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.

Retrofitting

As part of the FMAF vision, the Royal Navy aims to retrofit arrestor gear and assisted launch equipment to the Queen Elizabeth class.

We’ve known about this part for some time, back in 2021 the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the Queen Elizabeth class carriers might be fitted with catapults ‘in the coming years’ in order to launch certain types of aircraft.

MoD confirm aircraft carriers may be fitted with catapults

The goal is “Demonstrating the potential to INCREASE MASS AND ENHANCE LETHALITY with complimentary uncrewed capabilities and enablers.

Programmes

Several initiatives underpin this vision:

  • MUAS Concept Demonstrator: This is central to understanding the potential of MUAS, with an aim to “Setup required enablers, Understand full Potential.”
  • Capability Study and Development Coherence: The Royal Navy is focused on “Study Capabilities, Gather Evidence, Coherence with DEV and FGEN” to maximise operational effectiveness.
  • Uncrewed Systems in Development: Systems such as VIXEN, VAMPIRE, PROTEUS, PANTHER, and FTUAS are highlighted.
  • Project Ark Royal: This project involves retrofitting arrestor gear and launch equipment, pivotal for “operation of high performance Uncrewed strike and support systems.

Project Ark Royal

‘Project Ark Royal’, as part of the Royal Navy’s Future Maritime Aviation Force (FMAF) initiative, is a crucial step towards enhancing the Navy’s operational capabilities.

As part of Ark Royal, significant upgrades to the Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) carriers would be undertaken. A key enhancement is the addition of an angled flight deck alongside arrestor gear.

Here’s a look at its key requirements, with direct quotes from the original presentation.

Key Requirements

  1. High-Performance Uncrewed and Crewed Aircraft Operations: The project “Enables operation of high performance Uncrewed strike and support systems” and holds the “Potential to enable operation of FW crewed aircraft (e.g. F/A-18E, F-35C, Rafale).”
  2. Initial Demonstrations and Assessments: It’s planned that “Ramp launch to be demonstrated initially, with subsequent assessment once recovery systems are in place to enable full integration can be evidenced.
  3. Launch and Recovery Equipment: The ARK ROYAL – QEC Aircraft Launch & Recovery Equipment is a critical component, designed to “Enables rapid deployment of FW assets held at Alert in order to conduct a range of missions.
  4. Minimising Weight and Cost Implications: A significant focus is on how the “Weight and cost implications of MUAS minimised, reducing through-life capability cost.
  5. Wider Aircraft Range Operation: This equipment is “Necessary for the operation of a wider range of crewed and uncrewed aircraft,” enhancing the Navy’s versatility in air operations.
  6. Enhanced Cooperation with Allies: An integral part of this project is “Enables closer operation with allies and partners including alignment with the UK/US SOI on carrier cooperation.” Specifically, “VIXEN will depend on this for recovery to QEC.
  7. Launch Recovery Requirements: Project Ark Royal is tailored to meet the rigorous “Launch Recovery” needs of modern naval aviation.

Timeline

The plan shown below outlines a series of sequential developmental and testing phases.

Click to enlarge

The plan commences with the introduction of small-scale Uncrewed Air Systems (UAS) to establish a foundational capability for Carrier Strike. Following the initial integration, the focus shifts to developing the more complex Maritime Uncrewed Air Systems (MUAS).

Large ‘Mojave’ drone flies from British aircraft carrier

Down the road, key equipment such as aircraft arrestor gear is slated for deployment. Subsequent phases involve rigorous Joint Warrior operations, which serve as field-testing environments for emerging technologies like the VAMPIRE system. Alongside, there is an effort on enhancing data and digital frameworks.

Moving through the timeline, Crewed-Uncrewed Teaming (CUC-T) becomes a focal point, crucial for testing the interoperability and efficiency of combined human and uncrewed systems. The plan further includes a series of demonstrations, notably for systems such as VIXEN, a multirole uncrewed jet aircraft.

The effort culminates in a demonstration of the Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) carriers’ enhanced capabilities due to the Ark Royal project.

The Point

The project is focused on gathering crucial evidence to inform the defence choices available at IR25, ensuring that decisions are based on comprehensive and current data. A key aspect of this programme is to present options for the early introduction of advanced air systems and Aircraft Launch/Recovery Equipment into service.

Furthermore, a significant milestone for the project is the planned delivery of a concept demonstration in 2024, which aims to ‘open up’ the Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) deck. This demonstration is expected to showcase the potential and readiness of these systems for integration into the Navy’s operational framework as it prepares for IR25.

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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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Jim
Jim
2 months ago

I really hope we get some financial backing behind this project. The carriers could become far more capable and cost effective by operating a wide family of drones in conjunction with manned F35B to the point that their won’t be much space for more than 12 manned aircraft onboard. I just hope all these projects don’t go the same way as our previous drone efforts with a successful tech demonstration then nothing or procuring a few of what ever the US is doing. I still have my doubts about Proteus being slotted in for the AEW CROWSNEST replacement. It would… Read more »

Tomartyr
Tomartyr
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I’m allowing myself to be optimistic as it’s a cheap way of achieving the political win of disarming the ’empty carriers’ narrative.

However that’s only going to deny votes to the SNP and Labour are more likely to benefit from that then Conservatives.
And Labour, being the next government, are probably less concerned about that, not having the ’13 frigates’ myth on their record.

Last edited 2 months ago by Tomartyr
Andy reeves
Andy reeves
2 months ago
Reply to  Tomartyr

I like this kind of forward thinking. It’s a welcome change to talking about real ships that will enhance the capability of the service all round and not more of the motherships rubbish I’d love to see the contender argent conversion prospect happen that would kill two birds with one stone it could be a dual HLP and drone carrier mega flexible, and with all manner of changes and upgrades possible

Tim
Tim
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

If the number one problem is not enough aircraft, then how does diverting spend towards an already quite capable platform improve the lack of aircraft situation?

If we had loads of them, then catapults would of course improve every single one of them, but the capability of the F35b is not the number one problem.

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim

I agree 💯 They hide 🫥 from reality the big elephant 🐘 in the room which is lack of jets even if the F35 is not as capable as the A version or C version

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago
Reply to  James

The F35B has identical capability to the A and C. The only difference is how they take off and land. Internal fuel capacity varies. And the A and C can carry up to 2000lb class weapons in the internal bays. The number of weapons is no different between the 3 varients.

Louis
Louis
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

With sidekick, A and C variants can carry 6 AAMs internally. That and range is the most important difference.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago
Reply to  Louis

But the really important parts like radar, avionics, defensive aids, networking capability, stealth are the same. And even with a smaller fuel load, the F35B still has very good endurance compared to most 4th gen fighters. Including Typhoon.

Last edited 2 months ago by Robert Blay
Louis
Louis
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

I always find it comical when people make out that F35B is useless because of its range, but will talk up F18, despite F35B having a longer range.

