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Thread: Harrier Carriers: Relevant or failed experiment?

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    Harrier Carriers: Relevant or failed experiment?

    What I mean are those LIGHT carriers and amphibious ships that operate a mixed fleet of Harriers (or F-35Bs) and helicopters.

    India had one, and went to larger stobar aircraft carriers
    UK had a few, but went back to larger carrier and was very close to using catobar

    seems like Spain will not follow on with the F-35B and will just use their light carriers for helicopters
    same for Thailand

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    their weakness is not so much the limited fighters but the lack of a proper AEW a/c,
    and with osprey, that is not necessarily true any longer.
    it is rather priceless to have the ability to plink down recce a/c that otherwise provide coordinates

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    With the success of Op Corporate as the baseline I think its fair to say that 'failed experiment' could never be applied to the conceptual Harrier-carrier/CVS/Sea Control Ship. The idea of airpower-where-there-would-be-none-otherwise was proven beyond all shadow of doubt. The interesting observation though is the way that one aircraft, and its compactness, has defined the ship and the eventual decline of that aircraft has seen a step change in the way that naval services have moved the concept forward.

    The evolution path to F-35B is clear enough for STOVL players and its one that now needs deep pockets and bigger decks than before. So the lighter end of the market, as a fast-jet platform, is gone. No more 15,000ton Chakri's or Garibaldi's. Its now best part of 30,000tons before you have long enough pants to sit in on the fastjet game.

    What has changed though, and what will blur the picture, is the ESTOL/VTOL/VATOL resurgence. V-22, AW609, V-280, TERN, etc all offer abilities far in excess of what a traditional rotary wing delivers. TERN alone offers the potential for a game-changing distributed capability.

    Mating a lightweight AESA panel technology, like Leonardo's Osprey, to a AW609 or TERN type platform and that platform on to a modest hull like the Algerian BDSL or the TKMS MHD/MRD and you start to see a lot of air and sea control potential for a very modest spend....relative to full CATOBAR or even high sortie-rate F-35B STOVL naval tacair. If TERN actually produces an air vehicle capable of weapons deployment you start to look at small-but-technically-competent navies actually being able to gain a sustainable, albeit limited-threat scenario, naval strike capability off little more than a warmed over LHD and a few drones.

    Harrier carrier may be all but gone and F-35B a big boys toy.....but the early Harriers mantle of the cheap, lightweight, naval air capability might soon be more common place than it ever has been.
    Last edited by Jonesy; 16th February 2017 at 16:30.

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    I know many have a hang up about rotary AEW vs fixed wing but it is a better than none capability that many a nation can't even call upon. Jonesy's observation about fixed panel AESA on rotary wing typesis spot on it is a game changing capability. Even types that are not purchased for the AEW role can provide a picture to vessels via data links due to the Air to Air modes offered by AESA.

    For example the new Lynx Wildcat has an Air to Air mode and I remember a recent article in AFM noting that the RN is exploring the options that gives them.

    30'000ish ton LPH/LHD that can support F-35B are an interesting choice for nations that want to have the option to enter the carrier game in the Future, a good example being the new Turkish San Carlos derived LPH TCG Anadolu that will be built F-35B capable.
    Last edited by Fedaykin; 16th February 2017 at 17:33.
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    The countries that would operate a contemporary Harrier/CVL combo can't afford and/or don't have the expertise to develop their own aircraft (or carriers for that matter).

    The countries that have the expertise and/or funds aren't interested in such a combo.

    The European nations that previously came closest to the sweet spot of ability and desire have all abdicated, for one reason or another.
    Last edited by Rii; 16th February 2017 at 18:25.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonesy View Post
    With the success of Op Corporate as the baseline I think its fair to say that 'failed experiment' could never be applied to the conceptual Harrier-carrier/CVS/Sea Control Ship. The idea of airpower-where-there-would-be-none-otherwise was proven beyond all shadow of doubt. The interesting observation though is the way that one aircraft, and its compactness, has defined the ship and the eventual decline of that aircraft has seen a step change in the way that naval services have moved the concept forward.

    The evolution path to F-35B is clear enough for STOVL players and its one that now needs deep pockets and bigger decks than before. So the lighter end of the market, as a fast-jet platform, is gone. No more 15,000ton Chakri's or Garibaldi's. Its now best part of 30,000tons before you have long enough pants to sit in on the fastjet game.

