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Originally posted by blue cell
On 22 November 2000, a contract was drawn up between Fincantieri and the Italian Ministry of Naval Defence to supply an aircraft carrier vessel, known as the Nuova Unita Maggiore (NUM) or "New Major Vessel", to the Italian Navy. Building work on the new vessel, which was originally to be called the Andrea Doria but has since been named the Cavour, began at Fincantieri's shipyards in Riva Trigoso and Muggiano in July 2001. The Cavour was launched in July 2004 and the aircraft carrier will be delivered in 2007, entering service in 2008
The carrier is armed with two Sylver eight-cell vertical launch systems for the Eurosam (jointly owned by MBDA and Thales) SAAM/IT missile system, which fires Aster 15 missiles.
Pathetic unless, as with say the Kirovs; each cell is multiloaded.
The Aster 15 missile has a 13kg warhead and a range of 30km. The missile’s guidance is inertial with data uplink and active radar terminal homing. For increased manoeuvrability in the terminal phase, the missile uses a 'PIF-PAF' direct thrust control system with gas jets. Primary sensor for the SAAM/IT is the AMS Empar G-band multi-function phased array radar, which provides simultaneous surveillance, tracking and weapons control. First ship-launched missile firing of the SAAM/IT system took place in December 2002
First off, if it were 30km, it would be 'Aster-30'. That was the original reason for the differentiation with the longer ranged missiles being reserved for land based use (for some damn reason).
Second, G band is like 6-8GHz. Unless you have serious AEW&C, you are looking at fighting the burglar coming through the bedroom door by reaching for a pistol in the night stand.
Again, this _does not_ make sense for a high value asset because not only are you reduced to fighting the arrow, not the archer, you are looking at very 'abrupt' terminal engagement windows where the very time required to clear the cell, pitchover, get up to intercept speed, and stabilize on a horizon bearing to begin acquisition BEFORE flyout can be compromising.
Particularly on supersonic rounds, (Alpha/Brahmos or Sunburn as well as whatever ANF the French sell as Exocet replacements to every Slobovich, Signh, and Abdullah) it is very easy to get saturated to the point where you are committing 2 and 3 missiles to each threat just to _make sure_ there are no close-aboard problems which the even shorter ranging CIWS/VSHORADS systems have to handle.
If you want to have a decent S2A capability there are three things you need to do:
1. Make sure you have independent over the horizon CEC. Whether by some 'national' standoff means (SATWACS, ROTHR) or through a guaranteed AEW&C platform.
2. Make the numbers work. In this case, that means developing a LASM equivalent weapon which can justify the costs of the basic missile and a large VLS count with an 'expanded mission set' to include anything which a 1,000lb penetrator warhead could handle within about 300-400km over the beach.
3. Once you have the reach of a dedicated land attack variant, let your missile exploit the autopilot and weapon impulse to _begin_ the intercepts a heckuva lot further out. Like our own SM.6/ERAM is supposed to do, 'someday' (old and grey).
The alternative is to go with immediate DEW investment and/or shifting the platform so far out to sea (800nm or more) that most nations cannot ASST it.
It can hold about 1,301 people all together, it has a range of 7,000 nm at 16 knots.
More people is a BAD IDEA! Blast, you'd think this was the days of the Dreadnaught Fleet and Rule Britannica all over again. You want to have a _very_ basic airwing (3-4 interceptors and 5-10 PS&T platforms) which is supplemented with landbased airpower to standup a full GTW capability. That means any 'house keeping' (ships services) must be minimalized as well. If you do three or four, 20 man, watch crews with one on maintenance and the other the effective battlestaff, that should be _no more_ than 100 people. Assuming you bring in some cabin boy+cook and medical specialists.
OTOH, depending on what you are doing with aircraft weights and WOD requirements, 16 knots on the first pair of gas turbines is pretty weak, especially for heavy ISR and tanking/multimission platforms which is what wins wars.
And has a speed of about 29 knots at 85% power.
Here too, I suspect that Italy is going with high power for a sprint mode in CVTOL launching operations that simply is not indicated by a JSF and skijump shown in the article.
If they went commercial, they could use diesel electric generation with podded propulsors for good steerage way and directional control during air ops with a solid (sustained) 20 knots. This is the 'container ship' technology which brings you your blue jeans and cell phones people. And it only takes about 20-50 people to do it.
It seems like every country is starting to develop aircraft carriers again. Pretty intresting though, I never knew intill know that Italy had a advanced aircraft carrier. One of the artists drawings of it looks kinda like the planned british aircraft carrier, the CVF I believe.
No doubt. The Euros always were a bunch of war-sporters and the beginning of this century has all the hallmarks of burgeoning economic power (the EU itself) allied to follow-the-leader-nationalist pride politics (our fault, we should have learned from Guy Princeps and kept this _strictly_ a crime fighting affair) in shaping the world for another WWI type encounter where 'V3' (Vae Cictis Vickers) rules through arms sales to second and third tier nations who are themselves on the brink of technical equality with the nominal 1st world who uses them as slave labor for high tech manufacture.
In this, the EU represents a greater threat to U.S. sea basin dominance than any Soviet, Nazi or certainly 'terrorist' threat does. Yet our very gapped-absence from the Med and Atlantic AORs means that the vacuum will be filled by nations looking for a reason.
Even with all the above said, there are some basic principles that need to be made clear:
1. Manned Airpower, particularly naval airpower is a joke when it comes to putting bombs over friendly heads 'to be delivered as needed'. You simply cannot put enough jets off the pointy end to be worth the 2-3hr cycle that is sustainable. Let alone the 1:45 that is war surge.
2. If you move to UCAVs the cyclative interval (can) gets a lot longer but you really have to have your C4ISR capability fleshed out to make them useful.
