On the utility of carriers

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Re: Funny pics

Postby Mikey » Tue Apr 24, 2012 3:13 am

So, it's "hold off on those mothballs for now, boys?"
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Re: Funny pics

Postby Atekimogus » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:09 pm

Captain Seafort wrote:The bottom line is that the Royal Navy is locked in (and apparently loosing) yet another war with its oldest and most dangerous enemy - the Treasury.


Again, no expert here, but what does the UK hope to get out of those ships and does it really justify the cost? Yeah I know, power projection however I wonder how much of a deterrent a carrier-ship is nowadays? And I wonder if such a thing ever pays for itself even in cosideration of the greater scheme of things.

Since most warfare we have where the western hemisphere is involved is pretty much assymetrical it seems like a waste to build such high tech stuff. "Dropping a 60 Mio. Dollar laser guided intelligent bomb on a 10 Dollar tent" someone said it quite poignant.


So, and I know I might be wrong here, it "seems" that the building of such a ship is more motivated by tradition and outdated pride more than practicality.


However, since this is the funny pic thread and I actually quite like the UK, here a picture making fun of the french

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Re: Funny pics

Postby Mikey » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:19 pm

I wonder if a stahlhelm is legal riding gear for the Tour.
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Re: Funny pics

Postby Graham Kennedy » Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:30 pm

Atekimogus wrote:
Captain Seafort wrote:The bottom line is that the Royal Navy is locked in (and apparently loosing) yet another war with its oldest and most dangerous enemy - the Treasury.


Again, no expert here, but what does the UK hope to get out of those ships and does it really justify the cost? Yeah I know, power projection however I wonder how much of a deterrent a carrier-ship is nowadays? And I wonder if such a thing ever pays for itself even in cosideration of the greater scheme of things.

The Navy has cast about for a role in the modern world, somewhat. What they've settled on is being able to make a significant contribution to the kind of multinational operations we see these days, things like the Libya operation - sending an expedition out to bomb the crap out of whatever third world hellhole is this year's trouble spot. The RAF struggled with Libya, and several were quick to point out that the job could have been done easier and cheaper if we'd been able to put the Ark Royal and her Harriers offshore.

Then there's the "Falklands factor". Re-fighting the Falklands war is highly unlikely for many reasons, but the ability to mount an operation like that at that distance has become a sort of benchmark for what the Navy should be capable of in the minds of many. Obviously the ability to sail 30+ or even 70+ F-35s down there would have made the Falklands war rather easier for us and rather more difficult for the enemy.
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Re: Funny pics

Postby Atekimogus » Tue Apr 24, 2012 3:48 pm

GrahamKennedy wrote:
Atekimogus wrote:
Captain Seafort wrote:The bottom line is that the Royal Navy is locked in (and apparently loosing) yet another war with its oldest and most dangerous enemy - the Treasury.


Again, no expert here, but what does the UK hope to get out of those ships and does it really justify the cost? Yeah I know, power projection however I wonder how much of a deterrent a carrier-ship is nowadays? And I wonder if such a thing ever pays for itself even in cosideration of the greater scheme of things.

The Navy has cast about for a role in the modern world, somewhat. What they've settled on is being able to make a significant contribution to the kind of multinational operations we see these days, things like the Libya operation - sending an expedition out to bomb the crap out of whatever third world hellhole is this year's trouble spot. The RAF struggled with Libya, and several were quick to point out that the job could have been done easier and cheaper if we'd been able to put the Ark Royal and her Harriers offshore.

Then there's the "Falklands factor". Re-fighting the Falklands war is highly unlikely for many reasons, but the ability to mount an operation like that at that distance has become a sort of benchmark for what the Navy should be capable of in the minds of many. Obviously the ability to sail 30+ or even 70+ F-35s down there would have made the Falklands war rather easier for us and rather more difficult for the enemy.


Hm, interesting points here. Now I am rather young and the Falklands happened about when I was born so, naturally, not being born in the UK they don't spring to mind.

