CVF and Carrier Strike thread

I think it would be much fairer to suggest that it began to be harder to man the FJ stream when CVA01 was cancelled and the announcement made that RN carrier aviation would end in 1972 (belatedly extended to 78 when Heath got in). Once you start to shut down the training pipeline and when the future of the force is publicly disowned, it's kinda hard to get people to sign up for that career.
Problems repeated after the decisions of 2002 and 2010?

When was it that CVS and a navalised version of the Harrier got ordered? Was the public still that aware future carrier pilots were still sought?
 
Back to the present and preparing for the near future:


Nothing on the RN website yet. The exercise involves using aircraft to deal with submarine, surface, and air threats (Hawk from 736 NAS acting as a F-35B).

More on the Twitter feed from RNAS Culdrose:

RNAS Culdrose (@RNASCuldrose) | Twitter
 
Problems repeated after the decisions of 2002 and 2010?

When was it that CVS and a navalised version of the Harrier got ordered? Was the public still that aware future carrier pilots were still sought?
It's not the public that need to be aware. When the future looks like one five-cab squadron to hack the shad off each CVS, that's a total of 20-30 f/w pilots in the entire FAA. Not a force structure with a future. Nearly doubling the size of the sqns (to eight) means a bigger training sqn and consequential overall pilot pool, but still right at the bottom of what is a real career path and hence sustainable structure.

Once you get to a requirement for (say) 60-odd squadron f/w posts, plus exchanges and non-op staff jobs, then you might have something that looks like a sustainable structure (in peacetime at any rate).
 
As for my other recent posts, of course if the carrier is part of a large combined force then the task group may not need much air defence or it might be a better use of resources for much of that to be done by aircraft from elsewhere. However if the air threat is high (and could inflict a defeat by taking out ships) and/or air defence cannot be provided from elsewhere, then it becomes a priority for the carrier and air group.

Hopefully that is not too controversial. However there are those that think that the carrier exists just for supplying offensive sorties as opposed to doing whatever the joint force, which includes the task group, needs.

Some seem wedded to the idea of keeping up a ground attack sortie rate at all costs, even if the bad guys are sinking our LPD or whatever. Every situation will be different, and things will be different from day to day.
 
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...No the UK did not, but Saudi Arabia did, and allowed us to use their bases. What if none of Saddam's neighbours had?...
@Yokel, if I interpret your earlier post correctly you were challenging @Alamo’s absolutely correct point that AD of maritime forces may well be provided by non-organic assets. Central to your argument appeared to be that it was nonsensical to use assets that were based further away, even though endurance is more relevant than origin.

You’re now adding increasing caveats.

Ultimately however, I suggest that it’s irrelevant to your earlier point that Saudi Arabia had a border with Iraq; USN assets were just another club in the CAOC golf bag and AD of maritime assets was routinely provided by land-based assets including fighters, AWACS, SIGINT and tankers. Similarly, AD of land bases may be provided by carrier assets that are further away; swings and roundabouts.

Just out of interest, how much higher would the losses have been if the war had started straight away, without several months to prepare defeating his air force and IADS?...
I’m not quite sure what point you’re making here.

Saudi fighters supported by their own and USAF AWACS were more than capable of defending their airspace and the NAG from further Iraqi incursions. Within a few days of the invasion, USAF F-15Cs and RAF Tornado F3s joined these and well over 100 strike, CAS and ISR aircraft had joined them within a couple of weeks. During a similar period, USN carriers had also arrived in the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf to further bolster DESERT SHIELD.

...As for the Adriatic - what if the Yugoslav air force did make a determined effort to take out NATO warships - such as those doing the Sharp Guard embargo enforcement? The carriers were nearer for scrambling fighters than Italian air bases. In any case, the Yugoslavs/Bosnian Serbs knew it was not in their interest to do so, as it would have resulted in NATO taking out their air forces and air bases...
I flew several hundred AWACS sorties throughout the Balkans’ unpleasantness and the carriers were NOT always nearer the Former Yugoslavia than land bases. Indeed, during ALLIED FORCE my recollection is that they stayed off Southern Albanian coast near the heel of Italy.

