen or so F-35Bs and two or three EV-22s, and a Merlin or two for search and rescue operations (I'm guessing that the Merlins will get that role whenever the Sea Kings retire - okay, I could be wrong :)), if we can put two or even three Wasps to sea in support of the second CVF, might that be an acceptable solution?

(Please let me know if this is utter codswallop.)

Another question: if the F-35B is that flexible, and if we could get some escort carriers to go with the CVFs that could operate said F-35Bs, would we still need to change the order over to F-35Cs? Or would it be reasonable to depict a mix being used? Or would it be better to depict us sticking with F-35Bs but expanding the order slightly to account for the fact that we'd be basing them aboard more ships?


Magic_Mushroom said:
Depends on the scenario. In an Afghan type threat scenario now, no. In a more conventional scenario where the bad guys have large numbers of mobile overlapping 'double digit' SAM systems over the battlefield (eg 2S6, SA-17 and SA-20). Absolutely, stealth could be a significant advantage here.

Okay, fair enough - just thought I'd check to make sure.


Magic_Mushroom said:
Don't even go there. BAeS are absolute chisellers who will cock up, poorly engineer and then quote contract loopholes to over charge any project. Exhibit A: Nimrod MRA4. :toilet:

Ah... sorry, my mistake, didn't express myself very clearly there: I was suggesting a plotline in the book, in which someone else bought up BAe (well, more like their equivalent, as I don't want to get sued) and introduced sweeping reforms - sackings, recruitment drives, fresh blood, new broom, the works - resulting in a company that... well, that still wasn't perfect, but now wasn't completely rubbish and slower than a deceased slug. (Okay, then I'd have to work out who took them over, why, and whatnot, but that's work for the future - if it's an avenue worth investigating.)

Erm... just wondering: is there any reason why we might need more Typhoons? So far as I'm aware, once all two hundred and thirty two are delivered, we'll be operating seven squadrons, an independent flight, and various formations for training and evaluation purposes, with the rest as reserves... but is this necessarily enough? Or could we use an extra squadron or two?


Magic_Mushroom said:
Regards and merry Xmas to everyone.

MM :santa:

Thank you very much for your help again, MM. Merry Xmas to everyone, and if anyone is reading this from a sandy place, please take care, and come home safe.

Jay
 

Jay_Nine

Midshipman
I just thought I'd check: would I be right in thinking that the FAA Merlins (or at least some of them) will also be fulfilling a search-and-rescue role at some point in the future? Or will we need the Future Lyx for that?

Thanks for helping me out like this, MM. :)

Happy New Year...

Jay
 

Not_a_boffin

War Hero
If you mean C-SAR, probably not Merlin HM. If you mean UK SAR (MACA), it's being privatised. If you mean plane guard, no-one can express the requirement (other than provide a cab for guard during launch/recovery) and therefore no aircraft will be bought for it - or any other "utility" task).Ergo either the close consort escort flight gets tagged with launching (or being at plus 5) every launch / recovery cycle, or someone uses a valuable dipper or MASC cab to do it, really p1ssing off the squadrons trying to run ripple profiles. Last time we had big deck ships a special flight of wessex were tasked with this, but then we had ac and aircrew "spare".
 

Magic_Mushroom

War Hero
Happy New Year everyone!

J9,

As NaB intimates, the plan for UK based SAR is for them to use leased civil registered aircraft operated by military crews. Ultimately I suspect we're heading for UK SAR to be wholly privatised and merged with HMCG assets.

As far as Combat SAR (CSAR)/Joint Personnel Recovery (JPR)/Personnel Recovery (PR)/Combat Recovery (CR) (or whatever else we're calling it this week!), the UK has 2 helo types.

Firstly, the RAF Merlin HC3s (and maybe the new HC3as of 78 Sqn scrounged back off the Danes) of 28 Sqn have this as an assigned task. Indeed, the Sqn has RAF Regt and medical staff trained to provide a Ground Extraction Force (GEF - or at least I think that's what they call them)/medical support for rescued personnel. However, I suspect that the current demands on RAF Regt and RAF medical staff on ops means they are rarely available.

Additionally, the RN Junglies also have some Sea King HAS6(CR) which are ex pinger helos converted for the utility and CR role. I believe that they employ RM for the GEF and would presumeably also have medics flying with them.

Regards,
MM
 

Seaweed

War Hero
Book Reviewer
Let's stir this by thinking a bit further out. If what we are looking for is Force Projection rather than maritime defence, then we need to go right back to basics as regards delivery systems.

1. Global Hawk.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RQ-4_Global_Hawk

A recent news item which I here translate from Elmer to English runs roughly as follows: A Global Hawk UAV recently returned to the US from Iraq to Edwards AFB in California under its own power (not transported via C5 or C17).

