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Stephen

Govt U-turn on the F-35

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A U turn, I hardly think so, the best you will get is very steep dive when the (single)engine fails. Bring on the Super Sonic Sea Harrier! I have to say, I'm not a fan.

Our AF got the plane it didn't want in the Grippen, so why not yous?

Colin on the Africa Station

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... when the (single)engine fails....

Everyone knows that if you have a twin and one engine fails you immediately enter a flat spin and Goose breaks his neck on the canopy. Quite frankly, I don't think our FAA pilots would want to live with that kind of guilt.

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Can't get as many golf holes on an Invincible class deck?

Why don't we just ask the yanks if we can buy the Enterprise when she decommissioned this year along with her Carrier Air Wing. Should tide us over until 2020 (I understand after her last refit she's good for another 5 years).

And a minor point, how come it takes us the best part of 15 years to build and commission a mid-size carrier and our friends across the pond can build, commission and deploy a fully capable carrier with air wing in just under 10 yrs for only 20% more that the QE class is costing us ?

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after all someone may decide UAVs are a better bet.

I think Duncan Sandys retired a while back...

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That would be a fly away cost of very close to $20 billion before we get into any operating costs so, no it's not a "sensible fleet".

UK JSF purchase (of whatever type) will be 24 (likely) to 48 (vanishingly unlikely).

Some background here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/def...n-Belgiums.html

Am sure the economics are very challenging.

But what is the point of a fleet of just 24 planes?

When you consider maintenance and attrition redundancy it is hard to see how within 4 years you'd have any fleet at all. You'd have spent billions for nothing.

I am forced to conclude that the hours these planes will be allowed to fly will be so limited there will only be handful of pilots kept current and they'll never be allowed in harm's way (and the same goes for the other nations in the programme save the US, none of whom seem to be close to buying useful numbers). This plane is a white elephant.

Edited by Vlamgat9

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Erm...what? So does that mean we could leave the program entirely?

Yes, we've paid towards the development, but we've only actually ordered and paid for three aircraft. If we decide they're not what we want there's no compulsion to buy any more, obviously that's easier if the QE Class carriers can operate conventional aircraft.

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Rafale is the obvious choice but there is no prospect of that happening as a UK purchase of Rafale would be so damaging to future Typhoon export prospects.

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A few thoughts from me, I haven't had time to read this thread entirely so apologies if I am repeating what others have said....

i) Yes the F-35 is late and over budget. However, it has plenty of company in this respect. Expectations were set unrealistically high for this aircraft and budgets were set unrealistically low - probably a result of the competitive process by which these contracts are awarded. The F-35 is also the first major combat aircraft to be developed in the Internet Age where everyone and their dog has a website or a blog where they can pour scorn - thus contributing to the rather poor public image of the aircraft. If anyone can pull off a project as ambitious as the F-35 it is Lockheed - look at their track record. Also ask yourself when was the last time the Americans put a lemon of a combat jet into service... The F-102 and F-104 of 60 years ago!

ii) The much talked about shortcomings of the F-35B are relative. In terms of range and payload it is a step above the Harrier, and in terms of avionics, stealth and combat capability it's in a totally different league.

iii) The F-35B is flying from carrier decks right now and by all appearances is actually further along the development cycle than the F-35C. The F-35C still hasn't flown from a carrier deck, and the general consensus appears to be the F-35C will take the longest to get into service.

iv) The Super Hornet is a developmental dead end. Yes it's a good aeroplane today but there's not much more you can squeeze out of that airframe. In terms of aerodynamic performance it already lags the Rafale and Typhoon. Do you really want to saddle the FAA for the next 30 years with an aeroplane that is based on a souped-up existing 30 year old airframe?

v) British Rafales won't happen. BAE Systems has too much political influence for that to happen. Not to mention the political fallout of a government being seen to eschew British industry and jobs in favour of the French, not to mention the "British" Typhoon!

vi) If the UK operates only ONE CATOBAR carrier we will be giving ourselves an almighty operational headache. It's far, far easier, cheaper and faster to keep pilots proficient in STOVL carrier operations than it is to keep them proficient in CATOBAR carrier operations. Look how long it takes a USN carrier air wing to work up for a deployment. Now what do you think the chances are of any potential future adversaries being kind enough to kick off just at the right convenient time for our CATOBAR carrier training cycle?

vii) EMALS has not gone to sea yet. If we integrate EMALS onto the QE Carriers we will be the first nation in the world to use this system for real. There is a very large technical risk in doing so and one that our already extremely hard pressed defence budget will not be able to absorb. The estimated costs of integrating EMALS onto the new carriers has already soared above the original 2010 estimate. This I believe is the main driving force behind the proposed switch back to the F-35B.

viii) Those lamenting the decline in British naval power may want to consider the following - sometime in the next decade it is planned the UK will be able to deploy a task group consisting of a QE class carrier with an air wing comprised of F-35s, Cerberus equipped Merlins, Lynx Wildcats and WAH-64Ds. Backed up by a couple of Type 45 destroyers and two or three frigates, along with one or two Astute class attack submarines equipped with TLAM. That is a serious amount of naval power that probably only the Americans can exceed.

