Thursday, July 27, 2017

EMALS Fixed ! - Again

You’ve undoubtedly heard by now that the Navy believes, yet again, that the EMALS catapult system is fixed and ready to go.  Supposedly, it can now launch aircraft with external fuel tanks.  Of course, it was previously ready to go until the issue with drop tanks was discovered and it was ready to go until the issue with the bouncing F-35’s was discovered.  I haven't heard anything about the bouncing F-35 issue being fixed but the Navy says the system is ready to go!

The Navy claims the system is ready because they’ve performed around 70 test launches.  Of course, they didn’t say how many of those tests were successful and how many failed.

Speaking of failure, you’ll recall that the last data we had from DOT&E reported mean time between failures of around 240 cycles – a critical failure every 240 launches – so that’s still a problem, presumably.

You’ll also recall that the Navy has refused to provide subsequent reliability data to DOT&E. 

But it’s ready to go, this time. 


I hope it is ready but history suggests it’s not.

12 comments:

  1. At this point we'd be better off overhauling and recommissioning the Kitty Hawk and the old JFK. At the USS Ford commissioning ceremony, President Trump made grand statements about the new ship, but I bet he had a closed door meeting with the admirals and it was all business.

    MM-13B

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    1. It would be interesting to see what estimated costs would be between rebuilding those two ships (including a healthy contingency fund to deal with surprises) opposed to building a new Kitty Hawk class or Nimitz.

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  2. I thought the F35 catapult bouncing was unrelated to the type of catapult, ie its was discovered on the existing steam cats, as this on Nimitz shows
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFGzgvgltMw
    Could there be fresh horrors with F35 and Emals ?

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    1. I'm assuming it applies to EMALS as well but possibly not.

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  3. Latest rumours suggest that PLAN has decided to skip steam catapults and go straight for EMALS with carrier 002. It will be interesting to see how they go with it. Not currently having *any* functional catapult system to compare it to, the criteria for success could be easier to meet in some respects, although one imagines PLAN still wouldn't be keen on losing a plane in the drink every couple of hundred launches.

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  4. New article on USNI news about emals and a couple things jumped out at me. Super Hornets are referred to as "the heaviest planes". Sure a loaded SH is heavy plane but I recall heavier planes being flown off carriers in the past. One of the big selling points on the Ford class is its ability to accept future upgrades. What if in the future we decide we need to use a heavier plane like some of the ones we used in the past? Will it cause a major delay like being able to launch a fully loaded SH? The other issue is the article states the software update has been completed but installation will have to wait until 2019 when the ship is scheduled to go back to the shipyard. What??? A catapult software issue, which could potentially mission-kill a carrier, requires being in the shipyard to correct? While I was on a CVN, I was impressed with the ship's self-sufficiency; we had spare parts, tools, and repair facilities on board. As long as we got resupplied with aircraft fuel, food, and toilet paper we could stay on station and maintain operations. The future is software problems sending a carrier back to the yard. Back in the old days, only major damage required that.

    MM-13B

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  5. A link to the USNI article:

    https://news.usni.org/2017/07/28/emals-fix-finalized-reduce-stress-put-heaviest-airplanes-ford-class-carrier-launch#more-27098

    MM-13B

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  6. We were beyond the go-no/go point for EMALS on Ford Class a couple years ago. The tentacles required that would have to be ripped out to accommodate steam again would cost more than the EMALS fixes... About the same for the AAG..

    RE MM13's comments- they are right on heavyweight TOMcats, A-6Es and Whales certainly exceeded the SuperHornet max gross wts. His overall point re self-sufficiency I can tell you we might have a lot of toilet paper but I-level AIMD (Aviation DLR) is but a figment of what it used to be. Nope, everything today is just in time or, stock up your ships AVCAL (WRA stocks before deployment). In other words FEDEX, UPS and USPS are our CVN supply system critical node. Just in time supply chain good for Amazon- maybe notso for USN...

    I was surprised that FEDEX and UPS didn't bid on the Navy carrier COD program..... that V-22 was awarded sole source without a competition 2 years ago now... LOL.

    b2

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    1. You're quite right about the point of no return for EMALS. It's come and gone. The only question now is how much more money we'll have to pour into it to make it work. The point of the post is that the Navy claims the system is fixed and, by implication, won't cost another dollar. The further point is that history assures us that EMALS is not fixed - it's just waiting for the next problem to appear just as has happened each time in the past that the Navy declared EMALS ready to go.

      Honestly, I've never advocated terminating EMALS. I actually like it as conceptual means of performing catapults. What I've advocated, and what I've heavily criticized the Navy for, is not putting an R&D program into production. Had the Navy opted to do the intelligent thing and develop EMALS as a purely research effort until it was completely ready, I'd have been quite happy.

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  7. "I was surprised that FEDEX and UPS didn't bid on the Navy carrier COD program" b2, you win best line of the week for that one. Your right about the supply chain being the week link. I should have said there was great potential to be self-sufficient if provided adequate stores. There was a number of times I spent just as much time and effort trying to find parts and materials as I did doing the actual repairs. Point being: a software issue requiring yard time is a huge potential mission kill. A ship that can't launch planes is not carrier.

    EMALS and AAG may be beyond the go-no/go point; on CVN-78. The problems need to be fixed before installing on 79 and 80, or those could be built with steam cats and hydraulic arresting gear. In the mean time the carrier rotation is strained. As a stop gap, the Kitty Hawk and old JFK can be overhauled and recommissioned.

    MM-13B

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  8. Yesterday a single F-18 took off and landed from the Ford. It was likely very lightly loaded

    MM-13B

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    1. Given the reported mean time between critical failures, that's one gutsy pilot!

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