CVF Construction

Profile picture for user Sintra

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12 years 3 months

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Excellent! Can you tell me where the marginal costs are published? I'm sick of seeing the full cost compared with the marginal costs of US types.

X2

Profile picture for user Jō Asakura

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8 years 10 months

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So let me get this straight. Having been fortunate enough to have designed an aircraft carrier that was large enough with enough deck space to allow the relative seamless transition to a more interoperable and flexible platform (CATOBAR/EMALS), operating significantly more capable warplanes (F-35C), the UK government has decided to revert to the (then much lamented) far less capable and inflexible STOVL configuration- due to an accounting number that has been categorically disputed by someone in the know (assistant secretary of the US Navy, Sean J Stackley).

I'm also staggered by the recent Royal Navy's wholesale endorsement of the F-35B, I was under the impression that (outside the USMC), medium class STOVL fighters were of ever decreasing tactical value.....or does the RN envisage launching future heavy UCAVs off a ski-ramp and recovering them vertically?

Given that the political decision-making has been undertaken by Mr. Bean, I wonder if Edmund Blackadder will be tasked with delivering this volte-face to parliament. I can't wait!!:D

Profile picture for user Sintra

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12 years 3 months

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It´s not that hard to figure why the RN would endorse going back to the F-35B.
Two CVF´s prepared to use them instead of one, getting a decent number of RAF chaps capable of actually flying from the carriers and having an early IOC for HMS Queen Elizabeth instead of a late IOC for HMS Prince of Wales are three very decent reasons.

Profile picture for user mrmalaya

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9 years 11 months

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And the hulls aren't converted yet, so the reversal would be of planning rather than implementation.

Prior to the SDSR two hulls operating the B was worth doing for most people.

Post SDSR the only option worth considering was the C despite the possible loss of one of the hulls. Given the delays in the C it is no longer the wonder jet it seemed.

Realistically this aircraft is going to sell in the thousands and arming it with weapons not drawn from the US will be a good way for the UK to make some of the money back IMHO.

Plus development of a VSTOL strike UAV for sale to Italy, Spain, India etc would be a fun and exciting way to make the CVF something to look forward to.:)

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9 years 5 months

Posts: 1,240

So what happens to all the money already committed to modifying the two carriers to CATOBAR? From past precedence cancelling the contract could be more expensive than the contract itself, so... is the MOD going to pay to have them converted to STOVL again?:confused:

Profile picture for user Sintra

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12 years 3 months

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So what happens to all the money already committed to modifying the two carriers to CATOBAR? From past precedence cancelling the contract could be more expensive than the contract itself, so... is the MOD going to pay to have them converted to STOVL again?:confused:

What "money already committed to modifying the two carriers to CATOBAR"?

Profile picture for user Jō Asakura

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8 years 10 months

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Sintra and mrmalaya, you both make valid points. So am I correct to assume that sharing the expensive task of "uninterrupted carrier capability" with the French (an important reason for the switch, the SDSR noted at the time) and interoperability with the USN, will be addressed by both PoW and QEII entering service? (though the latter may be configured as an LHD amphibious assault ship).

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8 years 3 months

Posts: 269

What "money already committed to modifying the two carriers to CATOBAR"?

Cost of removing items that were deemed necessary for STOVL but not CATOBAR and thuse stopped ASAP with the intention of saving money once a decision had been made, cost of re-introducing them now that a different decision has been made

Cost of the study team to date

Political cost of changing our mind with the US. Again

Profile picture for user swerve

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14 years 6 months

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That's not what was meant. It was clear from the context that Witcha thought that a large sum has been contracted for, but not yet spent, & that we may end up having to pay it even if we don't want the work done.

What you're referring to is the money which has already been spent.

Of your three categories, I don't think the first amounts to anything. I don't think anything has had to be removed for CATOBAR. The ski-jumps would have to be omitted, but since building hasn't got to them yet, nothing has had to be spent on removing them.

The second is real money, but it's spent, not committed to for the future.

The third isn't money. It's not what Witcha was on about.

I've seen the figure of £250 million spent to date on studies, redesign, etc. I've no idea if that's correct. If it is, & the decision is made to revert to STOVL, that's pure waste. But it's a different issue from the one Sintra was replying to.

Profile picture for user swerve

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14 years 6 months

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Sintra and mrmalaya, you both make valid points. So am I correct to assume that sharing the expensive task of "uninterrupted carrier capability" with the French (an important reason for the switch, the SDSR noted at the time) and interoperability with the USN, will be addressed by both PoW and QEII entering service? (though the latter may be configured as an LHD amphibious assault ship).

We're certainly not going to redesign PoW to incorporate a dock! There is no chance at all of her being completed as an LHD.

If we revert to STOVL, then I assume both ships will be completed according to the original design. That is, they will be identical, both being carriers which are also capable of operating as LPHs, i.e. helicopter assault ships - without docks. They should even be capable of operating in mixed carrier/LPH mode.

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10 years 1 month

Posts: 7

Cost of operating aircraft...

Its a nightmare trying to get anything sensible and to be perfectly honest, I suspect the answers that are given have a degree of 'variability' in them so even when released as part of a Parliamentary Answer I would still treat them only as guidelines.

The MoD doesn't publish externally its rates but when asked as part of an FOI Request or Parliamentary Answer then you can piece them together.

