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More Rotting Timbers In The Usn


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Im not sure if that is really true of the F18E which was rather bigger than an F18C. More to the point, they have plenty of room on US Carriers, now they only carry 36 combat aircraft.

 

The story I hear is that its down to Dick Cheney, he pulled the plug on the Tomcat and stopped procurement of the F14D. What was worse, he stopped a promising project called Tomcat 21, which used the Tomcat as a basis but created something akin to the Superhornet. It would clearly have cost more to procure, it would clearly have had more maintenance hours for being a swing wing. But looking at the problems the USN now has of making the F18E capable of dealing with the fleet defense role, its difficult not to conclude Cheney made the wrong choice. But then he had something of a track record for that kind of thing I guess....

 

 

 

 

Dartmouth seems to give good value, though its interesting they shut ALL the other naval colleges (including the well known one at Greenwich) to keep it open.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Britannia_Royal_Naval_College


Greenwich served a different function to BRNC, mid and higher level training that was merged into what is now the tri-service Defence Academy.

BRNC is and was the sole route to a commission in the RN, whether Regular or Reserve, direct or from the ranks, full course, short course or modular course. Same as RMAS for the Army.

 

Thanks for clearing that up Anixthu.

 

Im glad they kept Dartmouth open, I recall it was on the brink of closure in the late 1990's.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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More maintenance requirements and costs would have resulted in even less available aircraft at US carriers. Given the evaporation of the threat of Soviet bombers appearing over the Atlantic and the declining budgets, a more reliable, easier to maintain and flexible aircraft such as the Super Hornet family made more sense.

 

The current aerial threat to the USN carriers is not renewed swarms of Tu-22s and Tu-95 over the Atlantic, but long range land-based cruise and ballistic missiles in coastal regions, covered by advanced SAM-systems and supported by a plethora of recce assets. I doubt having a lower number of gold plated reincarnations of a non-stealthy 1960s design is the solution to that problem. (Except perhaps for the interception of H-6 bombers).

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More maintenance requirements and costs would have resulted in even less available aircraft at US carriers. Given the evaporation of the threat of Soviet bombers appearing over the Atlantic and the declining budgets, a more reliable, easier to maintain and flexible aircraft such as the Super Hornet family made more sense.

 

The current aerial threat to the USN carriers is not renewed swarms of Tu-22s and Tu-95 over the Atlantic, but long range land-based cruise and ballistic missiles in coastal regions, covered by advanced SAM-systems and supported by a plethora of recce assets. I doubt having a lower number of gold plated reincarnations of a non-stealthy 1960s design is the solution to that problem. (Except perhaps for the interception of H-6 bombers).

Even the H-6 is going to use standoff munitions with very long range. I doubt it would be that effectual trying to interdict them on approach.

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More maintenance requirements and costs would have resulted in even less available aircraft at US carriers. Given the evaporation of the threat of Soviet bombers appearing over the Atlantic and the declining budgets, a more reliable, easier to maintain and flexible aircraft such as the Super Hornet family made more sense.

 

The current aerial threat to the USN carriers is not renewed swarms of Tu-22s and Tu-95 over the Atlantic, but long range land-based cruise and ballistic missiles in coastal regions, covered by advanced SAM-systems and supported by a plethora of recce assets. I doubt having a lower number of gold plated reincarnations of a non-stealthy 1960s design is the solution to that problem. (Except perhaps for the interception of H-6 bombers).

 

Well lets think about that a moment. The heavy maintenance requirement of the Tomcats is leveled against it. But they seem to have been reasonably easy to keep operational when new, provided the spares were available. The thing everyone forgets about the Tomcat is that it was first delivered in 1975. Even some of the D models were upgraded A models, one of them known as Christine was one of the first A models delivered. Maintenance of aging aircraft is never easy, doubly so when they have been kept on a carrier at sea in all conditions. Its interesting to note that the maintainers said if you kept them up, they remained up. Meaning if you kept them in operation, they had a tendency to be more reliable. Leaving them in downtime was a surefire way to break them. Sounds counter intuitive, but I heard exactly the same thing said about Chieftains. Some machinery thrives on hard use.