    What has changed though, and what will blur the picture, is the ESTOL/VTOL/VATOL resurgence. V-22, AW609, V-280, TERN, etc all offer abilities far in excess of what a traditional rotary wing delivers. TERN alone offers the potential for a game-changing distributed capability.

    Mating a lightweight AESA panel technology, like Leonardo's Osprey, to a AW609 or TERN type platform and that platform on to a modest hull like the Algerian BDSL or the TKMS MHD/MRD and you start to see a lot of air and sea control potential for a very modest spend....relative to full CATOBAR or even high sortie-rate F-35B STOVL naval tacair. If TERN actually produces an air vehicle capable of weapons deployment you start to look at small-but-technically-competent navies actually being able to gain a sustainable, albeit limited-threat scenario, naval strike capability off little more than a warmed over LHD and a few drones.

    Harrier carrier may be all but gone and F-35B a big boys toy.....but the early Harriers mantle of the cheap, lightweight, naval air capability might soon be more common place than it ever has been.
    so in other words it seems that you're saying that the earlier harrier carriers were limited (perhaps not really needed by many of those countries operating them, but it led to something better.. bigger 35B carriers on mid range size ships with more options and capabilities

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    I think he's saying that the early Harrier carriers were limited but successful, & proved the concept of STOVL enabling smaller & easier to support* carriers than cat & trap could provide. The minimum size has gone up, but it's still a lot less than the minimum useful cat & trap ship. And there's an inkling of something new to replace the bottom end of the Harrier carrier range.

    *Much quicker & simpler pilot training, much simpler ships with less maintenance.
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    Jonesy's was one of those posts that make one wish for a 'like' button. In its own way my post was intended as a reply/extension, to the point of why the minimum size has gone up, i.e. it's not a technical evolution, but a political one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rii View Post
    Jonesy's was one of those posts that make one wish for a 'like' button. In its own way my post was intended as a reply/extension, to the point of why the minimum size has gone up, i.e. it's not a technical evolution, but a political one.
    ?
    It seems technical, by going from an Harrier, wich is roughly the size of an A-4 to an aircraft the size of a Tornado, Dave B, with the weight of a Super Hornet then the aircraft carriers also have to go (way) bigger.
    Last edited by Sintra; 17th February 2017 at 18:07.

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    The answer to the question "why isn't there a new Harrier?" is political, i.e. because nobody saw fit to build one. Not because a smaller STOVL platform is no longer useful, but because they couldn't be bothered allocating the necessary resources. Same reason there are no medium bombers anymore.
    Last edited by Rii; 17th February 2017 at 23:28.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swerve View Post
    I think he's saying that the early Harrier carriers were limited but successful, & proved the concept of STOVL enabling smaller & easier to support* carriers than cat & trap could provide. The minimum size has gone up, but it's still a lot less than the minimum useful cat & trap ship. And there's an inkling of something new to replace the bottom end of the Harrier carrier range.

    *Much quicker & simpler pilot training, much simpler ships with less maintenance.
    is it easier to take off and land with an stovl plane than a catobar or stobar?
    I had always assumed stovl (at least) were more prone to damaging the ship deck with its hot exhaust. As well as higher crash ratio on landing.

    some maximum take-off/range concerns were there with stovl and stobar aircraft, but the russian guys seem confident the su-33 can take off with a very reasonable load and fuel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Y-20 Bacon View Post
    is it easier to take off and land with an stovl plane than a catobar or stobar?
    I had always assumed stovl (at least) were more prone to damaging the ship deck with its hot exhaust. As well as higher crash ratio on landing.

    some maximum take-off/range concerns were there with stovl and stobar aircraft, but the russian guys seem confident the su-33 can take off with a very reasonable load and fuel.
    Significantly easier, the most complex aspect is training the pilots in deck taxiing and handling skills. Take off and landing is a relatively minor issue, during operation corporate the RAF pilots that were called to operate Sea Harrier and GR3 off the carriers need a very small amount of training.

    With modern training aids the F-35B is almost comically easy to operate off a carrier, even journalists have been able to do it first attempt in the simulator.
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    so do you guys think RAN's choice for the STVOL carrier over the CTOL one was the right choice?

