Aircraft carriers are a symbol of national status, the technical capability required to build them and the resources required to operate them globally aren’t attainable for most nations.

The Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers are the largest surface warships ever constructed for the Royal Navy and will represent a significant increase in capability. The vessels will be utilised by all three branches of the UK Armed Forces and will provide eight acres of sovereign territory. Both ships

are versatile enough to be used for operations ranging from high intensity conflict to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

F-35B jets on HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The 1998 defence review identified that aircraft carriers offered the following:

  • Ability to operate offensive aircraft abroad when foreign basing may be denied.
  • All required space and infrastructure; where foreign bases are available they are not always available early in a conflict and infrastructure is often lacking.
  • A coercive and deterrent effect when deployed to a trouble spot.

Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, former First Sea Lord, has said, “To put it simply, countries that aspire to strategic international influence have aircraft carriers”. Henry Kissinger, while United States Secretary of State, also said: “An aircraft carrier is 100,000 tons of diplomacy”.

American MV-22B lands on HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Searight Royal Marines, explained the importance of HMS Queen Elizabeth and her capabilities.

“HMS Queen Elizabeth will maintain the United Kingdom’s ability to have a forward-based strategic conventional deterrent which has the ability not only to conduct strike operations with the F-35B, which is its primary role, but also to have an Embarked Military Force that is fully trained and ready to be projected ashore to conduct tasks that might arise.

That might be soft power for defence engagement, all the way through to humanitarian and disaster relief and war fighting. This training is part of the initial work-up to achieve that. The training has gone really well. It’s been an education to the Ship’s Company on what the LPH role will entail, and there has also been education to those who assist me to achieve aviation assault operations: Assault guides, FLYCO, the Logistics department who make sure they can sustain the operation and troops sufficiently; the ammunition personnel in the Air Engineering Department who make sure we have got the right ammunition. It’s a complex process.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Gibraltar.

When will they be fully operational?

SaveTheRoyalNavy.org have this fantastic infographic here.

Preview, click to visit full sized image.

What will the vessels carry?

The term now used for the carriers embarked squadrons is ‘Carrier Air Wing’ (CVW). The vessels are capable of deploying a variety of aircraft in large numbers, up to a maximum in the upper fifties in surge conditions.

F-35B on HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Captain Jerry Kyd, former commander of HMS Queen Elizabeth, commented on the initial deployment and the gradual increase in air wing numbers:

“We are constrained by the F-35 buy rate even though that was accelerated in SDSR in 2015, so initial operating capability numbers in 2020 are going to be very modest indeed.

We will flesh it out with helicopters, and a lot depends on how many USMC F-35s come on our first deployment in 2021. But by 2023, we are committed to 24 UK jets onboard, and after that it’s too far away to say.”

In addition to the joint force of Royal Air Force and Royal Navy F-35Bs and their pilots, the air wing is expected to be composed of a ‘Maritime Force Protection’ package of nine anti-submarine Merlin HM2 and four or five Merlin for airborne early warning; alternatively a ‘Littoral Manoeuvre’ package could include a mix of RAF Chinooks, Army Apaches, Merlin HC4 and Wildcat HM2. Sources close to the programme assure me that the vessel would still carry at least one F-35 squadron aboard in such circumstances to offer air defence as well as support to the helicopter assault activities.

The Crowsnest AEW&C aircraft will come from a number of the embarked Merlins (any of which can be fitted with the sensor package), the number again scaling with requirements.

Around the time the first carrier deploys operationally, the UK will have 42 F-35 aircraft, with 24 being front-line fighters and the remaining 18 will be used for training (at least 5 on the OCU), be in reserve or in maintenance.

What is the ‘deterrent effect’?

The view of the deterrent effect these vessels will have has been expressed frequently in defence circles, with the First Sea Lord last year stating that the Queen Elizabeth class supercarriers will represent a “powerful and important strategic conventional deterrent”. Admiral Sir Philip Jones First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff said:

“HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first carrier in the world designed from the outset to operate a fifth generation combat aircraft. Crucially, a second ship – HMS Prince of Wales – is on its way, which will give the UK a continuous Carrier Strike capability. I have every expectation that, in time, this combination of carriers and jets will represent a powerful and important strategic conventional deterrent.”

The ships former commanding officer, Captain Simon Petitt, rightfully pointed out in 2016=7 that there is a lot of symbolism in modern warfare and that having a ship the size of HMS Queen Elizabeth, which will be the navy’s biggest ever, was significant.

The sight of a heavily equipped 70,000 tonne carrier, which is almost 300 metres long, heading towards a potential enemy has an deterrent effect that is essential if the UK wants to project influence across the world Petitt claims.

“It is massively visible, you can range back in history and see the value of this. Everything from Nelson deterring Admiral Villeneuve from leaving Cadiz all the way to the big battleships of early 20th century, to what we are doing now.

The Americans use it all the time. We currently haven’t got this level of carrier capability. The bigger the capability the more influence you have to bear.”

So great is the impact of larger vessels as a deterrent, they’re often used as a geopolitical chess piece. American governments have, since the second world war, moved aircraft carriers around to demonstrate American resolve.

HMS Queen Elizabeth with the USS George H.W. Bush.

There’s historical precedent for the UK utilising this capability, in 1972 British Honduras was threatened with imminent invasion by Guatemalan paratroops. Britain’s response had to be immediate and decisive but there was only one deterrent the government could offer: HMS Ark Royal and her air wing. They were used successfully to deter invasion of the territory.

