Fantasy RAN thread (Carriers only)

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Anthony_B_78

Active Member
So if this is now a fantasy thread, I might throw mine out there for discussion and/or ridicule.

Assuming all current plans as a base (and the two joint support ships, one of which replaces the Choules, are official?), my first priority would be to add integrated air power to the fleet. Yep, an aircraft carrier. I'd suggest a carrier of a size somewhat equivalent to the Italian Cavour (244-metres, 25,000-tonnes), if not a little larger to accommodate a slightly bigger air group, when needed.

Cavour's air group is said to be 10 F-35Bs and 12 helicopters. Make that the standard, with 9 ASW helicopters and 3 for AEW. RAAF to stand up two small squadrons with the F-35B, so that one can embarked routinely and the other can - if needed - reinforce it or provide a flight to operate from a Canberra or from land. Figure a buy of maybe 36 -Bs and 24 helicopters of whatever is the most suitable type.

Next priority would be three more Hunters. Perhaps build them in two classes of six. Base half on each side of the continent. Follow those, eventually, with four new DDGs to replace the Hobarts.

Next, well, a second carrier. Add another squadron of -Bs, gets them up to, say, 54, and another dozen helicopters. Gives you one available at any given point in time. You won't need to do any work to the Canberras so they can operate the fast jets.
 

Anthony_B_78

Active Member
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Where is the funding coming from? We know where it will be coming from for the SSNs, out of the Sea 1000 budget.
Well it’s a fantasy so … In all seriousness, this country could spend much more on defence. If we don’t want to cut the exorbitant amount we spend on social welfare, we could always raise GST to reduce funding to the states from other sources.
 

StingrayOZ

Super Moderator
Staff member
This is getting pretty ambitious. To the point of being non-sensical.

We can't just start operating multiple carriers overnight. No one does that.
Huge inflations of the surface fleet are impossible, even given unlimited money.

Lets discuss some of the issues carriers would have before we put forward proposals.

Even assuming unlimited budgets and willingness and solving all the joint ADF concerns. Carriers require sailors. Cavour is around 500 sailors + embarked airwing and any embarked forces. It is not just 500 extra people, that would be a whole new pipeline and would need significant help from elsewhere.

Also IMO Cavour does not offer a convincing carrier solution, for Australia. It is both manpower intensive, expensive, yet has significant limitations. It is designed around Italy needs and the Mediterranean. We also don't have a strong connection to the Italian navy nor does Italy have territory in the Pacific. While offering undoubtedly more carrier capability than our LHD's, it requires another level of investment. It fits with Italy, just fine, Im not convinced for Australia.

Any carrier/big ship acquisitions (If, big if) would have to run the gauntlet of:

Being any more efficient than our LHD's. A third LHD would require ~290 sailors. They are crew efficient ships. However, the pipeline and training for the LHD's is already in place, crewing 3 x LHD efficiencies could be found, there are ex-Canberra class people around the place now. We could bring such capability up quite quickly, through widening the pipeline and retention. Spain operates a similar type with harriers. Between this there could be opportunities for the US to embark F-35b's and develop doctrine and assess capability and transfer this to the RAN fairly quickly. If we are only interested in light carrier capability embarking perhaps 6-8 F-35B max, this might be adequate. The RAAF would not be particularly worried about such capability. Its main focus might be as a ASW carrier that is able to embark some F-35b's from time. 12 x F-35B airframes could be acquired for this purpose. While costing billions, man power wise, it conceivable, and in a relevant timeframe. Experience can be incorporated from Italy, Japan, UK, Spain in this, but the RAN would already be in a good position.

But its limited.. 4-8 embarked is realistic. Less if you want strong ASW capability. The LHD isn't an ideal ASW platform or carrier platform. Its not particularly fast (although the RAN has made her faster, with 4 bladed props). It isn't configured as a carrier/ASW platform. No large bow mounted sonar. Any existing ships would need significant reworking to fill that role. But this is a less unknown than what it was say 3-5 years ago.

or

Going all out with the QE. Requiring about ~670 RAN crew. However, the UK operates two of these type and the RAN/RN have close links as do the AU/UK. This is only conceivable if perhaps the RN and the UK were help with heavy lifting. That is conceivable. The RN could reorganize, offer a UK sailor pipeline into such a project, almost a joint manning arrangement. RAN staff could be seconded to the RN enmass to assist. To make good use of the ship, you need squadrons of F-35b's. RAAF would also have to be seconded to the RN and the USMC. Budget and manpower for say two squadrons (48) would require easily hundreds of extra full time positions at various levels, probably near equal to the RAN ship requirement both in ship based and land based positions. This project would be big enough to warp the RAN and the RAAF for decades. IMO this would only be considered if the RN was looking at losing a carrier, then relocating ~several hundred otherwise unemployed RN sailors to Australia and basing it out of here, could, in theory be considered. Perhaps if the UK was to break up as an entity and have a much smaller defence budget? Or perhaps the UK could base a carrier our of Australia for a period of say 5 years, and in that time Australia had a plan to build up its carrier force.

How many carriers do we need? Its not ad Infinium.
How big do we need them? At some point we warp the entire RAN and all its functions just to crew a single carrier. At the moment our largest crewing ship is ~290 sailors.
What mission do we need to do with them? The more focused the carrier, the more limited capability in other missions. RAN doesn't operate every type of ship.
Do we expect them to operate outside of land base long range cover?
Can we afford to operate such a carrier in peace and war?
How are you going to support the airwing?
Whats the Doctrine and the CONOPs?

