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Bloke down the pub

Having paid for these trials to take place, hopefully the MOD will now take advantage of the knowledge gained and invest in the capability and not just let it wither on the vine.

Sean

Did the MoD actually pay for these trials? PoW was already over there and General Atomics is keen to demonstrate that Mojave can be flown from carriers. This was as much a sales demonstration as a trial.

Bloke down the pub

Which is why it was odd that we paid for it, unless what we’re actually paying for is access to the data generated.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

It’s interesting. At one end we have hypersonic missiles coming on line. At the other very slow lumbering prop driven craft. And in the middle the only viable combat aircraft have to be stealthy to survive and so be useful.

Sunset picture is nice.

I still think there is some mileage in flying amphibians from escorts.
comment image

Last edited 3 months ago by The Whale Island Zoo Keeper
Rudeboy

I still think there is some mileage in flying amphibians from escorts.”

Why?

You end up with the same complicated recovery equipment and operations as we did with Seaplanes back in the day.

The eVTOL space is where to watch….

Bloke down the pub

Darpa’s Sprint programme has some interesting proposals including from Bell and this from Aurora.Aurora Flight Sciences To Design High-Speed, Vertical Lift X-Plane – Aurora Flight Sciences

Jonno

I think the RN removed amphibians too soon from its cruisers and Battleships in WW2. If they had realised Radar was not the B all and end all and revealed ones position they might have stayed with the fleet longer. I agree they would be useful for an OPV for instance in the Pacific or other far off stations.
It could recover aircrew lost near hostile or remote shores. The pacific fleet missed that recourse in 1944-45.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

In terms of weight and range fixed wing is preferable to rotor. My favourite comparison is to compare Mi-26 with C-130 which gives a clear idea of the difference. Fixed wing gives better range, better speed, better ceiling height.

Using the sea you have endless runway for launch and recovery.

It is funny that deploying an amphibious drone should be seen as problematic yet here when it comes to other drones their appears to be no problem craning them over the side or recovering them.

An amphibian to carry a similar load to Merlin would with wings folded take up less width and probably with fold tail length too.

Last edited 3 months ago by The Whale Island Zoo Keeper
Jonno

I have been saying for some time fixed wing is the answer in many circumstances. I used to think a maritime Pilatus Porter was the answer.
However with the advent of AI etc why have people involved to any large extent in dangerous situations.
All the stuff you see in the Ukraine war were trialed in WW2 from the X boats, Italian chariots and attack motor boats, etc. Surprise is going to be very important in future.
I definitely think the Admiralty should re-acquire parts of Portland etc, because who wants Portsmouth to come under attack.

I’ll wait to see the TSR version of Mojave. It needs wing tip guards! and a defensive mg turret to keep intruders away, although maybe a steep dive will throw them off!

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Pilatus Porter or any of the many STOVL designs out there. My favourite is the AN-2. The problem is lofting sensors not fighting.

The Ukraine has shown there is no surprises anymore. Situational awareness is all.

For me, my main hobby horse, is CrowsNest. The system is poor. And Merlin is no longer really suitable.

Duker

Or this

The design of the P.1HH HammerHead aims at being a unique ISR platform, able to climb up to 45.000 feet, loitering quietly at low speed (135 KTAS) for an endurance of up to 16 flight hours and dashing at very high speed (up to 395 KTAS) to target. Its capabilities include being able to host several payload combinations and to perform multiple missions: aerial, land, coastal, maritime and offshore security, COMINT/ELINT, electronic warfare as well as other roles.

Based on the P.180 Avanti II proven architecture and technologies 

https://p1hh.piaggioaerospace.it/

MTOW 6150kg

p1hh-circle31
Last edited 3 months ago by Duker
Sean

A tailsitter such as the BAE Strix or a tiltrotor such as the Bell Eagle Eye would be better options from escorts.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Yes the Strix is very interesting. Deserves a picture methinks.

comment image

I favour autogyros TBH. Best of both worlds.

Toby J

Never seen a UAV autogyro, but on paper it sounds ideal. Not sure about radar returns or altitude though

Harkens

It is interesting but it has only a payload of 160kg,
For example, one Sea Venom is 120kg and one Sting Ray torpedo is 270kg.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

It is what it is. I posted the picture because not many have seen it.

The more mechanics you have to carry to get off the ground the less you can carry. C130 can carry 19 tonnes-ish. MI-26 carries about the same.
The former can travel 292kn for 2000nm. The latter 138kn for 270nm.

Toby J

Search up “Pterodynamics Transwing” and have a look at that. Same sort of idea as Strix (fixed-wing VTOL) but neater horizontal mode.

Harkens

Maximum payload 220lbs? Amazon delivery?

Toby J

They want to scale it, it’s a very early project

Rupert

For pizza delivery around Pearl Harbor on the Thames?

Sean

The neatest would be the downsized version of the V-247 Vigilant that Bell are pitching for the MUX programme in the US. The downsizing is for it to specifically by carried by escorts. Though if Bell don’t win, I doubt they’ll develop it for foreign sales alone.

Keith

Lets hope there is budget to pursue this properly

I can’t help thinking the RN will buy 2, one of which will be canabalised for spare parts…

Supportive Bloke

Impressively short take off and landing.

OK, probably low weight for the cleared deck trial but it does mean there are substantial safety margins already there.

Thus does mean that highly persistent operations are very possible at altitude.

Sean

I was surprised too by the shortness of the take-off too, very impressive. It bodes well that it will be able to carry a meaningful payload. It has a max take-off weight similar to that of a Fairly Swordfish, so to handle a return with a full weapons load an arrestor may be a useful addition.

simon

very encouraging could be a real game changer for the QE carriers and other F35b navies

D J

I notice all the international observers all operate carriers & or large LHD’s.

KevinR

Assuming this moves forward, is the “pilot” onboard the carrier or ashore?

Jonno

Will the RAF let it be? Nightmare.

Moonstone

It seems to me that a unarmed UAV type that could haul a capable AEW radar to altitude,and then stay up there for a prolonged period, would clearly be a extremely useful addition to the fleet – that of course also comes with a nice side benefit of freeing up scarce Merlin airframes for their proper ASW tasking.

Armed UAVs on the other hand are indisputably a splendidly cost effective means of engaging his Majesty’s more unsophisticated enemies – however these slow non stealthy aircraft could surely not be expected to survive long if pitted against a peer level opponent. So what are our carriers actually for – deter China/Russia or terrorise terrorists?

Also, I do struggle sometimes to shake the suspicion that the RN is engaged in a attempt to fill our carrier with some type of aircraft, rather than build a carrier sized for the number of (capable) aircraft types the RN can truly afford.

Last edited 3 months ago by Moonstone
Jonathan

It would be very interesting to see what payload size it can carry while being launched and recovered from an Elizabeth, also how will it interact and interfere with other air ops.

But all in all a very good idea for low,medium intensity work instead of risking F35Bs and pilots.

Jonno

Fit JATO for take off and double the payload.

Duker

I would say the lift from the wide span and straight wings and the thrust from a propeller is plenty

Scott

12 each carrier please!

stephen ball

Think max will be 6 maybe 8.