The particular benefits of using carriers in this way are that they operate on the high seas, where permission is not needed from other countries. Indeed, since modern US carriers are large and imposing they “show the flag” to great effect due to their sheer size alone. Equally, it is often argued that had the Royal Navy had two full sized carriers in 1982 it is more than possible that Argentina would not have attempted to take the Falklands in the first place.

Larger carriers don’t have to be packed to bursting point with aircraft to achieve their greatest effectiveness, even with fewer aircraft on board, a ship with a large flight deck can rearm and refuel aircraft much more quickly, this is typically why they allow for much higher sortie generation rates than smaller vessels.

HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Sutherland and HMS Iron Duke.

Aircraft Carrier Alliance Chief Engineer, Martin Douglass said:

“The Queen Elizabeth Class can fly 72 fast jet sorties per day – which can be increased if needed – and will give the UK a world class carrier strike capability for many years to come. She also has increased survivability because of the separation and distribution of power generation machinery throughout each ship.

The ship’s Artisan radar can track up to 800 potential targets at the same time and cut through radio ‘clutter’ generated by the equivalent of 10,000 mobile phones. The long range radar can track up to 1,000 contacts across a 250 mile radius both in the air or at sea. It’s an application of technology that’s already been proven on the Type 45s, but this time is linked to the Carrier’s organic capability to control a wide area of air and sea.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth seen from frigate HMS Iron Duke

The Key Numbers:

  • The project to build HMS Queen Elizabeth and sister ship HMS Prince of Wales cost more than £6 billion.
  • The aircraft carriers have a top speed well in excess of 25 knots.
  • The flight deck is 280 metres long and 70 metres wide – enough space for three football pitches.
  • The ship is the second in the Royal Navy to be named Queen Elizabeth.
  • The ship has a crew of around 800, increasing to 1,600 when a full complement of F-35 jets and Crowsnest helicopters are embarked.
  • There are 364,000 metres of pipes inside the ship.
  • Both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales will keep 45 days’ worth of food in its stores.
  • The entire Ship’s Company can be served a meal within 90 minutes – 45 minutes when at action station.
  • Leaving the Rosyth dock was among the most difficult manoeuvres in the sea trials, with just 50cm between the bottom of the ship and the seabed in the port.

143 COMMENTS

  1. Have to say every time I read or see these beauties I get a lump in my throat the size of a pineapple. Well I’m off now before I read one or a dozen of you complaining about no Sea Ceptor or god knows what else. Same point for god knows how many times the F35 is superior in range and lethality to any anti-air or ship missile in existence.

  2. Excellent.

    Don’t now hamstring them by getting F35A instead of B meaning they can only be used in the most limited manner.

    Also there are far, far too few Merlin HM2 to operate from Ships Flights, provide an OCU, take on the ASCS role from scrapped Sea King ASCS Mk7, be a single embarked ASW Squadron, and have any spare capacity whatsoever if the unexpected happens.

    Extras as the situation demands like Chinook, Apache, Wildcat all catered for. I’m talking about the main group of F35 Merlin.

    • Time for a new lease of life for the 12-15 Merlins in storage I think.

      It’s more than enough airframes to replace the baggers, and give a few extra airframes for additional ASW or ‘Commando’ capabilities.

      Yes, they have been used as Christmas Trees, but remember, the HC3 upgrade to HC4 is essentially replacing most of the aircraft and its systems anyway.

        • Agree with both of you Steve and Lusty.

          I appreciate that Crowsnest is flexible and can be just attached as needed to a Merlin.
          Still feel a dedicated Squadron using the HM1s would be a major bonus as we have just 30 HM2.

          • I think the parts are attached, to other Merlins.

            I do wonder how deep is the spares inventory for Merlins at sea? I remember seeing things like Seaking gearboxes in crates in Fort classes.

          • Comes a point when we need to look to have new build. I think it works out cheaper fairly rapidly.
            12 to increase numbers for the 2 carriers and 12 for prudent planning; =24 overall.

      • 12-15?

        We only bought 44 and a number have been written off.

        There are 8 HM.1 in total in Shawbury and the word on the street is you may as well build new for the cost to re-build them to HM.2 standard. In other words….its not going to happen.

        • Thanks. I too had heard of the number being 8.

          Forget converting into HM2 and forgive my ignorance. IF they are flyable with resourcing spares could they take Crowsnest or do they need the HM2 standard to be compatable with it?

          I keep reading it can be attached as required.

          Or could they be used as a lower spec squadron in support of the RFA?

  3. Very nice pieces of kit. I hope we design a sea tempest to go on these ships, but I very much doubt it unfortunately! To costly for so few jets onboard! 😭

  4. Let’s hope we don’t do anything silly now and let us concentrate on B and forget A.

    If we have to forgo A’s additional range so be it. We already have capability gaps every nation apart from US does have gaps.

    B has to be our expeditionary plane now even if the carrier is elsewhere. Typhoon should be the aircraft for home and established bases and the follow on big stick if it is needed. Let’s face it B is more aeroplane than most of the world’s nations can deploy anyway. And if we have to face off against a peer it is unlikely we will do it on our own and unlikely there won’t be sufficient lead up to get Typhoon into theatre.

    Perhaps when replace Argus we could look to a design with a thru-deck on top so we could use it in the aviation training support role? This would be useful for casualties to as we could manage more helicopters safer and quicker with a larger flight deck.

  5. Nice to see them but there remains no real credible reason for the UK to have aircraft carriers of this size. It really isn’t too late to sell them, notwithstanding the embarrassment, and reinvest the money and manpower saved into areas of Defence that actually need them.

    The 21st Century and beyond will see these carriers being as vulnerable as Renown and Prince of Wales quickly became in WW2. Only the US – and eventually China – will need carriers like this.

