That's a QE's complement without air crew and staff. The Gerald Ford should be over 4500 with air crew and staff, including those needed to operate the nuclear reactor which gives it a much better endurance and speed.
The catapult provides it with the capability to launch aircraft at greater speed than a ski jump, allowing for a larger payload in terms of fuel and ordnance. Moreover, the catapult system can launch heavier aircraft such as the C-2, E-2 and previously the F-14. It is no wonder that the Chinese are set to switch to a catapult system for their next carrier. Supposedly, their current ski jump system allows the J-15 only to launch with very little fuel and weaponry.
The F-35B has only 67% of the internal fuel capacity of the F-35C and its ski jump launch may well restrict the amount of external fuel to be taken on a mission. In addition, the landing requires more fuel than a catching a wire on deck. The relative lack of internal fuel on the F-35B is not compensated for by a buddy system, as this sacrifices aircraft that could have been used for other missions. This results in weird antics like the French Super Etandards operating over Afghanistan with 2 aircraft carrying just a single 500 pound bomb between them.
US carrier air wings may no longer be as voluminous as in the past, but I would be surprised if a QE is seen to be carrying more than a dozen or so F-35Bs on operations; befitting the great British tradition of 'fitted for, but not with'.
Agreed, but I find it difficult to believe its going to add up to more than 1600, and probably a lot less. That is as many berths as they have on board. You have a ship 40 percent smaller, and just over a quarter of the ground staff.
No sure about external fuel issues. I did read on the Harrier they had an issue with the speed at hitting the ramp which could cause nose wheel damage damage if it was too fast. But in F35 thats yet to be proven an issue.
Here are 2 advantages of the lack of cats and traps. You only have one ramp, yet you can keep it running continuously, no need for a reset or having to set stream pressure (not an issue in the Ford admittedly). And you can land on more than one aircraft at a time. As you are probably going to use about 2000lbs of fuel just flying the circuit to come onboard, that is something of an advantage.
Yes, that was Camerons brilliant idea to further impoverish the Carrier project. Though looking back I think it was done purely as a justification for retiring the Harrier early, and it backfired. Without access to American catapult equipment, it was never going to work. At least we have avoided the cat problems the Gerald Ford ran into.
Fair one on buddy systems, im just illustrating with an airwing of 42 aircraft (I guess we have that already near enough) we can afford to have a couple with tanks and a buddy system. Its less of an issue on these ships than it would have been on the Invincible class (not that we ever employed it to my knowledge)
And its not as if the RAF tanker fleet isnt very long ranged. Ive been picking up Voyagers flying over my house direct from Brize Norton to the Falkland Islands. Thats a capability worth thinking about in supporting carrier operations, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere.
Edited by Stuart Galbraith, 10 May 2019 - 0222 AM.