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SPECIAL REPORT

Advances in Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch and Recovery Systems Launching a New Era in Naval Aviation Next Generation Launchand Recovery on U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers Launching Aircraft at Sea: A Bid for Strategic International Influence Technology to Ensure Advanced Strategic Effectiveness Aircraft Launch Systems: Looking to the Future Launching Into the Future

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media


SPECIAL REPORT

Advances in Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch and Recovery Systems Launching a New Era in Naval Aviation Next Generation Launchand Recovery on U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers

SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN ELECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT LAUNCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEMS

Contents

Launching Aircraft at Sea: A Bid for Strategic International Influence Technology to Ensure Advanced Strategic Effectiveness

Foreword

Aircraft Launch Systems: Looking to the Future

2

Mary Dub, Editor

Launching Into the Future

Launching a New Era in Naval Aviation Next Generation Launch and Recovery on U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers

3

Susan Wojtowicz, Director Launch & Recovery Development, General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org Publisher Kevin Bell Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Editor Mary Dub Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles. © 2014. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

Revolutionary Systems for Launch and Recovery Operations Interview with R. Scott Forney, III, Senior Vice President, General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Group • How has the award of the EMALS contract impacted GA? • What capabilities does EMALS bring to the Fleet? • How have you proven the tech¬nology? • What are your most significant challenges remaining?

Launching Aircraft at Sea: A Bid for Strategic International Influence

6

Don McBarnet, International Security Correspondent

Aircraft Launch and Recovery Systems A Combination System STOBAR China’s New Aircraft Carrier

Technology to Ensure Advanced Strategic Effectiveness

8

Mary Dub, Editor

The Cost of the Technology Dilemma – ‘Future Proofing Is Slow and May Be Unaffordable’ Hard Choices Moving on From Legacy Launch and Arrest Technologies

Aircraft Launch Systems: Looking to the Future

10

Mary Dub, Editor

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee Reveals the Secrecy and Speed of the Change in Decision Taking Decisions with Imperfect Information

Launching Into the Future

12

Don McBarnet, International Security Correspondent

Disadvantages of the Nimitz Class System Rand Report Implications An Unmanned Future EMALS in Action India to use EMALS or not?

References

14

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SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN ELECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT LAUNCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEMS

Foreword E

LECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT launch and

Electromagnetic aircraft launchers may well be in

recovery systems depend on a technology

use on China’s latest carriers. The Chinese adoption

that is familiar in China and Japan for commuter

of the latest systems demonstrates the urgency of the

rapid transit services, but it is less familiar in

use of all the latest technologies available. The third

the West. It brings real benefits to aircraft launch

article looks at the dilemma governments confront

and recovery to aircraft carriers – the most

when adopting the latest technology in the face of

expensive and iconic symbol of a nation’s strategic

cost increases and time delays, on a restricted budget.

strike capability.

The arcane process by which the United Kingdom

This Special Report opens with an article that looks at

takes decisions about the aircraft arrest and launch

the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS)

system for the ‘Queen Elizabeth-class’ carrier is

that is set to replace existing steam-driven catapults

explored in the fourth article. The importance of

on US Navy aircraft carriers as a forward-fit program,

budget, coalition warfare and interoperability all play

beginning with Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). The arresting

a part in the decision. But how or why the decision had

gear in use today will be replaced by the Advanced

to be changed again at the last minute remains murky.

Arresting Gear (AAG). EMALS will provide revolutionary

Finally, the Report looks to the future, and the tests

advances in carrier launch and recovery operations,

and trials being run on the EMALS system that is being

which are detailed in the article. The AAG program

installed in the new American Ford-class carrier in

will provide US Navy aircraft carriers with an electric

New Jersey. The benefits of the EMALS system for

motor-based system that will replace the current

the structure of the aircraft as a result of the lower

Mk-7 hydraulic system for aircraft deceleration during

stresses on frames on launch are important. So,

recovery operations.

too, is the flexibility offered by EMALS in allowing the

There is no doubt that the launch and arrest of

management of a spectrum of weights of aircraft

manned and unmanned aircraft from carriers is

to be launched. This means EMALS can calibrate

a process requiring great skill and reliability. The

power launches from lighter unmanned craft to the

hydraulic systems in use since the Second World

latest F-35s.

War have value, but in the face of new manned and unmanned combat aircraft they have limitations. This first second piece explores the way the legacy systems have evolved.