    Even if we keep the carriers, F-35A is a must buy option. Simply put, the A is a much more capable aircraft. Advocates of more B models seek only to undermine the RAF

    • The carriers are the size they are because that is what is reqired to efficiently operate the F-35B. Many engineers and naval architects worked on it for years. Of course there are always going to be ill informed people who think thay know better.

      • “Of course there are always going to be ill informed people who think thay know better.”

        Fat Dave is entitled to his opinion. He has said nothing that is wrong technically.

        The question we have to ask is, for what were the carriers purchased? Now if it was purely fleet defence then yes we could have got away with much smaller hulls. The need to maintain cap, plus have a couple of FJ on stand by, plus operate ASaC and ASW helicopters we could have comfortably got away with 40k tonne hull. It wouldn’t have cost much less because the complicated systems needed to operate aircraft would have pretty much cost the same because the size of the hull for that makes no difference. The thing is the RN, the UK needed a hull. that could do more. We needed a LPH too. We needed something that can maximise our invest in aircraft like our sizeable Chinook fleet and our vast corporate knowledge. And lastly ‘strike’ and CAS. Air and steel might be cheap but moving the steel still costs money so obviously a bigger hull burns more bunkers. Having a big hull helps with sortie rates yes but it helps with other things too like helicoper assaults so the package leaves all at once. Big flight decks are useful. There is little too much tendecy on sites like this for everybody to [email protected] off on the fast jet when it is only part of a greater whole.

        But Fat Dave is entitled to his opinion.

    • There are plenty of reasons.

      Power projection. Without carriers of our own we are forced to rely on other nations to allow us the use of their air bases. If Argentina ever managed to capture the Falklands again, or even disable the runway at Mount Pleasant, we’d be unable to send a potent force to recapture the islands. No surrounding country would allow us the use of their airfields as they wouldn’t want to be seen to take sides.

      2. A larger carrier allows more flexibility of operations and a higher sortie rate, as the article said. It makes the job of fighting a war a little easier.

      3. I disagree about F35a vs b. Well… I do and I don’t. Should we have A variant as well? Yes. IF we could afford it. If it were announced that defence were to get 3% of GDP or higher then yes, by all means we should purchase 60 or so F35As. However, the budget is what it is and we can only afford so many planes. With that in mind, even though the B variant has shorter range and smaller weapons loads, it is vital that the planes we have are versatile as possible. The real advantage of B variant is that they can be used from either land bases or the carriers, as required. If we switch any of the planned 138 to A, this decreases the number of planes that can be used from the carriers. If half were made into A variant and then we had to fight a 2nd Falklands war for example, we could only put a smaller number of planes on the carriers. 24 for example. With all the B variant we can surge the carrier and put 40+ on the ship; a formidable force. Why choose to limit capabilities like that?

      Advocates of the B model do Not wish at all to undermine the RAF. Simply, that with resources as limited as they are it makes more sense to have planes that can be operated from both land bases and carriers.

      • “Advocates of the B model do Not wish at all to undermine the RAF. Simply, that with resources as limited as they are it makes more sense to have planes that can be operated from both land bases and carriers.”

        Pretty much my thinking. Why spend a vast sum and then be unable to fully utilise the QEC with aircraft if there is one 12 aircraft squadron, the other is deployed by the RAF elsewhere and the other 2 projected squadrons are the A model?

        The A is indeed welcome, once the ability to surge either 1 carrier or have a lesser number of F35 on both is met.

        48 F35B then switching to A does not do that.

        Many actually think it is the opposite, that it is the RAF trying to undermine the FAA. I have read it here countless times.

        I don’t get into any of that inter service rivalry because as far as I am concerned with the UK’s strategic position BOTH should be priority over the Army.

    • To be honest we should have purchased the C variant and built the carriers around that. They could have been used from land or sea and have a similar range to A variant.

      But what’s done is done and to tinker with anything now would be prohibitably expensive. This goes for the carrier or the planes themselves.

      • Steve, the core point of our carrier capability is to have a carrier available to respond at very short notice 24/7, 365 days a year.

        If we had the C variant, keeping a core of two squadrons ( and aircrew qualified) available to embark at all times would have been a massive strain.

        I think availability would in fact be substantially less than a B equipped carrier, unless we had four squadrons fully available.

        Any diversion to land based strike, would have disrupted the constant training regime needed to be fully carrier qualified and severely disrupted our carrier strike capability.

        I firmly believe that conventional carriers can only be successfully operated by superpowers with the core numbers and finance to be able to operate them 24/7, i.e the US and eventually China.

        I think that both in terms of displacement and aircraft type, our QE class are perfect for our specific UK needs.

    • An aircraft carrier sails in International waters, so aircraft can operate from a carrier in International airspace as well, and when land bases are denied.
      And provide best means of protecting shipping from other hostile aircraft operating from land bases.

      Britain has been a UN Security Council
      member since WW2, that is a fact on the ground!

    • remove the ugly ramp, angle the deck, and operate other aircraft,the f 35 is overpriced, unproven,reliability questionable, too much is being relied upon, if the tempest is the future, we better get a move on, or, it will be obsolete before it ever enters service

  6. 100,000 tonnes of diplomacy- as an American admiral said at the time – “only if they are properly armed and protected “ which is very much in doubt given its force protection’s is limited. It’s ok having the most powerful radar in the world to know you are going to get clobbered but if you have to use your aircraft for self defence against land based threats cos your destroyers can’t then your diplomatic clout becomes severely limited. Also our government is trying to do trade deals with every despot on the planet so the political will is not there. Good for business in the bars of Gunwhatf in my hometown of Portsmouth though.

