Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Unmanned Tanker - The Hard Part Is Done

As you know, the Navy is developing an unmanned tanker for carrier work.

“After months of deliberation, the name and designation of the Navy’s first carrier unmanned aerial vehicle are now official: MQ-25A Stingray …” (1)

Really?  It takes us “months of deliberation” just to come up with the name and designation?!  No wonder we can’t build an F-35 in under two decades!  Well, at least the hard part of coming up with a cool sounding name is out of the way.  

I wonder how long it will take us to develop an unmanned tanker if it took us months just to come up with a name?  Of course, we’ll be able to develop a simple tanker in a lot less time than the F-35, won’t we?  

“The emphasis on the first airframe in the program is primarily aerial refueling, officials said.  ’We’re probably going to drop some of the high-end specs and try to grow the class and increase the survivability [later],’ Vice Adm. Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources, told USNI News in February.  ’It has to be more refueling, a little bit of ISR, weapons later and focus on its ability to be the flying truck.’ ” (1)

Well, that should shorten the developmental cycle, right?

“The final RfP [Request for Proposal] for the air segment is set for 2018.” (1)

It’s going to take us a year and half to two years just to generate an RfP?  That doesn’t bode well for how long the actual aircraft will take to be fielded.

“The service hopes to have the first Stingrays operational in the 2020s.” (1)

Let’s be generous and say the MQ-25 will be operational in 2025.  That’s 9 years from now.  Nine years to field a not terribly advanced tanker with a little ISR capability – and, of course, we know that schedule will slip.  So, close to a decade to field a simple unmanned tanker based on existing unmanned technology.  No wonder the F-35 is taking so long!  There is something seriously wrong with our developmental cycles.

If it is truly going to take a decade or more to field a tanker, maybe we should be seriously looking at bringing back the S-3 Viking as an interim tanker.  The Marines are bringing old F-18s back from the boneyard in short order so why not bring the Viking back?  If we don’t, we’re looking at ten more years of wear and tear on our front line tanker-Hornets.  That’s wear and tear we can’t afford.


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(1)USNI website, “It’s Official: ‘MQ-25A Stingray’ U.S. Navy’s Name For First Carrier UAV”, Sam LaGrone, July 15, 2016,


41 comments:

  1. "If it is truly going to take a decade or more to field a tanker, maybe we should be seriously looking at bringing back the S-3 Viking as an interim tanker"

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

    A) I think it was foolish to retire the ASW capability the Viking represents. From what I've read it has a loitering and reliability advantage over Helo's.

    B) Were burning out 60-80 million dollar SuperHornets to plunk Toyota HiLuxes. That's bad enough, but we're also burning them out to do aerial tanking. A task that I bet they aren't all that good at.

    I know the Navy has said in the past its okay because they save money on a simplified logistics chain by just having one jet, but given their money games in other areas I'm not convinced.

    I was reading about the Fairey Swordfish earlier this week. And the way that the FAA ended up with a metal biplane in the days of the Hellcat and the Zero sounded worryingly like the way we ended up with 40 plane decks of superhornets. (Admittedly, the FAA did wonders with that metal biplane).

    Bring Back the vikings. If only as a tanker.

    As to the MQ-25....

    SERIOUSLY? The X-47 B, which is in existence now, and does carrier launches and recovery now, can hold 4,500 lb of 'stuff' in two bays.

    We can't scale that up? Why would it take 2 YEARS for an RIP?
    Issue it in 2 MONTHS.

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    1. "Issue it in 2 MONTHS."

      If the Navy doesn't already have all the information it needs to issue an RfP then someone isn't doing their job. To need a year or two is absurd.

      Delete
  2. ComNav-

    I commented on that linked article as B2. My views are clear on the subject.

    Re lengthily development: IMO, we do not have the industrial base in this country to develop a purpose built aircraft- manned or unmanned in less than 20 years because we have lost our technical-industrial edge to cell phones and video game industries years ago. That is just my opinion and offers nothing though for this problem you identify.

    The problem with this StingRay/CBARS/UNCLAS concept roadmap is acquisition buffoonery that has led us down this road you identify squarely in your post.

    Read the requirements for this StingRay. Seems to me they are describing an S-3 aircraft.