Moreover, fighters were never ‘scrambled’ from either land bases or carriers to my knowledge. In the case of the latter, there would probably have been insufficient time for a fighter to launch from the deck and – most importantly – establish the geometry required to engage Serb fighters launching from Podgorica/Tivat (our main area of interest in terms of protecting the Maritime assets in the Adriatic).

Rather, that threat was covered by the CAOC managed DCA/OCA of which naval assets formed just one part. A far more important naval contribution to AAW during ALLIED FORCE was the placing of a AEGIS CG and its associated MEZ in the southern Adriatic which we could retrograde into or around when threatened.

...The Yugoslavs/Serbs did not want to really provoke NATO into taking decisive action...
I suspect that aircrews who were regularly engaged by SAMs and AAA over Bosnia and Croatia, as well as our troops who were shelled may disagree with that perception! It was also patently untrue during DELIBERATE FORCE in 95 and ALLIED FORCE in 99; if they could have, they’d have hit a ship.

...What about Libya in 2011? What if Gaddaffi's air force had been intact, and decided to attack NATO naval forces doing naval gunfire support and mine countermeasures? The ships were within BM-21 range after all...
Once again, there were so many swing role assets over the Southern Med and Libya (and yes, some of those came from the French carrier when it was playing) that any aircraft launching would not have lasted long. On one of the few occasions the Libyans did launch fast jets (Galebs iirc), they popped up, wisely thought better of it and immediately landed before an AdA Rafale killed one with an AASM as it taxied off the runway.

...Every situation is different. In the Gulf in 1991, Saudi bases were nearer than carriers could operate, as not only did Saudi Arabia border Iraq and Kuwait, but post invasion the Iraqis had operated in the NAG with impunity, and filled it with mines...
As stated above, their aircraft didn’t operate with impunity and were deterred by Coalition Air Power from venturing feet wet very often.

...I think I am correct in saying in 2003 the carriers operated far closer to the coast than in 1991...
From what I can remember yes. However, that didn’t really alter much tbh.

...Gaddaffi's regime was coming apart at the seams in 2011 and his air force was in no fit state. However, NATO needed to clear mines, meaning that small warships with no means of shooting down aircraft or missiles, spent long periods of time close to shore, close enough for rockets to be fired at them. Regime forces would have loved to have sunk a ferry or a minehunter in the approaches to Misrata...
What’s your point? A variety of CAS assets and RPAS (as well as NGS) were engaging those threats.

...All I am saying is that making the assumption that someone else will provide air defence could be inviting disaster.
I don’t think anyone is assuming anything. However, your phraseology is illustrative.

Unless we’re in a pure Blue Water scenario, the ATO (including carrier assets) will be managed and tasked by the CAOC (irrespective of whether it’s land or ship based). Therefore, when land-based assets (be they fighters, AWACS or tankers) are providing AD of an area where carriers are operating, they are all part of the same team working to the same ATO and C2 plan; they are not ‘someone else’s’!

Indeed, having occasionally seen maritime forces try to work to their own C2 plan and conduct their own air ops separate to the ATO, it is that which ‘invites disaster.’ The same is true of the Kosovo ‘Black ATO’ issues and similar freelancing during the invasion of Iraq where certain communities thought they didn’t need to be on the ATO.

As I’ve written many times, carriers are exceptionally useful assets. However, they have pros and cons just like land-bases. You routinely and correctly highlight that carriers fit into a larger maritime structure including escorts, SSNs and auxiliaries. May I suggest you more regularly temper your own carrier evangelism and recognise that those maritime forces – including carrier aircraft – in turn fit into a much broader coalition operational environment...as you appear to have done in your last post; thank you.

I think it would be much fairer to suggest that it began to be harder to man the FJ stream when CVA01 was cancelled and the announcement made that RN carrier aviation would end in 1972 (belatedly extended to 78 when Heath got in). Once you start to shut down the training pipeline and when the future of the force is publicly disowned, it's kinda hard to get people to sign up for that career...
But that’s my point. The RN prioritised the Resolution Class ahead of CVA01 pretty much from when they were allowed access to the Polaris Programme from the late 50s; the tensions within the Service are described at length in Jinks and Hennessey’s excellent ‘The Silent Deep.’

