Aircraft Carriers III

Should HMS Queen Elizabeth be fitted with her own missile defences?
March 3, 2018
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just LOL at supposedly 'deep strike' and 'power projection' capabilities (according to spin doctors) and missing millions to have to ask this type of question; spin doctors of course ready to answer with 'No', as in no AShMs Nov 11, 2016, no sea-mines Apr 5, 2017 etc. but spin doctors boasting about two supercarriers for F-35Bs
"retweeting" here
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Today’s historic port call by the USS Carl Vinson in
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underscores the enormous progress the United States & Vietnam have made in transcending the wounds of war & building a close partnership.
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now the USNI News: Vinson Strike Group Makes Historic Port Call in Vietnam Amid Growing Navy Ties, South China Sea Tensions
Aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)’s historic port visit in Da Nang, Vietnam, this week is meant to continue building trust and goodwill that could deepen the navy-to-navy relationship between the two former enemies.

The carrier, along with cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) and destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108), arrived in the central Vietnam port city on March 5 with an itinerary that included sailor-to-sailor engagements, community service projects, sports and music activities and more. Though U.S. Navy ships have made port calls in Vietnam since 2004, this is the first time a U.S. aircraft carrier has come to Vietnam since the end of the war more than 40 years ago.

Rear Adm. John Fuller, the Vinson Carrier Strike Group commander, told reporters in a media teleconference late Monday night (Tuesday morning local time) that Vietnamese sailors were also welcomed aboard Vinson to learn how the crew approaches firefighting, flight operations and other aspects of carrier operations.

“They’ve gone around and had a chance to engage with our sailors and just get a feel for the personality of our sailors,” Fuller added.
“I think one of the most heartwarming comments was, they were impressed by how hard our sailors work and how such young people are able to do such sophisticated things.”

President Donald Trump said during a May 2017 visit to Vietnam that he wanted to further the military relationship between the two countries and proposed the idea of an American aircraft carrier visit. Vice Adm. Phillip Sawyer, commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, said in the same teleconference that the completion of that promise helps “continue to normalize relationships here with the Vietnamese navy.”

“We committed (to scheduling a carrier port visit), and we made that commitment, and that in itself is important because it helps foster the trust that we want to foster within our partnership,” he added.

Sawyer also noted that the person-to-person relationship-building allowed by a visit like this is important. For example, he said, the head of the Da Nang People’s Committee sent a condolence letter after last year’s USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) fatal collision, and Sawyer said this week he’s been able to thank the committee in person for their letter.

The Navy and U.S. State Department have billed this visit as symbolic of the deepening ties between the two countries and as a builder of goodwill that could open future opportunities – though Sawyer was coy about what the future of U.S.-Vietnamese naval activities could look like.

“I will work closely with my Vietnamese partners, and we will develop ideas and options for what makes sense for both of us,” he said in response to a question.
“We continue building on the robust partnership that we actually already have. … When we talk about what’s in the future, recognize that we have done quite a bit already: we have a continuing engagement with the people here, it’s called Pacific Partnership, that we’ll do again this year. So I look forward to talking with my Vietnamese counterparts to discuss what else we can do going into the future.”

Asked again later in the conversation about the future of the relationship, Sawyer said “I’ve been in discussions with Naval Zone 3 and I’ll have other discussions with the Vietnamese Navy about what we do going forward to continue to build the partnership that we have been building and that continues to be very robust. There have been a lot of things in my mind that I will discuss with the Vietnamese Navy leadership, but it really is kind of a two-way street; I want to make sure I understand what would be beneficial for the Vietnamese Navy and what we can do, and then we will come up with a plan going forward.”

He did, though, say that as a career submariner, “I would greatly look forward to bringing one of the U.S. submarines into a port in Vietnam, so that’s one of the things I will offer.”

Fuller added during the call that “we’ll find areas to continue to build our maritime cooperation, and we will do the basic skill sets that mariners have – with this port visit in particular we are doing culinary exchanges, firefighting exchanges, we’re having people come and tour the Carl Vinson to see the type of things we do on a Navy ship.”

Looming in the background of the visit is China. Within about 200 miles of Da Nang sit both China’s Hainan island and the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea that are claimed by Vietnam but controlled by China.

Sawyer made clear that “it’s about Vietnam” and not China when it comes to the message the visit sends – that the event “continues a path we’ve been on that continues to build a robust partnership” between the two navies.

Still, regarding China’s activities in the South China Sea, Sawyer said that “land reclamation and militarization cause angst within the region, and the angst that it causes is really because of lack of transparency; it’s not clear what’s going to happen down there. And I think that angst and that lack of transparency are potentially disruptive to the security and stability of the region. And that causes concern.”

More directly, he said the ability to freely move commerce through the region is paramount and that “anything that would appear to contradict that is a concern for all the region.”

