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Mike O

“‘Crawl-Walk-Run’ approach to re-establishing full carrier strike capability…” I have so much respect for how well and how sensibly this has been handled. Especially in contrast to our current political situation. Well done all involved👍.

ATH

Absolutely, I’m always sad/disappointed by the people that would “tell the crew to just man up and head straight for the Gulf yesterday”.

andy reeves

i worry about how the threat of attacks by swarms of say iranian missile boats can influence the modern warfighting doctrines the iranians are purchasing the british built bradstone speedboat and putting a cruise missile launcher on top of it these boats are smaller than an archer boat of which we have 13 forward basing of a well drilled archer squadron of u.k missile boats at the bahrain base, with say, single tube tomahawk launchers mounted on them could give the wes a new type of fighting opportunities

Sam

Indeed 🙂 a smart way of doing things with prototype ships, especially an aircraft carrier as they are a very complicated ship type to operate with organising a miniture airport lol 😉

andy reeves

i get the drift of your statement although there are areas i do wonder about enough f 35’s? 24 f 35’s and a few cruise missiles ‘lobbed from a submarine wouldn’t send the belgians running for cover. a carrier group without a dedicated minesweeper is a gamble.the R.N doesn’t need to take a u.k club k like system container type club k system would increase the real punching power of a u.k group almost every front line royal navy has a space where a container could fit.

Pen men

Fantastic effort by all involved. This will be a great conventional military asset once fully operational. Safe journey to all going to the States. 👍

andy reeves

i’m not sure the jingo istic words on the site are thought out well enough a major attack by missile boats could decimate a carrier group.asymetic warfare may become a real area of concern to any group transiting problem areas

Pete M

I know it is still early, but I would still like to see 24 x F35b promised to HMS QE and another 24 for HMS PoW.

Without real airwings, UKCSG will be theoretical almost all the time

Cameron

36 would be better, our old big but smaller carriers held almost double that. (Not invincible class). But as long as we have a good mix of over 30 aircraft for real war operations I’m ok.

Dern

Also have to remember aircraft where smaller back then…

Alex

A phantom/buccaneer is no bigger a F-35B. 36 F35B is the declared max. (Remember US Carriers rarely carry more than 64 aircraft despite being capable of holding 90) QE can actually accommodate 70+ aircraft in Wartime i.e state on state conflict, but realistically 12 – 24 F35B + 9 – 14 Merlin/wildcat will be carried. The government is finally assessing the major risk is state on state conflict. The QE class take 8 years to build. As a nation we can afford 15 T-45s and 21 T-26s (cancel the T-31) and 21 Astute class SSN’s. I believe we also can afford a 3rd QE class. This will be part funded by cancelling the forth Dreadnaught class SSBN. And using the 15Bn Boris wants to spend on the Scotland – Northern Ireland bridge. If we don’t start this major build now it’ll be to late.

andy reeves

astute a real elephant in the room overhyped, overpriced too slow to build, unpopular with crews, prematurely rusting, leaky,slow(none of them have yet to achieve the projected full speed £1 billion of junk. we could have built 14 gotland type ssk’s for the same price.

Cameron

I’m on about 36 F35s on a full war load, not just floating around .

andy reeves

real war i’d expect a major effort to double that number

Meirion X

Air wings will rotated to a deployed carrier, from a pool of aircraft, at an air station.
Neither does the USN have fixed air wings to carriers, they are Not Permament. The air wings are flown out to a carrier deployed, from a air station, when she has left the home port, out at sea.
When a USN a carrier go’s into refit, the air wing is transferred to another carrier when deployed.
The air wings of a deployed carrier, are flown back to an air station before the carrier is docked at home port, that is why there is No aircraft on USN carriers when docked at home port.

So many misconceptions of air wings fixed to a particular carrier permamently.
It is the overall number of aircraft available that matters.

andy reeves

the invicables routinely embarked its harriers from RNAS CULDROSE as she went past the coast.

jon agar

Why when one carrier will be at readiness. At all times, waste of aircraft and crew. How many Harriers were carried by a vince class as standard, compared to a war based load. Have to understand 8years to train a pilot, and to have them, doing nothing is madness of the highest. Said we will buy 148 but at £1m a pop, to be sat on the ground.

