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Automating Future Aircraft Carriers

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the sign-em-up-for-a-skynet-subscription dept.

571

Roland Piquepaille writes "Britain and France will jointly build three new huge aircraft carriers which will be delivered between 2012 and 2014. With their 60,000 tonnes, these 275-meter-long carriers will be the largest warships outside of the U.S. Navy. They're going to cost about $4 billion each, but with their reduced crews due to automation, they'll save lots of money to taxpayers during their 50 years of use. StrategyPage tells us that these ships will need at most a crew of 800 sailors instead of 2,000 for ships of that size today. At a cost of $100K per sailor per year, this represents savings of more than $6 billion. Impressive -- if it works."

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571 comments

They miss the point entirely ! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000581)

Aircraft carriers are obselete.

Re:They miss the point entirely ! (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 8 years ago | (#15000722)

Yeah, they don't have the armor to stand up to the smallest battlecruiser, let alone a fully-fledged battleship!

The US Navy has a better new toy (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000583)

The US Navy's main project right now is the DD(X) destroyer. It uses advanced automation (damage control, weapon countermeasures), stealth, advanced radar, reduced crew, full control/integration with the rest of the fleet. The best toy: Its capability for rapid-fire, pinpoint 155mm shell attacks from up to 100 miles away may sometimes eliminate the need for aircraft carriers entirely, resulting in an operational cost probably an order of magnitude or two cheaper than a carrier, and with very little chance of any casualties. Of course many of those same capabilities are also going to soon be added to cruisers, aircraft carriers, etc.

It doesn't sound as impressive as a new aircraft carrier, but for most scenarios it's going to have amazing results. It's meant to be the first ship to arrive, and carriers will only be used for prolonged engagements.

Re:The US Navy has a better new toy (5, Insightful)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | about 8 years ago | (#15000600)

Except wasn't the reason carriers were so effective in the first place because 100 miles is almost nothing compared to the strike range a carrier can put out? (not sure what it is, 700 or so?) Plus, sometimes it helps to have eyes in the sky on the situation, and a large object on station at the same time. How many people could you evac to a DD(X) via helicopter? Does it even carry them? (Plus, when was the last time somebody on board a carrier died as a result of a strike on that carrier? sixty years ago?)

Re:The US Navy has a better new toy (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | about 8 years ago | (#15000622)

Yea except carriers are virtuall defenseless requiring other ships for protection.

Re:The US Navy has a better new toy (2, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about 8 years ago | (#15000653)

The British took a beating in the Falklands because they didn't have a carrier to protect the other ships. The carriers do need other ships for ASW support and the like, but being able to establish air superiority for hundreds of miles is a big step up from "virtually defenseless".

Re:The US Navy has a better new toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000671)

This is completely untrue. The task force included two carriers - The HMS Hermes and the HMS Invincible. Both carried Harriers and helicopters.

The reason the task force suffered losses was due to lack of good point defense systems (like the Phalanx, Goalkeeper, etc.)

Re:The US Navy has a better new toy (2)

sane? (179855) | about 8 years ago | (#15000795)

Half right, half wrong.

Yep it had carriers, but the losses were nothing to do with point defense systems. The ships had Seawolf and SeaDart and could easily engage aircraft and missiles in point and area defense roles. Phalanx and Goalkeeper tend to be pretty ineffective because they are so short range (put a hole in an Ecocet and you still have an 11m long unguided lump of metal heading straight for you...)

The problem was the lack of long range early warning, coupled with the need to make a landing and offloading in a confined space. Remove either of these problems and the losses would be lower.

not really (1)

r00t (33219) | about 8 years ago | (#15000658)

The planes provide excellent protection. They even do a fair job against subs if you count devices dragged below helicopters, though a few subs of your own would be nice.

You certainly don't need a battleship anymore. Sea-skimming missles, torpedos, and automatically operated defense guns have changed things over the years. This isn't 1945.

Re:not really (4, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 8 years ago | (#15000790)

The role you're thinking about for the Navy has also changed. Their is much less of a demand for huge "blue water" flotillas, and much more of a demand for smaller, lower-draft vessels to support shore operations.

The big carriers are nice, and I don't think anyone is suggesting that (at least in the USN) that they're going anywhere, anytime soon. The new destroyers are aimed at "littoral dominance," that is supporting ground troops and amphibious operations in coastal waters, in areas where you just can't take a carrier or a submarine. Right now we have to do most of that sort of warfare (patrolling near shores) with aircraft, and that gets expensive and impractical if you want to maintain a continuous presence.

The idea of the new destroyers is that they would allow us to maintain a presence and establish a platform for operations (e.g., special ops divers, artillery bombardment) in areas where right now we're limited to a temporary presence.

