F-35C maximum takeoff weight question

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2011, 04:02
by popcorn
Will the F-35C be catapulted off a carrier carrying the maximum load of fuel and weapons just as if it was taking off from a 10,000 ft. runway? I was reading an article on the Rafales and it seems they have to reduce their payload when launching from their carrier. Could this be a limitation of their catapult system and/or speed of the ship to generate the necessary wind-over-deck?

RE: F-35C maximum takeoff weight question

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2011, 04:37
by spazsinbad
Off the Top of my Head (OTTOMH) -- (Dome may be substituted to cater for any hair loss) this topic has been discussed earlier on this forum with the current steam catapults in the USN able to launch the F-35C whilst recently we have been informed that EMALS will do so - no problemo. I'll go look for earlier discussion now.

Here is a start with wot the mainsteamwhopperwalve can do:

http://www.f-16.net/index.php?name=PNph ... ult#204489

"...Aircraft carrier catapult launches accelerate the F-35 to takeoff speed with full fuel and ordnance over a short, 300-foot power stroke, transmitting more than 250,000 pounds of pull force through the F-35’s nose gear launch system and structure...."

http://www.codeonemagazine.com/gallery_ ... item_id=60

Some EMALS hoohaa here:
http://www.f-16.net/index.php?name=PNph ... ult#187542

Linear motor outperforms steam-piston catapults
Replacement for naval-aircraft launch system offers host of tactical and operational benefits
By Terrence Lynch, Northeast Technical Editor -- Design News, October 22, 1995

http://www.designnews.com/article/2503- ... apults.php

"...If approved for production, EMALS would bring a host of improvements to ship design and Naval aviation. With a maximum design thrust of 290,000 lbs, EMALS offers 28% greater launching capability than steam catapults. This improvement may allow flight operations regardless of whether the carrier is turned into the wind. That thrust is fully controllable, allowing compensation for wind gusts and more precise matching of thrust to aircraft weight than is possible with steam. Closed-loop control of thrust will produce less wear and tear on pilots as well as aircraft. By one study, the reduced stress from "soft starts" could extend airframe life as much as 31%."


"...EMALS is a linear induction motor that's capable of accelerating a 100,000 pound aircraft to 240 miles per hour in the space of 300 feet."

Always a good mine of info and references to it scattered throughout this forum. The catapult parameters have been known and no one has complained about inability to lauch at max weight AFAIK.

The Influence of Ship Configuration on the Design of the Joint Strike Fighter
Feb 2002

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD ... tTRDoc.pdf (1Mb)

The JSF aircraft have been sized to take full advantage of the aircraft launch and recovery equipment available on the ships of interest. For example, the CV variant is designed to withstand the tow loads imposed by the C-13 Mod I and Mod 2 catapults, as well as the deceleration loads of the Mk-7 Mod 3 arresting gear. If future launch and recovery systems offer substantially different loading profiles than those factored into the design, a substantial impact to launch performance (i.e., wind-overdeck requirements) and/or service life could result...."

And wot the Brits thought back in the day.

http://www.f-16.net/index.php?name=PNph ... ult#156507

"Officials from both competing CVF teams made it clear during 2002 that given the development risks still associated with EMCAT technology, steam catapults in the form of the C13 system employed in all current US Navy carriers represented the only proven, reliable, low-risk solution for CVF at Main Gate. "Steam exists, and the C13-2 catapult is the launch system against which the JSF CV variant is being built," said a senior member of the BAE Systems ship/air interface team. "Its performance characteristics are going to be matched around that technology". A Thales source concurred. "Today's steam-catapult technology is very, very reliable."

http://www.f-16.net/index.php?name=PNph ... ult#156389

Concise explanation about USN catapulting (& other matters) here:


"When the engines are steady at full power, the catapult is fired , which accelerates the plane from 0 to 160 knots in under two seconds. On a signal from the catapult safety observer on the flight deck, steam is admitted to the catapult by opening the launching valves assembly. (The length of time the valves remain open is determined by the weight of the aircraft and the wind over the deck.) Steam surges into the cylinders, releasing the holdback and forcing the pistons and shuttle forward while accelerating the aircraft along the 300-foot deck. A 60,000-pound aircraft can reach speeds in excess of 150 mph in less than two seconds."

Shot Into the Air by By Herbert M. Friedman and Ada Kera Friedman
Invention & Technology Magazine Spring 2006 Volume 21, Issue 4

http://www.americanheritage.com/article ... rint.shtml

"...In 2.5 seconds a modern steam catapult can accelerate a 78,000-pound airplane, which would otherwise require a quarter-mile for takeoff, to 160 mph within 300 feet...."

RE: F-35C maximum takeoff weight question

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2011, 05:52
by spazsinbad
popcorn, now taking the information - as it is above - I would have to know the capacity of the CdeG catapult. Again OTTOMD if the CdeG cannot launch a fully loaded Rafale in certain conditions then that limitation would apply to the F-35C AFAIK. I recall on other forums this limitation has been raised. I'll go look now. Good to have F-35C catapult info in one spot as it is known today for the USN and now the RN.

