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Does the R.A.N need an Aircraft carrier?

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posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 11:42 PM
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We come to the question why have a carrier if we are in an International or US Naval Force.

Lets ignore the social or political merits of some of our committments. Bottom line is if we are aware our National Government is going to commit our forces, especially ground troops to an ongoing operation, we better damn well expect the Government to deploy assets so that those troops will know they have support when they call for it, whether its additional ASW looking for a NK diesel sub inshore, calling in a CAS mission from a small deck offshore, or lifting in reinforcements and taking out casualties.

If US or UK assets are hard pressed supporting thier own, then Australians should know flying Kangaroos are about to support them.

It eases our sea and airlift efforts.

For security and diplomatic purposes it would aid us if we did not have to permantly base fighters and tactical helecopters ashore in some countries. Having an ability to lift one or two combat companies at a time, or flying CAS missions from a safe location is vital. Beats flying one helo at a time off Manoora or Kanimbla.

Our Merchant Navy situation is a bit more precarious than say the UK or US. We had 99 registered hulls in 1988 in 2000 that dropped to under 54. This year a major shipper announced it was getting out of the game. The prediction that we would hit 35 hulls by 2010 is looking like being overly optimistic. The present government has made the outragous statement they see nothing wrong in a maritime dependent nation being a merchantile user, and not an operator in its own right.

So if a US transport or two isn't available, and we can't lease a Merchant ship for political reasons (and I can think of lots of reasons a foriegn owned ship owner might say no) we need the option of our own sealift. And if we want an some economy in the matter an aviation ship does the trick.

Finally, its a International PR tool. In the 1991 Gulf War, the UK MoD decided not to deploy one of the RNs carriers with Shars. It was deemed that in the presence of six USN Battlegroups and the Amphibs its contribution would be negligable. They neglected to consider other options for its use. The French Navy used one of thier Clemanceau class carriers to lift all their Army's helecopter support to the Gulf.

Its presence impressed several regional governments, and led to closer trade, defence and diplomatic relations with some of them.

It also demonstrated the French Governments resolve to support its ground troops and play a full part in the UN approved action.

In 2003 an RN Carrier deployed and operated Shar2s and GR.7s, along with Westland Commandos and Sea Kings in support of its own Marines and Army formation ashore.

It is important when our troops are involved they be seen to be supported.




posted on Oct, 7 2004 @ 12:04 AM
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I read comments by First Lord of the Admiralty, Adm. Sir Alan West, RN that he made in an article in Navy International a couple of years ago.

It was before the latest round of defence cuts and after the CVF program was announced.

He was asked if he thought with the focus of the RNs operations shifting to Peace Keeping and Enforcement roles, Humanitarian Operations and Policing duties did he feel that its professional focus would shift away from war fighting to these other areas.

He replied that whilst the roles were more diverse, everybody understood the RNs focus was still on its war fighting capabilities and maintaining the professionalism this required.

He said that as long as the RN maintained its professional skill levels aimed at warfighting, that professionalism would allow them to gear down for the Peace Keeping and Humanitarian roles they are in demand for.

If the RN changed its focus to these lower intensity roles, then when it came to warfighting it would be a much more disavantageous difficult and dangerous matter to gear them back up to that level.

He said it better than me.

I think the same applies to the equipment.

My navy with a carrier, amphibs, support ships, subs and escorts can still patrol our offshore waters.

Our Government has just ordered 14 new under gunned and unprotected Offshore Patrol Boats for anti fisheries and smuggling patrols. If our politicians get involved in anti piracy and anti terrorist naval patrols in co-operation with our northern neighbours in thier shallow and narrow waterways, then eventually one of them will get the bright idea of deploying some up there. I think

I understand what Admiral West means.

Thats why I think our navy needs a carrier and two is better. Its not a lack of money. Its a lack of will and understanding.

[edit on 10-10-2004 by craigandrew]



posted on Oct, 7 2004 @ 12:44 AM
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craigandrew - Stop typing a book!


People want good informative short answers, not rambling on and on and on and on.



posted on Oct, 7 2004 @ 01:00 AM
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Ive finished. Thank you for your feedback.

Summarise;

Carriers good for RAN. Many Good Reasons.

People who dont agree. Just say "Dumb Idea"

Either way beats taking two years to build the picture.

