UK defence issues and the odd container or two

Open Thread – May 2014

This months open thread, the we innovation in military vehicles edition.

Sika tracer 01 Open Thread   May 2014
Sika TRACER (before FRES)
Multidrive Future Cargo Vehicle FCV Open Thread   May 2014
Multidrive Future Cargo Vehicle (FCV)
Roush LAS 100 RE Balter  640x487 Open Thread   May 2014
Roush LAS 100 RE Balter
Perason PEROCC 03 640x296 Open Thread   May 2014
Pearson PEROCC
QinetiQ High Mobility Demonstrator HMD and Hybrid Electric Drive HED vehicles 640x422 Open Thread   May 2014
QinetiQ High Mobility Demonstrator (HMD) and Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) vehicles

About The Author

Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!

821 Comments

  1. Repulse

    There is a comment in Warship World magazine that suggests that the Astute class will need to be refueled during their operational life – anyone know anything more on this?

  2. Jeremy M H

    It would be a major engineering failure if the Astute types end up having to be refueled during their planned life. Depending on how confident one was when building the thing it may or may not be all that easy to refuel them to begin with. I also would have to think that the rumored top speed issues don’t mix particularly well with a reactor you might be trying to not push too hard to extend its service life since you presumably need to use a higher percentage of your power across the spectrum to achieve certain speeds than you were planning on to begin with.

  3. x

    One of things that seems to have gone by or to be not understood by many here in the West during the Ukraine Crisis (ho hum) is that being Russian is important to many Russians. To the EU nationalism is an anathema, a thought crime; unless of course it is patriotic acts in support of the “project”. Have a think about it while watching this video…………

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrxjYfl05ek#t=111

  4. Peter Elliott

    @Jeremy MH

    I thought I read somewhere that the top speed issue was down to the gearbox fitted and applied only to HMS Astute itself. Subsequent versions had had better gearbox installed. But its bl**dy hard to change the gearbox on a sub once the pressure hull has been welded together. So the first in class itself struggles., bu tthe rest will (allegedly) be fine.

    All this might explain why (a) HMS Astute hasn’t beein noted on an operational patrol yet and (b) why this isn’t a crisis. If its the only one unit then it could carve out a career on Perisher and other home waters stuff. If they were all duff then we would have a megbucks issue and something would have come out in the wsh by now.

  5. Martin

    @ Peter Eliott

    the reactor on the astute class is big enough to drive a vanguard class at 25 knots so I don’t believe Astute has a power issue. My understanding is that it’s the gear box she is loosing power in but the MOD is quite rightly very tight lipped on it all. It may be that she can do 32 knots but they were hoping for 35 knots for all we really know. Anyone in the know leaking accurate info on the matter should quite rightly be taken outside and put against a wall.

  6. jedibeeftrix

    maybe the reason we opted for PWR3 in the successor program, rather than the PWR2+ evolution of the existing reactor design…

  7. Mark

    I thought astute was photographed a while back in gib on her first operational patrol?

  8. Simon

    Might also explain why we’re ordering seven boats. Perhaps the first of class (£1b+ of British tax payers money) is not expected to work or be fixable?

    At least one can’t blame BAe alone.

    Just goes to prove that Rolls-Royce’s TQM (Total Quality Management) is utter bollocks and counts for nothing.

  9. Challenger

    @Peter Elliot

    ‘If its the only one unit then it could carve out a career on Perisher and other home waters stuff’

    With just 7 SSN’s i really don’t think it’s acceptable to say it’s OK if 1 of them takes it easy doing perisher and other home waters stuff. It’s going to be hard enough as it is with 7 to generate a proper deployment cycle, let alone 6!

    @Mark

    You may be correct about Astute calling at Gib, but i don’t personally recall any operational deployment as of yet. Even if she has popped down to Gib if it was just there and back i’d hardly call that a real ‘overseas’ deployment!

