The inventory of aircraft carriers, known as CVNs, is considered
in US military establishment. This is illustrated by the myth that
presidents first question in times of crisis always
is where are the
carriers? Whether a myth or not, the US Navys CVNs is a potent
tool for power
projection and have been so since the end of the Second World War.
present generation of aircraft carriers are undoubtedly the most
powerful naval vessels in service anywhere in the world, there are
good reasons to investigate if they are the best possible option
post-Cold War era that we have now entered.
Cost is an overriding concern of many - if not all - present-day
matters, and this pertains especially to the large and very specialized
nuclear-powered aircraft carriers of the Nimitz-class in service
with the US
Navy. This type of CV is becoming increasingly unaffordable, even
for the US
Navy. Cost of procurement, cost of manning, cost of maintaining
and - eventually
- cost of disposal are all becoming excessive drains on the navys
and it will therefore be of great interest if an alternative, cheaper
way can be
found to offer those same capabilities that are today offered only
Another important consideration advocating a thorough review of
carrier is the altered strategic situation after the end of the
Cold War that
also changed the likely role of existing aircraft carriers. During
the Cold War
were US CVNs often tasked with sea dominance, air superiority and
the name of the new game is littoral warfare! Littoral warfare,
long list of new tasks and missions that existing aircraft carriers
are not that
well suited for. It would therefore be prudent to study if these
new tasks and
missions could somehow be incorporated into future generations of
carriers, thereby giving them an increased capability in the littoral
seem likely to dominate the coming decades.
What will however remain unchanged is the aircraft carriers
value as a symbol
of power. Also future generations of aircraft carriers, however
may appear, will radiate political will, military power and invincibility
as much as the current generation of CVNs do.
Purpose & Scope
This paper is an attempt to radically rethink the aircraft carrier.
attempt to incorporate many novel ideas and concepts into a realistic
economical proposal for a new type of aircraft carrier: A ship suitable
needs of the US and the new littoral warfare role thrust
upon its navy. The
proposal is for a new type of aircraft carrier generally referred
to as a
The paper is not the result of systematic analyses, nor does it
calculations or comparisons between alternative options. It is the
work of a
single individual with an interest in the subject, and it is structured
like a brainstorm than like an analytic report, introducing some
ideas that attempt to solve many of the problems inherent with the
of US CVNs. The text is kept relatively short without comprehensive
explanations, as the purpose is to present a number of ingenious
Introducing the MegaCarrier
One new concept introduced by this proposal is the notion of a very
also very SIMPLE, naval vessel. The proposal makes full use of the
maxim air is
free and steel is cheap by avoiding expensive and maintenance
technologies and pieces of machinery, substituting these with a
larger, but very
simple steel construction. The operation of the aircraft carrier
will be greatly
simplified compared to the current crop of CVNs, and this will in
turn drive a
development to reduce the manning. Lean manning is an
integrated part of the
proposal, as manpower is becoming increasingly expensive as far
as its indeed
possible to even recruit the personnel needed by the US Navy at
Another idea introduced is the concept of modularised and/or standardized
support systems throughout the vessel wherever it is practical.
This covers not
only the crew accommodation, repair shops, command facilities and
facilities but extends also to the power generating systems, the
system and even part of the onboard communication suite. Again,
this is very
much cost oriented, but the widespread use of modularised and exchangeable
systems will also accommodate quick and easy updates whenever necessary
the need for extensive and time-consuming refits/rebuilds, just
as it will be
possible to transfer systems from a worn out or damaged hull to
thereby always utilizing all systems most efficiently.
Part of the modularised concept introduced in the MegaCarrier is
made up by the
ships propulsion system. The propulsion system chosen is the
Diesel-Electric principle, in which diesel generators are used to
electricity, which in turn power large, but very simple and reliable
motors coupled directly to the vessels propellers. Diesel-Electric
offers very good fuel economy, good reliability, simple and cheap
automated operation, redundancy through numbers and the possibility
positioning diesel generators in such a manner that battle damage
take out more than a few generators from a single hit.