Coupled with the perception by Healy that CVA01 was a ‘gold-plated’ solution, was poorly aligned to the then Labour Party’s desire to withdraw from East of Suez and RAF arguments against carriers, and the FAA were only heading in one direction. However, the cancellation of the carrier certainly then acted as a disincentive for careers in the FAA.

Regards,
MM
 
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You seem to want to use the F-35B as a Harrier GR9 replacement - leave air defence to someone else and hope for the best.

The point is F-35B can do defensive counter air, offensive counter air, ground attack, maritime attack, reece, and ISTAR. Surely what you use if for depends on what needs to be done? If there is no air threat that the carrier's jets are not going to be doing much air defence, but if there is a heavy air threat, what sense does it make for the jets to stay on deck, and let other aircraft, with less time on station and quite possibly non generation five, do the air defence?

Now what was it that happened to the Japs at Midway? They decided to keep all the bombed up bombers on deck, with no fighters aloft? How did that work out for them?

Of course the carrier's raison d'etre is to provide aircraft where they are needed - so why would a task group under attack or at threat of attack want to rely on aircraft further away than its own? Alternatively, the jets might keep MiGs away from ASW helicopters (and MPA), or maybe they can concentrate on hitting targets ashore? Or perhaps that day the task group is dealing with a submarine threat, and the Merlins are working with frigates and the SSN....
You in CSG by any chance? You certainly seem to have drunk from their kool aid.
 
You in CSG by any chance? You certainly seem to have drunk from their kool aid.
Hopefully people serving with CSG are capable of reading properly. I misread 'may well not' and 'might not' as 'will not - ever' and responded as such. I blame my damaged frontal lobes.

@Magic_Mushroom to clarify when I said the Iraqis were allowed free reign in the top of the NAG after the invasion of Kuwait I meant at sea, which gave them the opportunity to lay extensive minefields.

Is anyone else having problems connecting to ARRSE?
 
The RN prioritised the Resolution Class ahead of CVA01 pretty much from when they were allowed access to the Polaris Programme from the late 50s; the tensions within the Service are described at length in Jinks and Hennessey’s excellent ‘The Silent Deep.’
Given that we're talking about the UK strategic deterrent, I'd suggest that the government prioritised the SSBN programme. I very much doubt the RN got to turn round and say, "Terribly sorry PM, we don't fancy SSBN much, you tell the RAF to find an alternate to Skybolt, we'll keep our strike carriers instead thanks".......
 
The US have been taking about 20 years to make the F-35, and it still isn't fully ready.

In the 1950's, Britain made the Valiant, Victor and Vulcan bombers, all flying within a few years of their design.
And - those planes would probably have got to their targets in Russia.

Don't you think that all this " 5th generation" stuff is not important, If an aircraft can fly to to its target and deliver its bomb, that's all that matters.

As for fighter aircraft, the F-35 is so absurdly complicated and expensive!

Why not re-open the production lines for the well-proven F-15 and F-16, and make 5,000 of them!
I can answer, but I won’t becuase you’re either trolling or mentally ill.
 
Given that we're talking about the UK strategic deterrent, I'd suggest that the government prioritised the SSBN programme. I very much doubt the RN got to turn round and say, "Terribly sorry PM, we don't fancy SSBN much, you tell the RAF to find an alternate to Skybolt, we'll keep our strike carriers instead thanks".......
Agreed; the Admiralty was certainly asked to brief on Polaris as problems with Skybolt emerged.

However, each Service has their own priorities and ‘The Silent Deep’ gives a pretty clear impression that Polaris became a far higher priority to the RN than CVA01. Mountbatten directly lobbed Wilson within days of the latter becoming PM in 1964 at a time when there was talk of the Resolutions in build being completed as SSNs (and was apparently pretty disingenuous in how he presented some information such was his determination to retain funding). Later, the Labour govt maintained a love-hate relationship with the development of the SSBNs as the UK’s economic problems multiplied And this dictated further lobbying; not a single minister was present for the commissioning ceremony (or it may have been launch, I can’t remember now).

