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O/T Just seen this, potentially an answer to Project Mosquito/ Vixen?

Fred the Frog

What’s that got to do with this Article ?


Nothing, hence use of ‘O/T’ which is forum-speak for “Off Topic”. I picked the most recently ublished article in hopes that the NL guys would see it.


Nope. CGI solution looking for a problem. Trying to put that on QEC would absolutely knacker deck management.


Forgive my ignorance, but in what way? If the RN are considering putting cats and traps on them at some point, for UAVs from what people are assuming, then surely they must have some kind of plan that doesn’t overly impact on the operations of the fast jets? With an endurance of 20+ hours, it’s not like they’d be needing to launch and recover regularly.
I think they’re aiming them at USMC amphibs, which makes less sense than a QEC in my mind: they have even less room, which is at a premium for F-35 or assault helos, they have MV-22 already, and they seem to leave ASW and AEW to the USN escorts. Not sure what the mission would be.

stephen ball
Last edited 6 months ago by stephen ball

Putting cats and traps on QEC is aspirational and for relatively small wingspans. A 24m wingspan even if launched first and recovered last will play havoc with deck management. Lots of respotting with people we haven’t got.


They seem to be offering folding wings and STOL which would be a big help and at 10,000lb max ( less than A Wildcat) able to be towed by the current deck tractors. But as you mention mixing in with flight operations cycles can be an issue but the long endurance helps

Last edited 6 months ago by Duker

The folding wings don’t help with landing or takeoff paths. At 24m this thing has more than twice the wingspan of an F35. Who would with a safety allowance need to clear off a large part of the deck every time one lands.



Plus launch would require going over the ski-jump – for which I suspect the u/c – and quite possibly the flight control system – are not rated for.

Bloke down the pub

The stol version has a wing of reduced span but increased chord, with additional flaps etc.


I can understand the concern, and I acknowledge my lack of experience on the issue. But I don’t know how big of a plan killer it is. If both Nimitz and CdG class vessels can launch E2-D with a 24 m wingspan, with all kinds of other smaller aircraft on the deck, then I can only assume that the other big deck navies consider AEW with endurance (the main reason I can think of for Protector STOL) worth the trouble. Especially the CdG, being smaller than HMSQNLZ by a reasonable margin.
I’d not seen a wingspan limit for the RN’s limited CATOBAR aspirations, although the MQ-9 is definitely well within the weight limits set out in the RFI. Probably why everyone’s jumping on it. I’m not sure it’d answer the issue of AAR, but with the right radar and datalink it might do better AEW than we have currently with Crowsnest. Although we’d obviously have to take all human signals processing/handling onto the ship, which could be a problem.


It works for CTOL carriers because they’re set up for it – and in the cases you mention, have enough bodies for a respot. Weight is irrelevant in this case.


Bodies for a respot ?
A 30 tonne F-35B can only be moved by a tractor. The actual load of F-35s will almost never be even near the max and could normally be around 18 or so.

I dont see the ski jump as a problem as its a passive launch aid and just supplies rotation for wing angle of attack to climb away


Tractor driver. Brakesman in the cockpit. 2-3 chockheads to carry and position chocks and chains (9 off per cab), plus one or two guides/clearance checkers. That’s between 5 and 7 bodies. For every aircraft moved. Every time one is moved. Depending on the number of cabs to move and the time available, that’s a lot of people. The big deck was designed for a reason – minimising aircraft moves between flypro events.

Ski-jump is more than that. First off you have to have sufficient airspeed and AoA to remain airborne and positive rate of climb. F35 uses thrust vectoring to achieve rate of climb while transitioning fully to wingborne flight. While MQ9 doesn’t have vectoring, it is lighter and higher lift wing, BUT will need airspeed into ramp as can’t rely on vectoring.

Speed of entry into ramp significantly affects undercarriage load – and response. Both undercarriage design – and more crucially, response will be tricky. What’s the tip clearance of the prop? How much will the u/c response pitch up the aircraft? non-trivial.


Tractor driver. Brakesman in the cab. Two-three chockheads to carry and fit chocks and chains (min 9 off per cab), plus one or two guides / clearance checkers. That’s 5-7 bodies. For every aircraft. Every time it is moved. Depending on the number of moves and the time available, that’s a lot of people.