You do make however a good point with the Ark Royal and the old Harriers imho. Namely that I sometimes have the feeling, that considering the asymetrical nature of those conflicts, that it would be much more cost effective NOT to use the latest multi-billion F-35s aircraft.

Let me exeggerate hugely here for a moment. Sometimes I get the feeling that for the same money of one super-modern carrier with super modern aircraft, you could probably field a small fleet of wwII carriers with spitfires and in the end, altough you'd probably loose a few craft you'd STILL be much more cost-effective.

Now as I said that is a bit of an extreme example, ark royal and harriers is probably quite sufficient to get my meaning across.


And if one insists on the latest generation of fighters, which are superior to everything yet so hugely expensive that you can never hope to field many of them (not only purchase price but also upkeep and maintence) the question I have (being not really an expert in naval and air power, my forte is more tanks and stuff) is with the huge ranges of those things nowadays, are carriers really needed when some friendly countries like the US seem to have airbases pretty much everywhere in the world? (Also, maybe someone should split this discussion from the funny pics thread, no?)
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Re: Funny pics

Postby Mikey » Tue Apr 24, 2012 4:59 pm

#1 - The effect of a modern carrier and a CAG full of F-35's (or whatever the RN will use instead) is more than just a benchmark. To use GK's example; even if the Falklands conflict will never be revisited, the presence - even existence - of such a carrier group would go a long way in deterring the sort of saber-rattling that Argentina recently began again.

#2 - The UK has a long history of NOT adopting the latest wiz toys just because they're the latest. Fairey Swordfish, anyone?

#3 - Don't base your assessment of things like the cost per unit of the JSF on American figures. While the U.S. projected a cost per unit of the JSG (including redesign, subsidies, etc.) at around $1.6 billion U.S., Norway projected its cost per unit of the JSF - even considering a vastly smaller purchase contract - at a bit less than half that number.
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Re: Funny pics

Postby Captain Seafort » Tue Apr 24, 2012 5:19 pm

Atekimogus wrote:You do make however a good point with the Ark Royal and the old Harriers imho. Namely that I sometimes have the feeling, that considering the asymetrical nature of those conflicts, that it would be much more cost effective NOT to use the latest multi-billion F-35s aircraft.


That view is very widespread, especially given the nature of recent conflicts. It's also incredibly stupid and shortsighted, given the unpredictability of the world. When the decision to scrap the Ark and her Harriers was taken, the idea that within six months Ben-Ali and Mubarrak would be deposed, Assad would be under severe pressure and we'd be at war with Gaddaffi was utterly incomprehensible. When the decision to scrap the old Ark was taken, the idea that within three years we'd be mounting a major amphibious operation 4000 miles from the nearest base was likewise incomprehensible. Given that track record, anyone who thinks they know enough about what's going to happen over the next forty years to say that a major world power can get away with equipping its armed forces with anything less than the most powerful and technologically advanced weapons and equipment it can afford needs their head examining.

And if one insists on the latest generation of fighters, which are superior to everything yet so hugely expensive that you can never hope to field many of them (not only purchase price but also upkeep and maintence) the question I have (being not really an expert in naval and air power, my forte is more tanks and stuff) is with the huge ranges of those things nowadays, are carriers really needed when some friendly countries like the US seem to have airbases pretty much everywhere in the world?


Yes. Because unless you can guarantee that every future conflict in which your vital national interests are at stake will occur within striking range of an airbase you have access to, you need the option to deploy your own airbase to the area.
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Re: Funny pics

Postby Atekimogus » Tue Apr 24, 2012 5:53 pm

Captain Seafort wrote: Given that track record, anyone who thinks they know enough about what's going to happen over the next forty years to say that a major world power can get away with equipping its armed forces with anything less than the most powerful and technologically advanced weapons and equipment it can afford needs their head examining.


Good points, however especially with carriers and aircraft are we not approaching a point where even major world powers have trouble developing, building and keeping such things up? That is more my point. Having always the newest and most powerful stuff seems very sensible but it seems that especially with aircraft it seems we soon are reaching a point, where even major world powers have troube paying for that stuff.

