Hints are emerging that the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers may be equipped with innovative electromagnetic catapults in order to operate cheaper aircraft as part of the ongoing, behind-closed-doors UK defence and security review/cuts process. An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Pukin Dogs of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA …
Some matsh on flywheels
To store the 66MJ as stated above you need a flywheel of about 600kg at about 25k RPMish, you can already get electrical storage flywheels like that. Would need top reduce the RPM though, so a bigger flywheel at lower RPM would be better.
As to gyroscopics. Can you image a 2000kg flywheel having much of an effect on a a ship with a displacement of 100k tons? Would need good bearings though.
And of course, when in use the ship will be facing in to the wind going in a straight line. Because that's what you do when launching planes. No turning required.
This talk of flywheels is reminding me of a possibly apocryphal story about a warship with a very early computer (1950s?) on board. Said computer had a very large, very heavy magnetic drum storage device. When the ship changed heading, alas, the magnetic drum didn't...
Same argument as always...
...the Type 45 was built (at an inflated price natch!) to defend the carriers and the fleet.
I defo think the magnetic launch is good, it must be cheaper, if you can do it in a theme park then you are halfway there. Plus would make an awesome waterslide/ride!
Or just the AR bit?
It's possible that they're looking at the idea of fitting arrestor gear to get around the "bring back" problems associated with the STOVL "ski jump" approach.
An F35B with a hook on the end would be able to perform a short takeoff and an arrested landing with no expensive (and currently non-existant) electropult carrier refit required. Arrestor gear works on wires 'n hydraulic dampers, requiring no power bar that required to "rewind" it.
They could just be training for "traps", with any catapult takeoffs in there purely 'cos in order to practice landings it's also necessary to perform an equivalent number of takeoffs.
Pirate, 'cos of the nautical connection and, of course, "AR"......
No, they're looking at CATOBAR so they can spend less money by buying cheaper F/A-18E/F Super Hornets instead of F-35Bs. As Lewis says, it also allows the use of E-2s for AEW, instead of some AEW version of the V-22 that doesn't exist yet and we couldn't afford anyway.
This vertical landing stuff needs close attention to be paid to the weight of the aircraft. And there are a lot of differences to the fuselage structure.
I really hope the fuselage is strong enough to take the load of the landing, or you might have some rather odd-looking aircraft skidding over the bow.
I doubt it can be done at this stage of the aircraft development, but it doesn't look so daft an idea.
Cameron cuts and the new aircraft carrier(s)
With Cameron trying to out do Thatcher it might come down to catapults OR aircraft.
Last time it was destroyers running around with their main armament missing until they scraped the Euro's together.
This time there is an alternative. Install the catapults and whilst they save up for aircraft they could use the catapults to launch bloody great rocks at the enemy. Rocks are cheaper, too.
Not to make it all political but...
Four Words - 1966 Defence White Paper :p
Also - the T45's missing PAAMS were nothing to do with Thatcher, I hardly think it's fair to blame her for that :P
Or do you mean Sea Dart on the 42's, which I'm pretty positive was in place from launch?
"With Cameron trying to out do Thatcher it might come down to catapults OR aircraft."
What a great idea, we could just fling shit from the UK. Old knackered cash for clunkers etc.
"Stop that right now you nasty 3rd-World oppressor with huge hydrocarbon resources or we'll start flinging Austin Princesses at you"
An electro-magnetic catapult? But won't any plane (made out of a LOT of metal) just stick to it at the end of the runway..?? :-\
A few very quick points
I hope you are being sarcastic, but if not.
1) Most planes have very little ferrous metal in them. A huge number of modern military jets are largely carbon fibre. Undercarriage are usually magnesium or similar. Metal used is usually aluminium, or other low weight high strength metals. You have to start looking in the engine to find any decent amount of ferrous metal, and that is a long way away from the catapult.
2) You do realise how fast you can switch off an electromagnetic field?
3) This isn't going to be some Wile E Coyote special with a huge horseshoe magnet on a bit of string with a rock you drop off the end of the ship. You play with electromagnetic fields to fire a shuttle along a track. Kind of a fast version of Maglev trains. When you last went on a Maglev train, did you find the nails in your shoes, your watch or your belt buckle stuck to the train?