The MegaCarrier will be of a new type operating most of its embarked
the STOL-mode (Short-Take-Off-and-Landing). STOL-mode aircraft operations
much simpler than when catapults and arresting wires are employed
to launch and
recover aircraft, but it requires a long runway, thus the required
effectively becomes a primary design driver for the MegaCarrier.
operations on an aircraft carrier requires not only a long runway
on the flight
deck, but also various other means to facilitate fast acceleration
braking of aircraft. A so-called Sky Jump will also
be included on the bows of
Having presented one of the overriding design considerations will
I continue to
introduce probably the most controversial but also most intriguing
promising aspect of this proposal: Namely, the ability to
launch a C-130
Hercules aircraft from the flight deck of the MegaCarrier, recover
it back on
the flight deck and support at least a handful C-130 Hercules aircraft
routine operation as part of the air wing. Yes, thats exactly
what it said!
Hercules aircraft will be part of the MegaCarriers air wing!
This is obviously
yet another indication that the MegaCarrier and in particular its
will have to be very big.
As already stated in the introductory remarks will the MegaCarrier
an increased emphasis on mission adaptability. A very large and
simplicity very expensive ship needs to be an effective contributor/combatant
numerous very different situations. This adaptability is obtained
by making sure
that many different types of aircraft can operate from the ship,
and also by
introducing architecture of exchangeable modules with mission specific
capabilities within the vessels internal quarters. It will
be possible to
exchange some capabilities (e.g. crew accommodation modules) for
command facility modules), thereby tailoring the vessel for specific
The final cornerstone of the MegaCarrier is simply the provision
of a much
larger hangar bay than on the current crop of CVNs, so that the
entire air wing
(except some of the C-130 Hercules aircraft) can be protected from
the harsh sea
environment. Military aircraft are becoming ever more technically
and expensive. Keeping them permanently on a windy, cold and often
deck will add wear and tear to these aircraft, which in turn will
operational lives. The corrosive salt from the sea is making things
complicated. Providing a snug and dry hangar will save money, just
as it will
provide a benign environment for first class maintenance and preparatory
aircraft. The huge size of the MegaCarrier makes it relatively easy
the necessary large hangar bay.
Enormous but very simple
As already forewarned will the MegaCarrier be truly enormous. It
will be 480m.
(1575ft.) long, thereby surpassing the largest existing naval vessel,
Viking about 20m. (70ft.). The displacement will be around 2½
displacement of existing USN CVNs although Jahre Vikings enormous
is still in a class of its own. The chosen dimensions is a compromise
the need for a long runway on the flight deck to accommodate STOL,
the need for
large stocks of aviation fuel and munitions, a requirement to accommodate
entire air wing in the hangar, but avoiding a severely compromised
terms of speed and manoeuvrability. Also the full load draft has
consideration, thus the hull has a relatively shallow profile in
facilitate that the MegaCarrier (in principle at least) can access
ports as the current generation of US CVNs, but in reality will
there be few
ports around the world able to receive such a huge vessel to quayside.
The empty steel hull of a warship represents only a modest percentage
ships overall procurement cost, thus the very large steel
construction of the
MegaCarrier will only add little to the cost, compared to the CVNs
of the Nimitz
class. The omission of many complicated pieces of machinery will
make the MegaCarrier substantially cheaper than CVNs of the Nimitz
First and foremost will there be no nuclear reactors or their associated
and safety systems. There will be no steam catapults on the flight
therefore no need to produce steam from corrosive salt water. No
the steam to catapults and turbines. No arresting wires for landings
associated enormous hydraulic brake. No aircraft lifts on the deck
edge with a
need to lift many tons at the extreme overhang of the hull. And
due to the
enormous size of the flight deck will it be practical to do away
with the need
for Jet Blast Deflectors (JBDs) and their cooling systems as only
the port side
of the deck, separated by a wide margin from deck personnel and
will be used for take-offs. All in all will the MegaCarrier be so
mainly due to its enormous size; it will end up being much cheaper
to build than
the current crop of US CVNs.
One of the main objectives driving the modularised scheme introduced
here is to
offer a vessel where each component or sub-system will be fully
such time that it is either technically obsolete or worn out. Come
will a component or sub-system be exchanged for a new one independently
components and sub-systems.
E.g.: The steel hull of a CV could have a life expectancy of, say,
30 years, the
machinery 20 years, C3I-systems 15 years and aviation support systems
The different life expectancies make it impossible to utilize ALL
an optimal manner. While the hull expectancy coincides with 2 subsequent
C3I-systems will a second set of machinery still have 10 years life
left by the
time hull life comes to an end. Worse, a replaced aviation support
be almost new (only 5 years old) when the hull is worn out.
