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IF or the most part, naval aviation afloat since World War II has been based on a few large carriers. Over the years these carriers have increased in size to the over 90,000 tons of the Nimitz class, and so decreased in number that a force level of 12 is expected in the near future. Of course, there have been two other types of embarked aviation, e.g., landing force helicopters on landing force ships (LPD, LPH), and an embryonic ASW helicopter capability on board surface combatant ships as represented by the unmanned DASH (QH-50) system. The landing force helicopter concept of employment involved embarkation for only a relatively short period of time until a shore base could be provided in the landing area. Thus, the Marine logistics system for their support did not require integration with the embarked portion of the Navy system. The relative simplicity and limited service utilization of the short-lived DASH system minimized its impact on the logistics support system.
The system of logistics support of carrier aviation has evolved over a period of time. The maintenance system is formalized into three levels—organizational, intermediate, and depot. Squadrons perform organizational maintenance and provide personnel to the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) on board the carrier in which the squadron is embarked. Supply support of aviation spares is provided by ship stores which are supplemented by carrier-on-board delivery (COD) from shore bases.
In recent practice there has been some variance from this basic system of aviation logistics support. These variations have stemmed largely from the lack of space needed to perform all organizational and intermediate level maintenance on board ship on a sustained basis with full complements and a high tempo of flight operations. Accordingly, a system of engine maintenance has developed in which some intermediate level maintenance is accomplished ashore using the COD system for engine exchange. Also, in Southeast Asia operations, some carriers divided intermediate level airframe maintenance into two parts—one part afloat and the other ashore at Cubi Point in the Philippines.
Although no operator is really satisfied with any level of logistics support short of perfection, the present system of logistics support of carrier aviation does work and is effective as judged by operational readiness. If embarked aviation of the future followed the same pattern as at present, one might reasonably expect that, with extension and qualitative improvements, the present aviation logistics support system would serve the purpose well. Unfortunately, such does not appear to be the case. Instead, fundamental changes in the basic nature of embarked aviation are taking place which indicate that an increasing disparity will exist between the requirements for aviation logistics support and the ability to render such support under existing concepts.
Heretofore, logistics support of afloat forces has been concerned with essentially one type of aviation based on conventional carriers. On the other hand, present programs indicate that there will be four basically different types of sea-based aviation, all of which will have to be supported in the future. The additional types include helicopters and VTOL aircraft on new classes of small carriers, sophisticated light airborne multipurpose system (LAMPS) helicopters on most surface combatant ships, and Marine helicopter and VTOL units on board landing force ships on a long-term operational basis under the new sea-basing concept. Even the conventional carrier aviation support problem is changing as a result of new concepts of employment and deck loading, expected introduction of a new, smaller class of carrier of this type, and the impact of other types of aviation on the conventional carrier.
The conventional carrier is the cornerstone of naval aviation afloat. This type of aviation ship must be large (on the order of 40,000 tons or more) to embark conventional high performance aircraft. Classes presently in service were built as attack carriers (CVA). The limited number of these carriers at present and for the foreseeable future requires that they be multi-purpose ships. Thus, the CV concept was born. This concept envisions flexibility in the air complement of each carrier such that it could be utilized in a force projection role heavy with attack aviation, a sea control role heavy with ASW aviation, or in a mixed role with * balance of both capabilities. The conversion of CVA* to multi-purpose CVs entails adding ASW aircraft and changing from a fixed complement support system t° a flexible complement support system. For the most part, flexibility in the support system is being obtained through modularization based on containerization' Several CVAs, the Saratoga, Independence, and Kitty Hawk, have been converted to a CV configuration and others will follow.
The CV concept increases the logistics support problem in two ways. First, each large carrier under the concept has at least two additional classes of aircraft' thus further diversifying logistics support requirements' In turn, these additional support requirements plaCe further demands on the limited logistics support spa£C available. Second, the requirement for flexible comply ment support facilities achieved through modularize tion and containerization results in less efficiency carrier space utilization and places a further squeeze ofl available logistics support space.
There is a strong possibility that no very large caf" riers will be built after the CVN-70. The need for 1U costly and greater numbers of carriers has led to a ne" conventional carrier program. This CVX program en- VlS1°ns smaller but still large conventional carriers of s°me 50,000 tons. These multi-purpose carriers would presumably have the same requirement for complement edibility as the larger CVs but their smaller overall ls sure to make support space even more critical, he introduction of new types of aviation in forces at will also place significant demands on the conventional large carrier. These large carriers will have provide some degree of logistics support to the oj. Ps helicopters on board the surface combatant ships the force. Moreover, the introduction of these new c<ees °f aviation will undoubtedly generate an increased , requirement for spare parts and components. Only .C arSe carrier is capable of handling the CTOL COD dis W^ich must be used when the force is at any ance from supporting shore bases.
