In response to a parliamentary question from Conservative MP Damien Moore, the Ministry of Defence has addressed the potential retrofitting of Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carriers.

Moore inquired if the Department would evaluate the benefits of adding catapults, additional angled decks, and arresting wires to the carriers.

James Cartlidge, the Minister of State for Defence, provided insight into the ongoing plans for these state-of-the-art vessels. According to Cartlidge, the aircraft carriers were constructed with the flexibility to accommodate future capability enhancements throughout their operational lives.

“The Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers (QEC) were built to allow for capability changes over the lifetime of these ships. The Royal Navy is committed to developing capabilities that will allow it to build combat mass, whilst remaining at the forefront of technology, and this includes a strong focus on uncrewed air systems,” Cartlidge stated.

He further explained that the aviation capabilities of the QEC carriers are set to evolve in the coming years. A detailed analysis is currently underway to explore and assess various options for operating a broader range of aircraft. This includes a review of the launch and recovery systems, spurred by the recent successful trials of the Mojave and Windracer systems.

“As such, the aviation capabilities of the QEC aircraft carriers will continue to evolve in the coming years and the operation of a wider variety of aircraft is being considered as part of a detailed analysis to scope and assess options. The launch and recovery systems for these new capabilities is currently under review, following the recent successful trials of Mojave and Windracer,” Cartlidge added.

Large ‘Mojave’ drone flies from British aircraft carrier

What are those plans?

At the ‘Combined Naval Event 2023’ conference held in Farnborough in May, Colonel Phil Kelly, the Head of Carrier Strike and Maritime Aviation within the Royal Navy’s Develop Directorate, presented an ambitious vision for the Royal Navy’s future in maritime aviation.

This vision, part of the broader Future Maritime Aviation Force (FMAF) initiative, includes ‘Project Ark Royal’.

Colonel Kelly’s presentation highlighted several pivotal challenges and objectives:

  1. F-35 Deployment Limitations: The colonel pointed out the current constraints, stating, “Lack of Mass – F35 mass will not reach level required to resource both QEC with full Combat Air potential.
  2. Urgency for Uncrewed Platforms: Emphasising the inevitability of adopting these platforms, he noted, “The question is not ‘if’ the Naval force will prioritise and leverage un-crewed platforms and systems, but how quickly and efficiently, in resource constrained environments.
  3. Automation for Increased Capacity: Colonel Kelly underscored the importance of automation, “We must free up warfighter capabilities for critical operations, by automating routine/repetitive tasks.
  4. Operational Complexities: The focus is on “operating in complex and contested areas all the while reducing the risk to life, force, and mission.
  5. Enhancing Operational Reach: The presentation highlighted the need to “increase our range, endurance, and persistence in order to build advantage.

As part of the FMAF vision, the Royal Navy aims to retrofit arrestor gear and assisted launch equipment to the Queen Elizabeth class, you can read more on this here.

Project Ark Royal – Plans for angled decks and drones

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_820401)
16 days ago

So to cut a long story short.
F35BIV problems mean we won’t buy at the pace many want until that is resolved.
Or, cynically, until the US has sold the weapons it wants to impede Meteor and SPEAR sales.
Wider lack of money, meaning you HMG, is constraining a UAV buy.
That is, if they ever actually stop “informing decisions” and choose something rather than kicking the can further down the road.

Grizzler
Grizzler (@guest_820407)
16 days ago

I think their main procument challenge is buying new cans – as the ones they have are severely dented and no long roll as far down the road as they once did- and that just won’t do ol’ chap!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_820412)
16 days ago
Reply to  Grizzler

😁 Good one. 5th Gen cans?