This problem can of cause be alleviated if the hull is kept in
its scheduled retirement, but then will it be necessary to install
C3I-system, which will then outlast both the hull and machinery.
on....and so forth... The dilemma is obvious and further
aggravated by the
fact that there are far more systems to consider than the mere 4
included in this example.
The MegaCarrier will therefore employ an internal architecture
equipment and systems will be mounted in exchangeable standard containers
this is impractical, they will be adapted to a modular plug-in/plug-out
Thus, containerised equipment and modular systems can quickly be
new missions or be replaced with newer, more modern systems as they
obsolete or worn out. Systems and equipment subject to this arrangement
from power units and propulsive motors to weapon systems, repair
facilities, crew accommodation, medical facilities, storages etc.
The modularisation and standardization of support systems also
purpose of separating the operational status of the ship from maintenance
and necessary repair work, thus the average operational readiness
MegaCarrier will dramatically improve compared to more traditional
carriers. This means the ship will spend fewer days unavailable
and/or training, thereby maximising the utility of the investment.
maximized utility is achieved by simply exchanging most malfunctioned
degraded systems with fully functional ones, thus performing repairs
maintenance work on sub-systems totally independent of the ships
status, as these things are done while the sub-systems are removed
from the ship
and replaced by others. The exchange of systems will usually be
done in port,
but can sometimes even be done while at sea if a spare system is
available (brought along or flown in).
As the power & propulsion systems are mostly standardised modules
plug-in/plug-out type will these elements continuously be rotated,
modernized, thus these systems will not have a defining say in the
expectancy. As it is furthermore expected that most of the ships
and internal architecture (command centre, repair shops, magazines
also standardised modules or even mounted in exchangeable containers
these systems and facilities be without defining influence on the
This means that it is by large only the hulls condition that
when decommission is due. When the ship is decommissioned will all
modules and containerised equipment be removed and put in storage
for later use
in other vessels. Only the empty hull with a few systems unsuitable
uses will be scrapped. This system, where equipment from decommissioning
is to a large degree transferred to other ships, also means that
it is not
expected that a SLEP (Service Life Extension Programme) will be
The machinery providing electricity to the electric motors driving
propellers, are standardized diesel-generator sets mounted on vibration-damping
rafts. Each diesel-generator (hereafter referred to as power unit)
automatic, controlled and monitored by a PC type computer and yields
10 MW. All
together will there be a total of 24 identical power units yielding
combined; of which maximum 192 MW are used for propulsion.
The power units are evenly distributed in the hull, located near
the skin (side)
of the hull, as low as possible but above the waterline. Air-inlets
for the 24
diesel-generator sets are embedded in the flight deck leading directly
individual set below. The exhausts from the sets are vented through
side along the shortest possible route, thus very short piping ease
of fresh air, cooling air and disposal of exhausts.
Furthermore will it be possible to exchange a malfunctioning or
worn power unit
(including mounting raft) with a new one in a matter of hours. This
will be little need for maintenance of power units (beyond the most
at sea, as they are simply exchanged in port and overhauled/repaired
This in turn reduces the manning requirement for the power generating
to near zero.
The power units will be installed one level below the hangar deck,
so that a
malfunctioning unit as well as units due for overhauls can be replaced
hangar bay. The palletised diesel-generator sets can then be evacuated
ship using the aircraft elevators and lifting it off of the flight
deck with a
crane. It will even be possible to replace a malfunctioning power
unit with a
stored reserve unit while the vessel is underway.
Diesel-generators are cheap, economical, available from numerous
easy to maintain and can today be entirely automated. The generator
sets will be
dispersed in the large hull as a precaution against critical battle
high number of generator-sets will in itself provide a significant
against power breakdowns and redundant routing of electricity will
It is therefore very unlikely that more than a few power units
will be rendered
inoperable for any one reason including serious battle damage to
Each power unit provides only a few percent of the total available
there will be no need for auxiliary or reserve power systems beyond
primary power units. Even in the extremely unlikely instance that
25% (6 power
units) are inoperable, will it still be possible to maintain normal
at 20+ knots.
