F-35Bs Establishing potential of Australian aircraft carrier

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spazsinbad

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Unread post16 Dec 2018, 07:32

Well explained 'Conan'. I'm hoping something will happen along lines you mention. Early days and all that. One thing though: [you said about 'F-35Bs on LHDs'] "...The Abbott led government a few years back looked into it and there was a AUD$13b price tag to be paid IF we were going to do it and even then only achieved by diminishing the current level of amphibious capability we have...." How is that price tag arrived at? Does it include a posse of F-35Bs and extras? As they say: "Please explain". Thanks.

A 'little birdie' no pun intended has toldeth me that soon an ASPI piece by Malcolm Davis will KYBOSH the very idea of 'Oz LHDs with Oz F-35Bs'. Several news outlets are lining up their hit pieces also (all to do with Japan & F-35Bs doncha know).

Is F-35B buy on top of the slated 100 F-35As or is it extra (hence accounting will be different). How many extra F-35Bs?
RAN FAA A4G Skyhawk 1970s: https://www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ AND https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/
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Conan

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Unread post16 Dec 2018, 13:59

spazsinbad wrote:Well explained 'Conan'. I'm hoping something will happen along lines you mention. Early days and all that. One thing though: [you said about 'F-35Bs on LHDs'] "...The Abbott led government a few years back looked into it and there was a AUD$13b price tag to be paid IF we were going to do it and even then only achieved by diminishing the current level of amphibious capability we have...." How is that price tag arrived at? Does it include a posse of F-35Bs and extras? As they say: "Please explain". Thanks.

A 'little birdie' no pun intended has toldeth me that soon an ASPI piece by Malcolm Davis will KYBOSH the very idea of 'Oz LHDs with Oz F-35Bs'. Several news outlets are lining up their hit pieces also (all to do with Japan & F-35Bs doncha know).

Is F-35B buy on top of the slated 100 F-35As or is it extra (hence accounting will be different). How many extra F-35Bs?


My understanding was it never really got beyond a ‘back of the napkin’ level of detail but the proposal supposedly included 2 squadrons of F-35B’s (one operational, 1x training / development / maintenance rotation) plus all the enablers, modifications to the ships and staffing. Whether it was envisaged they would take the place of the existing Super Hornet capability or fill the ‘final 28’ F-35 slots is unknown to me. It never to a serious planning stage at any rate, so such decisions were probably not even considered.
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ricnunes

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Unread post16 Dec 2018, 19:29

Conan wrote:As I said, any attempt to add fixed wing capability to an amphibious ship not intended by us to operate them, will impact on the existing amphibious capability, which is our primary designated role for these ships.


With an embarked air wing you would lose some amphibious assets indeed but then again you would win in having an organic air support for the embarked amphibious assets, which in some cases could offset the loss of some of the embarked amphibious assets.

Moreover, having a squadron of F-35B and the capability of carrying them on the Canberra LHDs doesn't mean that you would always have to carry the aircraft (F-35B) onboard the ships for every mission.
If the mission warrants the current capability of having two LHDs fully fitted with amphibious assets (plus supporting helicopters) there's absolutely nothing that prevents the Australian Forces of not embarking the F-35Bs on those ships for the mission at hand.

On the other hand, if desired those ships could also operate as "full carriers" by leaving out (not embarking) the amphibious assets and embarking only the aircraft (F-35Bs and Helicopters) plus all the support equipment and supplies.

Or, you could always operate them like the Spanish (or the Americans on their LHDs) by having a mix of (and yes, a compromise of) an air wing compared by F-35Bs (plus helicopters of course) and amphibious assets (even if somehow more reduced).

