back to article UK.gov confirms it won't be buying V-22 Ospreys for new aircraft carriers

Britain is not buying V-22 Osprey aircraft to fly from its new aircraft carriers, the government has confirmed. “The V-22 Osprey is not part of the resourced plan to deliver the UK Carrier Strike capability,” said junior defence minister Earl Howe. “However, the Ministry of Defence will continue to explore a variety of options …

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Facepalm

How to: Augment an Aircraft Carrier.

1. Put aircraft on it.

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Re: How to: Augment an Aircraft Carrier.

1. Put aircraft on it.

2. Put it on land so as to get rid of the pesky problem of having to convert the aircraft..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How to: Augment an Aircraft Carrier.

The whole thing is symptomatic of a lack of ambition within the MoD and government. The very fact that the question was asked at all shows the consequence of the myopic attitude they've had towards catapults and arrester gear.

Had they put cats and traps on then they could have used the US COD - basically a carrier capable air freighter. And instead of bolting a (quite nice) radar to the side of a helo they could have easily and cheaply put it on top of an existing fixed wing carrier capable aircraft and flown it at a higher altitude with longer endurance.

By missing the cats and traps out there's no basic fixed wing airframes that can be flown off those decks. Everything has to be stovl, immediately limiting the choice of available airframes.

They nearly did it, only to come up with an absurdly pessimistic assessment of a technology that was basically already working, and never set that against the potentially huge cost of never, ever being able to use basic support aircraft types like COD. Crazy. They decided that short term financial certainty was more important than long term operational flexibility.

They didn't have COD in the Falklands, and we're reduced to throwing essential supplies out of the back of a Hercules into the sea and fishing them out before they sank. Not easy in a south Atlantic winter storm...

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Of course the ship will be able to sail earlier -- there are now fewer aircraft to ship aboard her.

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To be fair, there have never been any plans to put Osprey on the carriers. Maybe a vague aspiration but nothing more.

Once you look at the economics and logistics of operating the Osprey it becomes a lot less attractive.

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Would they even fit on board? (On the lifts and in the hangars, I mean. Obviously they could get on deck.)

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Airctaft Carriers putting to sea

(at least with the Harriers ) generally don't have their Aircraft aboard. These flew in when the Carrier was at sea.

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@ellipsis

The USMC (and I guess Navy in the future) have designed Ospreys so the wings and rotors can fold up. Those can fit up and down the elevators on American helicopter carriers. Not sure about the size of the elevators on the British carriers.

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Re: @ellipsis

'Not sure about the size of the elevators on the British carriers.'

The elevators on the new carriers can take a Chinook so an Osprey shouldn't be a problem as they fold up.

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It's probably not even down to economics. Flying them isn't like flying or helis or like flying normal turboprop aircraft. You're gonna need special training you probably don't even need and you can't even import it from the RAF because they don't use them.

Plus yeah not for nothing forecourt cost of these things is 70 million USD regardless (and you're going to lose them because they're not exactly subtle), for capability you might not need - they didn't use them when they took out bin laden did they? Use helis with close air support provided by f-35 or other helis or jump out a plane or frankly just flatten the place and call it job done. I don't get why this is even up for discussion. UK would never try to capture bin laden (equivalent mission) he's never going to come quietly, we'd just mess his shit up with tomahawks or something.

The US has all these aircraft and is having to go out of its way to justify their purchase by finding operations for them you don't actually need them for or they're completely inappropriate for. I'd like us not to do the same thing.

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for capability you might not need - they didn't use them when they took out bin laden did they? Use helis with close air support provided by f-35 or other helis or jump out a plane or frankly just flatten the place and call it job done. I don't get why this is even up for discussion. UK would never try to capture bin laden (equivalent mission) he's never going to come quietly, we'd just mess his shit up with tomahawks or something.

As I understand it, nothing you've said here was the intended purpose of such a purchase.

As the article stated:

“long-range combat search and rescue” or “long-range high-speed delivery of mission essential spares and stores

Because of the configuration of the QE carriers - ramps instead of catapults - there is an even smaller range of aircraft than is normal for large carriers that can land on and take off from these carriers. This means many of the standard transport-type aircraft like for example the Grumman C-2 Greyhound that the US uses on their carriers for transport flights are not available for the QE carriers.