The RAAF wanted 4 squadrons so one could be rotated through Butterworth. IMO a split squadron of 12 x F-35B's 12 x F-35A's still gives them that option. 4-8 could be rotated through on a RAN LHD, while the RAAF could re-structure to have 21 F-35B in a squadron and rotate 21 F-35A's through butterworth. The idea may be to grow the RAAF in time back up to 24 unit squadrons. Or embed 3-4 drones into each squadron or have a squadrons of 3-4 drones. Or/And if the carrier power proves worthy and cost effective, enlarge the purchase of F-35b's. I think the RAAF could live with this.

Examples of instantly getting multiple squadrons of F-35b's would require genies and magicians.

I imagine any RAN carrier the idea would be to support and operate around the Malacca straits (or Sunda and simular), under some aircover (p8's, E7's) from Butterworth/Singapore/ Christmas Island. We won't be sailing her between Taiwan and the mainland. But she could travel where and when the RAN needed her as part of a wider taskgroup, infrequently/adhoc. Escorting a TG to Japan for example.

In this case, embarking 4-8 F-35B's may be entirely sufficient. Able deter small attacks from long range bombers or drones, while performing a ASW mission. The embarked aircraft would then be quickly reinforced by land based aircraft supported by refuelling assets if required and the naval task group could move closer to land based elements if the pressure heats up until other allied resources could be reallocated. While the F-35B has limited naval strike capability, the P8's could carry LRASM giving an instant strike capability, even at significant distances. In most cases the F-35B could focus on being a forward deployed stealthy sensor platform and air control.

The other consideration is when you would have any F-35B's delivered.

Singapore is getting theirs in 2026, quick considering their order date.. Then you have to bring that capability up to speed. The window on Australia getting any F-35B's is closing IMO. If you wanted to have something, even something small scale, operational by 2030.

Any significantly new capability will definitely be a stretch.

We could squeeze our surface combatants to say 14-15 over time. Crew and build possible. Expensive and difficult though.
We could squeeze to crew perhaps 1 big or 2 fairly big ships. Big being perhaps 300 crew in total.
We already have ambitious targets regarding submarines.
Refitting older existing vessels often takes up large amounts of money and time. Particularly to add many new weapons or better new systems.
The Navy doesn't run the ADF. More and more naval assets doesn't always work for the ADF as a whole.
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
Where is the funding coming from? We know where it will be coming from for the SSNs, out of the Sea 1000 budget.
WRT funding IF a CV program was approved, the government would have to provide a dedicated funding package for the complete project comprising of the CV, aircraft, DDG, SSN, FFG, AOR and ancillary services.
So if this is now a fantasy thread, I might throw mine out there for discussion and/or ridicule.

Assuming all current plans as a base (and the two joint support ships, one of which replaces the Choules, are official?), my first priority would be to add integrated air power to the fleet. Yep, an aircraft carrier. I'd suggest a carrier of a size somewhat equivalent to the Italian Cavour (244-metres, 25,000-tonnes), if not a little larger to accommodate a slightly bigger air group, when needed.

Cavour's air group is said to be 10 F-35Bs and 12 helicopters. Make that the standard, with 9 ASW helicopters and 3 for AEW. RAAF to stand up two small squadrons with the F-35B, so that one can embarked routinely and the other can - if needed - reinforce it or provide a flight to operate from a Canberra or from land. Figure a buy of maybe 36 -Bs and 24 helicopters of whatever is the most suitable type.

Next priority would be three more Hunters. Perhaps build them in two classes of six. Base half on each side of the continent. Follow those, eventually, with four new DDGs to replace the Hobarts.

Next, well, a second carrier. Add another squadron of -Bs, gets them up to, say, 54, and another dozen helicopters. Gives you one available at any given point in time. You won't need to do any work to the Canberras so they can operate the fast jets.
I think that two CV is a huge ask, probably a CV to far. I would actually have a very close look at what the ROKN are building as their CV. It has a lot of RN input and is being talked about as a mini QE but without the ski jump. Of course that's another option, build a ½ - ⅔ size QE and leave out the well dock, or retain it.

WRT AEW-C and A2AR, I would seriously consider tilt rotors for both. On the A2AR side a tilt rotor such as the MV-22 can lift more fuel than all helos except the CH-53 and it has a higher speed. On the AEW-C and side work has be done WRT to proving the tilt rotor as a viable option for this role but it would be far better than the current Pommy Merlin borne capability.

WRT escorts, the CBG would require one SSN, two DDG, two FFG, and one AOR. This means besides the acquisition of the CV and aircraft, an extra SSN, three or four DDG and FFG, plus two AOR will have to be acquired, as well as all the ancillary capabilities / services. It won't be cheap and the number of aircraft acquired will depend on the CV acquired.
Personally I try to keep my Fantasy fleets within reasonable parameters. I think we need to be looking at 3 Destroyers with 64-72 VLS Cells minimum delivered in the mid to late 30s even if we have to sell off the Hobarts to help fund them. 2 More AORs and 2 LPDs instead of the JSS.
Two things, I think that the DDG should have about 80 VLS cells. To that end I think that the quickest way would be to design and build a variant of the Hunter Class FFG. Maybe a couple of plugs inserted into the hull to make room for 40 VLS cells up forward and 40 down aft similar to the DDG-51 Class. WRT the JSS, I believe it is possible to have a LPD that can perform both the role of a LPD and a JSS.
 

