All posts by Dmitry Shulgin

Great ships require
deep waters

Canberra’s Commander Air, Commander Paul Moggach, told IHS Jane’s that the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) commissioned first-of-class landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra in Sydney on 28 November.

HMAS Canberra (LHD 02)
HMAS Canberra (LHD 02)

Thus, the sealift capability of the RAN has been dramatically increased. Based on the design of the Spanish Navy’s aircraft carrier Juan Carlos, the Canberra can embark, transport, and deploy more than 1,000 troops and their equipment from alongside or by helicopter and landing craft.

Canberra will be joined in 2016 by sister ship HMAS Adelaide (LHD 01). The hulls of both ships were constructed by Navantia at its Ferrol facility in northwest Spain and subsequently transported by heavy-lift ship to BAE Systems in Melbourne for addition of the superstructure, fitting out, and systems integration.

Design changes for the RAN included upgrades to air conditioning, Australian explosives standards in the magazines, enhanced firefighting and medical facilities, and four Typhoon remote-controlled 25 mm weapons systems at each corner of the hull for close-in defence. The Australian-developed Nulka hovering anti-missile decoy will be fitted at a later date.

The flight deck is configured for simultaneous operation of four medium-sized helicopters, such as the NHIndustries NH90 (MRH90 in Australian service) or the Sikorsky S70A-9 Black Hawk, or four Boeing CH-47D/F Chinooks. Up to eight medium helicopters can be accommodated in the hangar, and up to 18 can be carried if the light vehicle deck is also utilised.

The four Navantia-built LCM-1E watercraft carried by each LHD can transport a maximum load of 54 tonnes via the ship’s well deck.

The ultimate goal of these efforts – an Amphibious Ready Group: a battalion-based combat team with enablers that will involve about 2,000 troops and require both LHDs to transport – is scheduled to be operational by 2017.

Initial operational capability (IOC) for Canberra is expected to be reached in 2016, enabling the ship to participate in that year’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.

Earlier this year Prime Minister Tony Abbott ordered an assessment of the benefits of the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and modifying the LHDs to operate them. Unfortunately, the general reaction from senior defence sources of the Royal Australian Navy has been that additional capability would not be justified by the time, cost, and risk involved.

As it is known from open sources, the fourth American warship named for the United States of America – USS America (LHA-6) can fulfill battle missions when configured with 20 F-35B strike fighters. USS America has been modified to make her better able to withstand the great amounts of heat generated by the F-35B’s engine exhaust when taking off or landing vertically. Intercostal structural members will be added underneath flight deck landing spots seven and nine to more closely perform timed cyclic flight operations without overstressing it. Other changes may involve re-adjusting some ship antennas to allow for a clear flight path.

From this, we can conclude that it is not so easy to accommodate aircraft carriers like Australian HMAS Canberra (LHD 02) or Japan Izumo (DDH-183) for using with new multirole fighter F-35B Lightning II.

Landing Helicopter Dock
Landing Helicopter Dock

 

Platform Characteristics

Length Overall                                                                           230.8 m

Length Waterline                                                                     207.2 m

Beam                                                                                                32 m

Design Draft                                                                                7.18 m

Full Load Displacement                                                         27,831 t

Crew and Embarked Forced Accommodation         1,403

 

Machinery

Propulsion                             2 x Siemens 11,000 kW PODs

Bowthruster                         2 x 1,500 kW Brunvoll/Siemens motors

Stabilisers                               2 x Fincantieri

Generators                            1 x 22,000 kW GE LM2500 Gas Turbine and                                                       2 x 7,680 kW Diesel

Integrated Platform Management System              Navantia – Sistemas

Fresh Water                          6 x Reverse Osmosis Plants (each 25 t/day)

Sewage                                     2 x Treatment Plants

 

HMAS Adelaide (LHD 01) and HMAS Canberra (LHD 02)
HMAS Adelaide (LHD 01) and HMAS Canberra (LHD 02)

 

Performance

Maximum Speed                                                                             20+ kts