    I suggest this. Why not make the S-3 aircraft the initial hardware truck to host the unmanned system package. Write the RFP and say the USG will provide the initial platform (the S-3B) for development and prototyping, conduct a fly off and then award the contract to the company with the best unmanned S-3 system for the best cost. There are over 70 usable S-3B airframes in basically one configuration at AMARG with and average 8000-10,000 flight hours remaining in their structures and efficient engines that can be rebuilt. They can be procured at zero cost and provided to those who wish to compete. After IOC of the winners S-3 unmanned tanker, and its operational success, a second increment development with a better airframe (if one can be found...) can be awarded sole source of the winning system. This unmanned S-3 (call it what you will) could be out there in 1/3 the time it will take to develop a clean sheet approach air vehicle. Plus it would be able to carry and do other things than just be an overhead tanker from the beginning including heavy air to surface weapons like Harpoon/SLAM-ER/Maverick and all other type missions the Viking used to perform so effectively and efficiently.

    All this can be done and a majority of the technical/program/schedule risk disappears....

    However, the USN won't do it though because they would look bad. Unfortunately they haven't the cohunes...Heck they won't even let the S-3B go FMS. It makes the decision makers look stupid for having retired it early....

    B2

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    1. A very reasonable suggestion.

      To offer pure speculation, I think the main reason why the Navy wouldn't do it is because they want an unmanned, stealthy, strike platform and see this as the way to get there. If they went the S-3 route, as you suggest, that wouldn't advance the UAV agenda. As I said, just speculation on my part.

      Very good comment.

      Delete
  3. You know, but isn't this the place were everybody complains about the LCSs not having a though analysis? That if it had that through analysis it would not have all the problems. It seem to me at through analysis would need a lot more than 2 months to complete.

    Just saying.

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    1. You'd be right if this was a brand new platform/project like the LCS was. However, this tanker is the continuation of the UCLASS which was a continuation of the UCAV and the entire carrier based, unmanned UAV has been studied for years already - so you'd be wrong. Not only has the concept been studied for years but we've actually flown prototypes (the X-47B) on and off carriers to prove the concept and even conducted an aerial refueling of the X-47B.

      So, if after years of development, actual flying prototypes, carrier UAV experience, and unmanned aerial refueling experience, we don't have a RfP ready to go then someone has not been doing their job. Had the LCS had this kind of prep work it might have worked - or, more likely, it would have been recognized as worthless before we committed to 55 of them!

      Just saying.

      Delete
  4. CNS,
    You bandy the word 'simple' around a lot.
    I know of no existing unmanned platform that does aerial refuelling, and i suspect neither do you.
    Your supposition of throwing existing aerial refuelling tech at existing unmanned aircraft tech and hoping that out the other side flies a magical working refuelling drone sounds like flights of fantasy.
    Sounds like the Navy is heading down the rabbit hole, and is experimenting in a brand new field. In air unmanned logistical support is a brand new concept. I'd be amazed if it takes as little time as they quote. To me, this sounds like its going to be very complex. A platform that needs to integrate with a bunch of existing legacy planes, that has to work with human error factored into the receiving end, on a flying platform that in minutes sheds more than 10% of its weight and completely changes its flight characteristics, and does so numerous times per sortie.
    Nothing modern western armies do it easy, all of it is complex, and requires great effort.

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    1. We've already operated a prototype, the X-47B, off a carrier and had it conduct an aerial refueling (receiving, not giving, admittedly). So, we already have a fully functional, carrier integrated, aerial refueling capable UAV. All we have to do is add the ability to fly straight and level and extend a refueling chute (assuming it uses the standard Navy probe and drogue arrangement). That seems simple enough.

      If it is more complex than I imagine, you did read the last paragraph of the post, right?

      As far as the word "simple" is concerned, I think it's safe to say that the military has a tendency to take simple things and make them hideously complex for no good reason. I'm able to see through that kind of stupidity and recognize when things truly are "simple". It's a service I provide for those who can't recognize simple. You can simply thank me at your leisure!

      Delete
    2. You might be over dramatizing it, as the engines, radar, electronics are the difficult bit. The airframe is relatively easy, as a tanker is essentially an airframe with existing systems, this should be done inside 5 years

      Delete
  5. It is my understanding that the navy is going to use Ospreys to replace its carrier cargo aircraft. This decision will undoubted impact efforts to resurrect the s-3 or to create a new dedicated tanker. I read that the contract is scheduled to be awarded in fy18. The politics surrounding competition with the cod replacement might be why the navy is putting off the tanker project.