For example the whole B2 stealth bomber programm of the US was incredibly expensive. It sure is a great weapon system but honestly, what did they "really" get out of it? No need to get offensive here since I am honestly asking, because to me it seems most of the heavy lifting was still done by tanks, army and more sensible craft/choppers etc. and in the end I think the question "was it really worth it" is not at all stupid.

Captain Seafort wrote:Yes. Because unless you can guarantee that every future conflict in which your vital national interests are at stake will occur within striking range of an airbase you have access to, you need the option to deploy your own airbase to the area.


What would you consider UKs vital national interests and would it not come cheaper ensuring and keeping airfields up in the vicinity?

Or is it more a matter of pride and flexing of military and national muscles? But what if the building and upkeep of only one major modern carrier plus fighterwings is all but bankrupting your state.....wouldn't it be time to reconsider the whole major world power pride? Germany hasn't any carriers and they are doing quite fine imho.

So yes, GK had imho a good point with the Falklands....but apart from that it seems that the UK is more clinging to their nautical traditions than being practical. So maybe I am stupid and need my head examined like you suggested, but that is how it seems, sorry.
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Re: Funny pics

Postby Captain Seafort » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:14 pm

Atekimogus wrote:Good points, however especially with carriers and aircraft are we not approaching a point where even major world powers have trouble developing, building and keeping such things up? That is more my point. Having always the newest and most powerful stuff seems very sensible but it seems that especially with aircraft it seems we soon are reaching a point, where even major world powers have troube paying for that stuff.


Indeed, which is why we're seeing an ever-stronger trend towards either collaborative efforts like Tornado and Typhoon or buying stuff off the shelf.

For example the whole B2 stealth bomber programme of the US was incredibly expensive. It sure is a great weapon system but honestly, what did they "really" get out of it?


A strategic bomber capable of deep penetration of hostile airspace. You can't take it as written that you'll always be able to suppress an air defence network quickly enough or effectively enough to be able to send in non-stealthy strike aircraft to hit high value targets.

What would you consider UKs vital national interests and would it not come cheaper ensuring and keeping airfields up in the vicinity?


Can you guarantee, 100 per cent, that airbases will always be available? We didn't have them when we were enforcing an oil embargo on Rhodesia in the 60s, so we had to use carriers. We didn't have them in the Falklands so we had to use carriers (and an insanely gutsy and complicated mission involving a dozen Victors to get one Vulcan to bomb Stanley runway, but I digress). Where are you going to fly from if you decide you need to bomb Iran, or the pirate bases in Somalia, and the locals refuse to help out? Carriers.

Germany hasn't any carriers and they are doing quite fine imho.


Germany's virtually landlocked and is fundamentally a manufacturing nation. The UK is an island and is fundamentally a trading nation. Germany also lacks the worldwide scatter of territories that the UK possesses and is obligated to defend.
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Mikey » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:31 pm

Oh, FFS. Just had a huge and detailed post ready to go just as the Cap was splitting the thread. Now lost to the depths of the cyber-netherworld, and I'm off for lunch.
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Captain Seafort » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:33 pm

Sorry. I locked the thread before I split to prevent that happening - you must already have started.
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Re: Funny pics

Postby Graham Kennedy » Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:39 pm

Atekimogus wrote:You do make however a good point with the Ark Royal and the old Harriers imho. Namely that I sometimes have the feeling, that considering the asymetrical nature of those conflicts, that it would be much more cost effective NOT to use the latest multi-billion F-35s aircraft.

I did a bit of research, and from what I can see flying Tornado jets to and from Libya, including all the support and multiple refuellings, cost anything from £200,000 to £500,000 per mission. Harriers from a carrier would do it for £80,000 per mission.

Let me exeggerate hugely here for a moment. Sometimes I get the feeling that for the same money of one super-modern carrier with super modern aircraft, you could probably field a small fleet of wwII carriers with spitfires and in the end, altough you'd probably loose a few craft you'd STILL be much more cost-effective.

Now as I said that is a bit of an extreme example, ark royal and harriers is probably quite sufficient to get my meaning across.