“Conflict is not inevitable, but security doesn’t happen by itself either. And that’s why we, the United States Navy and the 7th Fleet in particular have been out here for 75 years … and we are going to be out here for the future,” Sawyer concluded.
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Today at 8:22 AM
just pictures as I have to go now (source is
This Is Boeing’s Play For MQ-25 ‘Stingray’
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only now the story:
On the tarmac of St. Louis’ historic Lambert Field, the future of aircraft carrier aviation may be taking shape. Phantom Works,
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’s shadowy advanced prototyping group, has painted part of the tarmac to resemble the flight deck of a carrier. Over the past few months, the company been using this space at all hours of the day and night to test its latest military UAV: a prototype for the U.S. Navy’s MQ-25 “Stingray” program.

A video viewed by Aviation Week and labeled “competition sensitive” shows the huge drone taxiing around the runway during daylight hours on its own power. It stops, starts, moves forward and hooks into position behind the catapult, prepared for launch. But the long-wing aircraft has not yet flown; it is instead being used for carrier suitability trials, including a series of maneuvers to ensure the UAV can easily, reliably and safely move around the deck like any manned aviation platform.

Exactly how the aircraft is directed around the deck is a company secret. We have agreed not to write about it, but one can guess that it will not involve traditional hand signals or wands. As part of the carrier suitability tests, Phantom Works also has been validating the UAV’s “spot factor” and ensuring that it can park anywhere a Boeing
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Super Hornet can, including the tightest spot of all, a slither of deck aft of elevator No. 4 called “the finger.”

Although originally conceived for the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (Uclass) program, Boeing’s aircraft is now being promoted as the perfect fit for aerial refueling missions at sea. While other Uclass contenders such as
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had been pressing for the development of stealthy intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft that can find and destroy targets, Boeing saw greater potential for a UAV that conducts tanking, while retaining residual capability for surveillance and strike, if needed. What resulted was the “T-1,” as the company’s lead aircraft for the MQ-25 is designated.

Long before Uclass, the Navy had wanted to develop a carrier-based UAV for tanking duties, rather than continuing to chew through the precious service life of manned, refueling-capable strike aircraft. The program restructuring in 2015 that gave rise to the MQ-25 Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System (CBARS) was good news for companies such as Boeing, which were not as invested in surveillance and strike compared to Northrop, which bowed out of the competition in October 2017, leaving the X-47B UAV demonstrator high and dry.

In an exclusive interview with Aviation Week, Boeing Phantom Works MQ-25 program director Don “BD” Gaddis revealed that the T-1 prototype now being tested at Boeing’s military aircraft plant in St. Louis was actually rolled out in November 2014 but was kept hidden from public view until now. The strange-looking creature first broke cover in December 2017, when Boeing released an obscure, front-on image via Twitter. Having started outdoor trials, the company knew it was only a matter of time before images started leaking online.

Sure enough, in early January, The War Zone published eight fuzzy images taken by Jeremy McGough as he was flying out of St. Louis Lambert International Airport. Those are the only public images so far that show the aircraft in its entirety, including the full span of its gliderlike wings.

“Lambert actually helped us by allowing us to use part of the airport concrete, which we painted up as a flight deck. They even let us use an unmanned drone to take video with,” Gaddis says. “When doing the demonstration, we tried to be as close as possible to a carrier flight deck as we could.”

With Northrop’s withdrawal, Boeing is now one of three prime contractors in the Navy’s multibillion-dollar MQ-25 competition, going up against alternative proposals from
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(GA-ASI) and
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Skunk Works. The three companies each responded to Naval Air Systems Command’s Oct. 4, 2017, MQ-25 request for proposals by the Jan. 3 deadline and are now awaiting a source-selection decision expected in early August.

“We’ve put together a good proposal against the requirements,” Gaddis says. “My boss [Leanne Caret, the head of Boeing Defense, Space & Security] sees MQ-25 as a franchise program for the company, and she wants to win it, as does my CEO [Dennis Muilenburg]. We are going to go out and win this thing.”

Boeing is so determined to win this program, it has backed two sides. Boeing Autonomous Systems, a newly created business unit responsible for most of the company’s unmanned programs, is aligned with GA-ASI for the competition and has been internally “firewalled” from the Phantom Works program. “I don’t know anything about what they’re doing because of the firewall,” Gaddis says of the dual teaming arrangement.

The clean-sheet T-1 aircraft dates to October 2012, when Boeing completed the initial design review. It was quietly rolled out two years later and is now supporting Boeing’s concept refinement and deck-handling demonstration work for the Navy, while also building up to first flight. Gaddis will not say exactly when the aircraft is due to fly, but it will likely happen sometime after the contract award in August.