Nobody is really suggesting that we roll out a new round of Iowa-classes, as cool as I think the idea of 16" dia. naval gunnery is (find me an aircraft that can lay down 243,600 lbs. of ordnance every five minutes onto a target, near continuously).

Re:The US Navy has a better new toy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000609)

I just farted.

That was a *much* better use of money than the US military can spend.

Re:The US Navy has a better new toy (1)

Uber Banker (655221) | about 8 years ago | (#15000618)

Its capability for rapid-fire, pinpoint 155mm shell attacks from up to 100 miles away may

While standard shells are cheap, at around $100-$150 each, I understand guided shells necessary for accurate strikes are not cheap, at a little under $100k each. Plus aircraft carriers are used for a whole lot more than bombing stuff. Infact its only good for one scenario: bombing stuff not too far away that you already know is there.

Re:The US Navy has a better new toy (1)

Grey Ninja (739021) | about 8 years ago | (#15000635)

It uses a rail gun to propel the shells. It's much more accurate than a traditional explosive propulsion system.

Re:The US Navy has a better new toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000692)

Even with the rail gun, the rounds need to be guided to be useful in today's precision oriented world. In fact, it's designing guided projectiles that can survive launch accelerations that seems to be the big challenge in the program: rail guns are pretty straight forward to design.

According to figures I've read, the projected costs of the ammunition are between $10K-$100K per shell. Pretty steep, but considering a cruise missile today costs $1 million a pop, it still represents one or two orders of magnitude less cost for the same general mission profile.

Re:The US Navy has a better new toy (1)

Kuciwalker (891651) | about 8 years ago | (#15000705)

Also, consider the cost of the precision munitions that would have to be dropped from a plane, otherwise, and it comes out to be a good deal.

Re:The US Navy has a better new toy (2, Informative)

afidel (530433) | about 8 years ago | (#15000806)

Huh? JDAM's are dirt cheap. The unit cost for JDAM's are ~$18,000 per. The project cost over the units supplied is $60K, but the answer is not another expensive project, it's to make more of the cheap per unit kits =)

EMP wipe out OTS (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000690)

One Electro-Magnetic Pulse will wipe out all their
Off-The-Shelf network equipment making the grand armada worthless.

Re:The US Navy has a better new toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000810)

That is bullshit, you do not know what you're talking about. They build carriers, as Atlantis-Rising pointed out, because they can effectively deny a radius of about one thousand kilometers to the enemy. 100 miles? Chicken feed.

Whoever modded you up needs their heads examined.

what about energy crisis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000589)

Hmm, suprising, guess the UK still hasnt figured out its completely screwed energy wise........their lifecycle timespan is so far out of whack with projected energy availabilty they must be smoking dope. Seems pretty silly to plan on having that kind of mobile airpower around if you dont have the fuel to use it !! Heck, global warming might make it a better idea to use the carriers as islands for housing people LOL.

Re:what about energy crisis? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 8 years ago | (#15000679)

True. The American army is a peak oil believer [energybulletin.net], and if they believe in even the most tame of drastic scenarios presented in e.g. Roberts' The End of Oil [amazon.com] , one wonders why European militaries are still using so much fuel.

Re:what about energy crisis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000791)

Im starting to believe jevon's paradox is dead on too. We are seeing the last frenetic activity trying to hold on to the status quo and ideaologies of the past since the post WW II era even though the powers that be already acknowledge it doesnt have a future. Just using up the remaining resources that much faster. Nuclear or not, aircraft carrier is useless if you cant feed the planes, and they are thristy beasts to feed.

Future renovations? (3, Insightful)

TwentyLeaguesUnderLa (900322) | about 8 years ago | (#15000593)

So, is there any chance at all that the Aircaft Carriers will actually stay in use for the entire 50 years? Won't be replaced by anything newer or better?

I would guess they would be.

Re:Future renovations? (5, Informative)

Aglassis (10161) | about 8 years ago | (#15000688)

USS Enterprise [wikipedia.org] was commissioned in 1960 and is scheduled for decommissioning in 2013. So far its been in service almost 46 years. I see no reason why these ships won't last for 50 years. Even submarines last 30 years (and some SSBNs are under consideration to be extended to 50 years).

Re:Future renovations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000762)

When I first read that I just asssumed you meant the Starship Enterprise and was going to point out that as much as many of us would sci fi to be a reality, the Enterprise isn't real :)

Re:Future renovations? (1)

phoenix.bam! (642635) | about 8 years ago | (#15000801)

Not only that, but none of the Starship Enterprise, A through E I think it is, are constantly getting blown up. I think in the most recent movie Riker even made a joke about them building an Enterprise F.

