An Aircraft Catapult Launch System Which Upgrades
Wasp Class To Light Carrier (LHA) Capability with Full Strike And Self
Protection Capability And Full Integration With USN Carriers
Stallard Associates Competition Confidential
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information proprietary or sensitive to
Stallard Associates, Hampton, Virginia
and is not to be disclosed to or copied by, nor used in any manner by
others without the prior, express, written permission of the COO of Stallard Associates, Clinton W
This document proposes
an advanced technology catapult for the current and future Wasp Class and other
vessels with sufficient deck to fit a catapult and an arrester assembly This
adds the functionality of
a strike carrier and provides self defense capability. This catapult, named
FireCat, compared to the EMALS or C13 steam catapults, is much less
expensive, is simpler, lighter, uses much less ship internal volume, is
much more powerful, than EMALS ,equally as controllable, increases airframe
life, reduces personnel required and is independent of the host ship propulsion
plant or generating plant.
is no other available option or alternate technology that provides a greater
increase in large deck ship capability, self defense capability and mission
options per money spent. This technology provides true value for money.
Executive SummaryBefore addressing the benefits of FireCat, let's clarify one point about
EMALS. Yes, the launch engine is 95%
efficient. However, the thermal losses (40%)
by the reactor to make steam, losses by the turbogenerators,(64% MECHANICAL,
33% electrical),and various switching and storage losses are counted, EMALS is less than 6% efficient. The steam catapult is more than 35% efficient
and FireCat is more than 60% efficient, or 10 times more efficient than EMALS
(There will be little thermal loss and friction losses are overcome by
increasing the fuel burn rate ) .
of Internal Combustion Catapults (FIRECAT) on ships which have no catapults such as our LHAs, LHA(R)s
or LHDs and as backfits to the Nimitz Class or Ford Class Carriers to give them
more capability than steam or electromagnetic catapults. Additionally, FireCat is installable as a
backfit on non-nuclear platforms such as
the Queen Elizabeth, the Prince of Wales, and the Canberra LHA as no
significant rework to the ship being upgraded is required. The approximate cost for two FireCAT is less
than the cost of one F35b plane ( $180 M ) and very possibly less than half
that due to the fact that 90% of the hardware is off the shelf.
• The US navy would like 15 carriers, but can only
afford 11 or less.
• The purpose of a carrier is to project power via
• Any platform that can support strike aircraft
supports the Navy mission
• Current attack aircraft (F18 E/F) require a
catapult to launch them fully loaded.
• Currently only the CVAN 78 Ford aircraft carrier
can support a EMALS catapult while Nimitz Class carriers can only support C13
steam catapults. Other large deck
platforms cannot support steam or EMALS catapults as the steam capacity or
electrical generating capacity of their propulsion plant is insufficient to
support both propulsion and or electromagnetic catapults unless separate large
boilers and turbogenerators or accumulators are installed, along with
significant rework to the underdeck areas.
• The FireCat can launch aircraft with the carrier
at a pier with the propulsion plant shut down.
catapult that is independent of the host ship propulsion plant would allow
installation on the USS America, LHA 6, and other LHA/LHDs such as the
Australian Canberra, along with additional platforms such as Seabase or the British CVE carriers such as the
Queen Elizabeth. Along with new
construction or backfit to the LHAs with a hanger deck added, giving them a new
strike capability. or ability to bring additional air assets to the battle area
in a fighter ferry or waypoint refueling role where the ship can launch and
recover aircraft for use with CVN carriers or shore based aviation facilities This supports the Marine mission along with
greatly increasing the tactical value of the platform.
Commercial large deck platforms could also be
converted, providing an additional low cost and easily achieved strike
Installation of the FIRECAT aboard an LHA
platform would allow launch and recovery of current strike aircraft. The FIRECAT
utilizes most of the present catapult machinery, particularly all of the
components forward of the launch valve.
The steam catapult drive gas is replaced by a combustion
gas generator which provides the launch energy in place of nuclear power
The combustion gas generator is well known,
highly reliable and commercially available.
It is based upon current jet, automotive engine and power plant combustor
Due to the ability of the combustion gas
generator to provide a wide range of time-pressure curves, it will be possible
to launch a very wide range of vehicles, from UAVs to future aircraft heavier
than the F18. The ability to tightly control the launch pressure will allow a very low
peak to mean launch pressure which reduces stresses on the aircraft being launched. ( 2G or less ).
Launch weapons such as
land attack missiles, drones ,and a wide array of weapons and defensive
The tightly controlled FIRECAT launch pressure
allows a continually rising launch pressure through the length of the catapult
stroke allowing high launch end speeds. This
also allows launch jets loaded with external fuel tanks
Launches can be accomplished as quickly as a plane
can be staged for launch. This is due to the launch energy being stored in
the JP5 fuel and being available immediately for the next launch.
The FIRECAT catapult launch speed, launch force
and launch weight is a function of fuel burned per unit time during launch.
There is no upper limit to the FIRECAT on end speed, launch force, and weight
launched, although the launch engine components may need reinforcing for
heavier future aircraft.
The additional FIRECAT power can allow the
launch engine to be shortened and more readily fitted aboard a different host
FIRECAT can be installed at Pax River or
Lakehurst and significant qualification testing can be done by the spring of
2018 (one year). This is due to the fact
that 95% of the FIRECAT hardware is COTS and the launch engine is already
installed at the test catapult site.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Section Title Page
I. Executive Summary 5
A. Technology Description 5
B. Benefit 6
C. Backfit 6
D. Recommendations 6
II. Description of Technology 7
A. Propellant Selection 9
B. Gas Generation Requirements 11
C. Hardware Description 12
III. Applications Used or in
A. NAVAIR C14 Catapult.
IV. The Technology Meets
Independent Power Source
B. Increased Maximum Launch Energy 16
C. Complete Launch Force Control 16
in Weight and Volume 16
Table IV.B.-1 16
V Benefits of Technology 16
A. Platform Benefits 16
B. Increased Launching Power Availability 16
C. Retains Existing Technology 16
D. Aircraft and Launch System Benefits 17
E. Savings in Weight and Volume 17
and Modularity 17
VI. Areas of Technical Risk 18
A. Propellant Delivery Rates 20
B. Combustor Design 20
Shock D. Igniter Design
E. Control System Response
F. Failsafe Operation
TABLE OF CONTENTS (cont’d)
Section Title Page
VII. Maturity of
A. Propellant 24
B. Oxidizer 24
VIII. Maturity of
Technology for Production 25
A. Existing Catapult Launch Hardware 25
C. Recommendations 25
Phase One. Production Design 26
Phase Two Procurement 26
Phase Three Full Scale Prototype 26
Phase Four Operational Evaluation 26
IX. Points of Contact 27
SECTION I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Technology Description - The Internal Combustion
Catapult Aircraft Launch System (FIRECAT) is a hybrid catapult launching system
using conventional steam catapult hardware forward of, but not including, the
launch valve with launch energy provided by a compact, combustion gas and steam
generating subsystem which is located at the aft end of the existing C13 launch
engine. This subsystem produces combustion gas and steam in a combustor by
burning JP5 and oxygen enriched airand injecting water into the
combustion gas stream to produce steam, cooling the combustor walls and the
combustion gas stream while producing more
propulsion force. This is the sxact technology being used by a number
The FIRECAT is designed to provide precise control of acceleration,
tailored to the specific aircraft parameters for each launch. It
incorporates injectors and closed-loop control, much like the fuel system of a
modern automobile to ensure that the desired acceleration profile is accurately
met. Its combustor design is based upon the proven gas generation
technologies of jet engine and electrical generation power plant combustors.
