Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Automating Future Aircraft Carriers 571

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the sign-em-up-for-a-skynet-subscription dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "Britain and France will jointly build three new huge aircraft carriers which will be delivered between 2012 and 2014. With their 60,000 tonnes, these 275-meter-long carriers will be the largest warships outside of the U.S. Navy. They're going to cost about $4 billion each, but with their reduced crews due to automation, they'll save lots of money to taxpayers during their 50 years of use. StrategyPage tells us that these ships will need at most a crew of 800 sailors instead of 2,000 for ships of that size today. At a cost of $100K per sailor per year, this represents savings of more than $6 billion. Impressive -- if it works."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Automating Future Aircraft Carriers

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27, 2006 @12:26AM (#15000583)
    The US Navy's main project right now is the DD(X) destroyer. It uses advanced automation (damage control, weapon countermeasures), stealth, advanced radar, reduced crew, full control/integration with the rest of the fleet. The best toy: Its capability for rapid-fire, pinpoint 155mm shell attacks from up to 100 miles away may sometimes eliminate the need for aircraft carriers entirely, resulting in an operational cost probably an order of magnitude or two cheaper than a carrier, and with very little chance of any casualties. Of course many of those same capabilities are also going to soon be added to cruisers, aircraft carriers, etc.

    It doesn't sound as impressive as a new aircraft carrier, but for most scenarios it's going to have amazing results. It's meant to be the first ship to arrive, and carriers will only be used for prolonged engagements.
    • by Atlantis-Rising (857278) on Monday March 27, 2006 @12:33AM (#15000600) Homepage
      Except wasn't the reason carriers were so effective in the first place because 100 miles is almost nothing compared to the strike range a carrier can put out? (not sure what it is, 700 or so?) Plus, sometimes it helps to have eyes in the sky on the situation, and a large object on station at the same time. How many people could you evac to a DD(X) via helicopter? Does it even carry them? (Plus, when was the last time somebody on board a carrier died as a result of a strike on that carrier? sixty years ago?)
      • Yea except carriers are virtuall defenseless requiring other ships for protection.
        • The British took a beating in the Falklands because they didn't have a carrier to protect the other ships. The carriers do need other ships for ASW support and the like, but being able to establish air superiority for hundreds of miles is a big step up from "virtually defenseless".
          • by arivanov (12034) on Monday March 27, 2006 @02:14AM (#15000903) Homepage
            Their ship losses in the Falklands were mostly due to lack of long range aerial radar coverage and lack of training in the command staff to use the newer AAA systems. If you are referring to the destroyer they lost there it was lost because it went into the line of fire between the other ship which had suitable AAA for low altitude engagement and the attacking planes. As a result noone engaged them until they dropped the bombs. If you are referring to Atlantic Conveyor, that was dead meat. It was neither even armed, nor properly protected by AAA armed vessels so it did not stand a chance against an Exoset. In either case long range radar coverage from an airplane would have prevented both.
            • Good points. But the problem was in that the Brits and other NATO navies didn't have good long-range or mid range SAM systems because they figured in the Atlantic war with the Soviets that the Americans would deal with the long range stuff in the Atlantic and they would be in convoys doing the point defense work. The Brits figured out that point wasn't enough there.

              The American Tartar and Standard systems of the early 1980s were much better at long and medium range work with the Sea Sparrow acting as point,
        • The planes provide excellent protection. They even do a fair job against subs if you count devices dragged below helicopters, though a few subs of your own would be nice.

          You certainly don't need a battleship anymore. Sea-skimming missles, torpedos, and automatically operated defense guns have changed things over the years. This isn't 1945.

          • Re:not really (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@x[ ].net ['oxy' in gap]> on Monday March 27, 2006 @01:31AM (#15000790) Homepage Journal
            The role you're thinking about for the Navy has also changed. Their is much less of a demand for huge "blue water" flotillas, and much more of a demand for smaller, lower-draft vessels to support shore operations.

            The big carriers are nice, and I don't think anyone is suggesting that (at least in the USN) that they're going anywhere, anytime soon. The new destroyers are aimed at "littoral dominance," that is supporting ground troops and amphibious operations in coastal waters, in areas where you just can't take a carrier or a submarine. Right now we have to do most of that sort of warfare (patrolling near shores) with aircraft, and that gets expensive and impractical if you want to maintain a continuous presence.

            The idea of the new destroyers is that they would allow us to maintain a presence and establish a platform for operations (e.g., special ops divers, artillery bombardment) in areas where right now we're limited to a temporary presence.