The full rate includes more or less the kitchen sink and as I said above, will be averaged out over the fleet. So the Typhoon, which is still coming into service and therefore front end cost loaded over a smaller fleet will look very expensive, the £90k per hour figure a few years has since dropped down to £70k an hour.

The marginal rate that sometimes comes out of the woodwork is for consumables and fuel.

These are the result of stitching together various MoD and Parliamentary answers etc so not official but reasonable for a guideline

Tornado GR4, £35,000
Tornado F3, £43,000
Typhoon, £70,000
Harrier GR7/GR9, £37,000
Apache AH1, £42,000
C17, £42,000
C130J, £12,000
C130K, £10,000
E3D Sentry, £33,000

The marginal rate appears to be roughly the same no matter what, so an Apache will cost roughly the same per hour as a Tornado, about £5k an hour!

There is also a rate for the Hawk T1 at between £6k and £10k per hour depending on whether they are flown by the Red Arrows, the Royal Navy or the RAF and before anyone jumps on that, the Red Arrows are the cheapest and the RAF training T1’s the most expensive but only because that cost includes simulators that the others use as well.

This illustrates perfectly why comparing operating costs for different aircraft is almost impossible

Profile picture for user Jonesy

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19 years 11 months

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We've paid the Carrier Alliance to develop detailed engineering plans for the conversion of STOVL CVF to CATOBAR CVF. Do we expect them to be thrown in the bin now they may not be required?.

If we accept that, at some point, we may see a change in our threat environment, and need a different capability set out of the carriers than they are optimised for as built, then having those plans filed away and ready to be put out to tender is going to be a real bonus if that contingency arises.

It is inefficient but the money isnt necessarily wasted.

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19 years 11 months

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A refit to go from STOVL to CATOBAR would probably take a minimum of 18 months, if the EMALS/AAR hardware is purchased ahead of time. An emerging threat isn't going to wait while you modify your carriers.

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8 years 3 months

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Of your three categories, I don't think the first amounts to anything. I don't think anything has had to be removed for CATOBAR.

Yes it has. Plenty of other stuff related to the conversion which isn't hard visible metal and so doesn't get much of a mention.

Such changes also go some way (but by no means all) of the difference between the UK and US cost estimates. Training may well account for most of the rest

Profile picture for user swerve

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14 years 6 months

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Can you give seem examples of things which had been fitted, & had to be removed? I don't mean things which were intended to be fitted, but omitted.

Training? Do you mean training of the shipbuilders to build something different from the original design? I can't believe that costs several hundred million.

Training of maintenance & operating crews for the cats & traps is not a conversion cost for the ships. It's an operational cost for running them. The figure of £1.8bn quoted was said to be for the cost of converting a ship, not additional training (i.e. in excess of the cost of training crews for STOVL operations) for CATOBAR. Or are you suggesting that the reports have been misleading?

Do you really think that converting a mostly unbuilt ship, designed with future refit to CATOBAR in mind, to accept cats & traps would cost about two thirds (after deducting the cost of the cats & traps themselves) as much as the original cost of building it? If that really is the cost, we should be thinking about re-introducing the death penalty for the project managers. We could have a brand-new 30000 ton STOVL carrier, fully-equipped, with a local area air defence system, for that much.

Profile picture for user jbritchford

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15 years 2 months

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Other than a ski-jump on the front of the ship, which isn't even wholly necessary, what are the associated costs with going back to the STOVL design for the carriers?

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9 years 4 months

Posts: 507

Other than a ski-jump on the front of the ship, which isn't even wholly necessary, what are the associated costs with going back to the STOVL design for the carriers?

Good question as technically none they are being built at present to their original design. However the design doesn't take in to account the data discovered from the F-35B trials or its intended use (SRVL) which may add a certain cost factor.

Profile picture for user Jonesy

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DJ

A refit to go from STOVL to CATOBAR would probably take a minimum of 18 months, if the EMALS/AAR hardware is purchased ahead of time. An emerging threat isn't going to wait while you modify your carriers.

Yes it will. The only reason to go CATOBAR would be for countering a blue water threat.

If we need to strike deep inland we are going to use TLAM anyway as we have no space-based or VLO airborne recon assets to target in realtime at deep strike ranges. If we are shooting at fixed, pre-identified, targets why are we sending manned strikers when we have TLAM???. Deep strike as a justification for CATOBAR on CVF is, frankly, absurd.

The only practical need for CATOBAR would be to deploy the heavier surveillance platforms for wide area search to fix an elusive naval target and rangier strike assets to try and get shots in before the other guy is reaching us. Realistically this means that we only need be concerned when we have to face an opposing, credible, carrier force and, being brutally realistic, even then only a carrier force in the possession of a threat state that we would be likely to have to face alone.

How long is it going to take for a threat state, that the UK would have to take on without the USN or MN alongside, to stand up a naval force that could oppose the RN in blue-water transit to theatre?. How possible is it for such a threat state to create that kind of naval force without it giving us several years notice as they work up their capability?.

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8 years 3 months

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Can you give seem examples of things which had been fitted, & had to be removed? I don't mean things which were intended to be fitted, but omitted..

I mostly mean the latter. Even though they had not been "fitted", costs will have been incurred because they have been removed from the design and now need to be added again, which because the design and build has progressed means they will cost more.

Remember that even if something is not "fitted" to the ship, the systems integration has been continuing apace, messing around with systems mid-development is well documented as a cause of cost increase.