It had flown over 250 missions. It flew missions during OT&E that went from Edwards to Upper Alaska and back non-stop.

The Global Hawk can stay up for almost 2 days at altitudes above 60k It can taxi, take off, fly a mission, return, land and taxi on its own. It is entirely controlled via satellite from Edwards.
It comes into the fight at a high mach # in mil[?] thrust, fires its AMRAAMS, and no one ever sees it visually or on radar. There is practically no radio chatter because all the controllers are tied together electronically, and can see who is targeting who, and they have AWACS direct input and 360 situational awareness from that and other sensors.

No blackouts, no fatigue, no relief tubes, no ejection seats, and best of all, no dead pilots, no POWs. Also, no foreign bases and no chance of its base being torpedoed. Someone more up to date than me can counsel any vulnerabilities.

2. Slower, but still fun, is Reaper:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/mai...AVCBQWIV0?xml=/news/2008/01/08/nforces208.xml

All the bits and bobs of this in terms of software have been around for ages. Now it's all coming together. Jay, if you want your war in 2012 I suggest you look at this lot.
 

Magic_Mushroom

War Hero
Seaweed,
Global Hawk is very impressive on paper but is immensely expensive. I'm also assuming I'm misunderstanding your post here as well because GH does not fly at high mach, is not stealthy and at present does not carry AMRAAM (or indeed any other weapons right now).

In short, it is akin to an unmanned and long endurance U-2: a very useful ISTAR asset which does have some potential for weaponisation.

However, be very cautious about being seduced by UAVs. Ironically, they are generally more manpower intensive than manned aircraft and USAF/RAF experience with Pred A and Reaper has shown that operating them is still very fatiguing.

Comms wise, in my AWACS there was just as much comms with a Pred A or GH than with other types. You still need to coordinate and direct the pilot, the only differnce is the pilot is on the other side of the world. Then there is the issue of limited bandwidth and the greater susceptability of current UAVs to weather.

UAVs will gain in capability immeasurably over coming decades but they are not a panacea. That said, I suspect MASC will evolve onto some sort of UAV after the SKASaC service life has been stretched out to 2020 ish, and a small UCAV is a possibility for RN carrier ops from 2030 ish.

Regards,
MM
 

Seaweed

War Hero
Book Reviewer
Magic Mushroom, noted. I think however there is a major political driver - quite apart from performance criteria, which can only improve - regarding the political difficulties caused by servicemen taken prisoner on ops against irregular forces and other uncivilised parties, even if the politicos and MoD civilians couldn't give a stuff about the actual treatment received by their servants that they send into danger, except to try and hush it up.

Try the following:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/27/navy_robot_carrier_jet_deck_2011_good_progress/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/22/raf_overseas_outsource_outrage_taranis_robot_stealth_bomber/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/08/bae_mouse_click_robot_spy_dover_over/

(NB Chief Crab Torpy's comment)

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/29/barracuda_back_from_the_deep/

Mind you, I can fully appreciate how the Crabs will hate to have to give up all that Red Baron stuff; just as the cavalry didn't like giving up their horses. As the carriers slide right, the assumtions about the embarked air group need to keep up with emerging technology.
 

Magic_Mushroom

War Hero
Seaweed,
I'd be very careful about taking the musings of Mr Page at face value. In my humble opinion he is one of the most partial and least qualified defence commentators around today.

You may actually be quite surprised at how popular a UAV posting is in the RAF. Many see it as a very positive career step and one which places you at the tip of a technological revolution.
Regards,
MM
 

OSLO

War Hero
Magic_Mushroom said:
Seaweed,
I'd be very careful about taking the musings of Mr Page at face value. In my humble opinion he is one of the most partial and least qualified defence commentators around today.

You may actually be quite surprised at how popular a UAV posting is in the RAF. Many see it as a very positive career step and one which places you at the tip of a technological revolution.
Regards,
MM

I'd be interested in why you believe Lewis Page is partial and unqualified. I'm reading his book at the moment (and about time to) and reluctantly find myself agreeing with the basics of his logic. His background connection to the Army and the RN would serve him well to comment on the subject, far more than many in the media who call themselves "defence correspondents".

But then, I do tend to believe that from a military perspective, the RAF is no longer needed.
 

Magic_Mushroom

War Hero
Why do I believe Lewis Page is partial and unqualified? Christ, where do I start?!!!

Firstly, although he served in the RN, any connection to the Army or RAF is tenuous at best. Indeed, I wasn't even aware he had connections to the former.