Mary Dub Editor

Mary Dub has covered the defence field in the United States and the UK as a television broadcaster, journalist and conference manager.

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SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN ELECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT LAUNCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEMS

Launching a New Era in Naval Aviation Next Generation Launch and Recovery on U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers Susan Wojtowicz, Director Launch & Recovery Development, General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems

Revolutionary Systems for Launch and Recovery Operations The U.S. Navy has been utilizing steam catapults on its carriers for more than 50 years. Existing steam-driven catapults on U.S. Navy aircraft carriers will be replaced, beginning with Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), by the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) as a forwardfit program. The arresting gear in use today will be replaced by the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG). These systems provide a revolutionary advance in carrier launch and recovery operations and offer a less stressful environment for shipboard operators, aircrews and aircraft. The systems will require significantly less maintenance and onboard personnel, with a correspondingly reduced life-cycle cost. EMALS is expected to: • Reduce manning workload • Minimize thermal signature • Increase launch operational ability • Optimize cycle time to flight deck requirements • Reduce topside weight • Reduce installed volume • Be UAV/UCAV-capable EMALS is a multi-megawatt electric power system involving generators, energy storage, power conversion, a 100,000 hp electric motor and an advanced technology closed-loop control system with diagnostic health monitoring. In late 1999, the U.S. Navy Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) awarded a contract to General Atomics (GA) to build and test a prototype EMALS. In 2004, GA received a contract to build a fullscale EMALS at NAVAIR’s test site and perform system validation tests.

CVN 78 - FIRST TO HAVE ELECTRIC LAUNCH AND RECOVERY

The U.S. Navy’s required performance metrics critical to the success of EMALS were all two to five times greater than the state-of-the-art: motor shear stress ≥30 psi; power conversion power density ≥10 kW/kg; and stored energy power and energy density ≥3 kW/kg and 5.0 kJ/kg. Each metric has been successfully demonstrated to meet or exceed the requirement. One of two contracts to develop the AAG system was awarded to GA in 2003. GA won a down-select and the demonstration contract in 2005. Since then, GA has completed more than 5,600 simulated arrestments on full-scale electrical components in its facility in San Diego, California. A single-wire AAG has been installed at NAVAIR’s land-based test facility in Lakehurst, New Jersey. This system has been commissioned by arresting deadloads simulating various aircraft weights. System performance verification testing is currently in progress. The AAG program will provide U.S. Navy aircraft carriers with an electric motor-based system that WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 3


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN ELECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT LAUNCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEMS

The AAG program will provide U.S. Navy aircraft carriers with an electric motor-based system that will replace the current Mk-7 hydraulic

EMALS LAUNCHES JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER FROM

R. SCOTT FORNEY, III

LAND-BASED TEST SITE

system for aircraft deceleration during recovery operations

will replace the current Mk-7 hydraulic system for aircraft deceleration during recovery operations. AAG is expected to: • Reduce hook and G-loads • Reduce peak-to-mean stress ratios • Increase reliability • Increase recovery operational ability • Increase recovery rate • Reduce manning workload Production contracts for full ship-sets of both AAG and EMALS equipment were awarded to a team led by General Atomics (GA) in 2009. Both systems are under production and began delivery to the shipyard in 2011. The EMALS and AAG work is being performed by the General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Group (GA-EMS) in offices in San Diego, California and in its 367,000 square foot state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Tupelo, Mississippi. All GA-EMS facilities have an ISO 9001:2008-certified quality management system. GA-EMS designs and fabricates linear motors, superconducting and conventional rotating motors, power inverters, high-voltage direct current power distribution systems, electromagnetic railguns and other energy conversion, distribution and storage systems.

Interview with R. Scott Forney, III, Senior Vice President, General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Group How has the award of the EMALS contract impacted GA? The EMALS contract confirmed General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Group is a world-class developer of high power, state-ofthe-art controlled power magnetic components and systems. We were able to leverage our experience with the generation and control of electromagnetic fields gained from our 4 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