Summary of Propulsion Machinery and Performance Estimate:
Machinery: Integrated Full Electric Propulsion (IFEP), 4 shafts
motors and fixed propellers for 192 MW total, which is exactly the
range as for the existing CVNs.
Power supply: Integrated electric distribution network. 24 diesel-generator
sets, each delivering 10 MW for 240 MW total.
Speed: Maximum: 24-25 knots
Cruising: 20-22 knots.
Range: At least 19200 nm. at 20 knots.
Contrary to current operational practises will aircraft embarked
MegaCarrier take off and land unassisted on the flight deck. Aircraft
launched and recovered without the use of catapults, arresting wires
other ship-mounted machinery. The long runway, a gentle Sky-Jump
and the forward
motion of the ship will be the primary means enabling aircraft to
take off and
land utilizing only their own power. The operative mode described
here is called
STOL (Short-Take-Off-and-Landing), while a few aircraft will be
able to use
It will be necessary to modify some aircraft slightly in order
aircraft in the new STOL-mode when they originally were intended
to be launched
by a catapult and stopped by arresting wires. Some aircraft will
modification simply to enable self-propelled take-off, while others
will only be
able to take-off with maximum payloads if modified. In all instances
modifications be relatively modest. The two primary modifications
adoption of RATO (Rocket-Assisted-Take-Off) for launch and RAL
(Rocket-Assisted-Landing) with forward-firing rockets for short
Unlike the present class of CVNs will it usually not be possible
take-off and landing events independently from each other, as the
designed around ONE very long runway used both for take-off and
landing The key
to efficient aircraft operations is therefore in the procedures
the 480m. (1575ft) long runway for the next take-off or landing
It is anticipated that a take-off or landing event can be completed
seconds on average. It is possible to conduct multiple near-simultaneous
take-offs and landings, thus effectively reducing the needed time
Take-off or landing of a Hercules will likely take at least twice
as long time
as for smaller aircraft. Flying operations will be aided by the
fact that some
of the embarked aircraft are capable of performing vertical landings
(F-35/STOVL, AV-8B Harrier II, V-22 Osprey) on the stern, thus relieving
runway of traffic. To ensure adequate handling space on the flight
aircraft only be brought from the hangar bay to the flight deck
before take-off, just as recovered aircraft will be taken down into
bay as soon as possible.
The air wing embarked on MegaCarrier will follow the British invented
Air Group (TAG) concept typically consisting of 40 to 80 aircraft
but with a
surge capability to around 120 aircraft. All contemporary helicopters
operate from the MegaCarrier, just as up to 8 standard or specialized
aircraft can be routinely supported (more on that below). The entire
except the Hercules aircraft will usually fit in the hangar bay.
contrary to normal USN practise where more than half of the air
wing is parked
on the deck. A number of fighters and/or helicopters will probably
remain on the flight deck during surge operations, but even then
will there be
plenty of deck space for flying operations.
The following existing aircraft types could be included in the
air wing, but the
list will obviously expand as new types are brought into service:
SuperHornet and F-35(CV) can operate off of the bow Sky-Jump in
STO mode without
modifications, however RATO would enable higher TO-weight. RAL will
introduced for short landings. F-35(STOVL) and AV-8B Harrier II+
STOVL or occasionally VTOL. These two aircraft will not require
modifications at all. The E-2C+ Hawkeye AEW will be able to take-off
bow Sky-Jump and land unaided in STOL-mode, but will probably need
RATO for max.
TO-weight. The C-130 Hercules has demonstrated impressive STOL capability
testing, so no modifications are required, however again will RATO
be useful to
increase max. TO-weight. Finally can the V-22 Osprey operate in
STOVL or VTOL
without modifications. Any contemporary helicopter could obviously
also use the
MegaCarrier as base - as could future UAVs/UCAVs.
The RATO (Rocket-Assisted-Take-Off) system will provide the extra
some aircraft types need in order to make it airborne from the flight
RATO program will probably be updated and improved versions of already
rockets, setting new standards for reliability, performance and
economy of use.
The burnt out rockets will be dropped into the sea immediately after
and will therefore not impose any weight penalty throughout the
envisioned that only a small percentage of all missions will need
Likewise will the RAL (Rocket-Assisted-Landing) system slow down
quickly once they touch down on the flight deck of the MegaCarrier.
envisioned that the forward firing rockets will be automatically
immediately when the aircrafts wheels have firm contact with
the flight deck.
