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Unread postPosted: 06 Jul 2009, 23:22
by solomon
The point about me not hearing about it is the fact that anything dealing with amphibious shipping had and still has my full attention. Even as far back as the late 80's and early 90's the only time there was even a discussion of using LHA's as sea control ships (and that's what this debate is really about) it was quickly dismissed. Already we are losing hulls as retirements of ships is increasing. If you were to even take one of the big deck amphibs and devote it to the sea control mission along with ski ramps or whatever you call it, it'll affect deployment schedules and you'll lose at least one or more MEU's from the rotation per year. Bad idea no matter how you slice it. Full size aircraft carriers are more than adequate to full fill the missions that you would possibly want to use the LHA/sea control ship for.


Unread postPosted: 07 Jul 2009, 02:58
by spazsinbad
Long story ending with quote about "decades long veto of USMC 'ski jumps'": ... in_070805/

Marines experience Brit style on 'Lusty' (HMS Illustrious)
"Another philosophical difference is that the British are open to ideas that to
Americans seem goofy, but work, such as the 12-degree ramp at the bow of the ship
that dramatically improves Harrier operations. Senior U.S. naval officers over the
decades have vetoed the idea, saying they don't like how it looks and that it takes up
three helicopter landing spots. British and Marine officers say only one deck spot is
lost to the "ski jump."

To a man, Marine pilots want the ramps installed on their ships to improve
operational flexibility and safety.

"We're all in love with the ski ramp because when you come off that ramp, you're
flying," Bradicich said. "From our ships, if you're fully loaded, you need 750 feet,
and even then you've got some sink once you clear the deck. Here, you can do the
same thing in 450 feet and you're climbing."

But the ramp is intimidating at first sight, pilots said.

"I expected it to be violent, but when you take off, it's almost a non-event," said
Maj. Grant "Postal" Pennington, a pilot with VMA-513 at Marine Corps Air Station
Yuma, Ariz. "Up you go, and you're climbing. It's a great experience."

Equally important is the ship that's bolted to the ramp, pilots said.

"Some of our younger guys who haven't flown from our ships yet are in for a big
surprise when they do," Bradicich said. "This is probably the best ship you could
possibly fly a Harrier from. It's not very big, but it's really stable, no roll, just a little
pitch, not like the flat-bottom gators that roll so much. You've got the island
moving 30 feet in each direction when you're trying to land. That tends to get your

The combination of ski ramp, stability and dedicated crew contributed to a
breakneck operational pace. The Marines proudly logged a ship record 79 takeoffs
and landings in one day.

"These guys are great. We've qualed 28 guys in three days, most with eight landings
and takeoffs, so even though we said that we were going to crawl, walk, run, our
pace has been tremendous, even with different procedures," Pennington said. "We
like to approach the ship at 45 degrees and hit one of the spots, but they approach
from dead astern, come to a hover abeam, slide over, then drop down to the deck.
It's different, but you get the hang of it."

The only downside? "The thought that we're going to have to get off," Bradicich


Unread postPosted: 07 Jul 2009, 03:04
by spazsinbad
Marine Pilot description of Harrier landing for the heck of it: ... a087374258

Unread postPosted: 07 Jul 2009, 04:14
by bjr1028
Near zero. It seems like it would save money, but it would also require a lot of associated system without a catastrophic loss of capability.

Using smaller carriers would require either more hulls for the same mission. One Nimitz is equal to 3 or 4 smaller carriers. Additional hulls would require either more than one carrier in a group or building additional escorts and auxiliaries to cover it. A smaller carrier requires almost the same number of ships to protect it as a larger one.

The naval aviation training program would have to be rewritten and possibly involve additional training squadrons. For instance, Marine Harrier pilots in addition to going through the full fast jet pipeline, also receive helicopter training. On the fortunate side, Whiting field is ideal for training pilots in both fixed and rotary wing platforms and without having the requirement to land on ship, the T-38 and T-45 could be replaced by a single aircraft. That being said, however, unless a STOVL trainer is procured, the first time the students would land on a ship would be in the fleet replacement squadrons. STOVL landing may be in theory easier, but the seas don't calm and the ship doesn't stop just because you're in a STOVL airplane.

Lastly, is development and acquisition of new systems. The F/A-18F, EA-18G, and E-2C/D cannot be adequately replaced by anything in the pipeline. The single seat F-35B in addition to being a deck hog with the non-folding wings, would be unable to do recon, fleet defense, Fast FAC, or electronic attack mission because of the single seat. Either a stretched two-seat variant would have to be developed or a new aircraft. New recon and EA pods would have to be developed as would a buddy tanker system which would probably require either the centerline or the bay paylons (or all three) becoming wet for the recovery tanker mission.

Likewise, existing heliborne systems have less than 25% of the mission effectiveness of the Hawkeye, Not only would a new radar system have to be developed, a pressurized variant of the Osprey would probably be required to use it to its full effect.

All in all, you might save on the hull, but probably more than make up for it with the changes that would be required.


Unread postPosted: 07 Jul 2009, 05:22
by Corsair1963
Well, the USN has no plans to operate F-35B's. So, the point is moot............The future is EMALs equipped Carriers operating F-35C's,F/A-18E/F's and UCAV's.