Economic Speed                                                                             15 kts

Maximum Range                                                                             9,250 nm

Endurance                                                                                           45+ days

 

Capacity

Flight Deck                                                             4,750 m²

Dock (including ramp)                                     1,165 m²

Heavy Cargo Garage                                        1,410 m²

Light Cargo Garage                                           1,880 m²

Hangar                                                                      990 m²

Garages, Hangar and Well Dock               1,350 lane metre (2.9 m wide)

General Store Rooms                                       1,079 m²

Future Growth Margin                                    672 t

The King of the Ocean

The Boeing P-8 Poseidon is an anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare aircraft developed for the United States Navy. Nevertheless, the US Navy is not a unique operator of that powerful aircraft. India renamed P-8 Poseidon into P-8I Neptune.

Jim Anderson, Boeing Photographer
P-8I Indian Navy B1 First Flight Renton WA; Jim Anderson, Boeing Photographer

Ironically, Poseidon (Greek: Ποσειδῶν) was one of the twelve Olympian deities of the pantheon in Greek mythology. His main domain was the ocean, and he was called the «God of the Sea». The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology; both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon. So why in India sailors prefer Roman mythology Greek? I have no idea.

Notwithstanding, Boeing has delivered the sixth P-8I Neptune to the Indian Navy, the company announced in a statement on 25 November, as IHS said.

The aircraft was said to have arrived at Indian Naval Station (INS) Rajali in Arakkonam (southern India) on 24 November. It joins five other P-8Is already being used by the Indian Navy and is scheduled to begin flight trials «in the coming months», according to the statement.

The latest P-8I delivery is part of an eight-aircraft contract worth USD2.1 billion awarded in January 2009 to replace India’s ageing Russian Tupolev Tu-142Ms. The first aircraft was handed over to the Indian Navy in December 2012; the final two are scheduled for delivery in 2015.

The P-8I Neptune is based on Boeing’s 737 commercial aircraft, and can accommodate a crew of nine including five mission system operators. The aircraft has an operating range of more than 2,000 km with a four-hour on-station endurance.

The aircrafts are equipped with Raytheon’s APY-10 surveillance radar that incorporates air-to-air, air-to-sea, and all-weather modes. According to an IHS Jane’s report in May 2013, the aircraft are also armed with Raytheon’s AGM-84L Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles and Mark-54 torpedoes for submarine prosecution.

Accordingly, India shows its serious ambitions for its military presence in the Indian Ocean.

P-8I is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon
P-8I is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon

P-8A Poseidon (P-8I Neptune) Technical Specs

Wing Span:                                                   123.6 ft (37.64 m)

Height:                                                            42.1 ft (12.83 m)

Length:                                                            129.5 ft (39.47 m)

Propulsion:                                                    2 CFM56-7B engines, 27,000 lb                                                                                   thrust (12,237 kgf, 120 kN)

Speed:                                                               490 kn (564 mi/h, 908 km/h)

Range:                                                               1,200 nmi with 4 hr on station                                                                                     (2,222 km)

Ceiling:                                                              41,000 ft (12,496 m)

Crew:                                                                  9

Maximum Takeoff Gross Weight:     189,200 lb (85,820 kg)

 

P-8A Poseidon (Anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare)
http://usnavalaircraft.blogspot.ru/2014/11/p-8a-poseidon.html

Rule, Britannia!
Rule the waves!

As defense-aerospace.com reported, the U.S. Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin finalized the eighth F-35 Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP-8) contract for 43 F-35 Lightning II airframes valued at $4.7 billion, including $0.5 billion of Advance Procurement funding that was announced at the time of award.

F-35A Lightning II
2014 Darin Russell
Lockheed Martin

The 43 F-35 include 29 jets for the United States and 14 for five international countries. This agreement reflects an average airframes unit cost approximately 3.5% lower than the LRIP-7 contract signed in 2013 and a 57% reduction since LRIP-1.