B. Benefits -
The FIRECAT system independence removes demands of the system on the propulsion
plant. FIRECAT provides a substantial
gain in launch system capability and retains a large portion of the current,
and proven launch system which reduces system development time and costs.
FIRECAT’s closed-loop launch control system assures positive control of launch
forces, reduces airframe stresses and assures required launch end speeds for a
wide range of launch vehicles.
FIRECAT can be installed on any
other large deck platform using diesel, CODAG, turbine drive or steam. This enables ships such as the LHA class to
gain true carrier strike capability with cats and traps. This
allows carrying a mix of planes on an LHA such as the F35c, F/A-18E/F Hornets,
F/A-18G, E-2C Hawkeyes, fixed-wing EA-6B Prowlers; and SH-60F and HH-60H
Seahawk helicopters. This allows the
host ship to act in a much more capable role with CAS for a much longer time than
the F35b in an amphibious support role,
Additionally, the host platform
can function as a strike carrier, launching a mix of F35c and F/A-18E/F
fighters . This adds an extra carrier
deck with cats and traps acting in support of a CVAN strike force with the
capability to launch and recover aircraft,
This supports long distance flights as a mid-flight refueling station or
an aircraft transport platform to get an air wing to where there are aerial
refueling assets, a sea base with catapults aboard or friendly
C. Backfit - The FIRECAT’s design is adaptable and
scalable for application to a variety of ship platforms, aircraft and other
launch vehicles. The FIRECAT system can be readily back-fitted to upgrade
existing Nimitz aircraft carrier launch capability to well beyond that of
EMALS. FIRECAT is almost self sufficient
and needs very little in the way of ship services, power or ship volume along
with removing well over a million pounds topside compared to EMALS.
D. Recommendations - This paper recommends
the development of the FIRECAT system
for use on Naval platforms, including LHA/LHD/CVE and new non-nuclear
concepts. The proposed system should be funded for early demonstration of
the critical technologies, installed on a mothballed carrier, or a test
catapult, then temporarily back-fit to an existing operational catapult for
full-scale testing and operation. This operational carrier can be
the test platform as the installation is
reversible so one of the four C13 catapults can be converted to FIRECAT for
testing and then reverted to a C13 steam
catapult, all during an availability,
Later system design improvements are identified which should be
investigated for additional weight reduction, required manpower reduction, further
system simplification and increased capability enhancements.
II. DESCRIPTION OF TECHNOLOGY
development has been driven by the increasing weight of the aircraft to be
launched. The steam catapult began a reliance
on the propulsion plant. Alternatively, NAVAIR developed the C14 internal combustion
catapult which was independent of the ship’s propulsion system to reduce this
dependence upon the propulsion plant and provide
US Naval Air Warfare Center developed and qualified the C14 catapult which was
installed at Lakehurst Naval Air Warfare Center and launched fighter planes in
1959. fighter planes in 1959.
The C14 catapult was qualified and four sets were
built for the Enterprise and delivered to
Newport News Shipbuilding for installation. With the unfortunate Naval operating
personnel sabotage driven problems at the test site as Mr. Holland documents below above, and
extreme pressure from Adm Rickover in favor of using his steam driven
This is Rickover: The Struggle for Excellence, page
179. A biography.
The decision was made for steam at
the last moment before trials. Political difficulties,
pressure from Rickover, sailor
and ready availability of steam from shipboard nuclear
plants made the C14 catapult approach
politically not possible at that time.
The point of the above is that, in 1959, there was a working and qualified internal
combustion powered catapult that exceeded the capabilities of the curent steam
catapult, and was launching planes reliably. This catapult was at a lesser cost, volume, weight and demand upon
Enclosure 1. This is aThiokol brochure
describing the components and capability of the C14 internal combustion
The following document presents a rethink of the 53 year old C14
configuration using 2016 technologies currently available as proven and
available (COTS) hardware to satisfy the
requirements of the new FIRECAT catapult. Emphasis is given to both describing the FIRECAT
combustion gas and steam generating system used to drive the current C13-1 or
C13-2 launch engines and the methods for controlling it. Additionally, information is provided for the
Pressure Swing Adsorption unit which is the source for the enriched air used
• All of the other launcher components discussed
are part of the existing C13-2 catapult systems and subsystems components
currently installed on operating Nimitz class carriers
• FIRECAT is available as a fall-back inexpensive
"Plan B" for the Ford Class.
Compared to EMALS or the standard C13 series of steam catapults, FIRECAT
is a much less costly system whose COTS hardware, volume requirements and
weight savings make FIRECAT straight-forward to evaluate, test, qualify, and
install. FIRECAT can provide more than double the launch energy that EMALS can
provide while under full closed loop control.
This allows much more growth in the weight of future manned aircraft and
for launch a range of weapons from the lightest of the UAVs to large ones such
as the X-47b, and future heavier UAVs and carrier launched aircraft
concept fuel proposed, as presented in this white paper, is JP5 (kerosene jet
fuel) and the oxidizer is non-cryogenic oxygen
enriched air. The JP-air system has
benefits in the area of logistics in that the fuel used by the combustor is the
same as that used by the aircraft being launched. Typically there are two to three million gallons of JP5 aboard an aircraft
carrier which will supply both the jets
being launched and the catapults launching them. The enriched air utilized has the nitrogen
removed, leaving 95+ percent pure ambient temperature oxygen.
Oxygen is only ~20% of the atmosphere and
is the oxidizer for any standard
combustion system, including automotive engines.. The FIRECAT system adds a COTS oxygen
concentrating system known in industry as a Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) plant
which removes nitrogen from the air. Eliminating atmospheric nitrogen reduces
the volume of gas to be compressed by 80% and eliminates nitrogen caused flame
instabilities in the combustor. This
allows a much smaller compressor and more tightly controlled combustion.
The PSA process systems are designed to be
highly efficient, Present large systems
are able to generate up to 200 tons per day of oxygen with purity of 95 per
cent. A max launch of 70,000 pounds at
up to 4.6G will require a quantity of up to 6.5 gallons (44.5 pounds) of JP5
and will require 14 gallons (133.5
pounds) of oxygen per launch or 15 launches per ton of oxygen. or 6.675 tons
per 100 launches per day per catapult system.
This works out to 556 pounds per hour system output which is 139 pounds
per hour per tank from a four tank installation similar to the two tank installation shown below. This installation should fit in a reasonable
size compartment, somewhat smaller than one of
the EMALS energy storage motor generator compartments.
Production: Oxygen 98% Purity:
Outlet Pressure: 0.5 Mpa (5 Bar) (73.5 PSI
Normal Operating Pressure: 0.4-0.5 Mpa (4-5 Bar)
Flow Rate: 6 m3/hr to 40 m3/hr
These compact and highly reliable plants were
initially designed for remote installation, military applications and can also
be installed onboard ships, islands and on mobile trailers.
All systems are designed for un-attended
operation and automatic Oxygen demand adjustment.
The design and Instrumentation makes the plant
size very compact, prefabricated, assembled
on skids, and supplied from factory
Fast Start-up Start-up time is
about 30 minutes to get desired Oxygen purity. So these units can be switched
ON & OFF as per Oxygen demand changes.