0£ e ^ea Control Ship (SCS) represents the first class and* nCW typC smaP carriers employing helicopters VT°L aircraft. At 14,000 tons, these ships will be v ^reat deal smaller than the new, smaller class of con- j Uonal carriers. Although not having the diversity a$ aircraft classes as the large carriers, or presumably thtrnUch °f a requirement for complement flexibility, t very small overall size of these ships in itself consti- es a logistics support problem. This problem is further compounded by the requirement that the Sea Control Ship be capable of providing some degree of logistics support to LAMPS helicopters on surface combatant ships in the force.
Although further in the future, the Surface Effect Ship (SES), at an initial class size of 2,000 tons, would provide another potential type of helicopter and VTOL carrier. Although very small, the configuration of such a ship would provide a disproportionately large flight deck and hangar area. Otherwise the same considerations as apply to the SCS would apply with the exception of a requirement to support force LAMPS helicopters.
The Mark I LAMPS helicopters are now deployed but in limited numbers due to inability of many present surface combatant ships to accommodate them. A program to develop the Mark III LAMPS is now underway. This new LAMPS helicopter (HSLX) is expected to be a considerably larger and more capable machine than the present one and will have a large suite of on board avionics equipment. As the Spruance-chss destroyers (DD-963) and patrol frigates (PF) enter the force, each of which will be capable of carrying two LAMPS helicopters, the total force of LAMPS helicopters will increase. An ultimate capability of over 200 will be achievable by the early 1980s.
The logistics support concept for LAMPS helicopters has not been officially established. The Navy has recognized that having both organizational and intermediate level maintenance capabilities anti attendant supply support on individual surface combatant ships is infeasible. At one time it was planned to task the Sea Control Ship with intermediate level maintenance of LAMPS helicopters on surface combatant ships in sea control forces. Presumably, the CVs would have to provide the same support to LAMPS helicopters on surface combatant ships in strike forces. Current planning is on the basis of performing most intermediate level maintenance of LAMPS helicopters at shore bases between deployments. Under this plan, the CVs and Sea Control Ships would only be required to embark an Augmented Support Point for LAMPS consisting of containerized low-demand spare parts. This concept is more economical since fewer maintenance sets and parts are required, but its success depends on a very reliable and maintainable helicopter and relatively short deployments.
Another problem with the LAMPS concept is operational availability. The limited number of aircraft on board each surface combatant indicates that operational availability of LAMPS will be either 100%, 50% (a possibility only on those ships embarking two LAMPS helicopters), or 0%. Thus, in the absence of any pool of backup helicopters, a ship’s capability is subject to significant change for substantial periods of time with little or no notice.
The U. S. Marine Corps has developed a concept of sea-basing in response to an anticipated need for small landing forces in low and mid-intensity conflict situations and crisis control environments. The sea-basing provides the option of force visibility without involvement, operational flexibility, and sanctuary for the service support elements. Unlike the general unloading and shore base development characteristic of large scale amphibious operations, the sea-basing concept envisions relatively long-term operations from a floating base from which combat forces can be selectively put ashore, supported, and, when no longer needed, withdrawn.
The sea-basing concept for landing forces requires a logistics support system which is more closely integrated with that used in support of forces afloat. The Navy is developing such a system, named the Seaborne Mobile Logistics System (SMLS). Among other things, it includes coordination of logistics operations with those of protecting naval forces and the conduct of landing force maintenance aboard ship. In terms of aviation support, the concept involves sea-based support of helicopters and V/STOL aircraft.
Thus, we see that the pattern of aviation in the fleet of the future is one of increased force size and greatly increased diversity. Aviation is apparently to be used in smaller packages based on more numerous and widely separated platforms. Even on conventional large carriers, aircraft model complements are tending to become smaller and more diversified with the CV concept, and smaller overall with the new class of conventional carriers. (CVX). Under these circumstances, it is probably not feasible to have on board each carrier and aviation ship the specially trained personnel, tools, test equipment, and parts required to perform all organizational and intermediate maintenance on her aircraft complement. Such an approach would be very costly in terms of the required redundancy in skilled personnel, test equipment, tools and spares, as well as usage of high-value deck space. Also, it tends to reduce the size of carrier air complements because of space restrictions, and the operational availability of that complement as a result of the inefficiencies of multiple model small scale support operations.