Peace.



posted on Oct, 7 2004 @ 01:21 AM
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Originally posted by Murcielago
People want good informative short answers, not rambling on and on and on and on.

Don't be perturbed by this craig, some of us can, and even enjoy reading posts longer than 1 or 2 lines.



posted on Oct, 7 2004 @ 09:49 PM
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Thanks Kano,

Navy - the official magazine of the Navy League of Australia and my copy of Wings Across the Sea gave some interesting hints about the Invincible in RAN service as HMAS Australia.

When the aqquisition was announced in 1982 the RAN looked at what they were getting. The main concern was the Sea Dart system. The RAN did not want to support it logistically because it would be the only Sea Dart launcher in the entire fleet! So they sketched out plans for it to be removed, the deckspace was extended, and the below deck space assigned to improved air stores storage. The CIWS defences would be enhanced.

The RAN held out the hopes that it could convince Government to replace the A-4s and Trackers with Sea Harriers and more Sea Kings.

Until the 1983 cancellation RAN staff hoped to apply the modification to the Improved Invincible they expected to be built and delivered by 1988-90.

It amazingly mirrored what the RN did with the class in thier late 1990s refit. Or perhaps the Admiralty had details of the intended RAN mods on file?

A former member of the FAA wrote a fanciful account in "Navy" of the HMAS Australias career from 1985 to 2015 to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the announcement to axe carriers from the RAN line up. It was done as a Chief of Naval Staff address on the eve of her retirement, as he talked of his old ships achievements. There was an even more fanciful notion she was being sailed to the UK to collect the "new" HMAS Australia - A CVF!



posted on Oct, 8 2004 @ 09:10 PM
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Oh yea,

"Navy" carried an article credited as an official US DoD/USN press release.

It announced approval had been received for the scrapping of decomissioned Forrestal Class CVs. The view had been held given thier size and time in Reserve, and the CVN Force programe there was no point in holding them anymore.

Further, agreement had been reached for the vessels to be prepared for scuttling off the US East and West Coasts as the worlds biggest artificial reefs. at specific locations. Apparently ecology and fisheries experts said that the mass of the ships as sunken reefs would be a boon to the biodiversity and the local fishing industries.

Whatever, if its true, I would like to be there with a camera when one of them goes. Everyone has always wondered what it would like if one of them were ever sunk. This is as close as we might ever get, short of a naval war.



posted on Oct, 8 2004 @ 11:38 PM
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I wish Australia would pick up the Invincibles and Shar 2s. If they were available now and the Government here had the manpower.

I understand they have all recently completed a major refit and UK politics aside, the Shar2s were great value for money. They would be the perfect reintroduction for the RAN to carrier ops, pending delivery of a new ship/s & aircraft in 10-15 years.....CVF/F-35 perhaps .......har! inbound flying pigs. Ive got more chance of being elected PM!

But what I have read is that, bar an offer from India for Invincible ( rumored to be to push the Russian CV negotiations along) the MoD plan on keeping all three through to then end.

Its a pity about the Shar2s. I was doubtful about upgrading them with the new Pegusus 109s (??) as in the GR.9s, but I admired someones suggestion of going to Boeing and reopening the line for a GR.9/Shar2 hybrid, using the Shar2s radar and BVR missiles married to a Harrier II airframe. I dont know the difficulties of it but it sounded good. The Boeing/BAES Sea Harrier 3?

I know people think Harrier is dead with the advent of F-35 but the aviation magazines have been reporting that a VSTOL version of the JSF might be in trouble due to complexity and cost. Additionally they are reporting that the principle users have been cutting thier committments as the costs go up. If this is true, several air arms (USMC, RAF/RN, Italian and Spanish Navies) might need to hold onto thier Harrier IIs, and even acquire new upgraded models. I hope Boeing has this at the backs of thier minds.

Any comments?



posted on Oct, 9 2004 @ 12:18 PM
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The Shar sqns have already begun to disband but the carriers will be staying in service until the new ones come along as the RAF Harriers are to continue to be embarked, although this leaves the RN without any form of BVR air defence until the F-35B comes along.