    Can the cmv-22b (the osprey based replacement for the cod) actually deliver cargo to other ships in the fleet for example burkes?

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    1. I'll have to double check, but I think that's still up in the air (no pun intended).

      I thought there were significant issues potentially with this, one of them being the downblast of the rotors of the V22.

      I'll try to do some reading and get back to this.

      Full Disclosure: I'm not a huge fan of the Osprey as a COD.

      Delete
  6. As the Growler comes in service, can't the Prowler takes the tanker mission with 4 external tanks and a buddy refueling pod? The Prowler is still in service or was until yesterday. As suggested to the S-3 it can be transformed in an UAV or you can fly it with two pilots.

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    1. Growler, Prowler,
      issue is you're using an extremely expensive fighter platform to do a very simple, and ideally, cheap task. Think how sophisticated a platform a fighter plane is, vs how simple a platform a refuelling plane is. Relatively speaking. Making it unmanned, may simplify it even further, (read cheaper) but will likely take a lot of investment and R&D to make it a viable platform.

      Personally, I'm a little confused as to why platforms that fly off Aircraft Carriers are even needed for refuelling.
      Why not make the USAF provide a fleet of cheap reliable air trucks that simply haul fuel around and make it available to US assets as needed.
      Dunno, maybe its a far fetched crazy notion.

      Delete
    2. "Why not make the USAF provide a fleet of cheap reliable air trucks that simply haul fuel around and make it available to US assets as needed."

      Because the AF has no budget and no interest in that. Also, a cheap fuel truck is not going to survive in a war zone long enough to do its job.

      Delete
    3. "
      Because the AF has no budget and no interest in that. Also, a cheap fuel truck is not going to survive in a war zone long enough to do its job."

      Which argues for fighters/attack aircraft with a *much* greater fuel fraction than what we have.

      Delete
  7. Andres,

    The EA-6B would make a fine mission tanker after some development but we already have an excellent "mission tanker", the SuperHornet. However, we are talking here of the routine, but fundamental, "overhead" tanking mission essential during fixed wing ops. A necessary distinction not appreciated for its uniwueness by anyone except those would operate or have operated embarked. IE- CSGaviators/N98/Airboss

    CommNav-

    The tanking aspect of this new system has been a sore subject for years since the S-3 was retired in '08 but not because the S-3 was retired but because of the effects of its retirement. All the present difficulties being experienced have been predicted including the excessive fatigue life tradeoff.

    Bringing back the S-3B as a manned tanker was looked at on the surface 2011-12 up to "the Under" but in retrospect, I realize now, the S-3 idea was just being used as a "distractor" for various evolving schemes including UAVs, buying more SuperHornets, etc. etc. The S-3 idea even was made part of the supposedly decisional CNA study of 2014 that led to CBARS and now this StingRay...However I think it may have been used used as a "distractor" option in that study most likely.

    The problem is, despite the depot backlog of Hornets crippling naval aviation, the uncertainty of the F-35C IOC and the failure our naval aviation leadership to show progress, is the fact that the idea I espouse above to use the S-3 airframes as the 1st increment developmental platform for the "StingRay" tanking UAV is a reasonable, cost effective and risk mitigating approach. What we often call a "no-brainer"....

    Which is exactly why the S-3 will never be adopted for those reasons I said above..... The USN will look like it made a mistake if it even mentions it. No, this would take a political patron to push it. None exists for S-3. Ever. It would take a feller like that TX dude in charge of the HASC who will push the V-22 for any mission a powerpoint cowboy can imagine it could do.

    Expect more kicking the can down the road...

    B2

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    1. NAVAIR cannot possibly have a credible capability against a sophisticated A2/AD defense without defining tanker requirements.

      The discussion out to have started with the "how much fuel has to be delivered at what range (radius) from the carrier?", but that is not on the table.

      The last real tanker NAVAIR had was the EKA-3B Skywarrior, which Dominated the KA-6, S-3 and every other proposal including the MQ-25.

      I suspect that even the EKA-3B would not have enough capacity to satisfy long range strike requirements.

      GAB

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    2. Anon/Comm Nav-

      You are talking about mission tanking of course. What the StingRay must replicate is the "overhead tanking" requirement. All those platforms since KA-3 you mentioned did that basic mission.