Either way, I would certainly say that the strategic deterrent became - and remains - a significant factor in reducing expenditure on conventional capabilities; this is again acknowledged in the book. In the RN’s case, that meant effectively sacrificing CVA01 (or at the very least placing it on a far lower priority) and the future of UK carrier Air Power; I’ve always felt that this was a far more significant factor in the cancellation of the carriers (and the start of the erosion of the FAA) than anything the RAF got up to (even if you believe the moving Guam/Diego Garcia/Gan/Australia/IoW claims).

Regards,
MM
 
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Agreed; the Admiralty was certainly asked to brief on Polaris as problems with Skybolt emerged.

However, each Service has their own priorities and ‘The Silent Deep’ gives a pretty clear impression that Polaris became a far higher priority to the RN than CVA01. Mountbatten directly lobbed Wilson within days of the latter becoming PM in 1964 at a time when there was talk of the Resolutions in build being completed as SSNs (and was apparently pretty disingenuous in how he presented some information such was his determination to retain funding). Later, the Labour govt maintained a love-hate relationship with the development of the SSBNs as the UK’s economic problems multiplied And this dictated further lobbying.

Either way, I would certainly say that the strategic deterrent became - and remains - a significant factor in reducing expenditure on conventional capabilities; this is again acknowledged in the book. In the RN’s case, that meant sacrificing CVA01 and the future of UK carrier Air Power; I’ve always felt that this was a far more significant factor in the cancellation of the carriers than anything the RAF was up to (even if you believe the moving Guam/Gan/Australia claims).

Regards,
MM
The US Government did offer to sell the UK four Essex class ships as an alternative to CVA-01, but could we have run them into the eighties? What would we have replaced them with?

What would we have flown from them? F-8 Crusaders? How would they have coped in South Atlantic weather?

Given all these things, the overheads involved in training for conventional carrier operations amongst the things often overlooked, I think V/STOL was a God send for the RN.

I am still having problems accessing ARRSE via Firefox.
 
(...) I am still having problems accessing ARRSE via Firefox.
This is off topic, but something has been changed in the site such that the web page is doing loads of extra communications almost non-stop and bogging down the web browser. If you are using Firefox you can see this by selecting Tools > Web Developer > Network and a new window will open up showing you what is going on.

The web page is posting shed loads of 13 byte json data to arrse.co.uk almost continuously, connected with something called "job.php". While it is active it bogs down the web browser and chews up network bandwidth and pins the CPU at 100%. Eventually it settles down and stops, but, it will restart again if you open a new page or refresh the existing one. Since you do that all the time, it is pretty much non-stop while you are on the site. It is so bad that I have started opening up loads of tabs at once and then turned the network connection off while I read the pages.

I'm not sure what is going on, but I am guessing this is some sort of new bug in the web site.
 
Either way, I would certainly say that the strategic deterrent became - and remains - a significant factor in reducing expenditure on conventional capabilities; this is again acknowledged in the book. In the RN’s case, that meant effectively sacrificing CVA01 (or at the very least placing it on a far lower priority) and the future of UK carrier Air Power; I’ve always felt that this was a far more significant factor in the cancellation of the carriers (and the start of the erosion of the FAA) than anything the RAF got up to (even if you believe the moving Guam/Diego Garcia/Gan/Australia/IoW claims).
I don't think there can be any argument that the strategic deterrent takes priority, that sort of goes with the territory. Whether Wilson wavered or not is largely immaterial. By that stage, the UK (irrespective of service) was in a hole in terms of options. No-one fancied a land-based deterrent, an air-based deterrent would have required us to develop a completely new weapon - or buy SRAM/ALCM, neither of which were truly strategic, nor survivable), which basically left SSBN or get out of the strategic game.

No need to drag RN/RAF conspiracy theories into this - the sole point I was making earlier was that the line that the FAA struggles to man f/w is entirely dependent on context - it is not an immutable fact. I don't seem to recall too many issues manning 800/801/899 from mid80s to early noughties. After that point, I'd agree there has been an issue - with a number of contributory factors. Both services signed up to JFH and both failed to deliver / support elements of it for a variety of reasons, most of which were understandable if not desirable.
 

A2_Matelot

LE
Book Reviewer
You in CSG by any chance? You certainly seem to have drunk from their kool aid.
He's not, but given that the DCOS of the CSG is a decorated Marine, who's flown GR9 and F18 operationally and has F35 experience I'm tempted to suggest that they have solid insight into what can/should be achievable with the carrier and its aircraft.
 