I very much liked the idea of a Harrier II based Shar 3, BAE too had the very same idea around the time that the AV-8B+ came out but I suppose there were good reasons for not following it up. Not least, probably, because the Shar 2 was still entering service


The Shar 2 would be an excellent buy for the RAN and it would be great to see them still flying, some of the RN's shars are only three years old! What a waste!



posted on Oct, 9 2004 @ 02:07 PM
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I think that Australia might want to consider buying the Kitty Hawk when it retires. It is a full sized conventional carrier and I believe that it is being rep[laced by the USS Ronald Reagan. It wouldnt be too hard and you already have training on hornets so it should be easy to transition to it.



posted on Oct, 9 2004 @ 05:23 PM
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The theory sounds good but (I think, so correct me if wrong) the Oz Hornets are flown by the RAAF whereas a carrier compliment would be operated by the RAN. This isn't a barrier to buying the kittyhawk or a reason to buy the British ships and planes as full training would be required whatever solution was adopted.

Navies never like being dependant on the Air Force even though that will be the situation soon in the UK when the last Shar has gone.



posted on Oct, 10 2004 @ 12:29 PM
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I know people think Harrier is dead with the advent of F-35 but the aviation magazines have been reporting that a VSTOL version of the JSF might be in trouble due to complexity and cost. Additionally they are reporting that the principle users have been cutting thier committments as the costs go up. If this is true, several air arms (USMC, RAF/RN, Italian and Spanish Navies) might need to hold onto thier Harrier IIs, and even acquire new upgraded models. I hope Boeing has this at the backs of thier minds.


Sounds like pretty much the story of the F-22, save for the international buyers. What you say makes sense, and perhaps we will see a Super Harrier as a result, with a 3-post thrust vectoring system, afterburner, supersonice dash and a whole slew of electronic goodies perhaps including options for a laser cannon external pod, EMP microwave stuff and stealth systems (though with that huge compressor face staring back at the radar it's a bit difficult).

I for one would be keen to see the RAN acquire a carrier again - though I don't know how long Aus will be the US's sidekick in the War on Terror / WW3. Australian politics are a bit beyond me I'm afraid... all I know is they have an Usher Of The Black Rod and occasopmaly rent the Queen of England for inspection tours


And as for your book writing, I find it very interesting. This is a good thread to bookmark!



posted on Oct, 10 2004 @ 12:37 PM
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Originally posted by waynos
The theory sounds good but (I think, so correct me if wrong) the Oz Hornets are flown by the RAAF whereas a carrier compliment would be operated by the RAN. This isn't a barrier to buying the kittyhawk or a reason to buy the British ships and planes as full training would be required whatever solution was adopted.

Navies never like being dependant on the Air Force even though that will be the situation soon in the UK when the last Shar has gone.


LOL! The Navy types would have kittens if that were ever the result. No, I think they'd rather poach RAAF pilots to fill in the gap. Still, this sort of thing's never really happened before, to my limited knowledge.

PS I'm seeing a lot of defence force recruitment on MSN Oz. Do you think this is indicative of anything, craigandrew?



posted on Oct, 10 2004 @ 09:43 PM
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Hi guys

Sorry for the length of reply. If you dont like it skip it. *smiles*

1. The RAAFs Hornets I think are essentially upgraded F-18A/Bs with the landing hooks and so forth. So technically there is no reason they couldn't land on a surplus USN CV with the proper training. And we are talking about fighter jocks. They'd get woodies just thinking about, as long as they didn't have to swap uniforms.

2. I dont think manning a USN CV would be practical even though our Navy would probably love to. Reasons against:

Costs. It would have to be overhauled and refitted,and given some Oz specific kit, if only to keep industry happy in marginal electorates -I think they call them Districts in the US. They might payout for a smaller new ship, but not on something that is effectively going to be 40-50 by the time we get it.

Age. They are gunshy about taking on older ships after the last Government brought 2 old ex USN LSTs to refit and return to service, causing a political firestorm when cost and schedule blew out. We've knocked back several offers from the USN to take on 4 second hand ships - The Kidds, Ticonderogas and Spruance class vessels in the last six years to replace our old scrapped DDGs, despite the circumstances of the offers being totally different. Walk away price $120 million while they still had steam up.

Man power. The RAN would effectively have to decommision all our available escorts (presently 10-14 depending who you ask). The carrier might not need them, but we do for other roles. Its another reason we couldnt accept the USN Interim DD/CG offers ahead of DDG 2015, and why our three 1960s Adams DDG were still scrapped. 2 of 6 FFGs are not getting refitted and going to scrap. And 2 of 6 of our new MCMVs are being mothballed.