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg (@guest_820413)
16 days ago

Same as it ever was

James Fennell
James Fennell (@guest_820423)
16 days ago

It’s not just the cynicism, F-35 has a single ‘operating system’, which means any update – even if it is only to integrate a single weapon type – could potentially introduce bugs into critical systems like flight controls. That means all updates have to be bundled together into major updates to avoid having to do rigourous flight testing every time the software is tweaked. Thus an update for a minor buyer is going to be rolled into a wider packed of upgrades. BAe and SAAB invented a way around this, called partitioned software, which was debuted on Gripen E and… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_820432)
16 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Interesting, James. I learned something there, thanks. Seems a major weakness.

Math
Math (@guest_820460)
16 days ago

Loosely coupled… it is about software design principles. You can break down software components, in order to simplify the non-régression tests. Everything that is loosely coupled should be broken into separate bundles. They will communicate through various interface that will have different SLA depending on time related answers. The more layer you add, the less responsive the software will be, be they OSI layer or simply bundle layer. Thing is the achievement of Saab is not a small one. In F35, you cannot completely separate missiles from flight control, among a few other things. And given the software instability of… Read more »

James Fennell
James Fennell (@guest_820584)
15 days ago
Reply to  Math

Brilliant, thank you!

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_821691)
12 days ago
Reply to  Math

That sounds like a good argument for minimising F-35B numbers to just enough for the FAA and pressing ahead with Tempest.

David Meagor
David Meagor (@guest_820439)
16 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

As a software engineer that’s pretty surprising. You wouldn’t expect you car to crash because your passenger triggered a bug in the satnav. I would have assumed there were multiple distributed redundant systems across the plane splitting critical and non critical components apart.

Jim
Jim (@guest_820519)
15 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

It’s a great development on the software side for BAE and SAAB, ultimately I can see US defence contractors falling by the way side in the future for fighter exports due to their eye gouging practice especially when it comes to long term sustainment costs and things like weapons integration.

LM is running a complete monopoly with ALIS which even the Pentagon can’t control because its proprietary and they are using it to milk everyone.

Only Israel doesn’t use ALIS.

Kyo
Kyo (@guest_820716)
15 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Can you explain a bit further? All IMA, including JSF Pave Pace works on the principles of common OS and API, virtual system boundries enabled by functional-, application- and system partitioning and separating HW and SW function. So it is a bit confusing for me to see the Gripen E avionics system/mission computer described to have a “partitioned software” that wasn’t implemented on JSF, although it sound pretty much like an application level partitioning common to most IMS systems. My understanding was rather that Gripen E retained some featurea of a more traditional federated avionics for its own merit, albeit… Read more »

Lee John fursman
Lee John fursman (@guest_820854)
15 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

F35 is basically crap, we all know that but it’s all we have, It can’t do what it was designed to do, at one point it seemed a complete failure,
Some hope with tempest but I really don’t believe 100% in that…
IT takes 20 years to di sign an aircraft today…… Bristol blenhiem is an example of what this country was…

Expat
Expat (@guest_820459)
16 days ago

I struggle to see how carriers are relevant for European and North Atlantic defence. Carriers are really good at deploy air assets 1000s of miles from home not a few hundred. I remain unconvinced both will see out the end of the decade. with Frigate crew size down to <100 thats 7+ frigates crewed which would be far more useful for a defence posture thats European focused.

Jim
Jim (@guest_820520)
15 days ago
Reply to  Expat

Carriers have always been largely useless/ unnecessary in Europe and the North Atlantic. This is why we built armoured carriers in WW2 and why the RN got rid of carriers in the late 70’s.

They are still vital in the Indo pacific and almost all the people in the world live in the Indo pacific so chances are if there will be a war it will be there.