            Nobody is really suggesting that we roll out a new round of Iowa-classes, as cool as I think the idea of 16" dia. naval gunnery is (find me an aircraft that can lay down 243,600 lbs. of ordnance every five minutes onto a target, near continuously).
            • Re:not really (Score:4, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27, 2006 @04:26AM (#15001246)
              Nobody is really suggesting that we roll out a new round of Iowa-classes, as cool as I think the idea of 16" dia. naval gunnery is (find me an aircraft that can lay down 243,600 lbs. of ordnance every five minutes onto a target, near continuously).

              Which is sort of unfortunate, because the new boats are soft targets; they can't absorb fire and keep on fighting -- the assumption is that they won't get hit by anything, which seems like a dubious assumption. The battleships were heavily armored gun platforms -- it was assumed they'd be hit, and designed so that wouldn't keep them from fighting.

              The Navy's inability to provide meaningful gunnery support is why the Iowa and Wisconsin haven't been stricken from the naval registry. It's not clear that the new destroyers will fill this void, although it is pretty clear they won't even begin to have the near-shore potency of a battleship and its 16 inch guns, but the Navy is hoping they'll be just enough to convince those pesky congressmen to let them get rid of the two sort-of remaining battleships.

              Battleships were used extensively in ground support operations in WWII. Interestingly, no American battleship has been lost on patrol (out of port) since the 1800s.
            • Re:not really (Score:3, Interesting)

              by quarkscat (697644)
              I will be the first to admit that the capabilities of the Iowa class battleship were
              awesome -- especially their batteries of 16 inch guns that could propel VW
              Beetle-sized (2,000 pound) shells.

              The US Navy, however, has a brand new bag getting ready to be deployed --
              electrically actuated railguns capable of firing aluminum projectiles at over
              10,000 meters per second. At that speed, no explosives need to be used --
              the sheer MxA of the projectiles are sufficient to destroy the target. Instead
              of ballistic aimi
          • Re:not really (Score:3, Interesting)

            by dakirw (831754)

            You certainly don't need a battleship anymore. Sea-skimming missles, torpedos, and automatically operated defense guns have changed things over the years. This isn't 1945.

            True, battleships at the end of WWII were pretty much obsolete against airpower. However, with the advent of SAMs, a properly designed battleship (utilizing heavy armor) with vertical launch SAM systems would be nearly invulnerable to anything short of a submarine attack or a nuke in coastal areas. Most modern warships are so thin skinne

            • Re:not really (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Decker-Mage (782424)
              The standard Navy joke is that they asked one of the Battleship CO's what he would do if his ship was hit by an Exocet. He replied that he'd call away sweepers. While they are expensive to operate, I still firmly believe that we should have kept all four of the (modified) Iowa-class on active service. Aside from their sheer survivability, they were also equipped with sixteen Harpoon missiles as well as sixteen Tomahawks which adds up to some serious long range striking power. The Navy was also in the te
    • Its capability for rapid-fire, pinpoint 155mm shell attacks from up to 100 miles away may

      While standard shells are cheap, at around $100-$150 each, I understand guided shells necessary for accurate strikes are not cheap, at a little under $100k each. Plus aircraft carriers are used for a whole lot more than bombing stuff. Infact its only good for one scenario: bombing stuff not too far away that you already know is there.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Urrgh. I think I am going to become a "WeaponNazi" and take to reminding people everytime they call a monster weapon a TOY that:

      These things are used to KILL PEOPLE! Real People! Not on TV, not in a "reality" show. For real! People like you and me, even if they dont like a lot like us, still humans.

      Please don't allow the media to lull you into this sense of complacency about monster weapons of any kind. Be they owned by so called "bad folks" like Iran, or the supposedly good folks (yeah right), like the US
      • You know, you are correct. Real war truly sucks. The problem is, most of the people on Slashdot have no idea how much it sucks.

        The problem is, they don't show any of this on television. Check out for instance John Simpsons report from Kudistan during the beginning of the Iraq war. They were in a Peshmerga/US special forces convoy and got hit by friendly fire. The whole thing was a huge mess, really bloody, and yet an incident hardly worth mentioning, except that there were reporters there. He caught the who
    • The Royal Navy were way ahead of you - they thought that aircraft carriers were redundant in the late 1970s. Then the Falklands War broke out and they discovered otherwise.
  • Of course, sometimes you want more boots on the ground. Perhaps the "excess" will be put in the army?
  • by TwentyLeaguesUnderLa (900322) on Monday March 27, 2006 @12:31AM (#15000593)
    So, is there any chance at all that the Aircaft Carriers will actually stay in use for the entire 50 years? Won't be replaced by anything newer or better?