Duker

Interesting to see the the carrier version has a more robust landing gear than the standard land based MQ-1 Grey Eagle
Pic from ‘National defense magazine’

grayeagle_web1
Challenger

Bigger wing area for more lift as well I believe. Can perhaps see arrestor wires and crash barriers used as usage is developed and take-off / landing weights increase.

Theoden

Crash barriers wouldn’t be necessary for something like Mojave.There’s enough room on the QE’s flight deck to land and takeoff at an angle. It’s another advantage of having a carrier as big as the QE’s. The Japanese, Italians and Spanish with much smaller carriers might need them.

Challenger

My principle question is how difficult it’ll be to develop a AEW version as i’d say the priority on the shopping list must be releasing the Merlin’s from Crowsnest duties!

Would Searchwater be within the weight margins?

Jon

Transfering Searchwater from Sea Kings to Merlins took years, went over budget and left the carrier without a high performing AEW for far too long. Are you seriously proposing moving it again from Merlin to another platform? We need modern radar, not a turn of the century rehash. Mojave can at most lift a few hundred kilos off a carrier, and won’t be the best bet for even a low power AEW.

GA are touting the development of new AEW pods for the MQ-9Bs. If we can use STOL Protectors with AEW pods off the carriers, this is likely to be our best medium term bet, especially if they are UK radars (Leonardo make the RAF Protector maritime radars, so it’s not impossible that AEW radar will also be Leonardo). They won’t be at E2 or E7 level, but they could well be better than the sensor suite on Crowsnest. Crowsnest is AEW&C, whereas UAVs can only function as AEW, so there will still be a lot of work to do to offboard the Command functionality to ships or ground stations.

What would be interesting to me would be going to someone like Rolls Royce who work with cutting edge power technologies as well as making the lift fan for the F-35 and asking the question: what would be the best and cheapest way to get a fully working MESA radar (>3 tons) off a carrier deck for a minimum of 6 hours at a stretch. What about an 1 ton S-Band radar instead? We need another clean sheet approach to AEW, and if it still ends up catapult and £200m a pop, at least we’d know. Given that we have two spare MESA radars and E7 delayed, even if gave us a land based second-tier E7 support UAV rather than a Crowsnest replacement, the effort would not be wasted.

Duker

I dont think is just a swap of the old equipment to a new airframe. I would think its a complete update of the software by Lockheed ( formerly IBM-ASIC)too

“Building on the pedigree of the Sea King ASaC7, the Crowsnest variant benefits from an uplift in processing power, new radar modes and an increase in maximum range performance.

Similarly, the Crowsnest operator console builds on the HMI, while introducing improved features and new functions. For example, the consoles are configured with a widescreen touch-sensitive display that offers a 30% increase in picture area for the operator, while also enabling quicker interactions via ‘pinch/spread’ touch inputs. The upgraded mission system also brings in an updated tracker and new correlation algorithms.” Airforces Monthly Jan 22

Phillip Johnson

Reading the 27 prior comments many are concentrating on the weight of possible payloads. A key constraint is generator power. It has one reasonably small engine. Question is how big an electronic payload could this power. I suppose someone will mention windmill generators like on some EW pods but they generally operate at jet speeds not puddling along at 100 kns or less.
GA has a customer problem, the US is more or less finished with their current UAV range, a little caution please.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

It is too small. Ever since I have been visiting this site I have been asking why everybody thinks drones will be small and cheap? Nobody ever answers apart from one or three allusions to no crew. A drone will have to move itself a distance whilst overcoming the vagaries of the medium it is travelling through or upon and carry and power a payload. Plus it will need greater redundancy to overcome faults and give access to technicians too.

Sean

No aircrew means greatly reduced operational costs as well as the obvious capital savings on the expensive equipment needed onboard an aircraft for an aircrew to stay alive and function.

Unmanned systems needs less redundancy than manned systems, not more. Redundancy only becomes critical when lives are at risk, it’s the major difference, for example, between manned and unmanned (drone) spacecraft.

Really don’t understand your cryptic comment about “move itself a distance whilst overcoming the vagaries of the medium”, the air is arguably the easiest medium for drones to navigate through. Drones have taken off and landed on carriers, flown the Atlantic, and the RAF’s latest are certified to fly in congested airspace ( ie full of airliners).

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

To save you future effort I don’t respond to your replies to my comments.

I read the comment stream up from the bottom as it were. And I see you are as rude to others as you are to me. And I am tired of getting into trouble for sticking up for myself and others.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

FWIW a UAV squadron in the USAF has 4 cabs and 500 personnel.

A fighter squadron will have 18 to 24 aeroplanes for the same complement.

Unmanned refers to the vehicle not support infrastructure.

Sean

Thank you for staying the obvious.
Of course unmanned systems requires the same personnel as manned systems for maintenance, etc, etc.
The “unmanned” refers to the aircraft alone: ie no aircrew. Which is what I said.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

You are wrong there too then.

Drone pilots…..
comment image

Duker

Your exact words were …”No aircrew means greatly reduced operational costs “
They are aircrew and are trained as such .

REMOTELY PILOTED AIRCRAFT

SYSTEM (RPAS) PILOT

https://recruitment.raf.mod.uk/roles/roles-finder/aircrew/remotely-piloted-aircraft-system-rpas-pilot

Your welcome

Duker
Sean

But they don’t get flying/retention pay, and sport blue laurels instead of gold on their pilots badges. But most importantly
• they aren’t in the air , so not at risk
• cost a fraction to train compared to real pilots

(Cute seeing the Russian trolls sticking up for each other.)

Last edited 3 months ago by Sean
Duker

Hello ? They do receive pilot training on various aircraft such as Tutor or Prefect before they are even given the training for the Protector drone.
And no the RAF dont train every pilot to the level for a Typhoon either , thats for a small fraction that are the best of the best.

Where did you complete your Karen training ?

Sean

I still see you’re being subjectively illiterate again.
Drone pilots don’t fly in drones, hence the term “unmanned”. Yes RPAS need to be remotely piloted, but the training costs of a fighter pilot are an order or magnitude greater than those for a drone pilot. Consequently there is also a difference in salary. For example, a RAF Typhoon pilot (with gold laurels pilot badge) receives Retention Pay (previously called Flying Pay) whereas a RAF Predator pilot (with blue laurels pilot badge) does not.
At least you no-longer deny being a Russian troll. That’s progress of sorts.

Last edited 3 months ago by Sean
Duker

The Mojave was controlled by an aircrew from a control station onboard the ship.”
Caption in one of NL photos

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Phillip

I agree with you on this one. For a UAV carrying a heavy combined payload of sensors, communications kit and weapons’ and when the critical operational requirement is to remain aloft for hours (i.e loitering), both the amount of on-board generating capacity and also carrying enough fuel to power those generator(s) would the key design consideration.

To illustrate the importance of your key point, I would hark back to the fiasco of the development programme for the RAF Comet (sorry Nimrod) AEW back in the 1980’s. In that plane there was only enough fuel in the airframe to either power the jets OR to power the electronics = however the aircraft was not able to do both at the same time! (hence it was cancelled).

We can all agree that the RN carriers need effective AEW. The question is “what is the best way to provide that capability?”

I believe that using an existing proven STOL airframe would far cheap and quicker into service than developing (and certifying) any all-new UAV.

