Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
The JEngO of the RAF Harrier Squadron that embarked when i was part of the ships company tried to call a halt to proceedings as he was concerned that the aircraft were parked too close together, and was supported by his senior NCOs
Are you not mistaking that with the fact they'd parked them arse over the water, the problem being to attach the powerset you would have to be an air walker?
The only people who thought T45 was able to defend a naval force on it's own were the window-lickers in the Treasury and CS in the MoD who had to sell the "taking risk on retirement of SHAR". You'll note that none of the naval folk involved pretended for one minute that they were happy with the idea. Particularly now as we're only getting six T45, not the eight planned at the time.
A T45 has 48 Aster cells, which based on a couple per inbound allows 24 engagements. Nearly thirty years ago, a relatively unsophisticated force was capable of generating several waves of over twenty aircraft per day, sustained over a couple of weeks despite some fairly heavy losses. How long to empty the silos - particularly if your opponent is adept at feinting - ie forcing a SAM launch without pressing the attack? What if your RoE prevent use of PAAMS (or Sea Viper as we're now supposed to call it) in automatic mode?
The point about FW air is that it can identify inbounds and confirm intent, intercept to warn off, or spash if required. Most crucially of all, it allows you to kill the archer, not the arrow, which is usually the most efficient way of defence. All of this applies equally to aircraft defending land as well as a maritime force. From another perspective, one does not try to do SEAD by killing the SAM, you go after the launcher and the C2, similarly the artillery battery is the target, not the projectile if you want to counter artillery.
The point about a helo carrier & AV8As owning the airspace is that just by fitting a 20mm pod to the aircraft, you make it a lethal threat to a helo force, which cannot therefore probe beyond the cover of it's own force SAM (and deconfliction there would be a bitch). The naval force can therefore no longer see over the horizon - which reduces threat warning, decreases the arc a SAM ship can defend and generally makes the force AAWC very unhappy. This also allows threat air a lot more freedom in approach, flight plan etc all of which significantly reduces the effectiveness of the defences.
As for all JSF only doing strike, I suspect that reflects the single role mentality prevalent in some quarters. No-one really thinks Dave is just a bomb truck do they? Naval aircrew and aircraft are usually expected to operate in different roles, even if they don't necessarily excel in one. The ability of CVF to accommodate 30+ FW allows a small number to be allocated to deck alert or rotated through CAP, while the remainder deliver strike (or Surface Warfare, or OCA for that matter). The proportion allocated between DCA and other missions can vary according to the threat at the time. AD fighters can do OCA and escort strikes, they don't just sit and defend the ship 24/7. I assume the same applies to land-based air - some fighters are presumably tasked to defend strike aircraft bases when there is an air threat, surely?
Maritime forces need layered defences, FW & AEW to engage the threat at long range and kill it before the more complex problem (high-speed weaving missiles) becomes an issue. If it does, then that's what your SAM and CIWS systems do. Same applies to land, read E3, Ground-based radar,Tiffy and Rapier (what's left of it), plus rock apes for a different threat.
Late Arm Live, how many DLs have you got??? Operating from ships as either a fast jet or helicopter is never that simple especially when blue water with no divs. This is core corporate experience we are losing here and it's the accident rate that will tell the story when we try to start this up again. If we get the chance...
Over 50. I still consider myself a beginner, but it didn't take that long to learn really. I can only talk about Harrier II, but it is generally easier than landing on a mexe. There was, however, an element of tongue-in-cheekness in my previous post. But only an element
Not a boffin makes some excellent points in his post, but sadly they are also very expensive points. We cannot afford all of these (necessary, IMO) toys. Without them, we can't operate these new carriers safely or effectively. So, that leaves us with 2 carriers, no AEW, no FJ (be they OCA/DCA/AI/CAS) or AAR assets. And to achieve this, we offered up how many FF/DD?
A CV is a high value target, and to carry out offensive ops it needs, itself, to be safe. Due to the high (extortionate?) cost of such HVUs we cannot afford to get the defence wrong once - in other words our political (power projection is a political tool) tool must be almost guaranteed safe to operate before we deploy it. That requires the fleet centred on the CV to have effective AEW and CAP, tanker (force mutliplier) and ASW, after these self defence mechanisms are in place the rest of the air arm is offensive and does the power projection, probably under the umbrella of local (at least) air superioty gained by the air war part.