    I would guess they would be.
  • by spacerodent (790183) on Monday March 27, 2006 @12:32AM (#15000596)
    The real problem with this mentality is that these are warships. Smaller crews are vastly less efficent at damage control and have much smaller margins for casualties before the ship ceases to be combat effective. Automation is all well and good but ships that size NEED vast crews simple due to the unpredictable nature of sea service. Imagine if you have a gastro outbreak onboard and 400 of your crew are down. Larger crews can absorb unexpected events much more easily than smaller ones. Plus most of these studies tend to ignore hte fact that less crew means more and longer watches for the duty stations that remain. The US is moving to this right now with the new San Antonio LPDs and DDX program but they are facing the same choices. Reality wise we'll probably see much more automation and relyability but I have serious doubts if anyone will field a warship of this size without a crew of at least 1/2 the normal rate.
    • The real problem with this mentality is that these are warships. Smaller crews are vastly less efficent at damage control and have much smaller margins for casualties before the ship ceases to be combat effective.

      How many naval casualties have there been in the past 30-some years, particularly in France, the UK, and other Western nations? I can't find any data on it off-hand, but I get the impression that the number is quite small, particularly for aircraft carriers.
      • In the Falkands war, HMS Sheffield had 22 dead and 24 severely wounded out of a crew of 312.
      • by Raul654 (453029) on Monday March 27, 2006 @01:37AM (#15000816) Homepage
        I suspect most of the naval fatalities over the last 30 years are due primarily to ship-board accidents. The USS Forrestal (CVA 59) was nearly lost due to an accidental misfire on the deck which killed 134 people. Apparently several others [hazegray.org] have experieneced similiar problems. In 1989, 47 people were killed when a turret exploded (see here [combie.net]).

        Realistically, it's far, far too expensive to maintain a modern navy of any size. The age of ship-to-ship combat is over. The nations that have surface ships generally don't use them except as a platform for deploying land forces.
        • Ship to ship combat isn't entirely over. In a state of nation vs nation war, ship to ship combat isn't expected, but piracy remains even with America as a rouge superpower. Policing the shipping lanes helps keep the consumer goods the world values safe.

          Of course, an Aircraft Carrier isn't suitable for this sort of escort / patrolling mission. The US mainly keeps their carriers in operation globally to maintian a high state of readiness to respond, as you alluded to. Someone starts some shit, the fact that w
    • by Bender0x7D1 (536254) on Monday March 27, 2006 @01:14AM (#15000734)
      Smaller crews are vastly less efficent at damage control and have much smaller margins for casualties before the ship ceases to be combat effective.

      Very true. However, considering modern weaponry, weapons that would inflict the amount of damage that would require those extra damage control specialists, would probably render it combat ineffective, and in bad need of a shipyard. My guess is it won't be a torpedo hitting the most heavily armored part of the hull, it will be a missile slamming into the superstructure. Also, in the event that there is major, repairable damage, since it is an aircraft carrier, there should be plenty of escorts nearby that can offer assistance.

      Imagine if you have a gastro outbreak onboard and 400 of your crew are down.

      You are missing the point that at this scale you don't talk about absolute numbers, but percentages of the total crew. So if an epidemic would sideline 400 of the original 2000 crew (20%), then it would likely only affect 160 of the reduced crew of 800. So you only have to cover 160 watches instead of 400. Why is this? Some percentage won't eat the "bad" meal, some percentage will have a different food, and some percentage will be immune/not affected. You can't assume that it will affect the same overall number if your population size is different.

      Plus most of these studies tend to ignore hte fact that less crew means more and longer watches for the duty stations that remain.

      I haven't read these studies, (do you have any links), but it seems they would continue with the same watch schedule, and just reduce the number of stations required. The drop in efficiency that is a result of having too much time on duty is well studied, and I doubt that would be ignored. Now, what might be a factor is that it is "easier" to sit in a single location and monitor several things remotely, than to walk rounds and check on each one. This would reduce physical fatigue so longer watches could be maintained.
      • by Decker-Mage (782424) <jack_of_shadows@yahoo.com> on Monday March 27, 2006 @07:17AM (#15001647)
        I'm a former Electronics Technician although I'm cross-qualified to a fair-thee-well. Helmsman/Quartermaster of the Watch/Ship's Navigator including underway refueling, Supply Officer, Damage Control Locker Leader (and alternate Damage Control Assistant), Aviation Firefighter, Systems Administrator, etc. ad nauseum. So I think I can address this.

        Basically I think they are willing to write these ships off as combat ineffective after taking damage, at least until it is repaired. Perhaps, just perhaps, a reduced crew may be able to conduct damage control while continuing combat operations but I don't believe so and automation is something I'm very familiar with here. If all personnel are involved in watchstanding/combat duties, any diversion of personnel is going to reduce/eliminate some of the ship's capabilities with respect to operations, period. You can't avoid it.