As a I pointed out in separate post on NL a few months back, if the RN wants an fixed-wing aircraft for Airborne Early Warning that can easily operate from either of the RN’s two carriers and/or from land base(s) I think it should be looking for an obvious solution much closer to home.

The Britain Norman Defender 4000 (i.e. the AEW variant) fitted with a more-modern air-search radar (such as the latest Crownest /Searchwater 2000) would fit the RN’s requirements very very nicely. The plane can fly straight on and off either QE-class carrier deck, all without any need for fitting those quaint attachments called “cats and traps”.

Furthermore no need to pay for the expense of developing an all-new uncrewed airframe

regards Peter The Irate Taxpayer

Hugo

Does it have folding wings? Otherwise that aircraft is far too large for the carriers.

PeterS

Nope. Almost the same wing span as Mohave. An off the shelf buy of a STOL turboprop like Defender must be cheaper than anything from General Atomics.

Hugo

True but GA are planning folding wings for their carrier deployed drones. See the MQ 9b

Sean

QE Class Carrier length 284m

Britten Norman BN-2T-4S Defender 4000
Take-off: 565m
Landing: 589m

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Sean,

Others commenting on this site about this particular video have noted that the Mojave had a very short (rolling) landing distance. There is a good reason for that performance, which I shall explain in few minutes…….

Also, if you read the General Atomics Mojave data sheet, when the UAV is configured for ISR (i.e. lightweight payload) you will see that it can have a take-off distance of just 120m (rough field). However when it is fully-armed with Hellfire’s that take-off distance is nearly tripled, increasing to just over 300m. Those figures should gives you a very big clue as to what I am going to say next..

You have quoted the correct figures for this Defender AEW plane, however…

(hint: the really big BUT is coming next)

…………….ONLY when applied in two different circumstances:

  • Still air
  • Obstruction clearance (height).

You have quoted the Defenders’ AEW performance for take off and landing distances both in still air and also, crucially, also such that the plane can gain both sufficient height and also air-speed after taking-off to effectively clear an obstruction with a height of 15m (50 feet) located at the end of the runway (i.e. this is correctly applying the standard civil and military aviation industry criteria).

Thus I will be the first to admit that your two figures would be the correct specifications to use for this particular loaded Defender AEW aircraft when it is civilian and also land-based. However they are not the correct dimensions to apply to exactly the same plane when it is deployed operationally as carrier-based.

The officially-certified figures for the standard configuration of a full-loaded Britten Norman BN-2T-4S Defender AEW when operating in still air – however without imposing that key requirement to be able to clear that 50-foot-high obstruction at the end of the runway are:

  • 368m take off ground roll
  • 308m landing ground roll


Now, before you say anything….. I must be the first to admit that this two measurements are both more than the length of the QE deck (Note. which you did get correct).

Thus, a Defender AEW which was attempting to take-off from the deck of a QE class carrier when the ship was moored-up alongside the quayside at Portsmouth would very-quickly be doing an impression of the F35 falling off the front of the ship’s ski-jump into the Med in Nov 2021 (Hint. Please refer to our previous exchange on NL about that subject!) Thus, in simply terms, when flying in still air, a fully-loaded Defender launching itself from the deck of a stationary QE carrier would very-swiftly become a brand-new member of the Goldfish Club.

However we then need to applying the really key criteria in these circumstances: which is adding the effective wind speed over the carrier’s deck.

Thus, if this plane was embarked on board the QE, the key design feature which really needs to be considered is the Defender’s very low stall speed; which is only about 50-60 knots (Note: exact stall speed(s) will depends on flap setting(s)).

The carrier – and my next comment is obviously assuming that POW has not broken another prop-shaft – will typically be making a speed of approx. 25-30 knots over the sea and whilst facing into the wind for flying operations.

That “extra” wind ove the deck makes a huge difference to any STOL plane’s landing and take-off distances: so it dramatically shortens both take-off and landing distances.

Thus, and I am now putting this into very-simple layman terms, when this STOL plane is taking off from a properly-working aircraft carrier which is being driven into the wind at speed, the Defender would have fully half (i.e. 25-30 knots) of the required wind speed required for the plane’s lift being generated over its wings = even when it is stationary on the carriers deck (i.e. so before Biggle’s has released its brakes and then started to move forward on the carrier’s flight deck.

Therefore a fully-loaded Defender AEW could take-off from the deck of a QE class carrier when operating at sea (Note. That is obviously assuming that Biggles has turned on both of the plane’s engines and both are running at full power!)

Thus I look forward to seeing on NL the photos of a standard Defender AEW doing the following flight trials:

  1. Flying from the Isle of Wight – off a land runway of not more than 565m
  2. Landing on nearby QE class carrier – approx. 225m
  3. Then doing a quick pitstop (buying Biggles lunch and also refueling)
  4. Flying off again – approx. 245m
  5. Landing on the IOW – definitely less than 589m

All test flying to be completed in one day, so just before the carrier arrives back in Portsmouth!

However I would definitely personally prefer to see a slightly-more powerful engine fitted to any new RN carrier-based version of the Defender AEW. That is simply because – quite-obviously – having more engine power available, especially for a fully-loaded take-off, will always give a better/greater safety margin (and possibly also allow Biggles to embark a larger packed lunch).

Therefore, if the RN splashed out the cash and brought a brand-new navalised version of the Defender AEW, there would be the very-obvious option of putting in a slightly-more-powerful (i.e. “tweaked”) version of the those two very-well-proven RR turbo-prop engines (Note. These engines have been sold for many years in the USA, originally under the Allison brand name. These engines are used extensively in many types of light aircraft and also in very many helicopters).

All in all, there is no need to drive POW the 3,000 miles over to the good old US of A to find a very simple solution that will solve the Navy’s AEW dilemma!

Finally, if you want to see a very good example of what can be done with a STOL landing and take-off of a turbo-prop powered plane, I suggest you look at an old feature on Navy Lookout That shows a video of the USN landing a C130 Hercules on board USS Forrestal back in the 1960’s (Note. That was done for a bet!). That far-larger STOL plane only used up about half of that carrier’s (admittedly longer) flight deck length and please remember that stunt was done using much-less-powerful 1960’s-era engines.

regards Peter The Irate Taxpayer

Sean

It’s amusing, you try and demonstrate the Defender can take off from the deck of the QE carrier, and then say you would like to see it have a powerful engine…

You make several assumptions…
• that there is any wind to sail into
• that the carrier is willing and able to sail at maximum speed to give the Defender a helping hand.

Correct the take-off (and landing) lengths are for a 15m clearance. But that’s reasonable to include given you want the Defender to be sufficiently airborne so as not to collide with the ski-jump or be affected by the turbulence of the wind that is directed up and over the ski-jump to aid the F35B at take-off.
(Or were you planning on trying to ski-jump the Defender into the air. You made no mention of this.)

Not to mention the Defender was not designed for use on a carrier. That doesn’t just mean adding a sturdier undercarriage, as was done for the Mojave. You’re also looking at strengthening the aircraft considerably to accommodate arrestor gear – which the RN will insist on for a manned aircraft. Then there’s the problem of a wingspan of 16m compared to the F35B wingspan of 10m. Which means further work to develop folding wings.
A have a Nimrod feeling about this…

No the C130 landing on the USS Forrestal was not “done as a bet”. Do you really think the USN is so unprofessional to do such a thing? It was done as part of a test programme to see if the C130 could fulfil the COD requirement. In total the Hercules conducted 29 touch-and-go landings, 21 unarrested full-stop landings, and 21 unassisted takeoffs.

