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Author Topic: Australian Invincible  (Read 18202 times)

Offline JFC Fuller

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Re: Australian Invincible
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2014, 02:52:26 am »
The Sea Harrier is NOT an interceptor with a secondary strike capability. It actually has superior strike capability than a AV-8B. It was always designed as a multi role strike fighter.

That is not entirely correct. Sea Harrier was designed as a classic naval light combat aircraft, it was intended as a fleet interceptor and an anti-ship platform and that is what its avionics system was designed for. It had virtually no real land attack capability at all, sure you could hang bombs and rockets on it and perform basic strike missions but it was in no way optimized for that role, whereas GR.1/3 then the AV-8B/GR.5 was. Blue Fox in the FRS.1 was actually derived from Seaspray and was optimized for two missions, medium to high-altitude intercepts and picking surface targets out of rough seas and then striking them. By contrast, the GR.3 used the Ferranti LRMTS which could actually hit targets marked with a laser designator by an FAC (in addition to providing its own laser range finding) with the appropriate ground equipment, this was combined with the Ferranti INAS working through a moving map display for navigation to the target area and ballistic computing. The same basic concept was improved upon for the GR.5 and then taken even further with the addition of a thermal camera for the GR.7.

In short, if you wanted to shoot down other aircraft and attack sea targets the SHAR was the ideal Harrier, if you wanted to strike ground targets then the AV-8A/GR.1/3 then the AV-8B/GR.5/7 was the one you wanted.

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: Australian Invincible
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2014, 04:02:15 am »
It had virtually no real land attack capability at all, sure you could hang bombs and rockets on it and perform basic strike missions but it was in no way optimized for that role,

Nope. The Sea Harrier’s Navhars system was designed to allow accurate ground attack at night including low level, laydown bombing. This is strike state of the art before the introduction of laser guided munitions.


As for being better than the AV-8B in strike the Sea Harrier had the radar. It may not have been a perfect air to ground system but it was better than nothing and provided a basic ground mapping capability and a better aide than looking at a moving map system to avoid flying into the ground on a night strike.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2014, 04:04:51 am by Abraham Gubler »
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

Offline JFC Fuller

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Re: Australian Invincible
« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2014, 04:40:48 am »
Nope. The Sea Harrier’s Navhars system was designed to allow accurate ground attack at night including low level, laydown bombing. This is strike state of the art before the introduction of laser guided munitions.

No it really wasn't. The SHAR didn't even have a full inertial system due to cost constraints whereas the GR.3 did (ironically this caused issues when deployed on ships in the Falklands). GR.3s could and did strike based on laser designating performed by Forward Air Controllers, the SHAR could not. The SHARs strike role was orientated toward the anti-ship mission, with the use of WE.177C being the primary means of achieving that.


« Last Edit: November 12, 2014, 06:44:41 am by JFC Fuller »

Offline pathology_doc

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Re: Australian Invincible
« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2014, 08:43:32 am »
The SHARs strike role was orientated toward the anti-ship mission, with the use of WE.177C being the primary means of achieving that.


Back in the good (?) old days, when "S for Strike" meant mushroom clouds.


The division of Sea and Land Harriers (for want of a better term) always seemed pretty clear to me. The Sea Harrier is significantly faster and carries a radar with dedicated air-intercept modes. The Land Harrier does not, and its weapon avionics package is built around an LRMTS and delivery of ordnance against land targets. I know which one I'd prefer to be scrambling if I needed my carrier protected after dark.

Offline TomS

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Re: Australian Invincible
« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2014, 09:00:51 am »
Sea Harrier really wasn't much faster than the same generation of Harrier GR models.  Don't let the pointy nose fool you -- it had the same engine and the same wing with the fuselage slightly stretched and the cockpit raised up a bit (with the tail fin enlarged for balance).  If anything, it might have been a bit draggier than the land-based Harriers.

Offline pathology_doc

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Re: Australian Invincible
« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2014, 10:02:30 am »
Hmm. Yeah, I have to concede that point with regard to early model RAF Land Harriers. The later models are a very different matter, of course, but if Australia had bought "Land Harriers" in 1982-83, which model would it have been getting? Early RAF Harrier or AV-8B family?

Offline TomS

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Re: Australian Invincible
« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2014, 11:03:11 am »
I'd guess Harrier II -- that's what Spain ordered in 1983.  And yes, Sea Harrier would be noticably faster than Harrier II.

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: Australian Invincible
« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2014, 05:14:57 pm »
No it really wasn't. The SHAR didn't even have a full inertial system due to cost constraints whereas the GR.3 did (ironically this caused issues when deployed on ships in the Falklands).