Reliability Very reliable for continuous and steady operation with constant
Oxygen purity. Plant availability time is better than 99% always
Expected Molecular sieves life is more than 10 years
. Sieves are replaceable.
Rix high pressure pumps supply compressed oxygen to accumulators that
provide oxygen to support aircraft launch
B. Gas Generation
The most efficient launch
profile is one of constant acceleration, as this minimizes stresses on both the
aircraft and crew. For a gas-driven
energy source, the requirement for constant acceleration translates into the
need for a progressively increasing gas flow during the stroke to maintain
constant pressure on the face of the accelerating piston.
For FIRECAT, it is not
required to preheat the launch cylinders prior to initiation of launch activity
as thermal loss effects are negated by slightly increasing the fuel/air burn rate to offset thermal losses. Since the velocity of the shuttle piston at
the end of its stroke is only about 300 ft/sec, much lower than the speed of
sound in the FIRECAT-produced gases, the launch pressure against the face of
the launch pistons should be constant.
Thus the demand for the progressive increase in gas flow during the launch
cycle is driven primarily by the accelerating volume expansion as the shuttle
piston gains velocity. For a constant
acceleration profile, the control function translates into a simple quadratic
(parabolic) increase in gas flow rate with position of the shuttle piston
The control function for
the highest velocity launch scenario requires a progressive increase in gas
generation by a factor of about thirty.
The gas generator system will be sized so that this total variation will
only be half or less of the system capacity.
Combustor output would be to
adjusted under closed-loop control to assure that the required launch speed
curve would be maintained.
Combustor chamber responses
to changes in propellant flow are typically measured in milliseconds. The pressure change at the base of the
shuttle piston in response to a change in the rate of gas inflow is measured in
tens of milliseconds. Thus the major
time lag in the control loop is the response of the mechanical components in
the propellant feed system such as valves and regulators. Components with operating times under 0.1
seconds are readily available, so the responsiveness of the gas generation
system will permit effective close control of the launch process.
The FIRECAT system, can
generate a very high energy launch of
100,000 ft-lbs. As an example, an
average acceleration of 4.6G for a 70,000 pound take-off weight. THIS will require combustion of approximately
44.5 pounds of JP5 propellant and 133.3 pounds of oxygen. This is more acceleration than any of the
current catapult launched USN planes can withstand but is given as an example
of what FIRECAT can readily accomplish. The COTS combustor will have a
significant additional growth capability.
Of course, this additional capability will allow launch of much heavier
planes than required for a fully loaded F18-E/F.
One of the commercially
available combustor-gas generators, using oxygen enriched air, JP5 equivalent
and drive gas cooling water is shown below.
Units of this model have
performed on site for thousands of hours of continuous operation with no
The launch gas/steam
generator system includes:
- Oxygen enriched air,
oxygen accumulators and piping/sensors.
-JP-5 fuel accumulator and
piping/sensors. The JP5 is sourced from the
JP5 supply to the flight deck
-Sensors, hardware, controls
and piping for all of the fluid and gas components.
-The combustor above and
its spool piping interface will connect with the aft face of the thrust exhaust
unit of the current C13 launch engine.
Water spray is mixed with
the hot propellant combustion products at the water spray rings to produce
steam as an additional drive gas and to ensure that the gasses entering the launch
cylinders are not hotter than the design limits of those cylinders.
The feed-water accumulator
feeds directly into the combustor water spray rings. The JP5 and oxidizer are introduced into the
combustion chamber as impinging jets for maximum mixing. Three way valves shown in the air and JP5
feed lines function as the main shut-off for both components and provide for an
air purge of the injectors. The air purge assures that the injectors are clear
and cool before the next aircraft launch.
The storage of the fuel and oxygen may be by bladder accumulators or
piston accumulators which may be driven by high
pressure air, or mechanical/electrical drive.
The JP-5 / air injectors
produce a fine, hollow cone spray into the combustor for ignition.. The design
is based on a currently available combustor which has the required variation in
fuel and oxidizer flow while maintaining high combustion efficiency. This is
current state-of-the-art (an example being the combustion technology of the
typical current automotive engine).
The water injector manifolds are sequentially attached
to the barrel of the combustion chamber and feed a series of small,
straight-through holes into the combustion chamber. The resulting series of water jets spray into
the combustion chamber forward and
toward the combustion chamber center line. This assures that the water spray, with a
flow rate that may be more than twice that of the propellant, does not interfere
with the combustion process and that the combustion chamber walls and launch
cylinder walls are well protected from the high temperatures of the combustion
The ignition system achieves highly reliable,
rapid, and smooth ignition upon command. and will it will have redundant function features
critical to overall system reliability. The combustor will be an existing model
intended for a power plant installation and which will be COTS and which eliminates this as a developmental item. The conservative design
assures excess capacity for growth in
launch power, durability and reliability.
The combustor is located directly aft of and
attached to the thrust exhaust unit, providing a linear path for the combustion
gas stream into the launch engine.
Propellant Storage And Handling System - The purpose of this system is to safely
acquire and store JP5 and oxidizer in
day tanks, the oxidizer being stored immediately next to the PSA (pressure Swing Adapter) and the JP5 separately stored. It
also includes all the valving, plumbing, pumps, and controls required to both
operate and monitor this system.
The combustor steam feed-water supply system
consists of supply piping, an accumulator booster pump, an air-charged, water
accumulator and manifold feed tubing.
The fuel supply system consists of a
JP5 day tank, accumulator booster pumps, two air-charged, propellant
accumulators and combustor feed tubing.
Effect on Existing Catapult Equipment - One
important advantage of the FIRECAT system is that the majority of the FIRECAT
hardware has already been proven over many years of service. The Pressure Swing Adsorber oxygen system is
widely used for a number of critical applications. The combustor is
commercially available. The launch
engine has 50+ years of operating
experience. Thus all of the main
components are COTS and fully qualified which eliminates technical and schedule
II.C 1 .................lists the
systems of the C13-2 catapult and identifies those systems which are revised,
with the level of change required to upgrade to an FIRECAT system. The most extensive changes required involve
the steam portion of the launching engine system. This includes removal of the steam supply
system -- piping, valves, wet accumulator, steam risers and the launch valves. The removal of this hardware includes the
removal of the associated control valves and air/hydraulic control system
The launch valves are removed along with the
launch valve, control valve, the capacity selector valve (CSV) and associated
hydraulic piping, valves and indicators.
These components are replaced by the
combustor and manifold, flow control assemblies and associated propellant and
water supply systems.
The exhaust valve and thrust exhaust unit will
remain intact and will perform the same functions as previously required. The pressure breaking orifice elbow may
require modification of the orifice diameter.
This will be determined in the design phase when residual heat and other
thermodynamic effects are determined for the operating catapult.
Existing steam catapults use ship's steam for
the purpose of warming up the launching engine power cylinders to expand them
to the level required for aircraft launch operations. This is not required for FIRECAT as a cold shot is not possible. Steam is also used as a fire suppressant in
case of trough and launch valve fires.
For ships which have steam systems available, the trough warming and
steam smothering systems need not change.
Alternatively, fire suppression and fuel tank inerting could be provided
with stored nitrogen from the PSA unit which is a byproduct of enriching air.