BTW is it necessary for you to be so derogatory about our servicemen in your comments? Or do you consider these to be funny, in which case, don’t give up the day job.

Last edited 3 months ago by Sean
Duker

The P2 Neptune was also qualified for carrier takeoffs but no landings ( it was craned on ) and a small number were deployed with a carrier
Jato T/O from FDR

P2V_takes_off_USS_Franklin_D_Roosevelt_2_July_1951_1
Joe16

I take your point, and it’s a good one.
However, the USN was never much of a customer to GA anyway- primarily because their CATOBAR carriers can launch much larger aircraft. The MQ-25 Stingray is closer in size to an F-35, although potentially lighter because of the reduced need for pilot life support systems etc.
If we get the small Cats & Traps on the QEs, or maybe even just an arrestor system (don’t know how good the thrust/weight is on drones) then maybe we could look at something like the Stingray, but until we do then stuff like the MQ-9B is as good as we’re getting. And that’s not terrible- they’ll have their uses.

DaveyB

The U.K. Royal Navy revealed details of its plans to fit its two carriers with assisted launch systems and recovery gear, enabling operations by a wider variety of fixed-wing uncrewed aircraft and, potentially, conventional take-off and landing crewed types. This effort is known as Future Maritime Aviation Force (FMAF).

“We are looking to move from STOVL [short take-off and vertical landing] to STOL [short take-off and landing], then to STOBAR [short take-off but arrested recovery], and then to CATOBAR [catapult assisted take-off but arrested recovery],” explained Colonel Phil Kelly, the Royal Navy’s Head of Carrier Strike and Maritime Aviation, about FMAF. “We are looking at a demonstrable progression that spreads out the financial cost and incrementally improves capability,” he added.

Kelly also confirmed that FMAF includes Project Ark Royal, which includes the recent Mojave tests off the U.S. East Coast. At the same time, Kelly said that while the Mojave is able to take off within 300 feet, which is easily already available with the Queen Elizabeth class, design work has been completed for modifications that would extend the carriers’ usable runway for drones to 700 feet, which would include adding sponsons to the ships.

This was reported on another site. But it shows the aspirations that the Navy are looking at. Where it looks like the Navy are doing baby steps, initially with STOVL and STOL, then fitting of an arrestor system, and finally a catapult. Which if you are cynical is driven by cost and available funding.

Even in Navy Lookout, there have been images of the carrier fitted with the extended side sponson for the angled deck. Along with a bow cat alongside the ramp and another cat firing off the sponson. It does make you think why bother with the lower payload cat and not go for the fully leaded one? Thereby enabling heavier aircraft to be launched and recovered. Allowing standard carrier fixed wing Allied aircraft to use the carrier. Hurry up and wait I guess?

Jon

You’d probably want to hoist up a hydrocarbon-burning turbogenerator. The new Rolls Royce turbogenerators can get you 500kW in 200kg (plus fuel). That would be overweight/overkill for a carrier limited Mojave, but it gives an idea.

RH northern lad

The RN needs more F35B before any thing else.

Duker

Yes. They are ‘highly capable’ in the AEW mission as well. Just having a passive sensor means that a CAP is required to support it . Crowsnest is the inner tier

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

comment image

Ian

This still looks the part….. might show up on someone’s radar though????????????????

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

Most things show up on somebody’s else radar.

Gannet is not as long as Merlin and not as high either.

Back_aftie

As its got a large radar broadcasting to the world i suspect stealth may not be an option.
it actually makes sense to use the gannet (stop reinventing the wheel!) in AEW role if they fit arrestor wires.
it can deck run off the carrier using the ski jump, the E2D can also but the RN are not keen due to possible engine failure on takeoff (aircraft loss).
Gannet would require a re-engine and fitting of crowsnest (or better) plus commslink to fleet. but if re-engined the replacement engine is the same size,twice the power and more fuel efficent. which means it could lose an engine on takeoff and not really notice!.
i suspect it would be fairly easy to convert to unpiloted as well.
The ASW version with torps and deapth charges could also be usefull.

12 new AEW versions? 250-500mil for the lot? and that would be new build.

Coll

Still no Phalanx on the carrier?

Hugo

Its not exactly in a dangerous area. Will have it fitted when it’s actively deployed.

Duker

fitted when it’s actively deployed”
What about all the exercises they are involved in , its part of the CIC isnt it and they dont get to have simulated firing without an actual Phalanx.
USS Stark can tell you about having a Phalanx but not using it when the chips are down

Hugo

When they deploy the Phalanx systems they also deploy the people to maintain and run them. They’re an automatic system after all so all they have to do is remember to turn it on.
Point is we have enough phalanx for all our ships, so it’s a conscious decision that they don’t need them for this cruise.

Éowyn

Total sheer bravado and overconfident.

Besides USS Stark, remember IS Hanit? It was struck by a Hezbollah-fired C-802 missile while patrolling 8.5 nm offshore of Beirut; the missile was Chinese-built with an upgraded Iranian radar seeker.

Remember Taranto and Pear Harbor?

Toby J

Yes, I remember Pear harbour well, isn’t it on the Thames somewhere?

Sean

The USS Stark was on operations in the Persian Gulf.
PoW is conducting trials off the eastern seaboard of the USA.
Big difference in threat level.

Esteban

Where exactly is it going to be actively deployed?….

Hugo

Anywhere else than the Benign US Coast, literally nothing will happen to it there.
It’s essentially still in training, when it goes on a carrier deployment of course they’ll fit them.

Éowyn

In 2022, POW took over the role of command ship for NATO’s maritime high readiness force in the Arctic, Baltic, and Mediterranean and it did not have any CIWS either

Hugo

All the photos i can find have them fitted throughout her deployment to the North.
https://x.com/HMSPWLS/status/1488953593147400199?s=20

Boris

Four years already in commission. but still no “fight tonight” readiness? Laughable.

Should ask FSL Ben Kay again, where are those 30mm guns, saving on salt corrosion maintenance?

Hugo

The whole point of these systems is they can be slapped on in a night. So yes theres no point in deploying them if we dont need them, incurs maintenance and personnel hours for no reason. We certainly have enough phalanx systems, 30mm on the other hand, dont know, but theres certainly more reasons than we dont have them as to why they havent been deployed.

Boris

Fight tonight and not fight tomorrow, sunny.
Do any US carriers go around without CIWS?

RN cannot even afford minimum weapon maintenance costs for its capital ships, for what it has.

Last edited 3 months ago by Boris
Duker

Queen Elizabeth doing its Nato exercises in North Sea and Baltic has them fitted- as shown in the previous Navy Lookout photo story

Toby J

Ah yes, the famous mortal enemy to be fought at a moment’s notice a few miles away from the largest naval base on earth

Arjun

Anybody in the Navy will argue to have better-armed readiness with the exception of you saying that weapons systems are better kept on shore.
What type of navy is this?