Last edited 2 months ago by Louis
Nick
Nick
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Think that claiming the F-35B has identical capability to A and C is very, very wide from the truth, the C has~ 20,000 lbs of internal fuel whereas the B is only ~13,000 lbs, and heaviest use of fuel used on take-off. The C payload ~17,000 lbs and B ~9,300 lbs taking off horizontallyn not vertically. Another limitation of the B is the weapons bay is shorter as the space needed for the vertical lift system of the engine and therefore cannot fit JSM, AARGM-ER or the new USAF air to ground missile SiAW.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago
Reply to  Nick

So, all the things I mentioned in my comment. Fuel and weapons. The C doesn’t carry more weapons than the B. It can just fit up to 2000lb Paveways in the internal bays because, as you said, they are slightly longer. The RAF/RN no longer operates the 2000lb Paveway 3. So it matters not. And the B won’t normally take off vertically. It will land vertical or use SBRVL. 👍

Nick
Nick
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Fuel and weapons, Don’t know exact figures but expect the C with its extra fuel and catapult assisted take-off will have approx. twice the range of a B, similarly C with its higher payload can carry more weapons and as mentioned previously the longer and bigger weapons bay of the C can fit the missiles, especially those specifically designed to take advantage of the extra length, the anti-ship Joint Strike Missile, the anti-radiation AARGM-ER and the new USAF air to go ground missile SiAW in development for the A, which has same length weapons bay as the C.       Another advantage of conventional… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago
Reply to  Nick

The C does not have double the range of the B. The C needs bring back fuel for potential missed bolters. The C doesn’t carry more weapons. It can just carry slightly larger weapons due to the longer weapons bays. Weapons that we don’t use anyway. The F35B will be able to carry 8 SPEAR3 missiles and two Meteors internally. We also won’t be buying the E2 Hawkeye. It’s a 70’s design, and drones are the future of AEW. Cats n Traps require a much higher training durden for crews and flight deck crews. You also need a larger flight… Read more »

grizzler
grizzler
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Sounds a little like the “What have the Romans ever done for us” sketch from Life of Brian …apart from Weapons, Range, Fuel Capacity, Stealth Profile …whats the C got the B hasn’t…

Geoffi
Geoffi
2 months ago
Reply to  grizzler

Was thinking the same.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago
Reply to  Nick

Makes you wonder why they didn’t give the F35B a stretch in the first place!?

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

It would reduce parts commonality even further.

Frank62
Frank62
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim

That’s my fear here. Better to spend the money securing enough F35b’s before trying cats & traps which shamefully cost us dear last time we went down that road. It will take a carrier out of service a year or so while refitting. Time & opportunity for our enemies to make more mischeif.

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim

Money getting better used than the mothership rubbish that seems to dominate the whole thing these days.

Tomartyr
Tomartyr
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim

The issue is we can’t afford to lose any and that will effect how they can be used. We need a mix of systems: ones we can’t afford to lose like the F-35 and ones we can afford to lose like drones.

While price per units are not exact it looks like you can buy at least two of these for one F-35.

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Well that was really useful! You addressed the points that you disagree with and stated what you think is the answer. Oh wait it’s just a sentence with swear words in it.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

Plus I don’t think anything Jim said was crap, seems pretty well articulated to me.

mark one
mark one
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Reckon ?, go take a look at his other stuff, I’m haemorrhaging Pee mostly now…. The F18/Stringbag comparison is still causing leakage ! and here he’s talking about having just 12 Manned aircraft…. and a whole bunch of stuff that just doesn’t exist ! Comedy Gold every post. 😂😂😂 and you think it’s not “Crap”. 🙄

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I also hope the funding gets put through for these projects. The U.K. has a chance to take a lead in carrier drones. This in turn could lead to success with export sales to the other non catapults navies. With regards to the catapults, arrestor gear I wonder what the prospects of a U.K. system being made? The USA ones are really costly and a bit over kill for drones. I’m surprised that manned aircraft are being included now. The U.K. doesn’t need that on the carriers yet. A spiral development of catapults, arrestor gear may have been cheaper and… Read more »

What do I know
What do I know
2 months ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

We need drones, inflight re-fuelling of drones, launching from all larger ships and drone splash down recovery

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
2 months ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

You’re absolutely right I posted exactly the same point of view yesterday, we don’t need the US EMAL cats or AAG capability and it isn’t just the cost of buying them. You need to provide the Electricity, rebuild the flight deck and find somewhere to put the extra flight deck crews. Besides which what would we use them for ? We have bought the F35B which isn’t suitable for Cats or Traps and have not even specified a Carrier version of FCAS. The spec the RN Rfi issued was for 55,000 lbs so about half the USN system. Which if… Read more »

Animal
Animal
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

It might be but it’s nice to have a laugh😁

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

They can sugar coat things and did so for years ! The fact that the UK needs an angled catapult carrier was evident from the start , but as usual it’s let’s waste money 💰 then regret then waste more money with inadequate additions and regret even more. This carriers are an absolute disaster and have never become fully operational due to technical problems and lack of air wing. Do you think the Chinese would be intimidated by few F35? You just can’t build carriers on the cheap! Catapult angled deck carrier with capable jets should been built from from… Read more »

Jonno
Jonno
2 months ago
Reply to  James

Ld Cameron for instance. Hope he gets crash course on Naval Aviation and its potential; if that’s the right phrase?
Why bitch about the carriers? Seems we are getting the future right at last.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago
Reply to  James

My argument from the very start on here James, as you may be aware!

Meatloaf
Meatloaf
2 months ago
Reply to  James

Think you will find the the cats and traps talked about are nothing to do with full size aircraft, don’t expect the mods for drones to be major structural ones .

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  James

What plane would you be flying off your angled deck carriers? F35C is even further behind than B so you still have empty carrier decks even today. If we went F18 we would have been investing substantial sums into an outdated platform.

We have no need of a CATOBAR carrier, it would be more waste for a less flexible platform that we could not afford to operate.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Jim you are of course totally correct. The cats and traps light being envisaged are for UAVs and won’t be in the same class as EMALS.
The RN doesn’t seem to need F18s when we have F35Bs not do we need to launch or recovery Greyhound or Hawkeye AWACS.
As long as the f35b upgrades actually happen and the RAF/ FAA F35Bs can carry Meteor. Spear3 and externally a LRASM OR JASM then that’ll be just fine.

marc
marc
2 months ago
Reply to  James

Spot on

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago
Reply to  James

The Chinese have nothing close to F35. So, yes, they would be afraid.

DH
DH
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Jim, It’s certainly piqued my interest. FDO and Captfltdk, Handlers, are really going to have to have their wits about them,. Looking at the Ark Royal map, that is.
👌😁.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago

I heard an interesting claim yesterday from sub brief that there are currently only two US navy carriers configured for long term operations of F35C. Can anyone substantiate that?

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

That is interesting, not heard that, although the last few articles I read did say that they were having issues with deploying f35C in numbers, with only 2 front line squadrons deployed…long term the USN have cut their ambition to only deploying 1 squadron of f35C per carrier.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

If that was the royal navy the internet would be up in arms. It’s quite interesting though given how powerful F35 is compared to F18. You could say an America class can out fight a Nimitz class if it’s carrying 24 F35B.

I really don’t understand the USN half hearted efforts with F35C. They are doubling down on FA XX / NGAD but that’s a dangerous gamble and F18 is looking increasingly pointless in a match up with China.

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Why are you spreading misinformation about the US Navy? You know nothing about anything other than what ppl tell you here

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

Who pissed in your cereal this morning?

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

That’s not the great comeback you think it is. Jim’s not spreading disinformation, if you have a comeback or a correction you can post the correction without being unpleasant.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

He just like’s to troll, he has got very little knowledge. I think he thinks he is being smart by making off hand comments and misquoting me all the time, actually it’s a form of flattery when someone has to constantly mis quote you to appear to win an argument 😀

mark one
mark one
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Multi accounts is it ?

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  mark one

Yes Mark, I run two accounts with multiple thousands of posts on this website, and have been active for five years, just for this one interaction. 🙄

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

You found the other troll 😀

mark one
mark one
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

You seem to be surrounded by Trolls 😏I blame the subject matter you feed them. “F18 scares no one” 😂😂😂

mark one
mark one
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Yes I remember when you turned up…. do you have RSI will all those multiple thousands of posts ?

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  mark one

“You remember when I turned up” yet I’ve been posting here for 5 years and you’ve been posting for a month. So whose the multi-account now troll?