work in thermonuclear fusion research, linear motors, and electromagnetic launchers. The contract also served as the catalyst to break ground on our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Tupelo, Miss. Since 2005, GA has invested $50 million in the now 367,000-ft² facility, which manufactures power conversion system components for EMALS and the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) as well as EMALS linear motors. In addition, we integrated a printed circuit board fabrication and test facility and have achieved MIL-STD-2037 certification to manufacture and refurbish electric motor sealed insulation systems for the Navy. We also can now manufacture and test high power motors from kilowatts to 15 megawatts and machine high tolerance parts as small as lugs for cable connections. What capabilities does EMALS bring to the Fleet? EMALS is a highly redundant, modular design with few moving parts, reducing shipboard maintenance and manning requirements while increasing system availability as compared to the legacy system. It brings to the Fleet the capability to launch all current carrierbased aircraft as well as projected future aircraft at a higher sortie rate than on Nimitzclass carriers. The redundancy in the system architecture allows EMALS to complete a launch to desired end speed in a faulted condition. Because of its modularity and scalability, one could even envisage a smaller version of the system on other Fleet assets for the purposes of launching UAVs. How have you proven the technology? The System Development and Demonstration (SDD) contract test plan includes component and subsystem tests as well as full system


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN ELECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT LAUNCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEMS

tests to confirm our models and verify that the design meets requirements. System Functional Demonstration (SFD) land-based testing of EMALS in a single catapult configuration commenced in September 2010 at NAVAIR’s Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst facility, in Lakehurst, NJ. Since then EMALS has demonstrated its full operational range and proved system functionality through 339 aircraft launches, 3,036 deadload launches (as of December 2013) and over 11,000 no-load launches and maneuvers. We have demonstrated the system’s critical launch reliability – the ability to meet commanded catapult end speed, even with component casualties. The primary purpose of SFD has been to test and verify system requirements, capabilities, and limitations by operating the system to, and in some cases above design limits. The single launcher system at Lakehurst has demonstrated the full shipboard launch capability for all vehicle weights (10,000 - 100,000 pounds) and end speeds (70-180 kts) in both nominal and fault-inserted modes. In addition, system components are undergoing environmental qualification tests at certified laboratories throughout the country to verify functionality in the harsh shipboard environment. We have successfully completed electromagnetic interference and emission tests on many hardware components with no measurable impacts to the Fleet, aircraft, or ship’s structures.

What are your most significant challenges remaining? GA is under a firm-fixed-price contract to manufacture the first shipset hardware that is currently being installed aboard the CVN 78. One of the biggest challenges remaining is to complete testing under the SDD contract concurrent with production of the shipboard hardware. The production contract requires GA to implement changes resulting from SDD tests into the CVN 78 hardware at no increase in cost. As testing has been delayed due to discovery and cyclical budgetary instabilities, concurrency has increased, providing a challenging environment in which to manage both contracts. The good news is that the EMALS design is stable and the risk remains low that remaining testing will discover any significant deficiencies that would require design changes.

Contact General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems 16969 Mesamint Street San Diego, California, USA http://www.ga.com/ems Gary Hopper Gary.Hopper@ga.com Tel: +1 202-496-8215 Fax: +1 202-659-1110

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SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN ELECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT LAUNCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEMS

Launching Aircraft at Sea: A Bid for Strategic International Influence Don McBarnet, International Security Correspondent

“Countries that aspire to strategic international influence have aircraft carriers and countries that have them use them. Air power from the sea was an important part of our national story last century and it will continue to be a vital part of our national story this century.”1 Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, First Sea Lord 2009-2013

It is also essential to maximize the flexibility of use of these capital ships, so they should be viewed as multipurpose and potentially multi-role platforms, capable of conducting a range of simultaneous

A

IRCRAFT CARRIERS and their aircraft launch and arrest systems are one off the most iconic and potentially expensive items on any Ministry of Defense’s ‘to buy’ list in the 21st century. What do they do? The new British aircraft carrier ‘The Queen Elizabeth’ is described by Rear Admiral Christopher Parry (RN) retired, as having two main areas of operation – the provision of combat and air power from the sea and the projection of combat and air power at sea2. However, the vessels are so large and expensive that they demand to have an alternative role in times of peace or humanitarian disaster. So Parry adds that it is also essential to maximize the flexibility of use of these capital ships, so they should be viewed as multipurpose and potentially multi-role platforms, capable of conducting a range of simultaneous and discrete missions in addition to – and in the absence of – their carrier-strike capability.3

and discrete missions

Aircraft Launch and Recovery Systems

in addition to – and in

Launching and recovering aircraft from and onto a carrier at sea is an extremely complex process. The carrier can be pitching in high seas and the aircraft still need to be able to launch and be arrested. Historically there has been a range of technologies in use since the Second World War. CATOBAR is the acronym for Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery. With this system, aircraft launch using a catapult-assisted take-off and land on the ship using arrestor wires. CATOBAR has and is used by the US Nimitz class carriers and the French carrier the Charles de Gaulle. Brazil’s one carrier bought from the French the NAe São Paulo,