Hugo

“Units are rotated between warships in refit and RFAs not deploying to high threat areas, providing for planned maintenance, as the table above indicates, there are sufficient numbers for the RNs requirements.”
Last ditch defence – the Phalanx close-in weapon system in focus | Navy Lookout

DaSaint

Any true combatant needs to be fully armed, including with its defensive systems, at all times. If you have them, deploy them. The only reason not to is that you don’t have enough for every ship and you rotate just to the ones deployed.

The same applies to the USN with some of our Burke DDGs. Not all have both CIWS positions filled. Often, it’s just the rear position for Phalanx or SeaRAM, though that is starting to change.

Sad state of affairs however you look at it.

Last edited 2 months ago by DaSaint
Hugo

Read the Article, we literally do have enough.

Sean

No need to ask. Previous excellent article on this site explained why these won’t be fitted.
Not paying attention ?

Arjun

No, still no CIWS. and no torpedo defense either, not much better than RMS Lusitania.
RN has no whatsoever money, and might as well sell the dam ship to Pakistan.

Sean

Phalanx is CIWS.
Anti-submarine warfare is carried out by ASW Type 23 frigates and SSN Astute submarines.
You can’t even swear properly, that should be “damn” not “dam”.
Overall a rather pathetic attempt at trolling.

Duker

Does any one else see the problem refuelling the Mojave inside the hangar. Sure the turboprop is diesel powered but still

Mojahave-71
Hugo

Is it a fuel they don’t carry onboard? Not sure why they’d be filling in the hangar otherwise.

Duker

Its the fuel that powers the ships own gas turbines and diesels

N-a-B

No it’s not. The engine will be burning F44, whereas the ships engines burn F76. Fuelling in the hangar is not a drama – actually having partially fuelled aircraft is more of an issue.

Duker

The GA MQ-9 Grey Eagle is powered by a Lycoming DEL-120 4 cyl compression ignition engine

N-a-B

Whereas the Mojave is apparently moved courtesy of the RR250 gas turbine.

Duker

Thats the RAF Reaper version with the TPE-331 turboprop
The Mojave is described as a derivative of the Grey Eagle version which uses diesel engines
But it could well be proposed to have a RR turboprop. Its not clear

N-a-B
Sean

So possibly the first sign that the QE carriers are getting Mojaves would be modifications to providing refuelling facilities on the flight deck…

N-a-B

No. See above.

Toby J

But wouldn’t it be easier to refuel on flight deck? In which case they would need piping to carry the diesel
Please enlighten me, I don’t know much about the nitty gritty of carriers

N-a-B

It’s not diesel. F44 is kerosene aka high flashpoint aviation fuel.

The ship is designed to be able to supply F44 at multiple points on both the hangar and flightdeck, because you need to be able to do both.

Defence thoughts

I’m probably venturing into Thunderbirds territory here, but I look forward to the day when our frigates and destroyers can deploy heli-jet drones with decent range.

OkamsRazor

Seaspray has already been prepped for this;

Leonardo Seaspray AESA Maritime Radar to be Integrated on GA-ASI MQ-9B SeaGuardian

Rome 18 January 2021 18:02

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is working with Leonardo to integrate the Leonardo Seaspray 7500E V2 radar into the centerline radar pod of its MQ-9B SeaGuardian remotely-piloted aircraft system (RPAS). The integration of this market-leading radar onto the SeaGuardian will enable persistent maritime ISR and is available to our international customer base.

GA-ASI’s MQ-9B is revolutionizing the long-endurance RPAS market by providing all-weather capability and compliance with STANAG-4671 (NATO airworthiness standard for Unmanned Aircraft Systems). These features, along with an operationally proven collision-avoidance radar, enables flexible operations in civil airspace. SeaGuardian has a multi-mode maritime surface-search radar with Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) imaging mode, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver, and a High-Definition – Full-Motion Video sensor equipped with optical and infrared cameras. This sensor suite, augmented by automatic track correlation and anomaly-detection algorithms, enables real-time detection and identification of surface vessels over thousands of square nautical miles.

The Seaspray 7500E V2 radar is well-suited to the SeaGuardian mission set, using Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology to detect, track and classify hundreds of maritime contacts. The integration will also include an Open Mission Systems (OMS) approach, which enables the SeaGuardian and its sensor suite to offer operational and sustainment flexibility to end users.

Jon

Given that an empty 12 ton Tesla semi costing £150K can reach 60 mph in 5 seconds and less than 200ft, why is it so blessed expensive to build a 300 ft catapult to push a 6 ton MQ-9B to a take off speed that won’t be much more than that?

Commonwealth Loyalist

I agree that for some reason the Navy has become much more bureaucratic again. Today I happened to look up the good old HMS Hermes, one of our smallest carriers at 24K tons. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Hermes_(R12)
In those days not long ago in the 80’s there didn’t seem to be all the obstacles and acronyms needed to be muddled through to try things and get them into service. They tried Phantoms on her, concluded she was a bit small, but then later after participating in the Falklands war she was restored to an air wing worthy of the name “wing”, ie 12 Sea Harriers, 10 Harrier GR3’s, and 10 Westland Sea Kings. Several times more aircraft than have ever been embarked on the new QEII class.

Seems to me much has recently been lost to bureaucracy and arcane rules and regulations instead of sticknig to enterprise and trial and error. Even this excellent Navy Lookout website gives far too much credence to all the formalities and acronyms that ships and men are supposed to go through before anything is allowed to enter the front line. It all reminds me of C Northcote Parkinson’s ‘s observation that the number of Admiralty employees (in the 20th century he was writing about) continued to increase majestically regardless of the huge reductions in the size of the fleet.

Analogous was his observation that the same thing happened to the Colonial Office, with the number of employees continuing to rise exponentially under the rules of govt bureaucracy regardless of the reduction in size or even the existence of the Empire.

Thank goodness for the radicals that inhabit the Select Committee on Defense, without them it would be even worse.

Cheers

John

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

John – Commonwealth Loyalist

As somebody who learnt his “professional engineering trade” in the 1980’s can I assure you that the number of TLA’s in all three of the bureaucracies that us taxpayers call the “UK armed services” was every bit as bad back then in the 1970’s and 1980’s as it is today.

I refer as evidence to the Monty Python sketch called RAF officer’s banter:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rKYL0tW-Ek

Regards Peter The Irate Taxpayer

Toby J

RAF was the original military TLA after all

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Toby

Unfortunately, ISR between the RN and the original TLA is as alive and kicking today as it was back in the days of this Monty Python ISR sketch from the 1970’s.

If I was a betting man – which I am not – I would wager a tidy sum of money that the very-public testing of these US-made UAV’s on POW has been very carefully planned to be the “thin end of the ISR wedge”.

Furthermore, there was a “rather interesting” article in the Sunday Times a few weeks back. That one was quite obvious plant into the national media by an expert in high-level ISR. It was extolling the virtues of how brilliant USN catapult-launched carrier aircraft are….all illustrated with a Super-Hornet.