Therefore available aircraft for transport missions will be limited to helicopters such as the CH-47 or surface vessels, or other specialist aircraft that are VTOL or utilise short rolling take-off methods using a ramp. But helicopters are both much slower and have much less range than fixed-wing (or tilt rotor/wing) aircraft, which means having to come in close to shore to be able to be serviced.

The CH-47 has a range of about ~750km at ~300km/h. A V-22 has a range of ~1600km at ~450km/h, more than twice the range and 50% higher speed. Thus allowing higher-speed light-cargo/passenger delivery to the carriers further out from shore than can be accomplished with just helicopters or surface vessels.

That's what they want the V-22 for.

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Available flight hours are much less too. To keep a 24-7 radar coverage will require substantially more helos than e2's

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“long-range combat search and rescue” or “long-range high-speed delivery of mission essential spares and stores"

That's what drones are for. You can buy and operate a lot of drones for the cost of any chopper.

Immense range, lower risk to operators, high tech so keeping business happy with upgrades and replacements.

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"long-range combat search and rescue" is code for special forces ops.

"long-range high-speed delivery of mission essential spares and stores" - it's called a C-130 and they're cheaper to get off the ground, and shift more/bigger mass, faster, for way cheaper.

They're a pig to fly and easy to crash, which is why it happens often. Use a plane or use a heli, there's no requirement for in between for UK forces. There's might be for US forces but honestly I doubt it, there's a reason the US navy AND the secdef in the US were against the project - it's not really fit for purpose or really any other purpose. US army in the end smartly ran away screaming.

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The carriers were designed to fit the osprey from the outset, of course this was promised by the same BAE that said they would be built "for but not with" catapults and traps... we all know how that turned out...

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Deterrent

Like the nuclear deterrent, it is the threat that it *could* be equipped with aircraft that will deter enemy aggression ...

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'two helicopter-style fans mounted on the ends of its wings'

Just NO Corfield. Honestly fans...

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: 'two helicopter-style fans mounted on the ends of its wings'

I have no idea what you mean. Ahem. There were never any fans here.

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Joke

Re: 'two helicopter-style fans mounted on the ends of its wings'

> I have no idea what you mean. Ahem. There were never any fans here.

Obligatory XKCD.

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The V22 has a less than stellar safety record, bring back the Fairey Rotodyne

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At sea, no one cares how much noise it would have made.

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A bit drafty

Remembering that video of a landing Osprey blowing down the row of people lined up to welcome it, I couldn't see it being ideal for the air/sea rescue of some poor sod in a dinghy.

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->The V22 has a less than stellar safety record, bring back the Fairey Rotodyne

Swordfish. Much cheaper than any helicopter, very short take off and landing, low fuel consumption, reasonable operational range. Fit it with a modern engine, make it of modern composites rather than plywood and urea-formaldehyde, enclose the cockpit. Design suitable cruise missiles and torpedoes. Almost zero radar profile and if all else fails could be easily adapted to drop Galaxy Note 7s from low altitude. Avoidance of enemy fighter aircraft facilitated by helpless laughter of their pilots.

Suited to our new role in the world too.

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Stop

And it’s not as though the RN is so over-staffed that we need to procure Osprey to kill excess personnel…

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MJI
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Pint

Beat me to it

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MJI
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Re: ->The V22 has a less than stellar safety record, bring back the Fairey Rotodyne

Or another one, didn't we used to have a very effective V/STOL jet fighter?

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Re: A bit drafty

Since they use traditional helicopters for that now, and do it all the time, it's really not a big difference. Plus it's hard to haul someone up to an aircraft in forward flight, and you can't get a boat to a lot of places on the high seas fast enough in most cases. Plus, if you had to bail out of a plane into the ocean, or were escaping a sinking ship, you probably wouldn't care much about how you get rescued.

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Re: A bit drafty

A modern STOL version of the PBY Catalina might be nice. Maybe even roll it out into the water if the flight deck has a lot of traffic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ->The V22 has a less than stellar safety record, bring back the Fairey Rotodyne

"didn't we used to have a very effective V/STOL jet fighter?"

I was honestly baffled when they got rid of them. Small, useful, proven. Ideal against the kind of opposition likely to be faced today, and for the foreseeable. And, in world war 3, the only thing likely to be available after attack + 1, due to the ease of dispersal. Daffy, daffy decision.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ->The V22 has a less than stellar safety record, bring back the Fairey Rotodyne

A very modern Harrier using composite materials would be a fantastic aircraft and it would cost a lot less than the disaster that is the F35.