I forced myself to read the book some time ago due to the publicity it attracted and I have rarely read such ill informed, simplistic, sensationalist tosh in my entire life. In short, the content of the book reflects the fact that it was written by a fairly junior officer who frankly didn't serve all that long in the military, nor saw any op service particularly relevant to our current campaigns. He comes across as someone who is quite bitter and certainly naive regarding the realitities of defence.

Whilst I too would agree with his very basic premise that there is much wrong with UK defence procurement, many of his arguments are fundamentally flawed and contradictory. In the book and in the Register he constantly bangs on about his own personal hobby horses. I know of few people in any of the services who view him with any credibility and 'Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs' is regularly used at Shrivenham as an example of how not to tackle such Joint issues. Indeed, I would suggest that there are many defence correspondants who lack military experience yet who demonstrate a better understanding of the issues. He is clearly intelligent. But I feel he allows his own prejudices to cloud his judgement.

As far as the continued existence of an independant RAF, it is very easy to counter such arguments and am happy to discuss further if you wish. However, let's do it via PM or another thread so as to avoid thread creep on this.

Meanwhile, you may wish to see this thread.

Regards,
MM
 
MM

I have a similar opinion of L Page Esq. He has either a pretty blunt axe he needs to grind or has become the ultimat cynic and writes that kind of stuff because he kbnows he will be paid well for it. What ever the reason his words certainly spin of the page at you.

As for an independant RAF, always an emotive subject but there is perhaps good reason in the light of how technology and equipment is developing to perhaps look at how we organise ourselves. Tradition is good and important but that at the end of the day does not mean we should disadvantage ourselves because of it.
 

OSLO

War Hero
Magic_Mushroom said:
Why do I believe Lewis Page is partial and unqualified? Christ, where do I start?!!!

Firstly, although he served in the RN, any connection to the Army or RAF is tenuous at best. Indeed, I wasn't even aware he had connections to the former.

He was an Army cadet at Uni before joining the Senior Service, from what I recall


Magic_Mushroom said:
I forced myself to read the book some time ago due to the publicity it attracted and I have rarely read such ill informed, simplistic, sensationalist tosh in my entire life. In short, the content of the book reflects the fact that it was written by a fairly junior officer who frankly didn't serve all that long in the military, nor saw any op service particularly relevant to our current campaigns. He comes across as someone who is quite bitter and certainly naive regarding the realitities of defence.

He served 11 years in the RN, which is not exactly half a dog-watch even if he didn't do the 22. Even at the level he left at, he'd have a pretty good idea of the basic mechanics of the services. His bitterness is explained in the book, mostly stemming from the perceived pig-headedness of the way the MoD and the Services operate, something which he spends most of the book describing and fleshing out.

Magic_Mushroom said:
Whilst I too would agree with his very basic premise that there is much wrong with UK defence procurement, many of his arguments are fundamentally flawed and contradictory. In the book and in the Register he constantly bangs on about his own personal hobby horses. I know of few people in any of the services who view him with any credibility ...

Given his premise and arguments about the out-of-date mentality of senior officers and the inefficiency of civil servants in the MoD, I'd expect nothing less!

Magic_Mushroom said:
...and 'Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs' is regularly used at Shrivenham as an example of how not to tackle such Joint issues.

They'd hardly hold it up as a shining beacon of good argument - that would imply agreement with it!

Magic_Mushroom said:
Indeed, I would suggest that there are many defence correspondants who lack military experience yet who demonstrate a better understanding of the issues. He is clearly intelligent. But I feel he allows his own prejudices to cloud his judgement.

Magic_Mushroom said:
As far as the continued existence of an independant RAF, it is very easy to counter such arguments and am happy to discuss further if you wish. However, let's do it via PM or another thread so as to avoid thread creep on this.

I'll read the thread and take matters from there.
 

Magic_Mushroom

War Hero
OSLO said:
He was an Army cadet at Uni before joining the Senior Service, from what I recall

So, pretty tenuous then!

OSLO said:
Given his premise and arguments about the out-of-date mentality of senior officers and the inefficiency of civil servants in the MoD, I'd expect nothing less!

Like all large organisations, there are obviously inefficiencies. However, I've always been very impressed with the middle management of the RN in particular, especially at the lt cdr - Capt rank.

OSLO said:
They'd hardly hold it up as a shining beacon of good argument - that would imply agreement with it!

Actually, the various courses I've attended at Shrivenham have always actively encouraged challenging the accepted norm of the 3 services and MoD. However, Page's book is held in particularly low regard by the academics there.

As I say, like you I accept some of his arguments regarding procurement at the very basic level. However, in my humble opinion it resembled the sensationalist approach of a low grade tabloid. Certainly, if some of his arguments were follwed through HMF would be critically undermined in current, let alone future ops, and he consistently fails to appreciate the wider effects of many assets (eg carriers to place a dark blue slant on it).

Regards,
MM
 
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