Theres an overseas head hunting campaign? Great! we need it. We have been having trouble and probably want to grab RN and USN bodies disgruntled by any announced cuts. Turnabout is fair play. the RN recruited ex RAN aircrews and handlers after the 1983/84 cuts. But knowing our politicians its probably under funded and has its sights set too low.

In July 1984 the RAN had 16696 personnel. In 2002 it was around 12,000 with a targetted regrowth of 14,000. They were attracting (accepting?) less than 300 recruits a year. At the time the RANs new popularity had peaked after our role in East Timor, and morale issues became public.

A report recently stated that something like 63% of the Defence budget went to "personnel related issues" including pay.

Total ADF Full time forces dropped from 70,000 fifteen years ago to under 40,000. At some point reserves may have been around 35-40,000 in the early 80s, but there has been a disasterous drop to less than 25,000 due to cost saving measures meant to rationalise and concentrate training periods. Essentially reservists, especially the self employed, couldnt afford the time off for the training blocks. This is bad news for the army especially, as many key support units need Reservist manning to deploy.

This has been spin doctored to cover up ALP and Howard Government negligence and underfunding in the 1980s and 1990s by conducting force reviews to make it look like they wanted numbers to decline (and they did - to save a buck)

That they perform the miracles they do is a credit to the personnel but a double edged sword. Politicians tend to think if you manage a task, then you don't need more funds and personnel. If (or when) people die they scapegoat the Forces.

The ADF had also recently been forced by Goverment to privatise thier media relations, recruiting promotions and actual recruit interview and selection process and it was a massive stuff up (nearly 3000 approved applicants stuck in a 12 month backlog....Many of whom gave up in distgust because thier files were being binned at the end of the cycle for being too old for follow up basically).

So the numbers have been back in decline.

I understand it has been patched up but the ADFs stocks are at a low ebb, despite a massive increase over the years to an $19 billion AUD defence budget, up about $4-7 billion (largely to pay ops costs Peacekeeping, Afghanistan and Iraq), increased recruiting campaigns (fewer people per dollar result) and long term announcements on kit ( coming "soon" to a port near you - 2015).

But Defence had some more good news, in an ironic way.

The weekend election returned the "Pro US" Government of John Howard for a third term with an increased majority in the representatives lower house. What has scared people is that for the first time since the 1970s a sitting government looks like it will have control of the Senate upper house. Bad news for us if they finally privatise the rest of our national telco, scrap medicare, remove the unlawful dismissal laws from workplace relations, and in the case of the anti villification laws, scrapping them to obtain the support of the senate seat that holds the balance, now held by the ultra conservative right Family First party.

Australians usually depend on the upper and lower houses to be split as a check and balance, and when a conservative Government is in, the Upper house is usually in the hands of the left. Not this time and if this result is confirmed, its could be a big mistake.

But it could mean a lot for defence spending if they can pass increased allocations without hinderance.

Heres praying against the worst and hoping for the best. Sorry for the length.

I was also thinking about manning levels and I am posting another long thread at one of the other subtitle forums to do with military issues under the heading of "RAN manning shortages..Ideas" let me know your thoughts and own views...constructively please.



posted on Oct, 12 2004 @ 03:28 PM
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YAustralia could just have private contractors man the ships and navy officials would control the secret areas and command the ship. The US was leaning towards it untill 9/11, but after that recruts poured in so we really didnt need it. The Kitty Hawk still shared many parts in common with the current Nimitz carriers (and the new bigger and improved Nimitz class starting with CVN-71) so it shouldnt be too difficult, plus even though your RAAF hornets are land based, it would be easy to train the Navy to maintin and flly the planes and might even practise a couple of trial carrier landings on a US simulator.



posted on Oct, 24 2004 @ 04:49 AM
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Originally posted by waynos
The theory sounds good but (I think, so correct me if wrong) the Oz Hornets are flown by the RAAF whereas a carrier compliment would be operated by the RAN. This isn't a barrier to buying the kittyhawk or a reason to buy the British ships and planes as full training would be required whatever solution was adopted.

Navies never like being dependant on the Air Force even though that will be the situation soon in the UK when the last Shar has gone.


You want to find out just how little navies enjoy being dependant on air forces, then go read Sharky Ward's book about the Falklands. He wrote the operational book on the Harrier.