So here's where I trend to disagree with you (although I can agree with some of your points):
- Having the possibility of embarking the F-35Bs on the Australian Canberra LHD would give more (specially more options) and definitely not less (that's the first of my two main points here)



Conan wrote:Such modifications aren’t done ‘on the fly.’ You’re talking about permanently adding increased fuel bunkerage, increased air weapons storage and increased logistical support capability into the ship (as both fixed wing and rotary wing will need to be maintained and operated simultaneously). Then you need to add into the equation increased personnel to operate the fixed wing, improved air traffic control / operations and sensor / approach systems, improved deck surfaces and aircraft handling capabilities and so on and suddenly all that available space starts to get eaten up very quickly.

Those are just the physical changes necessary. Then you have to consider operational role impacts, self-defence, doctrine and concept of operations scenarios, training and quals issues and the resources that will need to be added to understand and implement these to truly develop capability.

All of these additions will significantly impact on the capability we have, unless you are magically plucking people, money, time and resources off the magic tree, these things apparently come from...


And purchasing a 3rd ship as a "dedicated carrier" wouldn't basically and also have most of if not all the constraints that you mentioned above plus the extra cost/resources and time needed to purchase and operate the new ship, hire and train a new crew (also for the new ship), etc...?

I would say that adding the F-35Bs to the Canberra ships (and mind you again that these ships were designed to operate V/STOL fixed-wing aircraft from the beginning) would be less time and resource consuming option, this if Australia really wants a "carrier" to operate F-35Bs to being with, all of which brings the second of my two main points here.



Conan wrote:Yes they do. They have accepted the level of capability they need includes a fixed wing support capability, but if you think this doesn’t impact the amphibious capability the Juan Carlos can provide, then you trippin buddy.


I would say that "trippin" would be to say that if Australia would purchase the F-35Bs in the future to operate from their Canberra LHD ships that the option of not embarking the F-35B (in case it would be desired to operate the ships with its full amphibious complement) couldn't ever be exercised.
Resuming, having the capability to operate the F-35B (and having the F-35Bs in the inventory) doesn't force the F-35Bs to always be on-board of the Canberra ships.


Conan wrote:It’s a trade off of defence priorities. For us, amphibious capability and HADR capability is more important than adding a fixed wing fighter support capability into our current mix. Which is why I mentioned that IF additional capability in the form of fixed wing capability were to be added to the current force structure, we’d be looking at an additional ship, at least.


And just because all of this is indeed a "trade off of defence priorities" (here I agree with you) than I don't believe that a 3rd ship as a dedicated carrier will ever be an option for Australia (here I disagree with you), this specially when Australia already possesses two (2) ships that are more than capable of operating the F-35B - actually this would be a real trade-off/compromise option.
Actually and like already mentioned by Spaz, it wouldn't be different from what Japan is currently planning to do (and some sources state South Korea as well).
Last edited by ricnunes on 16 Dec 2018, 23:02, edited 2 times in total.
A 4th/4.5th gen fighter aircraft stands about as much chance against a F-35 as a guns-only Sabre has against a Viper.
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spazsinbad

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Unread post16 Dec 2018, 19:53

I have to belabor the point: Does the $13 Billion AUS include a certain number of F-35Bs with accuotrements and suitable modifications to the TWO LHDs? One can see that number is just ridiculous - perhaps it includes the THIRD aviation LHD???
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blindpilot

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Unread post17 Dec 2018, 00:08

Just a couple thoughts even tho I tend to be more USMC focused than Spanish/Australian/etc. Navy issues.

1. The Canberra Class is NOT EQ to Juan Carlos. They bought the basic hull form and a great deal of the structure including all of the island, and virtually all of the fitting is Canberra class unique. This unique work makes it much more than just "turn it back into JC." It is not that easy. Even Juan Carlos has not yet addressed the work of going from Harrier to Lightning, like classified data rooms/ALIS support/etc. If those areas/fittings aren't on Juan Carlos, they are definitely not defined in the Canberra class. (This will be an issue for the Japanese as well. It's more than just slap some thermal paint down.)