the absence of – their carrier-strike capability

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also uses CATOBAR. Until a sudden reversal of decision in 2012 linked to the decision on the type of aircraft to be launched on the carrier F-35 A, B or C, the CATOBAR was also the system planned to be built into the two new British Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers planned for 2017, the Queen Elizabeth and the HMS Prince of Wales. However, the Queen Elizabeth class carriers are now to be fitted with Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL). The short take off is usually performed from what is called a ‘ski ramp’ that allows the aircraft to achieve height more quickly. Landing is achieved by the vertical lowering of the plane onto the carrier deck. The classic aircraft to perform this are the Harrier Jump jets. Harrier jump jets were designed for takeoff away from established bases so they could perform the archetypal ‘jump jet’ maneuver of Vertical/Short Take Off and Landing (V/STOL).

A Combination System STOBAR Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) is a system that combines elements of both STOVL and CATOBAR. That means that the aircraft is launched on a short runway without catapults, but is arrested by wires to decelerate the plane on landing. This STOBAR system is used by the Russian Federation naval carrier ‘the Admiral Kuznetsov’. As India has bought its two carriers from Russia it also uses the STOBAR system. While the STOBAR is used for the older Vikramaditya carrier, the CATOBAR may well be employed for the new Vishant class carriers: INS Vishal. This CATOBAR system is closer to the American system and is seen to give the carrier an edge in the South Asian-Pacific Theatre, particularly against China and Pakistan.4


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN ELECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT LAUNCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEMS

China’s New Aircraft Carrier In November 2012, China launched its first aircraft flights off its own new carrier, a new vessel modelled on an elderly Russian carrier bought from Ukraine. The new vessel, the Liaoning (CV-16), China’s first aircraft carrier, took part in exercises in December 2013.5 In June 2014, photos emerged at the Dalian Naval Exhibition Centre that showed that another carrier (CV-18) is under construction. The carrier is shown to have three aircraft elevators, two on the starboard (right) side and one on the port (left) side, and four catapults (possibly electromagnetic) to rapidly launch aircraft.6 Here the possible electromagnetic technology of its launch system is uncertain but is of great interest, because the Chinese have already successfully used electromagnetic linear motors in rapid transit schemes like the Guangzhou Metro 州地铁. This electromagnetic linear acceleration technology is now being developed to launch manned and unmanned aircraft in the United States for the latest Gerald R Ford Class aircraft carriers. This new launch and recovery technology is said by the developers and manufacturers in the United States to have a range of advantages over the earlier CATOBAR, STOVL and STOBAR systems. Although it is new and developing, its status as an aircraft launch technology may have meant a higher cost burden in the United States than the legacy aircraft launch technologies.

The short take off is usually performed from what is called a ‘ski ramp’ that allows the aircraft to achieve height more quickly. Landing is achieved by the vertical lowering of the plane onto the carrier deck

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SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN ELECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT LAUNCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEMS

Technology to Ensure Advanced Strategic Effectiveness Mary Dub, Editor

“China will never build an aircraft carrier. Aircraft carriers are tools of imperialism, and they’re like sitting ducks waiting to be shot,” a senior Beijing official told a group of foreign visitors in 1971.”7

“No great power that has become a strong power has achieved this without developing carriers.”

P

OLICIES CHANGE, and China’s strong economic growth and regional power status requires maritime power projection. China is building aircraft carriers and not being a ‘sitting duck’ is now the rationale behind the driving force to update legacy technologies on aircraft carriers. The pursuit of the latest technological advantage in strategic warfare is central to ensuring effectiveness. Without updating legacy technologies the aircraft carrier risks becoming the sitting duck referred to in the quote from the seventies. Or, as another senior Chinese PLAN official put it: “No great power that has become a strong power has achieved this without developing carriers.”8 And the increasing use of aircraft carriers is seen as an important strategic power projection. With around two-thirds of the world’s population (4 billion people) living within 250 miles of a coastline, the likelihood of carriers playing a role… is significant. A decade after operations began in Afghanistan, the US continues to conduct 30 per cent of its air missions from carriers based in the Indian Ocean, some 450–700 miles from the conflict zone.9 The case argued by government for a British strategic carrier strike capability has a different slant. The British government thinks that future major interventions will be multinational, and the obvious ‘appropriate’ British contribution should be predominantly maritime. Europe needs to come up to the mark in military capability to secure the strategic bargain of its member states with the US; two large carriers speak volumes for Britain in this respect.10