BTW if you think posting here will cause RSI I recommend you stay away from University or anything that actually involves writing.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

M1 is a long time poster who got banned, mate, now with a new ID. He likes Seaman Staines on TV and all that as a clue as to who I think he is.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago

I’m guessing his ban didn’t cause any introspection by the looks of it?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Well he has always had a colourful posting style! He’s never treated me badly in any way, so he’s fine by me.

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Who are some of you people? Do readers keep in records of other people’s inputs to the site just to try and lord it with their internet gained knowledge? There are too many on I who spout utter shyte with no experience in actual service and what it’s like to have bombs going off next to the floating tin bomb that some idiot once claimed was the best of its type in the world.all the this is stealthy this missile goes further than than that one some people on here are in a fantasy world where nothing is real unless… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  mark one

Behave, mate, in that case my arms have dropped off years ago with the sad number I have accumulated! 😳

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
2 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

You know nothing about anything other than what ppl tell you here’

Then please enlighten us ‘people’ with your views. Have a go.

Andi
Andi
2 months ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

What a stupid statement. “You know nothing about anything other than what people tell you”

Err, just think about that statement, is that not the basis of how you learn, Or did I waste all those years at uni, as I sat in some long lectures being told things, and I learned the basics of driving by someone telling me

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
2 months ago
Reply to  Andi

You might have missed that the sentence is inside quotation marks Andi? Have I misunderstood? Otherwise I agree.

Great story.Willy Russell, the writer who gave us Educating Rita like myself went to a Bash Street School. His headmaster disliked him. (Mine liked me) One day he asked the class of dead end boys what was the greatest invention in the history of human kind? Various dim lads replied. ‘Sir, chewing gum’ or ‘Football?’ impatiently the head ignored Russell but was getting nowhere. Finally he turned and said ‘Well, Russell?’ ‘Sir, the wheel’ ‘Someone told you that!’ snapped the furious headmaster.

Asker of questions
Asker of questions
2 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

Cheer up.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

what Miss information, it’s well published and confirmed by the USN, they are actually really having problems in regards to knowing what they want to do with their stike wings and readiness…as well as getting the mass of f35Cs they need for their carrier air wings..infact the marines have 3 times to number of F35b squadrons as the USN had f35C squadrons last time I looked and the USN are not happy about overall strike aircraft availability and have had to do a lot of work to keep the F18 numbers up..as a backfill to the F35C numbers being so… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I think the real question is – “do USN want to be tied to F35C and have to own all the ongoing development and sustainment costs?”

I disagree – F18 in its latest evolution is still quite potent.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago

They are actually very very luke warm about it to be honest…only ordered 9 ( the manufacturer could build 20) for this finically year to put money in other places…while investing a lot of time and effort into bringing up their f18 fleet to readiness but they are going to be dropping the number of squadrons in their carrier strike wings to 3 ( 1 f35C and 2 F18 )….it’s very much looking like that by 2025 the UKs Elizabeth would be carrying more 5 gen F35s that’s a U.S. carrier… after all 2 squadrons. I think the USN have… Read more »

mark one
mark one
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

😂

Paul
Paul
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

The USN is currently recapitalizing their entire F-18 fleet to the Block III standard in addition to standing up F-35C squadrons. The USN is buying 275-ish F-35Cs.

Paul
Paul
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The USN has 2 F-35 Squadrons now and 2 are in transition, with many more to come. The Marines have one F-35C squadron active already, one in transition, and and will have 4 altogether for CVN operations, in addition to 14 F-35B squadrons. Interestingly the Marines are the second largest operate of F-35s in the world after the USAF.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Hi Paul yes the marines have very much been far more enthusiastic operators of the F35 than the navy. Probably because the navy is not as yet seeing any significant disadvantage to the F18 and cannot see the cost benefit of more than 1 squadron per strike wing of F35s…which is not nessarily a stupid idea as by the time the f18 goes out of service there will probably be a high performance drone option to replace them….and if that’s the case you only need a few f35Cs to run as sensor, command and control nodes. But it does mean… Read more »

Paul
Paul
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Yes, the USN wasn’t looking to replace it’s entire Super Hornet fleet with F-35Cs, while the USMC is definitely replacing it’s entire legacy Hornet fleet (they never bought Super Hornets) and Harrier fleet with F-35s, the vast majority B models. While I wouldn’t characterize 270+ F-35Cs as a niche purchase, they were never intended to be the dominant plane in a USN carrier air wing, that was never in the plan. The Block III Super Hornet is only now deploying for the first time on the Vinson, it is a major upgrade to the Super Hornet fleet and will definitely… Read more »

Richard E
Richard E
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The USMC will use the F35 as a replacement for the AV8-B Harrier.
The USN will consentrate on F/A 18 and enhanced versions plus a replacement.
Likewise the F15 has had a total refurbishment with a new build version, found to be cheaper than the F22 and the F35 to buy and operate !

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Why are you trying to obtain classified information about US Navy configuration that would be useful to the Chinese and/or the Russians? Who are you intending to pass this information on to?

Asker of questions
Asker of questions
2 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

You possibly! And I think your the one that is trying (but failing) to spread misinformation.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

Umm the USN is alway clear about the makeup of its air wings..it’s not actually a secret.

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
2 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

If you want to see the makeup of a USN carrier air wing you just need to google it….they publish it every year….Tailhook convention…

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I don’t see why that would be the case. F-35C is just a CATOBAR aircraft, it doesn’t require deck modifications like the F-35B does.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

I suspect all very minor stuff more related to logistics and the specific things you need in place to maintain an F35…why would they have more than 2 of the carrier with all that in place if they are only able to deploy 2 squadrons into strike wings, I suspect they only make the modifications as the f35C squadron becomes part of that carriers strike wing.

Chris
Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The conversation is lost in the sauce, the OP misquoted.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I’m not sure that is the case, the carriers do need to have additional consoles fitted and be able to interface and download the F35s mission planning, reconnaissance and sensor data logs and then using AI and high processing power analyse this mass of data to extract the best operational awareness possible. However I think the USN is ahead of the curve and already making inroads on this issue. Carl Vinson CVN70, Abraham Lincoln CVN72, USS Ford (CVN 78) all 3 have deployed with F35Cs onboard in the last year or so, so that’s at least 3 US carriers we… Read more »

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

USS Ford? Are you sure about that?

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Yes thanks I’m sure about that fact.

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Do you have a link? Other than an ambiguous headline in the Daily Mail, I can’t find any public information.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  Jon

No link. Just aware the USN undertook extensive trials with USS Ford and deploying the F35C. They might not make a song and dance about it but the Ford can definitely deploy the C variant.

Louis
Louis
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

The link has been flagged but you can just search it up.
Ford has had trials with F35, but can’t operate them until she receives the modifications in a refit in 2025. JFK will have those modifications on launch.

rattman
rattman
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

sorry you are wrong, ford has deployed once, its current deployment. It has zero F-35c’s aboard. enterprise when it commissions in 2027 will be the first ford to carry F-35. For and JFK will upgraded to carry F-35’s at their first major refit.

They like all US carriers can land and launch them if needed but wont deploy with them

Due to the massive delays in the F-35 the final design of ford and JFK was done with out the F-35.

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

The Gerald R Ford can categorically not operate the F-35C…

She will need to have a lot of work done to enable operation of it…

Louis
Louis
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Ford still can’t operate F35s to my knowledge. Currently out of the 4 aircraft carriers deployed, only Vinson has F35s onboard.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  Louis

Nonsense Ford can deploy F35Cs. Just because Cartier airwing 8 hasn’t got a squadron of F35Cs in it doesn’t mean Ford couldn’t carry a squadron.