Another aspect of the 'weight' question for operating F-35Cs from CdeG (Charles De Gaulle) is the maximum arrested landing weight etc. The CdeG is not such a brilliant carrier for F-35Cs probably. It will probably be retired early with the French buying the first CVF and pay to have it outfitted with cats n traps and things will be sweet then - or NOT. :twisted:

http://defense-update.com/wp/wp-content ... mattan.jpg

"Rafale F3 from the 12e naval aircraft squadron, flew today their first combat mission over Libya. The aircraft carried the RECO NG recce pod and MICA air/air missiles. Photo: French Navy."
http://www.dawn.com/wp-content/uploads/ ... FP-543.jpg

RE: F-35C maximum takeoff weight question

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2011, 07:05
by spazsinbad
Some CdeG info: Charles De Gaulle


'...The main deck consists of a main runway angled at 8.5° to the ship's axis and an aircraft launch area forward of the island. These are each equipped with a USN Type C13 catapult, capable of launching one aircraft a minute. The runway is 195m long and the whole deck measures 260m x 64m...."
Propulsion and power plant
The Charles De Gaulle is equipped with two nuclear pressure water reactors, PWR Type K15, which provide a speed of 27kt. The 61MW turbines are from Alsthom. The propulsion system has the capacity to provide five years continuous operation at 25kt before refuelling."

Excellent detailed videos showing how the FROG JUMPS & PLOPS! :twisted: 3rd video down page

French Navy’s RAFALE multirole fighter aircraft – Catapult launch video

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x73l84 ... mbediframe

Super Etendard video: [another good catapult explaino video - although I cannot hear it]
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x73lf1 ... mbediframe

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2011, 07:43
by popcorn
Thanks for the input.. lots of stuff to go thru.
The potential of EMALS to launch aircraft even when the carrier is not headinginto the wind.. that's intriguing.
Also, I was expecting the CDG to sustain a higher speed than 27knots.. sort of expected it to be as fast as a CVN but it doesn't appear to be the case.

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2011, 07:49
by spazsinbad
AFAIK - Apparently the small reactors aboard CdeG are from a submarine (cost cutting) hence low power output.

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2011, 07:50
by popcorn
Here's the passage from SLD that prompted my query:
SLD: What were the advantages to operate the Rafale from the Charles de Gaulle?

Lt. Gen. Desclaux: Basically, in the AOR, whether the Rafale was air or navy, it was conducting the same type of mission; 70 percent dynamic targeting, and 30 percent deliberate targeting. Obviously the advantage of being on an aircraft carrier is you’re closer from the theater of operation. The disadvantage when you take off from a French carrier is that your Rafale brings less ammunition than when taking off from a runway.

For example, with the Rafale from land, you can take off with two cruise missiles, as from the carrier it’s only one. The air force Rafale can take off from the land with six 250 kilos bombs – from the carrier, it only was four. You’re closer but you bring less ammunitions and you need gas anyway because in the dynamic targeting operation loiter time is important to mission success.

Note he is very specific about this applying to a French carrier..

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2011, 07:55
by spazsinbad
Thanks for the link. To me it is clear - for whatever reason - the difference. Is there also a difference between the Air Force and Navy Rafales that brings about the situation described? I have no idea.

Here's link to story. I'll be able to read it later:

The Libyan Air Operation: A French Perspective 10/22/2011

http://www.sldinfo.com/the-libyan-air-o ... rspective/

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2011, 08:03
by 1st503rdsgt
I wonder if pilots in the French and US navies cast envious eyes at each other's hardware, the French at the Nimitz-class and the Americans at the Rafale.

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2011, 09:26
by popcorn
1st503rdsgt wrote:I wonder if pilots in the French and US navies cast envious eyes at each other's hardware, the French at the Nimitz-class and the Americans at the Rafale.

Don't know about the planes but the Yanks would probably appreciate a ToT of French food and wine. :D

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2011, 09:29
by spazsinbad
A good reason for weapon carry capacity perhaps? Specifically the Naval Rafale weight 1,100lbs more than the Air Force Rafale according to:


"Rafale M
This is the carrier-borne version for the Aéronavale, which entered service in 2002. The Rafale M weighs about 500 kg (1,100 lb) more than the Rafale C. Very similar to the Rafale C in appearance, the M differs in the following respects:
Strengthened to withstand the rigors of carrier-based aviation
Stronger landing gear
Longer nose gear leg to provide a more nose-up attitude for catapult launches
Deleted front centre pylon (to give space for the longer gear)
Large stinger-type tailhook between the engines
Built-in power operated boarding ladder
Carrier microwave landing system
"Telemir" inertial reference platform that can receive updates from the carrier systems."
"Rafale C
This is the single-seat version for the Armée de l'Air; delivered to ECE 05.330 in June 2004"

http://www.strategypage.com/militaryfor ... age28.aspx

"..The air force's B/C fighters have 80% commonality with the navy's Rafale M model, the main differences being the latter's navalised landing gear, arrestor hook and some fuselage longitudinal strengthening. Overall, the M is about 300kg (661lb) heavier than the B, and has 13 hardpoints, against the 14 found on air force examples..."

http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/Fra ... ime-05991/

"...Carrier-capable Rafales are single-seat fighters, and are referred to as Rafale Ms. They will become the French Navy’s only fighters, replacing the F-8P Crusader fighter, Etendard IVP reconnaissance aircraft, and Super Etendard strike aircraft. They feature the usual set of carrier modifications, including lengthened and strengthened landing gear, strengthened airframe and arrester hook for landings, and carrier landing electronics. The front-center pylon is deleted on this version, in order to make room for that landing gear...."