Any Service will lie about its capabilities if it can pass cuts to someone else. The RAF told Commons that they could protect the RN anywhere in the world, given the availability of friendly or Commonwealth airbases and that new-fangled air-to-air refuelling.

And that was the last time Parliament decided to scrap carriers and fixed-wing naval aircraft. The lessons from the Falklands were...what exactly?

I don't know about you but I wouldn't want a pilot flying CAP for me who's been in the cockpit for five hours just to reach the patrol zone and has no loiter time left. I don't think the tanker drivers would be too happy about flying towards a combat zone to keep planes in the air who are not their own escorts.

On other related topics, ie NZ. I spoke recently to a Kiwi officer who explained that expense or not, the Army got all warm and fuzzy over the idea that Skyhawks might make it all the way through contested airspace to provide a little support at the FLOT. Newton's equal and opposite reaction was that they got all cold and hard towards the PM and her party when she took their illusion of support away.

The fact is that every government on Earth ignores its military's advice. The Yanks are spending billions on a new fleet of nuclear-powered attack subs to replace the Los Angeles. The only nuc that ever went to war sank the General Belgrano, a WW2 cruiser, and it used a WW2 torpedo to do it.

We sent a squadron of fighters to Iraq and left our bombers at home. What kind of air-war was it?

The proof of the Harrier's success is in the RN/USMC demand that JSF be v/stol capable. We've bought into that program, to the tune of not very much, so we should be looking at the platform to fly them off. After all, their range is bugger-all.

Might get the Army all warm and fuzzy that their shiny new/old M1s won't die straight away.



posted on Oct, 24 2004 @ 06:19 AM
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You seem to believe that I am in favour of Air Forces providing cover for the Navy? I certainly am not and I was apalled to discover that the Shar FA.2, the ONLY Harrier variant with BVR 'look down/ shoot down' capability, at least in UK service, is to be scrapped years before the F-35B replaces it.

Great Britian has a history of calamitous decisions in its defence strategy and many of them relate directly to the shabby way we treat Naval Aviation. The RNAS was absorbed into the new RAF in 1918 leaving the RN dependant on this service until the late 1930's when a rather shoddily equipped FAA was finally instigated. We had the largest Carrier group in the world when the war ended in 1945 but as Britains importance shrank it was natural that the carrier force would shrink with it but the cancellation of CVA-01 in the 1960's was really catastrophic. When we retired the former Ark Royal in 1978 the RAF got the Navy's only Buccaneer and Phantom aircraft leaving us without a naval fixed wing presence until the Shar FRS,1 appeared and now we are doing it again. In this day and age the mind boggles that our politicians see this as not only acceptable, but even desirable!

It now seems clear that the formation of the 'Joint Harrier Force' a few years ago was only the first step in a move that was always intended to strip the RN of its indegnous fighter force, what this means for our future procurement of the F-35 remains to be seen.

when you say

We sent a squadron of fighters to Iraq and left our bombers at home. What kind of air-war was it


Didn't we sent Tornado GR.1A's and GR.4's for low level bombing ops?

[edit on 24-10-2004 by waynos]



posted on Oct, 24 2004 @ 07:17 AM
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Waynos, you know *WHY* the UK is scrapping its Harrier force years before the F-35 becomes available to purchase? Its so the Government can say 'Look, youve managed all this time without an aircraft, so keep on managing. Yay, look at all the money saved!". Make no mistake, when it comes to accepting delivery of the aircraft we have already purchased (a token amount iirc), thats it, no more will be bought. The RN will be left woefully under powered and the government will pat themselves on the back for saving all that money. Theres already talks of scrapping the "next generation" carriers the MoD have asked for, and upgrading current carriers.



posted on Oct, 24 2004 @ 07:25 AM
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I have thought this and I fear you are completely correct, until we are left with egg on our faces again and the hand wringing begins over our lack of capability just as it did when we lost ships in the Falklands due to our lack of AEW capability, which the Gannet AEW.3 had provided until just four years earlier



posted on Oct, 24 2004 @ 08:06 AM
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I think an aircraft carrier with some shiny new F/A-18E's would be great. However in the current war we are fighting our allies have more than enough planes to handle things so it's probably the SAS that we need to expand and fund more. Hey now i think about it why not do both



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