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    What STOVL carrier are you referring too ?

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    Indeed, whilst the Australian variant of the San Carlos has retained the Ski-Jump the ship is not configured to support jets lacking the appropriate support systems and munitions stores. At best they could operate as a Lilli-pad for the F-35B.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Y-20 Bacon View Post
    so do you guys think RAN's choice for the STVOL carrier over the CTOL one was the right choice?
    In the 70ies it was. Yes. It was much cheaper than a CATOBAR carrier of the size to handle the available aircrafts. The Brits ran out of money in the 70ies and 80ies. So it was the right choice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aussienscale View Post
    What STOVL carrier are you referring too ?
    Queen Elizabeth..
    and i meant RN not RAN.. bad habit.

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    lol all good, thought you knew better so i asked nicely

    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Y-20 Bacon View Post
    so do you guys think RN's choice for the STOVL carrier over the CTOL one was the right choice?
    For us, and our specific requirements, yes it was. It needs an understanding of what our requirement is to come to that though and it leverages off Feds commentary on training.

    CVF/QE is a response to the UK Carrier Strike requirement. This is essentially for a platform able to stand off a hostile coast a safe distance and generate a specific surge and sustained sortie rate over a range of targets supporting a range of missions from Fleet Air Defence to tactical recon to CAS and Interdiction. Its not a request for a Fleet Carrier in the traditional sense. Its not optimised for strategic maneuver warfare. Its not optimised for Sea Control or 'fleet-on-fleet' actions.

    So, given these parameters, we see that one of the key, traditional, drawbacks of STOVL ops....the lack of availability of support types like E-2's or S-3's....is less of a concern. Payload/range is still a negative factor but with smaller, more precise, standoff munitions becoming prevalent anyway that is much reduced in importance as the weapon is more compact and puts back some of the lost range of the airframe. The tradeoff advantage for this drawback is massive though. In short you dont need a whole separate naval airforce.

    The Americans and French fly CATOBAR obviously. Both have seperate distinct services equipped to operate fixed-wing airpower in the naval domain. The US can call on Marine Corps air to backfill decks of course, as they have done for years, but the French, much more on our scale, have to maintain the Aeronavale as a separate entity at a significant scale. This is stood up to keep all their maritime aircraft based and logistically supported and a multi-squadron pool of pilots available at any time their carrier is deployable. Its entirely a cost loading on the Marine Nationale as I understand it. Just as the USN naval air capability is the funding responsibility of the USN.

    The RN Fleet Air Arm to stand up to Aeronavale scale, as it would have had to do if we had stayed the course with the CATOBAR shift from a few years ago, would require significant funding to basing, infrastructure, logistics and training to get maritime specialised airframes and deck-qualified crew pools established for deployment. The cost of that could not have been met from the real-world budget allocation, so, something would have had to be dropped or sold.....likely the 2nd carrier or a pushback on T26 or something else unpalatable.

    What STOVL gives us, inherently with its ease of deck qualification, is the ability for RAF F-35B aircraft to become carrier deployable. Just as RAF Harrier GR3's were able to deploy to Hermes in 1982. A 'surge' component for UK Carrier Strike can now come from the RAF meaning that the Fleet Air Arm contingent can stay as a smaller, specialist, establishment and costs can be shared between the two services. Essentially we get with 2 carriers arguably a more sustainable sortie rate generation over a longer on station period than the French do from their CVN/CATOBAR force and the RN dont have to pay for an Aeronavale equivalent Fleet Air Arm....meaning more money can go into ships, subs and salaries!.

    Edit: Cap tipped to Swerve for accurately translating my post earlier and for distilling it down into a much more concise and sensible format!
    Last edited by Jonesy; 21st February 2017 at 11:58.

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    Now to lever from Jonesy's post the lack of availability of support types like E-2's or S-3's....is less of a concern for some very interesting reasons.

    Comparing to 1982 and Corporate where the UK carrier task force had no Organic AEW and no tanker support. The Sea Harrier had a primitive even for the day ranging radar intended to be used providing a targeting solution against something large like a Tu-142 Bear not a fighter size target. CAP in 1982 relied GCi from the fleet, the radars available to the fleet until Exeter arrived were in effect 1960's technology and woefully inadequate for the task.