The hydraulic fluid supply system of the
internal combustion catapult will be identical to those systems on the C13-2
catapult. Any improvements in these
systems which might be proposed by NAVAIR or the contractor can be readily
applied to the C13-2 portion of the internal combustion catapult system. The current retraction engine system has been
identified as one that FIRECAT can readily improve, eliminating a complicated
and high maintenance system
The electrical control system components will
require relatively minor changes. The
major differences will reflect the removal of the launch valve and steam system
monitoring and control functions. These
will be replaced with combustor, propellant and water control and
monitoring. The intent is to make the control
sequence appear to be the same as for the C13-2 To the catapult operator, these
changes will be nearly transparent. The
effect on existing hardware is that some panels will have minor changes in the
sensor and indicator displays. The
Engineering Central Control Station Panel may be completely eliminated,
however, the Engineering Officer of the Watch will need to monitor fresh water
usage and storage in order to control distillation plant output. If the fuel/air mixture is maintained
slightly rich, then the water supply for steam production can be salt water as
was used in the 1959 C14 catapult tested
the changes will be completely invisible.
Nose Gear Launch equipment is unchanged and there is no impact on the
aircraft hookup and launch procedures which are currently used.
TECHNOLOGY APPLICATIONS USED OR IN DEVELOPMENT
The C14 Internal
Combustion Catapult - This launcher
was compact and generated high launch energies, however, control of the
combustion process was not satisfactory due to the presence of so much nitrogen
in the combustor, which caused some
combustion instability. This problem is eliminated by removal of the
nitrogen from the oxidizing gas. The power capability of this 1959 system
exceeded the steam catapults of today. However, it was not installed as discussed above.
At the time, the USS Enterprise was under construction
and sufficient steam was available from the propulsion plant to provide the
required launch energy. As a result,
development of the C14 launcher was halted in 1961.
Advances in propellants,
management of the combustion process and steam generation over the last 53 years
has made this revolutionary variant of the C14 launcher technology extremely
reliable and controllable.
HOW CONCEPT TECHNOLOGY MEETS
GENERAL LAUNCHER AND PLATFORM ADAPTABILITY REQUIREMENTS
A. Platform Independent Power Source
The internal combustion
catapult launch technology places no demands upon the platform for launch
power. As such, the FIRECAT system has potential for installation on a
wide variety of platforms, creating additional
decks for strike aircraft and aircraft recovery.
Power to achieve launch is
generated at the aft end of the launcher by a tubular combustor producing
combustion gas and steam. The steam is generated by injecting water
between the flame cone and the combustor inner walls within the combustor,
keeping the combustor within design temperature. . Power for pumps and the control system may be
provided by the platform generating assets or by a local generator that may be
made part of the launcher hardware.
B. Increased Maximum Launch Energy
The launcher design has
the capability of increasing the programmed
launch energy by increasing the flow of JP5 and oxidizer to the combustor. The power produced is a function of
quantity of fuel burned per unit time,
thus there is no inherent upper limit to the energy that can be produced.
C. Complete Launch Force Control
The FIRECAT is operated by
a closed-loop control system which results in a precisely controlled launch at
all power levels. This produces very
accurate end speeds for each launch. The
closed-loop control of the launch is based on pressure in the launch
cylinders. Therefore, launch cylinder
pressure is predicated upon the difference between actual piston position at a
given time-step versus the reference position.
The rate of fuel/oxidizer flow
is adjusted to
maintain the set launch curve.
D. Reduction in Weight and Volume
As shown in table IV.B -
1, incorporation of the internal combustion launcher catapult technology with the current C13-2 launching
engine will result in a weight savings of at least 750,000 pounds for four
catapults aboard an existing aircraft carrier compared to the current C13 steam
catapult. This includes a large increase
in the 01 level space freed up. This
reduction is achieved by elimination of all of the components, hardware,
foundations, foundation structural support, piping, steam risers and control systems for those parts of the
current launcher aft of the aft flange face of the thrust exhaust unit.
Table 1, Component weight comparison
E. Scalable Architecture
The FIRECAT system is fully modular and scalable in
launching engine length and available launch energy. Modularity results from use of the current
C13-2 launch cylinder sections which are manufactured in several lengths such
that a desired length of power stroke can be assembled from the appropriate
launch cylinder sections.
Scalability results from
the ability of the combustor to increase fuel/oxidizer flow as much as required to accomplish any given
The modularity and
scalability of the internal combustion catapult launcher architecture allows
installation of this ship independent launcher technology on various platforms
in size and power ratings appropriate to the aircraft to be launched from the particular
SECTION V. BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY
A. Platform Benefits
In meeting the platform
independence requirements, the FIRECAT system provides the benefit of enabling
the host platform to reduce the power generating requirements from its propulsion
plant. This reduction of steam demand will
allow plant operation at a steady state, increasing plant life and allowing reductions
in the cost, weight and volume of future aircraft carrier propulsion
plants. This will support future
aircraft carrier capabilities.
B. Increased Launching Power Availability
The launcher design has
the benefit of variable ultimate launch power capacity by addition of a large
combustor to the launch engine as required.
This will allow launching of aircraft weighing over 100,000 pounds with an end speed of more
than 170 kts while providing tremendous
reserve power capacity. The large
combustor system capability range guarantees that requirements will
never exceed catapult capability
C. Retains Existing Technology
The incorporation of a
large proportion ( over 90% ) of proven, existing components and systems
provides the benefit of reducing the cost, risk and time associated with the
development and testing of the FIRECAT system.
The combustor will simply replace the steam supply and launch
valves. The design will produce a
launching engine which can be backfitted to the Nimitz catapults, greatly
increasing their capability.. Also, the Nimitz
FIRECAT upgrade allows use of C13-2 steam catapult current engineering data and
existing design drawings for reducing the total effort required to install the
system on new platform types.
The land-based C13-2
catapult at NAWC or NAVAIR can be used as a test bed for the FIRECAT system
without requiring permanent modifications to the existing launcher. The same applies for backfitting to a
training carrier such as the USS Kennedy. This provides a significant cost savings and
risk avoidance for the FIRECAT system development program. This backfit is accomplished primarily by
unbolting and removing the launch valves, the steam piping back to the steam
accumulator and installing the FIRECAT system.
This temporary installation will not require changes to the existing
foundations or equipment and is completely reversible.
The ability to upgrade
existing steam catapults to the FIRECAT system enables the Navy to fully
utilize existing assets such as the present Nimitz Class aircraft carriers
and other platforms such as a
LHA/LHD/CVA, when integrating new aircraft such as the FA 18G into the
fleet. It is desirable to have more
powerful launchers to aid in the launch of future heavier aircraft. A more powerful launcher, which is
cost-effective to backfit to the operational aircraft carriers, will increase
their operational flexibility, self-defense capability, and value to the
fleet. The FIRECAT launcher is readily
backfittable to the operational carriers with upgraded capability for the
operating carriers and with minimal installation costs. FireCat will allow launching planes while
tied up to the pier.
D. Aircraft and Launch System Benefits
A significant benefit of
providing complete launch energy control during the launching of aircraft is
the associated control of loading on the aircraft structures and components
. The FIRECAT system will launch
aircraft in accordance with specified launch curves which will provide “softer”
launch initiations, increased average acceleration rates and precisely
controlled end speeds.
Another benefit is that
the basic architecture of the control system prevents the occurrence of a
high-energy, runaway launch. Launch
pressure is varied by the closed-loop control system based upon cylinder
pressure and piston position relative to a specified piston position on a
reference curve that describes an ideal launch.
The net result is that these
limit the piston/shuttle end speed into the water brake to within the
normal operating range of the catapult system.