Anthony_B_78

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Just to clarify what I was saying when throwing out the fantasy idea* of an aircraft carrier earlier, I referenced the Cavour as in a ship of its size with a standard air group similar to what it is said to carry. I was not proposing a Cavour. A more modern design with fewer crew would obviously be desirable.

I would argue such a ship - and her air group - would offer significant capabilities. Twelve F-35Bs would allow you to keep one airborne to deal with maritime patrol aircraft and provide greater sensor reach. They obviously also offer a limited strike and air defence capability. Nine ASW helicopters, meanwhile, gives you the ability to sustain one in the air for some time, helping to defend a task group from subs.

I don’t think you necessarily need more escorts and auxiliaries to support such a carrier either. With the Hobarts and Hunters, you could have one of the former and two of the latter. Throw in a Supply.

An extra three Hunters - being my second fantastical priority - would though give the dual benefits of more ships at sea on average and truly allow for a continuous shipbuilding program.

And my third wish - a second carrier, well, that’s just to ensure you have one available.

Another poster mentioned personnel as the biggest challenge. I agree. But I don’t think the ADF is particularly large in numbers compared to our population. It’d be a challenge but with funding and will it could be overcome.

Besides, my fantasy is for four to five additional ships - maybe 1200 additional sailors, maybe up to 2000. Hardly a doubling or anything silly.

* When we say fantasy, it’s funny to me because only a few weeks ago the idea of a nuclear-powered submarine for Australia was exactly that. Not suggesting this all isn’t still a fantasy though, but I don’t think it’s completely out of this world. Really, my thinking more of a Back to the Future approach, with a modern take on the Melbourne and a larger surface fleet.
 

Todjaeger

Potstirrer
Just to clarify what I was saying when throwing out the fantasy idea* of an aircraft carrier earlier, I referenced the Cavour as in a ship of its size with a standard air group similar to what it is said to carry. I was not proposing a Cavour. A more modern design with fewer crew would obviously be desirable.

I would argue such a ship - and her air group - would offer significant capabilities. Twelve F-35Bs would allow you to keep one airborne to deal with maritime patrol aircraft and provide greater sensor reach. They obviously also offer a limited strike and air defence capability. Nine ASW helicopters, meanwhile, gives you the ability to sustain one in the air for some time, helping to defend a task group from subs.

I don’t think you necessarily need more escorts and auxiliaries to support such a carrier either. With the Hobarts and Hunters, you could have one of the former and two of the latter. Throw in a Supply.

An extra three Hunters - being my second fantastical priority - would though give the dual benefits of more ships at sea on average and truly allow for a continuous shipbuilding program.

And my third wish - a second carrier, well, that’s just to ensure you have one available.

Another poster mentioned personnel as the biggest challenge. I agree. But I don’t think the ADF is particularly large in numbers compared to our population. It’d be a challenge but with funding and will it could be overcome.

Besides, my fantasy is for four to five additional ships - maybe 1200 additional sailors, maybe up to 2000. Hardly a doubling or anything silly.

* When we say fantasy, it’s funny to me because only a few weeks ago the idea of a nuclear-powered submarine for Australia was exactly that. Not suggesting this all isn’t still a fantasy though, but I don’t think it’s completely out of this world. Really, my thinking more of a Back to the Future approach, with a modern take on the Melbourne and a larger surface fleet.
A carrier would become a high value target essentially automatically, and therefore would require the presence of escorts. At present, the current and planned RAN escort forces should be sufficient to enable a high value target like an LHD and/or AOR to be escorted by a DDG for air defence, and then either a pair of FFH's, an FFG and an FFH, or in time a pair of FFG's to provide some ASW and additional air defence capability. If a carrier were to be added into the mix, currently planned RAN forces should be sufficient to provide an escort provided that the carrier is part of the same TF as an escorted LHD and/or AOR. If the expectation is that the RAN would have two, three or perhaps even more deployed TF, each with a high value target, then RAN would not have sufficient escorts should hostilities break out.

Now it is my understanding that typically fighter aircraft operate in paired flights unless on strike missions, this means that if a carrier as proposed above was to provide some sort of CAP, a dozen aircraft would permit six CAP flights. Not sure how well that would permit aircraft maintenance or what the availability rate needs to be in order for a dozen aircraft to maintain a CAP. As for the increased sensor coverage, yes, I suppose having F-35B's aloft would increase the sensor coverage somewhat, but AFAIK it would still be significantly less sensor coverage than some sort of embarked AEW capability due to the simple fact that the F-35B's radar coverage is from a comparatively small arc, and a fighter would need to fly in continuous small, tight circles in order to sweep 360 degrees around a TF. IMO it would be more valuable for the RAN to have an organic AEW capability which could operate from and be sustained by the vessels of a TF and I would have that as a requirement before an embarked fighter force.

