Well, maybe

Longer than the Houses of Parliament and able to launch up to 108 air strike sorties per day, Britain’s new aircraft carriers will make potential enemies “think twice” about starting future wars, their senior naval officer has said.

The new Queen Elizabeth Class carriers will be become Britain’s most potent conventional weapon and change the way the Royal Navy does business, Capt Simon Petitt said.

Super. Although shouldn’t we actually get some planes on them first?

39 thoughts on “Well, maybe”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    But it has performed its main role already – provided sea time to a middle ranking commanding officer and so enabling him to punch his ticket on the way to a well paid safe desk job.

    And in the end isn’t that what a Navy is for?

  2. The project leader for this vessel is an RAF senior officer. When it finally goes to sea who is going to provide the all important “guard ships”?
    Does the Royal Navy have sufficient qualified personnel to crew a capital ship of this size?

  3. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    I hear that the Fairey Swordfish is an excellent aeroplane for carrier operations.
    Problem is that there aren’t enough textile factories in the UK to make the fabric for the wings.

  4. Our main enemies are within.

    This tub is useless in the real fight against the scum of the left.

  5. So Much For Subtlety

    Bloke no Longer in Austria – “I hear that the Fairey Swordfish is an excellent aeroplane for carrier operations. Problem is that there aren’t enough textile factories in the UK to make the fabric for the wings.”

    It hardly matters. Britain is unlikely to ever make a plane within the UK anyway. It may make part of an airplane as with the Eurofighter. But this carrier will have the F-35B if it ever flies. So if our planes already have wings made in Germany or wherever, why not have them sewn up in Sri Lanka?

    The problem being, of course, that it may not be able to take the Swordfish.[*] I note that HMS Illustrious, of the Taranto raid fame, had a catapult and arrestor wires. The QE Class does not have either.

    The QEII will also have 36 planes. Each capable of carrying eight tonnes. Which means, basically, it will not be much of a deterrent to anyone unless it uses nuclear weapons. The Illustrious also took 36 airplanes although they could only carry one tonne more or less. The point being that HMS Illustrious did not cost £6.5 billion.

    [*] Now it does have a very long deck, 280 metres, so it is likely that the Swordfish could take off but it is not certain.

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    Bloke no Longer in Austria – “I hear that the Fairey Swordfish is an excellent aeroplane for carrier operations.”

    By the way, +10 for the classic troll

  7. Excellent news. Based on the success of bombing sorties against ISIS, this mighty weapon could inflict on our enemies a daily toll of:

    23 jihadis
    17 goats
    11 civilians
    1 dog

  8. Oh, and what Ecks said.

    The Islamofacists can’t destroy us, but they will happily step in when we have destroyed ourselves. What’s left of Western European Civilisation by then may well be grateful.

  9. What is the point in a carrier without either aircraft, or the will to use it?

    I spent nearly a year on the design team until I lost the will to live and bailed out of the UK entirely.

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    It is interesting that the QE and HMS Illustrious do not seem to be significantly different ships in terms of size.

    Illustrious was 740 feet (225.6 m) in length overall and 710 feet (216.4 m) at the waterline. Her beam was 95 feet 9 inches (29.2 m) at the waterline and she had a draught of 28 feet 10 inches (8.8 m) at deep load. She displaced 23,000 long tons (23,369 t) at standard load as completed.

    They will have a displacement of 65,000 tonnes on delivery, but the design allows for this to reach over 70,000 tonnes as the ship is upgraded through its lifetime.[5] They have an overall length of 280 metres (920 ft), a width at deck level of 70 metres (230 ft), a height of 56 metres (184 ft), a draught of 11 metres (36 ft) and a range of 10,000 nautical miles (12,000 mi; 19,000 km).

    Except the QE is about three times as heavy. Also slightly more expensive. The Illustrious “excluding her armament, she cost £2,295,000 to build.” One pound in 1940 is worth about £57 now. So the Illustrious should cost on the order of £120 million. Which means that the QE is 50 times more expensive.

    When people come to write the epitaph of British civilisation it is little things like this that will be inexplicable. As with our immigration, education and crime policies, they will have to say that we simply went insane.

  11. Trouble is with things like this is we can only afford it on borrowed money and at the cost of not being able to pay to repair potholes in our roads.

    So in the event that it gets aircraft and we find ourselves in a situation where it could be useful the Navy will never sail it further than the end of Brighton Pier for fear of losing the fucker.

    The Yanks have same issue, and they’ve got a few carriers.

    Not to mention the anti-war frotters. You lose 3,000 blokes in the Stan over 15 years, and these cunts go mental – despite the fact that they were all professional soldiers, who signed up, and wanted to go to the Stan and shoot people.

