Monday, 11 July 2011

The Cost Of A Catapult

Some time ago in our post titled "Why Catapults Are Cheaper",we said the following:

"The cost of a British electromagnetic catapult system from Converteam is not public knowledge so we can but mention it but prices for the American system are known."

We may now know how much Converteam's catapult costs.

According to this week's Sunday Times newspaper,Converteam have offered to build a land based full scale prototype electro magnetic catapult and a ship set (2 catapults) for a Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier at a cost of £140 Million.

This compares very well with the published cost of the American electro magnetic catapult system which we also covered in our earlier post:

"The cost of the Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System (E.M.A.L.S.) ship set for the same vessel is up to $573 Million (£370 Million*).

That is for a set of four catapults,enough for both new British aircraft carriers."

The American system comes in at an average of £92 Million per catapult (a more recent document suggests £105 Million per catapult) versus an average of £47 Million per catapult for the British system if the Sunday Times report is correct.

It would be interesting to know how the price of British arresting gear (made by MacTaggart Scott,inventors of the steam catapult) compares to that of the American Advanced Arresting Gear which costs £66 Million per set.

*Based on exchange rates on the 17th of September 2010 when the earlier post was written.


Gabriele said...

I'm very interested in this development. I can't find anything on the internet, though. Did the article provide some more detail, such as development time?
I guess that the UK catapult set should be ready to reach the shipyard for installation... probably somewhere from 2015 onwards, possibly later if, as it now appears, is Prince of Wales that is converted.

The ACA is also likely to need to know size and other specifications and data about the catapults now, so difficulties remain... and the price is an amazingly good one, especially considered how much of a struggle it has been for the yanks to develop EMALS. If Converteam's EMCAT is truly viable, it certainly is a great news. 950 million have been reserved for the conversion of the carrier... it would be great if a cheaper catapult could allow that sum to cover the conversion of both.

About arresting wires, though, i'm guessing that the British wire you mention still works with steam, just like the current american MK7. Steam is troublesome, especially for an all-electric CVF... that's why AAG is and remains the favorite.

I'd be glad to know more, if you have other info. I'll immediately provide a link from my blog to this page, and thank you for the great info.

GrandLogistics said...

Hello Gabriele,

there was very little detail in the article.
This was the only time I have ever seen a published cost for EMCAT.

Arresting wires do not use steam as far as I am aware.

The European Union's Europeanist procurement policy would seem to favour EMCAT as would the cost if the Sunday Times is correct.

But the American systems would appear to be the low risk options.


Gabriele said...

Yes, i have no difficulties believing in the lack of data: EMCAT went into silence after the contract was signed, and your article was the first thing i heard about it ever since...!

But of course, i've written a gross idiocy. The Arresting wires is not a steam, but hydraulic system. The AAG uses electric motor based system, and i guess it is, as EMALS, the most promising solution at the moment.