Dern
Dern (@guest_820707)
15 days ago
Reply to  Jim

We never got rid of carriers completely, we simply didn’t order some super carriers and instead focused on the smaller Invincibles. You also might want to do some maths on the ranges in the North Atlantic. Neither Typhoon nor F-35 can cover the GIUK gap from UK airbases, so if you want to do any sort of ASW work in that region, and have a defence against Air Launched Anti Ship missiles from Tu-95’s, you need a carrier. (Also I’d strongly contest that Carriers where useless in Europe during WW2, considering the both the ASW, surface escort, and strike role… Read more »

Richard
Richard (@guest_820778)
15 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Imagine if the uk had sorting like the uss nimitz ( yes there was a plan for a super carrier called the Queen Elizabeth in the late 70’s) do you think the Argentinians would of invaded the Falklands.
Even and updated hms egle or ark royal with ganets , phantoms and buccaneers would of make them think twice

Frank62
Frank62 (@guest_821372)
13 days ago
Reply to  Richard

Scrapping the old Ark Royal(Phantoms/Buccaneers/Gannet AEW), planning to scrap the Endurance & planning to sell Invincible were major factors in the Argentine invasion. Just as decades of cuts across most European NATO countries encouraged Putin to try to overthrow UKR.

Dern
Dern (@guest_821495)
13 days ago
Reply to  Richard

I mean it’s not much of a shocker that there was a UK super carrier when I specifically referenced in it. Oh btw CVA-01 was not a Nimitz counterpart, it was a Forrestal counterpart. Ironically it would actually have been slightly smaller than the current Queen Elizabeth. Also it wasn’t “called” Queen Elizabeth, the program was CVA-01, there was speculation that it might have been named Queen Elizabeth, but that was never official. It might have made them think twice, but ultimately it was the idea that the UK wouldn’t counter attack, not that it couldn’t, that made the Argies… Read more »

Richard
Richard (@guest_821610)
12 days ago
Reply to  Dern

I was fortunate to meet some of the drafts men for cva 01. Just for fun they drew an second option. Much Larger, better defensive weapons with an option for nuclear propulsion. .

Jim
Jim (@guest_820517)
15 days ago

The main hold up in F35B acquisition at the moment is Lockheed’s inability to deliver tech refresh 3. The US is not accepting new F35’s either, they are all pilling up on the runway at LM manufacturing plant and no US weapons are being integrated either.

The UK has already paid for the 48 it contracted to buy so it’s not a lack of money holding anything up.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_820539)
15 days ago
Reply to  Jim

As article says, item 2 on UAV.
“Resource constrained environment.”

That prompted my comment on money.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster (@guest_820719)
15 days ago
Reply to  Jim

And lets not forget that the 750 built so far and the orders for more , the UK has a 15% contribution .
Doing the +/- balances on a UKPLC spreadsheet would mean that the UK is up on the transactions

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_820723)
15 days ago

If the US is behaving like that towards the UK that’s very disappointing. Time for the UK to resurrect a Harrier 2 or, a Naval Grippen? And what’s happened to Taranis?

Steve
Steve (@guest_820735)
15 days ago

I don’t understand the block 4 argument. Its mainly a software improvement. Why not place an order and as part of that order bake it the costs of the upgrade, i.e. agree a fixed upgrade cost as part of the deal. It will be slightly more expensive for sure, but with the world so unstable it would mean we actually have a viable carrier.

Last edited 15 days ago by Steve
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_820746)
15 days ago
Reply to  Steve

For me, it is a viable carrier, even with “just” 20 F35 on board. The issue isn’t the carriers, it’s their airgroup and their RFA Solid Stores Ships.
A carrier is just a runway we can park where we choose to project power.
Yes, we need more F35.

Steve
Steve (@guest_820779)
15 days ago

That’s assuming all the jets are available which is highly unlikely. In a peer or near peer way even 20 would rapidly get overwhelmed.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_820867)
15 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Do we know their availability rates compared to previous? Not sure there.
Depends what they are doing regards overwhelmed Steve. They might be conducting strike missions themselves with little air threat beyond missiles, they might not. One cannot say with certainty.
I’ll take them over 8 Sea Harriers though!

James Fennell
James Fennell (@guest_820402)
16 days ago

Ark Royal could be done incrementally.

I.e. initally a small catapult and barrier to allow for STOL drones and small drones in the next few years.