Good point, but...
aren't the planes mainly made of ceramics, non-ferrous metals and carbon-fibre these days?
Well they don't have much choice... They decided to go with a gas turbine driven design ship, so they don't have any steam to drive the regular steam driven launch system (which was actually invented by a Brit!). Why they didn't go with years of experience and user Nuclear I will never know.
Basically they painted themselves into a corner.
UK Policy is not to have nuclear powered surface ships. I don't think this is actually the RN's choice but foisted on them by generations of politicians/civil servants. A non-nuke ship does have more options for port visits, but even if the policy was reversed now it's too late for the carriers what with large chunks of them actually being welded together even as I type.
No nukes for carriers
Perhaps we're saving our "nuclear material allowance" from the yanks for new Tridents?
Now there's an investment.
The EM field is well under the deck away from the aircraft
Yes, the shoe dragging the aircraft would be in a channel under the deck.
It is that channel under the deck where the linear drive electric catapult motor would be.
I imagine it has to be well shielded from the aircraft's avionics. That should be no problem.
It's the weight...
EMALS is significantly lighter than the steam system, has fewer moving parts, takes up less space, is infinitly adjustable (even during the launch), can be reset for different types of aircraft quicker than steam systems, and takes fewer people to operate and maintain. Those are what are supposed to be the benefits of converting...assuming it actually does work. US trials are in full-weight toss testing, using weighted sleds on a land-based test system. It doesn't seem to be too far behind the needed timeline, or too far over projected costs, yet.
Go, because isn't it time to move beyond steam power?
Chemical drive catapult would be an option
Basically a plunger with an explosive charge.
Yes I was making a joke.
Thanks for taking the time to point out the silliness of it though ;-)
Still a little way to go...
While Electro Catapults are a great idea, we are a little away from realising there potential. The Converteam one was only a proof of concept and at present has only launched lightweight drones.
Scaling it up to reliably launch a fighter, never mind a AEW aircraft is going to take considerable engineering so I would be surprised if there was one available for the launch of the carrier.
What a surprise, an anti-RAF article by LP!! He really can’t let the fact that the RAF would not hire him as a pilot go can he.
The RAF does not care if the Navy get some good toys like the FA18 (the F35 is over hyped and will be a jack of all trades, master of none) as they will love to fly against modern aircraft like that. By the time whatever new carrier aircraft come into service (assuming they don’t get cut) the Typhoon will be in full serivce, even if in reduced number, and capable of both Air Defence and Ground Attack above the standards of the F18 anyway.
The worry should be the skill fade inflicted on all the Navy fast jet pilots who no longer fly air defence aircraft or associated missions. The Navy will be reliant on the RAF re-teaching them those skills which I have no doubts the RAF will be happy to oblige as the petty inter service squabbles are mostly in LPs head.
RE: Anti-RAF again
Yes, Lewis even conveniently forgot to mention that RAF Tornados have been thrashing F/A-18s in NATO bombing exercises for years. A hooked Typhoon would be faster and more capable than an F/A-18, especially in the airCAP role primarily required to secure the airspace around the fleet, and it looks like we will have a number of spare Typhoons. And for all the people saying the navalised Typhoon program was stopped, there is nothing too major in starting it again, and navalising the Typhoon would probably be easier than integrating the F/A-18 into the RN seeing as we already have a supplychain and servicing capability in the RAF for Typhoons. In fact, the RAF would probably like that as it would give them even more control over the RN aircraft.
I do agree with Lewis that the old Hawkeye is the best off-the-shelf naval AWACS option. But, I suspect we would end up with some hideous compromise based around a navalised Sentinel R1 ASTOR as a cop-out under the Future Organic Airborne Early Warning project. I suspect the SeaKing ASaC7s to carry on in the meantime as it's likely any new carrier will also carry ASW SeaKings for local ASW patrols, and if Cameron gives the Future Organic Airborne Early Warning project the chop I suspect it will then be a straight fight between Hawkeyes and the ASaC7s, with the SeaKings seen as "good enough but cheaper". I think the RN would accept ASaC7s as it would also give the Type 45s more of a reason to exist.
/Yeaarrrghh, of course.
How have those Tornadoes been ....
doing against the Hornets in Air to Air?
RE: How have those Tornadoes been ....