Thus, LRIP-8 per variant airframe unit prices (not including Pratt & Whitney F-135 engine cost!) is as follows:

Furthermore, the LRIP 8 contract provides for the production of the first 2 F-35A for Israel and the first 4 F-35A for Japan, along with 2 F-35A for Norway and 2 F-35A for Italy.

The United Kingdom will receive 4 F-35B (STOVL). The contract also funds manufacturing-support equipment as well as ancillary mission equipment.

Lockheed Martin will begin delivering LRIP 8 units in early spring 2016. Once production of LRIP 8 aircraft is completed, more than 200 F-35s will be in operation by eight nations.

Thus, as a result of American allies will be able to explore new sophisticated stealth machines and test them in real conditions.

I guess the United Kingdom is the most interested operators of all allies to the F-35 contract. By the way, Gareth Jennings (IHS, London) says the UK already has two operational test and evaluation (BK-1 and BK-2) and one training aircraft (BK-3) delivered and flying out of Eglin Air Force Base in Florida (USA).

The order of 4 F-35B marks an initial buy from the MoD’s Main Gate 4 acquisition approval process for 14 jets to equip the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) 617 Squadron, which is scheduled to stand-up as the UK’s first operational F-35B unit in 2016.

In 2018, 617 Sqn will transfer to its future home station at RAF Marham in the UK, and in December of that year the UK will declare initial operating capability – land (IOC – Land) for its F-35B force.

Queen Elizabeth
IHS – Aircraft Carrier Alliance

The second unit – the FAA’s 809 ‘Immortals’ Naval Air Squadron – will be created ahead of the commencement of sea trials aboard the future HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in 2018, with the full operating capability (land and maritime) being declared in 2023.

The exact numbers of aircraft are yet to be decided, but with the UK having so far committed itself to just 48 F-35 it is likely that the final order will be substantially less than the 138 programme of record.

À la guerre comme
à la guerre

As you could hear, the famous soap opera «Mistral and Putin» continues with a new intriguing accompaniment.

BPC
STX France

On November 25, the Reuters reported, France suspended INDEFINITELY on Tuesday delivery of the first of two Mistral helicopter carrier warships to Russia, citing conflict in eastern Ukraine where the West accuses Moscow of fomenting separatism.

«The President of the French Republic considers that the situation in the east of Ukraine still does not permit the delivery of the first LHD (helicopter carrying and command vessel)», said a statement from President Francois Hollande’s office.

«He has therefore decided that it is appropriate to suspend, until further notice [when Hell freezes over], examination of the request for the necessary authorization to export the first LHD to the Russian Federation».

«Le président de la République considère que la situation actuelle dans l’est de l’Ukraine ne permet toujours pas la livraison du premier BPC (bâtiment de projection et de commandement). Il a donc estimé qu’il convenait de surseoir, jusqu’à nouvel ordre, à l’examen de la demande d’autorisation nécessaire à l’exportation du premier BPC à la Fédération de Russie». (Le Monde)

My prediction:

Russia will not receive the first Mistral (Russian sailors named him «Vladivostok») in the nearest future, I mean, in December of this year.

Vladivostok
DCNS Group

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS (STX France, shipyards – Saint-Nazaire and Lorient)

Length overall                                                199 m

Breadth                                                              32 m at the helicopter deck level

Maximum speed                                           19 knots

Full load displacement                              21,500 t

Complement                                                   160 crew, 450 troops

Range                                                                  11,000 NM at 15 knots

Carrying capacities                                     16 helicopters

What was the purpose of this deal? Why Russia wants to spend more than €1.2 billion for the purchase of ships, which she would never be able to use? Because Russia has a common land border with all «enemies», such as China or Ukraine. This is the billion-dollar question.

By the way, if you are interested in comparison Mistral with the American amphibious assault ships, you could see general technical specifications of some LHA and LHD in my navy blog (http://navyarm.blogspot.ru/). I suppose, Russia has no chance to prevail in this direct comparison with the US Navy.

Thank DCNS Group for the photos