The ski-jump is more than a passive launch aid. F35 uses thrust vectoring to maintain a positive rate of climb while transitioning to speed sufficient for wingborne flight. MQ9 has a better lifting wing but will still need relatively high entry speed into the ramp. How will that undercarriage respond? Whats the prop tip clearance? How much pitch response will the undercarriage / ramp interaction produce? Non-trivial.

Last edited 6 months ago by N-a-B
Supportive Bloke

For once I am not quite following your argument.

QEC deck is wider than CDG by a large margin?

Operating MQ-9 would not interfere with the spots that are on the lift side of the ship? I agree parking on the runway side would be problematic for landings?

From the ‘specs’* and the listed vessels it aspires to operate from it will have to cope with a ski jump?

As the prop is at the rear I don’t see the under-cart issues as being so very bad. With the relatively low take off speed and weight strengthening it proportionately is not beyond the whit of man.

It has the benefit of a relatively cheap solution that is a part of a larger fully developed and ongoing program.

Yes, I see it is a medium term solution taking over from Merlin in the AAW role but at least there is an element of ‘it can be done’ here.

*OK such as they are they will be projections and at best modelling at this stage.


CdG has two dedicated cats of 90m or so length, positioned to minimise impact on rest of deck (ie plenty of parking to stbd of both). QEC has a large central STO runway and ramp designed for an aircraft of 11m wingspan, running between safe parking areas. Putting a 24m long wingspan (plus clearance) along that will be extremely disruptive – see above for aircraft respot manpower demands.

CdG recovery deck is angled, so the forward stbd part of ship is unaffected and remains a safe parking area. Not so for QEC. It’s another reason why STOBAR is stupid. As well as the performance loss for the jets, you end up with worst of both worlds in terms of impact on safe parking areas. Check out how little safe parking there is on Liaonang or Vikramitdya or whatever Gorshkov is called now.

Frankly far from convinced a 2-3 tonne aircraft with a 24m wingspan arriving at ~ 40kts+ relative and unarrested by anything other than brakes is going to have a workable safety case. Not sure QNLZ did any SRVL serials when deployed on CSG21 with a full deck for similar reasons. See above also for potential prop and undercarriage effects.

You can land a U2 or a C130 on a big deck carrier. But the reason you don’t do it for anything other than show is because operationally it disrupts everything.

Supportive Bloke

I get the operational disruption thing.

I’ve often made the point about the time/manpower intensive nature of choreography on overpacked carriers to squeals of protest on the other side.

So if I am understanding you correctly, it is the landing that is more of an issue for deck space?


I think both will be disruptive. Recovery will have safety issues.


Safety ? Its carrier, by many measures , it shouldn’t be able to launch and recover high speed planes at all. But they do because of a century of experience and the will to resolve any issues.
The reported 12 hr endurance means it can be like helicopters, arrive and depart outside the fast jet cycle and ‘not’ require extra hands on deck
Im not thinking its the ‘ next big thing’ but slow but with endurance has worked out before


Safety is a real thing. Duty Holders have real accountabilities.

It’s not about operating outside “the fast jet cycle” because you’re still talking about how recovery in particular impinges on the deck park. The whole concept of QEC has always been that the aircraft live on the roof and only go below for maintenance.

Even if an MQ9 recovery is the last line on the Flypro you’re still looking at pointing a 2-3 tonne aircraft that is potentially armed, at a deck with a number of other potentially armed aircraft parked on it, at 40+ kts relative and trying to stop it by brakes alone. Neither ship nor aircraft were designed to operate that way.

To paraphrase Top Gun – that’s a big gamble with several £100m airplanes and more importantly the lives of those who’d have to deal with any accident.

Last edited 6 months ago by N-a-B
Fred the frog

Well OK then. TBH and IMHO, It would be great to see many more articles here rather than one a week.

stephen ball

As the the article, Type 32 most likely a mothership for small vessels, Can see Royal navy building up to 10 City-class mine countermeasures vessel – Wikipedia


This is absolutely not what the RN is planning.
They will operate their remote anti mine systems either from land, a conventional warship or from a transport ship/sea base of some sort. It’s been suggested that something like an oil rig support vessel could form the basis of the transport/sea base part of the mine warfare solution.


I completely cannot see this. Firstly; if Belgium with a defence budget 20 times smaller than us can make do with 6, it is nonsensical to think we could or should make do with 10. This is especially considering that we often deploy to the Red Sea and around the globe. Secondly, and more importantly, this is not what the RN seems to be planning. They want large ships to deploy small boats that will do the work. They want a containerised solution. The city class MCMV is not either of those.