  7. This F-35 A/B question is not as simple as looking at total procurement numbers. It is more about how Typhoon draws down and how Tempest replaces it. If you compare with F-15 and F-22 then it becomes obvious that sometimes the sheer cost of a next generation aircraft means you can’t buy enough to cover the tasks asked of it/them.

    I don’t really see a need for more than 80 F-35B and I would even settle for 60 leaving F-35A to back-fill a closed Tiffy production line whilst Tempest comes on-line. If we don’t buy all 138 F-35 however, then “fleets within fleets” becomes an issue and we should probably stick to B.

  8. If we look at a fully equipped task force then we should be able to deploy:

    24 F35
    15 Merlin HM2
    12 Merlin HC3
    12 Wildcat HMA2

    So before we try and load up any Apache, Chinook and Wildcat AH1 we’re already cramped for space on a QEC, LPD, LSD, six or so FF/DD and a couple of Tides.

    Even with the aircraft numbers we’re signed up to having we litterally NEED an LPH 🙂

    • It’ll be interesting to see what hangar capacity the next generation FSS end up with.

      According to Wikipedia the 31,565t Fort Victoria has a 2 spot flight deck and hangar space for 3 Merlins (which I assume is all accurate information). With rumours that the next gen FSS will be closer to the 40,000t mark, and the size of the Tides would seem to point towards that, I’m hoping that the aviation facilities will at least match and ideally exceed those of Fort Victoria. That could be a very useful additional hangar capacity if we do end up building 3 rather than 2 new FSS, or even essentially 4 or 5 new FSS if the hospital ship proposal were to go ahead and those 1 or 2 foreign-aid funded vessels were based as closely as possible on the next-gen FSS design so that they could be re-purposed in time of crisis.

      I’d also still like to see a dedicated LPH capability come back to the RN though although, following the same principle as is now in place for the carriers and LPDs, ideally that would actually mean a build of 2 so that we couldn’t get caught out with a single vessel in deep maintenance just when it’s needed. I fear however that the possibility of LPH capability coming back to the RN (excluding the PoW swing role) is on the distant horizon if there at all. Perhaps when Albion and Bulwark go out of service it might happen, assuming that when they go out of service it’s due to the age of the vessels and not due to government cuts of course.

    • More realistic I feel.

      12 to 24 F35B
      9 Merlin HM2
      4 Merlin HM2 Crowsnest.
      3 Merlin HC3 as CSAR.

      4 Wildcat on 2 T45 and 2 T23.

      The Apache Chinook etc could come after or instead of as part of a Tailored Air Group.

      • That’s definitely more sustainable. However, I suggested “fully equipped” which really meant a carrier + amphib + RM task force. The RM then need copters for CASEVAC, VERTREP and movement around the battlefield.

        Interesting you would choose to put a Wildcat on your T23. Personally I’d put a Merlin on them as they are the ASW copter and you’d have two dedicated spots up-threat of the HVU ready to go. The carrier simply maintains them and sustains the flights with another 6-8 cabs. That leaves the carrier to operate jets and AEW on a routine basis. I’d also have the CSAR copter as a Merlin HM2 whirling and burning ready to go on the AEW spot [it would actually be the next Crowsnest to launch]. This leaves HC3 for commando lift and intra-ship replenishment operating from the LPD, Bays, and supply ships.

        Behind this would the relief task group consisting of the other carrier, LPD, etc. This would bring every other aircraft we can prise out of LM or out of Culdrose depth 🙂

        • I quite agree on the Merlin / Wildcat for T23 Simon.

          I stated Wildcat simply because we have too few Merlin! And I believe 815 NAS has ships flights for the 19 Escorts we have left.

          Understood on amphib group in your first list. Cheers.

        • Merlin HM2 for CSR?

          I meant the role that was trialled by the RAF Reg and now looked into by the RM for Joint Personnel Recovery from potentially hostile territory, would you still use a precious resource such as a Merlin HM2 for that?

          • Daniele,

            Actually I was talking about SAR (an additional HM2 in the AEW rotation ready to launch, not just to take the place of the AEW about to land, but also for SAR emergencies caused by jet launch or land problems).

            Inland CSR would, as you rightly suggest, be HC3.

    • Simon

      A single QEC can hold 72 F35B’s as well as various helicopters, this is certainly surge conditions, but realistically we should aim for a minimum of 24 F35’s as standard, anything else is wasteful in my opinion.

      With escorts you can add in 12 helicopters (if we built Karel Doorman’s for our SSS each can hold 6 Merlins). So we could end up with a fardenser air wing if we chose to.

      The fact is we need to invest in our military and our military needs to consolidate on fewer large platforms and stop wasting the valuable resources it is given.

      It is hard to be sympathetic, when so much money is wasted, but for me we need to do this to protect those who serve, this is needed in quality and quantity.

    • In the meantime, an air wing with 24 F-35 is more powerful than the entire Argentine air force.
      It alone will prevent another Falklands war, making it worth the money spent on it.

      • David the 4 typhoons on mount pleasant are currently no powerful then the entire Argentine air force. They have no fast combat jets left, just home built Puccara turboprops. If Argentina reinvigorated it’s Airforce with jets purchased from China or Russia we would just increase the Eurofighter component on the islands up from 4 to 8 or 12.
        Also the islands airbase is due to get FLADS very soon. Land based SeaCeptor.
        Argentina would need to purchase 36 high performance jets at least to threaten the islands whilst hoping a type 45 is not around to shot them all down.

    • we’re not going to get one,we should go back to revit how the first carriers were adapted from merchant ships i’d like a bay class with the superstructure, removed,and a full deck fitted.