"..... doing against the Hornets in Air to Air?" Good enough, much better than most people realise, especially given the advantages the original F3 had over the original F-18 - four long-range AAMs to the F-18's two when carrying tanks and better speed, especially at low level. The move to AMRAAM has finally given the F/A-18 some combat persistance, as long as it doesn't need to carry tanks. The Typhoon is simply a different class to the SuperHornet in air-combat, it's like comparing one fo the new, fat and over-hyped MINIs to a Formula 1 car (and no, the F/A-18 is the fat and over-hyped one).
I hope that being hurled from a huge eletromagnetic trebuchet (I wanted the French word for the "pun" of it) won´t erase any credit cards. I've heard a story or two about soldiers getting their hands on "useful resources" because they had either Amex , Visa, or Mastercard with them during a tight spot. Not everybody is at war, and some people are up for profit, you know. Not to mention a movie gag or two.
Plus you must make sure your planes are made of metal. At least most of it, and not some fancy composite like carbon fiber. Steam will push anything at all, it doesn´t need to be always metal.
And yes, I never leave without my CCs, check the coat pocket.
By shuttle, not magnet..
The aircraft will be launched via a shuttle holding the nose gear. The EMALS system uses an electro-magnetic rail that the shuttle moves along. Aside from being able to handle the stresses associated with a 6G launch, it doesn't matter what the aircraft is made of.
There is no way the UK is going to buy F-18s
The article is nonsense.
There is no way the UK is going to buy F-18s - an aircraft originally designed in the 1970s. Eurofighter and F-35 are both a generation ahead of the F-18.
You say Eurofighter was "designed as a pure air-defence platform" - No it wasn't. It's optimised for air defence but the design includes a significant air to ground capability.
Current F18 is the Super Hornet, a half generation ahead of the original F18
The current F18 is the Super Hornet, a half generation ahead of the original F18. It only entered service with the USN in 1999, and finally replaced the Tomcat in 2006.
I assume that is what LP was referring to.
The Royal Australian Airforce ordered some F/A 18E/F in 2007 and are only beginning to receive them now.
So they are not an obsolete by any means.
Re: There is no way the UK is going to buy F-18s
> You say Eurofighter was "designed as a pure air-defence platform" -
> No it wasn't. It's optimised for air defence but the design includes
> a significant air to ground capability.
Which the Germans who have no interest in mud-moving have dilly-dallied over implementing for so long that its capability for dropping things is more than ten years overdue. Hence the lack of Typhoons supporting the lads out in Afghanistan.
Not that the German record on kitting other things in the sky is much better. Remember the debacle over the accuracy of the cannon as an A-A weapon? it's so bad that the RAF actually refused to fire it and are carrying round a perfectly good cannon as ballast.
No wonder they call it British Waste-of-space.
The reason the Typhoon is not in Afghansistan is because the RAF do not have enough airframes and crew to support it along with QRA both in Blighty and the Falklands.
Who says the RAF are not using or will not use the canon? Got a source other than PPrune or E-Goat?
The more things change, the more they stay the same...
Takes me back a few years, the expensive, state of the art Hawker Hunter was in competition with the cheap as chips Folland Gnat for an RAF fighter gig. Some folks (esp Teddy Petter, designer of the Gnat) figured that it was better to have more cheap fighters, than a few expensive ones.
The RAF of course, went for the 'fighter that Harrods would sell you', rather than the Gnat (they converted the Gnat into a trainer, and it became famous as the 'ride' of the Red Arrows). Some time later, the cheap Gnat consistently thrashed more expensive fighters in a war in the sub continent.
2 air groups of F-18 is better than 1 air group of F-35 in my humble opinion.... And the Hawkeye to seal the deal. Lewis is probably right, just this once.
Actually the F18E is a fairly comprehensively upgraded beast...
- not really the same as a F18A/B/C/D at all.
Semi stealthy , larger fuel fraction etc.
What a *possible* weapon.
Granted you have to point the whole ship but what sort of "takeoff" speed would say a 10Kg projectile achieve.
Quite high I'm guessing.
Radar LoS problems
A little off topic, but if you want to see over the horizon, why not float some large balloons with the needed radar gear up a couple kilometers? You'd see as far or further than you would with an aircraft, would have "infinite" loiter time, cheap and replaceable operation. The whole radar beacon thing might be a problem, but if you were in a hot zone you could untether them and let them float away while sending data back for a couple hours.
