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Subject: HMS Queen Elizabeth for the RAN
Volkodav    10/22/2010 5:53:12 PM
I know we can,t afford to maintain or operate her, I know the training and logistics would be a deal killer, but I just can't get over the thought of a proper carrier in the RAN. It is almost like a repeat of the late 70's early 80's, a very capable platform becomes available to Australia due to the short sighted, ideologically driven, stupidity of a new UK government. The question is could we do it, buy the ship, convert her to operate our SH's and restructure our fleet around her?
 
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Volkodav       11/1/2010 6:33:34 AM
Heres an interesting fact, recently backed up by the UK government.  While a ski jump equiped STOVL carrier is less expensive than a conventional carrier with catapults and arrester gear of equivalent size, when you add the air groups and through life costs (including that of the air groups) the conventional carrier becomes significantly cheaper to own and operate while also delivering significantly greater capability.
 
It would likely be cheaper to buy QE at a cut price, retro fit her with cats and arrester gear and operate our SHs from her along with a couple of E-2Ds, than it would to buy and operate F-35Bs and a class of small carriers to operate them from.  The issue then becomes one of operating a single carrier with the associated down time etc. and I don't think we could find another cheap carrier and ready made airgroup.
 
On the small carriers I would be perfectly happy having them as Helo carriers without the F-35Bs but maybe the capability to operate a long endurance UAV to significantly extend the the groups sensor range.
 
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Aussiegunneragain       11/1/2010 8:17:01 AM

Heres an interesting fact, recently backed up by the UK government.  While a ski jump equiped STOVL carrier is less expensive than a conventional carrier with catapults and arrester gear of equivalent size, when you add the air groups and through life costs (including that of the air groups) the conventional carrier becomes significantly cheaper to own and operate while also delivering significantly greater capability.

It would likely be cheaper to buy QE at a cut price, retro fit her with cats and arrester gear and operate our SHs from her along with a couple of E-2Ds, than it would to buy and operate F-35Bs and a class of small carriers to operate them from.  The issue then becomes one of operating a single carrier with the associated down time etc. and I don't think we could find another cheap carrier and ready made airgroup.

On the small carriers I would be perfectly happy having them as Helo carriers without the F-35Bs but maybe the capability to operate a long endurance UAV to significantly extend the the groups sensor range.


I had thought of that. The availability issue as important, though the QE-2 would still be worthwhile for operations with allies and those involving a significant lead time (like the Falklands and East Timor did). What is a bigger concern for me the risk of losing 25% of our national airpower if one ship gets sunk. That is why I consider that the two smaller carrier model has its strengths. I don't think that in this instance that the costs of the airgroup would be an issue, we would only be useing money from the F-35 purchase to purchase a slightly smaller number of F-35B's than we would have F-35A's. It would be cost neutral.
 
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LB       11/1/2010 9:27:43 AM
While that analysis does show up in the document it's questionable.  You're adding hundreds of millions more in equipment to the carrier and then have to pay for the added crew to maintain and operate throughout the life of the ship.  It's not exactly known if this was properly factored in?  Moreover, the document states the B is more expensive but it's not.  The F-35C is the most expensive variant by a wide margin and the exact costs are not exactly nailed down at this point. 

A conventional carrier is more capable but the notion it's cheaper is in my view a fictional construct created to support the document.  The cheaper alternative was the B and by a significant amount.  How much for putting the new radars from ASaC.7 on a new Merlin vs buying and operating an E-2?

 
Heres an interesting fact, recently backed up by the UK government.  While a ski jump equiped STOVL carrier is less expensive than a conventional carrier with catapults and arrester gear of equivalent size, when you add the air groups and through life costs (including that of the air groups) the conventional carrier becomes significantly cheaper to own and operate while also delivering significantly greater capability.

 

It would likely be cheaper to buy QE at a cut price, retro fit her with cats and arrester gear and operate our SHs from her along with a couple of E-2Ds, than it would to buy and operate F-35Bs and a class of small carriers to operate them from.  The issue then becomes one of operating a single carrier with the associated down time etc. and I don't think we could find another cheap carrier and ready made airgroup.

 

On the small carriers I would be perfectly happy having them as Helo carriers without the F-35Bs but maybe the capability to operate a long endurance UAV to significantly extend the the groups sensor range.


 
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albywan       11/1/2010 3:00:00 PM




Heres an interesting fact, recently backed up by the UK government.  While a ski jump equiped STOVL carrier is less expensive than a conventional carrier with catapults and arrester gear of equivalent size, when you add the air groups and through life costs (including that of the air groups) the conventional carrier becomes significantly cheaper to own and operate while also delivering significantly greater capability.



It would likely be cheaper to buy QE at a cut price, retro fit her with cats and arrester gear and operate our SHs from her along with a couple of E-2Ds, than it would to buy and operate F-35Bs and a class of small carriers to operate them from.  The issue then becomes one of operating a single carrier with the associated down time etc. and I don't think we could find another cheap carrier and ready made airgroup.



On the small carriers I would be perfectly happy having them as Helo carriers without the F-35Bs but maybe the capability to operate a long endurance UAV to significantly extend the the groups sensor range.






I had thought of that. The availability issue as important, though the QE-2 would still be worthwhile for operations with allies and those involving a significant lead time (like the Falklands and East Timor did). What is a bigger concern for me the risk of losing 25% of our national airpower if one ship gets sunk. That is why I consider that the two smaller carrier model has its strengths. I don't think that in this instance that the costs of the airgroup would be an issue, we would only be useing money from the F-35 purchase to purchase a slightly smaller number of F-35B's than we would have F-35A's. It would be cost neutral.