  10. Chris

    Simon – I thought everyone knew the whole point of TQM/Lean/ZeroDefect/RightFirstTime/SickSigma was cost-cutting? True quality is assured when the workforce feel valued, feel pride in their work, feel fully empowered to highlight quality problems without the fear of being censured or disadvantaged for raising a problem requiring extra cost and time to rectify. As soon as the cost-cutting job-cutting axe is wielded people clam up and pass problems down the line so some other poor sop carries the can – why be branded a troublemaker for something you didn’t cause, right? As for TQM itself, the clue is in the name; its not assured quality, its ‘managed’ quality, as in just enough to sell to a customer…

  11. monkey

    On the subject of submarines I have just finished the book Iron coffins by Herbert Werner who served with u-boat command from 39 thro to 45, i had read Das Boot before but this was his story throughout the war from ensign to captain. One fact he mention of the 842 u-boats launched 779 were sunk by the Allies ! ( a dozen after the war had actually ended) We will get by with 7 boats?

  12. Mark

    Thanks simon257

    Challenger I’m sure reports at the time of docking at gib had her stopping there on her way EoS but well prob never know for sure.

  13. Simon

    Chris,

    Too true.

    I must admit however that I thought the idea of TQM was to “manage” continuous quality improvement.

    This is one of the areas I must admit I feel we’re not good at in that we tend to re-invent the wheel all the time. We never seem to reap the rewards of a rising star within the defence industry. So just as we’ve got the Type 23′s working nicely we design a T26 with its own series of teething problems, same for Astute, same for T45, same for the Albion class (although the latter seem mostly due to IEP).

    I accept certain things have to be newer and better but if you look at ships and their propulsion there’s nothing particularly new. IEP is what the UK has been running in the form of the national grid for decades.

    We should do what the US do and have a base design that is allowed to morph as it goes rather than go back to the drawing board each time. It might be necessary to do this to provide continuation of the design process “minds” within the UK, but if we’re no good at it (and I’m sorry but we simply do not seem to be as good as it as even the French, Spanish or South Koreans) then perhaps we should just bite the bullet, shut up all heavy engineering and import.

    If we’re not yet at this point then from my experience of this country we are certainly drifting towards it.

    We need the DRA back.

  14. Chris

    Simon – welcome to the wonderful world of competitive tendering and industry-owned IPR. No company is going to hand its tested proven designs over to a competitor in the interests of MOD continuity. Under the Peter Levene structure of defence procurement the keystone for MOD was for industry to own all risk, therefore MOD supplies no design input itself. Guaranteed that every time a widget is procured the design, the underlying rationale, the manufacturer and the support will all be different because MOD cannot any more demand what design they will buy.

    I too think the demise of the Establishments was idiotic. Over the years a huge amount of experience and domain knowledge is gained but without the Gov’t owned Establishments that knowledge goes to industrial concerns who might or might not win another contract in the same domain. Or they might win contracts for other nations in which case the taxpayer funded expertise benefits the other nations instead. Which wouldn’t be a problem if we here got the majority of the benefit but with tiny contracts for onesy-twosy platforms, each being competed, that’s unlikely. So with the disbanding of the Establishments we binned the repositories of domain knowledge. Now we buy off the shelf from any Tom Dieter or Harshad and then spend a fortune modifying the hell out of whatever we bought learning all the hard lessons each time as we go along. Smart procurement, it has been called.

  15. dave haine

    I’m with you Chris….

    The current bag of w**k that is our defence, IMO was caused by the closure, selling off or otherwise disposing of the defence research establishments.

    These establishments gave scientists and engineers access to operational personnel, and vice versa, making a fertile breeding ground for ideas, and gave industry a lead.

    The list of successful stuff that these research facilities have come up over the years is endless.