The aircraft looks nothing like Boeing’s earlier Phantom Ray flying-wing design, which first flew in April 2011 and had been a candidate for the Uclass surveillance-and-strike role. What the company has come up with is a stretched-out wing-body-tail aircraft with a V-tail ruddervator and fold-up, high-aspect-ratio wings. When the first images were released, there was some misguided speculation about the purpose of the forward air intake and the nose camera. But Boeing confirms that the forward inlet simply supplies air to the environmental control system and the camera is being used to collect data during testing and does not feature in the actual MQ-25 design. The final versions will, however, carry an electro-optical sensor.

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The aircraft has been compared with the Northrop Tacit Blue, a first-generation stealth technology demonstrator, but Gaddis confirms that the Boeing MQ-25 is not designed for low-observability or “stealth.” At most, the aircraft may employ some radar cross-section and infrared signature reduction techniques, such as the fuselage chine, top-mounted air intake, and heat-reducing exhaust vent. But with wings like an albatross, the long-haul UAV will show up on modern radars.

“It’s not meant to be a stealthy aircraft,” Gaddis says. “There are no survivability requirements at all with MQ-25. They’ve been narrowed down to mission-tanking and CVN [nuclear-powered aircraft carrier] suitability and compatibility.” The aircraft will have sensors for situational awareness, or “light ISR.”

For mission tanking, the threshold requirement is offloading 14,000 lb. of fuel to aviation assets at 500 nm from the ship, thereby greatly extending the range of the carrier air wing, including the Lockheed Martin
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and Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet. The UAV must also be able to integrate with the Nimitz-class carriers, being able to safely launch and recover and not take up more space than is allocated for storage, maintenance and repairs.

“Going back to Uclass, tanking was part of the design space. It was a mission we designed into this airplane,” Gaddis explains. “This airplane can meet all of the requirements, with substantial margin. We are in a really good spot.”

In pursuing the MQ-25, Boeing draws on more than 90 years of CV aircraft carrier experience, much of which came through the merger with St. Louis’ McDonnell Douglas in 1997. The company’s carrier heritage stretches back to the 1930s Douglas TBD Devastator, 1940s Douglas AD-1 Skyraider and McDonnell F2H Banshee through to the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom, F/A-18 Hornet and latest-generation F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. “We have lots of experience on the CVN, so we’ve reused all of that experience on this particular airplane. We have 1.8 million flight hours on the Hornet alone,” he says.

While GA-ASI has already revealed its teammates for the competition, Boeing and Lockheed Martin have not been willing to divulge those details just yet. Boeing has also made every effort to disguise and distort the wingspan of the T-1 to prevent competitors from gaining too much insight. Boeing won’t say what systems its MQ-25 proposal carries forward from the Super Hornet, nor will the company confirm its suppliers for major components such as the engine, tail hook, landing gear, avionics, satellite communications, radios or sensors.

One known component with which Boeing is intimately familiar is the Cobham aerial refueling system, or “buddy pod,” that the Super Hornets have been using to top-up teammates since 1998. The pod is provided as government-furnished equipment and will be the MQ-25’s main component for air-to-air refueling.

The contract for which Boeing, Lockheed and GA-ASI are competing is a fixed-priced award for the development and construction of the first four aircraft. The Navy hopes to purchase up to 72 operational models for carrier deployment and achieve initial operational capability, expected by 2026.

This is a priority program for the chief of naval operations, coming under the purview of the newly created Maritime Accelerated Capabilities Office. Now in the acquisition “speed lane,” the Navy hopes to reach initial operational capability by 2026, or eight years from contract award.

The competition is for delivery of the aircraft only, since the Navy is the lead system integrator, responsible for bringing together disparate components such as the UAV Control Station, and ensuring compatibility with emerging technologies, such as the
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Joint Precision Approach and Landing System.

Although Boeing has not yet decided where the MQ-25 will be built, the future of military aircraft manufacturing in St. Louis and Boeing’s place on the carrier deck may rest in the balance, since the Super Hornet won’t be around forever. Having failed to capture the big-ticket multiservice Joint Strike Fighter and Air Force Long-Range Strike Bomber programs, Boeing needs to win either the Air Force’s T-X next-generation trainer or MQ-25 competitions to stay relevant, since there aren’t many other military aircraft programs of this size or scope on the near horizon. For Phantom Works at least, T-1 is the answer.

“We’ve put forward a low-cost, low-risk offer that adds up to this mature T-1 aircraft that will be ready for flight-testing right after an award,” Gaddis says. “We have a very good shot at winning.”
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Air Force Brat

Super Moderator
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I'm going to stick my neck out,,, it has TAIL, it has nice long WINGS, and this my friend, is the immediate future of the UCAV, and I LIKE IT A LOT!
Go PHANTOM WORKS! LOOK OUT BAD GUYS! this airplane will suit this mission very well, and while I could only wish it were stealthy, I fully understand WHY it is NOT!

Way to go Phantom Works! nice airplane, for a critically important job, an airplane that will allow the Navy and Marines to be kind to their 5 Gens!