Then a larger MLU with a larger EMALs and arrestor wires for larger ‘tier 2’ ACP in the 2030-5 timeframe.

Tony Rosier
Tony Rosier (@guest_820442)
16 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Why not a new ship, we’ve already paid for the initial tooling a third ship with Cats and traps would be able to operate other NATO types and sustain the system while the other two are upgraded ! Everyone knows a minimum of 3 carriers are necessary to sustain continuous operations anyway !!!

FOSTERSMAN
FOSTERSMAN (@guest_820462)
16 days ago
Reply to  Tony Rosier

A third vessel could be used as an experimental platform across a whole range of fields, from prototypes to training. It could be a game changer for the QE class and give it the respect it deserves. However it all comes down to the same thing, FUNDING so it would never happen.

Tony Rosier
Tony Rosier (@guest_820532)
15 days ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

Those ships most likely will need to be modified to be of any use, as I said before to be operational 100% of the time you definitely need at least 3 ships ! A further development of the QE class will take at least 5 years to build minimum so by the time it arrives the other 2 will be well due for a refit. In Any case we will need to develop our next generation of carriers probably pilotless aircraft etc so it’s inevitable if we want to stay in the game ! Better to bite the bullet and… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay (@guest_820650)
15 days ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

You don’t spend £3.5Bn on a carrier just to use it for training and prototypes.

Tony Rosier
Tony Rosier (@guest_821007)
14 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Tell that to the Chinese, I know how big their economy is but we need to spend much more in order to at least try to keep up. If we don’t effectively we will be defenceless without America.

John
John (@guest_820480)
15 days ago
Reply to  Tony Rosier

I read somewhere the Chicoms have an Invincible sized “drone ship” nearly completed. It will operate nothing but said drones. Maybe we should pay attention rather than pour more money into the SS White Elephants?

Jim
Jim (@guest_820524)
15 days ago
Reply to  Tony Rosier

You should tell that to the French

Dern
Dern (@guest_820708)
15 days ago
Reply to  Tony Rosier

1 We can’t easily spin up a new ship now. The Carriers where built by a consortium that doesn’t exist anymore using shipyards that have moved on or even, in some cases, completely closed down. 2 Cats and traps being fitted was looked at, and would have made the cost unfeasibly high (I mean the Navy is struggling to fill roles it already needs let alone buy a new ship that it doesn’t). Ark Royal won’t give us a full cats and traps manned capability, it’s mainly looking at a light system for drone launch and recovery. 3 Even if… Read more »

Tony Rosier
Tony Rosier (@guest_820730)
15 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Well I guess that kind of makes my point ! We need to make all of those resources available ASAP the Chinese and Indian governments are ramping up production and so are the Russians! What do you want to do sit back and rely on America to defend us ! I don’t think so this sir is the Royal Navy we should be competing with any Navy anywhere in the world we rely on the sea and we must get back to our heritage. We will never have a large Army but our Navy should always be the best, any… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_820789)
15 days ago
Reply to  Tony Rosier

New Flash: China’s GDP is 17 trillion USD. The US’s GDP is 25 trillion USD. The UK’s is 3. We are not going to be competing with either of those, especially since our ship yards, even if we got every single one up and running, are relatively small and have limited growth potential since they’re (almost exclusively) in urban areas. You don’t just wave a magic wand and say “Make these resources available” and suddenly you have all the yards you’d want. (and even if you did, some of the yards that built the QE’s now work in the offshore… Read more »

Grizzler
Grizzler (@guest_820952)
14 days ago
Reply to  Dern

I don’t think anyone is saying it would be easy – but unless we make a conscious decision to do so it will never happen.
So the pertinent question is should we do so , and then if so how to get there.
Regards offshore energy business suggesting that it would harm us if they returned to shipbuilding rather than build windmills is a little subjective is it not ?
One could argue that without ships to protect the energy generation that in itself would in itself lead to the loss of the energy…