        Another thing you have to remember is that any Aircraft Carrier is a veritable Disneyland for fire anytime and anyplace. We've had experience in the fleet with that (USS Forrestal, while my Father happened to be serving on it, among others btw). Toss a missile into the mix and forget it.

        As for wandering around checking things, that's certainly true of some of the engineers (my first field), but not true of most of the rest of the crew that have watchstanding duties, aside from the security rover. Mostly you sit at a console or in an office watching and/or waiting for something to happen. Been there, done that, burned the t-shirt. A lot. If anything, that's more mind-numbing than wandering around checking things. That's one reason, among many, why the US Navy runs more on coffee than diesel fuel marine. Heck, even lookout duty is far more interesting than staring at a sonar or electronics warfare display one watch in three.

        If they reduce the personnel, I can't see the number of watchstanders going down by much as when I was in it was already automated to the max so you'll have roughly the same number of watchstanders with roughly half to two-thirds the personnel. That probably means going to one watch in two as a normal watch rotation. That's a formula for personnel retention disaster. Things are already bad enough what with the extended deployments due to all the reductions in force during the '90's. Sure, recruiting is about right or even up in some ratings, but if you don't retain trained personnel, your overall personnel costs go up due to the high training costs. I know for a fact that well over a million was spent on my training and that was even before I hit the fleet where more schools were heaped on top (see above). True, I was an extreme case but high training costs are a given for any technical rating (and I'm not just talking about electronics here). Even Damage Control Techs are expensive.

        The days of sending someone just out of bootcamp to a ship are long past and career long training is reality. So, I see yet another possible false economy here. Human capital applies to the military just as much as it does to the business world, if not more so as you also need trained NCO's to train their juniors as well as the odd Ensign or Lieutenant The senior NCO's are the one's that make the Navy work as well as providing the glue that holds it together.

        Perhaps the British (likely) and French navies are different, but that's the way I see it.

      • One more thing I forgot to bring up is that stress is the ultimate fatigue generator. The last thing you need in flight deck operations are fatigued personnel. That duty is hazardous enough as things are without adding an additional fatigue factor. Heck, I don't even want fatigued personnel on my tincan (destroyer)! You make too many mistakes and mistakes will either kill you (almost happened here when I got nailed by 20,000 volts) or someone (everyone) else. Sorry, I don't buy this.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Roland's rent is due
  • Hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Space cowboy (13680) * on Monday March 27, 2006 @12:33AM (#15000601) Journal
    Not sure what I think of this... On the one hand, if it's possible to save loadsamanny by automating non-critical jobs, then fair-enough, sounds cool. And the brits have something of a history in designing warships - presumably they'll not have forgotten too many of the important bits ...

    On the other hand, during a conflict, a carrier is a pretty juicy target, and one thing humans *are* good at in combat [apart from dying :( ] is being adaptible. It'd be a real shame if the plug fell out of the automated aircraft-landing computer because of a nearby explosion ... Yes, I'm being facetious, but the point isn't. Machines can only perform within their limitations, and people frequently perform outside their normal potential when (a) their life depends on it, and (b) there's no other option...

    So, as long as we don't go to war, it'll probably be excellent. If we do, I hope they've thought of the consequences...

    Simon
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bender0x7D1 (536254)
      On the other hand, during a conflict, a carrier is a pretty juicy target, and one thing humans *are* good at in combat [apart from dying :( ] is being adaptible. It'd be a real shame if the plug fell out of the automated aircraft-landing computer because of a nearby explosion ...

      I know that Lockheed-Martin engineers their naval systems to take more shock/damage than a human could take and be functional. I saw a video where the equipment was placed on a barge and explosives were detonated underwater onl
  • If they run Vista for controls, I wouldn't even be worried about any security issues,
    I would be worried if they ever make it out of the dry dock.
  • Clippy (Score:5, Funny)

    by ktakki (64573) on Monday March 27, 2006 @12:41AM (#15000628) Homepage Journal
    It looks like you're launching an alpha strike.

    Would you like help?

    • Launch the +5 fighters for air cover and stage the strike fighters on the deck
    • Play a game of Minesweeper
    • Give up, you cheese-eating surrender monkey
    • Don't show me this tip again


    k.
  • by foxtrot (14140) on Monday March 27, 2006 @12:42AM (#15000630)
    If a sailor averages $100k in upkeep a year, then sailor costs per year were $10 billion per 50 years. It costs $4 billion to build a boat, so figure it was $14 billion over fifty years.