The Cost of the Technology Dilemma – ‘Future Proofing Is Slow and May Be Unaffordable’ It’s the very high cost of constructing and equipping an aircraft carrier over an extended 8 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

period of time that focuses the mind of ministerial officials taking decisions on technology to launch and arrest aircraft from a carrier, whether the carrier is for the United States, China or Britain. In a discussion of what type of aircraft launch system China should adopt, Naval War College Review quotes a debate among top Chinese naval officials about the risks and consequences of the type of aircraft launcher employed. Li Jie says he acknowledges that ski-jump carriers cannot launch aircraft that are as heavy, carrying as much fuel or weaponry, or do so at the same high rates as can a CATOBAR ship. In fact, Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo11 calls ex-Varyag’s use of a ski jump a “mistake” because it precludes the ability to launch AEW (Airborne Early Warning) aircraft.12 In the business of choosing which technology to use to launch and arrest aircraft from a carrier, it is clear that, like the United States, Britain and other carrier owning or aspiring countries, China will face the dilemma common to all of the adoption of new technologies. The dilemma is that the long process of introducing new technologies to future-proof the carrier, may in itself jeopardize the platform’s construction. To put it another way, there is a choice whether to stay on schedule by limiting capabilities or to pursue more complex, higher-performance technologies, and thereby risk jeopardizing the schedule.13

Hard Choices Each aircraft launch and arrest system has powerful implications for the capability of the whole carrier platform. For China, the adoption of the STOBAR system might mean it would be unable to launch AEW aircraft, given that such ships cannot launch fixed-wing AEW aircraft.


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN ELECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT LAUNCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEMS

However, this issue might be circumvented by the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, which could be launched from the carrier. In April 2011 Japanese forces reportedly spotted a small Chinese drone (roughly the same size as the fourteenfoot-long U.S. RQ- 2) overflying a PLAN frigate as a Chinese strike group sailed into the western Pacific. But a capable air-search radar would seem too large to put on a UAV or a ski jump–capable aircraft, and (pending major advances in miniaturization from China’s defense industry) these must be shipbased.14 The purpose of exploring this debate within China is that it is acknowledged that China has a fast rate of growth and a commitment to a projected 12.2% increase in its budget in 2014. That’s an increasing percentage over the previous year. And, even in the context of budget increases, the decisions to include the latest aircraft launch systems are hard.

ADVANCED ARRESTING GEAR – ARTIST’S RENDERING

Moving on From Legacy Launch and Arrest Technologies The purchase and fitting out of an aircraft carrier, even for a country with a 12.5% increase in defense budgets, forces the confrontation with tough choices. For American and European decision makers confronted with similar decisions, to continue with tried and tested systems or to future proof the new aircraft platform with a life span of 50 or so years is demanding. But some countries, like the United States, when put to the choice, are driven to look to newer technologies like the electromagnetic aircraft launch system.

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SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN ELECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT LAUNCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEMS

Aircraft Launch Systems: Looking to the Future Mary Dub, Editor

“We cannot assume that bases for land-based aircraft will always be available when and where we need them. That is why we need an operational carrier. But the last Government committed to carriers that would have been unable to work properly with our closest military allies. It will take time to rectify this error, but we are determined to do so. We will fit a catapult to the operational carrier to enable it to fly a version of the Joint Strike Fighter with a longer range and able to carry more weapons.” David Cameron, British Prime Minister, 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review15

As currently designed, the Queen Elizabeth will not be fully interoperable with key allies, since their naval jets could not land on it

W

HEN THE British government had to take hard choices on the aircraft launch system for the two new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers under construction, the two overriding criteria in 2010 were as David Cameron states, interoperability with NATO allies, who it was thought might need to use the carriers, and the possibility of potentially optimizing the rising budget for the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35, by going for the version which could carry more fuel and weaponry. He expands his theme: as currently designed, the Queen Elizabeth will not be fully interoperable with key allies, since their naval jets could not land on it. Pursuit of closer partnership was a core strategic principle for the Strategic Defence and Security Review, because it was clear that the UK would in most circumstances act militarily as part of a wider coalition. We will therefore install catapult and arrestor gear. This will delay the in-service date of the new carrier from 2016 to around 2020. But it will allow greater interoperability with US and French carriers and naval jets. It provides the basis for developing joint Maritime Task Groups in the future.16

