Sunday, July 13, 2014

For Korona: Short Take-Off Super Hornet

by SandWyrm

Since Korona couldn't find a link... here's a 2006 video of a Super Hornet making a very short-distance takeoff.

Now imagine this on the Prince of Wales with the ship turned into the wind and a ski-jump assist. A catapult would still allow more ordinance to be carried, but half a load on a Super Hornet beats nothing on a non-existent F-35.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Edit:
    It's a cheap stopgap. It'd be good if we were at war but the payload and range reduction with a STOBAR aircraft means limited performance and rapid obsolescence.

    Long term the catapults just seem really necessary. It's essential if we want to operate top-end aircraft and it allows for much better force integration with the USN.

    On a more positive note, one good option with the Super Hornets is that we could keep the same aircraft if we chose to get the catapults later on.

    1. Half a payload on the Super Hornet is probably still larger than what the F-35 will eventually carry. :)

      There's no good/cheap way to change the operational design for those carriers. They're designed for a VTOL aircraft that's behind schedule, and which could easily get canceled. Any modifications to accommodate something different are going to be hella-expensive.

      But then you have those terrific sunk-costs to try and justify. In the end, how many aircraft carriers does Britain really need anyway? Can they sell one to retrofit the other?

    2. Well they were designed for a catapult, just not with one. It's like the opposite of feature creep with lots of holes for things that fell foul of budget issues. The catapult cost problem was with the USN though, if they could get them cheaply they should pretty much just slot in.

      As for having two, I think the idea was to have redundancy in case one breaks. A lot of people would agree with the idea of selling one but it seems a bit reckless. The French only have one carrier and it's been in and out of dry dock for years.

      I guess at the end of the day if it's a choice between one really pimped up carrier and two mediocre ones it seems better to have two. Really, I'm more concerned by the overall priorities of the RN. They don't seem to give the carriers the priority they deserve. They're far and away the most relevant class of warship in the modern world.

    3. Relevant in certain ways, obsolete in others. They're the best way of projecting power abroad, but swarms of anti-ship missiles are their hard counter.

    4. Killing carriers is a big problem. There's a lot of design issues. You want something that is long ranged, really fast, undetectable and carries a big warhead. That provides a list of incompatible design features.

      Long range means slow speed and/or high altitude. Going high means detection, going slow means point defence can intercept the missile as it closes. Either way if you want a warhead big enough to kill a carrier you need a really big missile, which means point defence will counter you.

      Of course any defence system can be overwhelmed but the threat is really present when the carriers are close to shore. There's some pretty nasty shore-launched missiles that would be hard to detect and destroy before they're launched. That's another reason to add catapults - longer range means more safety for the carrier.

    5. This missile would seem to fit the bill, especially if launched simultaneously in large numbers:

      186mi range, mach 4.5, 30ft flight altitude, terminal corkscrew maneuvers to throw off CIWS defenses.

      At that speed, it doesn't even need an explosive warhead. The kinetic strike alone would kill a carrier. These things can also be launched from ships or aircraft, not just from shore.

      So, speaking strategically, how is a carrier group supposed to threaten an advanced nation like Russia or China? Especially if they're carrying the future F-35, which only has a 600mi combat radius at best? The planes that will be launching those anti-ship missiles will have an 800mi radius from shore, and a 980-ish mile radius when you add in the missile’s own range.

      In that light, carriers are almost obsolete in a real war. They’re great for beating up on run-down 3rd world militaries, but there’s a reason that China and Russia are only half-heartedly playing around with a single carrier each. Because they know that, like battleships in WWII, carriers aren’t really front-line weapons anymore.

    I do love this video.

    Missile swarm attacks have always been a threat to carriers. The Russians banked everything on a swarm attack being able to win, the USN banked on being able to defeat it. It's easy to theorise but at the end of the day it's all complete speculation!

    Still, there's a number of problems with the Onyx and similar missiles that makes me think it's not such an open and shut case against the carriers.

    Firstly the range and speed is only possible with a high altitude attack vector. A carrier fleet at wartime is going to be in the middle of a huge web of detection radar. A long ranged attack by a swarm of missiles would be very detectable.

    Secondly the damage output isn't actually that good. The kinetic impact could kill a carrier alone? Once you make some reasonable assumptions about mass and speed the final kinetic energy isn't all that impressive. The physical warhead (250kg) is the main damage-dealer and it's not that impressive.
    Going off WW2 damage ratings (the last time we actually sunk capital ships in combat) you'd need over a dozen to actually sink a capital ship. I think these missiles are designed to take out smaller ships (destroyers etc.)

    Finally a carrier sits in the middle of a huge swarm of escort vessels. A big enough swarm attack MAY penetrate the screen but I don't see it doing enough damage to actually sink a carrier. Russians are fairly notorious for being bad at electronic hardening of their tech. They may even have a killswitch that just turns off the missiles.

    At the end of the day we don't really know how the matchup would go but there's enough to make me think the carriers have a fighting chance ;)


out dang bot!

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