The USS Enterprise, the carrier has had a far more successful service record.

the question isn't CAN you do it.. (5, Insightful)

spacerodent (790183) | about 8 years ago | (#15000596)

The real problem with this mentality is that these are warships. Smaller crews are vastly less efficent at damage control and have much smaller margins for casualties before the ship ceases to be combat effective. Automation is all well and good but ships that size NEED vast crews simple due to the unpredictable nature of sea service. Imagine if you have a gastro outbreak onboard and 400 of your crew are down. Larger crews can absorb unexpected events much more easily than smaller ones. Plus most of these studies tend to ignore hte fact that less crew means more and longer watches for the duty stations that remain. The US is moving to this right now with the new San Antonio LPDs and DDX program but they are facing the same choices. Reality wise we'll probably see much more automation and relyability but I have serious doubts if anyone will field a warship of this size without a crew of at least 1/2 the normal rate.

Re:the question isn't CAN you do it.. (2, Interesting)

FleaPlus (6935) | about 8 years ago | (#15000667)

The real problem with this mentality is that these are warships. Smaller crews are vastly less efficent at damage control and have much smaller margins for casualties before the ship ceases to be combat effective.

How many naval casualties have there been in the past 30-some years, particularly in France, the UK, and other Western nations? I can't find any data on it off-hand, but I get the impression that the number is quite small, particularly for aircraft carriers.

Re:the question isn't CAN you do it.. (0)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 8 years ago | (#15000700)

I can think of a number of possible opponents with significant naval capability -- i.e., WW2-style naval air-vs.-air and air-vs.-ship battles, with lots of casualties on both sides -- for France, the UK, or both over the next 50 years. So, you can be sure, can their respective governments.

Re:the question isn't CAN you do it.. (4, Interesting)

Raul654 (453029) | about 8 years ago | (#15000816)

I suspect most of the naval fatalities over the last 30 years are due primarily to ship-board accidents. The USS Forrestal (CVA 59) was nearly lost due to an accidental misfire on the deck which killed 134 people. Apparently several others [hazegray.org] have experieneced similiar problems. In 1989, 47 people were killed when a turret exploded (see here [combie.net]).

Realistically, it's far, far too expensive to maintain a modern navy of any size. The age of ship-to-ship combat is over. The nations that have surface ships generally don't use them except as a platform for deploying land forces.

Re:the question isn't CAN you do it.. (4, Insightful)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | about 8 years ago | (#15000734)

Smaller crews are vastly less efficent at damage control and have much smaller margins for casualties before the ship ceases to be combat effective.

Very true. However, considering modern weaponry, weapons that would inflict the amount of damage that would require those extra damage control specialists, would probably render it combat ineffective, and in bad need of a shipyard. My guess is it won't be a torpedo hitting the most heavily armored part of the hull, it will be a missile slamming into the superstructure. Also, in the event that there is major, repairable damage, since it is an aircraft carrier, there should be plenty of escorts nearby that can offer assistance.

Imagine if you have a gastro outbreak onboard and 400 of your crew are down.

You are missing the point that at this scale you don't talk about absolute numbers, but percentages of the total crew. So if an epidemic would sideline 400 of the original 2000 crew (20%), then it would likely only affect 160 of the reduced crew of 800. So you only have to cover 160 watches instead of 400. Why is this? Some percentage won't eat the "bad" meal, some percentage will have a different food, and some percentage will be immune/not affected. You can't assume that it will affect the same overall number if your population size is different.

Plus most of these studies tend to ignore hte fact that less crew means more and longer watches for the duty stations that remain.

I haven't read these studies, (do you have any links), but it seems they would continue with the same watch schedule, and just reduce the number of stations required. The drop in efficiency that is a result of having too much time on duty is well studied, and I doubt that would be ignored. Now, what might be a factor is that it is "easier" to sit in a single location and monitor several things remotely, than to walk rounds and check on each one. This would reduce physical fatigue so longer watches could be maintained.

That wasn't our experience (2, Informative)

CoachS (324092) | about 8 years ago | (#15000804)

When they modernized USS Missouri in the mid-80s they cut the crew complement roughly in half. It didn't mean longer watches; it meant fewer duty stations. The new automation systems on board (and fewer small guns to man) meant that it didn't take as many crewmembers to perform the same tasks any more.

New engineering technology, for example, can cut the number of men it takes to operate an engine room from 25-30 down to 5-10. And more of those jobs are monitoring systems jobs, as opposed to manual labor, which reduces fatigue and reduces the chance of injury.

It works fine if it's properly designed and managed.