    This boat only costs $8 billion over fifty years.

    Seems to me that the answer isn't "figure out how to do damage control with 40% of a regular crew complement." Seems to me the answer is "You were gonna send three of these things to blow up the bad guy good; send five instead, it's still cheaper."

    -JDF
  • One can hope that their automated systems are every bit as successful [slashdot.org] as Denver International Airport's big automation effort. Except instead of conveyor belts moving baggage it'll be nuclear powered, managing missiles and explosives.

    Seriously, how much experience does France and England have with aircraft carriers of this size? None whatsoever from what I can tell. I'm deeply skeptical that they're going to magically find the means to reduce the personnel requirement by over 50%, least of all by making
    • Seriously, how much experience does France and England have with aircraft carriers of this size? None whatsoever from what I can tell. I'm deeply skeptical that they're going to magically find the means to reduce the personnel requirement by over 50%, least of all by making use of utterly untested technology. And on a warship no less! In a time of war I'd greatly prefer somewhat redundant personnel on board, rather than a ship being run by technology which has not been battle-tested.

      The British invented the

    • One can hope that their automated systems are every bit as successful [slashdot.org] as Denver International Airport's big automation effort. Except instead of conveyor belts moving baggage it'll be nuclear powered, managing missiles and explosives.

      Seriously, how much experience does France and England have with aircraft carriers of this size? None whatsoever from what I can tell. I'm deeply skeptical that they're going to magically find the means to reduce the personnel requirement by over 50%, least o
    • In all fairness, it may come as a surprise to some Americans, but the European nations are actually quite competent. France and Britain have more experience in developing their navies than the US will ever achieve. They're not exactly technical dullards either. Witness, for example, EADS, Airbus, and BAE Systems, Arianespace, ESA, Siemens, Rhinemetall (which is the only metalworks in the world with the skill and knowledge to make barrels for the M1A1/2 MBT), and so forth.
  • bad trend (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Monday March 27, 2006 @12:45AM (#15000637) Homepage
    I don't like this trend at all.

    The more money we have to pay and the more lives we have to put at stake in order to go to war, the less likely it is that we actually do go to war.

    The only way that war becomes "fair" is if both sides incur the same 'cost' of the war (monetary, soldier deaths, civilian deaths, etc.). If 33,773 [iraqbodycount.net] American soldiers or civillians died because of our involvement there, we'd be pulling our troops out as fast as we possibly could.

    With this, we're spending less money and putting fewer lives at risk to kill a proportionally higher number of foreign militants. At what point does war become a targeted genocide? We're putting our enemies in a position where their only method of directing their anger twoard us is by targeting civillians in suicide attacks. This scares the hell out of me.
    • The only way that war becomes "fair" is if both sides incur the same 'cost' of the war (monetary, soldier deaths, civilian deaths, etc.). If 33,773 [iraqbodycount.net] American soldiers or civillians died because of our involvement there, we'd be pulling our troops out as fast as we possibly could.

      Or perhaps we'd start fighting the war the same way we did the last time we had immense casualties. We lost half a million military personnell in WW2, but in the later stages destroyed cities in the axis nations

    • Re:bad trend (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ancil (622971) on Monday March 27, 2006 @01:04AM (#15000696)
      The only way that war becomes "fair" is if both sides incur the same 'cost' of the war
      FAIR, who the hell wants war to be fair?!?? Anyone actually going to war wants it to be as unfair, as brutal, and as lopsided as possible. War is not a fucking soccer match.

      In fact, when facing a country such as the US or EU which has basic respect for the rules of war (eg, the Geneva Convention), a "fair" war pretty much maximizes the number of people killed.

      Look what happenned in the Pacific during WW2. American, Commonwealth, and Japanese soldiers got fed into a meat grinder for 4 years because they were reasonably well-matched. Then the Americans got the ultimate weapon, and their absolute air superiority allowed them to use that weapon with impunity. That doesn't sound very fair, does it? No big surprise: the war ended about a week later. This saved the lives of not only countless American GIs, but millions upon millions of Japanese soldiers and civilians.

      • Re:bad trend (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jeremi (14640) on Monday March 27, 2006 @01:51AM (#15000845) Homepage
        FAIR, who the hell wants war to be fair?!?? Anyone actually going to war wants it to be as unfair, as brutal, and as lopsided as possible. War is not a fucking soccer match.


        I think the best way to put it is that everybody (with the possible exception of arms suppliers) wants there to be as little violent conflict as possible. War is a terrible waste of resources, and war against a nuclear-armed nation is likely suicidal.


        In fact, when facing a country such as the US or EU which has basic respect for the rules of war (eg, the Geneva Convention), a "fair" war pretty much maximizes the number of people killed.


