Category Archives: Aircraft Carriers

Photo shows 38 warships and 4 submarines during RIMPAC 2014′s group sail

An impressive naval armada was arranged for RIMPAC 2014 photo.

It does not happen too soon to see +40 warships sailing together.

The reason is quite obvious: first, there are some navies that are made by little more (if not less) than 40 serviceable surface ships. Second, even though it would not be that easy to come too close to the naval formation (considered that the flagship is a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier), this *could be* an huge target for air, naval and underwater assets involved in maritime attack/anti-ship missions.

Nevertheless, the sight is quite impressive and, alone, it can represent a good deterrent.

The photo was actually taken during RIMPAC 2014, the 24th exercise in the series of world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise taking place in the Pacific Ocean from Jun. 26 to Aug. 1.

Twenty-two nations are taking part to this year’s edition of the drills that marks the first particpation of China with four ships belonging to the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

RIMPAC 2014 reportedly involve 55 vessels, more than 200 aircraft, and some 25,000 personnel.

Image credit: U.S. Navy


Look Ma, No Hook: how a C-130 Hercules managed to land on an aircraft carrier

The story of  the C-130 Hercules that landed on USS Forrestal

Even if, nowadays, the C-2 Greyhound is the biggest transport aircraft designed specifically for carrier operations, on Oct. 30 1963, in an attempt to investigate the possibilities of using the C-130 for logistic support for U.S. fleet, a Hercules made an experimental landing on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CVA-59).

With the successful test, which took place in moderately rough seas in the North Atlantic 500 miles off the coast of Boston, the Hercules became the largest and heaviest aircraft to ever land on an aircraft carrier, a record that stands to this day.

The idea behind this unusual test was the so-called “Super Carrier Onboard Delivery” (Super COD) aircraft.

The COD concept was born to resupply aircraft carriers with urgently needed items. At the beginning of the 1960s, the airplane used for such task was the Grumman C-1 Trader, a twin piston-engine aircraft with a limited payload capacity and 300-mile range, the Chief of Naval Operations ordered to assess the possibility of operating a bigger transport airplane aboard the Norfolk-based USS Forrestal (CVA-59).

As explained by Joseph Earl Dabney in his book Herk: Hero of the Skies the C-130 was selected for its stability and reliability, combined with a long cruising range and the capability of carrying large payloads.

The crew for this historic test consisted of Lt. James H. Flatley III, pilot; Lt. Cmdr. W.W. Stovall, copilot; ADR-1 E.F. Brennan, flight engineer; and Lockheed engineering flight test pilot Ted H. Limmer, Jr.

When Lt. James H. Flatley III was told about his new assignment, he thought somebody was pulling his leg. “Operate a C-130 off an aircraft carrier? Somebody’s got to be kidding,” he said.

According to Dabney a KC-130F refueler transport (BuNo 149798), on loan from the U.S. Marines and delivered on Oct. 8, 1963 was chosen for the historical trial.

Lockheed’s only modifications to the original plane was a smaller nose-landing gear orifice, an improved anti-skid braking system, and removal of the underwing refueling pods. “The big worry was whether we could meet the maximum sink rate of nine feet per second,” Flatley said. But, the Navy was amazed to find they were able to better this mark by a substantial margin.

The initial sea trials started on Oct. 30 1963 and were conducted into a 40-knot wind: however the crew successfully performed 29 touch-and-go landings, 21 unarrested full-stop landings, and 21 unassisted takeoffs at gross weights of 85,000 pounds up to 121,000 pounds.

At 85,000 pounds, the KC-130F came to a complete stop within 267 feet, about twice the aircraft’s wing span as remarked by Dabney on his book.

The Navy discovered that even with a maximum payload, the plane used only 745 feet of flight deck for takeoff and 460 feet for landing. These achievements were confirmed by Lockheed’s Ted Limmer, who checked out fighter pilot Flatley in the C-130 and stayed on for some of the initial touch-and-go and full-stop landings. “The last landing I participated in, we touched down about 150 feet from the end, stopped in 270 feet more and launched from that position, using what was left of the deck. We still had a couple hundred feet left when we lifted off.”

The plane’s wingspan cleared the Forrestal’s flight deck “island” control tower by just under 15 feet as the plane roared down the deck on a specially painted line.

As explained by Dabney, Lockheed’s chief engineer, Art E. Flock was aboard the USS Forrestal to observe the testing. “The sea was pretty big that day. I was up on the captain’s bridge. I watched a man on the ship’s bow as that bow must have gone up and down 30 feet.”

The speed of the ship was increased 10 knots to reduce yaw motion and to reduce wind direction: in this way, when the plane landed, it had a 40 to 50 kts wind on the nose. “That airplane stopped right opposite the captain’s bridge,” recalled Flock. “There was cheering and laughing. There on the side of the fuselage, a big sign had been painted on that said, “LOOK MA, NO HOOK.”