I will keep banging on about crewing requirements, simply because many people seem to keep overlooking the issue or the complexities of it. To properly crew and operate additional RAN vessels will require hundreds of additional personnel which I believe everyone already understands. What often seems to get lost or overlooked is that even in RAN recruitment was to suddenly induct several hundred additional bodies into RAN service, that still would not be enough to crew a major fleet unit, because such vessels require personnel with some experience in order to operate. One would not expect a recent ADFA graduate Sub-Lieutenant to be appointed 'captain' of such a unit. Looking at the bio of Capt. Jace Hutchison, the present CO of HMAS Canberra, he graduated from the RAN College in 1999, before assuming command of HMAS Canberra in May of this year. I would expect that enlisted posts aboard ship would be similar in that many of the posts would require several years of RAN service in order to develop the skills and qualifications necessary in order to properly carry out the post. All of this takes time.

Heck, one of the current concerns about the RAN/Australian intent to operate SSN's is the need to both expand the size of pool of submariners due to likely increased SSN crew requirements per vessel, but also the need to have submariners with nuclear-specific skills and qualifications which the RAN does not current have.

These issues can be over come, but it requires time, planning, and intent, in addition to requiring additional resources.
 

Anthony_B_78

Active Member
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Please forgive me but I’m confused here. This thread is labelled as being for fantasy and then we get this rather strong warning when a few talk rationally about a capability that Australia had for the better part of three decades?

I don’t see anyone complaining in the thread. I thought Todjaeger’s post in response to my last comment was a good one, though I don’t agree on all points, and you liked it. So where’s the problem?

I’ll regard your point 4 as a challenge and may well have a crack when I have the time.

@Anthony_B_78

Strongly suggest you read the warning from OPSSG. This thread was organised to allow a little more latitude than we normally but you still need to justify your proposals ... and that includes cost and practicality as well as sticking to the limits of this thread (read the title).

We have not normally allow 'fantasy' threads but we tried it again in this case. Don't waste the opportunity for a meaningful discussion because this thread is on a very short leash.

alexsa
 

vonnoobie

Well-Known Member
I'm not sure if this post should be here or on the main thread, so please feel free to move if required.

I'm curious if there's any information or knowledge in regards to the planned large vessel for the 'Pacific Step Up'?

Is this essentially another JSS multirole vessel as per the two already planned to be built in Henderson?
To my knowledge none as of yet. As with anything government related what they say can be open to varying degrees of interpretation depending on the department (Less so with ADF compared to civil departments but still can be the case) though from my reading it will be a replacement for the Choules or an additional AOR and an additional aquisition for the PSS. Has previously been discussed on the RAN thread that for efficiency sake they may role both ships (2 combined) into a single type such as the JSS.

The JSS Karel Doorman A833 if that design is hypothetically chosen would be a great ship to have as effiecent on crew numbers, greater lane meters then the Choules and a fuel capacity almost equal to that of the Supply class so replacing just the Choules with one of these would give the Navy an almost 50% increase in refueling supply and a 22% increase in lane meters.

Please forgive me but I’m confused here. This thread is labelled as being for fantasy and then we get this rather strong warning when a few talk rationally about a capability that Australia had for the better part of three decades?

I don’t see anyone complaining in the thread. I thought Todjaeger’s post in response to my last comment was a good one, though I don’t agree on all points, and you liked it. So where’s the problem?

I’ll regard your point 4 as a challenge and may well have a crack when I have the time.
I think its more that some are (I my self have done so in the past) making outlandish fantasies without thinking through how to acquire them and what would have to be given up. Its not that they are against I imagine people having a fantasy fleet but rather people wanting a fantasy fleet and not providing any context on how such one would be paid for, How it would be manned, How it would be supported and what if anything would have to be given up or acquired to support it.

The budget is only so large, Some recently and in the past have mention the large amount spent on social welfare and to cut that back.. To put that in perspective the 2019-20 budget forecast before covid (Back in december 2018 actually) was around $500 billion federally with $180 billion towards social welfare programs, The bulk of that went to pensioners and supporting families while job seeker which often is claimed to be a big financial waste was budgeted all of $10.8 billion. Goingto take money from pensioners that are barely surviving at the moments? Or from families struggling to make ends meet? Not likely.

People want to have an idea where the fleet they would like to go is fine, But give at least estimates on time lines, budgets, manpower etc. Dont think they expect us to be 100% perfect but that little bit extra will show that you are giving it a go and doing some research at least.

This isnt just against you @Anthony_B_78 but the broader community taking part in this.

I might be wrong but thats my take on it.
 

Takao

The Bunker Group
The budget is only so large, Some recently and in the past have mention the large amount spent on social welfare and to cut that back.. To put that in perspective the 2019-20 budget forecast before covid (Back in december 2018 actually) was around $500 billion federally with $180 billion towards social welfare programs, The bulk of that went to pensioners and supporting families while job seeker which often is claimed to be a big financial waste was budgeted all of $10.8 billion. Goingto take money from pensioners that are barely surviving at the moments? Or from families struggling to make ends meet? Not likely.

People want to have an idea where the fleet they would like to go is fine, But give at least estimates on time lines, budgets, manpower etc. Dont think they expect us to be 100% perfect but that little bit extra will show that you are giving it a go and doing some research at least.

This isnt just against you @Anthony_B_78 but the broader community taking part in this.

I might be wrong but thats my take on it.
In my view, nailed it.

This post provides some details, but if someone wants to be remotely feasible, this thread gets very short.
 

vonnoobie

Well-Known Member
Outside of budget one key thing for people to take into account and often overlook is population.