Unread postPosted: 07 Jul 2009, 05:24
by solomon
quotes from the same article

But one of the most satisfying things is that the ship is a strike carrier where Harriers, not helicopters, are the priority.

“On a gator, the Harriers are secondary to the amphibious and helicopter mission.”

It all points back to the issue of LHA's in the US Navy being dedicated to amphibious operations and those in the RN being dedicated to "something" else....once again, if you want sea control ships bring the ramps but if you want a strike carrier then we already have the best in the world. Smaller isn't always better and the RN is already making baby steps back to a full deck carriers.

ski jump on LHD/LHA

Unread postPosted: 07 Jul 2009, 05:59
by solomon
Do you see room on that deck for a ski jump? Leave the helos behind and you can have what 10 harriers and have a British type Marine force but it would be seriously less capable than the force you have now.

RE: ski jump on LHD/LHA

Unread postPosted: 07 Jul 2009, 06:11
by spazsinbad
Plenty of room for the ski jump. One less helo spot it is said. Obviously that argument (about having a 'ramp') has been lost - for now.

RE: ski jump on LHD/LHA

Unread postPosted: 07 Jul 2009, 20:17
by solomon
Good job on finding the evidence to back up your claims spazsinbad. I was wrong but in the Corps the Infantry is king and the air side is second fiddle. Unlike the Navy and the Air Force, if you ain't a Grunt, you ain't...but then again everyone is a rifleman!

RE: ski jump on LHD/LHA

Unread postPosted: 07 Jul 2009, 21:39
by spazsinbad
soloman, I have plenty of anecdotal evidence from former RAN FAA A4G pilots (having been Harrier pilots in USMC on exchange in the late 1970s early 1980s OR RN Harrier pilots on exchange or having transferred to the RN from the RAN FAA once our fixed wing folded by 1984). However that is probably not good enough because they don't post this information online. Despite what USMC Harrier pilots have said they would like, they are not successful in advocating for a 'ski jump' or 'ramp'. If need be one could be bolted on in quick time.

BTW any flat deck that has all the aircraft 'on show' is going to look overly crowded. However for flight ops not all the aircraft would be required, or even available due to unserviceabilities. These 'other' aircraft likely would be below in the hangars, with only aircraft required being on deck. During flight ops there is the merry dance of having to tow / push / taxi aircraft around all the time with some going below or coming up from below the flight deck. I'm certain that any available space on a 'ramp' fitted deck would be used, with minimal disruption, compared to a non-ramp fitted deck.

Anyway as you suggest that is not relevant because there are no ramps in the USMC. Sad that. & for the fun in it Pprune has amusing threads about Harrier issues, some comparing USMC & RN FAA ops for example here:

RE: ski jump on LHD/LHA

Unread postPosted: 08 Jul 2009, 04:16
by spazsinbad
A crowded flight deck c. 1972-4 HMAS Melbourne:


RE: ski jump on LHD/LHA

Unread postPosted: 08 Jul 2009, 04:27
by solomon
No well deck, no AAVs, no M-777s, no MTVRs, no HUMVEEs, no GROUND COMBAT ELEMENT aboard those ships! We have aircraft carriers for strike in the US NAVY! They handle those missions well. The AV-8B is designed for ground support. The redesign was a point of friction between the USMC and UK because the Marines wanted a bomb truck, the Royal Navy a fighter. The USMC won and the plane has performed superbly ever since. Different doctrines, different uses. What are you going to do with all the extra space if you decide to sea control the thing????? Leisure cruise? Besides, the busiest ships in the US Navy are the gators. Don't fix what ain't broke!

RE: ski jump on LHD/LHA

Unread postPosted: 08 Jul 2009, 05:11
by spazsinbad
Interesting that you should bring the 'mud mover' argument up in the light of this Marine 'fighter' development: ... OLONG.aspx

"...Yuma’s Marine Attack Squadron 211 became the first AV-8B Harrier unit to test-fire an air-to-air missile capable of engaging unseen enemies June 8, 2009, over an ocean test range about 200 miles off Okinawa, Japan.

The AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile extends the reach of a Harrier’s punch, due to the weapon’s range.

“The AMRAAM makes the AV-8B more lethal,” said Capt. Michael W. McKenney, VMA-211 pilot who launched the missile.

Currently, the Harrier uses AIM-9 Sidewinders as their air-to-air missile. However, those track infrared energy from the target, which needs to be within visual range when launched.

Depending on the variant, the AMRAAM has a range of up to 65 miles — more than double the Sidewinder — and uses an active radar to adjust course midflight in order to track and hit its target, according to Raytheon, the missile’s manufacturer...."

RE: ski jump on LHD/LHA

Unread postPosted: 08 Jul 2009, 05:18
by geogen
Good contributions overall, Spaz. Your posts are worth the read..

RE: ski jump on LHD/LHA

Unread postPosted: 08 Jul 2009, 05:34
by solomon
You don't get it. The primary mission remains supporting the grunt on the ground. Interesting (but I guess its not really...this is just like some other sites airpower centric) that you want to turn a ground support aircraft into a fighter. Guess what, they put sidewinders on A-10's too. Doesn't mean that aerial combat is its primary mission though.