 

Its my view that with modern generation electronics and a lifetime of experience of F14 operations Grumman would have been able to design out the worst problems in it that had emerged, first gen wiring, circuit boards, and so on. Yes, swing wing aircraft are maintenance intensive, there is no doubt about that. But in terms of capability, when you look at what F14's brought to the USN its no contest between that and an F18E. Range, radar, long range missile capability, and a strike capability that would have been comparable to the F15 strike eagle, if the aircraft had been built. It would even have had enough fuel on board to have had a fairly good shake at being a tanker.

 

That isnt to say the Super Hornet isnt a good aircraft, it is. Its just a long way short of fulfilling the fleet defence role, and there is nothing else in the inventory coming forward to fulfill it. There is nothing else to fulfill the long range strike role. The Tomcat did a reasonable job for a role it was never designed for, but the USN is still waiting on an A6 replacement. The A11 was cancelled by Cheney as well I gather....

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A new iteration of the Tomcat would undoubtedly have improved on the maintenance requirements of older generation aircraft, but would these have been competitive with those of the Hornet and Super Hornet that were designed with ease of maintenance in mind? Probably not, it being a legacy design with, moreover, swing wings. Then, there is the cost of acquisition, which would have been stellar. The fact that the USN acquired comparatively few expensive F-14B in the late 1980s seems to indicate that the F-14A was deemed good enough for its role at the time. Same with the D-version, its age was over. At the end of the 1990s a single new-built F-14D was already nearly twice as expensive as a single F-15E.

 

The Super Hornet is of course a jack of all trades, master of none, and affected by the compromises inherent in a carrier borne aircraft. It is also a machine of its time, the arch nemesis lying flat on its back and the resulting dwindling budgets. What it brings relative to a hypothetical Super Tomcat is a good enough aircraft that could be procured and operated in number. Deep strikes with non-stealthy aircraft operating from carriers is a fantasy in this day and age. From another angle, Iran recently demonstrated that it did not even need aircraft to conduct a deep strike.

 

Moreover, as missile, satellite and drone technology proliferates and some countries stock up on large numbers of reasonably modern submarines, investing in expensive carrier battle groups looks more and more akin to building a fleet of battleships in 1938. The money could be better spent elsewhere.

Edited by Daan
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The relatively few F14B's is largely down to the protracted nature of the procurement. They tested it in 1981 IIRC, and were taking delivery in 1987! It was minimum changes, other than the engine (which was a fairly straightforward fit) they fitted some new gauges for the engines and... that was it! There was a reason why they initially called the B the A+, the changes were minimal. Cost probably had much to do with it, the other thing is that it wasnt THAT necessary. If you listen to an online podcast by a Tomcat driver called Okie he said he could fly rings around the B model in an A model, at least in some parts of the envelope. The trick was energy management, and not getting into a condition where you could stall the engine. In fact, its claimed the A model with the TF30 was actually faster at low altitude than the B model, particularly those with engines left over from the F111B. A far cheaper solution would have been to bolt in a digital flight control system, but they did that much later.

 

The D model was largely specialized for ground attack, including FLIR IIRC, and a digital version of the AWG9 that was rather more reliable (and had the ability to paint ground targets too IIRC) Its age had only just began, but with 55 aircraft, a minuscule fleet as far as combat aircraft go, the writing was on the wall.

 

See here is where I come from. You can do long range strike at sea. If you have a standoff of say, 800 miles, from the carrier, and the missile you carry has 300 miles range, you dont need to penetrate enemy radar at all. You are just doing the same as the PRC are doing with their H6's, which also do not need to be stealthy, if you launch far enough away. You are giving your carrier a much larger standoff range than it would otherwise have. And you still have the fleet defence role that needs to be filled. Last I heard the USN was actually going to experiment with hanging SM3 missiles off a Superhornet. Imagine how easy its going to be to bring that back aboard if you dont use them! Particularly in a high sea....

 

 

Its worth relating everyone keeps saying 'The carrier is dead'. But increasingly numerous nations are now building them. The latest talking about getting in on the game is South Korea.

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/30347/south-korea-considers-building-large-aircraft-carriers-as-country-prepares-to-buy-more-f-35s

 

 

Carriers will only cease to be useful when combat aircraft cease to be useful. Afer all, when drone combat aircraft with the performance of a fighter come online, they are still going to need something to carry them at sea, unless one fancies towing them everywhere on the end of a tanker.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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The USAF has realized the importance of a ready force of F15 aircraft. The Navy should have realized the same with the F14. Benefits to the USN’s strike and air control mission needs aside, It would have made a superb export aircraft for nations seeking land based naval air capability.