    • SeaRam sort of sits between CIWS and PDMS like SeaCeptor; it sort of complements both. To be effective it would be need to be placed where the Phalanx will be / are mounted as that would be optimum. Perhaps it would be better to wonder whether we could fit a better CIWS than Phalanx and the fit SeaCeptor? I am never sure about missiles overflying flight decks even with ‘cold launches’. Guns/trainable missiles below flight deck level are a different matter.

    • According to the ACA blurb the QE class are designed to be fitted with SeaCeptor. When/If, who knows but the space near the forward starboard phalanx was supposedly earmarked for SeaCeptor.

      • i for one are one are sick of the designed for but not with mentality, they are warships, so enable them to fight.i’d go for a searam on the albions as well, they’d easily fit on the ‘pointy end’

  9. The whole Thorney subject of whether or not the Carriers should be fitted with Sea Ram, Ceptor or any other Defensive hardware has been done to death, I can see the point David Is making. The fact Is, They are not and most probably never will be fitted.
    Layered defence Is what we are working with and when you look at the actual Equipment providing that, you know what ?, It ain’t so bad really. T45, T23/26/31, Astute, F35, Merlin, Chinook, Apache, Wildcat, Phalanx, Viper, Ceptor, Spearfish, Harpoon, 30mm, 12.7mm Not to mention the Worlds finest Pilots, Sailors, Marines and Army.
    In fact I reckon That’s not far from Par with the USA all things considered. Add to the fact that we are probably unlikely to have to Go It Alone, I believe we are probably In a better place than we have been for some time. But, It would be really Fantastic to have More, More of pretty much Everything, Most on here agree with that. For a good reason.
    Lets see what the future brings us.

  10. yoo englsh has too ov these biggy bote fings an wee Has nun, wee giv chinky Slit eye arsols biggy lawnchy bote too yuse ass Gambolin bote an vey do reebild an has all new bote four planey stuff wiv big banggy gun guns . Wee hast need four Bote wiv Wizzy planes too attach thee Rusky Scrum Internally Proobin ower Womans an Backsides Lung liv Ukrane

    • You English have two Big Boats. and They have none as they Sold theirs to China as a casino. Which was re built as an aircraft carrier and their women keep getting Poked by the Russians from behind.

      Or words to that effect !!!!!
      I’m loving this Translation Challenge, truth be known. Ivan, Give Us some more .

    • yoo englsh has too ov these biggy bote fings an wee Has nun, wee giv chinky Slit eye arsols biggy lawnchy bote too yuse ass Gambolin bote an vey do reebild an has all new bote four planey stuff wiv big banggy gun guns . Wee hast need four Bote wiv Wizzy planes too attach thee Rusky Scrum Internally Proobin ower Womans an Backsides Lung liv Ukrane

      Lets go for the whole lot: You Britons have two of these large ships and we have none; we gave the Chinese slitty-eyed arseholes a big aircraft carrier to use as a gambling boat and they put in in for refit; its almost a brand new ship now and complete with big banging guns. We have need for an aircraft carrier with fast jets…okay it falls apart here. Something about them Russians using a scrum to internally probe women’s backsides? Long live Ukraine

  11. I cannot see the point in having excessive aviation space on the new store supply ships . The operation of three Merlin’s is the absolute maximum that can be effectively operated. Hanger space for two with a third stored on the flight deck is all that the Forts can achieve. This requires complex manourvering and timing of flying Operations to ensure a safe flying environment, ie always keeping space for an emergency landing. In addition any more Aircraft would require doubling hangar size, more manpower, stores, weapon handling, fuel and spares. From past experience two ASW Sea Kings was the most efficient number on a remote RFA platformssuch as O boats, Tides, and Forts.

    • Basil, I think It’s a Reaction to Selling HMS Ocean to Brazil, who will probably operate her for at least 20 years more than “We” deemed her “Operational”. She was after all “Worn Out ” after being used Extensively for 20 years”. and all of a sudden, We don’t need her at all any more. forgive my Cynicism.

    • Yes. But can you have too many flight deck spots or hangars. They are big ships. It adds little to the cost to have them. The aviation facilities use ‘volume’ that would be empty anyway. No weapon arcs to worry about. Just because you have the space it doesn’t mean you have to buy helicopters to use from, but who knows if you will need at some point in the future. What if say a helicopter needs to divert in an emergency? etc.

    • Basil

      I take your point and for normal operations I agree, however if the UK were to standardise its large RFA and amphibious platforms onto a Aegir based Karel Doorman design, that allows for a whole new level of flexibility. With some careful design we could have a platform that when matched with the appropriate enabling platforms can take on a large number of roles independently and then in a war time situation scale up to a higher tempo of operations that is higher risk.

      For me it is about options – a Karel Doorman in LHP role could hold 12 Merlins with 6 being the standard, and hold a Battalion of Marines possibly (certainly 1 or 2 companies). When not in this role it could act as a mothership for our mine countermeasures or other small vessels or act as a hospital or humanitarian aid vessel.

      Lastly it can perform it solid stores role for which it is eminently suitable. All in all its a very useful vessel to have and for me the most flexible vessel the RN could buy. 12 of these alongside 4 tides would give us a very strong and flexible capability, whilst saving on design and maintenance, built at a rate of 1 every 2 years we could keep refining the design and build indefinitely. Worth considering in my opinion

  12. It is great to see the RN back in the big carrier business, but the carrier group needs enough escorts/tankers/stores ships, to keep it on station for any length of time.
    I think QE/PoW really need some MV-22/CMV-22 if we are to make the most of them. Lord knows how you find the money for them though. Probably going to remain on the wish list for a long time.
    Also, which version of the F-35B? I think we should wait for the block 4 hard & software + engine upgrade 2.0. around 2023-4.
    The UK does not need 138 F-35B. The most you would put on a carrier is 36. 36×2=72. If you allow 16 for early prototypes + training/spares/trials, then the maximum UK F-35B is 88.
    That means the RAF can have 50 F-35A without hurting the RN carrier force.
    The F-35B needs its reach extended to make the most of it. So MV-22 AAR roll on kit, or those stealthy Israeli drop tanks, or an extra range stand off missile. Assuming the carrier wing is too far away from a safe Voyager airbase.