    How the hell can the US ever envisage, in anything other than a war of national survival, losing 3,000 blokes in an afternoon if one of these things gets hit? It would be the end of the military over there.

    (I know they’re not easy to hit, but the attacks are increasingly sophisticated; it might not be this year, or this decade, but sooner or later…)

  12. The Navy has achieved their goal – two major targets that will need a small fleet to protect, so they can now demand extra frigates and destroyers to protect the carriers. They sacrificed a huge number of surface ships to get the carriers built so that they can now demand more ships.

  13. MC,

    Is one of those civilians the man who is supposed to be feeding the dog?

    If not the man might touch the machine, ending the world as we know it.

  14. MC, the 17 goats are important strategic assets. With them gone, the jihadis will become sexually frustrated.

  15. “Notice that it cost £170 million. So we could buy over 30 of them for what the QE will cost.”

    The last 3 of the ‘Wasp’ class cost $750 million each and are much more capable than ‘Ocean’, so we could have bought 12 (not that we’d want them) for less than the cost of the 2 QE’s.
    I genuinely can’t see the point of these 2 monsters. If the government thought we didn’t need carriers during the height of the Cold War, why do we need them now?

  16. There would be aircraft to fly off them already if the RAF hadn’t binned the Harriers in such an unseemly hurry.

    If only we had some Fairey Rotodynes as well…

  17. So Much For Subtlety

    dearieme – “The naval equivalent of HS2.”

    HS2 might be useful. More like a Concorde that couldn’t fly but did look nice sitting on the tarmac. Or the Dome.

  18. “Capt Petitt, senior naval officer for the two vessels, said… he could “certainly see” the vessels used in campaigns against Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (Isil)….”

    It will be so kind of ISIL to hold off and wait until 2021, and just what is needed, 16 $35 million a piece advanced, stealth aircraft to sort out a bunch of thugs in Toyota trucks with RPGs and AK47.

  19. I forgot SMFS’s miltary (and mathematical) expertise.

    But it has performed its main role already – provided sea time to a middle ranking commanding officer

    No sea time as yet. And Captains RN are the most senior Commanding Officers HM’s Ships get. Since they binned the Royal Yacht (which was retired with a Commodore in charge but was a Rear Admiral’s drive for most of its life.)

    And Simon isn’t the CO – he’s the SNO. He’s an engineer – who only get to be in charge in build or refit.

    It is interesting that the QE and HMS Illustrious do not seem to be significantly different ships in terms of size.

    24% longer (and, of course, you’ll know exactly why that was limited), 25% greater draught and on the order of twice the beam. Relationship between lengths and volumes anyone? (Hint for the Dunning-Kruger victim: 1.25 * 1.24 * 2 = 3.1)

    I’m not claiming this pair is a great idea (“there are two types of ships: submarines and targets”, as well as the %age of the naval budget they and their manpower will consume) but the usual military joker is, as usual, both trivially wrong and simply unfunny.

    But he needn’t worry. A couple of more comments of this sagacity and Emily will be on the phone to offer him a place on the Shadow Defence team. He may have to join the IRA first, though.

  20. A few pointers from practicioners on the way naval capabilities have changed.

    About the F-35:-

    “In the good old days we could put 40-50-60 aircraft into Scotland and run a pretty good joined up exercise and everyone would have their own piece of airspace and we’d get lots of good training out of it. I can pretty much take up that airspace with an F-35 four-ship, so when we start talking about putting multiple four-ships out of Marham or Lakenheath, the U.K. simply isn’t big enough. If the U.K. itself was a range, we would struggle.”

    Regarding air defence and littoral ops:-

    “For the Royal Navy every Thursday we go to ‘war’ off Plymouth. In the past aircraft were being picked up just off Cornwall or Dorset. Not very far and the whole exercise was based around late detection. Type 45 turns up and starts tracking the aircraft as they took off from the airports. Sort of changed the way we trained.

    The other was the LPDs turning up to do disaster exercise in sea training. The capability of the ship outstripped the site and the staff running the exercise.”

    Not that the people actually doing it for a living know much about it, of course…

  21. So Much For Subtlety

    Surreptitious Evil – “I forgot SMFS’s miltary (and mathematical) expertise.”

    So you have had all day and this is the best you can come up with?

    That is sad.

  22. So Much For Subtlety

    Jason Lynch – “Not that the people actually doing it for a living know much about it, of course…”

    That depends. If you mean the people who are paid to do BAe’s PR, well no, they probably don’t know much about it.

    Especially as the F-35 has been, so far, a complete dog that may never actually fly. Even if it does fly, every single one Britain buys is likely to cost as much as HMS Ocean. So they are too expensive to be used anywhere anyone might shoot at them.

    But keep up the good work. I am sure the benefits and pension make it worth while.