Meirion X

When a carrier is at readiness in port, the air wing will based at an air station(Marham), and crew will be practising their skills.

Meirion X

When one carrier is deployed, the 2nd will most likely be at port for either, maintenance with crew at leave, or at readiness with the crew training etc, or maybe 2nd carrier in refit in the future.

Cameron

138 will be bought through the life of the F35 program, many years.

andy reeves

we hope, but by the time tempest is sorted they may be obsolete

Chris J

We wish the F-35s were ‘only’ £1m per aircraft! Christ, we’d be over the moon!

andy reeves

but’hank the yank’ wouldn’t get off his fat backside to build them any faster.

Airborne

Bloody hell try that post again but use English language and a little comprehension. Cheers.

andy reeves

standard load was 12 harriers

Cameron

I’m pretty sure we embarked “uk owned jets “ on the last deployment west. Wasn’t the first one to land British owned?

teaser

The two jets that landed on QE during Westant18 belonged to the international Integrated Test Force based in the US (and carried USMC markings)

Cameron

Ok no worries.

Dern

No, the Jets used on the last one where all American. IIRC they where easier to use because they had the telemetry wire on board and the UK ones where on the west coast. Pilot was British though.

Derek

Wasn’t that a ‘pool’ aircraft of instrumented planes jointly owned and used for testing but on that occasion it was flown and then performed the first landing on HMSQE by a British pilot?

Cameron

That’s what I thought, but I might be wrong.

jon agar

No, orange wired test aircraft but British pilot, UK currently has more 35s than fully approved pilots, due to a failure with the new pilot training system. RAF trainees have been taught by private schools, around the country.

Airborne

Private schools? What are you waffling about?

Ex-Service

Someone is failing to grasp the utility of the aircraft carrier / empire building (sic) flying across the ditch (expensively to no end) rather than deploy with the asset (i.e. the QE) designed specifically for it.

Classic excuses though …need fair (blue) skies and the jets aren’t needed for the whole deployment.

andy reeves

if the jets aren’t neede why build the carriers in the first place an aircraft carrier should carry enough aircraft to fulfill its roles at all times

Challenger

Really impressed by the incremental advance we’re seeing towards full operating capability. 13 British jets and helicopters on board QE (plus the 3 helo’s on the accompanying ships) is not too shabby – certainly enough to test a wide range of scenarios.

I must say i’m also pleasantly surprised to see that the first active deployment in 2021 will have a full & all British task-group. 2x T45 & 2x T23 will be a major strain on the RN’s resources (roughly two thirds of the escort fleet they expect to have active on a good day) and i’ll be fascinated to see how they manage such a gathering and what impact it’ll have on the fleets wider tempo / spread of operations.

The cynical bit of my brain is saying they will go all out for the first global deployment (including 18-24 F35) given the amount of publicity and scrutiny but subsequently the RN will probably provide 1x T45 & 1x T23 and 12 F35 with various allies providing the additional 3rd/4th escort vessels and the USMC a squadron of jets.

I can’t see how the RN would be able to keep up that tempo of commitment on an annual basis….at least not until the late 2020’s when (hopefully) the F35 fleet has been significantly built up and the T31’s are starting to arrive into the fleet in enough numbers to take some of the strain.

ATH

With 2 carriers the RN won’t be doing 6/9 month deployments every year that would break the sailors. My guess would be a “big” deployment every 24/30 months with local and regional trips in between for training and currency.

Geoffrey Hicking

If we synchonised deployments with the Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders, Japanese, and the Indians, then we’d have plenty of escorts for the carriers. Think of it as a commonwealth deployment, something which has been going on since WW1 and the dominion crewed ships of the line. The only change is the ratio of ships by nationality.

Captain Nemo

The cynical part of your brain has probably made a succinct and accurate assessment, possibly in concert with your gut and your medium term memory.
I think the plan for the carriers is nine months on nine months off, so two deployments over a three year period, to give one ready or near readiness.

Julian

I think that what you describe Challenger, including the cynical bit of your brain part, is 100% optimal and a really coherent piece of the continuing excellent work-up plan for the carriers.

