Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Today's Reading Assignment

The British-French CVF (

...Norman Polmar, at, on Britain's plans to build two real aircraft carriers, scheduled for completion in 2014 and 2016, respectively. The new vessels will replace the three small "Harrier carriers" that entered service in the early 1980s.

With their "split island" design, the British carriers will have a rather striking (some might say odd), appearance. The CVF carriers are smaller than their American counterparts, displacing about 65,000 metric tons, compared to the 100,000 (long) tons displacement of our Nimitz-class. The vessels' embarked air wing will consist of U.S.-designed F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and helicopters.

While the U.S. will soon have an "all-nuclear" carrier fleet (with the pending retirement of the USS Kitty Hawk), the CVF design with be conventionally powered, with a top speed of 25 knots. The British apparently decided that the added cost and complexity of a nuclear propulsion system over-ruled potential benefits, namely, a higher cruising speed.

While the smaller "Invincible" class ships (and their Harrier V/STOL jets) performed yeoman service in the Falklands conflict and other operations, it was clear that Britain needed a bigger carrier--with more capable aircraft--for future contingencies. Enter the CVF.

It's nice to see the Royal Navy get back in the game with a more capable design, one that will be shared with the French. According to Mr. Polmar, the French CVF is scheduled for completion in 2015, but with their current carrier (the Charles deGaulle), scheduled for a refit and refueling in the same timeframe, it's doubtful that France can meet that schedule.

We only hope the French can find more reliable propellers for their new carrier. Enroute to the U.S. in 2000, the deGaulle lost one of its screws, and the French MOD promptly discovered that the supplier had gone bankrupt.


Galrahn said...

Aviation at sea is becoming vogue.

Italy, Spain, France, Britain, US, Japan, South Korea, Russia, India, China, and Australia all involved in a major sea based aviation project.

RussInSoCal said...

The Brits should make use of their own invention - the catapult - as the French intend to. With their ramp configuration, only one aircraft can be launched or recovered at a time. And it seems a waste to not go ahead and install a nuke power plant. Space savings not to mention a faster cruising speed. Its also small. IIRC it will only handle some 40 planes. To this layman it seems to be the bare minimum for a new class of carrier with a long lead time. I doubt either the UK or France will deploy this ship until 2020.

Lowly Knave said...

I could leave an insipid remark about the bedsheet the French use for a flag, but I'll restrain myself.

What I really was hoping is if you or one of your readers could identify what appears to be anti-tank mines found in Canada recently. There is a photo here:

Any input would be appreciated.

Thanks, 86.

El Jefe Maximo said...

I really wonder if the Brits will build both ships ?

Did you check out the way they're going to build these things ? Different hull sections by different contractors, then moving them and assembling the whole. I know this has been done with merchant shipping, but warships with all the compartmentalization, armor protection, etc. ? Has it ever been done with warships that big ?

Seems like the Germans tried that idea with their last U-Boat class in WW II (the Walther boats), and that it didn't work out too well.

BigFire said...

The challenge of going nuclear power on ship of this size is a non-trivial matter. The French decided they could just put in submarine reactors and found out the hard way that the scaled up model requires a bit more shielding than they have anticipated.