3. If I were going to design a carrier, the first things I would do would be:
a. Pull the mass of the island.
It only adds to structural penalty and heel to pitch rolling moment across a broad beam which is usually made worse by a 'counterbalance' exposed fuel bunker on the opposite side. MEMS type elevateable or faceted-RAM shielded electronics masts can easily replace all functions of the vultures row and the air ops people should NEVER be above the flight deck anyway. All the other justifications (seaway, flak etc.) have long since vanished. It certainly helps remove the idiocy of a radar thumbprint key signature.
b. Forget the axial deck arrangement, this is NOT WWII and STOVL sucks and blows for useful radius at payload:loiter X penalty. Particularly given it is not the 'fighter' but the loitering ISR platform which gets you your time critical targeting (everything fixed-else being cheaper to deal with using missiles) and a 60-100,000lb asset is not STOVLable. Since you are going to have to have lateral deck edge elevators anyway, it doesn't make sense to bottle neck everything into a narrow bow-first launch method.
c. At the same time, don't be a twit and go with an angle deck either. This and the island are the two principle wastes of perfectly good deckplan traffic throughput on the whole damn flight deck. And have been for the sixty years since the bloody Brits invented them. No. What you want is TWO, parallel, short-medium length runways on a SWATH or STAC type hull layout. So that at least one can always be available for both the shoot and trap elements of flight ops without pendant conversion or delays shifting the deck park around. And overall massdisplacement can remain rigid for a broad beam (spacious hangar). Indeed, simultaneous flight ops is WHY post-WWII big decks had FOUR cats installed to begin with. Because the shorter your shoot interval, the less gas you wast and the less an individual cat failure cripples you. Yet look at what we (the principle naval airpower exponent) do with them. Deck Parks. Acres and acres of deck parks. Foolishly placed on the bow which isolates those cats altogether. Even as the waist cat access is blocked by the island elevators (recovery) and JBD cycle. If you move the deck park AFT, everything moves forward to shoot. And can use the starboard side JBDs without pulling the pendant to match a sudden mission generation need (or alternatively without needing to cover the cat tracks for recovery). Obviously, especially with UCAVs the way of the future, not having to constantly crab the airframe off the mean hull heading in recovery is also a LOT easier. Opening the way for JPALS type operations which replace man with the scatter precision (40cm) of differential GPS. It even broaches the possibility of bringing in large assets (C-130 or A-400) to make COD ops 100% more efficient with the full cross-deck area available to accomodate underway replenishment.
Once you look at the carrier the same way the Langley was: a simple bus platform purely for the convenience of fleet scout and shift your battle command and defensive systems (all high emission profile vulnerabilities) _completely offboard_ (if you just have to have a deckhouse block above the waterline); it becomes a lot easier to build CVE or SCS type hulls cheaply and efficiently using commercial technology. Before populating them with 80-120 UCAVs of a deckspot size generally similar to that of a WWII fighter.
ALL of the above could just as easily be replaced itself by moving 'back to the battleship' in a platform which used either a linear accelerator or some kind of giant LP/gas gun (think V-3 here) to accelerate say 1-2 ton projectiles up to about Mach 2 in a partially evacuated bore before lofting them up to about 30,000ft where a further RAP or ramjet assist could complete an ascent to about Mach 5 and 100,000ft for a trip of some 1,200nm downrange if need be. With GPS and MARV steering technologies now branching out to all countries, it's not like the technology base isn't already 'proliferated' while the base cost per ton mile would STILL be at least a quarter of a million dollars less than an equivalent fixed wing strike. Even as it would also be miles and yards more responsive to popup/opportunistic threats.
Here too, you only effectively need ONE or perhaps -two- (backup and subcaliber rounds for longer range or smaller collaterals footprint) barrels and these could run the entire length of a medium sized container or even VLCC type ship. It certainly beats the crap out of Excalibur type guided 5" rounds off an NGS 'just offshore' destroyer (see the Falklands and Garbage Truck Exocet). Because you could put the vessel south of the Straights of Hormuz and still support an amphibious operation into the Euphrates delta. Or all the way up to Baghdad.
Here, the principle argument is apt to be attrition based however. For not only are you burning gas and daylight for the long cyclical lag of fixed wing airpower. But you are also running the risk that DEWS will not proliferate the same way nukes did. By 2015, THEL and M-THEL will be fielded as war-emergency available prototypes. And -assuming- we lead the world in high energy physics, it will not be more than another 5-7 years before the major players in Europe, China and the FSU (if not Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan) are also fielding 100KW, 20-30km, 'eyeblink' weapons which shred airframes in no more than 3-4 seconds of sustained illumination.
With an aeroballistic gun that can launch four rounds per minute using high loft techniques that may exceed 200,000ft, you can saturate the defenses with cruise or even short-pop (bus out) _subhorizon_ (LOCAAS etc.) hunting kill vehicles which are twice as hard to hit (in daylight) as plane using 'nap of the earth' techniques. And perhaps five times as populated in each container shell.
Like all johnny come latelys looking to exploit what is more or less a 'plateau'd' (no more evolution possible) weapons system, the Italians might shift the power balance in a dangerous fashion. Or simply secure the Med so that we don't have to be there all the time (which is itself unwise if the Italian government doesn't have the testes to back up capability with intent to pacify and secure freedom of navigation 'by whatever means or escalation necessary', opposite Libya). But the reality remains that, as shown, the /Cavour/ is nothing but a dated hull design that does little or nothing to expand the boundaries of how _airpower_ (still escalating for at least one more generation of airframes) is employed. And which may become conceptually obsolesced when the paradigm shift towards DEWS removes the option of protecting your airpower by standoff and altitude above the trashfire envelope.