E. Savings in Weight and Volume
The FIRECAT system is
lighter and its support systems require less volume than any current catapult
system. Overturning moments in the ship
caused by the FIRECAT catapult are much less than any current catapult system..
Very little ship volume,
including under the flight deck, is required by FIRECAT compared to current
catapults and is made available for other uses.
Backfit of the FIRECAT system to an existing ship has a minimal effect
on underdeck volumes.
Scalability and Modularity
The FIRECAT system
provides the scalability and modularity requirements for the new launcher
system. A benefit of this system is its
applicability to a wide variety of host platforms and launch vehicles. The length of the power stroke can be shortened
or lengthened, as needed, to accommodate the needs of the launching platform or
the launched vehicle. This is done by
removing or adding power cylinders as required.
The applied launch energy can be decreased or increased, as needed, to
provide the launch end speeds required for a large variety of launch vehicles,
whether aircraft or other type.
SECTION VI. AREAS OF TECHNICAL RISK
A. Propellant Delivery Rates
Approximately 17 gallons
of JP5 / enriched air will be required to generate 100 million ft-lbs of launch
energy which will accomplish the FA18 E/F launch of 70,000 pounds at 170
kts. Launches requiring less launch
energy will require reduced fuel/air metered to the Combustor. This flow rate is at the lower end of fuel
flows typically seen with this type of combustor and is easily increased by
the variable-feed propellant injectors provided
combustors discussed in this document will always have more capability than
required which meets future launch requirements.
The COTS combustor will be put through a
comprehensive test and evaluation process to assure that all applicable
performance parameters and reliability goals have been met and is qualified for
Thermal Shock - This
issue is peculiar to the FIRECAT application.
Most propulsion systems have long operating times with relatively few
start-up/shut-down cycles. The FIRECAT
is the opposite. Its operating time is
only a few seconds, but it may be subjected to thousands of cycles. Any time a mechanical structure is heated or
cooled, it undergoes differential expansion or contraction which may result in
local stresses. This issue will be
handled by varying the injection water volume to limit temperatures at the
inner wall of the combustor and cool the launch gasses to a specified maximum
as they enter the launch engine. A
very low level of combustion may be
initiated at the breech end of the FireCat to preheat the launch tubes and
minimize thermal shock issues.
Igniter Design - The
igniter is provided by the vendor as part of the combustor and is part of this
highly reliable assembly.
E. Control System
The purpose of the control system is to modulate
the propellant, oxidizer and cooling water flows to the combustor to maintain
cylinder pressure and piston position in close correspondence with a programmed
Cylinder pressures are compared to the required
time/distance pressure curves input by the ope rator which drive the
propellant, oxidizer and water pressures and are adjusted according to the
Sensors are used to determine the flow of
propellant/oxidizer and development of combustion. If sufficient initial launch sequence
pressure is sensed, the control system allows an increasing amount of fuel,
oxidizer and cooling water to be sprayed into the combustor where hot combustor
gases provide thrust and flash the cooling water to steam which keeps the
launch cylinders cool and adds to the launch pressure.. If a launch is underway and an inappropriate
launch pressure or piston position is detected, an emergency increase in fuel
and oxidizer will be ordered by the control system to immediately bring the
pressure up to max launch.
Throughout the launch sequence, catapult
cylinder pressure is monitored by the catapult cylinder pressure sensors. If cylinder pressure is in the normal
operating band, no corrective action is taken.
When cylinder pressure reaches the high-pressure warning level, the change
of propellant flow rate is throttled and the r ate of change of cylinder pressure
is reduced.. If cylinder pressure
reaches the high-pressure emergency setpoint, the propellant emergency shutdown
valve is throttled back but not so much as to endanger the launch. When cylinder pressure reaches the
low-pressure warning level, the control system
increases the propellant flow rate and cylinder pressure. If cylinder pressure reaches the low-pressure
emergency setpoint, the emergency ignition/restart procedure will be initiated
which the control system drives an increase in the flow of fuel and oxidizer to the combustor,
F. Failsafe Operation
The FIRECAT system, prior to each launch, will have
sufficient propellant, oxidizer and
water in isolated, pressurized accumulators to accomplish the most
energy-demanding launch and will be designed to fail to a completed launch that
meets all normal launch parameters. In
case of loss-of-ship’s power, multiple redundant power supplies will provide
the launch control system with continuous power to ensure normal completion of
MATURITY OF TECHNOLOGY
The FIRECAT concept described in this white
paper is based upon both automotive and commercially used and proven gas
generation for electrical power to drive electrical generator turbines. and
using combustion gases pressing against the crowns of pistons to convert chemical/thermal
energy to mechanical energy for acceleration of automobiles and catapults.
The fuel for the FIRECAT catapult is JP5 which
is a grade of kerosene for military jets
This is available from the JP5 carried on board the host ship, currently
immediately available from the flight deck/ helicopter fueling stations. This fuel is
extremely safe and is available world-wide.
The oxidizer is
atmospheric air from which the nitrogen
has been removed. This is
accomplished by using a technology known
as Pressure Swing Adsorption.
This allows the
nitrogen gas (80% of air) to be removed from air by being adsorbed in a
pressure vessel onto the surface of zeolite tubules at several atmospheres of
pressure. The remaining unadsorbed 95%
purity gaseous oxygen is pumped from the pressure vessel holding the
zeolite/nitrogen and pumped to a higher pressure storage tank .
When the internal pressure in the pressure
vessel is brought to atmospheric, the nitrogen is desorbed from the zeolite and
removed to storage for some other use or
the nitrogen is vented overboard.
The vessel is then filled with
air at STP and the cycle is repeated.
Control system components, including sensors,
actuators, and computer hardware and software are off-the-shelf items that are
either currently in use in industry or aerospace.
The control sensor system
consists of various sensors that measure and report launch piston position,
launch cylinder pressure, combustion chamber pressure, propellant flow, water
flow and steam temperature. All of the
sensors are commercial off-the-shelf items used in intended applications with
no unusual configurations or engineering required.
accumulators and associated actuators and hardware are off-the-shelf items that are currently in use in
industry. No developmental items or
hardware should be required to accomplish the design and fabrication of the
SECTION VIII. MATURITY OF TECHNOLOGY FOR PRODUCTION
For consideration of
technological maturity, the Internal Combustion Catapult launcher is considered
in two groups of components: existing hardware and new hardware.
A. Existing Catapult Launch Hardware
The first group of
equipment consists of those items that are current technology, are incorporated
into the FIRECAT technology and are part of the present C13-2 Catapult
Launcher. This includes the slotted
cylinder assemblies, the piston/shuttle assembly, the water brake, the cable
retraction system, associated distilling plant capacity (salt water may be used
if required), cylinder lubrication system and associated sensors and control
systems, foundations and hardware. This
group of components is tested, approved and is currently in use by the U.S.
Navy. The components are technically
mature, in production and pose no developmental or production risk in this
B. New Equipment
The planned COTS combustor as shown is
operational and in current use at a number of sites with long periods of
continuous operation with 100% uptime.
The control sensor system
consists of various sensors that measure and report launch piston position,
launch cylinder pressure and temperature, combustion chamber pressure,
propellant flow, water flow and steam temperature. All of the sensors are commercial
off-the-shelf items. The software is written in standard Allen Bradley control
language and will be provided with the combustor,
accumulators, associated actuators and hardware are off-the-shelf items that
are either currently in use in industry or aerospace. No developmental items or hardware will be
required to accomplish the design of the propellant and water storage,
distribution and injection systems.