The time-honored logistics support system of embarked aviation, predicated on the concept of all organizational and intermediate aircraft maintenance being performed on the ship on which embarked, has already been compromised. The LAMPS helicopters are not to be provided with intermediate level maintenance o'1 the vessel on which embarked. Also, practices have arisen in which some intermediate level engine maintenance and airframe maintenance is performed ashore- It would seem that instead of piecemeal fixes to the present concept of aviation support, a completely ne'v approach is in order. It is suggested that this approach be predicated on greater echelonment of aviation support within operating forces, including the introduction of a new class of support ship, an Aviation Suppoft Ship, within operating forces. The idea of a tender o< repair-type ship is not new to the Navy; there afe submarine, destroyer, and seaplane tenders, and a num" jj ber of repair ships. One or more Aviation Supp°ft| Ships would accompany operating forces and provides continuous aviation logistics support to include:
► Intermediate level maintenance of LAMPS helicoptefS
► Long term and overflow intermediate level maime' nance support of large carriers
► A portion of small carrier intermediate level mainte' nance
► Major component repair and exchange (engine5’ transmissions, avionics, etc.)
► Backup parts supply for low-demand line items
► Consolidated parts requisitioning for COD from shotC base
► Breakdown of COD supplies for users
► Helicopter parts delivery to aviation ships
► Helicopter-mobile specialist maintenance teams
► Evacuation and delivery of CTOL aircraft and no'1
%able VTOL aircraft by means of heavy lift helicopter ► p’53E). or equivalent)
rovision of replacement LAMPS helicopters to sub- Uute for non-serviceable helicopters not immediately eturnable to service ("maintenance float”)
The Aviation Support Ship, when assigned to a aseci landing force, would provide the same kinds service support indicated above to landing force Ration on landing force ships (LPH, LPD, LHA). The tic em ec^ei°nrnent of Marine Corps aviation logis- support appears to be compatible with the concept. a . e cor>cept of echelonment of support within oper- ^ng forces would require further definition and break- intermediate level maintenance. Thus, the nction of major component repair and rebuild at sea need to be separated from the component res ,Cernent function on aircraft. Also, in the case of a car'C intermediate maintenance between small
m ners anci fhe aviation support ship, definition of the tvo rjftjenancc acti°ns to be performed in each location n°ted recl’Tre<T c^‘s connection, it should be tena some other services break down their main- ce system to five echelons together with respon- y assignments by type maintenance action, sun 6 TPe support ship to accomplish this aviation
Pport function could be similar to an LPD, LPH, or AJS.V Tu j.
t ' 1 ne diagram on page 41 shows a ship of this decCk asch on the lines of a Raleigh-class LPD. The boat ari(j ecomes a hangar deck with 30 feet of overhead Spa^ a stern elevator has been added. Also, berthing jnt^es f°r landing force troops have been converted co ° S,^°P spaces. Such a ship would have an aviation P ement of its own to perform its functions. This
would consist of a heavy lift helicopter, perhaps two utility helicopters, and possibly two LAMPS maintenance float helicopters. Its shops would be modularized (containerized) for flexibility in force assignment and force composition.
The concept is summarized in an operational diagram in Figure 1. Those familiar with ground force aviation operations will recognize the similarity of the concept proposed to that employed in ground forces. This is not surprising since the basic problem of supporting numerous small dispersed aviation elements which will confront the Navy in the future is the same as that which has always existed in ground forces. It is interesting to note that the Navy converted for the Army the former seaplane tender Albemarle into a helicopter repair ship (ARVH) in 1964-65 and renamed her the Corpus Christi Bay. This vessel’s conversion included: fitting with 33 specialized helicopter repair shops; computer-controlled video access to central blueprint files; automatic boiler control to reduce operating crew; flight control tower; amidships hangar structure extended aft and topped with a 50 by 150-foot helicopter platform with four-part steel hatch to permit helicopters to be lowered into hangars; two 20-ton capacity cranes; and a smaller helicopter platform installed forward.
The ship was deployed to South Vietnam in 1965 as part of the Army aircraft maintenance system, and continues in service as part of the ready reserve operated by the Military Sealift Command. She is manned by a civilian operating crew and an Army helicopter maintenance battalion.