Sea Harrier’s Navhars was good enough to get to and from the target at night with one crew. Good enough. And you could operate the Navhars from a moving carrier deck! Important consideration compared to the early generation INS.
 
GR.3s could and did strike based on laser designating performed by Forward Air Controllers, the SHAR could not.

And the RAF Harrier could only do that after being refitted with snoopy nose with the laser tracker/ranger from GR.1 to GR.3. If you wanted that capability in a Sea Harrier then you could just add on the Pave Penny device. No need for the laser ranger because you have the radar.
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: Australian Invincible
« Reply #23 on: November 12, 2014, 05:17:34 pm »
Hmm. Yeah, I have to concede that point with regard to early model RAF Land Harriers. The later models are a very different matter, of course, but if Australia had bought "Land Harriers" in 1982-83, which model would it have been getting? Early RAF Harrier or AV-8B family?
 

The AV-8B wasn’t a “Land Harrier” it was a “Marine Harrier”. So fully speced for flat top operation. Just by sea soldiers rather than sailors. The advantage of the AV-8B is better range/payload and the cost to buy and sustain advantages of being tied into the US system. But the RAN was looking closely at the Sea Harrier not the AV-8B so it’s pretty clear they wanted the naval fighter version. The Spainairds had gone into Harriers via the USMC’s AV-8A so stuck with what they knew.


An update on this. In 1980-82 the RAN was actually looking closely at the AV-8B but at what was then called the Navalised AV-8B which was the version with the radar nose that later was, sort of, built as the AV-8B Plus from 1993. The reason being the RAN was unconvinced the Sea Harrier FRS.1 could fly effectively over the hot and dirty seas of South East Asia. The RAN was trying to arrange a lease of RN SHARs to go on-board HMAS Australia (ex Invincible) up until the Falklands War ended the chance of that happening.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2014, 09:07:47 pm by Abraham Gubler »
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: Australian Invincible
« Reply #24 on: November 12, 2014, 05:24:49 pm »
While E-2 Hawkeyes might be a big too big for the Hermes the Tracker could be upgraded for AEW. Either Boneyard E-1 Tracers with a new radar or a Sea King AEW modification to the S-2G combined with turboshafts would provide excellent fleet AEW.

I looked into this option a bit further last night. The USN put around 40 E-1B Tracers into the Davis-Monthan Boneyard between 1980-84 and they stayed there until around 2000-02. 11 of them are still on hand at one of the private reclamation companies outside the Boneyard today.
 
So if the RAN went for a CTOL Hermes carrier option in the mid 1980s they would have no problem getting a squadron’s worth of AEW Tracers and plenty of spares to go with their existing fleet of S-2G Trackers. The APS-82 radar of the Tracer might be getting a bit long in the tooth but it was certainly a better system than the APS-20 still being used by the RAF Shackleton at this time. It had the bigger antenna of the APS-95 (Warning Star) and a very advanced display/data link for 1950s level technology. It would also provide plenty of room for replacement. In the UK there were rotating AEW radar versions of both the Foxhunter and the Seasearcher. Both would greatly benefit from the increase in antenna size available (17’6” wide, 4’6” high) inside the Tracer’s aerofoil radome. The US would no doubt have rival offers but the Yagi antenna radar on the Hawkeye would not be an option.
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

Offline JFC Fuller

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Re: Australian Invincible
« Reply #25 on: November 13, 2014, 12:07:39 am »
Sea Harrier’s Navhars was good enough to get to and from the target at night with one crew. Good enough. And you could operate the Navhars from a moving carrier deck! Important consideration compared to the early generation INS.
 
And the RAF Harrier could only do that after being refitted with snoopy nose with the laser tracker/ranger from GR.1 to GR.3. If you wanted that capability in a Sea Harrier then you could just add on the Pave Penny device. No need for the laser ranger because you have the radar.

But Pave Penny was never integrated onto the SHAR so was not part of the nav-attack system and is thus not relevant, LRMTS was integrated onto the GR.3. A SHAR might be able to get to a target at area at night (note though, no true terrain following, avoidance at best) but unless the target itself was something very easy to pick out with a radar the attack phase is still going to be the same for both aircraft; dropping a Lepus flare and then acquiring the target visually.

Offline Volkodav

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Re: Australian Invincible
« Reply #26 on: July 07, 2016, 06:31:44 am »
Sorry about the thread necromancy but some of these old topics are just too good to ignore.

Interesting idea converting Hermes back to CTOL, which apparently wouldn't have been too difficult, but what would have been even better would have been the acquisition of her back when she was first offered in 1965.  I believe the UK had done a study at some point where they compared a homogenous Skyhawk air group on Hermes to the proposed Phantom / Buccaneer one.  If I recall correctly it worked out as 30-40 Skyhawks vs less than twenty Phantoms and Bucaneers, if that, I personally wonder if they ever considered the Jaguar M?