Louis
Louis
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Nonsense, Ford cannot operate F35s until she gets a refit in a few years time.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  Louis

And have you got a link for this quoted fact?

rattman
rattman
2 months ago
Reply to  Louis

https://breakingdefense.com/2020/04/navy-rushes-to-get-f-35s-on-uss-jfk-other-ford-carriers-will-wait/

Ford cannot operate F-35’s, JFK on paper cant but the navy is rushing to do it before its commissioned as the congress was pissed about it

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Could be true. I can only think of Carl Vinson and Abraham Lincoln off the top of my head that have undertaken F-35C operations, but the USS George Bush trialled them, so presumably is also equipped — not sure if there’s a “long term operations” qualification it fails on. George Washington and Theodore Roosveldt are in the pipeline and the USS John F Kennedy should be the first Ford class equipped to run them.

The USN seems a little cool on migrating to F-35C and are taking their time.

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  Jon

I chased up and think Paul was right (below): both USS George Washington and Theodore Roosveldt already completed the mods earlier this year, even though they haven’t undertaken any F-35C operations yet.

Chris
Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

You’re misquoting. Only two carriers have been designed/built with the F-35C in mind (Ford class). The previous Nimitz class design dates from the 60’s-70’s, long before the F-35C was a twinkle in anyone eyes. To the contrary, the F-35C is smaller than the F-14 and all US carriers have no issues operating it.

Louis
Louis
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Ford still can’t operate them, and of the 4 carriers deployed currently only Vinson has F35s onboard.

Paul
Paul
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Sub Brief isn’t a very good source for many things. There are currently 4 US carriers configured for F-35Cs, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Carl Vinson, and Abraham Lindon. The John C. Stennis will get F-35C capability by 2025, the new John F. Kennedy will have the capability upon commissioning in 2025, and the Ford will go into the yard to get it, also in 2025.

rattman
rattman
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Yes and No. The 2 US carriers that deploy to pacific (vinson and roosevelt) have both recieved the modification and have flown F-35’s operationally. Lincoln has recieved the modifications but its only done 1 deployment since it recieved it and it never had a F-35 squadron deployed. The rest of the nimitz class will require the modifications at their midlife refuel and upgrades The exceptions are nimitz and eisenhower, even tho eisenhower was the carrier that they used to certify the F-35. Neither will fly them as they will be retired in next few years. Ford has not been certified… Read more »

Bill
Bill
2 months ago

April Fools day is a long way off…..more pie in the sky. The navy gets smaller and these ridiculous bespoke schemes come out that we can never afford. Give your heads a wobble! Somebody!

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
2 months ago

Interesting that they are talking about conventional take off and landing crewed fixed wing aircraft. These will require much heavier cats and traps, i.e. more money, more space etc… The orginal request for information released a few years ago asked about light weight systems suitable for small UAV’s. Interoperability with the USN would seem to be the driver for this change. I cannot see us buying the F35C in addition to the F35B so fitting full sized cats and traps to the benefit of the USN might not survive the inevitable rescoping that will happen down the line. My guess… Read more »

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I think it’s just a stretch goal, rather than a sacrificial lamb. Like if the entire CATOBAR thing works well and there is enough funding they’d like to maybe be able to do a system that’s heavy enough to launch manned (or high preformance unmanned) aircraft, but if they can’t it’s not the end of the world.

My problem with it was the huge number of people who (when the Navy Lookout Article released) jumped on it as “THE RN IS RE-CONFIGURING to CATOBAR AND REVERSING THE F35B BUY!!!!.”

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Hi Dern,

Agree it could be a stretch target although I am kinda hoping they just focus on the main requirement of getting the UAV’s launched and recovered as that is key to increasing mass.

As for people jumping on the idea that the RN is / might switch to CATOBAR – yeh, I agree it can be quite frustrating. I half expected to see quite a few of those posts on this thread. Still time I guess.

Cheers CR

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Same, launching manned aircraft on CATOBAR is pointless atm as it is just expenditure without capability increase. Sure we could launch F-18s and Rafale’s but, is that really worth the expenditure? We have enough foreign aircraft we can operate off our carriers for now. The only way it would be a worthwhile expenditure is if we started acquiring drones in the same weight category as conventional fighters, which is a long way off.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Yes a f35b is a far more capable aircraft than any 4 gen navel strike option…then you have all the issues of carrier qualifications that mean you have to run you air wing flight ops 24/7….the GR fords for instance are struggling to keep up its air wing’s qualification due to to catapult failure rate…the Elizabeth with f35b is just about the ultimate in cost effective 5 generation air wing and carrier ops…

Chris
Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Nobody is “struggling to keep up air wing qualification” in the USN. Total fake information. The F-35B only has 13,000lbs of internal fuel with a very big, thirsty engine. Without CATOBAR or shore based tanker options, it is very limited.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris

So, is the F-18 too short ranged?

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris

That was a very specific quote about the Ford and it’s issues with its catapult, it was a specifically quoted in a number of articles that on 2 out of every ten days the Ford is not able to maintain flight ops as the catapult failure rate is presently occurring around ever 600 and something sortie… “Vice Admiral Daniel Dwyer, the commander of the U.S. Second Fleet, said that the air wing “won’t be the full complement, but it will be nearly the entire air wing.”  one article stated that:”limited amount of time dedicated to a glitch-attenuated carrier qualification process likely constrained… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris

I’m sorry it’s widely reported that the Ford is struggling, it’s only managing between 500-650 sorties before it’s catapulted stops working and needs resetting, that means it’s only managing a flight schedule 8 out of 10 days…and it’s been reported that they have reduced the air wing on the carrier..most commentators feel this was because of pilot carrier qualification issues…it’s not fake news..the reduced air-wing is fact as is the catapult failure rate…as for the F35b it’s got a longer combat range than the F18 at 833km..so it’s perfectly adequate.and is on the better side of what you find in… Read more »

Jonno
Jonno
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

I think they are looking at flight refuelling and AEW which means heavy plus being able to haul other heavy weight ordinance skywards.
Ukraine is showing us the future.
The FAA and RAF are going to have to work together or maybe they have just decided its harder than they thought!
Anyone who thinks we are going to be able to forget about Russia is deluded. They have endless resources and have some dangerous people at the top. They are dangerous because they still think early-mid 20th century.

Tommo
Tommo
2 months ago

It takes a Colonel too work out Naval air FAA requirements for the QE class is he a Marine Colonel or Army ?

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Tommo

According to his Linked In and Navyleaders he’s a Royal Marine who flew Sea Harriers and GR7/9s for the Navy.

Tommo
Tommo
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Thanks for that Dern I wonder if he crossed deck to the USMC to fly Harriers ?

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Tommo

Didn’t say anything on his profile about that, possible though? Then again maybe when the Harriers retired he just flew a desk?

DH
DH
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

👍.

Tommo
Tommo
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

With better Sea Legs I’ll get my coat

Asker of questions
Asker of questions
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Wow that’s some carer!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago

Good article refreshing and building on older news, thanks.

mark one
mark one
2 months ago

Indeed, Good article but are you reading all the comments….. i’m in a hell of a state mate !!!!😂😂😂

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  mark one

Hadn’t yet, no. Rather busy at mum’s home.

mark one
mark one
2 months ago

Yes. me too…. Got mine rather poorly now and the Father in law with just days and the Mother in law not far off also ……. No fun here.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  mark one

My Mum passed away Wednesday, Cptn. Had only been in hospital for 2 weeks.
A blessing, I guess.