-Coach-

It's the end of the month (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000597)

Roland's rent is due

Hmmm (4, Interesting)

Space cowboy (13680) | about 8 years ago | (#15000601)

Not sure what I think of this... On the one hand, if it's possible to save loadsamanny by automating non-critical jobs, then fair-enough, sounds cool. And the brits have something of a history in designing warships - presumably they'll not have forgotten too many of the important bits ...

On the other hand, during a conflict, a carrier is a pretty juicy target, and one thing humans *are* good at in combat [apart from dying :( ] is being adaptible. It'd be a real shame if the plug fell out of the automated aircraft-landing computer because of a nearby explosion ... Yes, I'm being facetious, but the point isn't. Machines can only perform within their limitations, and people frequently perform outside their normal potential when (a) their life depends on it, and (b) there's no other option...

So, as long as we don't go to war, it'll probably be excellent. If we do, I hope they've thought of the consequences...

Simon

Re:Hmmm (1)

Sj0 (472011) | about 8 years ago | (#15000757)

Unless you believe that people will attack a battleship with a bayonet, your point seems rather moot -- in modern warfare, humans *MUST* rely on their technology, because the targets are virtually indestructable to anything else.

Re:Hmmm (2, Insightful)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | about 8 years ago | (#15000785)

On the other hand, during a conflict, a carrier is a pretty juicy target, and one thing humans *are* good at in combat [apart from dying :( ] is being adaptible. It'd be a real shame if the plug fell out of the automated aircraft-landing computer because of a nearby explosion ...

I know that Lockheed-Martin engineers their naval systems to take more shock/damage than a human could take and be functional. I saw a video where the equipment was placed on a barge and explosives were detonated underwater only a few feet away. The barge was lifted up several feet, and the plume of water from the blast was over 50 feet high. That close, a human would be temporarily deaf and have a lot of inner-ear problems. The system continued working.

Also, while humans are incredibly adaptable, they can't always replace the equipment. For example, there is no way a person could replace the automated aircraft-landing computer from your example. While a person may be able to work "beyond their limits", there is no way for them to manually commmunicate to a remote plane attempting to land - they need equipment to do it.

if those things run Vista (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 8 years ago | (#15000606)

If they run Vista for controls, I wouldn't even be worried about any security issues,
I would be worried if they ever make it out of the dry dock.

Re:if those things run Vista (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 8 years ago | (#15000760)

Imagine if they're "involved" with India and have to get some key info from Microsoft tech support?

The only problem (-1, Flamebait)

chgros (690878) | about 8 years ago | (#15000612)

is that those English pigs don't want them to be nuclear powered, so they'll have to use diesel, mitigating those savings (especially 50 years down the road I would assume)

Re:The only problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000629)

60,000 tonnes

Damn straight. And they'll be built using American weight too, not that Roland frou-frou "tonne" crap.

Re:The only problem (1)

2sheds (78194) | about 8 years ago | (#15000709)

Yes. Because the French are perfectly capable of building an effective [wikipedia.org] nuclear powered aircraft carrier. With a long enough flight deck and everything.

</sarcasm>

Re:The only problem (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 8 years ago | (#15000742)

Hey! The Charles de Gaulle was very effective... at irradiating the crew...

It's kind of odd that the French leave the US in the dust with respect to civillian reactors, but everything they've learned seems to go out the window when they try to fit one in a ship's hull.

Re:The only problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000771)

Another problem...

  with the French involved, it will automatically revert to a "surrender" mode when conflict arises.

Re:The only problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000772)

I think you've got a little willy.

Re:The only problem (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 8 years ago | (#15000778)

"is that those English pigs don't want them to be nuclear powered, so they'll have to use diesel,"

Not that I see anything in TFA on what kind of power plant these ships will use, but assuming your "not nuclear" statement is right, unless the Royal Navy continues with their "all VSTOL" policy, it's rather silly to power an aircraft carrier with diesel. Instead, they'll probably use a steam plant to both move the ship and prime the catapults (kinda like the USS Kitty Hawk). And steam plants really don't care what you toss into the boiler; usually they burn whatever byproducts the oil refineries can't convince anybody else to buy.

Clippy (4, Funny)

ktakki (64573) | about 8 years ago | (#15000628)

It looks like you're launching an alpha strike.

Would you like help?

  • Launch the +5 fighters for air cover and stage the strike fighters on the deck
  • Play a game of Minesweeper
  • Give up, you cheese-eating surrender monkey
  • Don't show me this tip again


k.

Re:Clippy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000788)

Give up, you cheese-eating surrender monkey

Boy you ruined that cliche... Your dog wants a steak.

How do you deal with battle damage? (2, Insightful)

foxtrot (14140) | about 8 years ago | (#15000630)

If a sailor averages $100k in upkeep a year, then sailor costs per year were $10 billion per 50 years. It costs $4 billion to build a boat, so figure it was $14 billion over fifty years.