Population Projections, Australia, 2017 (base) - 2066

A 2017 projection by ABS (released 2018) gives a good indication on where things can go. If we stopped immigration then by 2040 our population would actually start shrinking while if we maintained high imigration as we achieved in 2017 could see it continue to grow and keep the median age down. A lower median age means more young people fit to serve, To few young fit people and business and the ADF will be fighting to get them which helps no one.

With immigration and current forecasts the population of Australia is expected to be between 28 and 30+ million by 2030. IF we can maintain a ratio of 2.5 persons in uniform for every 1,000 persons that would give a force of 70,000 - 75,000 strong ADF. With the average split between Army, RAN and RAAF being 50/25/25 (Not exact but rough) the RAN may have access to 17,500 - 18,750 bodies. Could be more but that would limit growth in either the Army or RAAF which one should take into account.

Assuming you can get 1/3 of the RAN personnel on ships that gives you a force of 5,833 - 6,250 bodies by 2030.

If you want to propose a fantasy fleet then I challenge those here to create a well rounded fleet that can be manned by that sized crew. Go larger if you want but remember that will take resources from elsewhere so pick where you want to take them from, or where you dont want to expand at least.
 

ddxx

Member
If you want to propose a fantasy fleet then I challenge those here to create a well rounded fleet that can be manned by that sized crew. Go larger if you want but remember that will take resources from elsewhere so pick where you want to take them from, or where you dont want to expand at least.
Absolutely agree, it's also worth keeping in mind that crew size per vessel is only going to continue to decrease overtime through automation and the perpetual advancement of software capability.

The Type 26 variant of BAE's GCS is listed as having a core crew requirement of 157, I wonder why Hunter's stated crew requirement, including flight crew is 180?
 

Redlands18

Well-Known Member
Absolutely agree, it's also worth keeping in mind that crew size per vessel is only going to continue to decrease overtime through automation and the perpetual advancement of software capability.

The Type 26 variant of BAE's GCS is listed as having a core crew requirement of 157, I wonder why Hunter's stated crew requirement, including flight crew is 180?
180 includes the embarked Flight, and that includes both flight and ground crew and from what I have gathered the embarked Flight will be about 12-15 personnel for one Helicopter.
 

Stampede

Well-Known Member
Who doesn't want to land an F35 B on an Arafura; mount a battering ram on the bow of a Hobart or secure a Trebuchet to the flight deck of a LHD.
The last DWP and the recent Strategic review are our best guides going forward.

There will no doubt be some surprises but realistically what you see is what you'll get.

Then again someone dumps a submarine program that's too big to fail.

What will we look like in 2030.

I'll tell you in nine years



Regards S
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
Absolutely agree, it's also worth keeping in mind that crew size per vessel is only going to continue to decrease overtime through automation and the perpetual advancement of software capability.

The Type 26 variant of BAE's GCS is listed as having a core crew requirement of 157, I wonder why Hunter's stated crew requirement, including flight crew is 180?
You have to be careful when decreasing the crew numbers because you get to the point where you have to have enough crew to sail and fight the ship, as well as provide enough bods for damage control and you have to enough people on the DC team so that you can swap them in and out, as well as replace any casualties in the team. In peacetime it doesn’t appear to matter so much, however in wartime it is absolutely crucial.
 

aussienscale

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
Please forgive me but I’m confused here. This thread is labelled as being for fantasy and then we get this rather strong warning when a few talk rationally about a capability that Australia had for the better part of three decades?
It is a bit of leeway to throw some things out there, but it has to have some reality to it.

Lets take your example of an Aircraft Carrier, yep we have some history, as many other countries do, but it was strategically and capability wise a very different time.

So you propose Australia get back in the carrier game, what is the purpose of your carrier ? what is the basic concept of operations that you think is required and want it to do ? ASW ? Fleet air cover ? CAP ? Support ground troops ? Some of the very basics that then help to determine what capability we need to fill that requirement.

Your CONOPS might require a carrier the size of the QE Class, a big jump in cost, crew, airframes, infrastructure. How many do we need ? do you want an actual capability ? or do you want a token flagship with a part time capability ? Rule of 3 still applies, so if you are wanting a carrier available all the time you need 3, associated increases in crew, airframes, helicopters, shore infrastructure, more escorts, more supply ships, and the list goes on !

Things get big really quickly, oh and these guys don't conduct actual operations 24 hours a day, they need down time, crew need downtime, maintenance, re supply for stores, weapons, fuel, spare parts, so if you want a carrier capability that will give you a possible 24 hour capability and coverage, well then you are looking at needing 6 carries to hopefully have 2 available all the time. This is really getting away from us no isn't it !!

This is on top of the cost that we will face getting into the nuclear sub club, wait till you see some pricing from the Government for this capability, it will be eye watering !!

So yeah lets throw some ideas around, but this is not pre school, we are all here for serious discussion, otherwise we end up talking about getting a fleet of super carriers, dozens of SSN's, maybe a few SSBN's and the rest of the fleet to go with it, and we have not even started with what we would do with Army and Airforce !!
 

Anthony_B_78

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  • #16
A fantasy is by definition imagining something that is impossible or improbable, and yet here we’re trying to “fantasise” with a strong dose of realism. It’s an incongruous idea, albeit one I support since I agree it would just be silly if we went off on complete flights of fantasy.