Firstly, we live in a world of alliances so developing the procedures for integrating allied escorts and aircraft into a QEC-lead carrier group is an essential part of the work-up and it will also be appropriate on a regular basis that allied escorts and/or aircraft continue to participate since the familiarity with the procedures for working with non-UK elements as part of the carrier group needs to be kept current.

Secondly, the first UK active deployment being an all British affair seems sensible for two reasons. Firstly we must consider the situation where the UK might need to deploy on its own so trial running that scenario as soon as possible makes sense and secondly, when addressing the allied escort and/or aircraft integration mentioned above we need to be clear what will be expected of the allied units and personnel so it makes total sense to first work up an all-UK carrier group where we have total control over all elements and can work out exactly how the total carrier group needs to function before trying to slot in any non-UK elements as part of the group.

Captain Nemo

I think the implication Julian is that we will lean on our allies on an ongoing basis to pad out the carrier groups and that HMG happy with the illusion of sovereign power will fail to invest in sufficient platforms in the future to guarantee same; to wit, we will do it on the cheap.

andy reeves

i want to see royal navy ships flying a big ensign in the way american ships do

Challenger

I get what you’re saying Julian but as Captain Nemo has already stated I think the issue will be if HMG settles into the complacency of expecting allies to provide a sizable chunk of the carrier task-group around QE or PoW each and every time they deploy.

Cooperation with other navies should definitely be fostered but the UK needs to retain the ability to act on it’s own decisions and in it’s own interests – albeit in rare/extraordinary circumstances.

My fear is the initial 2021 deployment will be a show of RN strength to impress the media and silence the critics but will seriously stretch and warp the RN in the process and won’t be repeated.

Glass Half Full

A Netherlands warship is also expected to be part of the group.
https://www.forces.net/news/hms-queen-elizabeths-first-deployment-be-alongside-dutch-warship

andy reeves

i’ll reserve judgement on the t 31 programme when the first one actually joins the fleet and its REAL COST REVEALED.

Gerald Aldridge

The UK government should build one more aircraft carrier and other surface ships for there carrier strike groups!

Meirion X

2 QE Class carriers at 70000 tons, is enough for the UK, a LPH would be useful in the future.
So lets get more escorts in build.

Pete

Stacks of jollies for the lads and lasses to enjoy in the coming years… that has to be damned good news. It’s been a while since we had a bold, punchy navy.
I look forward to hearing about the two aircraft carriers and their deployments, their escorts… and shhhhh… the SSN attached to the CSG, well out of sight and out of mind.
My time in was given over to SSN DS and other sundry duties. We never did nail the SSN DS role 100%. I would imagine the SSN’s of today have infinitely better comms than we had. And I expect there to have been a fair few other roles that the SSN escort has inherited.
I am not a critic, I wish only the best for our people and the equipment. I also know the sea time has only increased from my days in. Good luck to the RN and its greatest asset, the personnel!

Iain Andrew-Patrick

Call me crazy, but if the Navy is really the UK’s “courageous guardian” (their words) what the hell is going on in the English Channel? (A bit of water once considered a Royal Navy priority) – please read this article : https://99endof.blogspot.com/2019/08/cruise-world-with-mod.html

Meirion X

It is the Border Forces responsibly on both side of the English Channel to stop illegal crossings.

Airborne

Border Force pal, nothing to do with RN taskings!

IanW

Crazy (see the other responses for detail).

Phil Chadwick

I have always has the highest respect for all of the Pilots who have flown from the decks of our Carriers. Back in 1984 I was a Cook on HMS Illustrious and therefore I am a complete layman in terms of flying or flying operations. When I was off watch I used to go up onto 02 Deck to watch the SHARS landing on. We went through the English Channel, Western and Northern Atlantic, Arctic, Pentland Firth and Bay of Biscay, and Flying pretty much carried on as normal, except obviously when adverse conditions dictated otherwise.. When I read the Book by Sharkey Ward, he described new Pilots coming on board that had never landed on a Carrier before or needed to be qualified for night flying. This was during the early weeks of Operation Corporate in 1982. I have read many times about the limitations and safety margins of the Harrier / Sea Harrier whilst in the hover, in landing onto the deck and also on how much concentration was required to achieve the same. I have also read (correct me if I am wrong), that to do the same in an F35B Lightning II, it is as easy as pressing a button, the aircraft is doing the rest, and it is taking a huge workload off the Pilot. Will, as has been reported, Aircraft from 617 Squadron and 207 Operational Conversion Unit be flying all the way across the Atlantic to eventually embark on the Eastern Seaboard of the USA, or will they simply embark on the ship in the Western Approaches / English Channel, as has also been reported? Both locations after all, offer favourable sea states and diversionary air bases.