They will probably be carried in streamlined pods under the wings
more development work) mounted on the aircrafts undercarriage,
thus not adding
any drag to the aircraft. Either way will there be a small, but
weight penalty from carrying these rockets the entire duration of
The landing procedure envisioned for the MegaCarriers air
wing will offer much
reduced loads and stress on airframes compared to the full-afterburn
controlled crash that is standard landing procedure
on the current generation
of US CVNs. In other words will the landings on the MegaCarrier
be far less
dramatic. This will in turn prolong the structural life expectancies
airframes, which traditionally is much shorter for carrier-based
for their land-based brethrens.
As already mentioned will the MegaCarrier include the very versatile
Hercules aircraft in the air wing, as this aircraft has capabilities
any other current or previous carrier embarked aircraft. The first
comes to mind, when one hears mentioning of a Hercules on a carrier
Can a Hercules even land on an aircraft carrier? And
just as important: Can
it take off again with a useful payload? The answer to both
these questions is
a surprising but resounding: Yes, easily! And it can even be done
use of arresting gear for landings or catapults for take-offs!
Tests conducted by the US Navy with a KC-130F Hercules on the USS
(CV59) in 1963 revealed that there was plenty of space on the deck
and take offs due to Hercules outstanding STOL ability. The
tests can best be
described as straightforward and easy-going and there
are even considerable
room for improvements by using the latest mark (C-130J Hercules),
minor modifications to aircraft, provide special landing aids etc.
The Forrestal tests: The tests took place in the Northern Atlantic,
1963. The seas were moderately rough; one bystander estimating Forrestals
went up and down 30 ft. The aircraft was a KC-130F Hercules on loan
to the USN
from the USMC with only minor modifications made for the tests.
The deck was
cleared of other aircraft during testing and the Hercules used a
painted axial line down the middle of the deck. The aircraft made
touch-and-go landings, some using the angled landing deck, before
21 unarrested full-stop landings and unaided take-offs. It was demonstrated
the aircraft could stop in only 270 ft. weighing 85 000 lb. and
in 460 ft.
weighing 121 000 lb. Take off required a run of 745 ft. weighing
121 000 lb. In
all cases was there a 40 knots wind over the deck.
October 63 on Forrestal: Hercules F, 121 000 lb, 4x4300 horsepower,
4-blade props, 40 knots wind over deck = 745 ft. necessary for take-off.
Near-future on MegaCarrier: Hercules J, 4x6000 horsepower, more
6-blade props, 30 knots wind over deck, RATO if no wind, 1500 ft.
available, gentle Sky-Jump = take-off possible at 155 000 lb. ???
It appears paradoxical to choose an almost 50 years old design
as the system
for the future, but the Hercules is still going strong and
the newest version,
C-130J must be considered an entirely modern aircraft which will
production for many years to come. Moreover, there is no direct
successor on the
drawing board, at least not any adequately funded successor. The
projects for a Hercules replacement (i.e. ATT) seem to offer increased
smaller dimensions and better STOL (SuperSTOL) ability, so any successor
all likelihood be able to operate from a CV deck at least as well
as a Hercules
if not better.
The C-130 Hercules is a very versatile aircraft, that exists in
variants. Its continuously upgraded and more variants are
added, and its
inclusion in the carrier air wing opens up entirely new possibilities.
Hercules is much larger and heavier than any other aircraft ever
operated from an aircraft carrier and the huge size therefore require
large CV to support it. Due to its large size will it be impossible
accommodate the Hercules in the hangar bay below the flight deck.
MegaCarrier is therefore equipped with a deck-edge hangar with folding
The hangar is tailored to accommodate two C-130 Hercules aircraft
and almost all
maintenance work on embarked Hercules aircraft will be done in this
will be necessary to utilize deck parking if more than two Hercules
embarked. This means that excess Hercules aircraft will be parked
on the flight
deck to starboard, secured by wires and with the tail overhanging
the deck edge.
In this way will it be possible to deck park up to six Hercules
hampering normal flight operations in any way, for a total of eight
embarked Hercules aircraft during normal operations.
