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Subject: The next innovation in naval aviation
kirby1    8/3/2007 6:57:32 AM
Nothing is static in the military world, designs are always improving, equipment is always improving, capabilities are always improving. Wonderweapons are unvailed, and methods to counter them are quick to follow. So my question is simple, What do you think the next big innovation in naval aviation is going to be? Perhaps it will be revolution in propulsion or ship design, allowing for smaller crew sizes, increased range or a more stable deck. Imagine Azipods on CVs,(They're on the latest 100Kplus cruise ships, why not on CVs?) Perhaps a revolution in electronics, allowing for safer if not nearly autonomous landings. Perhaps the introduction of cheap and reliable UCAV style technology, Allowing for safer air operations, and smaller CVs, whose entire combat airwing is unmanned. Each individual combat aircraft will have a smaller payload, but with precision munitions, is there really a need for planes capable of carrying dozens of bombs or A2A missiles when a couple of SDBs, or a pair of Sidewinders or AMRAAMS and an internal cannon can usually get the job done? Perhaps it will be something that I can't even think of at the moment, either way, what do you think will be the next big thing?
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french stratege       8/3/2007 7:11:48 AM
Perhaps a revolution in electronics, allowing for safer if not nearly autonomous landings.
You wrote it.
Automatic landing allow to use smaller carrier, to ease training and of course is mandatory for UAV.
A landing track is wide and you have 3 arresting wire which increase the lengh of the track.Moreover planes come with a limited angle of flight due to necessity for pilot to see the track.
Moreover the deck roll and you need big CATOBAR carrier sometime with stabilization systems.
An automatic landing would make 25 000 tons carrier feasible with the constraint to operate sea state 5/6.
If you combine it with electronic control of arresting wire elongation you should reduce the landing track width to less than 20 meters and its lengh to 160/180 meters.
So it could be possible to make 25 000 tons CATOBAR carrier possible.
I can imagine a carrier of such a size still able to carry a squadron of F18E/Rafale/JSF, 2 E2 and some UAV with 2 *75 meters catapults (electric or steam).
It should be of interest to smaller nations or a seacontrol ship.
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french stratege       8/3/2007 7:19:37 AM
An other innovation could be a different carrier with reduced RCS.Planes would be all the time in hangars.The deck would have only the landing tracks and the catapults areas.
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Lynstyne    fs   8/3/2007 7:22:03 AM
how on the one hand can you claim the invincible class were pointless ( to small) yet on this thread suggest a catobar carrier of 25000 tonnes. It wont be a sight bigger.
Dont get me wrong whilst i believe the invincibles were better than nothing, i am of the opinion that a carrier needs to be over 35000T  to be worthwhile.
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french stratege       8/3/2007 10:38:09 AM
I believe also that carrier above 35 000 tons are better but they are more costly for small nations.
Now if Invicible is not such a good choice it is because of the planes: Harrier are quite limited compare to a F18 or a Rafale especially without a radar, AntiSurface and BVR AtoA abilities.I would not critisize so much an Invicible if it has F35 for exemple and some CTOVL/CATOBAR AWACs.
Now it would make possible carriers with a squadron of conventional supersonic planes.
Never forgot that a plane cost 100 m€ in procurement (with ammuntions) and 2,5 m€ per year at least so a total life cost of 175 m€ which mean that a 12 planes squadron cost roughly 2200 m€ (including simulator and test benches).
So the procurement price of a medium size carrier.
When you have a medium size carrier like CdG, its air wing is 3 squadrons plus AWACs and spare planes.
Cost of the air wing is FOUR TIMES the marginal carrier procurement cost.
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Phaid       8/3/2007 10:41:30 AM
Well, you touched on most of the ones I have in mind, but here's what I see:

As you say, UCAVs and the associated automated landing technologies are one big part of it.  They've tested this with both V/STOL (QuinetiQ with their VAAC Harrier) and with CTOL aircraft (a F/A-18A using the Shipboard Relative GPS System).  This will allow both safe UCAV operations and safer manned aircraft operations -- there's no reason you can't fit a UCAV-style landing system in a manned aircraft.  As it is now, most carrier landings are performed with the throttle controlled automatically, this lets the computer fly the ball as well.