    • But, We are Seriously Scrapping the Barrel as far as Aircraft numbers are concerned . Tornado’s are off, Typhoons are minimal, F35’s are on long lead Order. I hope to Allah that we don’t actually have any proper hardcore War any time soon.
      Go and have a look at the Numbers mate, It’s Seriously low, Lower than anytime since the RFC was formed.
      It takes a lot longer to build a Typhoon than It did to build an SE2b.

      • Nothing I said was in favour of low numbers. On previous threads, I have pointed out that the RAF had 400 combat jets in the 1970s, when the UK was broke & had to call the IMF in.
        I think the Tornado is being retired too soon in comparison to Italian, Saudi & German Tornados. Probably, too late to change that.
        So lets have all the RAF Typhoon in service rather than sitting in sheds. Perhaps we should prove we are good Europeans by buying the German proposed tranche 4 Typhoon. 24 would cover the missing RAF Typhoon that were sold to Saudi Arabia.
        As for F-35B, 48 covers the immediate need. Numbers 49 to 138, should be block 4 with the engine upgrade 2.0. Otherwise we blow our money on early, lower capability aircraft.

          • Agreed. The low numbers of fast jets, escorts, tanks, artillery, helicopters + the brave bods to man them, is quite worrying considering how mad the World is now.

        • The RAF has really got enough Typhoon’s, mainly use as ‘hanger Queens’!
          But it is a Manpower problem that the RAF has, insufficient crews and pilots to man Squadrons. Which also results in smaller squadrons.
          Half of the Typhoon’s procured are in strorage.
          Also half of the new crews and pilots for the F-35B will be FAA(Navy), and 2nd F-35B squadron, will be 809 NAS(Navy) standing up in 2023. Plus 207 Squadron (OCU) is standing up in 2019.

    • I disagree here.

      For starters the 138 is, sadly, over the life of the program and were unlikely to have more than 80-90 in our inventory at any one time.

      The current plan is 4 frontline squadrons, so that’s 48 planes.

      Plus an OCU squadron, thatd be 10 planes, say. Perhaps the same again for test and evaluation. So say 68 to 70 planes. The rest will be spare airframes; used as replacements for planes lost in combat, accidents, or simply to rotate to prevent wear and tear.

      Ideally we should have 5-6 squadrons of F35; That’d be 60-72 frontline planes. If the MoD pulled their finger out and ordered them faster then we could achieve that without actually having to buy more planes.

  13. They need a SAM system, a larger pool of escorts & for enough F35Bs to be operational at any time to ever be capable of a surge effort. Aster 15 would be ideal.

    • Frank

      I think Aster 15 should be upgraded to Aster 30 (additional booster) and we should standardise our short range weapons on SeaCeptor.

      If we take the recent programme for HMS Duncan, it has 48 Silo’s – so 48 Asters. If we used Seaceptor it could have 32 Aster 30’s and 48 Seaceptors (quadpacked). This gives it far more capability to defend against a swarm attack.

      Aster 15 for me has been superseded by Seaceptor, luckily it can be upgraded so no real wastage here. Let’s get Seaceptor bought in volume and upgrade all asters to 30 or NT status.

  14. I think we all agree that they should have been built with missile defence onboard but we have to be realistic and now they are built it would be too expensive to add them, when money is needed more urgently on other capabilities. I do however wonder why the decision was orginally made not to include them, when you would think adding during initial build would have been a tiny increase in overall cosf, but maybe it was a case they had a choice of cut to the bones cost wise or only have one carrier.

    • an aspect of the design is that, sufficient sponson space is available ,say for SEARAM.or whatever. hower any company company with a heavy fabrication ability could build ‘bolt on sponsons for fitting in a dockyard setting

  15. In many ways I like these carriers, and they do have a lot of potential for the future. As one of my American colleagues said the Royal Navy has skipped a generation of costs and when the T26s come on line would have one of the most formidable carrier strike groups going.
    However I still wonder if the MoD missed a trick. When the plans were starting to be formed about the carriers back in the late 1990s I wondered if the MoD and the UK as a whole could afford two carriers. So I asked myself the question would it possibly be better if the RN had 3 LHDs that can do 26knots similar in size to the American USS America. It would have been a more flexible platform. I did write to the MoD then 20 years later I am still waiting for a reply. Ah well.
    My biggest concern is the carrier itself, the vessel is meant to be operational for the next 50 years. In that time aircraft are going to go through major changes notably in drone capability. From what I have seen none of the advanced drones that has carrier capability such as the X-47B or Tararis drones have STOVL capability. So it seems to me that there will come a time where TRAPS will be needed. As aircraft and drone weights continue to rise EMAL will also be a requirement. I just wonder if the MoD will have the money to retro fit this technology and it there if enough space and engine power to deal with it.
    Yes we can all argue should it have sea ceptor, or 24 or 36 etc of F35s but 25 years from now the F35 if going to be an old airframe but the carriers still would have a further 25 years to go.
    A side question I cannot find an answer anywhere does the QEs have a crash barrier?

