Nuclear energy has enabled ships to operate for more than 20 years without refueling and have a useful life of more than 50 years. In the United States Navy, refueling and reconditioning (ROH) is a lengthy process that involves replacing spent nuclear fuel with new fuel and general maintenance repair, refurbishment, and modernization of the entire ship. This process usually takes one to two years for submarines and up to almost three years for an aircraft carrier, made in a naval shipyard. Time periods between RoHS on a ship have historically varied from approximately 5 to 20 years (for submarines) to 25 years (for Nimitz class aircraft carriers).
For modern submarines and aircraft carriers, RoHs are generally carried out approximately half of their operational lifespan. There are also shorter maintenance arrangements called availability for ships periodically in shipyards. A particularly lengthy refueling, maintenance and modernization process for a nuclear aircraft carrier can take up to almost three years and is called a refueling complex (RCOH) refurbishment. The concept of a flying aircraft carrier has resurfaced in recent years due to the success of drone programs such as Skyborg.
Previous concepts of flying carriers showed that the immense turbulence of large aircraft (and their jet engines) made it extremely difficult to manage the fighters they would drop, especially when trying to return to the aircraft after a mission. The most recent version of a flying aircraft carrier comes from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, and has been successful in testing as recently as January of this year. According to the report, Boeing found that the concept of a flying aircraft carrier was “technically feasible” using technology from the early 1970s. The B-36 never flew an operational mission, but its enormous size and range led the Air Force to consider its use as a flying aircraft carrier, using the Republic YRF-84F Ficon parasite fighters as the bomber payload.
Complex Replenishment and Overhaul (RCOH) is a process for refueling and upgrading nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in the U. S. Navy. UU.
However, it is possible (albeit potentially impractical) to develop and deploy flying aircraft carriers for such a conflict; the United States has even experimented with the concept several times in the past and continues to pursue the idea today. The Navy Aeronautical Office took note of the concept and began building its own inflatable airships, with the USS Akron (ZRS) and the USS Macon (ZRS) serving as flying aircraft carriers. The nuclear reactors that power some aircraft carriers typically consume their nuclear fuel at about half of their desired 50-year lifespan. The Boeing 747 AAC (Airborne Airborne Aircraft Carrier) was designed with four huge turbofan engines that would be powered by normal jet fuel at less than 16,000 feet, where it would then switch to nuclear power courtesy of its onboard reactor. Once a reactor core has become critical, meaning that it has been used during reactor operation, highly radioactive nuclear fission products form in the core, and the core becomes highly radioactive. In a nuclear-powered ship, nuclear fuel is essentially a solid inside the core of a reactor that is inside the ship's nuclear reactor.
Refueling involves taking out the spent core from the reactor and putting in a new core with new nuclear fuel. The Air Force began experimenting with the idea of turning one of these large aircraft into a flying aircraft carrier full of “parasitic fighters” that could be deployed, and even recovered, in the air. The flying carrier could remain in the air without refueling for up to 41 days, even maintaining a high subsonic cruise speed of Mach 0.8 at about 30,000 feet.