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2011, 11:08
by spazsinbad
A classic reason why the SAR Helo is essential for any carrier catapult evolution.

Crash Super-Etendard porte avion Charles de Gaulle Navy Ship


Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2011, 15:21
by stereospace
""...EMALS is a linear induction motor that's capable of accelerating a 100,000 pound aircraft to 240 miles per hour in the space of 300 feet.""

According to Wiki, "The EMALS' 300-foot (91 m) LIM will accelerate a 100,000-pound (45,000 kg) aircraft to 130 knots (240 km/h).[2]" That's approx 150 mph.

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2011, 19:45
by spazsinbad
Thanks for EMALS discrepancy. I'll look for more information on it. Meantime some info on current USN steam catapult capacity.

The purpose of the steam catapult is to provide a means to safely launch aircraft from carrier decks, day or night, in almost any kind of weather. The steam catapult is designed to launch aircraft with the ship headed into the wind, but has the capabilities to launch aircraft downwind, alongside the pier, or at anchor.


C-13-0: 74,000 lbs. at 128 knots in 249 ft.
Track length: 264 ft. 10" (CV-63, CV-64, CVN-65, CV-67 {3 of 4})

C-13-1: 80,000 lbs. at 140 knots in 309 ft.
Track length: 324 ft. 10" (CV-67 {1}, CVN-68, CVN-69, CVN-70, CVN-71)

C-13-2: 80,000 lbs. at 140 knots in 309 ft.
Track length: 324 ft. 10" (CVN-72, CVN-73, CVN-74, CVN-75, CVN-76)

Primary difference between C-13-1 and C-13-2 is that -2 has 21" diameter power cylinders vice 18".

Relevant CATAPULT pages from the USN Landing Signal Officer Reference Manual 1999 (REV. B) at: (5.4Mb) attached.

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2011, 20:44
by spazsinbad
'How It Works' Electronics poised to replace steam-powered aircraft launch system
By Bill Schweber, Executive Editor www.ednmag.com April 11, 2002

http://www.edn.com/contents/images/207108.pdf (83Kb)

"You have seen videos of aircraft launched from decks of naval carriers. In about 300 ft (100m), the aircraft must accelerate to its “wind-over-deck” takeoff speed of more than 100 knots (roughly, 1 knot=1.2 mi/hour=0.5m/sec) so that the aircraft can literally take flight as it reaches the end of the carrier deck....

...The complete EMALS system will use a 300-ft long LIM to accelerate a 100,000-lb (45,000-kg) aircraft to more than 130 knots (67m/sec) and lighter aircraft to 200 knots (100m/sec)...."

Unread postPosted: 06 Nov 2011, 21:36
by spazsinbad
Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System - EMALS

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ ... /emals.htm

"...the shielding effectiveness of the trough. Little energy is escaping the trough structure. The magnetic fields are 0.07 mTat 10 cm above the deck at the center of the slot. Along the flight deck, the fields reach a maximum of 0.3 mT within 2.5 cm above the deck right over the coil. They fall to the Earth's ambient.

Electromagnetic motors for both launching and recovery of aircraft aboard a carrier are now possible due to a myriad of technical advancements. The advantages of electromagnetic motors are their improved performance capability over present systems and the resultant reduced weight and volume because of the high power, force, and energy densities possible. These savings are especially important on a carrier where they are precious commodities. In the future Navy, weight and volume may be of even higher importance as smaller budgets may demand smaller ships, and future design will require, just as in automobiles and space vehicles, etc., more performance out of smaller boxes. Electromagnetics offers this advantage. These systems would also provide the inherent controllability that comes with electrical machinery allowing for safer, less.

All prospective EMALS designs must be capable of launching present and future naval fixed wing aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier. Design goals for the program are: 30% reduction in manning, 20% reduction in life cycle cost, 20% improvement in operational availability, and up to a 50% reduction in installed size and weight when compared to the current steam catapults. The performance goals for the EMALS are: 90,000,000 ft-lbs. of energy capability, an end speed range between 55 and 200 knots, a peak to mean acceleration of 1.05 for all aircraft launches (including light weight aircraft such as Unmanned Air Vehicles and Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles), and a cycle time of 45 seconds.

The Navy defines the EMALS as consisting of four major subsystems: an energy storage subsystem, power conditioning subsystem, a launch engine, and a control system."