Anyway, irrespective of which option they went for to replace Melbourne, new used, old used or new build, the end result would have been significantly more capability in ASW and anti surface at the very least and air defence had a fighter and AEW capability been acquired as well, likely for lower outlay than actually occurred.  I recall reading that the modification costs for Adelaide, Canberra and Sydney to operate Seahawk were higher than Hermes was to have cost, plus the RAN could have saved the difference between the cost of the SH-60B vs Lynx as, being able to get the Seakings to sea, the Lynx would have been perfectly adequate for RANs frigates.

Taking it back even further to the RANs requirement for guided missile escorts, the RN, after examining the RANs requirements, actually recommended that if they were prepared to wait a couple of years, the Escort Cruiser they were developing for their own use would be ideal for the RAN.  At the same time the RAN were considering Tartar conversions of their Daring (and possibly also their Battle) class destroyers.  To me this seems to explain a couple of things, one why the RAN were so keen on Tartar, i.e. it would fit on modernised destroyers and Seaslug clearly wouldn't.  Two, why two plus one CFA/Perth Class DDGs were ordered, it would maintain destroyer numbers at the desired eight, two battle, three Daring and three Perth.

Anyway, back on tack.  The RAN could potentially have entered the 1970s with Hermes (in CTOL configuration), three to five upgraded destroyers with Tartar and three Escort Cruisers on order or building (quite possibly the through deck Tartar variant that led to Invincible through various Seadart iterations), four Type 12 DEs and a new class of fast sloop based on the enlarged, strengthened Type 21 35kt concept Australia was interested in that included US weapon systems.  Melbourne could even have been maintained in reserve and alternated with Sydney as a training ship / fast transport.  Potentially for the same or even less outlay than what they actually did instead.

Offline Abraham Gubler

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Re: Australian Invincible
« Reply #27 on: July 07, 2016, 11:49:21 pm »
Interesting idea converting Hermes back to CTOL, which apparently wouldn't have been too difficult, but what would have been even better would have been the acquisition of her back when she was first offered in 1965.  I believe the UK had done a study at some point where they compared a homogenous Skyhawk air group on Hermes to the proposed Phantom / Buccaneer one.  If I recall correctly it worked out as 30-40 Skyhawks vs less than twenty Phantoms and Bucaneers, if that, I personally wonder if they ever considered the Jaguar M?

The real missed opportunity was a few years earlier when the Australian Government had belatedly realised it couldn't do away with the carrier capability as they had planned to do in the late 50s and needed to replace or modernise Melbourne. When the RAN went to the RN and asked what have you got they replied a CVA-01 sometime in the 1970s. The USN's best offer (ie cheapest) was a mothballed Essex (probably USS Philippine Sea) rebuilt to the latest standard by 1968. The RAN thought this was a great deal (it was) but the Govt. balked at the cost. So they agreed to a modernisation of Melbourne and a new airwing (Skyhawks and Trackers).

Now if the RN had been willing to dance at this party with a cheap transfer, refit and airwing then it could have been within a price range more acceptable to the Aus. Govt. The offer of Hermes came to late as money was already being spent on the modernisation of Melbourne. Hermes, Victorious or even Centaur would be viable options with transfer 'as is' in 1963/64.
"There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable." Thomas Schelling

Offline Tzoli

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Re: Australian Invincible
« Reply #28 on: July 08, 2016, 05:38:46 am »
The offered Essex class carrier for the Royal Australian Navy was the USS Oriskany. Sadly I do not had that article about the RAN carriers as the warship projects forum was long dead.

Offline Volkodav

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Re: Australian Invincible
« Reply #29 on: July 08, 2016, 08:53:48 am »
I've read the achieve papers you dug out Abe, I think they're linked on here somewhere, and yes they were very interesting and informative.  What I've come across a couple of times over the years is information relating to the acquisition of multiple carriers in the late 60s, early 70s to rejuvenate the RANs capability. 

The first was an RAN FAA WO who told me the government had intended to progressively increase carrier numbers to three, from the late 60s,to support the two ocean navy policy, then I read the same thing in a magazine article from when Malcom Frazer was Defence Minister where he stated the need to increase carrier and destroyer numbers, to three and twenty three respectively, again for the two ocean navy.  Finally I heard of Australian interest on acquiring Hermes, Eagle and possibly Victorious as they became surplus to UK requirements, for little more than scrap value.  There was even supposedly interest in the Seavixen.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2016, 09:01:58 am by Volkodav »