        I agree. The question is, is fighting against such countries really the threat that we need to prepare for? Or is the era of large-scale country-to-country warfare over (due to MAD if nothing else), and the real threat these days comes from terrorism? And if that is the case, wouldn't this money be better spent on combatting terrorism, rather than on building ships for wars that won't happen?

        • Re:bad trend (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Aaron England (681534)
          I agree. The question is, is fighting against such countries really the threat that we need to prepare for? Or is the era of large-scale country-to-country warfare over (due to MAD if nothing else), and the real threat these days comes from terrorism? And if that is the case, wouldn't this money be better spent on combatting terrorism, rather than on building ships for wars that won't happen?

          1) Just because a carrier was developed to fight large-scale conventional war does not mean it is not incapable of

    • The more money we have to pay and the more lives we have to put at stake in order to go to war, the less likely it is that we actually do go to war.

      Actually, I think if anything the opposite is true. The fewer lives we put on the line, the less tolerant of casualties we become. Do you really think people are less up in arms over the 2000 dead military personnel in Iraq than they were over 300,000 dead in WW2? Tolerance for war seems to be more closely related to The government's ability to get the civilia

      • Re:bad trend (Score:3, Interesting)

        by IvyKing (732111)
        Stopping Nazis and dirty sneak attacking Japs wasn't too hard a sell

        Actually, stopping Nazi's was a hard sell, the only reason the US declared war on Germany in WW2 was that Germany declared war first - and only after Roosevelt had goaded Hitler into declaring war first. The US public was in no mood to get involved with another war in Europe after the mess of our involvement in WW1 (which was probably a much larger mistake than getting involved in Iraq).

        To get back on topic, the main reason the US was ab

    • Re:bad trend (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SensitiveMale (155605)
      The only way that war becomes "fair" is if both sides incur the same 'cost' of the war

      Obviously, you have never been in the military.

      The last thing anyone in the military wants is a "fair" fight. Technology and training are used to tip the odds and make the fight as unfair as possible.

      And I suppose if you ever have to fight for your life you will agree.
  • by badmammajamma (171260) on Monday March 27, 2006 @12:49AM (#15000646)
    This gives them the ability to project power. Which is something England and France cannot currently do.
    • Huh?

      Both already have aircraft carriers.
    • by meringuoid (568297) on Monday March 27, 2006 @05:15AM (#15001375)
      This gives them the ability to project power. Which is something England and France cannot currently do.

      Others have already mentioned the whole Falkland thing, but that was 25 years ago, back when we were armed up in case of World War 3. Things are different now.

      I'd suggest looking up the British intervention in Sierra Leone, in 2000. Quite a small war that's been all but forgotten about - because it was done properly. Park a carrier offshore, fill the capital with marines, lend the local government some helicopters and patrol vehicles, make it clear to the rebels that shooting at any of these will be taken very personally, and when they do so anyway then locate the bandit HQ and send in SAS death squads.

      I gather it's this sort of operation that guides a lot of British defence thinking. What we need nowadays is not the ability to take on the Russians in massive air, sea and land warfare - what we want is the ability to materialise off the coast of some trouble spot and deliver some highly mobile badasses. The 21st century equivalent of the Victorian imperial fleet, basically, back when a British gunboat was more than enough to scare the average local warlord into line. And for that, we'll want some bigger carriers.

  • by pz (113803) on Monday March 27, 2006 @12:51AM (#15000656) Journal
    What computer lasts 50 years? Steel plate, sure, but silicon and plastic?
  • money? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cryptoz (878581)
    Alright, so the way I see it, the news here is that they're building these carriers. Good for them. I don't particularly care, but I understand that others here do. My complaint, rather, comment, is that the focus is on the money. The summary claims that the governments will save $6 billion by building these, but neglect that they could save $8 billion in building costs + billions more in employment costs.

    So shouldn't the news be that the carriers are being built, not about how much the UK and French gov
  • Another Use (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Monday March 27, 2006 @01:06AM (#15000702)
    The sea is a place it's expensive to send sailors. After all, we have to house, feed, and entertain them when they're off duty. Building more housing for sailors increases size, which increases fuel use, and decreases operational range.

    Substitute astronaut for sailor in that. Automation will be critical to space flight, for all the reasons it's useful here. Fewer astronauts means fewer people to send to Mars for 3 years, or at least it'll allow those people to get more done. This will make spaceflight cheaper, and it'll increase range, because it's easier to supply ten people for 3 years than it is to supply 15. Less food, less fuel, less money.
  • Downsides (Score:2, Funny)

    by Tablizer (95088)
    Computer, fire two missles

      hacked by chinese, you 1s 0wn3d

    Oh Shit!
           