Development of the FIRECAT
system will be relatively straightforward and low-risk. It is the recommendation of this paper that a
task effort be funded to create a production design, that identifies the
components required with a source, the components physical location and interfaces between the new components and
existing components such as the launch engine design that identifies the
specific components that will be required and the anticipated performance of
Upon approval of the
production design for the FIRECAT hardware and the associated control system,
it is recommended that funding be provided to construct and demonstrate a
prototype 305 ft stroke FIRECAT launch system with 21"diameter launch
tubes that operate at 450 psi and develop more than 4G soft start acceleration
(low peak to mean) applied to a 70,000
pound fully loaded F-18 E/F, UCAV or
F35c with a soft start and ramping up during the launch stroke and capable of
generating more than 95 million foot pounds of launch energy.
This test facility would utilize one of the following intact
catapults. One of the mothballed carriers, one of the test catapults at Pax
River or at Lakehurst.
COTS hardware would be provided for the combustor,
injectors, sensors, control system with fully functioning software, pumps,
pipes, Compressor and pressurized gas storage vessels with a skid mounted
Pressure Swing Adsorption unit sized for this application.
A mothballed carrier with
cats and traps can be used with a temporary deck mounted generator, and deck
mounted equipment such as: PSA unit, O2
compressors, storage tanks and
accumulator, cooling water for the combustor and launch cylinders, JP5 pumps,
storage tanks and accumulator, control system and a surface mounted water
Following successful testing
of the prototype FIRECAT launcher, it is
recommended that the program be extended to include full-scale, advanced
development of a C13 on an intact
backfit launcher and a replacement for
EMALS at the test catapult at NAWC Lakehurst.
The recommended program
will consist of four phases. The tasks
to be accomplished in each phase are described below:
- Production Design
Create a production design
for FIRECAT for mounting on an existing or
mothballed carrier. This is for either an FIRECAT replacement for the
C13-2 , an FIRECAT replacement for EMALS
or an FIRECAT installation aboard LHAs or similar ships.
Phase II -
From production design,
identify needed components and procure them
Phase III -
Design and construct interface to C13-2 catapult..
Construct full-scale control system.
Install full-scale prototype launcher package on C13-2
land-based test facility at NAWC.
Test to design limits and verify performance of system.
Incorporate lessons learned into design.
Phase IV -
• Conduct full-scale
operational evaluation of FIRECAT system.
• Evaluate future
enhancements to FIRECAT system.
development/test schedule should be concluded in 2016 if started in 2013. Accelerated funding and development of the FIRECAT
technology will enable this system to be considered for installation on CVAN
Catapult Program and
2813 Victoria Bvld,
Mr. Peter Luff,
For Defence Equipment Support and Technology
Speaking to your letter dated 23 August
2012. In reference to
consideration of the ICCALS launch system
Your letter above
lack of research of the ICCALS catapult teDchnology by your staff resulting in
what seems to be a poorly justified decision in favor of STOVL rather than the ICCALS
cats and traps that was offered to you at a small percentage of the price of
EMALS with a significant increase of performance compared to EMALS.
influence by prime contractors causing poor critical decisions that favorably
impact the prime contractors to MOD and unfavorably impact the UK budget and
military power. I will assume that
option one is the operant condition. It
seems that the primary difficulty that MOD has in looking at this ICCALS
Technology is that it was not offered by the US Government. This is odd as the
UK developed this technology and gave it to the US.
letter, D/Min(Dest)PL MC03531/2012, due
to insufficient research by your staff and contract individuals, has a number
of serious errors as to delivery date of a working catapult. 2023 is so far wrong that it does not merit
consideration. With the launch engine,
as used on the US Nimitz class carriers, the combustor as used in fossil fuel
electrical generating plants and the oxidizer enrichment plant as used in the
steel industry among other uses, 95% of the ICCALS hardware is off the shelf
and in current usage. The additional
hardware required would be the piping connector between the launch engine and
the combustor. Sensors and control
software will be needed, but as the fuel/oxidizer flow is controlled by a
simple quadratic equation to keep a constant pressure in the launch tubes to
provide a constant or increasing launch acceleration which neither the steam
catapult or EMALS is capable of providing.
This response to your
referenced letter is an attempt to provide to you the information that it
appears that your staff did not provide to you prior to you making your
decision in favor of STOVL which is not really STOVL but STOSL (short landing)
Thus, in spite of your
statement that a thorough investigation of the options available to MOD was
made, you ignored the ICCALS catapult which I had made you aware of via several
sources including the UK Military Attaché in Washington DC Thus you did not make that thorough
investigation as you stated. Thus the
findings of your Conversion Development Phase were fatally flawed from its
Per your referenced
letter, you stated that an operational Carrier Strike capability could not be
delivered until 2023 at the earliest.
This is another fatally flawed statement. All of the hardware for the ICCALS is not
only off the shelf, but is commercially available. You based your estimate upon using the EMALS
catapult which has been a disaster looking for a place to happen. EMALS unfavorably affects weight and internal
volume severely, and is a system that requires that the ship electrical
generation capability be greatly increased.
But surely your thorough investigation brought this to light along with
the $2 billion that has been spent by the US over the last thirteen years to
correct the design flaws of the EMALS
design catapult launcher.
In consideration of
your statement in the referenced letter about carrier strike, a carrier cannot
carry out a carrier strike mission without a catapult and traps. The launch weight of a fully loaded strike
aircraft precludes that aircraft from usage aboard a STOVL carrier, even with
ideal weather conditions and a strong wind over deck. You cannot land it unless
you dump all of your stores and most of the fuel aboard and then probably not. Additionally, the lack of tanker/buddy
fuelling for the F35b severely limits the useful range of this plane which is
already limited in range and weapons capacity due to the extra hardware
required to hover There is some question
as to the ability of the F35b to hover in the Gulf region where the air is
extremely hot and does not support hovering or STOVL landing. This makes the F35b rather limited as to what
missions it can accomplish and what price the nation will have to pay to gain
this limited STOVL capability and what price long term it will be relative to a
carrier with cat and traps (catapult and arresting gear).
capability requires excellent radar coverage for self protection to deal with
incoming Over-The-Horizon ship attack weapons.
A radar carried by a helicopter is completely insufficient and a C3 with
a radome that can achieve significant altitude to increase radar coverage is
required to extend the horizon. A C3 radar
plane cannot be carried aboard a STOVL carrier..It requires a cats and traps
carrier which a STOVL is assuredly not.
There are numerous other sources, experts in aviation, who say that a
STOVL aircraft carrier is never a strike carrier. It is an amphibious or ground support carrier
with a mission to supply air support for troops on the ground.
The problem is that the
enemy may be more sophisticated than that in the Falklands with vehicle mounted
ship attack cruise missiles in box launchers or equivalent other
capabilities. This will require the STOVL
carrier to stand off a considerable distance from the troops that they are
supposed to support. The difficulty for
the F35b is that stand-off subtracts from the already limited fuel so that the
stay time on station drops significantly.
Carrying external storage tanks to increase the stay time results in a
decrease in armament that the plane can carry to target. Given the capabilities of modern shoulder
fired weapons such as the Stinger and other weapons that the opposing force can
deploy, the amphibious support carrier will find few opportunities to be
effective. Thus, removing the cat and
traps from the Queen Elisabeth is a world class tactical blunder. Given the cost/benefit ratio of the ICCALS,
it would appear that it is a world class financial blunder also.
