back to article She's arrived! HMS Queen Lizzie enters Portsmouth Naval Base

Britain’s newest warship, its biggest warship of all time, HMS Queen Elizabeth, entered Portsmouth Harbour for the first time this morning. The 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier entered the port at 0710 this morning under the watchful eye of half a dozen tugboats, a small flotilla of police vessels - and crowds of thousands lining …

Don't you mean microwales

The whole point of the reg standards is easy visualisation. Surely when you say the carrier is 10% of the same of waves, you'd stop and think... That doesn't sound right?

It's 0.94 microwales! Not 0.94 wales!

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Re: Don't you mean microwales

I was starting to worry there, if it was almost 1% the size of a small country you'd have to ask why we kept Wales around.

Although it is 4% of the area of the Vatican...

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Fine photo

Hats off to the cameraman

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MAF
Happy

Re: Fine photo

Did he use a drone?

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MrT
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Re: Fine photo

Friend of a friend on Facebook posted this one down in Gosport as HMS QE passed the the Spinnaker Tower - larger version here... It nicely shows the five Merlins on deck.

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Re: Fine photo

She's a beautiful subject. Hats off to all involved in her creation and operation.

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Anonymous Coward

Genuine question

...as we've all seen the issue with having / not having catapults and being forced to buy stupidly expensive aircraft.

Would it have made more economical sense to just make it bigger?

Would adding (retro-fitted) catapults + cheaper aircraft been cheaper than no catapults and expensive aircraft?

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Devil

Re: Genuine question

I figured out a solution. We have two problems

1) We bought two ships are barely have enough stuff to run one of them

2) the ships are not long enough normal planes to take off from, and cannot be retrofitted with cat and trap for any reasonable cost (for some reason the contract didn't specify a "reasonable cost" when requiring retrofitting as an option..).

The solution is simple. Just dock the two ships together to provide one, longer runway!

Edit: For reference, the combined length would be 560m,

Specification and Dimensions Eurofighter Typhoon

Service ceiling 18290 m (60,000 ft)

Time to 10600m/Mach 1.5 < 2,5 min

Runway length 500 m (take off under 8 seconds)

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Re: Genuine question

Adding cats and traps would've doubled the cost as BAE are involved.

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Re: Genuine question

You couldn't make it bigger and build/keep it in the UK, there aren't the facilities big enough.

However it is big enough to have catapults and arrestor gear fitted so that's wasn't the issue. There were issues with the untested nature of the equipment that would have been fitted, it's only just entered service on the Gerald Ford. Additionally when it was said the carriers should be built 'for but not with'* catapult equipment that was a bit vague so BAE just left lots of big spaces under the flight deck, when they were asked to actually do it the cost estimate rapidly went up, presumably because they had no expertise in the matter.

Conventional carrier aircraft aren't as much cheaper as you'd think if you look at total cost of ownership, the F-35C version isn't that cheap anyway, but even with the F/A-18E which can't carry as much as an F-35B from a carrier, it's hampered by the requirement to return to the ship with a greater fuel load to allow for missed approaches. You don't get missed approaches with a VSTOL aircraft so the F-35B can return with less fuel in reserve. Conventional carrier aircraft also take a lot of abuse in the take-off landing phase so tend to wear out at a similar rate to VSTOL ones, there's actually a limit on the number of carrier launches and recoveries they can do before they're restricted to land bases.

Although there's a valid argument to be made for having better enabling aircraft, e.g. tankers, AEW, etc. realistically the MoD can't afford to add more aircraft types to its inventory anyway.

*A lot of UK defence equipment is like that.

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Re: One ship, not two

We bought two ships...

No, you've bought one operational ship for the price of two.

The Royal Navy already know they will only get 50% uptime from their new toy; and that's before it's encountered the real world...

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Re: Genuine question

Although there's a valid argument to be made for having better enabling aircraft, e.g. tankers, AEW, etc. realistically the MoD can't afford to add more aircraft types to its inventory anyway.

This was a key argument, and does somewhat hamper possible operations.

The other thing though is to consider joint ops and end-of-life.

1. Big Lizzie is conventionally powered, not nuclear. In the past we have sold vessels at EOL to other nations (including carriers). Not being nuclear (which eliminates any proliferation issues), that possibility existed with the Elizabeth Class vessels except that without cats and traps, the only possible buyers would be people both allowed to purchase and inclined to operate F35B. No chance (for instance) of flogging it to India who might operate MiG-29Ks off her. Same happened with the Invincible carriers - no use to anyone who didn't want to fly Harriers off them (or have a glorified helicopter carrier).