2. As seen in USMC/USN wavering on LHA6 or LHA8 class, dock-no dock etc., the conops for amphibious warfare is not lightly set aside for having a baby "aviation centric" vessel. The USMC/USN ended up putting the dock back in ... for a reason. Those same reasons exists for the RAN. America class Flight 0 was a bit too light, hence Flight 1 Bougainville. There is a big picture, and even if the USMC does slap 5-6 fixed wing fighters on their air group, the core Amphib work doesn't go away. (they don't load up 20 very often) In the US fleet, if they ever go "baby carrier" with a LHD/A it is most likely for lack of a CVN, not a first choice option. And most of the Marine Bees will always be looking to set up austere bases and FARPs on land as soon as they can.

Honestly for countries like Australia, I am more and more thinking that with their budget, they would be better off with a cheap Aviation Support ship (as in Falkland's Atlantic Conveyor/AVB Wright/US ESB type cargo ships). If those can be set up to be able to deploy ashore some F-35B's that's probably the most the RAN could hope to afford. A sortie generating aircraft carrier is likely a bridge too far on the old checkbook. Now if they can figure how to occassionally deploy 2 F-35B's as Quick Alert/Air Cap on an accompanying LHD cool. But the ALIS/spare parts/maintenance etc. will need to be on the aviation support cargo vessel, not an LHD redesign.

FWIW MHO,
BP
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Unread post17 Dec 2018, 02:02

Fair enough - we can but speculate with no details of what is required. I agree about all the F-35B related bidness, secure rooms and such, while I promote the lightest footprint possible to embark some Fleet Defence F-35Bs whenever they are required - which may be never. So why have that capability? Deterrence. Perhaps it is all too expensive, so some missions will be deterred from our point of view. I see the future situation up north increasingly difficult however perhaps an opposite defusion of tension will occur and I ain't a fortune teller. A third NavAv centric LHD specifically fitted out is nice.
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Unread post17 Dec 2018, 05:29

ricnunes wrote:Actually and like already mentioned by Spaz, it wouldn't be different from what Japan is currently planning to do (and some sources state South Korea as well).


Except Japan has more than two large LHDs.

I think Conan's analysis pointing toward HMAS Choules replacement as the opportunity, is a very realistic one, and his assessment of the chances of it occurring are realistic too.

But note that in the interim the ADF is about to announce the order for 12 to 16 Reapers (which will for sure be a further variation of the UK SkyGuard advanced Reaper version) in which case the forwards deployment of those, and their very long endurance, and weapons loading, can offset somewhat the foregone ISR and weapons delivery, and 5th-gen-ish linking to other weapons in other services that an F-35B may have supplied at the vital times.

So not entirely swimming naked ashore or moving the surface fleet about contested waters without some recon or firepower options and a handy maritime radar option, and potentially even ship-killing and land-attack standoff cruise weapons. Especially when combined with regional strategic sensors plus Triton, plus P-8A, plus the Romeos and their newer attack weapons, plus the Tiger Attack helicopters.

Not carrier airpower but far from lacking in vital air support measures and options if we absolutely had to get things done.
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Unread post17 Dec 2018, 11:23

You could make a good case for additional F-35B's for the RAAF. That is with or without adapting them to the Canberra Class LHD's. So, honestly don't see the issue.....
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Unread post17 Dec 2018, 12:17

That HORN has been sounding for some time and may come true for the last TRANCHE - we will see in the fullness of time.
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Unread post17 Dec 2018, 14:30

spazsinbad wrote:I have to belabor the point: Does the $13 Billion AUS include a certain number of F-35Bs with accuotrements and suitable modifications to the TWO LHDs? One can see that number is just ridiculous - perhaps it includes the THIRD aviation LHD???


Is it really that ridiculous when the capability to operate 24x Super Hornets cost us $6.6b in 2007?

You are talking up to 48x F-35B’s in two full squadrons... Then you have the ships modifications, training and infrastructure facilities, support for that many additional aircraft and so on.