    • by Sj0 (472011)
      I can imagine some potty mouthed naval Automation Engineer getting frustrated that the operator interface PCs crashed yet again and demanding someone get him a 24V supply and a laptop so he can rig up a "FUCKING fire button". :P
  • Misleading article (Score:4, Informative)

    by lxt (724570) on Monday March 27, 2006 @01:11AM (#15000715) Journal
    ...the article paints the picture this is something that happened today, but it's not - see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4780630.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    In fact, the carriers are already being built - all that's been signed is a formal agreement, with France giving Britain payment for prior research and development. They've actually been under construction since December!
  • After hundreds of years of compertition the Brits and the French are working together in improving their Navies? Talk about setting your pride aside for the sake of strength. The French must really be getting sick of being second rate naval powers. This must be part of the Projet de loi de programmation militaire 2003-2008
  • Useless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by melted (227442) on Monday March 27, 2006 @01:14AM (#15000726) Homepage
    Russians, for one, have missiles that fly just above water and only go up when they're close and it's time to attack. They're impossible to intercept because radars can't see them due to reflections from water. Launch a few of these and this $4B toy will sink like a fucking rock. US, no doubt, has similar tech. Russians also have supercavitation torpedoes which no one can intercept because of their speed. This is not even taking submarines into account. A sub can stay close to the sea floor with motors turned off. Once this thing goes above it, it will just launch half a dozen torpedoes and move on.

    Carriers are only useful against countries that don't have (or can't buy) such rockets / torpedoes / subs and don't have decent airforce or submarines. Those countries can be "shocked and awed" without aircraft carriers, though.
    • Re:Useless (Score:4, Informative)

      by Xochil (542406) on Monday March 27, 2006 @01:37AM (#15000817) Homepage
      I think you've been watching too many movies.

      Where do you suppose those surface skimming missiles come from? Something (either a ship, aircraft, or sub) has to get within range to launch them first.

      The ocean floor in a great many areas is way deeper than a sub's crush depth. Active sonar can localize a whether its moving or not...and if its moving passive sonar and other means can find it.

      --Mike
      (former helicopter carrier-based Aviation Anti-Submaine Warfare Operator/USN)

      • They can travel hundreds of miles before striking a ship, way beyond any ship's detection range, similar to cruise missiles. That's the whole point of having them - to not have to send expensive ships that can be easily destroyed by aircraft or cannons or missiles.
        • I said "ship, aircraft, or sub" not just "ships."

          Can they be launched from land too? Sure, but carriers tend to keep themselves beyond the distance of most surface-surface missiles and keep anf have a battle group of picket ships to run outer-zone intercepts.

          Also, how do you supposed shore launched missiles are able to acquire their targets? Any active radar transmission is detectable and easily jammed. IR homing isn't going to cut it over long ranges. GPS coordinated fed in? That's fine for stationary targ
        • by shmlco (594907) on Monday March 27, 2006 @02:47AM (#15001002) Homepage
          He's right. Something has to get within range to launch them. That's why aircraft carriers have a CAP and typically one or two hummers in the air at all times during critical situations. A hummer (E-2C Hawkeye) can fly out to cover your approaches and monitor more than 150,000 square miles of ocean. If you're within support range of a land airbase, an AWACs can provide additional coverage out to a range of 400km plus.

          An Exocet, OTOH, has a range of about 70km. A Chinese Silkworm about 90km. A YJ-8 about 120km max. So you still need to let a plane or ship within range of your carrier, something they're not likely to let happen, as they know how much their ship costs as much as you do.

          And even if they did, a strike has to get through your outer and inner missile defenses, past the close-in defense, and actually hit the right ship (not an escort). And even then, a modern carrier can probably shake off several hits, more if they're lucky, before being forced to withdraw.

          It's not as easy as you make it sound...

    • Re:Useless (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tsotha (720379)
      Russians, for one, have missiles that fly just above water and only go up when they're close and it's time to attack. They're impossible to intercept because radars can't see them due to reflections from water. Launch a few of these and this $4B toy will sink like a fucking rock. US, no doubt, has similar tech

      Couple points:

      • Every country which wants these kinds of missiles either buys them or builds them. France and China will sell anti-ship missiles to anyone, as they don't have enough orders domestical
  • by SmurfButcher Bob (313810) on Monday March 27, 2006 @01:14AM (#15000728) Journal
    is because the "missing" half of the crew will actually be outsourced to India.
  • by katorga (623930) on Monday March 27, 2006 @01:25AM (#15000773)
    Who exactly is this aimed at?