My argument though is that what I proposed - a carrier of a size and with a standard air group equivalent to the Cavour (but not the Cavour) and three additional Hunter Class frigates - is not so unrealistic. Not when you consider the heightened concerns about threats to our security that have led to the sensational decision (which many here did not believe until it was officially announced) to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. Improbable, but not impossible.

While I’ve ran the numbers below somewhat, I won’t go into the number one reason this is all improbable - though not impossible - and that’s the politics. It would require more funding, and that may mean tax hikes or cuts elsewhere, and either would require the political will. Possibly even a bipartisan commitment to smooth the waters.

I guess we can begin then with the question of how much a carrier, its aircraft and three extra Hunters would cost.

Well, for an upper limit on the carrier - noting that what I was actually suggesting was not this - you could look at the QE class. Estimated capital cost in 2019 was £3.9 billion - or about $7.3 billion on current conversion rates, though you have to allow a little for inflation. Remember this is the upper limit. A smaller carrier would cost less - in real terms.

Aircraft figures can be difficult because they often are given including line items in addition to the base fly-away cost. But we’ll go with it. Australia is said to be spending $17 billion on 72 F-35As. Just for a rough figure, let’s say 24 F-35Bs and allowing for its greater per unit cost, we might say another $7 billion. Add another 24 MH-60Rs, which - together with four or five of the AESA radar pods - will cost as much as another $4 billion or so.

Three more Hunters? Unit price could be as high as $5 billion by the time we’d be looking at 10 through 12. Call it another $15 billion.

We end up with a capital cost of, say, $33 billion - probably a little less since we used the QE class for the carrier, but maybe not. This would be spent over a period of time, of course, likely about a decade. It’s about two and a half times the allocation for defence acquisitions in the 2020-21 budget - and about $4 billion more than what is forecast to be spent on acquisitions in 2029-30 alone.

On defence expenditure overall, 50 years ago it was at 2.6 per cent of GDP and 10.7 per cent of total Commonwealth outlays. In 1975-76, the latter fell below the 10 per cent mark and it hasn’t returned since. Defence particularly suffered through the Hawke-Keating governments (note, not trying to be political, just a fact). The more recent increases are good news but we’re still not where we were. For this year, spending is expected to come in at between 2.09 and 2.27 per cent of GDP, and about 5.8 per cent of outlays (this figure may not include funding for the Defence Signals Directorate). The actual figure stated in the budget papers is forecast to be $43 billion.

On revenue, by way of an example, the GST and other sales taxes - but this is predominantly the former - was forecast to raise $75.9 billion out of total revenue of about $500 billion this year. So there’s one option - increase the GST to 15 per cent, raising an extra $37 billion, give half to the states (lowering some of their funding from other sources but still leaving them better off) and half to defence. That gives the latter an increase of 40 per cent a year.

Yet the fantasy here wouldn’t require that. Maybe a 10 per cent increase in defence expenditure over and above current planning but likely not more. And that could conceivably be funded through the revenue benefits of economic growth, though I would still think it would mean cutting expenditure, raising taxes or both - just not to all that a significant degree.

Like I acknowledged earlier when another poster pointed it out, personnel are a challenge. Possibly the greatest challenge.

The demographics are interesting. Year Book Australia 1961 says that the RAN had a strength of 10,519 as of December 1960. At that point we had a population of 10.4 million. In other words, about 1000 per million. Now, it has an approved strength of 15,500 and we have a population of almost 26 million - so it’s about 600 per million.

There’s the truth for you - long-term, the ADF has declined as a proportion of the population. But that’s not to say it would be easy to rectify this. There are opportunities anyone with an ounce of knowledge can see. It’s unhelpful, for example, to make young people wait to begin courses. Those who really want a defence career will wait, but others will go into different fields. It can’t be “fixed” altogether but it can certainly be improved. And that’s just the recruitment side. Retention would also need to be looked at.

What would I actually like to see though? It’s probably an increase over 10-20 years of about 5-6000 across the entire ADF and the Navy would get the largest share of that. That’s achievable.

Indeed, it’s all achievable. It’s improbable because of the politics, not because of the relative cost or the personnel challenges. But, as we’ve seen recently, the politics can change, the policies and plans can change, so it’s not impossible.

Sources: ABS, ASX, Australian Government Budget Papers, British MoD, ASPI.

BANNED FOR ONE MONTH FOR IGNORING TWO MODERATORS WARNINGS WRT TO CONTINUING TO DISCUSS AIRCRAFT CARRIERS IN THIS THREAD.

Ngatimozart.
 
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vonnoobie

Well-Known Member
Absolutely agree, it's also worth keeping in mind that crew size per vessel is only going to continue to decrease overtime through automation and the perpetual advancement of software capability.

The Type 26 variant of BAE's GCS is listed as having a core crew requirement of 157, I wonder why Hunter's stated crew requirement, including flight crew is 180?
Oh it does make a difference but I imagine we are at the tail end of how low we can go on crew sizes. You will notice outside of the US (and perhaps a few others) while their crew complement might be X in size the ship in question almost always has Y in berthing capacity allowing an increase in crew which in wartime would be sorely needed otherwise I would be saying forget everything and get the Formidable class frigate the Singapore has.. I mean including air detachment its crew is all of 90 bodies.. Sounds great.. on paper but in the real world when you factor in what they do, where they do it and their politics its suits Singapore well but would be poor for Australia (For those previously bringing up light frigates, You really should have been suggesting this one as it would have had the greatest chance of being such even in a fantasy world).