A surface mounted SAM platform is an inner ring defence asset, which should be taking out whatever leaks through the outer rings - relying on surface ships to totally counter an air threat is the sort of stuff that was (rightly) ridiculed in the 1920's, and took 2 decades to permeate through the ossified brains of the battleship mafia.
I am amazed that the gunnery officer appears to still be ascendant in the modern RN, after all it's some 90 years since Billy Mitchell proved the fallacy of the 'ships can defend themselves against aircraft' argument.
Late Arm Live. There are many of your contemporaries who have been too confident and f*cked up what should have been a simple DL. Speak to some of your (current) execs. 50 does not an expert make. Even with 1000 percent more landings than you (Rotary and FJ), I do not consider myself anything like an expert. Your tongue in cheek banter accepted as at least you've done a few! I guess it's academic for your fleet now anyway, but don't make light of the price paid by FAA pilots in blood for the last 101 years! As for Dave, a computer isn't going to save you when the OOW has sailed into a fog bank, you've dumped down to hover weight and don't have the fuel to divert. Experience will....
I very much doubt it's a gunnery officer that is ascendant. I think you'll find it's a non-naval service or CS type that can't quite understand why more than one type of asset/system is required in "capability world".
As for DD/FF offered up, they're unfortunately irrelevant if you don't have the capital ships to back them up. As I've said before, either keep the three maritime pillars, or home defence with SSK, OPV & MCMV and the equivalent for RAF and army. Nothing else makes strategic or financial sense.
Billy Mitchell actually proved that given time and assets, it's possible to sink a ship that isn't defending itself or exercising damage control.
The point however stands, as demonstrated countless times since, that air power can be used to sink ships, although in fairness a sub-surface weapon is needed to do the job properly. An air launched weapon tends to just make it burn until everyone gets off.(Academic - I accept).
Here's a thought. JCA is a first day of the war fighter, the bad guys and their missile firers will probably be in static bases, as air forces tend to be. Would, in a Falklands style conflict, all these 'ships are easy to sink' arguments hold sway if we TLAM'd and PW4'd the living be-jesus out of their immovable, airfields/ weapon dumps/ POL on day one? We could do it cued by google earth, while they were still trying to find us using recently acquired MRA4.
I've witnessed a few FAA pilots who've f*cked it up too but that's not the point; Carrier aviation is, without doubt, a challenging and dangerous environment and as you well know can quickly degrade into the latter at the most inopportune times. RAF and FAA guys that I've witnessed aboard HMS's finest over the past 10 years have invariably acted professionally, approached CVS Ops with due diligence, caution and respect and have therefore built up a good deal of experience of operating STOVL at sea. Mistakes have been made, fortunately not often catastrophic and fortunately have been learned from.
As for Dave, a computer isn't going to save you when the OOW has sailed into a fog bank, you've dumped down to hover weight and don't have the fuel to divert. Experience will....
Confuses me this does....
Dave is the CV variant, not STOVL so references to hover weight and lack of fuel (c.19,500lb total internal fuel) are moot, to a point anyway. By the time CV Dave operates from QE Class we'll have Ship JPALS with autoland (a la ACLS), hands-off to the deck so again, your fog bank argument is being dealt with for the future.
Corporate conventional carrier ops are something only a select few in British Defence have any experience with. I'd wager that the most experienced CATOBAR operators are currently in the RAF (via exchanges on Hornet, Super H and Tomcat) IMHO. In x years time when the MoD are learning how to project Carrier Strike, most, if not all, will be starting from a basic level and working up as safely as possible. In the meantime the RN will operate at sea without any FW until around 2020.
I think we are in agreement. It is the professionalism that has saved the day through practice and experience. To lose that skill for 10 years affects not only the aircrew but the ships crew as well. Yes I admit I had referred to Dave being STOVL instead of the CV we have now changed the order to, but the point remains the same if you are blue water or out of range of a decent div. Oh and by the way witnessing is not the same as doing.