Ok, I am biased as I used to work for Hawkers at Dunsfold so naturally have an afficity for it.

Bring back G-VTOL....

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Fairey Rotodyne

Typical UK Gov short-termism, like later Inmos.

Even the Americans would have bought them.

Gah!

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Re: ->The V22 has a less than stellar safety record, bring back the Fairey Rotodyne

>Ok, I am biased as I used to work for Hawkers at Dunsfold so naturally have an afficity for it.

My old man used to work for Fairy, it was a sore point through the company for years that the Rotodyne was cancelled. For info they also manufactured the graphite cores of Britain's last generation of home grown nuclear reactors, the AGR.

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Re: Fairey Rotodyne

"Even the Americans would have bought them."

Not exactly. More likely they'd licence them so they can build them "in America", for 10x the price.

Most, if not all US Harriers were built that way. They *really* don't like to buy foreign weapons if they can avoid it.

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Re: ->The V22 has a less than stellar safety record, bring back the Fairey Rotodyne

Or another one, didn't we used to have a very effective V/STOL jet fighter?

The F35's spec is far better than any Harrier, and it's weapons system is phenomenally good (it needs to be to make up for the [minor] lack of agility).

They're gradually getting it working properly, once it's finished it will be awesome. It recently came out very well in a Red Flag competition, knocked everything else out of the sky.

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Re: ->The V22 has a less than stellar safety record, bring back the Fairey Rotodyne

It recently came out very well in a Red Flag competition, knocked everything else out of the sky.

So, the weather was fine (no rain, wind, warm), the 'enemy' was flying straight and the judges were blind.

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Re: A bit drafty

Yeah I saw that. Yo have to have several hundred feet exclusion zone around the landing area otherwise it just gets blown flat. Hilarious to watch.

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Re: ->The V22 has a less than stellar safety record, bring back the Fairey Rotodyne

How well does it have to do against guys in Toyota Pickups and AK-47s?

Dogfighting? Really?

The Harrier is still a relevant design and yes a modern variant using modern materials and construction methods would be a world seller.

It's like the A-10, make a revised version of that. Most of the people we have to fight against for the foreseeable future are mainly ground based.

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Re: ->The V22 has a less than stellar safety record, bring back the Fairey Rotodyne

It recently came out very well in a Red Flag competition, knocked everything else out of the sky.

You mean the last year's Red Flag competition where the Indians were assigned to the aggressor squadron and disallowed to use their radars? So that anyone actually stood a chance by being able to close in with them being blind while having full visibility. Same Red Flag where they were not allowed to turn on the ECM pods which all of the Sukhoi nowdays carry?

If it is that Red Flag, I believe the F35 still sucked rocks against the Su-30 MKI and F-16 within in visual range. The odds stacking for weapon advertisement purposes was beyond odious though. So rather unsurprisingly it showed fantastic scores against an enemy ordered to fly blind from long range. Frankly, if you had an F4 with 1960-es missiles it would have shown same score in that scenario as it was stacked one mile high in its favor.

What a fecking joke of a Red Flag by the way.

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Re: ->The V22 has a less than stellar safety record, bring back the Fairey Rotodyne

The Plastic Pig was built using mostly modern composites with metal kept for the bits that tended to get a little hot due to the big buzzy thing in the middle that kept the beast in the air.

Unfortunately someone in government was persuaded that they could get a bigger back-hander... sorry, persuaded that the F35 (which at that point could still barely fly, despite being "extensively tested" within the computers used by the designers) was a better aircraft.

Why is it that modern aircraft, designed and built entirely with modern CAD/CAM techniques and the latest materials, are a lot less reliable than the old designs drawn by hand and made by the lads in the shed out the back before they tootled off to the pub for lunch?

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Re: ->The V22 has a less than stellar safety record, bring back the Fairey Rotodyne

Quote: "Why is it that modern aircraft, designed and built entirely with modern CAD/CAM techniques and the latest materials, are a lot less reliable than the old designs drawn by hand and made by the lads in the shed out the back before they tootled off to the pub for lunch?"

It's called over engineering.

Designers of old (my Dad was one), had to work things out by hand, (my dad always used a slide-rule, and a handful of reference books). Materials science wasn't as well known/accurate then, so you'd add a bit more here and there, 'just-in-case'. A lot of this would have been gut-feeling, based on experience. My Dad designed gear-boxes and turbines for large vehicles (think quarry trucks. shipping container vessels, hi-speed trains etc.).