    …..mind you the list of WTF?’s have been pretty impressive too :-)

  16. El Sid

    @Challenger
    The official line on Astute is that “having recently become an operational submarine [she] will complete the final stage of operational training in early 2014….On completion of the remainder of her operational training she will conduct the first ever ‘A boat’ operational deployment over the course of the spring and summer to Mediterranean and through the Suez Canal.”

    One might speculate how a late-March visit to Gib could fit with that timetable.

  17. El Sid

    @Jim
    The Spanish greens have been upping the volume recently about the Z berth, so they might be tempted to try a stunt. In other words, the waters off Gib are hostile…

  18. Repulse

    @Simon: “Might also explain why we’re ordering seven boats” – actually the basis for 7 SSNs was I believe the 1 SSN on station to every 3.5 SSNs in total ratio, meaning on average 2 are deployed. If each SSN is going to be out of service approx. 12-18 months of it’s planned 25 year life, then I’d argue we’d better go back and re-evaluate the case for 8 SSNs.

  19. El Sid

    @Simon
    I’d suggest that the T23 is actually a good example of progressive, spiral development “working”. Considering it started as a sonar tug to counter Russian SSBNs in the North Atlantic, it’s evolved into a pretty decent GP frigate for the 21st century, it’s stood the test of time pretty well compared to some of its sisters like the Perrys which were so hard to upgrade the US was retiring some of them within 15 years or so of commissioning. Even compared to the Halifaxes and Bremens the T23 has fared pretty well. But the fact is that no matter how much you upgrade the internals, you end up being limited by the “box” and given that hulls only physically last 25-30 years, once in a generation you have to design a new box to cope with changes in habitability standards (women didn’t go to sea when the T23 was designed), improvements in drive trains, requirements for eg more accommodation for SBS visits and bigger helicopters and all the other technological changes since the days of the ZX Spectrum.

    The T26 is taking as much as possible from the T23 – SeaCeptor, Artisan, 2087 etc – and putting them in a new box – along with kit that’s new-to-RN-frigates but already proven elsewhere like MT30. It’s not like the T45 using a one-off engine that’s a technological marvel but a nightmare to support. So there’s as little new as one can get away with. I’d disagree that the USN is some kind of role model – every USN warship design since the Cold War, has puts lots of new internals into a radical new hull design and ended up in all sorts of trouble as a result. The Zumwalt tumblehome is perhaps the poster child for that, but it’s also true of both LCS designs. In the 1950s or 1980s they would have just thrown money at them until they worked, but that’s no longer an option.

    Which is the only reason that they’re still building the Burke, putting amazing new technology into an obsolescent hull that needs too many crew (nearly twice as many as a T45), has no room for the new radars they want to put on it, and no electrical capacity for them or any of the other new toys like lasers and railguns. The contortions they’ve gone through fitting everything onto the Flight III’s is doesn’t represent commendable continuity, it’s a condemnation of the big-leap mentality that led to the relative failure of the Zumwalt hull which is what they had intended to be using by now.

  20. El Sid

    Nice vid of Neuron flying in formation avec ses amis – some nice shots of the Rafale in particular. Bit worried that it’s taking the lead – is this the first evidence of Skynet in action?

  21. Observer

    El Sid, this was posted before. And my comment was to try the shoot again with the Neuron following behind. If they dared. :)

    The reason why it was in the lead was because on site humans can follow and adapt much faster and more appropriately than someone flying by remote control. Situational awareness for UAVs is terrible so if they had it following, the chances of it sticking its nose up someone’s tailpipe goes up much, much higher.

    And you can’t park and get out to check your fender after a bump in mid air.

  22. Simon

    El Sid,

    I’d disagree that the USN is some kind of role model

    I’d have thought Arleigh Burke (1990 onwards), Wasp/America (1990 onwards) and Nimitz (1975 onwards) were case and point.