To take on my own challange of a fantasy fleet..

Retain the 2 x Canberra class as is, While and argument could be made for the ability to operate F-35B's off of them the cost of upgrades, acquisition and taking away from the core capability of why they where aquired in the first place is a none starter, Just doesnt stack up. - 600 odd crew

Retain the 3 x Hobarts. While some suggested here to get rid of and get bigger Destroyers before 2030 frankly no time to do so. However to try and speed up the aquisition of the Hobarts and do an earlier replacement of the Hobarts I would be supportive of. If we can do it in a fiscally beneficial way to get our surface combatants replaced around a 20 year life span rather then a 30 year (last 10 years are apperantly a lot more expensive especially when you factor in MLU) all the better. - 600 odd crew

Acquire the 9 x Hunter FFG's as planned. They are a solid ship with a solid partner both company and nation. IF there is room and IF it is deemed necessary add extra VLS to the later batches, Do more harm then good to delay project further to try and add now. - 1,620 odd crew

Acquire 20 x Arafura class both in OPV, MCM and Survey capabilities as originally intended. They had a plan, scaled it back, and now heading back towards the original plan... Just do the full plan as intended. May require less as I have read (forget where sorry) that the Arafura class may not be fully suitable to survey roles entirely. - 800 odd crew?

Retain 2 x Supply class AOR's. We got them, they work, Lets not bugger it up. - 250 odd crew

That is a rough combined crew of 3,870 personnel aboard, Now for the fantasy part...

While it may be cheaper to set the production lines up by acquiring the Astute tooling the design will be outdated by the time we get it, Meaning upgrades increasing risk, While also lacking in scale allowing us to buy systems and sections off one another to help both out with reduced unit cost. For that my money is on the Virginia being our boat of choice. What block I dont know though likely block IV (Block V why maybe not needing any manpower [I dont know either way] would politically send the wrong message to everyone in the region, Some nations are on the fence about us getting nuclear boats already, Getting nuclear boats and ability to fire off dozens of cruise missiles with out warning... Just asking for an international cluster f***) so 8+ x Virginia's - 1,080 crew

For the additional AOR/Logistics support ship along with the Choules replacement I would get 2 x Karel Doorman JSS. They carry close to the same amount of naval fuel as the supply class (8,000m3 vs 8,300m3) while having more lane meters then the Choules (2,000m vs 1,200m) so in terms of both underway replenishment and ability to deliver forces and aid aborad these 2 ships would be a massive increase in cability. - 320 odd crew

For the Pacific Support Ship (To my understanding these was different from previous 2 ships I mentioned, But that may come down to interpretation which government loves to leave wide open). For this I would go for something with the range Choules has or better but with the hanger capacity of HNLMS Johan De Witt - 160 odd crew

Combined fleet aboard 5,430 personnel leaving a possible 403 - 820 spare bodies to be used on existing assets, expand those assets or acquire something new?
 

aussienscale

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
A fantasy is by definition imagining something that is impossible or improbable, and yet here we’re trying to “fantasise” with a strong dose of realism. It’s an incongruous idea, albeit one I support since I agree it would just be silly if we went off on complete flights of fantasy.

My argument though is that what I proposed - a carrier of a size and with a standard air group equivalent to the Cavour (but not the Cavour) and three additional Hunter Class frigates - is not so unrealistic. Not when you consider the heightened concerns about threats to our security that have led to the sensational decision (which many here did not believe until it was officially announced) to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. Improbable, but not impossible.

While I’ve ran the numbers below somewhat, I won’t go into the number one reason this is all improbable - though not impossible - and that’s the politics. It would require more funding, and that may mean tax hikes or cuts elsewhere, and either would require the political will. Possibly even a bipartisan commitment to smooth the waters.

I guess we can begin then with the question of how much a carrier, its aircraft and three extra Hunters would cost.

Well, for an upper limit on the carrier - noting that what I was actually suggesting was not this - you could look at the QE class. Estimated capital cost in 2019 was £3.9 billion - or about $7.3 billion on current conversion rates, though you have to allow a little for inflation. Remember this is the upper limit. A smaller carrier would cost less - in real terms.

Aircraft figures can be difficult because they often are given including line items in addition to the base fly-away cost. But we’ll go with it. Australia is said to be spending $17 billion on 72 F-35As. Just for a rough figure, let’s say 24 F-35Bs and allowing for its greater per unit cost, we might say another $7 billion. Add another 24 MH-60Rs, which - together with four or five of the AESA radar pods - will cost as much as another $4 billion or so.

Three more Hunters? Unit price could be as high as $5 billion by the time we’d be looking at 10 through 12. Call it another $15 billion.

We end up with a capital cost of, say, $33 billion - probably a little less since we used the QE class for the carrier, but maybe not. This would be spent over a period of time, of course, likely about a decade. It’s about two and a half times the allocation for defence acquisitions in the 2020-21 budget - and about $4 billion more than what is forecast to be spent on acquisitions in 2029-30 alone.