Could operations in Timor not have air cover provided from Mainland Australia?
Interesting you mention the Falklands, would Australia commit the HMAS QE2 to any efforts by the UK to reclaim the Islands in the event of another Argentine invasion?
 
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gf0012-aust       11/1/2010 3:14:58 PM

Could operations in Timor not have air cover provided from Mainland Australia?

aircraft were based in australia for strike.  a short squadron was on standby to strike jakarta if the indons got silly in east timor
Interesting you mention the Falklands, would Australia commit the HMAS QE2 to any efforts by the UK to reclaim the Islands in the event of another Argentine invasion?
depends which govt is in power and what the balance of power is.  eg Hawkes Govt no, Keatings Govt no, Rudds Govt likely, Gillard/Brown no, any Liberal/wet govt such as Howard, Costello, Turnbull, Abbott - yes





 
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Aussiegunneragain       11/2/2010 12:20:57 AM









Heres an interesting fact, recently backed up by the UK government.  While a ski jump equiped STOVL carrier is less expensive than a conventional carrier with catapults and arrester gear of equivalent size, when you add the air groups and through life costs (including that of the air groups) the conventional carrier becomes significantly cheaper to own and operate while also delivering significantly greater capability.







It would likely be cheaper to buy QE at a cut price, retro fit her with cats and arrester gear and operate our SHs from her along with a couple of E-2Ds, than it would to buy and operate F-35Bs and a class of small carriers to operate them from.  The issue then becomes one of operating a single carrier with the associated down time etc. and I don't think we could find another cheap carrier and ready made airgroup.







On the small carriers I would be perfectly happy having them as Helo carriers without the F-35Bs but maybe the capability to operate a long endurance UAV to significantly extend the the groups sensor range.










I had thought of that. The availability issue as important, though the QE-2 would still be worthwhile for operations with allies and those involving a significant lead time (like the Falklands and East Timor did). What is a bigger concern for me the risk of losing 25% of our national airpower if one ship gets sunk. That is why I consider that the two smaller carrier model has its strengths. I don't think that in this instance that the costs of the airgroup would be an issue, we would only be useing money from the F-35 purchase to purchase a slightly smaller number of F-35B's than we would have F-35A's. It would be cost neutral.





Could operations in Timor not have air cover provided from Mainland Australia?


Interesting you mention the Falklands, would Australia commit the HMAS QE2 to any efforts by the UK to reclaim the Islands in the event of another Argentine invasion?


Air cover was provided from the mainland during Timor, but it was done at a 400nm range. That means the F-18's were reliant on tankers, which ties up at least a pair protecting the tanker. Additionally, you have to tie up aircraft in transit and if there is a mechanical breakdown in a tanker or in the aircraft on CAP, it takes quite a while for them to be replaced. Finally, if there was a cyclone over Darwin while there was flying weather in Timor, the fleet goes without air cover.
In contrast, a carrier is there on the spot so it faces none of those challenges. Beyond a certain range from base it is definately a better way to provide air cover. Of course, land and carrier based air cover can be complementary.
 
I use the Falklands as an example of the general type of operation that Australia might find a carrier useful for ... e.g. a recovering of Christmas Islands. I doubt whether we would provide our only carrier for a British shooting war, there would be too much at stake if it got sunk. Similarily we didn't provide RF-111's when requested by the US during Gulf War One, because we only had four of them and they were too important. It would depend on the government though, John Howard might have been prepared to take the risk but I can't think of another PM we have had since Robert Menzies who would.

 
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albywan       11/2/2010 4:41:30 PM
Thanks Aussie...
 
interesting insight with regard to whether the RAN would send a Carrier to help out "mother England"...
 
As for the Combat Air Patrol scenario you have outlined with regard to Timor, understand what you mean here - maybe Timor isn't the best example, but if the RAAF had to fly CAP over the Southern Phillipines then your carrier scenario would indeed be correct.
 
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Volkodav       11/3/2010 2:00:48 AM
Actually, reading a bit more on the thinking behind the RN cuts I see that they were looking to cancel both carriers but that was more expensive than completing them.  They are looking to use Queen Elisabeth as a LPH, lay her up or sell her and plan to build Prince of Wales as a CTOL carrier as they see being able to operate USN and French naval aircraft as an affordable way to future proof the capability.
I wonder, if a suitable buyer came forward, whether they would sell both? 
 
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Aussie Diggermark 2       11/4/2010 10:42:36 AM

Thanks Aussie...

 

interesting insight with regard to whether the RAN would send a Carrier to help out "mother England"...

 

As for the Combat Air Patrol scenario you have outlined with regard to Timor, understand what you mean here - maybe Timor isn't the best example, but if the RAAF had to fly CAP over the Southern Phillipines then your carrier scenario would indeed be correct.


Baucau airport in Timor probably could have handled RAAF F/A-18 fighters, had push come to shove...
 
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Aussiegunneragain       11/4/2010 9:35:08 PM




Thanks Aussie...



 



interesting insight with regard to whether the RAN would send a Carrier to help out "mother England"...



 



As for the Combat Air Patrol scenario you have outlined with regard to Timor, understand what you mean here - maybe Timor isn't the best example, but if the RAAF had to fly CAP over the Southern Phillipines then your carrier scenario would indeed be correct.






Baucau airport in Timor probably could have handled RAAF F/A-18 fighters, had push come to shove...

Only if the Indonesians didn't kick up before we got to ET. Even then I don't think it would have been a good idea, it would have exposed the fighters to ground action by the Indonesian military/militia.
 
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