Personally I think that number is conservative...
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Unread post17 Dec 2018, 16:10

blindpilot wrote:Just a couple thoughts even tho I tend to be more USMC focused than Spanish/Australian/etc. Navy issues.

1. The Canberra Class is NOT EQ to Juan Carlos.


Well, everything that I read about the Canberras is that they are basically equal to the Juan Carlos I (namely in terms of structure).
The Canberras even have the same Sky Jump ramp as the Juan Carlos I.
The reasoning for this is apparently because it would be cheaper to build ships that are basically copies of the Juan Carlos instead of modifying the Juan Carlos base design which for example seems to be the reason why the Sky Jump was kept and this despite Australia not having plans to operate fixed-wing aircraft from those ships at the time of purchase and building.
Last edited by ricnunes on 17 Dec 2018, 16:20, edited 1 time in total.
A 4th/4.5th gen fighter aircraft stands about as much chance against a F-35 as a guns-only Sabre has against a Viper.
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Unread post17 Dec 2018, 16:20

element1loop wrote:
ricnunes wrote:Actually and like already mentioned by Spaz, it wouldn't be different from what Japan is currently planning to do (and some sources state South Korea as well).


Except Japan has more than two large LHDs.


Well, technically Japan doesn't have any LHDs.

They have four (4) Helicopter Destroyers - the Izumo and Hyūga class (2 on each class) - which doesn't carry Amphibious assets and they are basically light carriers like for example the Italian Giuseppe Garibaldi carrier, plus three (3) Tank Landing Ship or LSTs (Ōsumi-class) which only carry Amphibious assets and while having a flat deck (for helicopter operations) they don't seem to have an aviation hangar.
The Japanese are planning to operate F-35Bs from the two (2) most recent and heaviest Helicopter Destroyers, the Izumo-class.
Resuming, Japan is planning to operate the F-35B from the only two ships (and also two) of its fleet apparently capable of operating the F-35B.
A 4th/4.5th gen fighter aircraft stands about as much chance against a F-35 as a guns-only Sabre has against a Viper.
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Unread post17 Dec 2018, 18:13

Conan wrote:
spazsinbad wrote:I have to belabor the point: Does the $13 Billion AUS include a certain number of F-35Bs with accuotrements and suitable modifications to the TWO LHDs? One can see that number is just ridiculous - perhaps it includes the THIRD aviation LHD???

Is it really that ridiculous when the capability to operate 24x Super Hornets cost us $6.6b in 2007? You are talking up to 48x F-35B’s in two full squadrons... Then you have the ships modifications, training and infrastructure facilities, support for that many additional aircraft and so on. Personally I think that number is conservative...

Only now you mention the number of F=35Bs. Thank you. Are these 48 F-35Bs extra, with 100 F-35As purchased all told?
RAN FAA A4G Skyhawk 1970s: https://www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ AND https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/
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Unread post17 Dec 2018, 19:31

To refresh memories graphic attached is from: http://www.infodefensa.com/wp-content/u ... _en_v2.pdf (13.8Mb)

These are Harriers of the Spanish persuasion AV-8Bs with a graphic from an old artickle about 'R21' for the RAN with Bees.
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RAN FAA A4G Skyhawk 1970s: https://www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ AND https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/
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Unread post17 Dec 2018, 19:50

ricnunes wrote:
blindpilot wrote:..
1. The Canberra Class is NOT EQ to Juan Carlos.


Well, everything that I read about the Canberras is that they are basically equal to the Juan Carlos I (namely in terms of structure)...

744190-mv-blue-marlin.jpg
Canberra from Spain

This is what came from Spain. Much of the internal structure unfinished, and obviously no Island superstructure, or most fittings. That includes internal space setups. Those are Australia Canberra class unique. The hull is not a ship.

I could slap a flat top on a container ship. That doesn't make it the same as the container ship.

Just saying,
MHO anyway,
BP
Last edited by blindpilot on 17 Dec 2018, 20:37, edited 1 time in total.
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