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Thread: How does a Wasp-class LHD equipped with F-35B's stack up against China's Liaoning

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    How does a Wasp-class LHD equipped with F-35B's stack up against China's Liaoning

    with that ship's normal complement of airplanes? That's assuming the Wasp LHD has 20 F-35's embarked in the sea control role.

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Liaoning usually sports ~26 J-15s which are reported to have difficulty launching with a full load of both fuel and weapons due to reliance on a ski jump rather than catapults. This would be less problematic if the Liaoning possessed organic air to air refueling capabilities, but it doesn't. As a result it must either rely on land based refueling aircraft or lightly loaded fighters. It's a pretty serious deficiency and why subsequent Chinese carriers will feature cats and traps

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    Liaoning usually sports ~26 J-15s which are reported to have difficulty launching with a full load of both fuel and weapons due to reliance on a ski jump rather than catapults. This would be less problematic if the Liaoning possessed organic air to air refueling capabilities, but it doesn't. As a result it must either rely on land based refueling aircraft or lightly loaded fighters. It's a pretty serious deficiency and why subsequent Chinese carriers will feature cats and traps
    Do WASP-class LHD's have aerial refueling capability? And don't F-35B's also have a problem with with reduced fuel and weapons loads, because the VTOL capability is both heavy and takes up a lot of space?

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    First off all WAG.

    Both ships have about the same amount of runway. The F-35 in videos use most of the deck which is prudent. While the internal weapons of the F-35 impose the same weight and maneuvering limitation as any other aircraft with external stores, there will be a lot less drag which increases range. People on this board who have actually have done this stuff with the USMC have remarked there is a air to air refueling capability in effect.

    The F-35 can communicate and integrate with the vessels of the Expeditionary Strike Group making it and the ESG more capable. The J-15 doesn't have that capability as far as I know. If the J-15 has fuel and clean wings it can out zoom and accelerate the F-35, but if it can't hit or find the target it just misses faster.

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithridates View Post
    Do WASP-class LHD's have aerial refueling capability? And don't F-35B's also have a problem with with reduced fuel and weapons loads, because the VTOL capability is both heavy and takes up a lot of space?
    F-35s don't utilize VTOL takeoffs outside of airshows because they can only deadlift about 6000 lbs. They absolutely do utilize STOL takeoffs where the jet is swiveled downwards at about a 45 degree angle in combination with the lift fan to achieve very short takeoff runs with full tanks and a standard weapons load.

    The STOVL takeoff requirement for the F-35B are for 2 x 1,000 lb J-DAM, + 2 x AIM 120, plus fuel for a 450 nmi combat radius — from a flat deck, or land surface, in 600 ft at seal level in tropical conditions, with 10 kts of wind. In other words, full fuel tanks plus full internal weapons bays.

    If heavy externally carried weapons are desired, later this year the USMC will be able to lean on MV-22B VARS (V-22 Aerial Refueling System) as a roll-on/roll-off kit to supply 10,000lbs of fuel to an F-35B that conducts an STOL launch with an extra heavy weapons
    load and less fuel.

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    There's also the question of how long the Wasp can sustain its fighter wing, compared to the Liaoning and its J-15s.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skywatcher View Post
    There's also the question of how long the Wasp can sustain its fighter wing, compared to the Liaoning and its J-15s.
    That is why the America Class exists, much more fuel bunkerage and larger magazines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skywatcher View Post
    There's also the question of how long the Wasp can sustain its fighter wing, compared to the Liaoning and its J-15s.
    As Surfgun mentioned, the America Class is really a more apt comparison. While a Wasp can technically field 20 F-35s in a pinch, it is unlikely to ever do so and it's F-35s are more meant for defensive AEW, interdiction strikes on high value assets, and CAS in support of Marines.

    For the record, I'd hate to be a J-15 pilot from the Liaoning going up against even the typical load of ~6 F-35s a Wasp carries, as it means something I can't find is going to be cueing SM-6s from over the horizon. I don't know exactly how many Air to Air missiles a J-15 carries compared to an F-35, but I know a Burke carries one hell of a lot and there's really no reason the F-35s need to fire a shot while they can draw on a destroyer's deep magazines and VERY high performance missiles.