Another is the reduction on the reliance on steam in flight deck systems.  The steam-powered catapult is replaced by an electromagnetic aircraft launching system (EMALS), which uses only electric power.  This gets rid of the complex, bulky, and maintenance intensive steam transmission and storage systems, and allows more reduncancy (i.e. you don't absolutely have to power the catapults from the ship's main engines).  Although I don't really support the idea of smaller carriers, this will allow them to be more practical since there is much less volume and manpower required for catapults.
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Herald1234    Aerodynamics and MISSION dictates    8/3/2007 10:54:01 AM
the size, shape, lift and PERFORMANCE of aircraft.

That drives the SIZE of a port avions.

What you want to do today DEFENSIVELY even with  jet propelled UCAVs is not possible unless you build to Illustrious size.

OFFENSE requires twice the size.

An air defense ship is a joke, unless you have an offensive option. India chooses to use a Brahmos solution. The US chooses to reach farther with air launched  munitions so we build to the requirement.

Poseurs who keep wishing they can build small carriers to do what a Nimitz or to a lesser extent what a QE will do simply refuse to accept the engineering limitations that  Bernoulli imposes  on us all.

The Indian Navy, being honest call their ships what they are, likewise did the Russian Navy.


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Phaid       8/3/2007 11:15:11 AM
The Indian Navy, being honest call their ships what they are, likewise did the Russian Navy.

Absolutely.  Nobody who operates a STOBAR carrier has any delusions that it is anything other than a platform for protecting your other ships with a CAP.  Low sortie rates and the requirement for minimal payloads (the Su-33 can't even take off from the Kuznetsov with a full fuel load) pretty much dictates this.  (I would say that a STOBAR carrier is also a way to extend the sensor range of a battlegroup, except that nobody operates AEW aircraft from them at this point).

Same goes for STOVL carriers.  The Kievs were antisubmarine and antisurface cruisers, and the Invincibles were ASW ships.  Both had STOVL air wings just sufficient to drive off enemy patrol aircraft.  The fact that the British managed to successfully prosecute the Falklands campaign says a whole lot about their skill and determination but does little to validate the idea that STOVL carriers are useful offensive assets.

If you want to truly project power with a carrier, you either need a large carrier that supports large numbers of large aircraft, and has catapults to launch them with useful strike loads, or you need some other means of conducting strikes ashore and at sea and just use your aircraft to protect those assets.
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Nichevo       8/3/2007 3:36:57 PM
I've got one for you - not sure what the proper terminology would be - but how about a blown deck? 

As STOBAR decks are passively ventilated to dissipate VTOL exhaust and to provide optimal ground effect, take your flight deck and actively vent it.  It would increase or decrease nominal airspeed as desired, for takeoffs and landings alike.  And perhaps it would be easier to create a 40kt air current with fans, than it would be to build a 40kt hull design.  Combining both, of course, you would have 80kt headwinds and practically be able to boost a Cessna right off the deck, let alone increase MTOW, range, payload, etc., for CTOL/CATO types.  Reduce T/L distances for smaller carriers, perhaps?

You would want to be able to vent in different directions; fore/aft at least, with mixed horizontal/vertical components and variable force.  I suppose there might be some benefit in creating negative pressure (i.e. vacuum, i.e. sucking not blowing); perhaps it would land/stop planes faster.

Given a highly granular (multizone) structure, and incorporation of flame retardants, it might be used to extinguish fires on deck.

OTOH, the deck would no longer be solid but a grating like that over a subway vent on the sidewalk.  Weather might affect the system adversely.  FOD risk might be either increased or reduced.  Girls' skirts would go all Marilyn Monroe. 

I'm going to take a WAG, based on size and cost of Patton room fans (not recommended method!), and suggest this might cost $50M to implement for a Nimitz-sized deck.  More if retrofitted, no doubt.  This might be mitigated in several ways, e.g., by not blowing whole deck.

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Herald1234       8/3/2007 6:55:49 PM
1. Topweight.
2. Can't possibly funnel the effect in the desired vector.
3. Coriolis effect.
4. Doubling the CV wattage output that you require for the projected use of a super wind curtain is not efficient. You can use that additional electricity better in radars or electronic warfare systems, or a catapult  or even a DEW.