 

What was the 5th year if I may ask?

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Well I do have SOME sympathy for Cheney. It was the end of the cold war, the F14 looked expensive (for what you got, it probably was not), and they wanted carriers able to carry large numbers of attack fighters to bomb arabs. The interesting thing is, even after making that decision, the USN recognised what a useful bomb truck the F14 was now that the A6 had gone. It was pretty clear a mistake had been made by the mid 1990's, but nobody saw fit to revisit it. I dont blame the USN for removing the F14's they had from the Inventory, they were life expired. I do blame them for not seeing what a useful platform it was for many different roles, and moving heaven and earth to keep the production line open, just as the air force did for the F15.

 

Of course it was alleged Cheney took some back handers to go with the Super Hornet, but that is almost certainly a filthy lie without any validation. His dealings with Halliburton were entirely above board. :glare:

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The USAF has realized the importance of a ready force of F15 aircraft. The Navy should have realized the same with the F14. Benefits to the USN’s strike and air control mission needs aside, It would have made a superb export aircraft for nations seeking land based naval air capability.

 

What was the 5th year if I may ask?

The fifth year was a repeat of the 4th, a favor given midshipmen who failed a subject or failed to have a sufficient final grade average to graduate. They usually were dismissed from the academy, to serve off their obligated active duty as sailors in the fleet, unless they had come from the fleet, whence they resumed their previous grade in service. The criteria for their retention by the academy was obscure, based upon a vote by the Academic Board of officers and a few professors. Too many of the retained [called "turnbacks"] were sons of admirals or major ship commanders to escape our notice; a few were sports figures. Patton was a turnback from USMA, as I recall he had failed math.

 

[ETA:] Rick, I wouldn't touch that one on mustangs, nor would I generalize about regulars, reservists and so forth. They all run the gamut. Some wear it on their sleeve [e.g. the CNO who could not stop bragging about going "from sailor to admiral," that is, until he committed suicide.] Others, you never knew, such as my first military mentor, who never let it show, nor could you read in his official bio that he rose to Sgt before going to OCS.

Edited by Ken Estes
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Ken, in your experience, how did "mustang officers" do?

 

Most of the ones I served with were good officers and had a valuable perspective that they used to more effectively lead their enlisted troops. My couple of years of enlisted service in the Army Reserve were valuable for me to understand things from an enlisted perspective, for example. However, I knew some that hated enlisted people, despite having been enlisted, and consequently were poor leaders.

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Well I do have SOME sympathy for Cheney. It was the end of the cold war, the F14 looked expensive (for what you got, it probably was not), and they wanted carriers able to carry large numbers of attack fighters to bomb arabs. The interesting thing is, even after making that decision, the USN recognised what a useful bomb truck the F14 was now that the A6 had gone. It was pretty clear a mistake had been made by the mid 1990's, but nobody saw fit to revisit it. I dont blame the USN for removing the F14's they had from the Inventory, they were life expired. I do blame them for not seeing what a useful platform it was for many different roles, and moving heaven and earth to keep the production line open, just as the air force did for the F15.

 

Of course it was alleged Cheney took some back handers to go with the Super Hornet, but that is almost certainly a filthy lie without any validation. His dealings with Halliburton were entirely above board. :glare:

 

Thanks to Cheney, the next generation of F14 will likely enter service with the IRIAF. Its name will be an iteration of Tomcat 21 in Farsi.

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Meh, The Pentagon has plenty of money. What it lacks is the will to prioritize/separate the must-have from the nice-to-have. Congressional meddling doesn't help but emotions are so wrapped up in certain programs that you can't even discuss the problem... For example, [puts on asbestos suit], Service Academies. Average graduate costs 4 times more than ROTC graduate and something like 8 times more than OCS/OTS graduate. Show me the business case that the extra cost has led to a commensurate increase in performance... Cuing angry retorts in 3...2..1...

 

You build/operate your navy with the money you have, not the money you wish you had. Defense spending has seen a bump but the appetite of the DOD has increased even faster. Pretty standard to run too many programs and then dare Congress to kill some or come up with more money.