Posse Comitatus
Posse Comitatus
2 months ago

Condolences to you all Daniele.🙏

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago

Bless you. Thank you.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago

Sorry for your Less Daniele, hope your hanging in there okay.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Up and down, my friend. It’s so surreal, I keep waiting to wake up from this dream, but I know I’m not going to.
I’m sorry for turning UKDJ into a support group!

Dern
Dern
2 months ago

Don’t apologise, it’s a community and while we might squabble and argue a lot, but it’s still a community it’s here to be lent on when needed.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago

Condolences from me too Daniele. All the best.

DH
DH
2 months ago

DM, truly sorry 🙏.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago

Sorry for your loss

mark one
mark one
2 months ago

So sorry to here that mate, I lost my Dad 2 years ago, he had a fall, was taken into Hospital caught Covid and died alone as we were unable to visit…. I still beat my self up thinking about how he must have felt and why none of his family bothered to visit. The Covid conversations on here were rife and I remember saying that Hospitals would be death traps for the elderly and Ill, to which I had a fair bit of flack from certain posters. 🙄

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  mark one

Oh mate. That is tough. God, I still get upset at the thought of being unable to be with one of my pets who had to go to sleep at the vets during Covid, never mind my Dad!
I’m in the beating up stage now at what might have been different, though I’m happy in the knowledge mum and I were v close and we love each other for eternity.

mark one
mark one
2 months ago

My Mum is going through the last days and having a clear out of our future burden…. This in itself is just so hard to bear, She has been extremely productive over her 90 years making stuff…. and now she is giving it all away to save us from having to….. I find myself in a sad situation, trying to be honest about whether I actually want to take much of her life’s creative talents. Life sucks.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  mark one

Hmm, she has got to a great age. My mum passed 2 days before her 80th, which got to me.
We are in a sort of similar situation, mum was a bit of a hoarder, like 3 Hoover’s in the loft! But also has lots of lovely things I’d not want to part from, and that includes her garden and pet cat.
Life has turned on its head for us in a fortnight.

Jon
Jon
2 months ago

It’s no easier on those left behind. Condolences to you and your family.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago

Sorry to hear that Daniele. May she rest in peace and you and your family find condolences and comfort in a life well lived.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Thank you to all. I admit I’ve never faced this before, and I’m veering from getting on and dealing with it to struggling.

John Hartley
John Hartley
2 months ago

Sorry to hear. My thoughts are with you.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  mark one

Bit rich, given that you’re part of the problem Mark.

mark one
mark one
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Ermm ? what ? So let me get this straight, you are saying I’m part of the problem that my dad died ? As a positive person, I’m guessing you might just have replied to a different comment …. yes ? 😧

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  mark one

I think you might need to check what comment I replied too Mark. For what it’s worth, sorry about your dad passing, it’s something we all have to deal with at some point but none of us should have to.

mark one
mark one
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Wow, thanks mate…. i’ll now think of you on a whole different level mate…. You obviously don’t give a flying.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  mark one

Ah well, serves me right for trying to be nice to someone who obviously is just out to troll and look for a fight.

mark one
mark one
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

So you write that I’m “part of the problem” then play the “Nice” card. Yeah Dern whatever. 🙄

Peter S
Peter S
2 months ago

Two years after the RFI on electro magnetic launch and recovery systems, this is the first indication that the project hasn’t been abandoned. But is it any more than playing about with possible ideas? For a navy that seems increasingly unable to man and fund existing assets, hoping to spend more on expanding the carriers’ capabilities is the wrong choice. The text indicates an ambition for a system powerful enough to operate current manned aircraft, feasible only with an EMAL system at the top end of the specifications in the RFI. Yet the pretty coloured chart suggests only modest expenditure… Read more »

Peter S
Peter S
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

The US has approved a potential sale of an EMAL system to France for its proposed new carrier. The 2021 cost is > $1.3b for a single ship with the equipment installed during construction. Gives an indication of how expensive it would be to retro fit to 2 UK carriers.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

PANG is going to cost a fortune. I can see the French pushing the programme through to completion but the cost is going to be eye watering. Naval architects I know estimate it cant be done for less than £9-10 billion and therefore really close to the cost of the USS Ford whilst being well over the combined cost of both QEC’s. I know what option I’d rather have- the 2 QEC’s. they are a very highly efficient carrier vessel and deliver big deck carrier capability at a relatively low price point. the PANG programme is going to essentially duplicate… Read more »

mark one
mark one
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

Why ? so we can abandon the B variant and buy the C ? Want ever are you smoking ?

Peter S
Peter S
2 months ago
Reply to  mark one

I was pointing out the likely huge costs of retro fitting an EMAL system to the QEs. I also made clear that if AEW can be carried out by an MQ 9 UAV variant, that and the planned purchase of more F35s would make the carriers as capable as we need them to be.
So I have no idea what you are referring to.
Perhaps you should read comments more carefully in future?

Chris
Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

Still no tanker capability. 13,000lbs of internal fuel only gets you about 350 miles and 45 minutes on station – under optimal conditions.

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Being able to handle a 45 min mission 350 miles away without refuelling isn’t all that bad. Not sure where the “only” aspect of the stat comes in. The advertised combat radius is about 570 miles, presumably without the 45 minute loiter.

If we had cats and traps for UAVs, we could go with MQ-25, which has a target of delivering 6.8 tons of fuel across maybe 4 to 6 planes. It’s worth noting that two droptanks would provide 3.65 tons of fuel per plane, whereas Voyager can deliver 60 tons: and that’s a tanking facility we already have.

John Hartley
John Hartley
2 months ago

I have long wanted QE/PoW to be fitted with advanced arrestor gear (AAG), to turn them into STOBAR carriers. I wonder what the 2023 cost would be?

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  John Hartley

About £1.5-2 billion each I think is a respectable estimate. Too much for the current defence budget to fork out for when there are so many capability gaps and other requirements that need resolving urgently.

Jonno
Jonno
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

2bn each for 4 wires? You gotta be joking. 1bn for both.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonno

No I’m not joking. EMALS is very complicated, very much not a fully matured technology at this time and requires intensive maintenance. The QEC would need 3 not 4 wires and therefore cost might be £1-1.5 billion per ship. Adding an angled deck, EMALS, arrestor wires etc is an expensive business. The QEC would need extensive time in dockyards to achieve this. One commentator said a year. I think that’s about right.

mark one
mark one
2 months ago
Reply to  John Hartley

For what reason ?

John Hartley
John Hartley
2 months ago
Reply to  mark one

Flexibility.

grizzler
grizzler
2 months ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Does the F35B have an arrestor ‘hook’ ..I didn’t think it did (why would it)?
I believe I read somewhere on here previously that may not an easy (read cheap) thing to retrofit even if it is technically possible at all ?
Or are you advocating using other aircraft instead?

John Hartley
John Hartley
2 months ago
Reply to  grizzler

Well F/A-18E Super Hornet did trials to prove it could operate STOBAR for the Indian contract. That was won by a STOBAR Rafale. The real prize would be a STOBAR F-35C. Greater range & payload than the F-35B. Not to replace F-35B, but to supplement it. STOBAR would let us inter operate with allies who have naval F/A-18E or Rafale.

donald_of_tokyo
donald_of_tokyo
2 months ago

Among the items listed, I think just introducing the angled deck (write some lines on the CV) is the most cost effective one. Operate MQ-9B STOL using it, and equip the MQ-9B STOL with ASW pods and (simplistic) AEW capability. 5 MQ-9Bs, 2 with ASW pods and 2 with AEW systems (and 1 in deep maintenance) will reduce the ASW patrol stress from the Merlin fleet, and reduce or even take-off the AEW patrol stress from Merlin Crowsnest. As RN is to lose HMS Westminster, it will be a nice option. Anything more than that will just require huge money… Read more »

Knight7572
Knight7572
2 months ago

Realistically the Royal Navy is playing the long term game as the technology needed is a bit too expensive at the moment

Peter S
Peter S
2 months ago

Obviously the way to go- lowest cost, lowest risk. If an MQ 9 variant could operate effectively in an AEW role, the biggest weakness of the current air wing would be solved.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

Not sure a drone can provide the requisite power outage to run the latest AESA radar sets? The hardware alone is heavy and would limit the drones range and endurance, then add difficulties like take off and landing- admittedly could be addressed by project Ark Royal but currently the technology isnt mature enough or proven to replace Crowsnest- maybe in 10-15 years time?