    Where exactly do we build the same base hull for similar durations and gain similar economies of scale. It’s not like we can’t do it. We could have built 20 x 6000 tonners to fulfill the T23 and T42 replacements and fitted them out differently. We could have built 8 x Bay/Albion hybrids to replace Fearless and the Round Table class and had a hull design that could replace Argus with ease. We could also have a single class of tanker/supply ship instead of Wave, Tide and MARS SSS. But no. We need to design a new ship with plenty of new things to go wrong to be bent over a barrel by BAe and get shafted because we simply have to pay them. Jobs for the boys. Jobs for the boys!

  23. TAS

    Jim?

    What point are you making? GPMG’s are bog standard for any warship entering or leaving a foreign harbour. Would you rather they were undefended, or are you asking if they are somehow supplementing surface warfighting efforts? Either way it’s a pretty pointless point.

  24. Red Trousers

    ToC, x,

    You may laugh, but thinking sideways is a big part of British recce. Anyone who cannot is forced to join the Guards or the RTR. Anyone who thinks in a linear manner has to join the Andrew and to try to become a PWO, anyone who can’t think at all gets to join the Kevins.

    Anyway, re bikes. There seem to me to be 2 solutions. A folded Brompton with Scwalbe cross country tyres, carried in a bespoke case, or something old and knackered knicked from the outskirts of town***. Either way, you want some generic civvy kit to wear and blend in.

    *** this is in no way analogous to the utter fucking scrote who nicked my pristine yellow Desmo last month.

  25. All Politicians are the Same

    @Jim

    You examine then threat level and then decide what Force Protection Measures to put in place taking into account restrictions and non organic escort provision, e.g Gib squad or the “scruffy” call signs in Bahrain.
    During Bulwarks 2006 deployment “Op Bristle” used to see the 2 50 Cals in each LCVP manned in their davits for a total of 8, a Milan launcher on the flyco roof, the 2 20MMs on the bridge roof manned and up to 6 GPMGs and 4 Mini guns manned around the upper deck.

  26. Observer

    Hmm it might Chris. Wear something inconspicuous and no one would believe the person using that is anything but a civilian at a distance. Or at least they’ll never believe that a soldier would be caught dead riding on a “unicycle”. :)

  27. Challenger

    @Repulse

    ‘actually the basis for 7 SSNs was I believe the 1 SSN on station to every 3.5 SSNs in total ratio, meaning on average 2 are deployed’

    If the RN has identified a need to have 2 SSN’s operationally deployed and requires a total of 7 to do so then i agree with you that actually we should have at least 8, maybe even 9. Otherwise ANY unexpected maintenance problems, lengthier deployments, collisions with islands/sandbars/submerged rocks or heaven forbid something worse will cause major problems with the operational cycle and overall effectiveness of the fleet as a whole.

    Having a bit of give, some elasticity to cope with the unexpected is something we have gradually and quietly allowed to wither away in a number of areas.

    @El Sid & Simon

    When it comes to the idea of common hulls and rolling, evolutionary warship production i think you both make some good points.

    The USN has to some extent done well out of designing basic hulls and maximizing their potential over a number of years with sub-classes and incremental updates. I don’t think the Arleigh Burkes are a fabulous example of the trend though considering, as El Sid pointed out, they have largely stayed in production because of the hideously expensive Zumwalts and the lack of a Ticonderoga replacement on the horizon.

    The RN can certainly get far better at using common hulls and not trying to reinvent the nautical equivalent of the wheel every few years. However id say the T23 was (although somewhat by accident) a good example of an evolving class of general purpose ships and the T26, whilst a new hull, will very sensibly both inherit newish kit from their predecessors and build on a lot of the technology first introduced with the T45. However the RN could certainly head further in that direction with common RFA hulls, an anti-air variant of the T26 eventually replacing the T45 and a single class of new amphibians to super-cede the current mix of LPD’s/LSD’s when they wear out.