How much do you really know about our RAF/RN guys flying F18 and AV8B for the US on exchange? We have to pay for that privilege as it's not really an exchange (not many USN pilots doing the same over here). When we originally looked at the costings for this back in 2005 the US wanted to charge us $2mil per pilot per year. A bargain in my opinion but then again i'm not a beancounter REMF. Work out how much it costs for just 20 pilots for 10 years and that's at the 2005 price, not the price we are paying now. Do you really think the UK is going to pay for pilots to keep current in the US for ten years??? Don't be so naive.
Last edited by Aim between the eyes; 31st Oct 2010 at 12:44.
Reason: Missed out a word
Ships can be easy to sink if you can find and hit them repeatedly. Once found and hit, eventually enough HE will overcome any amount of armour / damage control, either by fire, structural failure, ingress of oggin or death of ships company. The trick is to find, identify and attack the ship first, which is not as easy as is often made out.
Therein lies the fundamental difference between a land base and a sea base. One can move (and therefore makes targetting difficult) and one cannot (therefore easier to target and suppress, but harder to completely disable). Artillery or Frog-type missile fire can effectively close a base without scratching anything in a HAS, in the same way that firing a bucket load of Seersucker, Yakhont, etc will eventually do for a naval force.
As for the Day 1 campaign, I suspect you'd want to do that anyway (but may not be allowed - see RoE), but in any case you'd have to be 100% sure against a wide target set. It's also unlikely anyone with military skills greater than Saddam would sit in their bases fat dumb and happy waiting for a GPS delivery of nasties.
ICBM - unfortunately, while your point re CV ops might be true, I'd put a fair bit of money that the guys who've done exchange tours have not done time in CATCC, Wings / Little F (Air & mini-boss in USN), handlers office or the squadron engineering and logs posts.
While they may be adept at doing the mission plan, launch, mission, recovery thing, they are unlikely to have a great understanding of how to spot a deck, arrange aircraft for servicing vice maintenance, weapons prep and bombing up and how all the various departments both in the squadrons and on the ship work to deliver the sortie rate. People thinking just about aircrew and (to some degree) chockheads are missing the point - it's the corporate experience of how to put it all together that is about to be lost. Nor can that be maintained at HMS Siskin - that just gives the basics of handling, not the fine art of pulling it all together.
As SDSR says "we need a plan to regenerate the necessary skills"- all I can say is it had better be a f8cking good one, cunning eneough to do more than brush your teeth with!
"By the time CV Dave operates from QE Class we'll have Ship JPALS with autoland (a la ACLS), hands-off to the deck so again, your fog bank argument is being dealt with for the future."
Very important. Note that the goal for UCAV (which nobody considers that hard) is equivalent safety to manned ops in clear daylight weather. However, it's therefore going to be safer at night and in poor viz, because the system isn't visual.
As for reliability: the jet is already completely reliant on computers and sensors to fly. The DGPS on the carrier is simple and light and can be duplicated to the ends of the earth.
Also, unlike ACLS, the system does not scream LOOK AT ME I'M A CARRIER all over the RF spectrum.
Logic drives you to all-automatic landings, all the time. Far less cost, far less wear and tear on the jets, and much easier for mixed sea-based/land-based forces.
I get your point about auto-land but you cant always rely on it. Chances are that some part of it (ship/aircraft) will fail some of the time and you're back to manual. Again, chances are it will be blue water/no div in black as a witches t*t weather. Do you really want the guys/gals to not bother practicing manual landings??? Come on man are you really that naive as well?
Aim - Fully auto landings are, I agree, a stretch. However, they don't involve anything on the airplane that isn't already there, and without which the pointy end would not continue to stay in front. The jet is being controlled by computers which do their best to provide the flightpath that the pink squishy thing in the cockpit says that it wants.
The carrier end of the system is pretty simple - GPS receivers located several hundred feet apart and using that differential signal to compute exact positions - and can be made highly redundant.
At a certain point the risk of an accident due to an autoland failure will be less than the known rate of accidents and incidents in carrier landing training.