Jon
Jon
2 months ago

If MQ-9B STOL can take off with AEW pods within about 650 ft of runway, that sounds like a winner Donald San. That “if” is yet to be shown. I don’t care about ASW; Proteus can handle that and won’t need a carrier.

DC647
DC647
2 months ago

They should never have been constructed without cats and traps or at least Prince of Wales should have been upgraded during construction, instead of having two ships with limited operating options. F35s are a long range plane no good for close contact or dogfights so the aircraft carriers have to be kept a far enough distance from where they are needed. Making it too far for attack helicopters to fly from them. If they had cats and traps they could fly close contact and fighter jets that can intercept at close range. F35s have limited armaments that they can only… Read more »

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  DC647

So you can operate some in beast mode further back and some clean up front. They have been working these tactics up for years.

No western aircraft has ever fired more missiles in an air to air engagement than F35B can carry in an LO configuration.

DC647
DC647
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

The only reason they came up with beast mode is because they realised they have a very limited operational opportunity in stealth mode, it’s a very expensive plane to invalidate the stealth mode by sticking things on the outside of its stealth skin. Could have fitted cats and traps at the built stage and flew two types of jets from the carriers even if one was just fitted with them then they would have doubled the operational capacity of at least one. But bean counters won over the navy’s chosen configuration.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Id read a lot about the QEC deployment in 2021+2022 especially into eastern med when Russian high performance jets out of Syria tried to buzz the carrier, all jets inbound were easily intercepted at range and would have been destroyed in a real combat situation. The carriers airwing with F35Bs armed with AMRAAM and ASRAAM are perfectly capable. You have to remember the F35 does deliver a step change in capability vs even gen 4.5 jets. Most 4th gen jets literally cant fight in the same airspace as an F35B force. The F35s ability to engage targets whilst remaining virtually… Read more »

Alabama Boy
Alabama Boy
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Using the F35 for air defence of the fleet is a huge waste of capability and is possibly a factor in the USN choice of aircraft mix for its carriers. The F18 is a perfectly capable air defender and being cheaper means the USN can afford more and keep the F35s for the role it was built for – first strike stealth attack taking out enemy air defense systems making way for conventional attack aircraft. Of course the UK has to use the F35B for all roles because of the design of the UK carriers and we can only afford… Read more »

mark one
mark one
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

😂 crying here now.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  DC647

And that choice would have meant selling off QE, which would have been such a good look during PWLS’s propeller shaft problems.

DC647
DC647
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

They were built by bean counters and not by the opion of the navy who actually asked for cats and traps during the design stage they were overruled because the additional cost of approximately 1 billion.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  DC647

Cost is always a factor in military procurement, the choice was fairly simple, 1 CATOBAR carrier or 2 STOVL carriers, and the choice was made for 2. It wasn’t just the “bean counters” who made the decision, it was also the navy that understood this was a better use of the available funding (and a good thing too because we’d only just now be getting a carrier online).

DH
DH
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Yes Dern, a good answer.
👍.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  DH

I’d say thank you, but I’ve already been accused of multi-accounts once on this page XD

DH
DH
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Understood. That’s probably to do with circumstances he’s dealing with. No one else has. Your input is good 👍🦅thanks.

mark one
mark one
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

😂

grizzler
grizzler
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

It would- however-be a cool carrier though….

SD67
SD67
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Totally agree. That was the choice.
I was at BAE around 2010 and the “water cooler conversation” was that “adaptable design” was just a bit of marketing BS. The QE design was always optimised around STOVL. CATOBAR means you basically need to go nuclear, GTs won’t cut it. Which means double the price.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago
Reply to  DC647

Wouldn’t surprise me .

Louis
Louis
2 months ago
Reply to  DC647

Money is never infinite. A set of cats and traps for the next French carrier will cost 1.3 billion. Add 6 E2Ds and that’s 4 billion in total. The RAF need F35s as well, and with CATOBAR RAF pilots won’t be carrier trained as it costs too much. ~60 F35Cs for the FAA and a similar number of F35As for the RAF. That much extra F35s would cost 2-3 billion more. 6-7 billion dollars for just 1 carrier, negates the second carrier. Now add in the cost of two separate training fleets, two separate fleets in maintenance, cost of adding… Read more »

DC647
DC647
2 months ago
Reply to  Louis

Money is infinite???? Yet the government has spent £56 billion on HS2 and only cancelled it when the the total expense is estimated at £116 billion Boris Johnson government wasted £14.5 billion on wasteful projects, £4billion on wasted IT projects since 2000, MOD has wasted £13 billion on cancelled projects since 2013, 2011/12 £120billion spent on wasteful on useless projects everything from £19000 for a motivation magician. £2.5 billion spent on covid ppe which in most cases is in private storage units costing millions a years. For you to say money is infinite is totally wrong. The money wasted since… Read more »

Louis
Louis
2 months ago
Reply to  DC647

Every government has waste, it’s impossible to prevent. Every UK Government sector needs more money, why should it go to the MOD? Sets of cats and traps for both carriers is 2.6 billion. Another 1.5 billion for 15 more F35Cs. 2.5 billion for 6 E2Ds, 2.5 billion for the F35s for both RAF and FAA is 9 billion. That gets you 74 carrier capable aircraft, and E2s for just 1 carrier. To have 2 full CSGs now you’ll need another 6 billion for more F35s and E2s. Both options will need 2 separate bases for the F35s as it’s too… Read more »

SD67
SD67
2 months ago
Reply to  DC647

Let’s assume all the above money exists and was magically given to the MOD. You still have the basic problem – CATOBAR means Nuclear and EMALS. Nuclear means double the crew. People qualified to work on Nuclear are rare as hen’s teeth. Whose reactor do you use? Rolls do not build anything in the required power range. We’re talking 150 MW per reactor in the Charles de Gaulle vs 20 MW in an Astute. So we’re developing a new reactor 10 times larger than what Rolls are currently building. Or getting half the ship built by the French. EMALS is… Read more »

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago
Reply to  DC647

Always down to money 💰and bad planing from time to time . 🙄

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago
Reply to  DC647

Well has you may know F35c was first choice ,then the Cameron government at the time had a change of heart and went for F35B knowing this would cost more than F35c. However did read at the time when QE was in construction and planing, catapults were miss out by mistake.Which why HMG went for F35B .Now is there any truth in this ? Who knows but what we do know when it came to Defence matters it was never positive sadly .👍

Paul C
Paul C
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

The QE class were built without catapults and arrestor gear to operate the F-35B. Ordered by Labour as STOVL carriers so nothing to do with Cameron. SDSR 2010 then proposed converting one of the carriers to CATOBAR to operate the F-35C. This was shelved on cost grounds plus the amount of time it would take 2 or 3 years later and they reverted back to the original F-35B plan.