      Let me clear up some misconceptions. "Overhead tanking"is a unique mission that keeps other jet aircraft and pilots from going into the sea because they are running out of fuel due to own aircraft emergencies, unsafe pitching decks, damage to the landing system or flight deck, weather, etc. etc. etc. This particular mission requires a "sweet" (meaning checks good with transfer of fuel) tanker, "anchored" (holding) overhead "mother" (CVN) on each sortie of over a dozen cycles a day depending on optempo, ready to effect a running rendezvous (requires airmanship), fly tight tactical formation and tactically refuel the aircraft in "trouble". This happens very frequently. Ask anyone who's been there. This is a mission as essential as having a plane guard helicopter airborne during flight ops. there is a lot more, it ain't simple.

      USN "Mission tanking" is just what it infers the pre-planned transfer of fuel to an attacker/fighter to extend their range. In most cases mission tanking is accomplished by USAF big wing tankers.

      Questions? Ask.

      b2

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    3. I thoroughly understand tanking roles and requirements. The only question I have is what use the Navy intends for the Stingray? Nothing I've read explicitly states that the aircraft will be used for overhead versus mission tanking, or vice versa, or a combination thereof.

      The Navy wants an unmanned, deep strike, combat UAV. I believe they see this tanker as a "stealthy" step along that path. With that in mind, it is not at all clear to me that the Navy does not intend to use this aircraft in the mission tanking role.

      It is also not at all clear to me that USAF tanking is the solution to future mission tanking. I believe that the combination of dwindling numbers of tankers (due to cost) and vastly increasing range of enemy AAW weapons and assets will negatively impact the AF's ability to provide mission tanking to the Navy. We've come to believe that Desert Storm type air wars are the norm and that will prove to be far from true in any future peer war. The days of having multiple, unthreatened airbases within comfortable distance of the area of operation from which we can leisurely operate tankers is over. A peer war will find the AF fighting for its life, struggling desperately to keep airbases operational, dealing with air and ground attrition of tankers, AWACS, and every other theater aircraft, and, as a result, will be woefully short on tankers. Under those circumstances, the AF will, of course, prioritize airbase survival and the Navy will find that AF mission tanking is sporadic, at best, or non-existent. The Navy will, therefore, have to provide its own mission tanking. Whether the Stingray is that tanker, or not, remains to be seen.

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    4. "I suspect that even the EKA-3B would not have enough capacity to satisfy long range strike requirements."

      To me, tanking comes down to Carrier effectiveness. You said earlier: "
      The discussion out to have started with the "how much fuel has to be delivered at what range (radius) from the carrier?"

      and that's true. But to me that's a secondary question for 'How much range does the air wing need in order to be effective in modern A2/AD environments with current or realistic future weapons (please no lazers).

      Once we determine that (and, indeed, determine if there is such a range) we can then go into what kind of tankers we need, and what fuel fraction our strike aircraft should have.

      I'm not sure what the Navy is thinking now.

      Delete
    5. "All those platforms since KA-3 you mentioned did that basic mission. "
      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      No, labels like "basic mission" are irrelevant; what matters is *requirement*.

      None of the aircraft since the KA-3B/EKA-3B will meet the *requirement, because the cannot deliver sufficient fuel at a range to support strike packages penetrating up to 1,000nm or more. Note, I am concerned about high end war, not shooting up illiterate goat herders in third world countries.

      The KA-3 could deliver 29,000 lb of fuel at 460 miles, enough to fuel 2.2 full F4Js. The KA-6 only deliver ~16,000 lbs, and the S-3 carried even less.

      Relying on USAF tankers is great, but those assets will have higher priorities (E-3S, bombers, etc.).

      If the Navy expects carriers to actually fight, it will need really big tankers (and much longer ranged tactical aircraft). Otherwise the taxpayer is better of buying missiles and (maybe) USAF bombers.

      GAB

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    6. BTW, an F/A-18E has an internal fuel capacity of ~14,500lbs - that's 58,000 lbs for a flight of four aircraft, and even that only gets them to a combat radius of about 750nm or so and assumes they top up going and returning.

      For an alpha strike package (50 aircraft), the requirement is to deliver 725,000 lbs of fuel
      to ~400nm. That is 30 some EKA-3Bs.

      Tell me how that works with small, low fuel capacity aircraft like the S-3 or MQ-25...

      GAB

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    7. Ugh. This is an interesting thread and I'm coming late to it.