Therefore I reckon that the most-recent outbreak of ISR between the RAF and RN has caused the RN to come up with a three-stage top-secret cunning plan:

  1. Firstly to get the whole idea of “cats and traps” fitted onto the QE carriers accepted, by one and all, as “now essential”. The latest trials of new UAV’s are a very blatant way of achieving just that.
  2. Then the RN will want to add “allied aircraft” into the engineering specifications for the QE carrier’s new cats and traps (Note. Big hints have already been dropped under the guise of “Project Ark Royal”)
  3. Then I reckon that the RN will plead for special permission from the Treasury to go out and buy the last few F18 Super-Hornets coming off the end of Boeing’s last production run (closing in 2025).

This scenario will “probably happen” because the RN and RAF cannot seem to be able to work cooperatively together to get the most-obvious solution implemented: which must be to get more F35’s into service (i.e. a classic case of ISR).

That of course would completely change the entire set of STOL principles which currently underpin UK carrier operations.

So then the two UK carriers will probably never properly become fully operational………because the pair of them will forever be in the dockyard sorting out their Cattraps (or should that last word read claptrap?).

Thus the curse of C4ISR strikes, yet again, right at the very heart of the UK defence sector.

regards Peter the Irate Taxpayer

Footnote

For those NL readers who are not fully-up-to speed on the meaning of all three thousand plus of the MOD currently-in-service and operational TLA’s, the key two are:

  • ISR = Inter Service Rivalry
  • C4ISR = Command & Control Cock-up Causing Inter Service Rivalry
Sean

I’m happy to take that wager that we will NOT be buying any Super Hornets before they end production in 2025.

The rest of your conspiracy, sorry “cunning plan”, is equally unlikely.

Duker

After the Falklands war HMS Hermes did not normally embark a larger air wing at all. After the post war refit which lasted till Nov 82 the squadrons onboard were 800 ( Shar) and 814 Sea King. Once in a exercise during 1983 in the North Sea without 814 the Harrier GR3 of 1 Sq RAF went on board alongside 800. The following exercise had no Harriers at all with 845 Wessex and 846 Junglies Sea Kings and 40 RM. The final refit was completed in April 84 and she was held in reserve at Plymouth unit the new Ark Royal completed and then offered for sale after Jul 85

Last edited 3 months ago by Duker
Commonwealth Loyalist

I am sure you are right, on closer inspection the air wing I found was just for one exercise. Sounded like they changed it at will to suit what they were doing.

Cheers

John

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

John and Duker

As background information

In the few years immediately after the Falklands there were an awful lot of those types of “experimental” deployments and exercises.

Simultaneously, there were also various studies floating around for a Air Training Ship (Note. Please excuse the pun). The idea at that time was that basic at-sea aviation training would undertaken on-board a separate ship; thus maintaining the Invincible class carriers as fully-operational units. That study resulted in Argus being brought and converted.

These experimental exercises often involved different numbers of ship(s) and aircraft (both rotary wing and fixed wing). The idea was basically to test out in practice some good ideas; and thus determine what “combinations” worked best. The results were feed back both to the navy’s own operational planners. However in the ship design teams these exercises were also frequently discussed.

That particular airgroup / exercise you describe in 1984 sounds to me like one of those tests: especially as it involved what looks to me like a full squadron of RAF GR3’s.

regards Peter The Irate Taxpayer

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Sean

On the subject of whether US made flying objects starting with the letter “H” will, or will not, ever land on QE class carrier = I will now wager you a beer (an one-each-way bet).

Others on NL can judge, in two or three years time, who wins!

(i.e. My conspiracy theory is completely mad = which probably makes it very likely to come true!)

—————–

Now, returning to the main subject matter in hand = of large UAV’s potentially operating from the deck of a RN QE class carrier..

Last Year

About a year ago on NL many people posted quite-long messages. All pointed out that the RAF Protector drone (i.e. the one which had, back then, just been placed on order) would have some very useful capabilities IF (and this was a big if) they could be deployed from the deck of an operational RN carrier out at sea.

Some, including DaveyB, pointed out that having a LM2500 Seaspray radar under a carrier-based drone would be the height of sophistication! (and thus deal with the RN’s AEW issue).

Others, including a very-thoughtful and very-through N-a-b pointed out some obvious disadvantages of operating large UAV’s out at sea. there is the big potential risk of crashing a UAV into long line of parked F-35 (note: an event that might stop the chancellor announcing any tax cuts in any future budget!).

This November – At Sea

Then, on the 15th Nov 2023, we have the RN conducting these well-published first-ever trials of a large UAV on a carrier off the east coast of the good old US of A. This trail was with the Mojave, the slightly smaller version, flying on and off POW.

So, well done to all at NL: another very good article!

This cost of this one-off trial to the UK taxpayer was 1.5 million quid (i.e. Taxpayer pays HRMC – who pay MOD – both of whom take a big cut out for bureaucracy. Finally the RN pays GA – apparently with some left-over cash which was, on this occasion, found down the back of the officer’s mess cabin sofa).

This November – In deepest darkest Lincolnshire

However in the very same week as those RN trials – over at RAF Waddington on the east coast of the UK – we have the first ever flight of the new RAF Protector UAV. That happened on the 18th November 2023.

https://www.raf.mod.uk/aircraft/protector-rg-mk-1-mq-9b/

———————-

Now, to those of you who might not have twigged what I am going to say next, it is worth pointing out that the General Atomics UAV specifications for their three very-similar aircraft are – to all intents and purposes – the one and the same airframes being earnestly being discussed here on NL over the past twelve months. They even have the same fuel and payload capabilities:

i.e. MQ-9B = Sea Guardian = RAF Protector RG Mk1

(The really quite-minor differences between the three being items like the beefier undercarriage: having a folding wing version, type of landing aids fitted etc)

I even understand that an option on the brand-new RAF Protector (fitted on centreline) is fitting a Seaspray 7500 V2 radar – a capability which would make DaveyB and many others very happy!

———————–

Accordingly, I have to ask the bleeding obvious question:

“why oh why” did the MOD / RAF not originally think of buying, only just over a year ago, the “almost-identical” carrier-compatible version of their super-duper new Protector RG Mk1 drone?

Had they done so, then a brand new RAF Protector could potentially have been flown off the deck of either RN carrier – and done so in the very near future.

Sadly, yet another wide-open open goal opportunity missed by the bureaucrats at MOD…..

regards Peter The Irate Taxpayer

OkamsRazor

To answer your question, probably because these types of tests are done with “evaluation aircraft” which have special instrumentation mods!
With regards to the different mods AE have already said that the Protector mod kit, alternative wings, can be done in a few hours. So subject to test data, which it appears has solicited international interest, a thorough evaluation should be months not years.

N-a-B

I think the short answer to your “why oh why” is that there is currently no endorsed requirement for a MALE UAS to fly off a UK carrier – as opposed to conducting a trial / experiment.

There is similarly no endorsed requirement for the Protector to operate in a maritime environment or fly off a ship for that matter.

These things are important, because without said endorsed requirements, there is no money to buy the things they need.

In this case, it is still far from certain that a UAS of this type can be integrated into the wider air-group (impact on deck ops, cycle times etc). While folding wings and stronger u/c can be talked about, implementing them and understanding their effect on payload still cost money. Even more important are the less visible costs such as ensuring that the UAS systems are compatible (ie safe) to use in a naval EM environment – which is a very different thing to that which you find on an airfield. Nor is it certain that the proposed roles (AEW, ASuW) can actually be achieved with the proposed radar on this platform. As Crowsnest shows, it’s not as easy as it may appear.