DaveyB

The original Harrier GR3s and Sea Harrier FRS1s when flying in the hover, were said to be like balancing on a pin. The flight control computers were not very good and could just about keep up. The later Harrier GR5, 7 and 9s had a better digital flight control system. This took away a lot of the burden placed on the pilot to maintain direction in the hover. The F35 has taken this to a new level. When you see the aircraft in the hover it’s rock steady. It does have an auto- land feature, but requires the pilot to select it.

Chris

What is happening is the senior service way cool calm and collected BZ to all involved just as. it was when I joined in 1969

Stevep

The planned air group that will routinely deploy seems likely to be a shabby compromise.

Half a dozen Merlin’s having their backsides worked off to fulfill the ASW and AEW capacity.

Only 12 F35’s routinely carried which is barely enough for fleet defence let alone simultaneous strike missions. And the F35’s will have no air-air refuelling capability embarked, no long range anti-ship missile and as I understand if it, no Storm Shadow or Brimstone (though I’d be delighted to be proved wrong on those points).

A proper air group would be 24 F35 with the ability to carry the full inventory of air to ground missiles plus a long range ASM. 6 Osprey for air to air refuelling and equipped with Crows Nest for AEW, 6 Merlin for ASW and a couple of Wildcats for general missions. All of that could probably paid for by cancelling a dozen of the planned 138 F35 buy and would give a far more balanced air group

IanW

Interesting option. It would be good to see if the figures add up. Can you provide them?

DaveyB

The Puma cannot be cleared for use on ships. The reason is that the undercariage is too narrow and close together. It also carries a lot of weight high up. Therefore, anything larger than a bit of swell they topple over. The Super Puma, gets round this problem by have the rear undercarriage further back from the nose gear with splayed out rear wheels for additional stability. They are still limited by the sea state though and can’t operate in similar conditions to a Merlin.

Glass Half Full

People routinely seem to underestimate the deterrence aspect of these carriers. The ships don’t need to routinely carry more than 12 F-35B, its what they can scale up to carry in time of raised tensions that’s important, along with training to efficiently and rapidly enable such scaling. This is why the the joint operations with USMC are so valuable because it makes it impossible for an adversary to accurately assess the scale of the threat. Even if the UK capped out F-35B at 48 aircraft, the combination of RN, RAF and USMC F-35B’s could potentially max out QE and POW carriers at 70 aircraft each. Its not likely numbers would ever be that high given that it would make the flight deck very busy (and the USMC may have additional requirements for some of those aircraft as well), but 50 on each is certainly very practical should the circumstances require it.

Take a hypothetical. Say Russia decides to start massing troops on Norway’s northern border, how ever unlikely that might seem it cannot be discounted as a future threat to Norway and thus to the UK. The carriers enable a fifth gen ability to undermine Russia’s A2AD, without being dependent on Norway’s fixed land bases from which to operate; the fixed bases being vulnerable to special forces and missile attack. Without robust A2AD cover, Russia’s ground and air assets would be extraordinarily vulnerable, thus such adventures would be a huge gamble on Russia’s part.

We have CASD for the nuclear deterrent and IMO the carriers in combination with F-35B provide the high end conventional deterrent.

DaveyB

Without divulging too much info. Having only 12 on a standard patrol would limit the options to the Captain, if something kicked off. I appreciate that aircraft will be flown out to the ship if a crisis arises. But if you have to fight (initially) with what is available this will place a huge strain on the aircraft and crew to generate the sorties, but also to maintain the aircraft’s serviceability. I would expect at the bare minimum two aircraft on CAP duties with another pair on rotation. This would also require the Merlins to be rotating with a Crowsnest fitted. A couple aircraft will be on maintenance no doubt, leaving perhaps six for either surging or other missions. Therefore, if any of the F35s go un-serviceable, it will have a major effect on operations.
However, if two squadrons with a total of 24 aircraft are embarked, it will give much greater redundancy and flexibility. The CAP could be doubled, which would be major improvement. It will give a greater instantaneous punch if the aircraft are required to react to a crisis, rather than waiting on more aircraft to arrive.

