How quickly can an aircraft carrier launch all its aircraft?

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308Mike
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How quickly can an aircraft carrier launch all its aircraft?

Postby 308Mike » Sun Oct 22, 2017 5:22 am

I saw this on a website recently, along with the answer, and thought you might enjoy it (and some might critique it):

Chris Roles, Stay-at-home dad (2006-present)
Answered 18h ago · Upvoted by Vega Handojo, M.Sc. in Aeronautics, 3 years research in Aeroelasticity

I served aboard the USS Nimitz from 1985–89. Unless something has changed since the late 1980’s, Nimitz-class carriers have four catapults, not three as stated in another response. However, it’s not uncommon to only use three cats for a launch cycle.

How quickly can an aircraft carrier launch all of its aircraft?

Short answer: In the late 1980’s, an aircraft carriers Air Wing was comprised of 65–70 aircraft. For a well-practiced crew, fifteen to twenty minutes for launching all of them could be achieved, using all four catapults. In my time this was called an “Alpha Strike”. The purpose of an Alpha Strike is to evaluate the performance of the ship’s crew and the squadron deck and flight crews.

During our “workups”, where we go to sea for a week or two to train for an upcoming six-month deployment, we would occasionally launch at least one Alpha Strike. An Alpha Strike is a huge undertaking, where we launch almost every aircraft on board. The idea is to drill as if we’re at war,

There are a few factors involved in an evolution like an Alpha Strike:

* First, the airplane crews have to be placed on what is called the flight schedule. (Cleared by the flight surgeon to fly, all sign-offs completed.
* The maintenance records for all the aircraft in each squadron are reviewed, to make sure every plane is available for the Alpha Strike when scheduled.
* Ordnance & fuel needs are planned.
* Many squadrons work a 12-hours-on, 12-hours-off schedule while at sea. For an evolution of this size, even the off-time crew is needed. This means some folks may go up to 36 hours with very little sleep.
* Hangar deck crews coordinate with the flight deck crews, so as each group of airplanes is launched, more are already on one of the four aircraft elevators moving up to the flight deck. As large as the flight deck is, there actually isn’t a lot of room to maneuver around.
* Catapult crews make arrangements with the ship’s engineering department to make sure steam is available. Each catapult is fed from a “steam receiver”, which holds enough steam to launch three to four aircraft. Engineering has to make sure they keep those steam receivers replenished.
* Arresting Gear crews are on station and ready to man up as soon as the planes return from their “missions”.
* At the end of their practice missions, the aircraft return to the ship, usually in small groups. This allows the flight deck crews to coordinate with the hangar crews to move the aircraft off the flight deck ASAP. Not every plane is sent down to the hanger deck, but most usually are.
* After the Alpha Strike, there is a period of several days where everyone involved with the Alpha Strike critique their performance.

For obvious reasons, it’s not done very often.

~Chris
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Re: How quickly can an aircraft carrier launch all its aircraft?

Postby blackeagle603 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:04 am

In the Carter years to mid 80's hollow force years while waiting for the Reagan era spending to take effect, of those a/c, we'd be lucky to have 50 in "up" status. Much the same today.

Even in good times, the number is never the max a/c onboard what with phased maintenance and all going on in the hanger. Not to mention, those often serve as hanger queens to be cannibalized for parts while in phase maintenance. Getting the whole airwing loaded out and launched -- and mission capable is a unicorn event. Now flyoffs to home base after cruise, yeah those babies are going to fly, but not likely all of them will be mission capable -- just marginally airworthy. But for the flyoffs before pulling in to homeport they will get a lot of creative maintenance and book keeping done. Else the individual squadron has to face the "Tilley of shame" offload of one of their birds after coming alongside the pier at home. Nothing worse inter-squadron razzings than to be the one squadron in the wing that has a down bird on deck pulling into port.
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Re: How quickly can an aircraft carrier launch all its aircraft?

Postby 308Mike » Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:40 am

I remember the effects of those Carter-cutback years!! Folks used to complain about how come we couldn't get the funding even though it''s just been put into the budget with Reagan, they just didn't understand how long it takes the government to work!! Hell, we used to cannibalize parts and reuse parts that we weren't supposed to simply because we didn't have the funds to toss them in the trash and get new ones!! You know the bastard step-child USMC when it comes to funding!!! We got what the Navy says we got!! Oh, and I know about Hanger Queens too!! BTDT!! Then when the appropriate time came up, we'd swap that bird out and make it airworthy and then we'd have a NEW Hanger Queen to get the parts from!!

They games we'd play to keep the Pentagon nerds off our backs simply because we didn't have the funds to get all the parts needed to keep all our birds operational 90% of the time!!
POLITICIANS & DIAPERS NEED TO BE CHANGED OFTEN AND FOR THE SAME REASON

A person properly schooled in right and wrong is safe with any weapon. A person with no idea of good and evil is unsafe with a knitting needle, or the cap from a ballpoint pen.

I remain pessimistic given the way BATF and the anti gun crowd have become tape worms in the guts of the Republic. - toad


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