2. Much talk was made when they were being laid down of doing joint-ops with France and working with allied forces. Without cats and traps we can engage in joint ops with precisely one ally - the USMC (and possibly Italy if they go ahead with their order).

Would joint-ops have happened? Maybe, possibly not - probably just politicians doing their thing. But it does hamper the flexibility, and even if we were not operating fixed wing Tankers/Cargo/AWACs ourselves, it would permit say, transfers between US and British vessels via Greyhound or sharing resources as part of a joint taskforce.

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Re: One ship, not two

No, you've bought one operational ship for the price of two.

The Royal Navy already know they will only get 50% uptime from their new toy; and that's before it's encountered the real world..

Which is rather good value if they can make it work considering they normally come in threes. One in deep maintenance, one on stand-by, one at-sea/deployed.

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Re: Genuine question

From 2013:

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/02/06/defence_committee_carrier_badness/

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Re: Genuine question

'Much talk was made when they were being laid down of doing joint-ops with France and working with allied forces. Without cats and traps we can engage in joint ops with precisely one ally - the USMC (and possibly Italy if they go ahead with their order).'

Joint-Ops doesn't mean the aircraft have to operate from the other countries carrier, in fact there's only about one instance of this happening when HMS VICTORIOUS operated alongside the USS SARATOGA in WW2 and the US fighters went to the RN ship and the RN bombers went to the US one. Taking off and landing on the other countries ship is only a minor part of it, you'd need to transfer all your engineering staff and equipment across as well which frankly isn't worth the hassle*. So joint ops in the sense of both carriers in the same task group, yes, in the sense of Aeronavale aircraft operating from the RN's decks on an enduring basis, some politician's pipe dream.

Re the US Greyhound, they're being phased out in favour of a specialised version of the Osprey, so they could happily drop stores off on an RN carrier. They can even carry more further which I found surprising.

*I'm not sure the regulations even allow you to use spare parts from another countries supply chain without a lot of paperwork.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Genuine question

No chance (for instance) of flogging it to India who might operate MiG-29Ks off her.

Mig-29K do not require cats - "just" the arrestors. Presumably these would be easier to retrofit than a cat if it came to that.

Given that you can get eight Mig-29Ks for the price of a single F-35B, and that aside from the radar cross-section the two aircraft have very similar performance and operational capabilities, it may actually make economic and military sense to ditch the 35B, buy a full complement of 29Ks for both carriers, use some of the cost savings to add the arrestors and bank the rest.

Not that it is ever going to happen.

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Re: Genuine question

'Given that you can get eight Mig-29Ks for the price of a single F-35B'

Your plan would make sense if, and it's a big one, the MiG-29K wasn't appallingly put together. The CinC of the Indian Navy has recently made a lot of complaints about the quality of the aircraft, including sub-par engines and an airframe that needs a deep service after an arrested landing.

Who'd have thought Russian build quality wouldn't be that good?

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Re: Genuine question

Fortunately after Brexit, India will have a cheap 3rd world country to offshore the maintenance to

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Re: Genuine question

> Mig-29K do not require cats - "just" the arrestors. Presumably these would be easier to retrofit than a cat if it came to that.

There's supposedly a plan for a more powerful Typhoon engine which will give it an extremely short take off roll.

I reckon they could slap some rockets on it though...

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MJI
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Re: Genuine question

Easier to stop and land, then it is to land then stop

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Genuine question

Your plan would make sense if, and it's a big one, the MiG-29K wasn't appallingly put together.

Fair enough. On the other hand, Russians are also perfectly willing to let large buyers to build their hardware locally under a licence (witness Shenyang J-11). That would channel a large fraction of the cost back into the UK economy, let the UK control the build quality to any desired standard, plus guarantee that it would be able to maintain and operate the fighters independently of the Russians or anybody else.

Again, that would make too much sense so it won't ever happen.

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Re: Genuine question

'On the other hand, Russians are also perfectly willing to let large buyers to build their hardware locally under a licence'

I suspect they wouldn't be that keen on letting the UK licence build Russian hardware even if we wanted to, geo-politics and all that.