The US border partol did something similar: http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/airdef/tars.htm
Ballons are out near hostile territory
Balloons are out near hostile territory because they can be brought down by home built radio controlled aircraft.
An AWACS can go even higher.
The normal operating altitude of an E-2 AWACS is about 7.5km. At that height, it can detect planes and the like from over 300km away and covers a pretty sizable expanse of land or sea. Not only that, AWACS tend to operate some distance in front from the carrier group, where its early warning capability is best employed. Such a platform cannot be duplicated reliably by a floating apparatus; not to mention an aircraft can actually MOVE in response to situations.
...and repeat, ad nauseum
I've said it before and I'll say it again. It makes little difference what we do - if the US dont invade us the chinese will and whatever crates the RAF/RN end up flying makes not a jot of difference.
We havent been a world power since arguably before the 1900s - its unlikely that we will be again any time soon. We've sold off most of our manufacturing infrastructure to a mixture of the chinese and the US anyway...
To quote Terry Pratchett -
Let others boast of martial dash
For we have boldly fought with cash
We own all your helmets, we own all your shoes
We own all your generals - touch us and you'll lose.
The trouble is it will be other people singing that at us - assuming that we can understand them and they can understand english humour (and it hasnt been burnt for being anti-communist etc).
If all the money that is spent bitching and whining alone about what the military are going to able to do was used constructively on projects to enhance life other than destroy it at least we might have a nice life up until whoever it happens to be invades us and impales dead babies on sticks...
Because whatever else you think you can believe this - if there is some sort of global conflict in the near future the chances of these sceptred isles being anything more than a smoking crater with old crusties wandering the countryside telling trees "this ere used to be the ci-ty of Lon Don" is about equal with the chance of Reichsfuhrer David von Cameron having a sex change...
And as for Trident? not so much a white elephant as a borderline psychotic Elasmotherium is sitting in the corner of my room mommy....
We are not in that league, however much we may want to be, and we still havent learned the lessons of the war we 'won'. Our transport infrastructure is old and falling apart, we dont have enough housing... we are fighting a war on drugs & on terror that are a national disgrace... and we wanna build some nuclear submarines so we can go play in the swimming pool with the big boys... *sigh*
"We havent been a world power since arguably before the 1900s"
In WWI we had the World's largest navy by far. From a simple internet search...
"By early 1914 the Royal Navy had 18 modern dreadnoughts (6 more under construction), 10 battlecruisers, 20 town cruisers, 15 scout cruisers, 200 destroyers, 29 battleships (pre-dreadnought design) and 150 cruisers built before 1907. "
I'd say that is the armaments of a World power.
Just for the record, w.t.f would the Chinese or Americans invade?
I think you need to calm down a get back to your Greenham Common campsite or wherever it is you "we don't need a military" types hang out these days.
I suggest you read your history - the British empire was already well on the way to unraveling before 1900 - the only problem was generally that nobody really noticed because they were too busy playing canasta. I mention the various revolts in India for example - not to mention the disaster that was Afghanistan 1842 (and who says history doesn't repeat itself). You can almost imagine
Elphinstone "I'm not a man to make up my mind ..."
Blackadder "yes, we've noticed that..."
And there, what a nice boy, you've saved me my old breath. While it is true we did have a large navy - the majority of the capital units were outdated pre-dreadnoughts (so no change there then) alot of which could just about manage 15 knots on a good day against a Kaiserliche Marine that was all new vessels, most of which were equal or better than their comparative units in the RN. Oh and should I mention that 3 of our cruisers were taken out in the space of 20 minutes by one submarine.. a unit in which the RN was severely lacking - and what they did have were generally petrol/electric boats that were more of danger to their crew than anything else bar the odd haddock, not to mention that some of those cruisers in outlying areas still were rigged for sail no less and alot of them were stuck in the back end of nowhere and as such utterly useless. And I probably should keep quiet about the part where in the one decent sea battle in the whole war at least two of our ships spontaneously exploded because of bad design (a design carried over into HMS Hood that did its own firework impression 20 years later)- and the German battlecruiser Seydlitz took 21 main calibre hits, one torpedo hit and several secondary battery hits - took on 5000 tonnes of water and yet still managed to get home under her own power. Made my point yet?