This boat only costs $8 billion over fifty years.

Seems to me that the answer isn't "figure out how to do damage control with 40% of a regular crew complement." Seems to me the answer is "You were gonna send three of these things to blow up the bad guy good; send five instead, it's still cheaper."

-JDF

Re:How do you deal with battle damage? (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 8 years ago | (#15000787)

"send five instead, it's still cheaper."

Are they gonna have five in the same ocean at the same time? As the blurb mentions, this isn't the USN's four-ocean navy or Pentagon-sized budget.

Re:How do you deal with battle damage? (1)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | about 8 years ago | (#15000809)

Yeah, but minor damage to two of the three big ones beat 2 or 3 sunk out of the five smaller ones. Damage Control is to keep something from destroying the ship. Thus what would be annoying and slightly damaging to the big ships could take the small ships out of the fight, or force them to be scuttled

The wonders of automated systems... (1)

mrAgreeable (47829) | about 8 years ago | (#15000636)

One can hope that their automated systems are every bit as successful [slashdot.org] as Denver International Airport's big automation effort. Except instead of conveyor belts moving baggage it'll be nuclear powered, managing missiles and explosives.

Seriously, how much experience does France and England have with aircraft carriers of this size? None whatsoever from what I can tell. I'm deeply skeptical that they're going to magically find the means to reduce the personnel requirement by over 50%, least of all by making use of utterly untested technology. And on a warship no less! In a time of war I'd greatly prefer somewhat redundant personnel on board, rather than a ship being run by technology which has not been battle-tested.

Re:The wonders of automated systems... (2, Insightful)

Phil-14 (1277) | about 8 years ago | (#15000651)

Seriously, how much experience does France and England have with aircraft carriers of this size? None whatsoever from what I can tell. I'm deeply skeptical that they're going to magically find the means to reduce the personnel requirement by over 50%, least of all by making use of utterly untested technology. And on a warship no less! In a time of war I'd greatly prefer somewhat redundant personnel on board, rather than a ship being run by technology which has not been battle-tested.


The British invented the angled flight deck layout on modern carriers.

Re:The wonders of automated systems... (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | about 8 years ago | (#15000770)

The British invented the angled flight deck layout on modern carriers.

I once figured out a way to jury rig a chain lift in a stairwell shaft to get a 500lb electrical transformer to the roof rather than dragging it up the stairs, but that certainly doesn't make me an expert in electronic power management systems. Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe they can build these carriers and that they'll perform well. I just don't see how the brits being the first to figure out the best way to arrange the deck chairs does anything to demonstrate their technological ingenuity.

Re:The wonders of automated systems... (1)

Eightyford (893696) | about 8 years ago | (#15000655)

One can hope that their automated systems are every bit as successful [slashdot.org] as Denver International Airport's big automation effort. Except instead of conveyor belts moving baggage it'll be nuclear powered, managing missiles and explosives.

Seriously, how much experience does France and England have with aircraft carriers of this size? None whatsoever from what I can tell. I'm deeply skeptical that they're going to magically find the means to reduce the personnel requirement by over 50%, least of all by making use of utterly untested technology. And on a warship no less! In a time of war I'd greatly prefer somewhat redundant personnel on board, rather than a ship being run by technology which has not been battle-tested.


You better be an aircraft carrier expert, or else you have a severe case of talking out of your ass.

Re:The wonders of automated systems... (1)

DeathToBill (601486) | about 8 years ago | (#15000781)

Damn Americans can be stupid... Why assume no-one else in the world can do anything?

20 years ago the Australian/Swedish consortium started building automated submarines, and everyone said the same things about them. Now the Los Angeles class is completely outclassed because someone else was a bit ambitious (the Virginia class doesn't do much better, BTW). And they have a complement less than one third of either American class.

Now admittedly the American boats are nuclear powered missile carrying submarines and the Collins is not, but the point has still been made pretty well.

bad trend (3, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | about 8 years ago | (#15000637)

I don't like this trend at all.

The more money we have to pay and the more lives we have to put at stake in order to go to war, the less likely it is that we actually do go to war.

The only way that war becomes "fair" is if both sides incur the same 'cost' of the war (monetary, soldier deaths, civilian deaths, etc.). If 33,773 [iraqbodycount.net] American soldiers or civillians died because of our involvement there, we'd be pulling our troops out as fast as we possibly could.

With this, we're spending less money and putting fewer lives at risk to kill a proportionally higher number of foreign militants. At what point does war become a targeted genocide? We're putting our enemies in a position where their only method of directing their anger twoard us is by targeting civillians in suicide attacks. This scares the hell out of me.

