Saturday 13 September 2014

Highly Mechanised Weapon Handling Systems

The Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers will be the biggest and most powerful surface warships ever constructed for the Royal Navy and will represent a step change in capability, enabling the delivery of increased strategic effect and influence around the world.
The Queen Elizabeth Class will be utilised by all three sectors of the UK Armed Forces and will provide eight acres of sovereign territory which can be deployed around the world. Both ships will be versatile enough to be used for operations ranging from supporting war efforts to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.


Highly Mechanised Weapon Handling Systems

The HMWHS provides mechanical handling facilities for moving palletised munitions around the deep magazine and weapon preparation areas, and a series of weapons lifts to connect the magazines, hangar, weapons preparation area, and flight deck.

The components in question are 56 so-called 'moles', which do the lifting and carrying of the palletised munitions in the magazine. The HMWHS system consists of a network of two versions of these prime movers, which traverse forward and aft (longitudinal, version one) or port and starboard (athwartships, version two), each able to lift and move a payload to locations within its predefined area of travel. The moles can transfer payloads between each other, so the payloads can be located anywhere within the magazine.
The two mole versions are different shapes to enable lifting and lowering of the palletised munitions in the correct orientation, onto the set stowage and transfer positions, and are equipped with electric traverse and lift drives, allowing accurate positional control within the magazine. A number of lifts provide interconnection between the magazines and the hangar, weapons preparation area, and flight deck, and a unique mechanism enables the mole to access the lift platform without needing to disengage and re-engage the pinion from the rack. The magazines are unmanned, with all the moles controlled from a central location, so personnel are required only where munitions are being prepared for storage or use.
A significant challenge in manufacturing the moles has been the achievement of the tight tolerances introduced following completion of the demonstration phase, to speed up assembly.Factory acceptance testing took place at Babcock's site at Whetstone, Leicester, and included dimensional and functional tests and inspections of the parts and mole drive and lifting systems.                                        
The moles have now been delivered to the Aircraft Carrier Alliance's central warehouse, ready for installation once the fixed rail equipment and lifts have been installed. As the moles are fully reassembled, installation will involve placing them in the magazine and electrically connecting them to the rest of the system via an energy chain system. "The moles are a critical component of the HMWHS and successfully completing FATs for all moles marks an important milestone in delivery of the system." 
Babcock Integrated Technology director Matt Hatson comments. "The HMWHS is the first maritime application of shore-based commercial warehousing processes using automated systems with all-electric control, adapted for safe transport and stowage of munitions in a warship environment. Munitions can be delivered, in bulk, to the point of use at rates that could not be achieved manually, whilst minimising the manpower requirement in what is traditionally a labour-intensive process, thus delivering reduced through-life cost, as well as a saving in onboard living accommodation requirements." Production of the final software solution for the HMWHS integrated control system, and manufacture of the various mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic sub-systems making up the HMWHS are now underway, of which successful completion of FATs for all moles is part.
The final equipment for the full HMWHS for the first carrier was be delivered by May 2013, and for both vessels by February 2015.Babcock has also been active in working with the shipyards to support the design integration and build strategies. A joint installation strategy has been developed using Babcock's system knowledge and ship build experience, to maximise installation and testing opportunities. Babcock will maintain responsibility for overall installation and quality of work, as well as performing the testing required to demonstrate the system meets ACA requirements. The system in-service support package is being developed with the MoD and Royal Navy.

QE Class Aircraft Carrier Details and Specifications

  • Country/Owner/Operator: UK        
  • Builders: BAE Systems Surface Ships, Thales Group, Babcock Marine (see below for more details).           
  • Cost to Build: £3,5 billion (US$5,520 billion), which is exactly £7 billion for the two carriers of the QE Class by the 2008 contract.           
  • Year of service: The end of 2017, fully operational by the end of 2020 (with HMS Prince Of Wales 2  years behind). On HMS QE sea trials to begin 2017, flight trials – 2018.      
  • Expected service life of up to 50 years.         
  • Homeport: (Her Majesty’s Naval Base) HMNB Portsmouth, one of three UK operating bases for the Royal Navy (along with HMNB Clyde and HMNB Devonport).       
  • Capacity/Crew: 1450 (1600 company+aircrew), complement 686+, max 40 aircraft (which is double the existing UK carriers capacity).       
  • Length Overall: 932 ft (284 m).       
  • Width/Beam: Overall/flight deck 239,4 ft (73 m), waterline 128 ft (39 m).            
  • Height: 184 ft (56 m) overall/from keel to masthead.                     
  • Weight and Displacement: 65,600 tonnes (64,600 long t) at deep/full load. This is about 3 times the size of the Royal Navy’s current aircraft carriers of the Invincible class. For the construction of the two UK future aircraft carries a total of 80,000 t. of steel is used.
  • Top Speed: 25 kn (29 mph or 46 km/h).
  • Range: Up to 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km).
Watch the videos shared in the Recommended Visuals section below for a visual tour of the HMS Queen Elizabeth. LSD


Article By: Siddhi Indulkar

Recommended Visuals1) Video tour of HMS Queen Elizabeth.
                                            2) Time lapse of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

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