It is also possible to operate land-based Hercules from the MegaCarrier
innovative pit-stop scheme. Pit-stops are used in the
famous 24-hour Le Mans
race, where cars enter the pit area to refuel, change driver, have
and occasionally have quick repairs done. A pit-stop on the deck
MegaCarrier would do exactly the same refuel the aircraft,
change the crew,
provide very basic maintenance as well as the occasional emergency
could be three plausible reasons for using the pit-stop
A. Its easier and more practical to service/support aircraft
personnel from a secure land base.
B. The weather conditions can be very harsh, thus long-term deck-parked
aircraft cannot be satisfactory serviced/supported.
C. A larger number of Hercules aircraft can be simultaneous supported
pit-stops than if all the aircraft are permanently based on the
The pit-stop scheme will enable land based Hercules aircraft to
fly missions in
support of the aircraft carrier task force (CVBG) almost as effectively
they had been permanently based on the MegaCarrier. Furthermore
would it be
possible to base Hercules aircraft on a land base many flying hours
operational area of the CVBG, although it will obviously strain
well as equipment (aircraft accumulating lots of flying hours) if
the land base
are very far away.
Example: An AEW Hercules makes a six hour transfer (with only flight
onboard) from a remote land base to a MegaCarrier, do a short pit-stop
deck (taking the mission crew onboard) before a ten hour AEW patrol,
the MegaCarrier for a longer pit-stop (allowing basic maintenance),
second ten hour AEW patrol (with a new crew), then making a final
(dropping off the mission crew) on the MegaCarrier before transferring
the land base where the aircraft will receive all necessary service
It will probably be worth the trouble and expense to introduce
modifications even though a standard Hercules can land on and take
off from a
carrier deck. First of all will it predominantly be the newest mk.
J that will
be employed in the naval role, as it has better STOL ability, stronger
and requires far less maintenance. To facilitate shorter landings
brakes be of importance. It will also be a good idea to install
(Rocket Assisted Take-Off) for use in zero-wind conditions or to
take-offs at maximum (war-rated) weight.
The standard Hercules tie down system is obviously not intended
for CV deck use
and is limited to wind speeds up to 80 knots, so an improved tie
down system for
use on a moving deck (if possible also usable in winds above 80
knots) must be
considered a necessity. A very useful feature would be a tail-rudder
modified to fold down to horizontal, so that the wind pressure on
Hercules would be significantly reduced.
As mentioned are there many variants of Hercules that could be
embarked on the
MegaCarrier, among these: Large COD (Carrier-Onboard-Delivery),
Transport, AEW&C, Spec Ops Variants, Air Assault, IFR-Tanker
Refuelling), Gunship Aircraft, Maritime Minelayer, Rescue &
versatile Hercules will also be adaptable to a variety of other
roles if need
should dictate (and funds allow) it. For example could it be developed
very capable ASW/maritime patrol aircraft. Also the Elint/EW mission
somewhat familiar to the Hercules and theres a requirement
capability in the SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defences) role
could provide at least standoff jamming.
Missions & Roles
The MegaCarrier will add substantial capabilities compared to existing
carriers in alternative roles like AirAssault, Spec.Ops./Special
deployment, Disaster & Humanitarian Relief as well as for other
missions. These new capabilities will dramatically improve the MegaCarriers
utility in littoral warfare and other post Cold-war assignments.
traditional missions like Air superiority, Strike missions, Close
and Surveillance are fully supported, so only missions and capabilities
substantially differ from what the current class of CVs support
are mentioned in
The USN CVNs operate the E-2C Hawkeye in the AEW (Airborne Early
The MegaCarrier will be able to do the same, but also has the option
of using a
special variant of the C-130 Hercules for AEW. A Hercules AEW variant
exists in US inventory, known as the EC-130V Hercules AEW&C,
equipped with radar
and mission systems from the E-2C Hawkeye AEW aircraft or as a even
concept known as EC-130J-30 incorporating the latest Hawkeye updates.
performance is equal to the E-2C Hawkeye in every aspect, but it
is able to fly
further, remain on station longer and offer the crew much better
as it has the potential for further upgrades (usually causing weight
an option the E-2C Hawkeye cannot offer.