      Is it possible to get a big enough tanker to fly off of a carrier to make a tactical difference?

      This might tie into the multi carrier discussion. If you could build a tanker big enough (like an EKA-3B, or even larger) you could have the alpha strike on one deck, the refueling package on another, and fleet defense on the 3rd.

      "If the Navy expects carriers to actually fight, it will need really big tankers (and much longer ranged tactical aircraft). Otherwise the taxpayer is better of buying missiles and (maybe) USAF bombers."

      And yes, I totally agree with this. I'm not as concerned with stealth on Navy attack jets because I believe with decent stand off weapons you can deliver the strike package to an A2/AD zone and have the carrier far enough away that its mobility can keep it alive and fighting. I'm more concerned with range (fuel fraction) and those stand off weapons. If you want stealth, use it for ISR.


      Does that turn Navy strike aircraft into missile delievery systems? On the first few days, yes. But so what? The dive bombers and torpedo bombers were just ways to deliver ordinance over a longer range. Same concept. Heck, some of the first anti ship bombs were modified BB shells.


      All this is kind of moot though. The F-35C is the future, like it or not, successful or not. There are no plans for new tankers of any kind, our COD logistics will be shorter ranged, and the new CVN can't adequately land aircraft 14 billion dollars in.

      Delete
    8. Jim, what it all boils down to is this: If US Navy TACAIR is to remain effective against a capable adversary with the aircraft which will actually be available to the USN over the next two to three decades, a carrier battlegroup must operate well inside the adversary's weapons engagement zone.

      Faced with that harsh reality, the larger questions now become these: (a) what kinds of human and material losses are the nation's leadership willing to accept in order to gain and maintain control over a highly-contested maritime battlespace; and (b) what kinds of new doctrines, new weapons systems, new platforms, and new platform capabilities might prove useful in mitigating the risks of operating well inside that highly-contested maritime battlespace?

      Delete
    9. Its frustrating on so many levels. I can accept giving the military lots of money when they deliver superlative performance in achieving difficult goals. The Cold War Navy wasn't perfect, but it had a goal and seemed well set up to achieve it had bad things happened.

      Now...

      We're spending billions on new aircraft and aircraft carriers whose main function and form will be in shooting Toyota HiLux's. And a significant chunk of that stuff *doesn't work!*

      Could these carriers operate in a major A2/AD environment, like the SCS? Maybe. Even possibly. But they'd have to form multi carrier surface action groups. And those SAG's would have to accept the fact that we'd have significant, possibly severe losses.

      Which, given the price and time it takes to make a CVN, means we wouldn't be in that game long.

      I'm beginning to think we should just spend the money on SSN's and SSGN's and call it good. At least we know they can strike things and sneak into places.

      Delete
    10. "Faced with that harsh reality, the larger questions now become these: (a) what kinds of human and material losses are the nation's leadership willing to accept in order to gain and maintain control over a highly-contested maritime battlespace; and (b) what kinds of new doctrines, new weapons systems, new platforms, and new platform capabilities might prove useful in mitigating the risks of operating well inside that highly-contested maritime battlespace?"

      Well, there's a half of a worthwhile comment! Now answer your own question and you'll have the other half. In fact, you'll have the basis of a worthwhile post!

      Delete
    11. "And those SAG's would have to accept the fact that we'd have significant, possibly severe losses."

      This is one of my pet peeves. All of us, including the military, have forgotten what war is. War, by definition, is attrition. YES, we're going to lose ships and aircraft (and people!). Why would "accepting the fact" even be an issue? That's what war is!!!!

      "Which, given the price and time it takes to make a CVN, means we wouldn't be in that game long."

      This ties directly into the preceding comment. Of course we're going to lose carriers so why do we have so few of them and why are we making them so expensive that losing a few will be catastrophic? This is the problem with building Deathstars. If you lose it, you lose a LOT. We should be building smaller, less expensive, less vital ships in much greater numbers. This is a variation on the distributed lethality concept - this is distributed cost/risk. Think about that. I've been preaching this since this blog was started!

      Delete
  8. On reflection, here why I think why the Navy wants to first develop a tanker UAV.

    1) It is to get some type of UAV onto the carriers. After a decade of design research they need to show results to Congress.

    2)That a tanker is the simplest design to implement as it would not require a major investment in electronic.