Louis
Louis
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

The carriers were designed for STOVL during Labour. Cameron decided to switch it to CATOBAR and then decided to switch back to STOVL.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

People designing aircraft carriers don’t miss out catapults by mistake 🤦

grizzler
grizzler
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

I believe it was originally meant include Cats & Traps then they moved the goalposts & decided to go for VTOL.
At that point my understanding is that the capability to intall CATS & TRAPS at a later date was suppose to included in the design to make retro fitting possible/easier.
However at some point during the too’ing & fro’ing design phase that accomodation was ‘omitted’ from the design & this ‘omission’ was ‘missed’- alledgedy…
Hence why we can no longer fit CATS & TRAPS

DH
DH
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Missing out Cats by mistake…… Nah🐱🙃

Thomas
Thomas
2 months ago

The carriers are redundant to Uk defence needs. We
can’t afford carrier groups to “project global ” power just to support USA hegemony we need to spend the our scarce resources on submarines and asymetric defence. The country must invest in the economy new industries and create a Sovereign wealth fund. And somehow get a decent government.

Fletch
Fletch
2 months ago

More evidence of a shortsighted government this equipment should have been fitted in build.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago
Reply to  Fletch

Very true 👀

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago

Wonder if there’s also an opportunity for any developments of the Aeralis to operate from the carriers? I think i saw a pilot less version in their earlier mix. And if the ski ramp was widened could any other current more conventional aircraft take off from it? Like a F18 or even the F35C? Has any drone flown off the ski ramp, anyone know?

Knight7572
Knight7572
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Realistically if the British CVA-01 had not been cancelled then the British would be using British Aerospace Hawk trainers for carrier conversion training to replace the old Hawker Hunter and the Americans would have followed our lead in doing the same

Peter S
Peter S
2 months ago
Reply to  Knight7572

The American navy did- the Goshawk.

Uninformed Civvy Lurker
Uninformed Civvy Lurker
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Aeralis are probably waiting for another batch of funding to produce an artist’s impression of one landing on a QE class soon.

If we are lucky they might also get a PowerPoint of one too.

John Clark
John Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

I think the Americans did do a series of trails with the Super Hornet and the Ski jump at Pax River, trials related to potentially selling the aircraft to India.

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

There are a few 4th gen: F/A-18, Rafale M, Su-33 and Mig 29K for sure. The Chinese use J-15s from ramps at the moment but will migrate. Saab claim the Gripen M could in theory. I also can’t see any reason the F-35C couldn’t. It certainly has sufficient thrust to weight ratio.

As for drones, the Bayraktar TB-3 has around 5 or 6 succesful flights under its belt and if it hasn’t been trialled off a ramp yet, it soon will.

Knight7572
Knight7572
2 months ago

Just to point out that had CVA-01 not been cancelled in the 1960s, the Queen Elizabeth Class hull probably would be cats and traps because the British would not have gone down the route they did

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Knight7572

That’s such a big hypothetical though. If CVA-01 hadn’t been cancelled would Harrier have existed and all that is valid, but also ignores STOBAR options, and the cost of building and maintaining CATOBAR. I’d say even the existence of the QE’s would be an open question if CVA-01 had been built.

Knight7572
Knight7572
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

the RAF Harrier yes, the navalised version Sea Harrier maybe not and the British would not use STOBAR as it is not practical and Queen Elizabeth Class would exist in some form as CVA-01 would have needed to be replaced in the 2010s or 2020s

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Knight7572

Plenty of Nations use STOBAR, it’s eminently practical and a lot cheaper than CATOBAR, it’s entirely possible that had the CVA-01 gone ahead and the RN not ended up with STOVL fixed wing aircraft that we’d have gone ahead with a STOBAR design.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  Dern

I think you are right if we had built CVA-01 we would have continued to operate cats and traps aircraft like the buccaneer, F18, etc and therefore the CVA01 and its sister ship (envisioned to have at least 2 of the class) would have still been in service now, albeit very elderly platforms. Whether either of these large strike carriers would have survived successive defence cuts made since 1990 I very much doubt it.

Jonno
Jonno
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

We would have disposed of them in 1981!

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonno

🤣😂🤣😂 yeah exactly just before the Falklands war when a strike carrier would have ended the campaign in our favour very rapidly. The buccaneers could have taken out Argentina’s airforce on the ground.

Dern
Dern
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Possibly, or possibly not. CATOBAR could easily have been seen as too expensive, we mgiht have two very old CATOBAR carriers refitted to be STOBAR, we could have no carriers because they’d been flogged off entirely, I think the only thing we can realistically agree on is that if CVA-01 had gone ahead the dominos that would have fallen would be so many and so hard to predict that we can’t really say what the currrent state of Carrier Strike in the RN would be.

Frank62
Frank62
2 months ago
Reply to  Knight7572

Plus Argentina wouldn’t have risked war invading the Falklands. The retirement of the old Eagle class Ark Royal & plans to sell off Invincible & Hermes convinced the junta a coup de main could succeed. It very nearly did. Catobar would enable far better AEW & longer ranged strike, but STOVL is more resilient to battle damage.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank62

I agree would of been interesting to see how the conflict would of work out if the Args had gone a head with invasion , if the old Eagle and Ark Royal were still about .

Ben
Ben
2 months ago

If the effort is being undertaken to retro fit catapults and an angled deck, would it not be a good idea to increase the size to support F-35C and Rafale? Nimitz’s catapult is only marginally longer that proposed Vizen catapults. Would significantly increase interoperability with closest allies, and indeed open up other future options for integration of larger systems in the future.

Maybe i’m missing something obvious.

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  Ben

Small extra length doesn’t equate to small extra cost, and not just to purchase and fitting cost. You need more than catapults to support manned CATOBAR operations: trained deck crew and operational procedures, created, practiced and continually updated, for planes the UK doesn’t have. So the odd cross-decking opportunity comes at tremendous cost and reliance on the other countries for practice and upkeep. I’m not saying it couldn’t be done. We’ve seen that V-22 Ospreys are exercised on the QE class carriers in the Westlant exercises, but that has fewer overheads and less requirement to keep deck crew specifically available.… Read more »

Martin
Martin
2 months ago

Why not build them like that? Save money, safe them being taken out of service to be up graded. Save us making AEW helicopters. Oh yeah we do it on the cheap then pay for it later.
Good idea if carried out though.

Hugo
Hugo
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin

Was never a good time to add Catapaults. And you think we could’ve afforded Hawkeyes even if we did have them?

Martin
Martin
2 months ago
Reply to  Hugo

well the navy should go big or go home, half arsed is the British way and it alweays come back to bite us,

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin

HMG governments always want to do Defence on the cheap 🙄 🇬🇧

Hugo
Hugo
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin

Even what we have now is excellent, would hardly call it half arsed.

Martin
Martin
2 months ago
Reply to  Hugo

Dated but good, not the best and showing its age. Not sure Excellent is the word though. The error the MOD make is they never up date things fully its about what will do, whats the cheap option, sadly.

Louis
Louis
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin

The French are looking at 1.3 billion for two sets of cats and traps for their next carrier. Double that for the RN. 6 E2Ds cost ~2.4 billion. 5 billion dollars for carriers that cost 6 billion each.

Rob N
Rob N
2 months ago

Looks like a sensible idea to increase use of UAVs/CUAV. However I am less keen on the idea of trying to add old 4 generation planes onto the carrier or F35C. The F35C model is not that much better than the F35B. It would be more cost effective to buy more F35B and some MV-22s for AEW and transport work. Trying to turn QE carriers into F1, E2C platforms is not the future but the past.

An UAV tanker like would be a very useful force multiplier.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

👍

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
2 months ago

A very interesting read. In service date around 2050 I would think.

John
John
2 months ago

Looks like the navy Admirals are dreaming up more ways of wasting money on the £3 billion white elephant aircraft carriers , it’s like little boys playing games with taxpayers money.

