The Faoileán-class Drone Carrier is an experimental ship tasked with the deployment of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), more commonly and by us as well referred to as drones, from a seaborne platform. It was originally developed as an auxillary ship for coast guard service, who needed cheap vessels for support of their operations and regular patrols from the air.
The Faoileán-class Drone Carrier can be used as a flagship as well.
The Faoileán-class Drone Carrier is a classical monohull-design, 180 in length, sporting a beam of 21 meters and having a draught of 8.5 meters, weighing 11,200 tons when fully equipped and operational.
She has a flight deck, spanning the entirety of the length of the vessel, with only a small part of it being used to launch and recover drones due to the small length required due to the EMALS-catapults used to launch drones. This flight deck is used to launch and recover drones, as well as flight deck for the two onboard helicopters. Thanks to the nature of the drones as only be limited by the structural stability of the drone itself, we are able to launch and stop them over far shorter distances, but more on that below.
Contrary to other modern carrier-designs, the Faoileán-class Drone Carrier does not have an island, the command and control facilities being housed inside of the vessel's hull, including the drone control rooms and staff rooms. While the hull is designed with a reduced radar signature in mind, it is not a dedicated stealth vessel.
The propulsion and electricity is provided by the same system, an Integrated Electric Propulsion (IEP for short) of three diesel generators providing 97,000 kW of electricity used by both the engines and the other systems aboard, saving space, operating costs, weight and maintenance costs.
Each generator produces enough energy to run basic systems of the vessel in case one or two generators fail, be it due to mechanical damage or due to enemy action. As they are spread around the ship, it is hard to take all three out with a single strike.
The energy produced can also be used to recharge electrically powered drones.
For defense against threats without the need of firing a shot, the Faoileán-class Drone Carrier is equipped with a wide array of decoys - these are the "0th Layer of defense", so to speak. This suite encompasses a Multi-ammunition Softkill System, MASS for short, a torpedo-decoy launcher and a chaff-launcher.
The MASS is connected to the sensor systems, mainly radar, and uses the data collected by the radar to launch decoys operating on all relevant wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, confusing advanced, sensor-guided missiles. It can either be operated by a person or operate autonomously.
For less advanced sensor guided missiles, the suite encompasses a chaff launcher. Its primitive decoys confuse the radar on sensor-guided missiles - and are capable of confusing the enemy radar as well.
Last, but not least, the Faoileán-class Drone Carrier is equipped with a torpedo decoy launcher. This system dispenses a decoy to confuse acoustic homing torpedos - basically something that makes a lot of noise, luring the torpedo into the decoy and not into the ship.
Faoileán-class Drone Carrier is equipped with mostly defensive weaponry, even the one for usage by coast guards. Due to criminal elements getting more and more armed, this was deemed necessary. For private corporate usage, a disarmed version will be offered.
The defense is organized in three active layers, ideally, depending on what is loaded into the Feadán Fe-12 Mark II VLS.
We recommend quad-packed Surface-to-Air Missiles, which make the first layer of defense against incoming missiles and aircraft. A few of these shafts should be loaded with ASROC as well, just for security against submarines. These VLS-Shafts can of course be loaded with next to every missile, including cruise missiles (as long as they fit) and AShMs, but we really recommend SAMs and ASROC.
The second layer are the four 40mm AA guns, Ceantar C-44 Mark II. Although they are called AA-guns, the four guns, two on starboard, two on port, are multi-purpose guns, constructed to be targetted at nearly every kind of target on the surface and above. Although optimized for anti-aircraft defense, they can also be used against larger missiles.
The last layer of defense are the two Ceantar C-84 Mark II 30mm CIWS. Equipped with their own little fire control radar and programmed to act completely autonomous, the C-84 Mark II is an ideal missile defense and last resort in that regard. Gabha Blacksmiths Ltd., one of our partners, is currently developing new, caseless ammunition.
Electronic Warfare The Faoileán-class Drone Carrier is equipped with full suites for Electronic Countermeasures (ECM), Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and Electronic Protection (EP).
- Electronic Countermeasures, or ECM for short, are used to deceive and trick enemy means of detection and ultimately not having a guided missile slam into the ship's side. Be they sonar decoys or radar jammers (Rasberry Jammers is the system we usually use), active ECM measures confuse the enemy's sensors, while passive measures include for example the jamming of the guidance systems of enemy missiles.
- Electronic Support Measures meanwhile detect, intercept, identify, locate, record and analyze sources of radiated electromagnetic energy (for example radar) for threat recognition and other purposes, amongst them intelligence information. With these information, a commander can make the tactical and, if necessary, strategic decisions needed. It also provides the means necessary to gather information about the Electronic Warfare Systems of the enemy either in order to avoid an attack or to attack more effectively.