    There are no major nation states left that could maintain a sustained war a la WWI or WWII any more. Every European state lacks the trained cadre of military personel to field a major army. Any every small nation is so outclassed by even 20 year old US/NATO equipment that spending billions on "next generation" systems makes no economic or military sense. Russia lacks economic power to play, and China lacks the geographic location to every conventionally threaten the US or Europe.

    Example, the US Abrams tank is 2-3x better than any other tank it will meet except perhaps the British Challenger tanks. The US could build a tank for a fraction of the cost that would still outclass anything it will face.

    The sheer military and technological superiority of even decades old weaponry is why most of the world has shifted to guerrilla or terrorist political tactics.
  • Uhhh.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Apiakun (589521) <tikora AT gmail DOT com> on Monday March 27, 2006 @01:35AM (#15000812)
    From the article:

    "An aircraft carrier must fight, and find the enemy, and do a lot of other stuff."

    Brilliant writing there. Very eloquent. No, really, I mean it, and other stuff.
  • by Jeremi (14640) on Monday March 27, 2006 @01:39AM (#15000822) Homepage
    At a cost of $100K per sailor per year, this represents savings of more than $6 billion


    $6 billion is pretty good savings, but if they were to skip building the ships entirely, they would save another $12 billion on top of that, for a total of $18 billion saved. I'm sure people can think of lots of uses for $18 billion that are more valuable than deploying aircraft carriers...

  • "Britain and France will jointly build three new huge aircraft carriers which will be delivered between 2012 and 2014."


    No, they won't. Here's what will happen:

    • Plans for three joint aircraft carriers are announced with much fanfair.
    • After much grumbling, both the French and UK parliments, not quite yet absorbed into the antidemocratic structure of the Brussels Bureaucracy, approve construction of three aircraft carriers.
    • A year or so later, the keel for the first aircraft carrier is laid down.
    • One year into the project, and the first carrier is already six months behind schedule and 10% over budget.
    • Two years into the project, and the project is already a year behind schedule. The construction start date for the last carrier are moved out another year.
    • Three years in, and France, in the middle of lingering recession with negative GDP growth and continuing muslim riots, falls behind in payments. Work tmporarily halted.
    • Following the replacement of Blair's government with hard left Labourites, military expenditures come under additional budget scrutiny, eventually being raided to prop up the ever-increasing cost of National Health Care. But mutual consent, the third carrier is cancelled altogether.
    • A shipbuilder's strike delays construction another three months.
    • Pressed for funds due to increasing UK involvement in the Pakistani Civil War, construction of the first carrier is slowed still further, and the second piushed out another two years.
    • Flaws in the automation system cause an upward revision the number of staffers required for
    • The carrier is now three years behind schedule, and costs are already more than 50% over projections.
    • Suicide attack by the Albion Martyrs of Allah Bridge breaches the forward hull of the unfinished carrier. Compartmentalization system prevents ship from sinking, but fire control system malfunctions, spewing flame retardent foam everywhere but,/i> where the explosion occured. Launch delayed another six months.
    • French giovernment falls after Islamofascist organization bombs Notre Dame, bringing right wing government of Sabine Herod to power. Military spending temporarily increases.
    • Mired in its own recession, UK government asks France to contribute more to carrier construction. Second carrier pushed out two more years.
    • After a mere nine months in power, Herod government resigns after fourth week of nationwide strike results in more than 1000 deaths. Socialist communist government cancels all funding for second carrier.
    • Excessive government spending by France, Italy, and half the the rest of the EU causes Euro to collapse. Germany refloats the Duetschmark. Work delayed still further by inabaility to figure iut what French half of carrier costs should be paid in.
    • It's now 2017, and the sole supercarrier is finally launched. A half day into first sea trials, catostrophic software failure leaves the Thatcher-Chirac carrier dead in the water. It has to be towed back to port. Carrier is still unavalable when China launches disasterous attempt to seize Taiwan.
    • Japan and South Korea announce existance of own nuclear arsanals three days after China's fleet is sent to the bottom of the Staits of Formosa.
    • Islamic Republic of France declared, falls. French half of crew pulled off for home security duty during attempts to supress the gorwing Islamic rebellion.
    • Citing rising world tensions, UK military announces joint deal with US to create new class of aircraft carrier....

  • More Detailed Info (Score:4, Informative)

    by GrodinTierce (571882) on Monday March 27, 2006 @03:14AM (#15001066) Journal
    Some more detailed information about the project can be found here: the British part (aka CVF) [defenseindustrydaily.com] and the French part (aka PA2). [defenseindustrydaily.com]

There is no distinction between any AI program and some existent game.

Working...