    Now compare that to what will be available when the QE class are fully stood up, all ships in the fleet have capable modern radars that can share a data picture. We have an Organic AEW capability that can share its data picture. The F-35B has a bleeding edge AESA radar and EOTS that can share its data picture as well. An F-35B CAP operating from the QE class is not just being responsive to GCI from the fleet, whilst on patrol it can be enhancing the data picture for the fleet acting as an AEW platform tangentially in its own right. Now add in curious and interesting force enablers like the Lynx Wildcat that has Air to Air tracking modes for its AESA and can also share its data picture making it yet another platform that can add information to the Air Warfare commander by plugging gaps.

    This is what is so overlooked in F-35 discussions when people get bogged down over instantaneous turn rates, the biggest boon it will offer is its huge data gathering and processing capabilities.

    Another thing to consider is the Voyager tanker, operating from a friendly base Voyager can support carrier operations from a huge distance.

    Pity we can't find a reason for UOR to get the boom on Voyager to support the P-8 as well....
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fedaykin View Post
    Now to lever from Jonesy's post the lack of availability of support types like E-2's or S-3's....is less of a concern for some very interesting reasons.

    Comparing to 1982 and Corporate where the UK carrier task force had no Organic AEW and no tanker support. The Sea Harrier had a primitive even for the day ranging radar intended to be used providing a targeting solution against something large like a Tu-142 Bear not a fighter size target. CAP in 1982 relied GCi from the fleet, the radars available to the fleet until Exeter arrived were in effect 1960's technology and woefully inadequate for the task.

    Now compare that to what will be available when the QE class are fully stood up, all ships in the fleet have capable modern radars that can share a data picture. We have an Organic AEW capability that can share its data picture. The F-35B has a bleeding edge AESA radar and EOTS that can share its data picture as well. An F-35B CAP operating from the QE class is not just being responsive to GCI from the fleet, whilst on patrol it can be enhancing the data picture for the fleet acting as an AEW platform tangentially in its own right. Now add in curious and interesting force enablers like the Lynx Wildcat that has Air to Air tracking modes for its AESA and can also share its data picture making it yet another platform that can add information to the Air Warfare commander by plugging gaps.

    This is what is so overlooked in F-35 discussions when people get bogged down over instantaneous turn rates, the biggest boon it will offer is its huge data gathering and processing capabilities.

    Another thing to consider is the Voyager tanker, operating from a friendly base Voyager can support carrier operations from a huge distance.

    Pity we can't find a reason for UOR to get the boom on Voyager to support the P-8 as well....
    As the UK P-8's have not been built yet should we be looking in to fitting booms to them

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    UK P-8 will be in effect USN standard albeit with a few extra black boxes so they can communicate with UK specific comms systems.

    So they will be fitted with a boom receptacle as standard.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fedaykin View Post
    UK P-8 will be in effect USN standard albeit with a few extra black boxes so they can communicate with UK specific comms systems.

    So they will be fitted with a boom receptacle as standard.
    Sorry I meant refuelling probe has to cheaper than fitting booms to our A330's

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tempest414 View Post
    Sorry I meant refuelling probe has to cheaper than fitting booms to our A330's
    P-8 is not configured for a Probe, one would have to be designed in and then qualified at cost to UK MOD. A Boom is an option for the A330 Voyager and has been offered as a retrofit for some of the UK examples by AirTanker. The Australian MOD are paying to clear the KC-30A (A330 Voyager) as a tanker for the P8A and have recently started trials.

    Considering all that it would be cheaper for the UK to put a Boom on the tanker than a probe on the ASW jet!

    https://www.flightglobal.com/news/ar...-early-422870/
    http://www.janes.com/article/59242/u...n-voyager-boom
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    The hardware's more expensive, but we don't need as many copies & it's already designed in, tested, & qualified for use on other types, & will be on the P-8 by the time we could get our tankers fitted with it. That saves a lot of money.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fedaykin View Post
    ...
    Another thing to consider is the Voyager tanker, operating from a friendly base Voyager can support carrier operations from a huge distance.

    Pity we can't find a reason for UOR to get the boom on Voyager to support the P-8 as well....
    Didn't Airtanker come up with a cunning plan to finance booms on some of our tankers from usage charges paid by our allies?
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