Dern
Dern (@guest_820969)
14 days ago
Reply to  Grizzler

I’m not saying it would be difficult, I’m saying keeping up with China and America in terms of naval build is straight up impossible for us. Both nations have, as I just indicated, economies that dwarf us, already existing modern large scale ship yards (ours are limited in growth due to our man made geography) and both are persuing it as a major national objective. Even if we pushed for maintaining a navy at all costs, cutting every benefit and investment, we wouldn’t be keeping up, and we wouldn’t be able to maintain it as our economy imploded like the… Read more »

Jim
Jim (@guest_820522)
15 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

That’s what I was hoping for, small buys of innovative drones building up a greater and very flexible force over time. We could easily start with getting four Sea Guardians onboard kitted out for AEW and MPA. Then later in the decade we could add in a jet powered loyal wingman and a larger helicopter for AWACS and other sensors and communications packages.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_820747)
15 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Agree. Just buy something! People here might then want 100 of them but not by bit.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_820725)
15 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

I was wondering why the ski ramp wasn’t made wider on these carriers so it could be used by drones too? I suppose it does leave room for catapults and more of a hybrid carrier ops.

Dern
Dern (@guest_820793)
15 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

I mean when Mojave took off from Prince of Wales it didnt even need the ski ramp.

jjsmallpiece
jjsmallpiece (@guest_820422)
16 days ago

Always thought it was a dumb idea not to have the usual angled flight deck, catapults and arrestor cable on the aircraft carriers
Instead of of putting all our eggs into F35 basket we should have bought 60 or so F18s. Still capable carrier aircraft. We could also have dedicated ASW aircraft and fixed wing AEW aircraft to provide top cover. Instead of the poor man’s helicopter AEW system om Merlins. Or drone based AEW systems which is looking technically feasible.

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_820425)
16 days ago
Reply to  jjsmallpiece

Can you share where your magic money tree is. We were never going to get anything but F35 for carrier aircraft

Bob
Bob (@guest_820431)
16 days ago
Reply to  Hugo

Its called The Treasury.
It makes decisions on where money is spent. Unfortunately it usually makes bad decisions with respect to defence.

Tony Rosier
Tony Rosier (@guest_820443)
16 days ago
Reply to  Hugo

Better to spend the money needed for a proper job than to waste it on something that doesn’t work !

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_820450)
16 days ago
Reply to  Tony Rosier

It works well enough, and it’s the reality of our situation, there’s no point day dreaming, we just need to get on with it.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_820503)
15 days ago
Reply to  Hugo

Spot on.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_820504)
15 days ago
Reply to  Tony Rosier

Sorry, what “doesn’t work”?

Grizzler
Grizzler (@guest_820953)
14 days ago
Reply to  Hugo

Which version…..

Nath
Nath (@guest_820438)
16 days ago
Reply to  jjsmallpiece

Agreed. It somewhat reduces our interoperability with others. We should have Rafales and F18 flying off it to support allies but as it is we are a bit hamstrung.

If there’s any capacity in budgets to integrate catapults in the future in exchange for delayed F35 deliveries they should seriously think about it.

Plus then it would open up the option to buy F35c in the future which may be more useful to the RAF and possibly cheaper. Factor in the unknowns around future engine upgrades then having this flexibility would be beneficial.

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_820448)
16 days ago
Reply to  Nath

We should focus on what we have, not chase a capability that looks good on paper but in reality would cost a ton, and leave us starting from square one on both aircraft and training.
You want to add Catapaults just so we can occasionally host some allies? Even though we can already do that.

Last edited 16 days ago by Hugo
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_820506)
15 days ago
Reply to  Hugo

Again, spot on.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay (@guest_820654)
15 days ago
Reply to  Hugo

👍

Jonno
Jonno (@guest_820453)
16 days ago
Reply to  Nath

Nah. Now with the Japanese and Italians are on board so to speak; how about a ‘Sea Fury- 0’ derivation of the Tempest? If we bought 100 the Italians 30 and Japanese 150 who knows where this could go?