I often wonder if we couldn't have something like a sort of Naval A-10. Something that was a tough bomb truck, without all the stealth or fancy gadgets.

Trouble is that whilst we're spending our time bombing Ahmed the Terrorist's tent half the time, there's also a shedload of nasty hardware cropping up in the hands of people we don't like too much.

Like the Chinese fighter...
Image

Or the Russian one...
Image

Or the S400 SAM missiles... range 400km at Mach 12 (yes, 12), that the Russians are selling these days...
Image

I don't much fancy your Spitfire's chances.

Also, bear in mind the message you are sending to your pilots. If you decide to adopt the "we'll buy cheaper stuff in large numbers, expecting to be better off even though large numbers of you will be shot down", that's not exactly a message that inspires confidence and espirit de corps in your men and women.

And if one insists on the latest generation of fighters, which are superior to everything yet so hugely expensive that you can never hope to field many of them (not only purchase price but also upkeep and maintence) the question I have (being not really an expert in naval and air power, my forte is more tanks and stuff) is with the huge ranges of those things nowadays, are carriers really needed when some friendly countries like the US seem to have airbases pretty much everywhere in the world? (Also, maybe someone should split this discussion from the funny pics thread, no?)


A lot depends on the kinds of missions and aircraft you're talking about. A B-52 can reach anywhere in the world quite easily, but is also quite likely to get shot down when it gets there if it's up against anything close to a decent air defence. Something like an F-15E is a lot more survivable, but has a far shorter range.

To consider Libya again; the UK used Royal Air Force Tornados to launch Storm Shadow attacks on Libya from R.A.F. Marham,1,502 miles from Tripoli. Since the Tornado's combat radius is more like 800 miles, they had to refuel four times to get there and back - flying an 8 hour, 3,000 mile mission. The cost for that, including the cost of operating all the tankers, runs up to the region of half a million pounds per mission. And that's just to reach the edge of the coast, which lets you fire your Storm Shadow a couple of hundred miles inland - if you wanted them to fly in over the country itself, you'd have to tank them at least once more.

And you're putting 8 hours worth of wear and tear on your airframes and engines with that mission, as well as your pilots.

Harrier's combat radius with weapons is about 300 miles. If you put the carrier 50 miles offshore, a Harrier can fly 250 miles inland, and from there a Storm Shadow could reach virtually any part of Libya. No refuelling is needed. The mission is about 90 minutes in length. Total cost is £80,000.

Image

And the F35, incidentally, has a combat radius of 600+ miles if you get the CATOBAR version.

Now consider the politics. To fly their Libya missions, the Tornado needed overflight permission from France and Italy. Fortunately both were onside, but what if they weren't? Detouring around them adds miles, adds more refuellings, more wear and tear, more cost. In 1986 the US bombed Libya from the UK with F-111s, and had to fly around the whole of Europe to do it because nobody but the UK was behind the mission. The French refusal alone 3,500 miles to the flight path. A carrier off the coast flys when you want it, how you want it, and nobody else gets a say.

There's a reason the US spends so much money on carriers, and a reason everybody else wishes they could have them too! :)
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby McAvoy » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:47 pm

Keep in mind there is alot of wear and tear on carrier planes in the US Navy. Much more so because the way they land and take off. Naturally from design stage they are designed to take these stresses, all yuo have to do is look at the landing gear. Landing gear is much thicker and more robust than a land based aircraft. But still take it's toll. It's not that uncommon to see overstress codes on aircraft (sensors are all over modern planes now).

It would be interesting to see the regular scheduled maintaince schedules comparisons between land based planes and carrier planes. I know for a fact F/A-18 Super Hornets go on 7, 14, 28, 84, 364 and 728 day inspects on top of 100, 200, 400, 1,000, 2,000 hour inspections.
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby Deepcrush » Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:51 am

Quick question, what would the idea number of Carriers be for the UK's RN?
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Re: On the utility of carriers

Postby McAvoy » Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:53 am

Three? One out to sea, one in port gearing up and one in refit.
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