You made the statement
that the outfitting of a ship with cats and traps would cause the ship to not
be delivered until 2023. I hope you do a
more thorough investigation of this statement as Newport News Shipbuilding
builds larger nuclear powered aircraft carriers in approximately seven
years. That includes the catapults and
traps. The ICCALS catapult can be
constructed and installed in approximately 2 years with the acquisition of the
components taking place at the start of the contract and any component testing
taking place during the rest of the build schedule so that tested catapults
will be ready for installation according to the carrier build schedule. Please note the comparison between the EMALS
and ICCALS catapults and the ICCALS superiority in greatly increased
performance, reduced cost, reduced weight, greatly reduced volume required and
little or no demands upon the ship propulsion and generating plants.
The claim of requiring a further three year delay in addition to the ten
year gap is absurd based upon the performance of other carrier builders. Let me remind you that I retired as a Senior
Program Engineer working on the CVAN 78 and am intimately familiar with ship
construction and design, both from the engineering side and the hands on
building of the carrier John F Kennedy as part of the welding department, so it
would be inappropriate to make unsupportable claims based upon your staff not
having done their due diligence when selecting which catapult technology to
include in the design and pricing of the Queen Elizabeth. Proper research would have brought you to be
aware of the ICCALS. The fact that your claim
that catapults increased complexity and invasion of ship volume was far off the
mark for ICCALS. The claim that
additional equipment would be required earlier in the program is
incorrect. This would be the 12 very
large motor generators which ICCALS does not use or need. Additionally this would be the much larger
ship’s generators and boilers which need to be placed in the hull early in
construction. Oddly enough, the
increased generator capacity is not required by ICCALS either.
The statement about
prohibitive increase in cost is another example of failure to do due diligence
and consider the ICCALS catapult launch system which is composed of
commercially available and US Navy available proven components. You claim that your original estimates almost
doubled to 2 billion pounds. If I assume
that half of that is due to EMALS, then the installed price is 1 billion
pounds. The estimated cost based upon
research for an installed ICCALS with traps is estimated to be 18 to 20 million
pounds for each installed catapult or a total of approximately 40 million
pounds for two catapults and an avoided cost growth of 960 million pounds by
doing due diligence. Try googling ICCALS
catapults. You will find four sites
having to do with ICCALS catapults on the first page.
So the time delay of
three years that you quote is faulty, the cost growth that you claim is faulty
and the claim of a thorough
investigation is faulty. How can you say
in your letter that you can assure us that “a thorough investigation of the
options available to you was carried out during the CDP and that you remain
content that all viable launch and recovery systems were considered at that
time”? And in the next sentence
state that the ICCALS was not formally considered during the CDP and that
the MOD at that time. Thus, ICCALS is
not viable by decree. Oddly enough,
the C14 internal combustion catapult, an early version of ICCALS was launching
planes from the test facility at Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1959. Do you think that we should tell the pilots
of the planes that were launched that the catapult was not viable? Should we tell NAVAIR that the four internal
combustion catapult sets that they had constructed and delivered to the USS
Enterprise were not viable? Actually,
your statements in the referenced letter above are not viable, again due to
lack of due diligence.
As far as cost,
research of the cost of the combustor, launch engine and oxidizer enrichment
plant along with the traps will be in the range of $29 million each,
installed. These are researched costs,
including labor, without overhead or profit.
To reduce these costs, the office of the Chief Naval Operations has
indicated that, upon receipt of a request from the UK navy, that the catapult and
trap sets from the USS Enterprise could be made available for installation
aboard the Queen Elizabeth CVA. This
would be a savings of 5+ million pounds per catapult. As this equipment falls under Safety Of Life
At Sea, it is maintained in near-new condition and should be ready for
installation after a quick check-out of condition and dimensions.
I had made this
information available to the UK Naval Attaché over a year ago, so it was
certainly available for consideration by the Royal Navy along with EMALS.
The ICCALS program was
on target to provide an installed and working ICCALS catapult in 2006,
within budget and schedule, for CVN77 prior to being shut down in 1999.
PCO Captain O'Hare wanted at least Cat #4 to be an ICCALS rather than a steam
The ICCALS catapult is easily installable
aboard a carrier such as a CVA or CVN as all of the equipment, including the
launch engine and launch power source is installed in the flight deck level
above the hanger deck with no need for EMALS-like energy storage motor
generators (12 each at 80,000 pounds and 13.5 ft long X 11 ft wide X 7 ft high
plus access clearance) control cabinets and heavy large gauge cables. Additional
large generators must be installed in the engine room to service the energy generation
needs of the EMALS catapult. Ship
redesign to accommodate the ICCALS catapult is minimal and is an option for a
ship that is nominally a STOVL within two years of delivery which would allow
putting off a final decision till late 2016 t2017 for the Queen Elizabeth
ICCALS development provides an inexpensive path
to gain a very large increase in launch capability, a very large
reduction in cost, substantial reduction in airframe launch stresses for
the current fleet of aircraft and reduction in operations and maintenance
manpower requirements for current
ICCALS upgrade will not only pay for
itself compared to either steam or EMALS, but will provide a very large savings
each year in replacement costs of air wing aircraft through airframe
life extension and in manpower reduction for operation and maintenance of the
Martin vice president Steve O’Bryan has said that most F-35b landings will be
purely conventional in order to reduce stress on the vertical lift components. Conventional operations also reduce the risk
of self-induced foreign object damage.
Is this a vote of confidence? If
most of the landings are conventional, when will the F35b be doing vertical landings
on the carrier? What will the wind speed
due to the vectoring jet nozzle? Will it
be necessary to clear the area around the plane as it lands and comes to a
rolling stop. This does not speak to the
F35b non-arrested rolling landings that now seem to be required and which will
be impossible in heavy weather. Also, it
has been reported that the F35 aircraft are losing their stealth coating when
flying at top speed. This is not a step
change, but a disaster for a plane that relies upon stealth for survivability. The reduced range also requires the B model
to carry more external stores further negating its stealth capabilities.
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s staunchest Pentagon advocates are now calling F-35
costs unacceptable and unaffordable.
ICCALS can provide the
two CATOBAR carriers the UK requires, with the best performance at the lowest
cost, built on schedule, and that are affordable to buy and to operate. It seems that the MOD has selected the
carrier option that has the highest cost and the least possible performance
What is needed at this
time is a low cost high performance catapult that is composed of commercially
proven components joined with Naval components that have a 50 year record of
performance to enable the installation of cats and traps on the Queen Elizabeth
so that she can accomplish a true carrier strike role.
ICCALS meets this
Clint Stallard Stallard Associates launch-systems.com
Compared to the EMALS catapult, ICCALS:
Is 960,000 pounds
lighter than the EMALS catapults 50+ feet above the waterline, which increases
ship stability, critical for aircraft carriers?
Requires much less ship
volume, as there is no requirement for 12 large motor generators with their
associated structures and foundations, freeing
up ship volume.