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_820473)
15 days ago
Reply to  Jonno

Italy is unlikely to ever get a Catobar carrier, and from what weve seen from the size of tempest and talk about it, there wont be a naval variant.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_820484)
15 days ago
Reply to  Jonno

Tempest is huge, there is no carrier Tempest possible.

Well maybe only if RN wants to revive Project Habakkuk 😄

Dern
Dern (@guest_820709)
15 days ago
Reply to  Nath

CATOBAR lets us operate with the US and France.
STOVL lets us operate with the US, Italy, Japan, Korea, and Singapore (and potentially Spain).

I don’t think CATOBAR improves interoperability.

Alistair
Alistair (@guest_820714)
15 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Pretty sure all the STOVL aircraft of all those other countries can still operate from a CATOBAR carrier, it just doesn’t work the other way around?

Dern
Dern (@guest_821319)
13 days ago
Reply to  Alistair

You’d have to take off without the benefit of a Cat or Ramp so very limited payloads, and landing would destroy the deck, (and that’s if you missed the arrestors or cats, which would be even worse).

Grizzler
Grizzler (@guest_820954)
14 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Would CATOBAR increase our effective capability (both for us and any allies)- and would CATOBAR remove STOVL capability- or augment it.
I’m not saying it would be worth it BTW I’m mereley struggling to see why CATOBAR would not enhance our capability?

Dern
Dern (@guest_820976)
14 days ago
Reply to  Grizzler

Okay, a few questions there so. Yes, in some ways CATOBAR would increase our effective capability. We’d get access to better AWACS aircraft, we’d be able to fly fixed wing supply flights off the deck are the two big ones. But that comes at a cost (I’ll get to that). You also get access to non STOVL fighters like F-35C, F/A-18 and Rafale. Would CATOBAR remove STOVL capability? Probably yes. Realistically a CATOBAR carrier would require the removal of the ski jump in order to fit catapults, in which case anything taking off without Cat’s loose payload. They can still… Read more »

Last edited 14 days ago by Dern
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_821163)
14 days ago
Reply to  Dern

This post should be bookmarked for future deployment the next time someone slates the B in favour of C or FA18/Rafale. 👍
There are always other issues to consider.

FOSTERSMAN
FOSTERSMAN (@guest_820468)
15 days ago
Reply to  jjsmallpiece

Naval Typhoons where on the drawing board but because the RN didn’t quite know what it wanted or if the funds were available it didn’t go down that route. You also have to contend with the incredible amount of political work that went into the F35b project the UK and US that sort of messed it up for everyone, believe me the US probably wont upen up future work with international partners you will just be a customer. In hindsight I bet they went down the Typhoon route with this size carrier and had F35b/Harrier 2 for escort/assault carriers.

jjsmallpiece
jjsmallpiece (@guest_820486)
15 days ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

The issue with naval Typhoons is you would end up with a heavier aircraft, so likely reduced land performance. Naval aircraft like for like tend to be heavier than land aircraft as they have to be built with more robust components, especially landing gear to take the forces of harder deck landings.
Also it may be less relevant with modern composite materials, metal components have to be more corrosion resistant for the salty maritime atmosphere – which usually means less use of the lighter white metals such aluminium and magnesium alloys etc,

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_820502)
15 days ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

Looking like sometime before we get F35b in numbers ,should of held onto Sea Harrier FA2 no not joking 🤔

David
David (@guest_820527)
15 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Agreed. And/or GR9. Only just going out of service with the US marines, we could have had a good high end/low end mix with the F35, with decent numbers on the carriers…..