 

Defense_spending.png​

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A good book on the subject is.....

 

Strike From the Sea: U.S. Navy Attack Aircraft from Skyraider to Super Hornet 1948-Present

 

Delves into the A-6F and the BombCat ...........

 

Just as an aside, whoever thought The Flying Dorito (A-12 Avenger II) was ever going to really fly or make it out to the Fleet was on something.

Edited by LouieD
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The F model intruder suffered from the same problems the E model had. It was subsonic, it was non stealthy, it was vulnerable. When you listen to some of the accounts of the pilots whom were expecting to go to Iraq in 1991, they were not expecting to come back. The intruder was no way suited for penetration missions anymore.

 

At least the E model Hornet has SOME stealth features. And a stand off missile capability. The long range is a handicap, but there is probably a couple of ways around that if someone would fork out some money. The fleet defence role to me looks unfillable without a new design.

 

The A12 probably was overly ambitious. But its difficult not to see the shade of it in the X47.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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The USAF has realized the importance of a ready force of F15 aircraft. The Navy should have realized the same with the F14. Benefits to the USNs strike and air control mission needs aside, It would have made a superb export aircraft for nations seeking land based naval air capability.

 

What was the 5th year if I may ask?

The fifth year was a repeat of the 4th, a favor given midshipmen who failed a subject or failed to have a sufficient final grade average to graduate. They usually were dismissed from the academy, to serve off their obligated active duty as sailors in the fleet, unless they had come from the fleet, whence they resumed their previous grade in service. The criteria for their retention by the academy was obscure, based upon a vote by the Academic Board of officers and a few professors. Too many of the retained [called "turnbacks"] were sons of admirals or major ship commanders to escape our notice; a few were sports figures. Patton was a turnback from USMA, as I recall he had failed math.

 

[ETA:] Rick, I wouldn't touch that one on mustangs, nor would I generalize about regulars, reservists and so forth. They all run the gamut. Some wear it on their sleeve [e.g. the CNO who could not stop bragging about going "from sailor to admiral," that is, until he committed suicide.] Others, you never knew, such as my first military mentor, who never let it show, nor could you read in his official bio that he rose to Sgt before going to OCS.

Fascinating, had never heard of the turnback year or the criteria for being eligible for it. Overall, a good idea based on the amount of effort put into the process by the candidate and the institution in the previous 4.

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Not necessarily Tim, but I share your chagrin. "A clean ship is a happy ship" and all that.

 

If a ship is scheduled for upkeep or major overhaul, the time and materiel to repaint the ship is best reserved for when she comes out of maintenance or other non availability. Also, if the ship has returned from overseas deployment [usually six months or more], the immediate priority is crew leave, and thereafter receiving new personnel. Such turnovers don't work well with housekeeping. Those two DDGs that suffered collisions in WesPac were new deployers and showed good paintwork as I recall.

 

Fitzgerald:

 

170617-N-XN177-155_damaged_Arleigh_Burke

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I was pretty shocked. To me it looked like something from a mothball yard.

 

I also wondered if the Navy was using more environmentally friendly paint which didn't perform up to spec.

I believe that General Patton was on to something with his theory that a soldier needed to look like a soldier to feel like one. Unit pride has to manifest itself in appearance to some degree. It's surely difficult to keep the ships looking good when they are at full deployment and don't even have time for mechanical maintenance but there has to be a breaking point where Naval leadership goes to Congress and points out that we need more ships and crew to fulfill the duties that are expected of the Navy. Part of that bargain will have to be that the Navy is more careful with the funds allocated and part of it is a more realistic duty cycle.

 

There is obviously a problem as after two collisions the top naval brass is still in place. Sometimes I think we need our own Jackie Fisher. After reading the Fitzgerald thread a person despairs...

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I was pretty shocked. To me it looked like something from a mothball yard.

 

I also wondered if the Navy was using more environmentally friendly paint which didn't perform up to spec.

 

Don't forget about optempo. The surface warfare fleet is pretty busy.

 

I would be looking at the impact of safety regs on fit and finish ops. I imagine the deck dept doesn't just drop an E2 over the side in a bosun's chair any time it feels like it; its probably a big production now.

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