Is much more powerful
than the steam cat (steam cat = 75 Mega joules launch energy and
EMALS with 122 Mega joules of launch energy while ICCALS= up to 838 Mega
joules launch energy at up to 6 gallons of JP5 burned per launch at 139.75 Mega joules per gallon). With appropriately sized launch cylinders,
much more power can be developed. At 30
miles per gallon, six gallons of fuel can propel a 3,000 automobile 180
miles. Doubling the fuel burned doubles
the miles driven or weight of aircraft launched. 140,000 pound launches are readily
Is much less expensive,
with a 90+ percent cost reduction based upon the C13 Mod 0 through Mod 2 launch
engine using existing catapult components or designs with the rest of the
components being COTS or easily developed.
Allows a constant or
increasing acceleration during launch while EMALS has a fall-off in launch
energy and rate of acceleration over the length of the EMALS launch stroke.
Allows reduction of
wind over deck requirements for launch from 30 to 15 Kts or less which is the
same as for recovering aircraft due to reduced ship speed.
aboard other flat-tops to launch fully loaded F18s and F35s.
Is much more efficient
than any existing catapult, including EMALS on the basis of cost, performance,
degree of maturity of the components, volume required and weight gain avoided.
Is able to eliminate
the need for the propulsion plant to provide launch energy either as electrical
power. Thus the ICCALS catapult is
completely propulsion plant independent.
Gains the same full
closed loop control capability as EMALS at the lower end of the launch
weight range while increasing capability at the upper end of the weight
range for launching fully loaded fighter-bombers along with large variety of
Unmanned Air Vehicles and sled mounted cruise missiles such as TLAM/TASM, UCAVs
and self defense weaponry.
Is capable of reducing
distillate fresh water demand for catapult operation by 90%. to 15 gallons per
launch by condensing the steam from combustion generated water and ship’s
combustion gas cooling water.
solutions to the current water brake and retraction engine technologies,
simplifying even further the existing ICCALS modified catapult launch engine
and allowing higher launch end speeds.
Allows elimination of the shuttle-piston
retraction engine by pneumatically returning the pistons to battery rather than
dragging them back.
interoperability with the French and American Naval aviation platforms.
Forms the foundation
for an even simpler, less expensive, less volume intensive and more capable
catapult with further development capability.
Avoids the problem
that CVN 78 is experiencing which is weld cracking in the flight deck due to
substitution of thinner 115 KSI steel for the normal 80 KSI steel to offset the
weight gain due to the EMALS catapult launch system.
To educate someone new
to the ICCALS technology, a bit of history is required. The first bit would be that the UK was the
developer of the slotted cylinder catapult driven by steam and was offered by
the UK to the US Navy. This UK developed
technology is the technology used aboard all of the US Nimitz class aircraft
carriers. Thus the transfer of catapult
technology was to the US from the UK.
The second is that the
US Naval Air Warfare Systems started the development of internal combustion
catapults in 1954. This technology used
the same UK derived slotted cylinders with combustion of jet fuel and
compressed air. The system, referred to
as the C14 catapult, successfully launched jet planes from the Lakehurst Naval
Air Warfare in 1959. Thus this was a
working system and the hardware for 4 catapults was built and shipped to
Newport News Shipbuilding for installation aboard the USS Enterprise CVAN
The third was that
unfortunately, Admiral Rickover seemed to feel that not using steam from his
reactors for launching planes was an insult to him and his reactor technology
and mounted a full blown effort to kill the internal combustion catapult as
documented in his biography. Thus the
internal combustion catapult hardware was removed and steam catapults became
the primary aircraft launch technology in use for the US Navy.
The fourth is that
ICCALS was one of two technologies competing for acceptance for the 1997
Advanced Technology Catapult Technology Development Program headed by Richard
Bushway. The other technology was EMALS,
the electromagnetic aircraft launcher.
The ICCALS program was given a $35 million funding line for development
and test and was at the point of successfully demonstrating scaled combustors
when the decision was made in 1999 to close down the ICCALS technology in favor
Why did NAVAIR take
this step? The Gerald Ford, CVAN 78, was
designed to support not only EMALS but also electromagnetic weapons such as
rail guns and new high powered radar. Thus
the decision was made at the Vice Admiral level to close down the Advanced
Technology Catapult Technology program and the ICCALs program. as more than
sufficient electrical power was available from the two large reactors in the
new design CVAN 78 to operate EMALS.
To support this
decision, the contractors for EMALS assured NAVAIR that the electromagnetic
catapult would be ready for CVAN 77 in 2006.
The Captain of CVAN 77 In a meeting with me at Newport News
Shipbuilding, requested that #4 catapult be an ICCALS catapult but was turned
down.. The fact is that that not only
would EMALS not be ready for CVAN 77, it almost was not ready for CVAN 78 in
2012, 7 years later and has still not completed its qualification testing, 13
years after the decision was taken to select EMALS as the future catapult for
US Naval forces.
Dick Bushway, the Advanced Technology
Catapult Procurement Officer for NAVAIR PMA 251, budgeted $35 million in
1997 to build and test an early ICCALS as a competitor to the EMALS
system. In 1998, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, proposed to
co-fund and co-develop Electromagnetic Launch.
NAVSEA decided that this was the way to proceed given the large
increases in cash and personnel that this would provide. Also, Newport
News Shipbuilding (NNS) found itself in the position of being a technology
proposer and technology integrator at the same time. To avoid this
conflict and in agreement with the Navy's decision for EMALS, pursuit of ICCALS
technology was defunded and terminated to avoid a conflict with EMALS although
the ICCALS program was building and testing hardware.
The ICCALS program stayed dormant for 13 years after 1999, first due to the
closure of the catapult development program and then second as directed by Newport
News Shipbuilding , my employer while I worked as a Senior Program Engineer on
the CVAN 78 Gerald Ford. who sees the US Navy as a customer and does not
challenge the customer, asking me to step down .and then the third was to honor
a request to the inventor, Clint Stallard, by Adm Mahr of Naval Air warfare
center to not muddy the water while the kinks were worked out of EMALS. Since retiring from NNS I have further
improved the technology and have an upgrade technology that will greatly
increase performance for existing catapults and provide a significant reduction
in operations and maintenance costs. As
EMALS is now working, I feel it is time to bring this new ICCALS technology
Your statement that the ICCALS was not offered
by the US and therefore was not considered shows a lack of understanding of how
the military operates. The decisions are
made at the command level and all of the lower ranking personnel in the
military organization are thus expected to follow the command decision. There is no debate as one would find in Parliament
or our Congress. A Vice Admiral decided,
based upon sufficient electrical generation capacity of the Ford Class, that
the ICCALS system was not necessary and shut down the Future Catapult Launch
Program, effectively defunding and killing the ICCALS development. Therefore, there was no possibility of
development of the ICCALS system as success in development and operation of the
ICCALS system would make the Vice Admiral look foolish.
NAVAIR PMA 251 funded
AEROJET in 1998 to build and test a combustor to prove the ICCALS combustion
technology. This combustor generated
1000 PSI constant pressure over the length of the launch stroke which more than
proved the technology. Using this or
similar combustor technology and operating pressure, the launch cylinders can
be downsized to 12” diameter from 21” while providing the same launch energy as
the 21 inch diameter launch cylinders of the C13-2 catapult. Total 12” diameter ICCALS weight savings is
over 2 million pounds topside and reduces installation cost by reducing
cylinder, catapult trough and trough cover sizes and piston sizes. This reduces the weight of the piston-shuttle
assembly entering the water brake from 6,500 lbs to 2,122 pounds which
significantly increases the life of the water brake and allows it to be reduced
in size and weight. Looking forward,
there is opportunity to improve the ICCALS further,
President/COO Stallard Associates