    3)The Tanker also place means that they can justified increasing the load and volume of the UAV airframe thereby increasing the design safety margins they have for future developments.

    4)The tanker will likely be cheaper to develop and deploy, providing some protection from being canceled for budget reasons.

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    1. Greg, reading the USNI article and the comments that follow, the point is being made that building an unmanned aerial tanker is the logical starting point for developing a jack-of-all-trades unmanned flying truck as a replacement for the highly versatile S-3B Viking.

      Now, if one had decided to use the same basic unmanned airframe for all of those flying truck missions; if one wanted to gain the full benefits of an unmanned aerodynamic configuration; and if one planned on this unmanned flying truck becoming a stand-off weapons carrier for both outer-air fleet defense missions and for long-range A2/AD strike missions, then one would give the aerospace industry the time it needs to analyze all the requirements and to come up with a well-balanced compromise solution.

      In other words, to do a preliminary design concept for an unmanned flying truck which contains a number of sensible compromises in its basic configuration but which is not a compromised and unworkable design solution.

      On another topic, have you had a chance to review my notional design for CSW-92, the Multi-role Combat Operations Tender? A sketch of it is up on one of Commander Salamander's LCS articles from a month ago as a reply to your last set of remarks concerning its proposed layout.

      As notional warship designs go, it is the most out-of-the-box by a good margin of the various O.O.T.B. Concept CSW-21 designs.

      Delete
    2. Scott,

      Worthless without the link!

      GAB

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    3. CNO, it appears you have the direct image display feature which uses the [img] tag turned off. In lieu of using direct image display, how did you create that hyperlink?

      Delete
    4. Scott, I was looking at the link and the page has what amounts to a virus. It appears to be an ad for PC security that can't be easily closed. This may not technically be a virus but for all practical purposes it is. I don't allow known problem links so I've deleted the link I created and I'm going to remove your comment as well.

      Delete
    5. Scott, if you'd like to create a guest post and picture with your concept, I'm open to that. Let me know. It looked interesting from what I could see before I got kind of locked out of the page.

      Delete
    6. CNO, I was afraid that might happen. I get the same nuisance ad when I'm logged on to Photobucket myself. What I will do this morning is create a PDF file containing the original illustration and put it up in a Dropbox folder. The PDF file will have to be downloaded to be seen. It'll be up in an hour or so.

      Delete
    7. The linking experiment continues:

      Here is a link to the Dropbox archiving folder where the review illustrations for CSW-92 are being stored. Two files are now present there, a PDF and a PNG of the same illustration:

      FOLDER LINK: Concept CSW-21, COMSAL BuSHIPS Review Illustrations

      Here is a direct link to the PNG image file created from the original Photoshop (PSD) image file:

      IMAGE LINK: CSW-92, Multi-role Combat Operations Tender (PNG file)

      Here is a direct link to a PDF document file created from the original Photoshop (PSD) image file:

      DOCUMENT LINK: CSW-92, Multi-role Combat Operations Tender (PDF Document file)

      The big question is this: Did the links work? ("Yes", "No", or "Sort of")

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    8. Scott, sort of. The PDF could not be opened directly on my IPad. It tried to make me download an app to view it in which, of course, I was not going to do. The PNG appeared but the resolution was insufficient to make out some of the printing although I could reason out most of it. Later today I'll try it on my PC which has a PDF viewer. I'll let you know how that goes.

      Delete
    9. CNO, the pdf can be independently downloaded at the folder link without having to view it first. Same for the PNG

      That said, the illustration is intended for use as an appendix page in a hardcopy report and does not lend itself to easy viewing on a small-screen mobile device.

      The only solution I see for this problem is to write the article you are suggesting and embed simplified visual graphics inside of it at the appropriate locations.

      I'm not quite ready yet to flesh out an introductory article for the Concept CSW-21 warship designs. The concept has changed significantly from when it was first put down on paper more than four years ago.

      Input from Greg Lof, from Mattreloaded on Navweaps.com, and from the crew at Commander Salamander has forced me to rethink the concept in a number of ways.

      When I get an article ready in a month or so, I'll post a link to an initial draft and everyone can give me an opinion as to how well it mixes graphics with text in getting Concept CSW-21's basic points across using today's small visual devices.

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    10. Scott, for what it is worth, I love the art, and I like the idea.

      Have you consider posting this for discussion on the http://www.shipmodels.info/mws_forum/index.php

      what-if forum?