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
2 months ago

Is. This true, or an April fool I n the wrong .onth

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
2 months ago

A drone carrier would be good aquirement,for the contender argent conversion Hlp option converting a merchant ship
great the RN needs a HLP and the future looks drone shaped this is the Ideal time to steal. A march on other nations and go with the plan.

Richard Beedall
Richard Beedall
2 months ago

Its all down to the next defence review in 2015/16 and whether the funding will be made available, realistically at least £1bn to cat (one full length and one half length EMALS each?) and trap (2 wire AAG?) the carriers and £1bn as a down payment towards developing and buying UAV’s/UCAV’s? What will scare the bean counters is the disastrous attempt in 2011/12 to turn POW in to a CATOBAR carrier – cancelled as estimated costs soared from £500m to £2bn. If I remember correctly a large chunk of the increase was the US insisting that all American equipment was… Read more »

RH
RH
2 months ago

The RN needs more F35B before anything else.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  RH

Agree the MOD announced intention to order 26 more F35Bs but that hasn’t come to any actual order yet. I’m guessing the MOD are quite rightly insisting no further orders until the British weapon systems integration has occured. We need meteor, brimstone, spear3 all able to be deployed from our F35B fleet.

grizzler
grizzler
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Well if they are they are playing a game & hoodwinking the public as they know it will be a long time before LM get the F35B up to a position to integrate thaose weapons systems …a long long long long.. well you get my drift.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 months ago

Going out on a limb here guys but why not just say right F35B hand over to the RAF ,Navy to buy F35c and be done with it .Sure RAF would make good use of F35B from land like the old Harrier specially now going back to old cold war days tactics . And stop going in circles .Or is it because we can’t afford any F35 what ever version 🤔 , Better get myself to the pub now gugs out the way 🤗 🇬🇧 🍺.

Paul C
Paul C
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

There isn’t the money to operate and maintain two F-35 variants. Given how small the two fleets would be just not feasible. We scrapped the Harriers to go from 3 fast jet types (Typhoon, Tornado and Harrier) to 2 so realistically I can’t see us going back to 3 (Typhoon/Tempest, F-35B and F-35C).

DH
DH
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew D

AD, do you mean the other way around? RN_35B, RAF _35C. 35C no worky on RN f/decks. Just sayin😊

Battle Star
Battle Star
2 months ago

If installing a catapult system. Perhaps the F18 maybe a better option to mix in with the F35’s

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago

Is the stingray uav mentioned the Boeing Stingray? If so that’ll be good. Hopefully price will come down from the current £120 million a copy.

Cygnet261
Cygnet261
2 months ago

If you decide to build an aircraft carrier, make it compatible with others in NATO, otherwise it’s just a helo landing deck.

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  Cygnet261

You mean make it compatible with the USN, the French and eventually the Indians, as opposed to compatible with the USMC, the Italians, the Japanese, the South Koreans and eventually the Spanish? Well, there will always be pros and cons.

Looking forward at the technology trajectory of UAVs, I think we got it broadly right.

Andrew Climo
Andrew Climo
2 months ago

Retrofit of cats and traps to the QE carriers? After all that’s been said amd done, and the huge extra cost of having cats and traps retrofitted rather than built in …. you’ve got to be kidding.

So much for strategic planning!

Paul42
Paul42
2 months ago

The article talks about having the ability to launch both manned and unmanned aircraft……..now in order to do that you are looking at installing emals….plus arrestor wires capable of recovering such aircraft…..
That will be very expensive, why the hell bother? Just make sure we order enough F35Bs and have dome with it!!

Jon
Jon
2 months ago

For those who haven’t read it yet, I recommend a recent article in Naval News on creating a future uncrewed US fleet, from an interview with a senior RAND design engineer, Dr Savitz. He seems to be recommending future US carrier strike groups be based around multiple, smaller, conventionally powered UAV carriers, with tankers and solid support ships. Could we sell them on a couple of hybrid QE class, or do you think they’ll want to go the full Anadolu? He’s also saying that high powered catapults that can accelerate UAVs in ways that human bodies can’t tolerate will allow… Read more »

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 months ago
Reply to  Jon

The USN prefers the big stick carrier approach. Nuclear powered and 100,000+ tons.
The fact you could get 3-4 QEC class ships for the price of one Ford and deploy 2x the airwing size of a Ford class is lost on them.
The USN could overwhelm the PLAN if they had a fleet of 30 QEC rather than 10-11 nuclear powered strike carriers.

marc
marc
2 months ago

We are governed by utter idiots,and that trickles down to the chiefs of the armed armed forces just get that into your head and you can see the reasons why we are where we are.

Gary Worman-Buckland
Gary Worman-Buckland
2 months ago

Yet again , our short sighted ,defensively blind .namby pamby ,liberal bean counting government have done it again! Retrofitting these carriers will cost much more than fitting them in the first place and take the carriers out of service for that period# Idiots all!

Robert Stark
Robert Stark
2 months ago

I would like to know why the current variant of the QE class was chosen over a cat & trap variant? Surely the latter would have been more flexible for embarked air wing. Installing ‘ski jumps’ in the design really tied down the RN to buying the expensive F35B. The USN developed electro-magnetic catapults, these could have been incorporated in the QE class in the first place. This would have given the RN a choice of buying ‘off the shelf’ aircraft like F18’s or (F35C’s) to be the preferred air wing.

Dominic Davis-Foster
Dominic Davis-Foster
2 months ago

This is the trouble with relying on those Americans for aircraft.

Val
Val
2 months ago

They are adaptable. Plop the 150′ to 250′ mid life hull block and they are complete.

Chris Morgan
Chris Morgan
2 months ago

Interesting new this, and like everyone reading it I did an eyeroll when I saw it and exclaimed the same thing you all did -m “Why oh why didn’t we just do this to begin with?” One might point to the explosion in numbers, types and relevance of unmanned systems since the carrier design was frozen and they were built, but I’m not sure how much water that carries. Ironic really, that carriers that were slated by all and sundry as a too-large vanity project with zero strategic use, are actually in reality, too small to do what we want… Read more »

SD67
SD67
2 months ago

I’d have thought the main requirement would be to deploy some sort of drone-based replacement / supplement for Crowsnest. Is this envisaged as part of Proteus?

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  SD67

It’s all CGI, models and hints at the moment. Proteus will probably be heavy lift, ISTAR and ASW focused. It could branch out over time to encompass new areas, budget willing. It’s even more speculative to guess where. I’d hope that Leonardo would want to showcase more than its rotary building skills and Proteus should carry a much better multimode radar than the Thales I-Master found on Watchkeeper and Peregrine (it will be more than 10 times the size of Peregrine after all). However, I doubt it will carry anything powerful enough to call itself AEW by current terms. Possibly… Read more »

Trevor G
Trevor G
2 months ago

That’s a shame – first glance at the deck layout suggested a de Havilland resurgence was in the works!

Toby J
Toby J
2 months ago
Reply to  Trevor G

It does seem that MOD seem to be naming all of their new Powerpoint Projects after DH aircraft. Mosquito (came up a couple of years ago), Vampire, Vixen etc.

Geoffi
Geoffi
2 months ago

What a load of codswallop.
The money isnt there.
Finally we get an admission we spent 6bn on 2 carriers we wont have enough aircraft for.

Nick Cole
Nick Cole
2 months ago

It wouldn’t be impossible for a cat capacbility on the main runway anyway. The cat giving a boost to any aircraft take off. Arrestor gear doesn’t preclude vertical landing anyway.

Charles verrier
Charles verrier
1 month ago

I’m seeing a lot of PowerPoint, but not much else. MoD can’t fund its current commitments, so this whole article feels, to put it kindly, optimistic.