The sole reason we were able to hold some semblance of world power was that navy and I suggest you have a look at the naval treaties of 1922 to find out what happened to it afterwards. Spurious, Curious and Outrageous anyone?...
The Chinese would be more than happy to invade both Europe and Russia should they be pushed to that point - while they have some resources that we need, we have some that they need. If a trade war develops they are in a much better position than we are should it turn 'hot' - and by we I mean the whole of Europe and to a lesser extent Russia. Last time I looked the British isles was part of Europe. To be frank the Chinese already own alot of our manufacturing base either through direct takeovers (MG/Rover) or background investment. The fact that the other communist power has collapsed has made them more dangerous not less - and the way their economy is growing plus the fact that the communist government there is still very militaristic and very much in control means they have both the resources and the underlying will to squish us like a bug should they so wish.
It can be argued that the US have already invaded - since most of our 'defense' is at their beck and call anyway or was - why do you think so many air force bases shut down in the last 10-20 years - thats right - the Americans didn't need them since there wasn't a cold war any more and we couldn't afford to run them.
And no, I am not a pacifist, but neither am I an idiot... a good commander knows when to commit forces and how to withdraw them when they know they are being wasted. As it stands the only way Europe could hope to win a war against china is if the USA assisted and we collectively went more into hock with them and I honestly doubt, considering the way the PHB's are sniping at each other since the 2008 crisis that there will be any chance of that - at least within a timeframe that might have an effect. It makes not a jot of difference if your plane is better than the ones attacking you, if there is one of you and 30 of them, you are going to lose - a lesson learned in Russia circa 1942.
You must be kidding...
Sure, the British fleet in WWI had many outdated ships, but it wsas twice the size of the next largest 2 navies put together. That was the British naval doctrine.
There were revolts and trouble, but the British Empire (the largest the world had ever seen, remember, by any measure) was, in the main, at peace. And it lasted a fair bit after 1918 too. Whatever many Americans believe, they didn't win the war themselves, and the British bankrupted the largest empire the world has ever seen to fight a war *on a point of principle*. Easy to forget, that (and I'm Irish - trust me when I say that our history books don't paint the British Empire in the nicest of lights).
As for Europe - you paint that tired old picture of a failing, decaying continent that can't keep up. It is simply not true. The European Union members, for historical reasons, are very reluctant to militarize. And no-one really wants them to, either. If you look at Europe as a whole, it's a superpower, but it's fragmented at the moment and the other powers like it that way. It's a sleeping giant, and no-one really wants it to wake up.
Frigates and detroyers for cocktail parties?
Aircraft carriers are even better for cocktail parties - all that hangar space.
Been there, done that, got laid
Who needs AEW heloes or planes
Give the job to a stealthy UAV. Remember that article on Taranis?
"well-equipped enemy air defences"
Presumably crewed by Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Man Friendly Lesbians, since we're about as likely to encounter them in any potential target.
Longevity of F18?
So how well would even recent ('super') versions of the F18 be expected to hold up in a carrier-defence/ground-attack role over the next 20-30 years? It's a 30-year-old airframe already; seems to me it'd be hard-pushed to get near even recent Russian fighters, let alone the kind of thing that may appear over the life of these carriers? Said recent Russian fighters could be appearing all over the place before too long. The F35 at least has stealth…
@"Why not balloons"?
A couple of reasons that I can think of:
The size of balloon required to shift the radar platform, the time to inflate, the strength of the winch and the thickness of the cable required to keep the balloon under control, and the storage space required for all of this.
Further, the balloon can only float above the carrier, and since it's a huge, visible radar signal what it's basically doing is advertising to the enemy the precise location of the enemy carrier group, whereas an aircraft can stand 100 miles or so away.
You could ofcourse buy a dozen cheap freighters with plenty of capacity and have them sail around the carrier 100s of miles away.
I'd hate to be responsible for getting an electromagnetic catapult through the EMC testing. I wonder how far away a launch could be detected/pinpointed. You'd probably find that any hostile submarine in the area (and subs can be pretty hard to find if they're trying to hide) would be able to use it as a homing beacon unless it's well-shielded.
We could always go Euro and buy Rafale's off Dassault?