Edited by Pielstick

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Rafale is the obvious choice but there is no prospect of that happening as a UK purchase of Rafale would be so damaging to future Typhoon export prospects.

How is it the "obvious" choice? I really struggle to understand that point of view. You've got the F-35 and the Typhoon in your air arm, be it land-based or sea-based. Why would you ever even look at the Rafale?

It's only fashionable to knock the F-35 if you work for Boeing, EADS or have some other axe to grind against Lockheed-Martin and defense procurement in general. I think it's time we took a really critical look at the source of the PR rubbishing the F-35, and what they are proposing as alternatives. It's marketing, not defence.

The F-35 (B or C) will be so far beyond any capability HM Armed Forces have been able to wield in recent decades, it's almost scary. We need to look through the PR and analyse what this capability will actually give us, rather than seeking a stopgap solution which we'll have to pay to remove anyway. The QE class and the F-35 will be an integrated weapons system. Why hamstring the QE-class by creating a separate capability which we might have to pay to remove or scrap a few years later?

Personally, i can't wait.

Al

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Let's just hope we don't have to fight any wars for the next decade!

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Let's hope we don't have to fight any wars.

Let's plan to increase the probability of not having to do so.

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ii) The much talked about shortcomings of the F-35B are relative. In terms of range and payload it is a step above the Harrier, and in terms of avionics, stealth and combat capability it's in a totally different league.

But the 35C is even more capable than the Harrier and will be cheaper to purchase and operate than the 35B so that's not a great argument in its favour.

iii) The F-35B is flying from carrier decks right now and by all appearances is actually further along the development cycle than the F-35C. The F-35C still hasn't flown from a carrier deck, and the general consensus appears to be the F-35C will take the longest to get into service.

I believe that's more to do with the USN's priorities than any inherent difficulty in operating the 35C. Certainly it's been launched from a catapult shore side and they're already working on fixes to the tailhook so it's not as if the issues involved aren't yet known.

iv) The Super Hornet is a developmental dead end. Yes it's a good aeroplane today but there's not much more you can squeeze out of that airframe. In terms of aerodynamic performance it already lags the Rafale and Typhoon. Do you really want to saddle the FAA for the next 30 years with an aeroplane that is based on a souped-up existing 30 year old airframe?

The Super Hornet does though offer tanking and ECM options that the F-35 doesn't, currently there's not even provision for fitting buddy pods to it as the US have no requirement. The F-35B may even have less growth room than the SH as it's already on a fine line in terms of thrust/weight. The other advantage is that SH is cheaper, there are some rough figures out there indicating there's a ~$1Billion saving by buying SH and fitting both carriers with EMALS. Also worth remembering the USN sees the F-35 a complimentary to the SH, not supplanting it.

vi) If the UK operates only ONE CATOBAR carrier we will be giving ourselves an almighty operational headache. It's far, far easier, cheaper and faster to keep pilots proficient in STOVL carrier operations than it is to keep them proficient in CATOBAR carrier operations. Look how long it takes a USN carrier air wing to work up for a deployment. Now what do you think the chances are of any potential future adversaries being kind enough to kick off just at the right convenient time for our CATOBAR carrier training cycle?

The USN carrier work up time is also due to the size of the air group, this isn't parking six jets on a CVS for a couple of months it's about getting 80 aircraft operating from a deck in a safe sustainable manor for months on end. With the size of air group planned for CVF the work up time is going to be longer no matter what aircraft is used if you want to use the capability properly. Also worth pointing out they're not just making sure the pilots can take off and land, it's about getting the whole ship's company up to speed, deck handlers, engineers, flyco etc. etc.

vii) EMALS has not gone to sea yet. If we integrate EMALS onto the QE Carriers we will be the first nation in the world to use this system for real. There is a very large technical risk in doing so and one that our already extremely hard pressed defence budget will not be able to absorb. The estimated costs of integrating EMALS onto the new carriers has already soared above the original 2010 estimate. This I believe is the main driving force behind the proposed switch back to the F-35B.

Ultimately this is the root cause of the current indecision, some quite frankly barking estimates have been emerging for the cost of converting the PoW. The kit is ~$500 million, how that's ballooned to ~£1.5 billion to have it fitted and installed makes no sense unless someone's employing supermodels to do the actual welding. This is making some people nervous about the cost of CVF, hence the head flapping and talk of reversion to the F-35B, however all that does is delay the problem because the increased price of the B dwarfs the increased cost of the catapult equipped carrier.

Also I believe the US will be the first to use the system for the Gerald Ford which should be operational by 2015, this should allow the UK to adopt any modifications before the PoW is operational sometime next decade.

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1015669[/url]']

How is it the "obvious" choice? I really struggle to understand that point of view. You've got the F-35 and the Typhoon in your air arm, be it land-based or sea-based. Why would you ever even look at the Rafale?