Re:bad trend (1)

Phil-14 (1277) | about 8 years ago | (#15000670)

The only way that war becomes "fair" is if both sides incur the same 'cost' of the war (monetary, soldier deaths, civilian deaths, etc.). If 33,773 [iraqbodycount.net] American soldiers or civillians died because of our involvement there, we'd be pulling our troops out as fast as we possibly could.
Or perhaps we'd start fighting the war the same way we did the last time we had immense casualties. We lost half a million military personnell in WW2, but in the later stages destroyed cities in the axis nations by firebombing, with massive loss of life among their civilian population. (Note that I am not mentioning Hiroshima and Nagasaki, because they had a lot less casualties than Tokyo did).

Re:bad trend (5, Insightful)

Ancil (622971) | about 8 years ago | (#15000696)

The only way that war becomes "fair" is if both sides incur the same 'cost' of the war
FAIR, who the hell wants war to be fair?!?? Anyone actually going to war wants it to be as unfair, as brutal, and as lopsided as possible. War is not a fucking soccer match.

In fact, when facing a country such as the US or EU which has basic respect for the rules of war (eg, the Geneva Convention), a "fair" war pretty much maximizes the number of people killed.

Look what happenned in the Pacific during WW2. American, Commonwealth, and Japanese soldiers got fed into a meat grinder for 4 years because they were reasonably well-matched. Then the Americans got the ultimate weapon, and their absolute air superiority allowed them to use that weapon with impunity. That doesn't sound very fair, does it? No big surprise: the war ended about a week later. This saved the lives of not only countless American GIs, but millions upon millions of Japanese soldiers and civilians.

Re:bad trend (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | about 8 years ago | (#15000703)

The more money we have to pay and the more lives we have to put at stake in order to go to war, the less likely it is that we actually do go to war.

Actually, I think if anything the opposite is true. The fewer lives we put on the line, the less tolerant of casualties we become. Do you really think people are less up in arms over the 2000 dead military personnel in Iraq than they were over 300,000 dead in WW2? Tolerance for war seems to be more closely related to The government's ability to get the civilian population "behind the war effort". Stopping Nazis and dirty sneak attacking Japs wasn't too hard a sell. Stepping into a civil war in Vietnam to "stop communism", or knocking over a butthead dictator in Iraq to save face for your dad? Not so easy.

You guys don't get it... (4, Insightful)

badmammajamma (171260) | about 8 years ago | (#15000646)

This gives them the ability to project power. Which is something England and France cannot currently do.

Re:You guys don't get it... (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | about 8 years ago | (#15000740)

Huh?

Both already have aircraft carriers.

Re:You guys don't get it... (1)

colonslashslash (762464) | about 8 years ago | (#15000774)

Both are also fully-fledged nuclear powers with permenant seats on the U.N. security council.

Maybe I'm wrong, but to me that suggests a pretty large amount of power on the world stage already.

Re:You guys don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000747)

How exactly did the Falklands War work then?

What computer lasts 50 years? (2, Insightful)

pz (113803) | about 8 years ago | (#15000656)

What computer lasts 50 years? Steel plate, sure, but silicon and plastic?

Re:What computer lasts 50 years? (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 8 years ago | (#15000720)

Typically the airframe/hull is upgraded once a decade or so. There's no way they'll go 50 years without upgrading the infosystems and such.

Re:What computer lasts 50 years? (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 8 years ago | (#15000738)

Sorry I wasn't clear, I meant the old airframe/hull is refitted with new computer systems every decade or so, like our B52s.

Re:What computer lasts 50 years? (1)

Valar (167606) | about 8 years ago | (#15000727)

They were talking about 50 year useful life of the ship, not the individual components. I imagine they plan on using spare parts when things break down.

Re:What computer lasts 50 years? (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 8 years ago | (#15000749)

The ballistics computers for the Iowa class battleships lasted that long, but they certainly weren't "computers" in the modern sense...

Re:What computer lasts 50 years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000758)

Electronic systems should last the lifetime of the vessel as long as they're used intelligently. Declaring war anytime during 2038 voids the IT warranty on those babies.

No mechanical part on the carrier does either (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000783)

Not even the hinges on the doors last fifty years. An aircraft carrier is a serious exercise in maintenance.

There are parts that are replaced almost as often as they're used. There's a hook on the bottom of the jets which catches a cable stretched across the deck. That's how the jets land on such a short runway. The hook is replaced something like every five landings.

Aircraft carrier personnel are far more used to maintenance schedules than anybody you'll meet... well, anywhere. Computers are far from the most finicky items they have to deal with.