An AEW platform based on the proven C-130 Hercules aircraft combined
equally proven systems of the E-2C Hawkeye AEW aircraft will have
advantages. First and foremost will a Hercules AEW be able to remain
for 10+ hours (probably even longer for the newer C-130J). This
is a lot longer
than the E-2C Hawkeye with a mission endurance of 4-6 hours in most
circumstances. That would roughly halve the number of necessary
thus reducing the number of aircraft necessary for continuous coverage
alternatively cover larger areas further away from the CVBG. The
fuselage will offer far better crew comfort and space for extra
during extended AEW missions.
The Hercules aircraft exists in a number of air-to-air refuelling
generally given the prefix KC. Air-to-air refuelling using Hercules
be a totally different thing than the usual buddy-tanking scheme
often used by
CV-based fighters. Almost the entire air wing would be able to reach
with heavier payloads when refuelled in the air from Hercules Tankers,
longer reach would to a large extent enable the carrier
air wing to operate in
a littoral environment while the MegaCarrier itself was kept reasonably
US operations in countries like Panama, Grenada, Somalia and Afghanistan
demonstrated the value of airmobile troops and Special Forces units.
forces could easily deploy from a large platform lying off the coast
subsequently not be dependent on secure bases ashore, which will
often only be
available at a (political) price. The MegaCarrier proposed here
substantial capability in the role as a floating base for various
A MegaCarrier could be used for AirAssault operations and would
in that role be
able to operate large numbers of helicopters (any contemporary type,
attack helicopters) supported by a couple of Hercules Tankers to
range of the helicopters (assuming they are fitted with air-to-air
probes). Another major advantage will be the ability to fly the
troops in on
Hercules Transporters from distant and secure locations immediately
mission. It would obviously also be possible to retain a reduced
fighter aircraft on the MegaCarrier for self-protection if deemed
Another option will be to stage an all-Hercules AirAssault from
the deck of the
MegaCarrier using Paratroopers or Light Infantry. It will be possible
temporarily pack up to 12 Hercules aircraft on the deck (assuming
aircraft there) without blocking the runway, so a fair
number of troops could
go in just one wave. The US Armys IBCTs (Interim
Brigade Combat Teams) can
also deploy some of their elements including the new Stryker AFV
MegaCarrier. Such a scenario would require that vehicles and other
loaded onboard the vessel before it leaves its homeport. The MegaCarrier
big that it will be possible to store at least a battalions
worth of vehicles
and equipment onboard without impeding the vessels other missions.
deck one level below the hangar deck will function as garage for
equipment until needed, by which time everything will be brought
to the flight
deck and loaded onto Hercules aircraft together with crews and personnel
have been flown out to the MegaCarrier earlier.
There are two distinct advantages to pre-positioning vehicles and
equivalent of an IBCT battalion on a MegaCarrier: First, it establishes
rapid deployment capability where only the personnel
need to be flown the long
distance from the US (or an US base). Second, if and when the battalion
needed can it typically deploy from a much shorter distance since
MegaCarrier will often be able to close the distance prior to deployment.
in turn means that deployment will speed up and/or fewer Hercules
be needed for the airlift.
Finally could a MegaCarrier also be used as a base for Special
units etc. These forces will often use helicopters and again will
a couple of
Hercules Tankers help extend the reach of these helicopters.
It is also
possible to base the AC-130H Spectre and AC-130U Spooky Hercules
for clandestine operations and support of Special Forces on the
The MegaCarrier will also have a substantial capability for Disaster
Humanitarian Relief operations. Again will it be the ability to
numbers of helicopters from the deck that is the main attribute,
but it is also
worth mentioning that supplies like tents, medical equipment, medicine,
even off-road vehicles and so on could be flown in from distant
onboard Hercules Transporters for final distribution to areas of
helicopter. This means that relief operations will not be dependent
on a runway
ashore; nor will it be necessary to establish command and/or distribution
centres ashore, as everything can be coordinated on/from the MegaCarrier.
No serious attempt has so far been made to address the issue of
aircraft for the CVBGs important COD (Carrier-Onboard-Delivery)
(almost) standard Hercules aircraft used in the COD role will enable
the USN to
reach a MegaCarrier anywhere in the world with urgent deliveries.
personnel, crucial spare parts, other equipment and mail for the
crew can be
flown out to a CVBG using fewer stopovers and therefore with less
a fine-masked network of friendly airbases; a major concern these
days when only
few friendly bases can be considered unconditionally available.
