Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Sortie Generation Since 1945



Korea 1950 - 1953:

Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm 2.5 (approximate) sorties per aircraft per day (carrier based).


Combat aircraft of the R.A.F did not take part in this conflict.)


Suez 1956:

Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm 2.8 sorties per aircraft per day (carrier based).

Royal Air Force 1.4 sorties per aircraft per day (land based).


Falklands 1982:

Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm 1.41 sorties per aircraft per day (carrier based Sea Harriers).

Royal Air Force 0.9 sorties per aircraft per day (carrier based Harriers).

Royal Air Force 0.03 sorties per aircraft per day (land based Vulcans).


Kuwait 1990 to 1991:

United States Navy 1.25 sorties per aircraft per day (carrier based on U.S.S Ranger,U.S.S. Midway and U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt).

Royal Air Force 0.9 sorties per aircraft per day (land based).


Kosovo 1999:

United States Navy 1.09 sorties per aircraft per day (carrier based C.V.W.8 on U.S.S. Theodore Roosvelt).

Royal Air Force 0.46 (approximate) sorties per aircraft per day (land based,due to the progressive force buildup this figure probably understates the actual sortie rate).

(H.M.S.Invincible took part in this operation after being diverted while returning home from the Persian Gulf but operated well below her capacity as her Sea Harriers were given very little tasking.)


Afghanistan 2001:

United States Navy 1.1 (approximate) sorties per aircraft per day (carrier based F18 Hornets of V.F.A.15 on U.S.S.Enterprise).

United States Air Force 0.5 (approximate) sorties per aircraft per day (land based bombers on Diego Garcia).

United States Air Force 0.25 (approximate) sorties per aircraft per day (land based F15E fighters in the Persian Gulf).

(R.A.F. Tornados were also based in the Persian Gulf but took part in this operation.

Royal Navy aircraft carriers took part in the amphibious air assault role.)


Iraq 2003.

United States Navy 1.53 sorties per aircraft per day (carrier based U.S.S. Kittyhawk).

Royal Air Force 0.85 sorties per aircraft per day (land based Harriers and Tornados).

(Royal Navy aircraft carriers operated in the amphibious air assault role.)


It is clear from the above that the sortie generating performance of the Royal Navy Sea Harriers in the Falklands was comparable to that of United States Navy carrier based aircraft.

It is note worthy that British catapult equipped carriers exceeded these figures in both Korea and Suez.

During both the Falklands War and the Korean War Royal Navy aircraft carriers generated a peak of 4 sorties per aircraft per day.

Only during the Suez crisis of 1956 has the Royal Air Force managed to match the sortie rate generated by the Sea Harriers during the Falklands War.

Two distinct trends are apparent.

In every major air war that British forces have been involved in since 1945,carrier based naval aircraft have generated higher sortie rates than the land based aircraft of the Royal Air Force.

Royal Air Force combat aircraft regularly generate sortie rates which are far lower even than other land based air forces.

During the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001,the United States Air Force's strategic bombers on Diego Garcia flew sorties of similar length to those flown by Royal Air Force Vulcans on Ascension during the Falklands War.

However,the United States Air Force B1s and B52s generated about 17 times as many sorties per aircraft per day as the Royal Air Force Vulcans.

1 comment:

Chuck Hill said...

Interesting as always.