Cue the sharks (1)

DeathElk (883654) | about 8 years ago | (#15000677)

Team these up with a fleet of laser equipped sharks and poison dart dolphins, and... look out bad guys. Just better hope they don't all become 'self aware'...

money? (2, Interesting)

cryptoz (878581) | about 8 years ago | (#15000687)

Alright, so the way I see it, the news here is that they're building these carriers. Good for them. I don't particularly care, but I understand that others here do. My complaint, rather, comment, is that the focus is on the money. The summary claims that the governments will save $6 billion by building these, but neglect that they could save $8 billion in building costs + billions more in employment costs.

So shouldn't the news be that the carriers are being built, not about how much the UK and French governments are "saving"?

the French??? (-1, Flamebait)

r00t (33219) | about 8 years ago | (#15000691)

What the heck are they going to do with an aircraft carrier? Seriously, WTF?

On the one hand, I find it hard to see them using it. Perhaps this is just a make-work program for national pride. Hey, can't let those Anglos have a near-monopoly on aircraft carriers!

On the other hand, France seems to be losing stability. They are well on their way to being part of the Middle East. Perhaps France will soon see war as a way to divert attention from all the troubles at home.

Re:the French??? (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | about 8 years ago | (#15000730)

This'd be their eleventh carrier. Their current carrier took part in UN missions in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, as well as missions in Kashmir in 2002.

If I'm remembering correctly, they also used a carrier in the First Gulf War.

Re:the French??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000745)

Perhaps France will soon see war as a way to divert attention from all the troubles at home.

Cool, just like the United States. It is, afterall, a time-tested strategy...just make sure you win.

Re:the French??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000755)

Special french software onboard, to facilitate the automation:

incObject = radar.reflection.recognize();
if(incObject.type == "enemy")
    surrender();

Re:the French??? (1)

TastyCakes (917232) | about 8 years ago | (#15000775)

The french already have a full sized aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle. As to what they will do with it, I presume the same thing America does with her carriers: project their power overseas. Many make the argument that America should encourage Europe to develop a more powerful military to reduce the strain on their taxpayers to "patrol the world".

Another Use (2, Insightful)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | about 8 years ago | (#15000702)

The sea is a place it's expensive to send sailors. After all, we have to house, feed, and entertain them when they're off duty. Building more housing for sailors increases size, which increases fuel use, and decreases operational range.

Substitute astronaut for sailor in that. Automation will be critical to space flight, for all the reasons it's useful here. Fewer astronauts means fewer people to send to Mars for 3 years, or at least it'll allow those people to get more done. This will make spaceflight cheaper, and it'll increase range, because it's easier to supply ten people for 3 years than it is to supply 15. Less food, less fuel, less money.

Downsides (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 8 years ago | (#15000708)

Computer, fire two missles

  hacked by chinese, you 1s 0wn3d

Oh Shit!
       

Re:Downsides (2, Funny)

Sj0 (472011) | about 8 years ago | (#15000811)

I can imagine some potty mouthed naval Automation Engineer getting frustrated that the operator interface PCs crashed yet again and demanding someone get him a 24V supply and a laptop so he can rig up a "FUCKING fire button". :P

Misleading article (3, Informative)

lxt (724570) | about 8 years ago | (#15000715)

...the article paints the picture this is something that happened today, but it's not - see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4780630.stm [bbc.co.uk]

In fact, the carriers are already being built - all that's been signed is a formal agreement, with France giving Britain payment for prior research and development. They've actually been under construction since December!

As if things couldn't get any stranger (2, Insightful)

jerryodom (904532) | about 8 years ago | (#15000725)

After hundreds of years of compertition the Brits and the French are working together in improving their Navies? Talk about setting your pride aside for the sake of strength. The French must really be getting sick of being second rate naval powers. This must be part of the Projet de loi de programmation militaire 2003-2008

Useless (2, Insightful)

melted (227442) | about 8 years ago | (#15000726)

Russians, for one, have missiles that fly just above water and only go up when they're close and it's time to attack. They're impossible to intercept because radars can't see them due to reflections from water. Launch a few of these and this $4B toy will sink like a fucking rock. US, no doubt, has similar tech. Russians also have supercavitation torpedoes which no one can intercept because of their speed. This is not even taking submarines into account. A sub can stay close to the sea floor with motors turned off. Once this thing goes above it, it will just launch half a dozen torpedoes and move on.

Carriers are only useful against countries that don't have (or can't buy) such rockets / torpedoes / subs and don't have decent airforce or submarines. Those countries can be "shocked and awed" without aircraft carriers, though.

Re:Useless (1)

evanspw (872471) | about 8 years ago | (#15000792)

Yeah, and Iran has them too (courtesy of a little Russian realpolitik). Will be tested in the Persian Gulf if any miltary moves are made against Iran. Ditto the Chinese and the Taiwan Straights. Large surface ships are of rather limited use.