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_820642)
15 days ago
Reply to  David

Spot on 👍

Robert Blay
Robert Blay (@guest_820652)
15 days ago
Reply to  jjsmallpiece

Yes, let’s buy a 70s designed much less capable aircraft and shaft our own aircraft industry. Great idea 👍

JJ Smallpiece
JJ Smallpiece (@guest_820667)
15 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

We need aircraft / carriers that are better than any potential peer. Technology matters of course, but so do numbers – as Ukraine are finding out. Constantly chasing the latest tech isn’t always the best solution
I would sooner have 60 carrier aircraft that are still pretty effective rather than 20 all singing, dancing but can’t be everywhere at once and with no scope for combat losses.

Dern
Dern (@guest_820710)
15 days ago
Reply to  JJ Smallpiece

You’d have 60 Carrier aircraft, but only one carrier, capable of embarking maybe 20 of them, to fly them off of if you’d have gone CATOBAR.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_820727)
15 days ago
Reply to  jjsmallpiece

Or, even purchased some Rafales!! Vive la 🇬🇧!

Markam
Markam (@guest_820427)
16 days ago

I keep saying the F-35, while an amazing aircraft, is not to be 100% of your fleet. When I suggest we have F18/Rafale/Gripen or some other carrier capable aircraft as I get told “why bother buying previous gen aircraft”.

Mass, reliability, cheapness to run, all very important, previous gen or not.

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_820430)
16 days ago
Reply to  Markam

Yes there are benefits to buying previous gen aircraft, but what is the actual likelihood of getting them, Ignoring the issues with those not being able to operate on a Stovl carrier, there is an ongoing effort to simplify the number of aircraft we have, therefore theyre not going to buy into a new, small number of older jets.

Tony Rosier
Tony Rosier (@guest_820447)
16 days ago
Reply to  Markam

F35s are a good mix to have but should not be all we have ! If the new carriers are converted they can still fly them or they can be flown in smaller numbers from other ships.

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_820449)
16 days ago
Reply to  Tony Rosier

What other ships, would be a waste to ditch our current F35s just to chase either older aircraft or a different variant and leave us with nothing in the end to launch of them.

Frank62
Frank62 (@guest_821373)
13 days ago
Reply to  Markam

Should’ve kept the Harriers!

Terry B
Terry B (@guest_820452)
16 days ago

Sell the F35 ‘s and make the ships into proper carriers.

Bob clark
Bob clark (@guest_820456)
16 days ago

Obsolete before they reached post commissioning totally unreliable poorly designed waste of money

Simon m
Simon m (@guest_820463)
16 days ago

Stinks a little bit of trying to do full carriers on the cheap. We need uncrewed solutions yes, but we need more F35B as well, uncrewed are not quite there yet!

Joe16
Joe16 (@guest_820536)
15 days ago

So I heard about the Mojave tests, but what are these Windracer ones? I missed those, I think- unless that’s what they were using the Banshees for. Otherwise, sounds like a big old pitch for more money to me. The carriers are a great capability, if properly resourced, so I support adequate spend on them. But I don’t particularly think that buying pre-BlockIV F-35 just to make up numbers is a particularly good use of it- no matter how painful it must be for our Admirals to constantly field questions about carriers with no aircraft. Perhaps they could focus their… Read more »

Dominic Davis-Foster
Dominic Davis-Foster (@guest_820615)
15 days ago

Shouldn’t have gotten rid of the Harriers in favour of an American 🤮 aircraft. In February 2010 there were twice as many Harriers as there are F35s now, and the fleet had been run down already by then.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay (@guest_820656)
15 days ago

Really? I only remember around 48 GR7/9s in operational service in 2010 at RAF Cottesmore.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_820749)
15 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

🙄

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_820682)
15 days ago

So looking like the RN are considering going back to cats and traps.Like should have done this in the first place has F35c better payload and range plus most big drones need this to operate 🤔 there again if problems getting F35 in numbers it could of been the navy with F18Es 🤔 Rafaels and better AEW aircraft has we know helos short range.Have we under cut our selfs like on other military projects ? Should of gone for a Sea Typhoon 🤗 🇬🇧 but think we have to stick with what we have now 🙄

Dern
Dern (@guest_820711)
15 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

*sigh* another person who hasn’t actually bothered to read what Project Ark Royal is.
It’s not a F-35C enabling project. It’s a look at fitting a light weight EMALS system that can launch and recover unmanned vehicles such as Vixen and Vampire drones, considerably less weight than a combat loaded F-35C, or F/A-18.