The analysis of data collected by the U.S. Navy during the tests highlighted that the C-130 Hercules could carry 25,000 pounds of freight, fly for 2,500 miles and eventually land on a carrier. However, the procedure was considered a bit too risky for the C-130 and the Navy decided to use a smaller COD aircraft. For his effort, the Navy awarded Flatley the Distinguished Flying Cross.

In the video below you can see the trials conducted by the Hercules on the USS Forrestal and described in the article.

 Image credit: U.S. Navy


Awesome GoPro video gives flight deck inspector’s view of F/A-18 final check and cat launch

Here’s a cool GoPro video showing the final check of an F/A-18C Hornet right before catapult launch.

An interesting footage, shot by a “white shirt” on the flight deck of USS George H. W. Bush, shows the final checks on a VFA-87 F/A-18C Hornet before cat launch.

Final Checkers are flight deck inspectors which make final exterior checks of the aircraft, watch certain parts of the launching aircraft before give thumbs up before it is launched.


Image credit: U.S. Navy

H/T Matt Fanning for the heads-up


That time a C-2 Greyhound nearly went overboard USS Nimitz

Landing on an aircraft carrier in rough seas can be quite dangerous

On Oct. 9, 2001, a C-2A Greyhound COD (Carrier On board Delivery) plane carrying Argentine dignitaries aboard experienced a mishap during a trap landing on the USS Nimitz: the left leg of the main landing gear went overboard and the aircraft almost fell in the ocean.

The PLAT (Pilot Landing Aid Television) footage clearly shows the pilot struggling to properly align the aircraft to the flight deck from the start of the final approach. A series of corrections, with a hard one right before touched down caused the aircraft to veer off the flight deck.

Fortunately, the C-2 got one of the wires and was able to come to a stop before falling overboard.

C-2 overboard landing gear

Here’s a video of the mishap (click this link as the video can’t be embedded out of Youtube).

H/T to @Alert5 for the link to the YT video.


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Russian Aircraft Carrier in the vicinity? Royal Netherlands Navy had no ships to dispatch

Russia’s only aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov passed through the English Channel recently. But the Dutch Navy had no ships available for escort duties.

In spite of a commitment to the NATO alliance, several years of budget cuts undermined the ability of European countries to perform routine duties, as providing escort to Russian vessels as they sail close to the territorial waters.

Among the arms undermined by shrinking defense budgets, there is also the Royal Netherlands Navy.

When on May 8 the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, sailed through the Channel on international waters, the Royal Netherlands Navy was unable to respond because it lacked warships for the task.

As Lieuwe de Vries and Ruben Veenstra reported, Russia’s only aircraft carrier, with a task force of three tankers, an ocean-going tug and the Landing Support Ship Minsk, took an unusual route to return to its homebase.

According to the Dutch reporters and other local media, “the Russians usually prefer to go around Ireland on the North Atlantic Ocean to avoid other maritime traffic. The journey plotted through the narrow waters can be seen as a typical show of force on behalf of the Russians.”

The Royal Navy dispatched a modern air-defense destroyer, the HMS Dragon, to shadow the Kuznetsov but, as the task force moved up towards the North Sea, it would be a task of the Royal Netherlands Navy to escort the Russians.

“The Royal Netherlands Navy already had made public its spotting of the Russians a few days earlier, when the HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën (English: The Seven Provinces) had picked it up on radar. But by the time the Kuznetsov arrived in the Dutch Exclusive Economic Zone the Seven Provinces had gone on its way for duties in Somali waters and no other ships were at hand for escort duties” de Vries and Veenstra explain.

Unfortunately, the Dutch have retired their fleet of P-3C Orion aircraft in 2002. In the following years, the Dutch Navy Air Arm, that once operated both Maritime Patrol Aircraft and Lynx helicopter, was disbanded.

Ten NH-90 helicopters, operated by the Defense Helicopter Command (DHC), have replaced 24 Lynx choppers. But helicopters are not the best assets for long range shadowing of enemy vessels.

NH-90 RNlNavy

Image credit: Lieuwe de Vries

“Instead of deploying a suitable response the Netherlands Coastguard was asked to deploy one of its Dornier 228 aircraft. Though capable in its intended role the aircraft lacks any equipment to gather worthwhile electronic or photographic intelligence.”

Obviously, the inability to provide a proper escort to the Russian Navy is far from being a surprise. Since the 1980s, the Dutch Navy has drastically reduced its force: from 56, to 23 ships; from 43 aircraft, to none.

The incident, more embarrassing than other, has only highlighted a widespread situation among NATO partners, most of which are quite far from the Treaty’s target 2 percent of the GDP on defense spending (with the Netherlands around 1.3 percent). In the same days Russia has become more aggressive in East Europe.

Top Image: Russian Navy


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