Re:Useless (4, Informative)

Xochil (542406) | about 8 years ago | (#15000817)

I think you've been watching too many movies.

Where do you suppose those surface skimming missiles come from? Something (either a ship, aircraft, or sub) has to get within range to launch them first.

The ocean floor in a great many areas is way deeper than a sub's crush depth. Active sonar can localize a whether its moving or not...and if its moving passive sonar and other means can find it.

--Mike
(former helicopter carrier-based Aviation Anti-Submaine Warfare Operator/USN)

Death and destruction, I'm getting a hard on (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000729)

Yay for automation because killing people at long range is so much easier than killing people when you can see the whites of their eyes (and the sparkle of life slowly fade away).

Instead of killing people, we're extinguishing radar blips like some video game, and I like video games. I just can't wait till we can launch a missle from America and murder whomever we please! Oh wait... we can...wow, warfare is shaping out to be the best game ever.

I tell you what, I just can not wait till we do not even require direct human input to kill things (not humans because the enemy have no inherent human rights, hence are not human) except from our ever humble, open, and accountable Executive/Pentagon officials! Gee golly, at that point we won't have to worry about a thing because mechs with missle launchers and lasers are a lot more discerning than people when it comes to "neutralizing (read: killing) the target" as they have electronic optics!

The military-industrial complex is growing bigger each day; hooray for war; hooray for jingoism and xenophobia; hooray for death and destruction!

One thing's for sure. I love Big Brother.

reduced crews due to automation (1)

TallGuyRacer (920071) | about 8 years ago | (#15000736)

"...these ships will need at most a crew of 800 sailors instead of 2,000 for ships of that size today."
I bet they will end up needing 1,200 sailors to fix all the automation systems that keep breaking down.

Triming the fat (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 8 years ago | (#15000752)

At a cost of $100K per sailor per year, this represents savings of more than $6 billion.

With that kind of employee cost, shouldn't they look at outsourcing?

Savings... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15000754)

Building a warship does NOT represent savings.

Err... Okay.... (-1, Flamebait)

TheNoxx (412624) | about 8 years ago | (#15000763)

At least this is a military expenditure that will save money in the long run, however, we still need to drastically reduce the amount we spend on our military, particularly the Navy. Call me skeptical, but I don't see us getting into a real war ever again (you know, as in a fight between two equal powers), let alone one that will get us into naval warfare. I understand that carriers and such are needed for coastal deployment and support fire, but that's about it. Automation sounds fine, even removing most of the control to military bases and operate via satellite or such; we sure as shit don't need more advanced targeting systems, as AEGIS is lightyears beyond any other country's naval technology. Seriously, this military-industrial boom has to stop, it's throwing money into projects that have absolutely no domestic benefit.

One more thing... um... When they say that each sailor costs the navy $100k plus a year... how is that? In pay? I'm pretty sure that when my brothers were aboard their respective submarines and carriers, they weren't pulling in/costing the Navy nearly that much. Shit, my friend who's a Ranger barely scrapes in 30k a year, and he's a thousand times better trained than a sailor, not to mention, actually does something worthwhile for national security instead of watching sonar screens for torpedoes that will never, ever come.

Designed to fight who? (5, Insightful)

katorga (623930) | about 8 years ago | (#15000773)

Who exactly is this aimed at?

There are no major nation states left that could maintain a sustained war a la WWI or WWII any more. Every European state lacks the trained cadre of military personel to field a major army. Any every small nation is so outclassed by even 20 year old US/NATO equipment that spending billions on "next generation" systems makes no economic or military sense. Russia lacks economic power to play, and China lacks the geographic location to every conventionally threaten the US or Europe.

Example, the US Abrams tank is 2-3x better than any other tank it will meet except perhaps the British Challenger tanks. The US could build a tank for a fraction of the cost that would still outclass anything it will face.

The sheer military and technological superiority of even decades old weaponry is why most of the world has shifted to guerrilla or terrorist political tactics.

Klingons are coming for dinner... (1)

creimer (824291) | about 8 years ago | (#15000800)

Hopefully these new aircraft carriers won't suffer the same fate as the Enterprise in Star Trek 3. An undermanned aircraft carrier is no match for a Klingon battlecruiser. And they better not skimp on the self-destruct mechanism either.

Uhhh.. (5, Funny)

Apiakun (589521) | about 8 years ago | (#15000812)

From the article:

"An aircraft carrier must fight, and find the enemy, and do a lot of other stuff."

Brilliant writing there. Very eloquent. No, really, I mean it, and other stuff.
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