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_820759)
15 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Who’s on about ARK Royal project that’s all well and good plus Vixen and Vampire .My post was really refraining to the lack of Aircraft numbers of F35b.And if we had cats and traps would of give us more flexibility for other types of Aircraft .

Dern
Dern (@guest_820796)
15 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

“So looking like the RN are considering going back to cats and traps.”
The only consideration for cats and traps is Project Ark Royal. Beyond that there is no plan to fit them to the carriers.

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_820833)
15 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Time will tell .

Dern
Dern (@guest_820842)
15 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Oh goal post moving, as if you didn’t phrase your statement in the present tense.

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_820932)
14 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Oh chill out 🙄

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_820722)
15 days ago

Are there any options to acquire or lease any surplus US F35B airframes to make up for mass sooner?

Hulahoop7
Hulahoop7 (@guest_820732)
15 days ago

The lack of understanding evident in comments here is incredible. Naval Typhoons… should have got F35c…. I’ve been following the carrier story for 20 years, and constantly the same I’ll informed bullshit. Just two areas: 1. There is no naval Typhoon. The architecture of the aircraft doesn’t suit naval operations. E.g the air intakes are underneath… now look at every other naval aircraft. F35b is likely significantly cheaper than any compromised Typhoon rehash would ever be. Gen 4.5 aircraft are now dog meat in a high end confrontation. The bring back the Harrier brigade… omg. 2. F35c is slower, poorer… Read more »

Louis
Louis (@guest_820993)
14 days ago
Reply to  Hulahoop7

Well said.

I can’t believe people are suggesting F18 instead of F35B.

Pilot training is oft ignored, it costs way more, has a much higher attrition rate, and then pilots need to stay carrier qualified. I doubt a single RAF/FAA pilot has met the required landings and take offs from a carrier that would be required if they were CATOBAR.

Simon
Simon (@guest_821005)
14 days ago
Reply to  Louis

Nigel Collins, alter ego I suspect

Richard
Richard (@guest_820773)
15 days ago

Why do we need catobar.
1) we can operate wac for protect the fleet
2) land cargo aircraft
3) have proper navy fighters that can cary a decent amount of fuel and weapons
4) other navy’s aircraft can land and take off.
5) f18 etc are an option.
Even if we dig out the ganet’s..we can refuel multiple aircraft.

Clive
Clive (@guest_820864)
15 days ago

Why do we need aircraft carriers.

Tom
Tom (@guest_821020)
14 days ago

Having followed UK defence matters for many years as an interested pro UK Irish observer… I’d like to ask the question others have asked but not too many have answered…. all the high tech best kit arguments are all very well… but if the comfortable European governments have forgotten hopefully the UK hasn’t… in all wars of attrition mass equals victory… F35s are all very well but if you can only deploy 30 against 100 mig 29s game over… 150 Challenger 3 are great but against 500 T64 game over… marginal let alone quantitative technilogical superiority is still no match… Read more »

Greg Smith
Greg Smith (@guest_821421)
13 days ago

I don’t know why we bothered with the carriers tbh. We’d only use them to back up the US&A doing their global bully BS. If the spams are there dropping bombs on goat herders etc they don’t need us to drop half a dozen more. If they’re that desperate for warheads on foreheads, blat off a few TLAMs.
They haven’t the bollocks to use the carriers against them Houthi rebels on motorbikes, they’d last less than a week against a peer adversary and probably less once undersea drones are in full swing.
UK carriers = Ten gallon hat, no ranch.