      • All the deck photos show it doesn’t have an emergency crash barrier. The reason I believe it needs one is quite simple. So that the F35B can carry out vertical or the rolling landing technique, it requires an additional engine inlet door, two opposing sets of lift fan doors and the exhaust nozzle doors to open. If for some reason one of these doors fails to open from a bird strike or battle damage – what does the pilot do? If they are operating close to the coast it’s not a problem, but in the middle of the Atlantic, Pacific etc? The ship does not have any aerial refuelling capability, so the pilot must either elect to eject of finds some means to land conventionally.
        Unlike the F35C it does not have a arrestor hook fitted as its location is replaced by the rotating exhaust nozzle. If they choose to land conventionally can they still operate some of the still functioning doors. For example if the lift fan doors are damaged can they still operate the rotating nozzle? I don’t believe the nozzle is capable of being rotated upwards which would help reduce the landing distance as the aircraft stall speed is reduced.
        The QE’s deck is pretty long, but not long enough to prevent their brakes from over-heating and slowing the aircraft enough to not roll off the ramp. Also , the F35B has a smaller wing than its brothers, so it will have a higher landing speed which further compounds the problem.
        Yes a crash barrier is required!

    • we should have designed the harrier with stealth, power upgrades. if we could have done that, and the 72 retired harriers would have been available from minute 1 TOO MUCH HOPE IS INVESTED IN THE ABILITIES OF THE F 35B

  16. Let the NAVY have all the F35B, and give the RAF some more Eurofighters, maybe a bunch of F16 or similar, and a medium/heavy bomber, with a decent bomb load and range.
    Yes I know it wont happen, our political pygmies have decided that we can only be a vassal state to the EU and we need to be more like Belgium.
    We keep reducing our fighter and bombing capability- in range and bomb load. Our military planners have to work with the limited range of the eurofighter and the minimal range of the F35B, but then it was designed as a battlefield support aircraft, so get used to playing round the edges, whilst the real work is done by more capable aircraft. We are building more and more reliance on inflight refueling whilst our likely enemies now have v.long range A/A missiles to take these out when a shooting war starts. Yes we will need to stand behind the USA skirts.

    • What are these more capable aircraft of which you speak? Long range heavy bombers? Those are slow and vulnerable. If shit hit the fan against Russia or China it’s not going to be F35s, Typhoons or US F22s being blown out of the sky each night, it’ll be the B52s.

      The reason that range and payload is reduced is a natural payoff for stealth capabilities. F35B has a reduced payload compared to Tornado but still better than Harrier at sea; at least F35 won’t have to ditch unused weapons to be able to land vertically like the Harrier did. Similarly, F22, the most advanced and capable fighter in the world, has a reduced payload nd range compared to the F15. It’s a consequence of stealth.

      Both planes can have it improved. Drop tanks will reduce stealth profile but I wouldn’t be surprised to see stealthy conformal fuel tanks on both F35 and F22 to improve range.

      As for Typhoon, it can hold a lot of ordnance. It’s an absolute bomb or missile truck in those terms. IMO we should put CFTs on them as it frees up space for more weapons while also improving range.

      But something else to consider is this: we have a decent sized tanker fleet, which extends our planes’ range significantly.

      • I really do think that the Tornado fleet should be replaced with Taranis/Magma.

        I see the F35 taking off with 2 of the drones and the F35 doing all the intelligence, blocking, electronic jamming and sending the drones onto target several hundred miles further forward, giving us a deep strike capability. It also allows the F35 to carry more defensive weapons and th taranis to carry the strike payload.

        Benefits of this are cost, risk reduction and scale.

        Cost: A taranis should cost at leas 1/4 of a T35 or Typhoon and does not need an additional pilot ( I would have 1 on standby though should the F35 link be lost).
        Risk Reduction: You are keeping your pilots and costlier aircraft at range and sending in strike packages on unmanned systems.
        Scale: by adopting this approach, we can scale up with each F35 have a pair of these it gives us critical mass in both the RN and RAF.

        Lastly, we have the product now (taranis) and should go for this, once proven I am sure other F35 customers would also adopt and that may just give us an export market. This is what we are good at and just like the Norwegians have the JSM/NSM being adopted by partner nations, I am sure most would adopt this approach.

        We have always been innovative in the RAF, now is the time to do so once again.

        • Pacman27#, I am afraid your idea is a bit ridiculous, sorry! So a F-35 carries two 4 metre drones which are launched from the F-35 bomb bay, which flies to the target and
          releases bombs, so what size are those bombs? They certainly will be a lot smaller than the size of the drone, most likely Brimstone size, which has small explosive power, not heavy weight bombs!

      • Steve R on heavy bombers being vulnerable.
        You do realize B52s and B-1Bs wouldn’t be “Bombing” anything. They would be launching missiles like JASSM-ER and LRASM at extreme range. Their would be no shooting them down as their would be no opportunity to at that range. By the time Air Defense knew they were there they would have several dozen (20 per plane) if not over a hundred if multiple B52 squadrons were used, missiles landing on their runways, hangars, ammunition dumps, radars, and other early warning stations.
        To shoot them down with fighters on CAP you would have to get through their escorting aircraft (Raptors, F35s, F15-x). If Strategic Bombers were not fit for task the USAF wouldn’t be building B-21 Raiders.

        • The US is indeed building the B21 Raider… at over half a billion dollars per unit. For any country bar the USA that’s unaffordable.

          Typhoons could do the same job with Storm Shadow, refuelling en route and on the way back if needed. For the cost of a single Raider we could have 4 Typhoons and a refuelling tanker… and the Typhoons could still engage enemy aircraft if they had to.