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    Is the Liaoning Airwing even fully operational and conducting normal air operations?

    Won't the majority of AEW/AD be done by the surface ships of the Expeditionary Strike Group?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dazed View Post
    Is the Liaoning Airwing even fully operational and conducting normal air operations?

    Won't the majority of AEW/AD be done by the surface ships of the Expeditionary Strike Group?
    I see the F-35's superb sensors, information hoovering, and networking abilities as one of the primary reasons to bring them along. You can see a long way from 50,000 ft and the F-35 is well suited to sending all the data it collects back down to the fleet for real time analysis, much like an AWACS with a crew aboard.

    Ships often sport very powerful radars, but the horizon limits how far away they can see objects down low. Thus the popularity of sea-skimming cruise missiles to attack ships.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    I see the F-35's superb sensors, information hoovering, and networking abilities as one of the primary reasons to bring them along. You can see a long way from 50,000 ft and the F-35 is well suited to sending all the data it collects back down to the fleet for real time analysis, much like an AWACS with a crew aboard.

    Ships often sport very powerful radars, but the horizon limits how far away they can see objects down low. Thus the popularity of sea-skimming cruise missiles to attack ships.
    Yes but how long can you loiter a F-35. A cycle is still a cycle. Like all aircraft they will spend more time on the ground.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dazed View Post
    Yes but how long can you loiter a F-35. A cycle is still a cycle. Like all aircraft they will spend more time on the ground.
    That is what a P-8 can help with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by surfgun View Post
    That is what a P-8 can help with.
    Or Global Hawk and various other platforms that would be more practical.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dazed View Post
    Yes but how long can you loiter a F-35. A cycle is still a cycle. Like all aircraft they will spend more time on the ground.
    Quite a while I'd expect. F-35s sport a big, high bypass (for a fighter) engine and airframe designed around efficient high subsonic operations. They also sport unusually high fuel fractions, and don't suffer any parasitic drag when internally armed compared to other fighters that would be carrying sensor pods, missiles, and gas bags externally.

    A Wasp class carries MV-22s organically and with a couple of VARS kits they can be sent up to top off any F-35s that are keeping watch as needed. The limit to loiter time for an F-35 patrolling near a Wasp class is going to be pilot fatigue which is also greatly lessened compared to other platforms by the fact that the F-35 all but flies itself freeing the pilot up to play with DAS/AESA/EOTS/solitaire/etc.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 13 Mar 18, at 15:05.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    Quite a while I'd expect. F-35s sport a big, high bypass (for a fighter) engine and airframe designed around efficient high subsonic operations. They also sport unusually high fuel fractions, and don't suffer any parasitic drag when internally armed compared to other fighters that would be carrying sensor pods, missiles, and gas bags externally.

    A Wasp class carries MV-22s organically and with a couple of VARS kits they can be sent up to top off any F-35s that are keeping watch as needed. The limit to loiter time for an F-35 patrolling near a Wasp class is going to be pilot fatigue which is also greatly lessened compared to other platforms by the fact that the F-35 all but flies itself freeing the pilot up to play with DAS/AESA/EOTS/solitaire/etc.
    Yes the straight turbojet has been gone since the 70's the F-35 engine uses the same architecture as the F-22 engine and other modern US fighters. Internal storage reduces drag but still imparts limits on range and manuverability. My point is the F-35 can do alot of things but the primary air defense with a lot of assets is performed by the ships of the Expeditionary Strike Group. If it fit the mission at hand they would use the F-35. The amount of jet fuel even with replenishment is limited on the carrier and the V-22 and helicopters are what gets the assets ashore. I believe the Marine doctorine on the F-35 is being shore based ASAP.

    Not that it means anything but I have plenty of time in F-18 sims it's not like they spend hours in the air during a normal operation. A couple hours in a normal aircraft cockpit is mind-numbing sitting on an ejection seat wearing a helmet is brutal. Automation is awesome but at times mind-numbing it doesn't change the fuel burn.

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