On defence expenditure overall, 50 years ago it was at 2.6 per cent of GDP and 10.7 per cent of total Commonwealth outlays. In 1975-76, the latter fell below the 10 per cent mark and it hasn’t returned since. Defence particularly suffered through the Hawke-Keating governments (note, not trying to be political, just a fact). The more recent increases are good news but we’re still not where we were. For this year, spending is expected to come in at between 2.09 and 2.27 per cent of GDP, and about 5.8 per cent of outlays (this figure may not include funding for the Defence Signals Directorate). The actual figure stated in the budget papers is forecast to be $43 billion.

On revenue, by way of an example, the GST and other sales taxes - but this is predominantly the former - was forecast to raise $75.9 billion out of total revenue of about $500 billion this year. So there’s one option - increase the GST to 15 per cent, raising an extra $37 billion, give half to the states (lowering some of their funding from other sources but still leaving them better off) and half to defence. That gives the latter an increase of 40 per cent a year.

Yet the fantasy here wouldn’t require that. Maybe a 10 per cent increase in defence expenditure over and above current planning but likely not more. And that could conceivably be funded through the revenue benefits of economic growth, though I would still think it would mean cutting expenditure, raising taxes or both - just not to all that a significant degree.

Like I acknowledged earlier when another poster pointed it out, personnel are a challenge. Possibly the greatest challenge.

The demographics are interesting. Year Book Australia 1961 says that the RAN had a strength of 10,519 as of December 1960. At that point we had a population of 10.4 million. In other words, about 1000 per million. Now, it has an approved strength of 15,500 and we have a population of almost 26 million - so it’s about 600 per million.

There’s the truth for you - long-term, the ADF has declined as a proportion of the population. But that’s not to say it would be easy to rectify this. There are opportunities anyone with an ounce of knowledge can see. It’s unhelpful, for example, to make young people wait to begin courses. Those who really want a defence career will wait, but others will go into different fields. It can’t be “fixed” altogether but it can certainly be improved. And that’s just the recruitment side. Retention would also need to be looked at.

What would I actually like to see though? It’s probably an increase over 10-20 years of about 5-6000 across the entire ADF and the Navy would get the largest share of that. That’s achievable.

Indeed, it’s all achievable. It’s improbable because of the politics, not because of the relative cost or the personnel challenges. But, as we’ve seen recently, the politics can change, the policies and plans can change, so it’s not impossible.

Sources: ABS, ASX, Australian Government Budget Papers, British MoD, ASPI.
Sweet so you have done some napkin acquisition costs, a fraction of the true cost, wages, increased personnel and all the associated costs, infrastructure, training pipelines, upgraded facilities, FBE is getting pretty crowded, big chunk there, Are the B's RAN or RAAF ? More choppers, RAN ? what about AEW ? what is the solution there ? more cost ! introduced new maintenance and supply lines, training, facilities, parts, background costs have increased a massive amount for the on paper acquisition costs.

And still at the end of the day you have a carrier that is available some of the time and when it is, only half of that !! A lot of money for a niche capability, want one carrier available most of the time ? more than double that, want one available all of the time, more than triple that and then double that plus some if you want 24 hr coverage, and we have not even priced in the supply and logistics required, more AOR's, wet and dry stores, weapons, supplies, spare parts, that's more ships, crew, infrastructure. Add some more submarines into the mix too so the CBG has coverage.

Agree, a fantasy thread within reason, these things are not that simple.

Cheers
 

OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
1. This thread is started on 5 Oct 2021 — prior posts before this was moved here from the Fantasy RAN thread (Surface Ships & LHDs only); given that the thread has derailed and is going to be closed before 11 Oct 2021.
(a) In a near peer war, any proposed RAN carrier automatically become a high value target — for US super carriers to survive, even they need to operate in 3s and in shifts. For the USN, if continuous operations is required, in their CONOPS, each carrier only conducts flight operations from 12 hours. Not sure how a proposed Australian baby carrier would really survive.
(b) On 17 January 1991 (at the start of the 43-day air campaign), 668 coalition aircraft attacked Iraq and 90 aircraft were launched from five USN carriers and the US Marine Corps. They contributed to 13% of the sorties launched on the 1st day of war, during Gulf War 1.

2. The goal is to allow a limited time leeway for discussion but not a certifiably insane thread. As it is, we suspect that keeping these threads open for too long will diminish DT’s reputation for serious discourse.

3. The Mods have created 2 threads on submarines, including one related to
RAN Discussions on SSNs only, here and the other in Naval Ship & Submarine Propulsion Systems, here — which are still open for discussion at this time.

4. All other RAN discussions can be found in the
original mother thread.
 
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hauritz

Well-Known Member
If I had to choose between getting nuclear subs or aircraft carriers I would definitely go with the former. If more money were made available for an Aircraft Carrier I would probably take that money and spend it on even more submarines. IMHO full blown carriers would be more of a liability than an asset for Australia mostly because of the draw on resources that could be better spent elsewhere.

To get adequate aircraft carrier capability Australia would need to spend big money. The UK bought two large fleet carriers and virtually had to gut it's escort fleet to pay for them.

Even if we did decide to go down the aircraft carrier route the current LHDs are simply not suited to that role. I would even question their capability as ASW helicopter carriers. I think Australia would at a minimum require something around the size and capability of the America Class, possibly two of them. You could probably add another half dozen escort vessels to that as well.

But seriously if you want to scare the Bejesus out of a potential enemy get 8 - 12 Block V Virginias armed to the back teeth with TLAM and forget about aircraft carriers.
 
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