  23. Why does everyone bag the Swordfish? After all, one of them did stop the Bismarck by nailing its rudder. And the RN surface fleet still couldn’t sink the bastard.

    I genuinely can’t see the point of these 2 monsters. If the government thought we didn’t need carriers during the height of the Cold War, why do we need them now?

    I find it fascinating that every military purchase and decision is wrong, wasteful, badly managed, unnecessary, short sighted, or otherwise stupid. Right up until it’s needed. Like, do we have the capability to protect our citizens in the South Atlantic?

    Ok, keeping the Harriers might have been a really good idea.

    In Australia, we operated the F-111 way beyond its intended service life, and for good reason. It was the F-35 of its day – incredibly complicated, designed for way too many missions (seriously, we’ll give it swing wings so it can dogfight?), and derided as a boondoggle. But having a fast medium bomber available worked as a deterrent for 30+ years.

    We’re waiting for our F-35s too, but I wouldn’t write them off just yet.

  24. “I find it fascinating that every military purchase and decision is wrong, wasteful, badly managed, unnecessary, short sighted, or otherwise stupid. Right up until it’s needed. Like, do we have the capability to protect our citizens in the South Atlantic?”

    I don’t think it’s just military purchasing, it’s probably most government projects.
    My point about the QE’s wasn’t about air capability, but that smaller, cheaper, multi-purpose – i.e flat-top with a flooding dock – ships would have been a better buy for the UK rather than two ‘Supercarriers’ that can’t recover conventional aircraft.

  25. SMFS,

    The F-35 “may never actually fly”. Right.

    “WASHINGTON — In a milestone for the F-35 joint strike fighter, the US Marine Corps today declared the F-35B jump-jet model to have achieved initial operational capability (IOC).

    The news means that the Marines consider the F-35B model – one of three designs of the multi-role fighter — to be an active plane that can perform in operations the same way any other active aircraft in its arsenal can.”

    http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/air-space/2015/07/31/f35-operational-marine-corps-joint-strike-fighter/30937689/

  26. Jonathan,

    “Landing conventional aircraft on a carrier” is actually a huge and difficult problem, which is why only one nation does it with any sustained success at the moment (the French have a limited capability but are finding it difficult and expensive)

    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 we 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 extra 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 their pilots after each shore tour.

    See where the costs start coming from? We’re not looking at paying for the 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. Then 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 actively 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…”?

    Or for the TL/DR version, TEPIDOIL tells you far more about cost and capabilities than Top Trumps – but it involves more work and more detail to understand,

  27. More or less agree with you Jonathan. But having something is better than nothing. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

    Most of what you say is true Jason, especially about training costs. But in a real emergency, quals wouldn’t matter. The professional military, as always, would suck up the consequences until mobilisation of the general populace came on line.

    Last I checked, the UK was still a group of islands dependent on outside supply. Whatever form they take, a couple of carriers are probably a good idea.

  28. LTW,

    “In a real emergency” it’s a lot quicker to surge from 6-12 to 36-48 embarked F-35Bs on the duty carrier (as we did with Harriers in the Falklands) than it is to generate enough pilots to do the same with arrested landings without killing themselves and others. We used to be able to take the risk of having RAF pilots land Hurricanes on a carrier, but they’d only kill themselves if they got it wrong and we used the barriers to protect the rest of the deck. With the aircraft so much scarcer and more expensive, and heavier and more dangerous when they crash, the consequence of crashing one on deck are that much worse.

    The other issue is that while the F-35C has more range and payload, a surprising amount can be given up to diversion fuel (the margin for “find somewhere else to land if the deck goes foul”) – the US would be likely to be operating more than one CV so could go “blue water” (take more risks with those margins) more often: while we want the carriers to put a few acres of British sovereign airbase where we want them, usually because there’s no friendly or neutral airbases nearby. (Exemplar was during the Balkans, when the only armed aircraft the UK could put over Bosnia were Sea Harriers from a carrier in the Adriatic: the Italians would let us use Aviano only as long as the aircraft were unarmed.

    We were meant to have HMS Queen Elizabeth operational in 2012 (still flying Harriers at that point) with Prince of Wales operational in 2015: but we can thank a combination of Gordon Brown (who refused to fund what was actually the reasonably sensible 1998 SDR) and armchair admirals who kept insisting that halving the tonnage of the ships should halve the cost without reducing their capability at all – the team in 20X had at least two cycles of that idiocy that I’m aware of, to deal with.

  29. Like, do we have the capability to protect our citizens in the South Atlantic?

    Would be much, much cheaper to just give them all first-class plane tickets to a new home of their choice.

    Besides, what’s the point? If Britain doesn’t vote to leave the EU, these ships and planes will just be handed over to the EU Navy before long.

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