          We can’t afford a fleet of heavy bombers any more, or really any aircraft that serves only one purpose. Which is why most countries chose multirole aircraft as one plane cancel 2 or even 3 jobs.

          If we’d had a choice between another 40 Typhoons or F35s, or a squadron of 10-12 heavy bombers, I’d take the former.

          • In 1982, the shiny new Tornados were useless as they did not have the range, but the ancient Vulcan did (assisted by many Victor tankers).
            Typhoons are great, but only if they can reach the enemy. If not, they are expensive ornaments.
            I don’t think it would happen, but I would be very happy if the RAF had one Sqn of 6 to 8 B-21 bombers.(or second hand B-1s).

          • Steve R , Personally, I think It’s unaffordable for them too. It’s a bit like, “The Last Days of Empire” What we are seeing Is a Bankrupt Nation spending way more than they can actually afford in the long term. It’s the way of the World. History Repeats Itself, Time and Time again. A few years back there was talk of a New World Order, Well I personally think It’s here, The Bizarre thing Is, I don’t think Its China, Russia or Asia, I also don’t think It’s Islamic either.
            You’ll All laugh at this but, I believe Brexit will Lead us to a new period of Influence. All we need is the Vision and leadership to Succeed.

            Feck, The JD has run out, must go now !!!!

          • If Russia can afford 8 Squadrons of Tu22’s, Tu95’s, Tu160, I am sure the UK with an economy over twice as big can afford strategic bombers!

  17. They are only a symbol if they have a full air wing and for that the RN actually needs more F35bs, and more Merlin HM2s, and delivered at a faster pace than they are now. Other wise basically they will be like HMS Hood, great for world cruises but no good in combat.

    • They’ll likely never see their full potential but they’ll still be a potent asset. Even with 24 F35s on it that’s still enough to make a lot of potential adversaries think twice.

      If we could buy enough F35s to fill them with 36 jets each plus helicopters, and get 10 T31s to add to the T45s and T26s, and a few more Astutes, then we’d have a mighty fleet indeed!

  18. Steve,
    I think the only way adequate numbers of Astutes, SSKs, escorts, Helicopter s etc Let alone what might pass as adequate UK air defence, and a more capable army in the current economic climate. Is to bite the bullet and not replace Trident, if we need a nuclear deterrent then a minimal one based on cruise missiles on SSNs. And free fall bombs on Terrains/ F35a. I would go for a split buy F35 in these circumstances, 80 F35B Royal Navy only, 60F35A RAF.

    • It wouldn’t even need that; just build 4 more Astutes modified for Trident missiles. They’re built in modules anyway so wouldn’t be too much to put a ballistic missile module in.

      Regular Astutes are £1.4 billion; say the modifications take them up to £2billion each that’s still a fraction of the cost of Dreadnought. Savings could go towards the rest of the fleet, and defence as a whole.

        • Wouldn’t need to be an Astute per say; a new sub based on the Astute, simply larger with a compartment that will fit the D5 missiles.

        • A sub. based on the Astute would need to be a similar size of Vanguard subs, because Trident D5 is 13.5 meters, the Astute hull is only 11.5 meters in diameter. Only Trident C4, which is 10.2 meters or a Polaris missile would fit in the Astute class sub.
          I am not sure what the USN did with the Trident C4’s, they did have a range of 4300M.

      • An new Astute type of sub the size of Vanguard, which is big enough to fit D5 missile, would cost much more then £2 billion!

  19. Hes ukraine give him some respect and a spell checker ,but which one of you guys knows how to speak ukraine??? at least he tries.

  20. Crickey, this post is all over the place, The only bit missing is a discussion in tanks! Just to remind to the new stores ship bit: the problem of having multi roles vessels is that they lead to a reduction in overall numbers and capacity. If we had semi LPDD/ stores ships with aviation facilities for ASW Merlins: come the pressure of war, The vessel cannot be a useful stores supply asset whilst embarking hundreds of troops and kit, whilst being part of a ASW Screen offshore. There is a logic to separating out core roles. Unfortunately this is the way some of the “table top thinking” procurement bods think. Having the RFA remain as a civilian government organisation goes some way to help the cause and is probably one of the key reasons for it’s survival. One additional point, neither Hermes or the Invincibles had any form of crash barrier, yet at surge they had a packed deck with over 15 harriers, in the rare occasion when a running landing was required space was always found and aircraft brought to halt via brakes. I see no difference fit the F35 on a far larger field. In my opinion a barrier would only add cost and maintainance.

    • I mean hopefully it’s not as bad as it sounds, and it’s far from confirmed anyway!
      But we have some T23s available in 4 years anyway, so they will be available for sale anyway. As for the B1 Rivers, hopefully they only mean HMS Clyde which is already expected for sale next/this year, the other B1s were confirmed to be forward deployed around the country, we are already gaining 4 OPVs with the B2s and B1s. As for the hunts MCMs,we already have two lying up decommissioned from the 2015 SDSR, Quorn and ???. Not a huge loss there, I doubt(hope) they won’t drop any more! As for the Wave Class, the MOD have frequently denied selling them but unfortunately it’s a possibility, but it would be terrible, even with the tides we are extremely low on replenishment ships and would be essential for any future significant power projection, but when have the MOD prioritised strategy over deficits!
      So it may not be as bad as it sounds, but there are just rumours as well!

  21. Well this piece has given the usual arm chair Admirals and experts a chance to vent their .they believe ,superior knowledge ,however I would add that having ability tp project power is dependent on the political will to use it. This is where we have to face the possibility of a Corbyn Goverment which will negate any use of Military power any where. Indeed i suspect the Defence budget will be radically reduced and we become just a bystander in World affairs

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