It's only fashionable to knock the F-35 if you work for Boeing, EADS or have some other axe to grind against Lockheed-Martin and defense procurement in general. I think it's time we took a really critical look at the source of the PR rubbishing the F-35, and what they are proposing as alternatives. It's marketing, not defence.

The F-35 (B or C) will be so far beyond any capability HM Armed Forces have been able to wield in recent decades, it's almost scary. We need to look through the PR and analyse what this capability will actually give us, rather than seeking a stopgap solution which we'll have to pay to remove anyway. The QE class and the F-35 will be an integrated weapons system. Why hamstring the QE-class by creating a separate capability which we might have to pay to remove or scrap a few years later?

Personally, i can't wait.

Al

I simply meant it is the obvious choice if you are looking for an F35 alternative. It is a better bet than Super Hornet.

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It's only fashionable to knock the F-35 if you work for Boeing, EADS or have some other axe to grind against Lockheed-Martin and defense procurement in general. I think it's time we took a really critical look at the source of the PR rubbishing the F-35, and what they are proposing as alternatives. It's marketing, not defence.

These threads do make for amusing reading though. Story in The Sun about the EADS tanker not working with Tornado? = utter fiction apparently...anything written in The Sun about the F-35? = gospel (so long as it's derogatory, obviously).

You just can't buy that sort of stupidity :doh:

Edited by Gary C

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I simply meant it is the obvious choice if you are looking for an F35 alternative. It is a better bet than Super Hornet.

How is a Rafale M (fly away cost: $91m) a better bet than an SH (fly away cost: $67m)?

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1016207[/url]']

How is a Rafale M (fly away cost: $91m) a better bet than an SH (fly away cost: $67m)?

Er, try the Swiss and Indian fighter competitions? Boeing pulled out of the Swiss competition as it couldnt meet the RFP; Rafale was the best plane on technical evaluation. And we all know the result in India.

If cost is the sole determinant then we should probably plump for the mig 29k. Unit cost $30m.

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If cost is the sole determinant then we should probably plump for the mig 29k. Unit cost $30m.

And it's designed to use Kuznetsov's ski jump too! We'd just need the traps then.

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Could anyone give a good reason, [ apart from politics ] ,not to look at a Russian alternative ?

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Could anyone give a good reason, [ apart from politics ] ,not to look at a Russian alternative ?

I would have thought politics was a good enough reason! :lol:

Seriously though, I don't know how capable the latest MiG-29 is Vs F/A-18, Rafale etc., but if the MOD are looking for a 5th generation naval aircraft, then F-35 is the only game in town, and will be for quite some time. If they compromise and buy anything other than F-35, then it will be F/A-18. I can't see them buying French or Russian.

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I would have thought politics was a good enough reason! :lol:

Seriously though, I don't know how capable the latest MiG-29 is Vs F/A-18, Rafale etc., but if the MOD are looking for a 5th generation naval aircraft, then F-35 is the only game in town, and will be for quite some time. If they compromise and buy anything other than F-35, then it will be F/A-18. I can't see them buying French or Russian.

I think the chances of Rafale being bought are zero. The mig 29 suggestion was just a tease - it doesn't even begin to fulfill the requirement.

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Could anyone give a good reason, [ apart from politics ] ,not to look at a Russian alternative ?

Actually, today an aircraft is a huge flying database with hundreds of inputs and outputs devices (Radar, data link, jammers, EO-sensors, Radar warning systems... just to name a few)built to a certain standard. Try to integrate a russian system into such a sophisticated environment, and you see what I mean. Oh, and have fun to build up all the necessary knowhow you need to further develop a system, if you start at zero with russian technology. If you just look at technical specifications you're right, russian aircraft are not bad at all.

Alex

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A lot of my favourites have retired now, or are in the last few years of service :weep: , so long as it is the right one, the best one, for our Armed Forces, that is all that matters, really. This aircraft will never be pretty like a Tomcat, fast like an Eagle or as meanlooking as a Phantom or Aardvark, those days are gone (or going), this thing is the future.

Joel

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Could anyone give a good reason, [ apart from politics ] ,not to look at a Russian alternative ?

Sure.

Basically Russian Equipment is significantly less durable than their western counterparts, particularly in regards to engine life. They are built with a disposable philosophy, which does not mesh well with how western airforces operate.

Technologically the Russian aerospace industry has suffered from poor investment since the collapse of the USSR and that's been becoming pretty apparent in the past few years. Russian candidates were the first to go in the Indian MMRCA. In general, they have started to ween themselves off of Russian equipment because of the issues they have with it. In a whole host of other competitions, Russian equipment experienced very quick exits. Various export customers are not pleased with their orders. And the Russians themselves are realizing this. In areas like avionics, radars and they are rapidly being left behind by American and European designs. Its not like the glory days of the 1980s... Russian kit just isn't the same level as it once was.

Finally there is interoperability. Basically the UK would be forced to pay hundreds of millions if not billions to upgrade these fighters to carry western weaponry and be able to operate along side allied systems.

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