The tests in 1963 on Forrestal were originally intended to clarify
could be used as a kind of SuperCOD aircraft. Although the tests
viability the issue was never pursued. Some sources simply state
that it was
considered too risky while others claim it was the configuration
of the USN
carrier decks that made the idea impractical, as all other flying
would have to be suspended and the deck cleared completely every
time a Hercules
COD aircraft were expected. Indeed an impractical and risky
considering that USN carrier decks are more or less packed with
aircraft most of
Lay-out & Features
The MegaCarrier has simple inboard aircraft elevators, which will
make it easier
to construct a strong but structurally simple flight deck as opposed
complex structures necessary when deck-edge lifts, arresting wires,
deflectors and steam catapults are incorporated in the construction.
MegaCarrier will also have a 6-8 degree ski-jump forward to assist
aircraft at maximum TO-weight. Furthermore will the flight deck
have a large
island to starboard incorporating a hangar for a number of aircraft,
two C-130 Hercules aircraft.
The flight deck will have a simple rectangular form without cut
opposed to the complex shape of the flight decks on the Forrestal-class
subsequent US CV/CVNs. The ship is of a slightly imbalanced design,
as it has a
larger deck overhang to starboard than to port due to the deck hangar
two Hercules aircraft. This imbalance must be countered by ballast
to port and
it is therefore envisioned that a number of large fuel tanks in
overhang will act as ballast; fuel tanks that will be filled with
ballast after the fuel are expended.
Normally will all aircraft be accommodated in the main hangar bay
and/or in the
deck hangar. This is in order to spare the expensive
aircraft from the harsh
and salinated naval environment, thus the life span of each aircraft
stretched. This is particularly of importance with the introduction
of new and
very expensive combat aircraft, like F-35. The MegaCarrier has enough
aviation fuel to support extended operations including A2A-refuelling
pit-stop mode operations with Hercules aircraft.
There are 6 identical double-deck aircraft elevators
between the flight deck
and the main hangar bay. All are installed inside the hull beam,
with 3 offset
to starboard and 3 offset to port. The elevators are of a very simple
reliable push-up/drop-down type, capable of transferring a load
between the two
levels in less than 10 seconds. When in its lowest position will
elevator deck (which always carries the load) form part of the hangar
while the upper elevator deck will form part of the flight deck.
elevator deck will also seal the hangar bay from the outside environment,
keeping it snug and comfortable for the maintenance/handling personnel.
elevator is in its top position will the lower elevator deck form
part of the
flight deck, while the upper elevator deck will protrude in a position
flight deck. The elevators are of a drive-through type
up transferral of aircraft between the hangar bay and the flight
precise positioning of the aircraft on the elevator is not necessary.
Measurements and other empirical data:
Length, oa: 480,0 m.
Hull beam, waterline: 60,0 m.
Width, flight deck: 96,0 m.
Width, oa: 108,0 m.
Draft, full load: 12,0 m.
Displacement, standard: 192 000 metric tons.
Displacement, full load: 240 000 metric tons.
Hangar size: Approx. 15 000 sq.m. including the 6 lifts.
Complement: Approx. 2400 w. 40 aircraft embarked.
Approx. 4800 w. 120 aircraft embarked.
Ships complement alone: Approx. 800
USN aircraft carriers have often been touted as 4½ acres
of deployable sovereign
US territory and the MegaCarrier proposed here could similarly be
acres of sovereign US territory. Due to its very versatile design
however be far more useful in regional conflicts and littoral warfare
existing CVNs of the Nimitz-class.
Most new ideas seem impossible, impractical or outright ridicules
thought and remains impossible, impractical or ridicules
until proven by
undaunted pioneers, throwing themselves into uncharted waters. This
represents radical out-of-the-box thinking, so there are undoubtedly
will consider it impossible, impractical and probably even ridicules;
so be it!
All new concepts face obstacles, often also irrational prejudices.
of these obstacles - and the money and time necessary to overcome
them - will
determine if a concept is viable or not. I will argue that this
proposal in all
respects are relatively low risk and the limited but indisputable
compromises outlined will be acceptable, given the many advantages
a very large,
Hercules compatible CV promises to deliver. It appears the technical
operational obstacles can be overcome at reasonable expense and
in a relatively
short time. Off cause others may argue otherwise