Glass Half Full

I used the term “routine” and you used “standard patrol”. Perhaps we need to define these terms because things don’t just “kick off” from everything is peaceful to heightened tensions or open conflict in an instant, there is a period of escalation, whether that’s political signals and/or rhetoric, cyber attacks, troop movements or other triggers. For example, in my hypothetical above it would take time for Russia to mass troops, which is when greater aircraft numbers would be embarked, assuming the ship was already at sea.

If the QEC was deployed to the Gulf then larger aircraft numbers would probably make sense because that wouldn’t be a routine patrol, it would presumably be there for a reason. Similarly it makes sense for the initial deployment of the carrier group which seems planned for the Pacific and future similar atypical deployments. If however the carrier is on exercises in North Atlantic waters then it wouldn’t necessarily need to embark more than 12 unless the exercise called for it, especially if it was an amphibious force focused exercise.

We now have much larger carriers than in the past but how many Harriers did Invincible class routinely carry, recognising that F35B’s are world’s different in capability to those Harriers.

DaveyB

Agree, phraseology can be pain some times. With today’s 24/7 surveillance it would be very difficult for Russia to launch a surprise attack. Unless they are covering the build up with a planned exercise, hence NATO’s cautious response of sending a field Army to the Baltics. For example if they decided to take out the satellites this would be a trigger that couldn’t be ignored.
I agree if the PoW or Queenie is sailing around the North Atlantic embarking additional aircraft shouldn’t take too long if required, so 12 should be doable. However, when flying the flag on a round the World tour, I believe 24 F35B aircraft should be the minimum. This would be the same if tasked with going near a hot spot like the Gulf.

A friend of mine who was on Invincible said they routinely sailed with 8 Sea Harriers when he was with 845. But it would sometimes increase to 10 depending on requirements. They did operate 12, but he said it was really tight especially when you had to share space with the Sea Kings. It was next to impossible of using Harrier with a couple of Chinooks embarked, due to the amount of deck space they took up.

Julian

An interesting discussion. Obviously the US carriers are a whole different ballgame but out of interest how to the French manage the air wing on CdG? Is that still not comparable because with cat & trap the aircraft and pilots are rather more tied to their carrier roles vs the UK F-35B situation so the size of the CdG air wing is reasonably static or do they scale up and down depending on the tasking? In either case, what is (are?) typical configuration(s?) for a CdG deployment?

RogerDodger

It will be great to have the company of a USMC squadron aboard the new Carriers on deployments. If the Carrier Group is deployed (say) in the Gulf, and the US Government is being particularly hard nosed with the Iranians, whilst HM Government is preferring a more softly-softly approach, is it possible to envisage the Carrier being a launch platform for the USMC to conduct aggressive operations, whilst the UK hosts extend all the normal courtesies and helpfulness to the guests, but have their own planes securely tied down in the hangar?

For Gulf/Iranians, ditto South China Seas/Chinese.

Another innocent question – could there be a corner of the munitions storage areas where the USMC have their tactical nuclear weapons padlocked away? Forgive me please for not knowing if the F35B is configured to carry any of the current inventory of such weapons. Would British aircrew and their aircraft be qualified to carry all weapons on board the RN Carrier?

I assume that such matters are well circumscribed in jointly-agreed SOPs originating in Cold War days. I await with interest the emergence of these issues, and similar ones, when the first joint deployments are looming, and the penny drops with the mainstream media. I look forward to their cool and calm assessments of the issues.

Meirion X

@RogerDodger
There are No plans to certify the F-35B to carry Nuclear Weapons. There are plans to certify the F-35A based on mainland Europe to carry Nukes.

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andy reeves

i’d love to see all R.N ships flying a big ensign when at sea,the u.s.n does it and as a statement of power and projection i think it works’ flying the flag’ would clearly state we are the royal navy and everyone should know it.

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