A2_Matelot

LE
Book Reviewer
Ok, I'll bite....

The US have been taking about 20 years to make the F-35, and it still isn't fully ready.
You mean like Typhoon, which started development in 1983 and first prototype flew in 94, with the RAF standing up operationally in 2007 - 24 years......

mcphee1948 said:
In the 1950's, Britain made the Valiant, Victor and Vulcan bombers, all flying within a few years of their design. And - those planes would probably have got to their targets in Russia.
Agricultural designs for an agricultural era; whether they would have arrived on target is debatable, particularly given a very sophisticated and layered Russian Air defence network even then.

mcphee1948 said:
Don't you think that all this " 5th generation" stuff is not important
No, I think it's key because counter-air capability has dramatically improved, and continues to do so. Surface radar, airborne early warning/control and surface to air threats (in excess of 400km) all pose a significant threat today and that will only get worse.

mcphee1948 said:
If an aircraft can fly to to its target and deliver its bomb, that's all that matters.
Hence there is absolutely zero guarantee this is possible unless aircraft are given every possible aid - hence the B2 Spirit and F117 and latterly the F22 and F35.

mcphee1948 said:
As for fighter aircraft, the F-35 is so absurdly complicated and expensive!
It's not a fighter and you pay for what you get these days. If you want to fight against peer-/near-peers where we no longer enjoy outright technical superiority and lack the mass they have (and will never ever achieve that mass) we can only aim to have better technical capability.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
Ignore that McPhee thing, he clearly doesn't know anything so can't make a contribution to the discussion.
 
Ignore that McPhee thing, he clearly doesn't know anything so can't make a contribution to the discussion.
The problem is that the ignorant get a vote, and influence equally ignorant half witted semi educated (and in the wrong things) politicians. Educating them would be a good idea.
 
I don't think there can be any argument that the strategic deterrent takes priority, that sort of goes with the territory. Whether Wilson wavered or not is largely immaterial. By that stage, the UK (irrespective of service) was in a hole in terms of options. No-one fancied a land-based deterrent, an air-based deterrent would have required us to develop a completely new weapon - or buy SRAM/ALCM, neither of which were truly strategic, nor survivable), which basically left SSBN or get out of the strategic game...
All agreed. However, there was a very significant and vocal part of the government led by individuals such as Mary Whitehouse which advocated unilateral disarmament.

...I don't seem to recall too many issues manning 800/801/899 from mid80s to early noughties...
The FAA typically ran at over 10% undermanned on FW pilots throughout that period with the slack being taken up by RAF guys. In fairness, it wasn't always poor recruitment and retention (although that was certainly a factor, particularly retention), it was sometimes the demands of the Sea Harrier itself which probably had the highest workload FJ cockpit going.

That dictated student RN pilots emerged from Tac Weapons Unit (TWU) with a single seat recommend. Like RAF studes, that didn't always happen. Therefore, those RN pilots had to either go rotary or do a tour on an RAF twin-seat type such as the GR1 to build experience and capacity prior to going to 899. Either way, the RAF normally had to backfill by posting an experienced FJ pilot or an RAF TWU grad with a single-seat recommend to SHAR.

Regards,
MM
 
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Ignore that McPhee thing, he clearly doesn't know anything so can't make a contribution to the discussion.
Forgive me. I am a civilian and ignorant. It just seems to me, that nowadays, far too much emphasis is being put on quality, and not enough on quantity.

It doesn't matter how brilliant an individual ship, or plane, or tank is - if you've only got a very small number of them, they won't last long in a war, as they'll all soon get destroyed. Then you're forced to surrender.
 
Forgive me. I am a civilian and ignorant. It just seems to me, that nowadays, far too much emphasis is being put on quality, and not enough on quantity.

It doesn't matter how brilliant an individual ship, or plane, or tank is - if you've only got a very small number of them, they won't last long in a war, as they'll all soon get destroyed. Then you're forced to surrender.
It also doesn’t matter how many of them you have if they’re hopelessly outclassed and all get shot down in the first ten minutes.

I bet you probably think that if we were to buy £50m fighters that we could afford twice as many of them as if we bought £100m ones.
 

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