- With Electronic Protection (EP), or Electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM), the ship is hardened against every kind of electronic attack, for example against scrambling and jamming. This allows to attack the enemy even when he feels safe with his jammers in place and activated.
The Faoileán-class Drone Carrier is also equipped with a full SIGINT suite or Signal Intelligence Suite. This allows for the interception of enemy electromagnetic signals (not radio, but for example radar) and their analysis, establishing technical data and boundaries of enemy sensors. This information can then be used for Electronic Warfare and for defense against the enemy.
Sensors and Processing Systems
The Faoileán-class Drone Carrier marks the debut of the Nuacht N-25 Mark III Long Range Air Search Radar, an air search radar operating on the X-band, optimized for the search of aerial targets and, in combination with the Type 900 Datalink and the Artio Battlescape Network (see below), their elimination at ranges, which make it impossible to reply. The N-25 has a high enough resolution to detect a non-dedicated stealth combat aircraft at a range of 700 kilometers, while larger aircraft can be detected at a distance of up to 800 kilometers.
Additionally, the Faoileán-class Drone Carrier is equipped with two Nuacht N-12 Mark II Air/Surface Search Radars, multi function radars proved to be effective by nearly all major SDY-vessels being equipped with them.
For the detection of subsurface threats, the Faoileán-class Drone Carrier is equipped with a hull-mounted sonar system, capable of detecting both threats like reefs just as well as any submarine.
Faoileán-class Drone Carrier is a ship optimized for carrying drones for a multitude of missions, be it surveillance, reconnaisance, attack, patrol, research or any other mission you can think of for a drone to handle. Of course, however, there are certain limitations as to what is possible to carry aboard and what not to carry about. Two factors are to be kept in mind: Size of the drone and fuel. While electrically powered drones can easily be recharged, that is less the case with fuel powered drones. A fleet oiler in company of the Faoileán-class Drone Carrier might be a good idea in case that is necessary.
However, apart from these two limiting factors, next to everything is possible. Since a remote controlled drone can resist higher g-forces then a squishy human body, they do not need long runways, which is used by the Faoileán-class Drone Carrier in the ways of simply launching the drones via EMALS-catapult. Drones are recovered by a so called 'Net-Landing', the softer and more effective version of a emergency barricade used on aircraft carriers, basically crashing them into a barricade net erected on the flight deck, which then stops the incoming drone within a very limited length of runway required. In July 2017, the SDF-Navy's Nead Foiche was re-equipped with arresting gear for a more conventional recovery of drones, but the net-landing gear remained due to security concerns of the vessel's Captain. Consequently, both systems will be used on board, dependence on which system being up to the operator.
Three lifts, one for ammunition, the others for the drones, connect the readiness hangar with the flight deck.
The helicopters, the Faoileán-class Drone Carrier can support up to two, have space at the end of the readiness hangar, using the same lifts.
The Airgroup of the Faoileán-class Drone Carrier can consist of light, medium and heavy drones as outlined to the right. Helicopter Drones are a possibility as well. Since the flight deck is rated clear for VTOLs of the vectored thrust variety, these are possible as well. Super-Heavy drones are generally not recommended, but the computer systems used to control the onboard complement can also be used to control approaching drones from a command centre closer to the actual action.
The actual air group depends on the ressources, the mission, the enemy and a few other factors, but the drone control rooms have fifty drone control consoles.
Fast forward a few decades and move to the early 2000s, when the Coirceog, a retrofitted freighter, it's name meaning beehive (because drones - it was a different time), was tested. She is basically the technology demonstrator and testbed for all technologies required by the Faoileán-class Drone Carrier, but the idea didn't really catch on.
Although the first few plans and concept studies were made by Silverport Dockyards Limited, the project was shelved, the SDF didn't see the use and need for such a vessel.
However, in 2013, the Water Police became interested in the project: With it, they wanted to watch over larger parts of the waters of the Free Lands, hoping to rely less on the Anti-Piracy Patrols of the SDF-Navy.
We continued with the work, soon abandoning the idea of a repurposed freighter-design. We switched to a cruiser design, adapting it to a drone-carrying cruiser or Drone Carrier in the process. The Faoileán-class Drone Carrier turned from an auxillary vessel into a leading vessel with all appropriate facilities.
In early 2015, the Water Police ordered WPS Faoileán, launched in late 2015, currently on shakedown.
Meanwhile, the SDF showed interest in the project as well: Since the Free Lands are a relatively small nation, expandability is a vital asset - and a drone is far cheaper then a pilot and his plane.
With the versatility of drones, the Faoileán-class Drone Carrier can be used for many purposes and with the WPS Faoileán being put into service in June 2016, it will be demonstrated. Primarily being intended to be used as a carrier for surveillance drones, the Faoileán can also carry combat drones, radar drones and other drones as well.
OOC - Trivia
- The Faoileán-class Drone Carrier went through a major revision on the 6th of May 2018.