Yes – you can see why it might be operationally useful to fly this UAS off the ship. That is not the same as being a cost-effective capability, let alone one that is endorsed.

Which takes us back to the fact that in a cost-constrained environment where (literally) every pound spent on a programme has to be justified, including a “nice to have” requirement isn’t a done deal.

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

N-a-B

As always, yours is one very-thoughtful post….

Going back a whole year, I will agreed with your earlier key point that this particular UAV is, quite-possibly, a bit too large for really-effective carrier operations.

I do fully take on board your key point (directly above) that, simply because there is “no endorsed service requirement” that will always prevent any money being spent! (Note. We’ve all been there! I’ve got a large collection of T-shirts with this phrase on the front).

However, and this is my big BUT, the government’s own website clearly says that there is a maritime patrol role for RAF Protector:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-global-surveillance-aircraft-begins-uk-trials

Therefore, given that key government policy statement, it does rather beggar the question as to why on earth the RAF did not think to build into the Protector’s basic airframe specification all of the “pretty cheap” basics which might be needed for a possible sea-borne operation.

I would further add that the four very-basic necessities for carrier borne operations – excellent STOL performance; a very robust design of undercarriage; folding wings; and tie-down points – also always come in quite-useful for rough field (“dispersed”) operations from roads and other improvised runways here on dry land (Note. I always find that the folding wings helps the UAV to fit into a big tent: so without needing to cut two long rips down the tent’s side fabric first!).

Furthermore, unless things have changed somewhat drastically very recently (i.e. due to excessive global warming since the last time I looked out of the office window here) = the UK is an island nation. Also, looking on a much-wider perspective, Planet Earth really ought to be called Planet Ocean………..so that lesson in geography should mandate that properly considering possible maritime operations should always be a key consideration when procuring any new type of very-expensive UK NFAFM’s (New Fangled Ariel Flying Machine).

However, for that very-utopian idea to work properly, all three UK armed services would have to work together to define their key operational requirements (i.e. before the drawing board is brought out).

That is always the point when it starts to go just a tiny-weeny bit wrong….

The RAF Protector would not be the first example a silo-headed single-service mentality ultimately generating a lot of unwanted costs…. So, staying on the subject of the expensive procurement of UK drones, to quote from DES 0006, a document which was presented to Parliament earlier this year:

3.          “It quickly became apparent that Watchkeeper RPAS was a failing program in which a catalogue of errors had led to a Capability that was not delivering for Defence but was costing the taxpayer billions. Watchkeeper RPAS seemed to be the only defence programme that was in three states simultaneously; Still being delivered, In-service and awaiting a midlife upgrade. I will use this letter to outline my perspective on how this programme reached a failed state”.

Thus, if the MOD really wants to save serious money, then I always believe that far more properly-joined-up inter-service thinking is required.

Overall, I still think that means one airframe programme for a “large and slow” UAV’s: one that can fit the key needs of all three services (i.e. range, altitude, payload etc). Then that basic airframe must also have the ability to “mix and match” payloads kit(s) and weapons’, for then delivering particular roles and specialist taskings.

To conclude, I remain of of the view that building and maintaining many very-different types of UAV airframes for all three UK armed service is simply a bizarre way to spend (and waste) us taxpayers hard-earned money.

It is a policy which is initially penny-wise, but ultimately pound-foolish.

Regards Peter The Irate Taxpayer

N-a-B

I would whole-heartedly agree that compatibility with shipboard ops should be a mandated requirement unless conclusively proved unnecessary/excessively expensive.

Watchkeeper is a separate world of pain, born of a “me too” mindset. Ironically, there was at least some (20+ years ago!) consideration of maritime integration, albeit purely from a control and information exchange perspective. Overtaken by the wider problem of letting pongoes play with complex systems…..

OkamsRazor

NAB, unfortunately you are 100% wrong. The MOD/Navy have published plans for ship bourne UAV, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when”. Hence the tests. AE have been working on “marinised” versions with folding wings and have tested with Seaspray radar. So plans and actions are ongoing and many players are interested. This is a when, not if.

N-a-B

Plans – aka the FMAF and indeed the fabled Project Ark Royal – are not the same as an endorsed and defined requirement. They are concept studies and associated trials and experiments, the aim of which is to test the feasibility of use.

Having some exposure to these, I’d agree that it may well be a case of when, not if. However, that is not the same thing as an endorsed or defined requirement for a procurement programme. Lots of people are doing lots of things – primarily using their own funding – to position themselves for what may be coming. However, you’ll notice that they’re not doing the really expensive stuff (eg EMC) because they don’t know what the target is.

OkamsRazor

Glad we are agreed that shipboard UAVs are a when not if. Presumably we are also agreed that the RN is now in the collection of information and feasibility studies stage, which is logical. I would expect that by 2025, a few clear “winners” will have arrived and planning can begin. I don’t really understand the doubt, in view of the rapid development in the UAV and AI space. As far as range, cost, duration and manpower protection/utilisation UAVs are a no-brainer.

N-a-B

There are potential benefits in the range, cost, duration space. Whether those benefits outweigh the potential impact on deck operations of other aircraft – and associated costs and compromises on the ship, are as yet unknown.

Just because you “can” do something doesn’t mean you “should”.

Hanging a radar off a platform does not necessarily mean it is a usable or useful capability in an operational sense. I’d be having a very serious think about the bandwidth and bearers required to move that data from a UAS to a C2 platform to actually use that data for operational effect.

Jon

Having discussed this with DaveyB in some detail both here and in UKDJ, as good as Seaspray 7500E v2 is for maritime patrol, he goes even further than me in saying MQ-9B is useless for AEW [I softened his language]. I understand him to say you need to use a longer wavelength radar, such as L-band, which you can’t fit on a MALE drone such as Protector. The MESA radar antenna from an E7 weighs 3 tons! That Searchwater is X-Band is arguably one of the major limitations of Crowsnest and replacing it with a more modern X-band radar such as Seaspray would be a small step up, not the order of magnitude leap that we need.

As far as I’m concerened, bringing Protector into the RN will be expensive and I don’t think it will be worth it for carrier ISR alone. I will wait to see if MQ-9B can lift the promised AEW pods off a QEC deck without catapults, but I admit I’m not too hopeful. The presence of the ramp on the QEC might mean that an America/Wasp class might be able to give MQ-9B a longer effective runway. The temptation of GA-ASI to design and sell to the USMC runway will be strong.

The main point of the Mojave trials isn’t to sell us Mojave drones. It’s to inform the MQ-9B STOL program. Not only are Reaper-style drones vulnerable and individually expensive, the MQ-9B STOL program is likely to be so expensive that GA suggests multiple countries might need to band together to pay for it!

“why oh why” did the MOD / RAF not originally think of buying, only just over a year ago, the “almost-identical” carrier-compatible version of their super-duper new Protector RG Mk1 drone?

Because it doesn’t exist. Not now and certainly not two and a half years ago when the RAF contract option was exercised, ten months before GA even announced they would be developing MQ-9B STOL.