Isnt minesweepers all that Belgium does these days


Yes. They have two frigates and two patrol boats for the coast (about the same length as Surrey’s.)

Belgium is richer than the Netherlands. In population terms it is twice the size of Singapore.

It’s seem defence for the Belgians is something they expect others to do for them.


The frigates , bought second hand from Netherlands, are 30 years old now. Maybe Type 31 for them ?


Autonomous systems are great but as the article says are they full matured whilst we rush to get rid of existing assets, and even if they are they still need to be deployed and operated from some sort of vessel.

T32 is much needed to beef up the escort fleet. Said it before and will say it again but along with the Hunts & Sandowns the batch 1 Rivers and Echos are all duty to retire within the next decade. A reversion to the old idea of the smallish, simple but flexible platform envisioned with MHPC / C3 in Future Surface Combatant seems the only sensible option.

Bring the batch 2 Rivers home and have 8 or 10 corvette sized vessels which can be forward based, conduct everyday patrol work but then swap in/out modular, container based mine-hunting and survey equipment as and when!

Armchair Admiral

Why not have a few more batch 2 rivers to do this stuff? B2s are corvette sized, have loads of endurance and space for containers. Stick a 40mm or even 57mm Bofors on it to beef up the self defence aspect and dare I say it, at build leave some space for a few sea Ceptor.
There is always a rush to get rid of stuff as it saves money straight away. Agree with views here and on other threads regarding what is exactly going to carry all this (three sets?. T sets?? 20 sets?) gear. The previous article on the new workboats looks promising though. The larger ones appear to have some seakeeping ability and are by nature modular. Buy another 10 or so and base them here and there to be used for odd jobs and minesweeping when necessary?


I was certainly thinking something River sized/shaped with that level of simplicity.

The very vague intention at the moment seems to be to procure a commercial vessel to act as a mother-ship in the gulf and then either fly out or deploy systems on existing/future classes.

It seems wholly inflexible and limiting to have to rely on frigates or RFA’s to carry and deploy the autonomous systems when they should be focusing on their core roles.

8 or so with a chunk forward deployed to the hot spots seems like a reasonable swap for all of the Hunt’s, Sandown’s, Echo’s and older River’s as well as complimenting the autonomous systems that can be deployed from shore as well.


Autonomous systems are great 

Based on what evidence?

Fred the frog

So, What’s your Counter Evidence then ?


We don’t play that game. I asked first.

Though I will add we seem to be heading for a repeat of the 1957 White Paper debacle.


I meant great in theory! It’ll only work if the technology is mature, enough of the autonomous systems are procured and the Royal Navy has the vessels to deploy them from.


These things are quite dumb. And counting on a hull, any hull, being available at the drop of the proverbial hat when needed well……..

Fred the frog

Playing the “I’m more intelligent than you game” is all you do on here yet you never seem to offer anything intelligent or factual or correct.


Whatevers as the kidz say.

Perhaps I am a bit beyond top trumps and Russian man bad?

And who are you anyway? Nobody to me.

I treat many here with the contempt they show me for my different opinions.

Last edited 6 months ago by X
Bloke down the pub

Interesting that as any mcmv supplied to the Ukrainians would obviously be home based in the Black Sea, their transit through the Bosphorous would not be restricted in the same way that vessels home based elsewhere would be. There’ll definitely be a demand for them to clear up the mines that have been sown during the current conflict.


Despite Russia’s poor naval performance, and general performance, in the war, it is futile to supply ships or boats of any kind to Ukraine. They will be eliminated by the superior Russian fleet while at sea. Although Russia, due to its outdated management systems and inadequate training, is clearly incapable of defending its warships from land attack, I doubt that Ukraine will be able to achieve naval superiority. Then again, most things that have happened shouldn’t have happened 😂

Supportive Bloke

I am not so sure they need anything big.

They just need up-to-date missile systems and radars that work with drone overwatch.

That seems to have done the trick so far?

Old salt

As an old sweeper rating I don’t understand why the MOD are finding it difficult to sell off the navy’s hunters. Let a private contractor find buyers. They will have much better luck than our useless MOD


Most of those sold off in the past do not undertake MCMV roles but general patrol work and the Sandowns are really a tad slow and expensive to keep compared to the Hunts. Few Navies actually undertake the role at all if you look around. Agreed new tech is good but the need is also to have a presence to deter and that means real hulls that can be seen. Too much waste in the MOD on big nothing for projects. Low tech has its place too.