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee Reveals the Secrecy and Speed of the Change in Decision However, two years later, this decision was to change to the STOVL variant with the F-35B aircraft for a range of reasons that, as the House of Commons Public Accounts 10 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

Committee demonstrates, are shrouded in secrecy and obfuscation. In July 2011, the Ministry of Defence had provided evidence for the 2010 decision to reject the STOVL variant to avoid its limitations, which included a shorter range, a smaller bomb bay payload (making integration of UK weapons more difficult), an extra engine and greater complexity, compared to the carrier variant it was then intending to buy. The Department had also pointed out that a vertical landing on the carrier would require significant power and produce a lot of heat and blast, which would have an impact on deck coatings. In hot climates, the aircraft would need to drop its weapons before landing.17 The Public Accounts committee wanted to know why it had changed its decision. The answer was unclear: The Ministry of Defence explained that its confidence in the STOVL variant had increased since 2010. For example, it expected to implement a solution, known as ‘ship-borne rolling vertical landing’, to enable the aircraft to land on the carrier in hot weather. The Select Committee heard from the official in charge of the procurement process, Bernard Gray, who revealed what was probably closer to the truth. When talking about the decision to change the aircraft launch and arrest system and its relevance to the purchase of type A, B or C of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which was planned to be launched from the carrier, he said: “No. This is not about the aircraft – this was the purchase of the catapult system. The point is that the central underlying problem with the


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN ELECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT LAUNCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEMS

2010 decision is the speed with which it was taken and the secrecy with which it was taken, which did not allow either time or access to go and speak to other people. That is at the root of the problem.”

Taking Decisions with Imperfect Information It is of the nature of decision making that, whether it is a complex decision about a multimillion pound aircraft and its related aircraft carrier launch system, or something much simpler, the decision is rarely informed by sufficient information. Jon Thompson’ the Permanent Under Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, alludes to this when he describes the decision to not proceed with Electro Magnetic Assisted Launch Systems. Jon Thompson: “we did have a significantly better understanding of, for example, EMALS, the technical risks and so on, which are set out in the Report. I think you are right to ask whether that information is completely mature, and the answer to that question is still no. We colour-coded whether we thought the information was mature, and indeed the Report colour-codes the maturity of that information. We were trying to say to Ministers, “We still do not have perfect information to make a decision”. So the reversion to STOVL was justified as a lower risk decision that, in their view, would probably cost less.18 The reasoning behind the departmental choice of aircraft launch system is opaque. The Public Accounts Committee underlined some of the reasoning, but the truth is veiled in secrecy.

ADVANCED ARRESTING GEAR TESTING

It is of the nature of decision making that, whether it is a complex decision about a multimillion pound aircraft and its related aircraft carrier launch system, or something much simpler, the decision is rarely informed by sufficient information WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 11


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN ELECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT LAUNCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEMS

Launching Into the Future Don McBarnet, International Security Correspondent

EMALS offers better control over acceleration during launch, regardless of the level of energy delivered, so the Navy could theoretically launch both heavier and lighter aircraft than those launched by steam catapults

W

RITING ABOUT the future is always uncertain, especially in the face of disruptive technologies, which can force a paradigm shift in the space of a few years. But electromagnetic aircraft launch and recovery systems are already part of the present in the United States as the Nimitz-class carriers are replaced by the new Gerald Ford-class. The U.S. Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carriers are arguably the most powerful warships in any country’s naval forces. But the Nimitz-class design is more than 35 years old. Its electrical power-generation capability is insufficient to support such improvements as the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), self-defense directed-energy systems, or energy-dissipating armor, which are all now in development. EMALS will be needed to launch unmanned combat air vehicles, and the other systems will be needed to defend against smart anti-ship weapons, both of which are likely to play important roles in conflict well before the Nimitz class retires.19

Disadvantages of the Nimitz Class System The Rand report on ‘Modernising the US Aircraft Carrier fleet’ refers to several important weaknesses of the Nimitz class carrier that can be covered by using new EMALS technology. The legacy Nimitz system, first built in the 70s, was designed for tactical nuclear weaponry and is not optimized for high rates of sortie generation and handling SMART weapons. Further, it requires long periods of time in shipyard maintenance. Despite the reliability of steam launch systems, they are frequently limited to aircraft carrying a maximum of 70,000 pounds. But, more importantly, the ratio of the peak to mean force applied by the catapult increases at lower levels, meaning that lighter aircraft are more difficult to launch. There is some doubt whether they can launch UAVs. These powerful stresses reduce the fatigue life of manned and unmanned aircraft, which require more maintenance and structural strengthening. 20