      I also like the azipod propulsion.

      Finally, somebody gets the fact that ships, particularly support ships, need cranes!

      That said, I wonder if the design is too much warship and not enough auxiliary.

      GAB

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    11. GAB, I've uploaded the other Concept-21 notional designs into the COMSAL BuSHIPS Dropbox folder.

      CSW-21 Illustration Series 01

      These notional designs are as follows:

      --> Air Sea Battle Cruisers: CSW-22, the gas turbine version; CSW-23, the nuclear version.

      --> Air Sea Combat Arsenal Ships: CSW-32, the gas turbine version; CSW-33 the nuclear version.

      --> Aircraft Carriers: CSW-42, the Air Sea Dominance Carrier, a full CATOBAR design; CSW-52, the Air Sea Control Carrier, a VTOL/STOVL design with secondary CATOBAR capability.

      --> Combat Operations Tenders: CSW-62, the Air Sea Combat Operations Tender; CSW-92, the Multi-role Combat Operations Tender.

      --> Combat Support Ships: CSW-72, the Air Sea Combat Logistics Ship; CSW-82, the Forward Operations Repair Ship.

      These designs are intended as catalysts and enablers in further examining a number of controversial topics in air-sea battle doctrine, in joint airpower and joint seapower operational concepts, in the USN's current fleet mix, and in how we currently go about specifying and procuring our major weapons systems. All of these notional ships use the same basic hullform below the waterline, even the aircraft carriers. However, their internal layouts and their above deck configurations vary considerably depending upon the mission focus.

      CSW-92, the Multi-role Combat Operations Tender, is a meld of my Concept CSW-21 thinking and various suggestions made by Greg Lof and others concerning what a combat support tender for the LCS, for unmanned underwater vehicles, and for unmanned surface vehicles ought to look like. Greg's commentary has been the driver for specifying larger cranes with longer reaches, and for using a large stern elevator such as the one used for USNS Cape Mohican and USNS Cape May.

      CSW-92's reloadable VLS combined with its numerous lasers, its two 5-inch guns, and its sheer internal volume for storing ammunition gives it massive combat throughput capacity. It's physical layout, which employs a large flight deck, spacious and open internal decks, a large interdeck elevator, a large stern gate, and four long-reach cranes makes it highly flexible for a variety of roles as a conflict at sea evolves and expands.

      What particular balance the CSW-92 strikes between being a fully combat capable warship and being an auxiliary support ship depends upon what is being carried aboard it for any set of missions it is currently assigned to. The flight deck doesn't have to be devoted strictly to air operations. Parts of it can be used for carrying a variety of equipment, supplies, logistical stores, and vehicles of all types.

      If a major war breaks out in the Pacific, there will be no place to hide. Both high-volume combat throughput capacity and high-volume logistical support capacity will be at a premium in forward operational areas, given the probability that land bases in the region will have been seriously disrupted or even destroyed.

      If access to the First Island Chain has been denied at the start of a major conflict, and if the USN and the USAF are directed to gain an initial foothold inside the adversary's A2/AD area of operations, one might choose to load the CSW-92 with a combination of two or three Sea Hunters for handling ASW missions, plus a small fleet of SV-22 Osprey VTOL tankers intended for supporting forward area USAF and USN airpower operations.

      In that scenario, the ship operates as the mothership for an LCS or NNFM flotilla. It stays well forward in the thick of the AD/A2 combat action while resupplying the LCS flotillas and their escorting DDG's with fuel, stores, and ammunition. It also serves as a refuge of last resort for VTOL aircraft whose own hosting warships have either been mission-killed or else sunk outright.

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  9. Now come on guys. Taking this long just confirm a name they already issued is perfectly reasonable.

    The admin alone checking the nexy MQ number in line must have been arduous.

    Theres trade marking. Marketing. PR. I mean how does the public FEEL about the 'A' ? This is critical stuff man !

    Stingray, STINGRAY du n nur n nur na.
    Anything can happen in the next half hour. BOOM.

    God rest you Gerry & Sylvia Anderson.

    See... loads to think of !

    I mean what would you call a wide flat delta wing with a tail.

    Flydog.

    Flatmouse ?


    THATS why they get the BIG bucks !

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  10. It's starting to look like those who said that turning the UCLASS into a tanker drone was a thinly veiled attempt to kill the program in favor of manned aircraft were right all along.

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