Oh wait a minute, couldn't we have done that ages ago instead of developing Typhoon? But no, we threw a strop because the French wanted design authority, wanted to keep the weight down to operate off their small-ish carrier and wanted a single engine. I can appreciate the twin engine bit, but at least Rafale is in service (though it did get fat!) ! Meanwhile we eventually get an even more over budget plane that's useless as a ground pounder which is what we need now, unless we fork out even more to the Preston mafia.
We could always navalise Typhoon I suppose? Ok, maybe not...
About the Rafale
Rafale is twin-engined, though less powerful than the Typhoon. And it will get an active (AESA) radar sooner than the Typhoon. Navalising the Typhoon has already been envisaged, but abandoned because of huge expected costs (too much redesign needed). Both are no slouch compared to their US counterparts (except the radar). Many discussions about both aircraft (and all others...) on KeyPublishing forums.
Afraid I'm going to have to call you up on some points there;
The RN of 1914 had many, many dreadnoughts, from the original 1906 12-inch HMS Dreadnought, and three classes of very similar ships (about 12 ships IIRC), to 20 so-called "super-dreadnoughts" that followed HMS Orion, carrying 13.5-inch guns, including the superlative 15-inch gunned Queen Elizabeths that were fast enough to accompany Beatty's battlecruisers at Jutland. The many pre-dreadnoughts were used in less intensive affairs such as the Dardanelles campaign and HMS Canopus was involved in the Falklands battle hunting Gneisenau and Scharnhorst under von Spee.
The Kaiser's navy, on the other hand, was composed of about 15-20 dreadnoughts, usually carrying 12-inch armament, and indeed I believe they sailed into Jutland with pre-dreadnoughts in Scheer's High Seas Fleet, whereas the British did not have any, just dreadnoughts.
Another area of comparison is the design aim of the ships - the British Empire still spanned a lot of territory so they designed far ranging ships of superior sea worthiness, range and endurance, whereas the Kaiser's ships were generally considered to be sturdily built, but as a consequence of that lacking the legs or comfort for crews to go on extended sorties. They were designed to fight in the confined spaces of the North Sea close to safe harbour, whereas the Royal Navy had to choose to weaken protection for extended range in protecting the Empire's trade. Sir Jackie Fisher, who created the concept of the dreadnought, went on to create the battlecruiser, designed to outrun what she couldn't outgun, and outgun anything that could catch her. These ships were woefully underarmoured, and the final designs such as HMS Furious were armed with the most massive 18-inch guns, but barely 3 inches of armour on the main belt!
During the Battle Of Jutland, Indefatigable, Queen Mary and Invincible were all lost to catastrophic explosions, but it has been shown that the designed "best practice" was not being followed, as highly explosive cordite was stored everywhere for ease of access and the flashguards were removed, something that cannot be blamed on the ship design, but rather the all-out aggressiveness of the Royal Navy ever since the time of Nelson. One major problem that Beatty had during the early phase of the battle when he lost two ships was he was firing at Hipper's dimly sighted battlecruisers whilst being silloutted by the setting sun, a most unfavourable situation, but his entire purpose was to draw the German fleet into Jellicoe's Grand Fleet which he did superbly. Jellicoe managed to deploy his fleet to cross the "T" of the opponent, but Scheer's fantastical "Scheer Turn" saved his own fleet, combined with the distraction of the suicidal Death Ride of Hipper's battlecruisers, which they got away with due to the closing darkness and Royal Navy communications incompetence.
HMS Hood's situation was just bad luck IMHO, sending an old ship out against the Bismark. Hood was never seriously upgraded like many other ships, as she was out showing the flag everywhere, so she never got the increased armour, redesigned protection schemes and uprated machinery that other vessels got, the most extreme of which was HMS Warspite, who was basically a new ship afterwards! I agree with the thought that it was the secondary armament that caused the explosion on her - her 5.5-inch guns were still the old-style single, non-turreted emplacements, with the ammunition feeds being essentially open to all and sundry. It was unfortunate that Admiral Holland refused Captain Leach's offer to let his newer, much more heavily protected HMS Prince Of Wales to take the lead in closing with the Bismark and Prinz Eugen, as a KGV-class battleship could probably have come through the battle as the main target better than the old lady of the fleet...
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