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Rand Report Implications Having listed the implications of continuing with legacy systems, the Rand report quotes unpublished Rand research by Professor Ron Hess of the University of California Davis21, who argues that EMALS offers better control over acceleration during launch, regardless of the level of energy delivered, so the Navy could theoretically launch both heavier and lighter aircraft than those launched by steam catapults. This would mean the more controlled application of energy would reduce stresses on the airframe, increasing operational life and reducing maintenance costs. There are other quoted advantages – a reduction in personnel needed for operations and on ship maintenance, more available power to permit the launch of heavier aircraft and improved peak-to-mean acceleration ratio, so reducing stress on aircraft frames. The arresting gear on the Nimitz class requires high maintenance levels and the use of EMALS it is argued would make the demands for maintenance less frequent.

An Unmanned Future The ratio of manned to unmanned combat aircraft will undoubtedly change over the life of the next generation of carriers whether they are Ford-class, Queen Elizabeth Class or those being fitted now in China, India, Brazil, France or Thailand. The United States has already successfully launched an unmanned drone from a carrier.22 And work is already advanced for the X-47B, an unmanned carrier-based surveillance and strike aircraft to be landed on the flight deck of a carrier. And there are reports of algorithms being prepared so that the X-47B’s software would be able to recognize human flight deck signals to aid maneuver on a carrier deck after sorties.23

EMALS in Action The future Ford-class carriers being built in the United States are under construction with electromagnetic assisted launch and recovery systems. Capt. Jim Donnelly, program manager for aircraft launch and recovery equipment, said that this summer (2014) the US Navy will start incremental testing on board the USS Ford so “dead loads” placed on weighted sleds are


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN ELECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT LAUNCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEMS

catapulted by the EMALS system into the river. “As things get connected they will increase the number of tests. The first aircraft launch will be after the ship gets to sea.” Land based flight tests have been taking place at a Navy facility at Lakehurst, N.J. “We’ve conducted 452 aircraft launches and just finished up our second phase of aircraft compatibility testing,” Donnelly explained. The ground-based EMALS catapult tests have launched EA-18G Growlers, F/A-18 Super Hornets, C-2 Greyhound planes and E2D Advanced Hawkeyes, among others including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.24

ELECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT LAUNCH SYSTEM – ARTIST’S RENDERING

India to use EMALS or not? Reading Indian defense blogs, an anecdotal form of evidence, there appears to be an active debate in the Indian Navy about the type of launch system it should have. INS Viraat uses STOVL - Short Take Off and Vertical Landing. INS Vikramaditya will use STOBAR - Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery using a ski ramp; its design reflects its Russian origin. STOBAR will also be in use on INS Vikrant, which is due for delivery by 2017. However, the locally designed INS Vishal may be fitted with the EMALS system, if approvals go forward. There is an awareness in India’s naval hierarchy that CATOBAR and EMALS would allow India’s carriers to fly heavier fighters and AEW aircraft and, crucially, UCAVs (unmanned combat air vehicles).25

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SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN ELECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT LAUNCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEMS

References: 1

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-18706505 4 July 2012 Accessed 02.09.2014

2

The United Kingdom’s Future Carriers: What Are They Good For? RUSI Journal, Dec 2012, Vol. 157, No. 6 By Christopher Parry https://www.rusi.org/publications/journal/ref:A50C7686D1B74E/#.VAHYJkvB_1q

3

The United Kingdom’s Future Carriers: What Are They Good For? RUSI Journal, Dec 2012, Vol. 157, No. 6 By Christopher Parry https://www.rusi.org/publications/journal/ref:A50C7686D1B74E/#.VAHYJkvB_1q

4

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/india/r-vishal.htm Accessed 05 September 2014

5

December 17, 2013 11:20 am Japan unveils defence plan to counter China By Jonathan Soble in Tokyo

6

Is This a Model of China’s Next [3rd Total, 2nd Domestically-Constructed] Aircraft Carrier? Andrew S Erickson: China Analysis from Original Sources: Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer, “Is This a Model of China’s Next Aircraft Carrier?” Eastern Arsenal Blog, Popular Science, 17 June 2014.

