Newsletter 20
Spring 2008
Updated on 22May2008
AIAA Honours Dunsfold
Annual General Meeting
Book Review
Doctorate for John Farley
Dunsfold and Brookland Events
First Hunter
Flying Hawker Aircraft
Future of Naval Aviation
Hawk News
John Dale
Joint Strike Fighter News
Museum for Dunsfold
Remembering the P.1083
Sea Harrier News
V/Stol Award for Ralph Hooper

Published by the Hawker Association
for the Members.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved Hawker Association
   Commodore J H Stanford, BA, FRAeS, RN, Assistant Chief of Staff Carrier Strike and Aviation & Commodore Fleet Air Arm, came to Kingston on 13 February to talk about the future of aviation in the Royal Navy. Introduced by our Chairman, Ambrose told us that Jerry had joined the Royal Navy in 1977 who sponsored him through an honours degree in English and American Literature at Warwick University.
    From 1981 he served in HMS Hermes, gained his wings in 1985 and completed a number of  shipborne tours flying Lynx helicopters. He held several commands including the Type 23 Frigate HMS Westminster on deployment to Sierra Leone, was promoted Captain in 2001 and was appointed Deputy Director (Operations) in the Defence Intelligence Staff. He commanded the brand new HMS Bulwark taking her from builder's yard to operational status. In 2006 he took command of RNAS Culdrose flying Merlin, Sea King, Jetstream and Hawk, was promoted Commodore and took up his present appointment. After the introduction Jerry started what he described as an informal 'Powerpoint' slide show with commentary. 
The Future Of Naval Aviation

    He opened this entertaining and informative talk with a historical section introduced by a picture of the RN Historic Flight Sea Fury, currently grounded with an unserviceable Centaurus for which a replacement is being sought. The RNHF also has a two-seater on lease.
    The beginning of British naval aviation, said Jerry, was almost a century ago in 1909 when a contract was placed for an airship. In World War I the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) operated independently until the Royal Air Force was formed by amalgamating the Army's Royal Flying Corps with the RNAS... on the auspicious date of 1 April 1918. Subsequently naval aviation remained in RAF hands until 1924 when the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) of the RAF was formed in which 70% of pilots were RN officers. In 1937 approval was given for  the Admiralty to take over the administrative and operational control of all naval flying, the FAA, except Coastal Command; this was achieved on 28 May 1939.
    The FAA's primary role in World War II was 'strike' as exemplified by the Swordfish of HMS Illustrious attacking Taranto harbour in 1940 and crippling the Italian fleet. This example was followed a year later by the Japanese at Pearl Harbour. To strike from the sea remained the primary role in Korea with Sea Furies, at Suez with Sea Hawks and in the 1960s and 70s with Buccaneers and Phantoms operating from Ark Royal. This, the Navy's last carrier, was decommissioned in 1978 together with her fixed wing aircraft which were handed over to the RAF.
    During the 'Cold War' the emphasis changed to defence; keeping the sea lanes open. For this role a new type of ship, a small through-deck cruiser for operating anti-submarine helicopters, was ordered; the Invincible class. They were also to operate the Sea Harrier in the fleet defence, strike and reconnaissance roles. The Falklands war required the fleet to go South and strike with RAF Harriers as well. This was, said Jerry, a wake-up call for the Navy.
    Today the Invincibles are 30 years old and operate, once more, a strike force only, of Harrier GR7s and 9s, the very capable fleet defence Sea Harrier F/A2 having been withdrawn for defence budget reasons. The GR7s and 9s are flown by RN and RAF pilots from the Joint Force Harrier organisation. For airborne early warning (AEW) the 30 year old Sea King becomes the Mk 7 AEW  when equipped with the Nimrod's Searchwater radar in an outrigger mounted radome, giving a 250 mile view and capable of tracking vehicles over land. Other helicopters in service include the small and fast, IR sensor equipped, Lynx armed with missiles and guns, the EH-101 Merlin, with fly-by-wire and carbon fibre, for maritime patrol, reconnaissance and support carrying 16 troops, as well as other versions of the Sea King which can carry 18 troops from a carrier to the shore 300 miles away.
    In today's operations Royal Naval aviation faces many challenges from the environment: weather, waves, salt water, climates from tropical to Arctic; and from the need to deploy world-wide: UK, Falklands, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Caribbean (apprehending drug running), Afghanistan and so on. The RN Strike Wing constitutes one third of the Joint Force Harrier so operates in Kandahar, Afghanistan, at 3,000 ft and 40 degrees C where the Mk 9As come into their own with their Pegasus thrust uprated by 3,000 lb. The Sea Kings also operate in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    As for the future, the Government is committed to enter into a contract for two new strike carriers, the CVFs 'Queen Elizabeth the Second' and 'Prince of Wales', names carefully chosen to make cancellation embarrassing! Design work is complete and entry into service is planned for 2014. These are large ships with a displacement of 60,000 tonnes, three times that of the Invincibles and about two thirds that of the USN nuclear carriers at 100,000 tonnes. They will carry 36 Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) each, as opposed to 10 Harriers in the Invincibles. However, the manpower complement is the same as the Invincibles at 700. They will be powered by a low fuel consumption combination of diesels and gas turbines generating power for the electric final drive. A nuclear powered alternative was unaffordable at twice the cost.
    The design is such that either STOVL or conventional naval aircraft could be accommodated. For STOVL the deck is axial with plenty of space each side for parking and manoeuvring, but should the need arise, because STOVL aircraft are not built or bought, an angled deck can be marked out and catapults and arrester gear installed in space allowed for in the design. The ships are to be built at five yards in fully equipped, 10,000 tonne 'super blocks' which are towed to Rosyth for assembly. The ship will be run by the RN and the aviation will be the responsibility of the RAF and the RN, the former providing land war expertise and the latter sea war expertise.
    The favoured, STOVL, option is the Lockheed-Martin F-35B Lightning II, part of the Joint Strike Fighter programme, the first of which is due to fly in April this year, 2008. It meets the British JCA specification which Jerry paraphrased as "F-18 performance, Harrier utility and F-16 affordability." It has "affordable stealth" with attention paid to shape, materials, internal primary store carriage, and fuel cooling for IR signature reduction. The F-35B also embodies automatic recovery to the ship (as described by John Farley in Newsletter No.11, Ed.). Conventional aircraft alternatives are the Boeing F-18, the Dassault Rafale and a navalised BAES Typhoon. Ninety F-35Bs are required for the RAF and RN Joint Force.
    New aircraft projects under consideration by the Navy include a new-build updated Lynx, a Merlin upgrade, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) similar to the Predator but smaller and capable of remaining airborne for 24 hours, and the V-22 Osprey as a Sea King replacement
    This concluded Jerry's talk after which he took many questions. Asked about the Sea Harrier F/A2s he said that some were in service at Culdrose where they are used, sometimes taxying, for training deck handlers, and some are in store at Shawbury. Questioned on the strength of the Navy Jerry replied that there were 35,000 RN personnel compared with 45,000 RAF and 100,000 in the Army.
    The vote of thanks was given by Duncan Simpson who said that Sir Sydney had a soft spot the Royal Navy saying, "The Navy always treated us as if we were gentlemen."!