As an aside, they weren't that happy when the Chinese broke the terms of their licence to make better versions of the Su-27.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Genuine question

"You don't get missed approaches with a VSTOL aircraft so the F-35B can return with less fuel in reserve."

Only one problem with that, to be light enough to land you have to dump all your ammunition and any spare fuel in the sea each time.

At the time they commissioned them they knew they were a waste of money.

Politicians are just fucking idiots

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FAIL

Re: Genuine question

The Harrier had to ditch stores, the F-35B won't need to.

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Re: Genuine question

We've had this discussion before. Sod the F35, let's just build a shitload of Sea Hornets (with a modern radar).

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Trollface

Re: Genuine question

"Adding cats and traps would've doubled the cost as BAE are involved."

"Adding cats and flaps would've doubled the cost as BAE are involved."

There - FIFY.

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Re: Genuine question

in fact there's only about one instance of this happening when...

SkippyBing, don't you fell outnumbered here? There's a few people know their facts, history, have relevant experience (well, "few"="one", perhaps), and then there's the rest of the Commentariat, who if I'm honest aren't doing themselves proud today?

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Re: Genuine question

The Harrier had to ditch stores, the F-35B won't need to.

That's true. But on the downside, after each F-35B landing, the carrier needs to ditch its warped deck.

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Re: Genuine question

There are serious limitations in the payload if you dont have catapults.

That said, using catapults and arrestor gear does comulative stress damage to the plane.

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Re: Genuine question

At the time they commissioned them they knew they were a waste of money.

Politicians are just fucking idiots

On the contrary, they are brilliant at spending taxpayers' money with their backers.

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Re: Genuine question

'SkippyBing, don't you fell outnumbered here?'

I spend the day surrounded by the Army so I've got used to it!

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Mig-29K do not require cats - "just" the arrestors. Presumably these would be easier to retrofit than a cat if it came to that.

True, but they'd also have to convert her to an angled flight deck, otherwise if a plane misses the traps, it's landing gear could impact the ski-jump at 150+ mph which wouldn't do it a lot of good.

Fortunately after Brexit, India will have a cheap 3rd world country to offshore the maintenance to

I'd say we're already cheaper than India, given that the construction cost of the INS Vikrant has almost exceeded the QE carriers despite being 2/3 the size.

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Doesn't the landing gear impact the ski jump at 150mph+ on every takeoff?

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Re: Genuine question

Sod the F35, let's just build a shitload of Sea Hornets (with a modern radar).

If the route is dump the F-35's the route might as well be lets just build for a crapload of drones and call it job done. It's about projecting the power to dump armaments precisely on targets anyway, they're not for air-to-air engagements (this is why you have carrier groups so you never have to).

Carry drones on ships (which can now be smaller and thus cheaper) and have more of them than a compliment of F35's on a carrier. I'd always been a proponent of UK carriers right up until this occurred to me - why even bother having manned attack aircraft on naval vessels in the 21st century?

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Re: Genuine question

Would it have been sensible not to have started the whole debacle in the first place and spent the money on something useful like education and health?

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Re: Genuine question

it would be more todo with the UK not needing rubbish planes because BAE built the best which is the eurofighter and only needs 300m to take off

the f35 is rubbish and only used for basic operations

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Re: Genuine question

'BAE built the best which is the eurofighter and only needs 300m to take off'

Is that 300m with a full weapons load, just air-to-air missile, or for a flying display? The latter is great and all but not really why people buy combat aircraft.

The Typhoon also suffers the slight issue that due to the angle of attack on finals to land the pilot wouldn't actually be able to see the aircraft carrier. Oh and the undercarriage would come through the wings doing a carrier landing.

But I'm sure BAE could sort those problems out for a very minor fee...

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'Doesn't the landing gear impact the ski jump at 150mph+ on every takeoff?'

It does, but you'll note the design of the ramp gives a gradual change in pitch, rather than the angle of the deck changing instantaneously. This was thought through before it was introduced back in the Harrier days as obviously you want to minimise any deceleration to the aircraft. Although the Sea Harrier had a slightly longer nose leg Spain, Italy, and occasionally the UK operated the regular Harrier from ski ramps without any issues.

I did read somewhere that the top of the ramp is designed to let the nose leg decompress naturally rather than just ending, to avoid a change in pitch as the aircraft leaves the ramp.

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Re: Genuine question

'why even bother having manned attack aircraft on naval vessels in the 21st century?'