Some might argue that an aviation support ship would tend to be too slow and would lack the onboard protective systems necessary for continuous operation as part of tactical operating forces. As to speed, the ship does not have to be slow although cost and space considerations favor speeds on the order of 20 knots rather than 30 knots. On the other hand, some of the historical reasons for speed in operating forces no longer apply to the degree they once did. High speeds are no longer required for launch or recovery of aircraft. Also, it is not possible to outrun a modern nuclear attack submarine. However, it is still desirable to be able to reach a deployment area as soon as possible. In this case, the aviation support ships could proceed with the replenishment group and join the operating force at the first replenishment. Future requirements may indicate a need for all operating force replenishment to be accomplished on a continuous basis on station in operating areas. Periodic retirement of operating forces to a replenishment area for simultaneous replenishment of carrier consumables may not be possible in the future as a general practice. With more and
within the fleet generates significant new requirement' for logistical support which do not seem capable 0
smaller carriers, this method would take too long, require too many replenishment ships, and tend to destroy the operational integrity of the formation. Interestingly, Soviet surface operating force formations have been observed to habitually contain replenishment ships and presumably conduct replenishment on a more or less continuous basis.
As for protection, it is clear that unarmed logistics shipping requires it from combatant ships in formations. Such protection would be available within the force screen and under the force SAM umbrella. This notwithstanding, what if an aviation support ship is lost? In large formations requiring more than one aviation support ship, the loss of one would, within its functional realm, be equivalent to the loss of a carrier, i.e., its functions would have to be accomplished by the remaining ship or ships of her kind in the force. In small formations containing only one aviation support ship, the loss would be more critical although the force could continue to operate with diminishing aircraft availability. Deferred maintenance, increased COD, and parts cannibalization would facilitate continued operation until normal support could be reestablished.
The advantages of echelonment of aviation logistics support within operating forces may be summarized as follows:
► Larger carrier aircraft complements with potentially higher operational availability
► Greater operational continuity of small aviation elements, especially LAMPS helicopters
► Increased flexibility and responsiveness of supply and maintenance support
► Fewer skilled personnel required
► Fewer maintenance sets required
► Reduced parts and components inventory requirements
► Reduced requirements for COD support, especially for component repair
► Minimized transportation and handling damages
► Substitution of cheaper maintenance deck space for the higher value deck space aboard carriers and combatant ships
► Provision of a "primary maintenance environment” for personnel motivation
Of these advantages, probably the most important has to do with skilled aviation maintenance personnel. They are in short supply, and the retention rate is low. The latter is in part due to the lack of an organizational "home” for intermediate level maintenance personnel under the present system. Currently, these personnel are not part of the ship’s complement or base complement
ashore, but their work separates them from the balance of their squadron to some degree. The suggested concept would alleviate this problem partially by providing a maintenance unit as an organizational entity.
The three main disadvantages of this suggested concept are, first, the requirement for a new class of ship) albeit of a less expensive type than a combatant ship, and her embarked helicopters. Possibly the delivery of LHAs will render some LPDs or LPHs excess to landing force needs and they could be converted to this purpose. Second, additional ship-to-ship communications would be required. Third, heavy weather would restrict intership transportation via helicopter.
It is suggested that the proposed concept be subjected to detailed study and test in operating forces- The importance of aviation logistics support, the rate at which the requirements are expected to change, an1 the lead time necessary to evolve new logistics systems indicate a need for an early start.
In summary, present programs point to a significao1 change in the nature of aviation in forces afloat. 1” addition to conventional large carriers, embarked avia' tion is making its appearance in three other significant types; i.e., small helicopter and VTOL aircraft on smJU1 carriers such as the Sea Control Ship, LAMPS helicopter* aboard most surface combatant ships, and long-ten11 sea-basing of landing force aviation. Even the convex tional large carriers are carrying more aircraft model5 under the CV concept and the new class of CVs |S expected to be significantly smaller. Thus, embarked aviation is expected to undergo a transition from % force based almost exclusively on a few large carrier5
to a larger and more diversified force consisting smaller aviation elements based on more numerous aUd widely separated platforms. This dispersion of aviatio11
ready solution by extension of present concepts. I11 stead, the need for a concept of echelonment of log15 tics support within operating forces is indicated. TblS concept, predicated on a specialized aviation logistic support ship, is not fundamentally new either to tbl Navy or to other military services. It offers large potential savings in the costs of logistics support, utilization of trained personnel, and operational readiness of force5
Lieutenant Colonel Kusewitt served in the U. S. Army from 1945 ullt 1965. Designated an Army aviator in 1950, he served in aviation, artil^ and general staff billets. Staff duty assignments included the Office of ^ Chief of R&D, the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Headquarters, Continental Army Command. Since retiring, he has employed by Vought Systems Division, LTV Aerospace Corporation- graduate of the U. S. Military Academy in 1945, he earned an M.B.A. deg from the University of Alabama in I960.