Theses days it's all done in the software, to the exact amount they think is needed, with little room for tolerance other than what has been asked for in the specification. I would suspect if they were to add 5% for strength/resilience, 'just-in-case' on top, the weight etc. would all go up too much, and the design would no longer meet it's targets of speed, range or whatever was needed, and of course, the cost would go up!

Old engineers built things to work, to last, and hopefully built something they (and their team) could be proud off.

Modern engineering, like so many other industries, is all about cost, period.

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Vic

Re: ->The V22 has a less than stellar safety record, bring back the Fairey Rotodyne

The F35's spec is far better than any Harrier

...But not as good as the p.1154, the Harrier's successor.

We abandoned that in 1965. That was probably a mistake, as it happens.

Vic.

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But Sir, as Admiral of the Fleet I can categorically state that I think I believe we are the Navy and we sail ships. Why would we have any need to spend money on noisy, magic, flying machines? Hoist the mainbrace and shiver-me-timbers, pass the '57 port Captain. And where's Roger ... my cabin's in need of a thorough seeing-to?

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A traditional point of view

That's almost exactly what the Captain of HMS Glorious thought back in 1940. Unfortunately for him and his crew, HMS Glorious was an aircraft carrier. Because it didn't have an air patrol up, when the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau appeared over the horizon there wasn't much to do but wait for the first big 28-cm shells to come hurtling down. Two hours and ten minutes later. HMS Glorious and her two escort destroyers had been sunk.

On the bright side, there were a few survivors. Forty-three, to be precise.

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Re: A traditional point of view

Yours is an interesting take on the battle.

Glorious had been used to transport fighter aircraft to Norway to support the ground forces there. Once it was decided to evacuate Norway the aircraft were to be destroyed, however the pilots of the Hurricanes and Gladiators pleaded with the Navy to get their aircraft back to Britain. Without these pilots ever having performed a carrier landing before and with aircraft not fitted with arrestor hooks the planes were all landed safely. This meant Glorious had no space on her deck to launch or recover aircraft as the Hurricanes could not be taken down into the hangar as their wings did not fold. This is why there were no aircraft up to spot.

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Re: A traditional point of view

Its not like they learned much regardless of circumstances, what more than a year later with Force Z. That one finally it got it through their thick skulls (guess they thought the Bismark was a fluke).

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Pirate

I believe Seamen Staines is already in the cabin

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Re: A traditional point of view

'Its not like they learned much regardless of circumstances, what more than a year later with Force Z.'

Not true, originally Force Z was to include HMS INDOMITABLE, however she was delayed about two months due to a slight collision with Jamaica during work up in the Carribean*. The threat from aircraft was well known, it was however also known that the ground forces needed naval gunfire support to hold back the Imperial Japanese Army. Much like the evacuation of Crete the RN was willing to risk ships to support the British Troops. The greater tragedy is that at the Fall of Singapore the Japanese were down to their last few hours of ammunition, for a lack of intelligence it would have been their first defeat.

The Captain of PRINCE OF WALES was seen off by his son, a Midshipman at the time, who eventually became Admiral Leach, First Sea Lord at the time of the Falklands Conflict.

*It was a brand new carrier with brand new squadrons so there was a lot of work needed to get them up to speed.

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Re: A traditional point of view

Indomitable was NOT scheduled to be present at Singapore - were she to take been so she'd have had to have left well before she ran aground in the West Indies.

Even had Indomitable been present, her air group had a single squadron of Fulmars and a single squadron of Sea Hurricanes - or in other words dead meat to the Zero. Most likely she too would have been sunk from the same torpedo strikes that sunk the Prince of Wales and Repulse.

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Re: A traditional point of view

'Indomitable was NOT scheduled to be present at Singapore'

According to people who were on her at the time she was. See 'Carrier Observer' by G Wallace or 'Sea Flight' by H Popham. As there were no Zeros present at the sinking of Force Z only bombers operating at the limits of their range Fulmars and Sea Hurricanes may well have materially affected the outcome.

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Re: A traditional point of view

Post facto "recollections" aside, she would have had to have left the West Indies at least a week if not two prior to when she ran aground in order to reach Singapore in time.

The Japanese first detected the PoW and Repulse with a recon flight. Had any fighters been present (or a carrier spotted) then Zero's would have been sent along to make mincemeat of the Fulmars and Hurricanes.

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