7

NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW: BEIJING’S “STARTER CARRIER” AND FUTURE STEPS Alternatives and Implications Andrew S. Erickson, Abraham M. Denmark, and Gabriel Collins https://www.usnwc.edu/getattachment/647f61ae-c554-4475-b344-6e3b8c3d551f/Beijing-s--Starter-Carrier--and-Future-Steps--Alte

8

NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW: BEIJING’S “STARTER CARRIER” AND FUTURE STEPS Alternatives and Implications Andrew S. Erickson, Abraham M. Denmark, and Gabriel Collins https://www.usnwc.edu/getattachment/647f61ae-c554-4475-b344-6e3b8c3d551f/Beijing-s--Starter-Carrier--and-Future-Steps--Alte

9

Tobias Ellwood MP LEVERAGING UK CARRIER CAPABILITY A Study into the Preparation for and Use of the Queen Elizabeth-Class Carriers https://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/Leveraging_UK_Carrier_Capability.pdf Michael Codner Senior Research Fellow and Director of Military Sciences RUSI writing the Foreword for LEVERAGING UK CARRIER CAPABILITY A Study into the Preparation for and Use of the Queen Elizabeth-Class Carriers by Tobias Ellwood MP https://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/Leveraging_UK_Carrier_Capability.pdf

10

11

China Daily: Yin Zhuo, director of the Expert Consultation Committee of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2014npcandcppcc/2014-03/05/content_17323159.htm (Xinhua) Updated: 2014-03-05 09:18

12

P33 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW: BEIJING’S “STARTER CARRIER” AND FUTURE STEPS Alternatives and Implications Andrew S. Erickson, Abraham M. Denmark, and Gabriel Collins

13

P33 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW: BEIJING’S “STARTER CARRIER” AND FUTURE STEPS Alternatives and Implications Andrew S. Erickson, Abraham M. Denmark, and Gabriel Collins

14

P33 NAVAL WAR COLLEGE REVIEW: BEIJING’S “STARTER CARRIER” AND FUTURE STEPS Alternatives and Implications Andrew S. Erickson, Abraham M. Denmark, and Gabriel Collins

15

Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review October 2010 https://www.direct.gov.uk/prod_consum_dg/groups/dg_digitalassets/@dg/@en/documents/digitalasset/dg_191634.pdf

16

Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review October 2010 https://www.direct.gov.uk/prod_consum_dg/groups/dg_digitalassets/@dg/@en/documents/digitalasset/dg_191634.pdf

17

paragraph 12. House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts Carrier Strike: the 2012 reversion decision Eighteenth Report of Session 2013–14 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmpubacc/113/113.pdf

18

House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts Carrier Strike: the 2012 reversion decision Eighteenth Report of Session 2013–14 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmpubacc/113/113.pdf Evidence given by Jon Thompson Permanent Under Secretary at the Ministry of Defence https://www.gov.uk/government/people/jon-thompson--3

19

MODERNIZING THE U.S. AIRCRAFT CARRIER FLEET Accelerating CVN 21 Production Versus Mid-Life Refueling by John F. Schank, Giles K. Smith, Brien Alkire, Mark V. Arena, John Birkler, James Chiesa, Edward G. Keating, Lara Schmidt http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2006/RAND_MG289.pdf

20

MODERNIZING THE U.S. AIRCRAFT CARRIER FLEET Accelerating CVN 21 Production Versus Mid-Life Refueling by John F. Schank, Giles K. Smith, Brien Alkire, Mark V. Arena, John Birkler, James Chiesa, Edward G. Keating, Lara Schmidt http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2006/RAND_MG289.pdf

21

Professor Ronald A. Hess Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

22

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-22542663 15 May 2013 Last updated at 13:30 GMT

23

http://www.navytimes.com/article/20120401/NEWS/204010308/The-next-step-in-directing-drones-hand-signals By Joshua Stewart Staff Writer Apr. 1, 2012 - 10:07AM

24

http://defensetech.org/2014/05/13/navy-to-test-electromagnetic-catapult-on-carrier/ Navy to Test Electromagnetic Catapult on Carrier by KRIS OSBORN on MAY 13, 2014

25

http://activedefence.blogspot.fr/2013/06/ins-vishal-might-use-emals-for-catobar.html Defence Blog - Satyamev Jayate Indian Defence Blog dedicated to Armed Forces - Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Indian Navy and Paramilitary Forces Sunday, June 2, 2013

14 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM


SPECIAL REPORT: ADVANCES IN ELECTROMAGNETIC AIRCRAFT LAUNCH AND RECOVERY SYSTEMS

Notes:

16 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM


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