I think we are a long way from getting STOL Protectors operating from a UK carrier.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jon
Duker

STOL, long loiter, decent payload, folding wings ,carrier compatible etc

This mid 1930s plane is a bit higher MTOW (7500 v 7000lbs) and just a bit slower (124 kts max with torpedo vs 140 ) than the GA Mohave

Swordfish-one-scaled-1200x7891
Last edited 2 months ago by Duker
Jon

Hellfires have a range of 7 miles, more standoff than a WW2 torp. Nevertheless this nicely illustrates why these drones are too vulnerable to use with short range missiles. Crew or no crew, nobody would expect a Swordfish to fly from a carrier into a modern combat zone, and nobody would pay a billion quid for the priviledge of a handful of successes before the novelty and effectiveness wore off.

Duker

7 miles is far too close too a modern combat ship
Drones excelled in long wars in middle east because they faced nothing like even shoulder fired manpads
Hellfires arent going to be used when helicopters with crew can do it better.
I cant see them doing anything more than ocean surveillance when launched from carriers as a 14 hour endurance is priceless

OkamsRazor

Jon, having read some of DBs comments on the matter, not sure I share your interpretation. What I would say is “baby steps”. The journey will be MQ-9B STOL with Seaspray, which is better and cheaper than what we have. Then development of a next gen which would have something like the Saab GlobayEye type solution, which would probably involve an engine upgrade, RR probably, and an Antenna miniaturisation. The problem with the E7 is that it is hugely expensive and time constrained, whereas UAV are orders of magnitude cheaper and the pace of compute power and radar progress (I understand that the F35 radar can replicate the performance of E7), means that drones are clearly the future.

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

OkamsRazor

Totally agree with your comment that the best way forward now is “baby steps”, = and therefore MQ-9B with Seaspray would be better than what is currently in service.

What was annoying me (i.e. my posting of yesterday) was that developing a “RN only version” might now become too costly.

However, IF the RAF had thought a bit more about the needs of the maritime role …. then RN would have only shell out the money to buy a few radars as payload packages!!!!

I must admit I had not thought of the SAAB Globaleye as being a possibility for next generation….. yours is (truly) a very interesting line of thought!

However might the airframe carrying one of these radars be too large for carrier operations?

regards Peter The Irate Taxpayer

OkamsRazor

PIT, I mentioned the Saab solution because a) I presume this would meet DaveyBs standards and b) because I presume the wingspan is less than the Protector. Obviously weight/power etc would have to be resolved. But I would have thought that in view of the extant large weapons capacity, the extra power requirement would be incremental not orders of magnitude. But I for one am excited by the possibilities and the clear direction of travel of the RN.

Duker

GA has a whole wardrobe of different versions of its standard single engine drone.
https://www.ga-asi.com/products-services

having a Sea guardian version is amoung them and the carrier/ampbib version …
“MQ-9B STOL integrates a wing and tail kit inspired by the smaller Mojave, enabling the larger and higher performance MQ-9B to operate from more expeditionary bases or big-deck amphibious vessels.”

Jon

I’m not sure I agree or not, because I’m not sure what situations you are talking about. Better or cheaper for what? Crowsnest? If all we needed to do was get the Seaspray 7500E radar in the air, we’d upgrade the already capable Seaspray 7000Es on the Wildcats. Job done. It isn’t that simple.

MQ-9B or any other platform doesn’t turn into an AEW&C replacement just by adding a radar.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jon
Duker

Thats right , but it does have up to 12-14 hr endurance and a much higher altitude away from ‘manpads’ if its doing littoral region surveillance.
Any simple warship air defence system with reach it , so that rules that out

Sean

The wager was that the RN won’t be buying any Hornets before they go out of production. Not a beer guy, how about £1k for the wager?

The probability of something occurring is not directly proportional to the insanity of the proposal. So no, it’s not going to happen.

I notice you’ve failed to acknowledge that you were completely wrong about the USN landing a Hercules “for a bet”.

The answer, after your excessive verbiage is, that there wasn’t a carrier compatible version of Predator a year ago. Still isn’t.
Similar never means the same.

Rudeboy

 ie 12 Sea Harriers, 10 Harrier GR3’s, and 10 Westland Sea Kings. Several times more aircraft than have ever been embarked on the new QEII class.”

This is absolute nonsense.

HMS Queen Elizabeth deployed on CSG21 with 18 F-35B and 7 Merlin onboard….a total of 25 aircraft…

So 32 aircraft on Hermes….versus 25 aircraft to date on HMS Queen Elizabeth…

Several times….

You’re not very good at maths I presume?

Peter S

For those who think that UAVs are the answer to every problem, it is worth noting that the unit cost of the MQ 25 Stingray tanker has risen to $150m. There is no reason to believe that a similar sized UCAV would cost any less.

Duker

Still in prototype/development so not an actual production run. The 3 under order for FY24 are $199 mill each

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Duke and Peter S

Just for the record, I am not one of those people who think that UAV’s are the answer for every naval problem. Indeed, far from it!

Please see my earlier posts above, in which I reckoned that the “quickest and dirtiest solution” to the RN’s AEW problems was a very simple modification to the old Britain-Norman Defender AEW plane. I suggested that one because that well-proven UK-made STOL aircraft would “most probably” lift a decent-sized airborne radar off a QE carrier’s heaving deck. Therefore no need to develop a all-new platform (at vast expense).

However, in this particular case, where this particular GA MQ-9B UAV has the great ability to loiter on station for many hours, there is an obvious application for an AEW platform (so spot on Duker).

We really ought not to forget that having a single loitering AEW platform that can equally well be used over land as well as out at sea would have great utility for all three services. As any likely future war is very-likely to be fought in the Littoral region(s), I think interoperability and commonality of equipment between the UK’s three services would be a great “starter for ten” (Think of Ukraine, which has mainly been land war to date: However Crimea is surrounded by the Black Sea and the Kerch bridge is the key logistics choke point)

Finally, I must admit that I personally have very grave doubts about developing any new type of Crewless Refueling Ariel Platform (i.e. CRAP). To me, that looks to be a engineering solution desperately trying to solve a problem that does not really exist!

regards Peter The Irate Taxpayer

Sean

A suggestion which has been demonstrated is impractical and just wastes more taxpayers money without delivering capability.

I suggest you sell your shares in Britten Norman.

Last edited 2 months ago by Sean
PeterS

Indeed. The USN published an updated total project cost and probable order numbers which is where the unit price comes from. Even if not the final figure, it does show how big the costs for such systems are likely to be. I can’t see the RN budget stretching that far.

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Peter S

The other – and it has to be said very-humorous remark – about the true cost of these UAV’s has come from an USAF general in charge of one of their big and very-expensive UAV development programme’s.

At a recent conference he said, poker faced, that that each one of their brand-new UAV’s took 138 full-time engineering personnel simply to maintain each plane properly

Therefore, his next statement (still very poker faced) he wondered “out loud” how (and where from) the USAF could recruit and train all of the engineering personnel needed for properly manning all of their “unmanned” squadrons of planes!

regards Peter The Irate Taxpayer

Sean

And you have a link for this quote?…

Will

ISR is clearly the best use of carrier-borne UAV’s at this point in time. ASW functions can be handled by UAV’s flying from the frigates.