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kirby1       8/3/2007 11:50:44 PM
Nice answers, I guess now I'll throw in my own two cents.
I seriously think that UCAVs (Using the acronym generically, not that specific experimental model called UCAV that was built for the USAF) have a serious capability to revolutionize naval aviation.
UCAVs on the deck in comparison to modern aircraft.
-UCAVS can odviously be made smaller then the average manned aircraft. Smaller airframes could allow for either larger airwings, or smaller carriers. Whichever one you want to opt for.
-UCAVS are definitely safer as far as the flight crews are concerned. Theoretically, you don't even need to have the pilots on the carrier. Hows that for saving money? Leave the aircrews at home.
-UCAVS are also probably safer for the deck crews too. No more dangerous rescue work if a pilot goes over. No more need for a waiting rescue chopper, (Though you might still want to recover your UCAV. IF  the thing is semibouyant, theres no hurry.)
-Odviously, UCAVs can be made cheaper. You may sacrifice out some capabilities, such as stealth or endurance, but this is perfectly acceptable for tech development or training.
Recon UCAV-recon manned
-No contest, Predator, reaper, Global Hawk. Pure manned recon planes are heading out the door.
-While almost all recon aircraft are on their way out, a good number of combat aircraft are still pulling recon via pods and kits. This is mostly adaptive work. If a UCAV can be built with the same basic performance envelope, for cheaper then a manned asset, then there really won't be a reason to send up combat planes for manned roles.
UCAV A2G vs manned A2G
-Theoretically longer loiter times, you're not limited by a single aircrews endurance. (Hey LT, take the plane while I go make a sandwich)
-Payloads will suffer to an extent, but I think this is largely overcome by advances in precision a2g munitions. Small diameter bombs, JDAM, LGMs, bombers don't really require that much payload nowadays. The heaviest items that might be necessary are Antiship missiles such as harpoon or penguin. As long as a UCAV can carry about 4-6 weapons, I'd say its sufficiently armed. 2-6 standard tons would make an acceptable payload in my opinion.
-The joy of expendibility. When the UCAV goes down, you don't have to hunt down the pilot. No dangerous rescue ops, no pesky letters to next of kin. In a wartime situation with a downed bird in enemy territory, I'd pinpoint the wreckage, shack a few JDAMS on it to destroy any sensitive technology and foul up any recovery ops mounted by the enemy, and leave it at that.
UCAV A2A vs Manned A2A
-This is where the technology really needs to advance. It will cost a good bit of time and R&D, but I believe the UCAVs can pull a pretty good number here as well.
-Loiter time, odviously still theoretically better then a manned fighter. It all depends on how much money you want to pour into your UCAV. But this is an advancement you can
-Manueverability. Without a pilot to black or red out, a UCAV can be built that is more manueverable then a manned fighter. Theres alot of different tech that could be applied, thrust vectoring, forward swept wings, forward flight surfaces, but the ghist is, you can do some hella crazy moves in a UCAV that would kill a pilot in a manned plane.
-Payload suffers again, but all a patrol fighter really needs will probably be a pair of sidewinders or Amraams, and enough tech to interface with AWACs,  Aegis or Ground control radar systems. 
-I see the A2A UCAV as a low end, primarily defensive fighter. Your manned force will pull the high-end  offensive work. Let the UCAVs defend your own airspace, let the UCAVs pull the nitty gritty recon work checking out fishing boats and waving off lost airliners, let the UCAVs intercept that darned TU-95 that is always poking around at the edge of your exercise during peace time. While its roll would be primarily low end for a first world nation, (Such as the US, UK, or France) many thirdworld countries might consider having a first world low end fighter/bomber better then having nothing or an inferior indiginous design. (explains why so many countries are flying F-16s, Mig29s, and older French planes)
Unusual UCAV ideas.
-UCAH, unmanned helicopter. Great for small navies with small ships. While you lose out on cargo and personnel hauling ability, such a helo would still be able to carry a small number of sonobouys (Or even a small dipping sonar) or a couple of ATGMS (Good for plinking fas
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