Bandwidth

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Re: Genuine question

Mig-29K do not require cats

Come on, every ship, including massive 'aircraft' carriers needs a ship's cat (or two). And, if we're returning to the good old days of English naval supremacy, perhaps a cat with nine tails to enforce discipline.

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Re: Genuine question

"Is that 300m with a full weapons load, just air-to-air missile, or for a flying display? The latter is great and all but not really why people buy combat aircraft."

the eurofighter would never need a full payload, its built for dogfighting, and risky situations with dogfighting moves with ground to air protection, which is why it beat the lockheed raptor in a dogfight

the F35 would be used for the basic operations

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Re: Genuine question

I reckon they could slap some rockets on it though...

JATO units eh? Well, if they can make a car fly, I'm sure that they can make something designed to fly lift off..

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Re: Genuine question

"Would it have been sensible not to have started the whole debacle in the first place and spent the money on something useful like education and health?"

Probably. I can't think of many cases where it has been tried, but over the long term I'd say we were very much less likely to be attacked by a country that knew we paid for the education of its children and the ongoing health of the whole population. (You'd be literally winning hearts and minds.) The only possible fly in the ointment is that, on the evidence of our own schools and hospitals, we don't know how to spend the money.

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Re: Genuine question

Bandwidth

Long as Openreach aren't supplying it..

Eurofighter build for *wildly* different role by the way. Lets not confuse different things. Of course it's cheaper, but so is a ford fiesta, but you can take either to war on ships..

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Re: Genuine question

the eurofighter main role is a strike plane and dogfighting, it was built to commemorate the battle of britain which is why the research alone besides needing to update all of BAE super computers and aerospace simulatioins etc cost £30bn

with a seriously massive overhaul, you can build unmanned stealth drones for £5m

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Doesn't the landing gear impact the ski jump at 150mph+ on every takeoff?

No, on takeoff the landing gear stays in contact with the flight deck and the ski jump until it has left the carrier. However when a trap/arrested landing fails (because the hook doesn't catch the wire), the pilot applies full thrust to take off again. Since the plane is going faster to start with it doesn't need a ski jump, and may begin rotation or have taken off the deck before reaching the ski jump. However at this speed the rate of ascent is slow and it may not clear the height of the ski jump in time. Landing gears are designed to land on flat surfaces and absorb vertical forces, not to endure a forward impact. If this happened either the plane would be violently jolted up injuring the pilot, or the landing gear would be ripped off and possibly the nose could impact the ski jump. Hence an angled flight deck is necessary to operate an unassisted STOBAR take off like the MiG-29k.

CATOBAR carriers (like the US and French) don't need ski jumps because they reach full take off speed (nearer 150mph) where the wings produce enough lift to take off in level flight. In contrast. when the MiG-29k performs an unassisted STOBAR take off it has barely reached stall speed (around 75mph) before it leaves the deck, hence the ski jump is required to angle the plane so a component of the engine's thrust is providing lift.

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Re: Genuine question

'the eurofighter would never need a full payload, its built for dogfighting, and risky situations with dogfighting moves with ground to air protection, which is why it beat the lockheed raptor in a dogfight'

Don't tell the RAF then, they keep putting bombs on it to drop on ISIS.

Your follow on question is why would you buy two types of fast jet to put on an aircraft carrier, doubling the logistics required to keep everything flying, when you could just buy one that does all the tasks you need doing?

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Re: Genuine question

'Would it have been sensible not to have started the whole debacle in the first place and spent the money on something useful like education and health?'

The total budget for both carriers is about two weeks NHS budget, spent over about a decade. I'm not sure you'd even notice if it had been diverted there.

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Re: Genuine question

I believe that the carriers will be either in mothballs or be full time drone & Possibly heli carriers by 2030 anyway.

The fact was that the timing of the opportunity for the navy to procure didn't align with the technology for drones is the only reason we built what we did.

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Re: Genuine question

"stupidly expensive aircraft."

Latest (that I could find) cost per unit (January 2017):

F-35B (the version we're getting): $122.8 million

F-35C (the cat and trap version): $121.8 million.

http://www.defenseone.com/business/2017/02/charted-heres-how-cost-each-version-f-35-changing/135451/

We're getting 138 planes so for cats and traps to be cost effective off the bat would require BAe Systems to install cats and traps to both ships for under $138 million. Does that seem likely to you?

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