    Although to be fair whilst you can certainly attempt to use one basic design for multiple roles over many years their is of course only so far you can take it. I would for instance love to see the first T26′s replaced by newer ones in a continual rolling production lasting decades, and Jedibeeftrix’s old idea of a fleet of 12 SSN/SSBN hybrids being broken into 3 sub-classes of 4 boats with each batch being an incremental update on the last always sounded great, but their will always come a point where technology and crew habitability needs/trends have moved on to such an extent that it’s better to start from scratch.

    I guess it’s a balance, as much use out designs as possible before it’s becomes counterproductive both operationally and financially at which point you need to go back to the drawing board.

  28. Observer

    as, be wary of media BS. F-35 was never “invisible”, it was just hard to get a track and lock on.

  29. Repulse

    Whilst I agree the Daily Flail is showing its normal ignorance and poor journalism, I do think we are quickly reaching crunch point as part of the SDSR on deciding our short and medium term plans. The UK is fast approaching having a carrier in the water and no planes to fly off them – what’s the hold up on ordering the first 14?

    In my view, we should go for 60 to fly from the carriers then sit tight and flog the Tiffies to death as we decide the next move in the 2030s.

  30. Simon

    …what’s the hold up on ordering the first 14?

    They don’t work and are obsolete against anything other than the same enemies that Harrier and F18 is still effective against?

    However, what else is there? Typhoon and the worlds biggest waste of money LPH?

  31. Mark

    Repulse there maybe a coincidence in timing between the recent tornado support contract announcement, the waiting to receive and analyse the full engineering understanding of the unexpected fatigue failure of f35b primary structure members at Christmas and the slight delay on the order confirmation of the next batch of uk f35s and form which lrips they may come from. (which maybe announced now at farnbourgh).

  32. Repulse

    @Simon: “They don’t work and are obsolete against anything other than the same enemies that Harrier and F18 is still effective against?”, maybe the F18 would as good, though you comparing apples and pears. Are you seriously suggesting the F35B will be no better than the Harrier?

    I agree the F35B is not a wonder weapon, but it is a good match for our maritime needs, hence my opinion to order 60 and move on.

  33. Simon

    I must admit that although I tend to have a go at the F35 it will indeed be okay for our maritime needs.

    I think my main problem is that we no longer seem to have the design/manufacturing edge which means these projects take so long to design and then get right that they’re obsolete by the time they come to fruition. If you look at F35 its starting to look like it needs to go back to the drawing board as it has a fairly pitiful internal payload for the kinds of penetration sorties that may be asked of it. It may also have to fly in formations to provide effective EW against recently deployed AA systems.

    I think therefore we should generally aim lower and achieve quicker. This will obviously mean larger production quantities, less multi-role assets and more money, but will ultimately reignite the UK’s Engineering with successful projects.

    Either that or re-open the DRA and do it secretly behind closed doors ;-)

  34. Chris

    Repulse, Simon – ref F35B/Harrier capability – maybe if the aircraft are broadly equivalent in capability its not because F35B is a poor effort but because Harrier was (and would still be) a stonking good aircraft ahead of its time? I still rate the vectored thrust Pegasus as a better solution than the gearbox driven vertical fan and donkey donger jetpipe. That materials technology has moved on and CAD/simulation tools have aided designers is beyond doubt, so you’d hope F35B would be better in many respects than Harrier, but it seems to have become much bigger, more complicated, more difficult to manufacture and in some respects more fragile than its predecessor. And wildly more expensive. A demanding child.

  35. Mark

    It has the same internal payload as the f117 and from the very beginning was stated that optimal use was in a 4 ship formation.

    Low observable aircraft will always be more difficult and more expensive to manufacture than those that arent.

  36. Repulse

    Been reading up on the recent Exercise Joint Warrior – http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/News-and-Events/Latest-News/2013/April/26/130426-Successful-conclusion-for-multinational-exercise.

    Whilst the RFTG model was the best model from 2010-2020 given the available kit and resources, I can’t help think it’s starting to look more like the rag tail / mismatch fleet of BattleStar Galatica. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the SDSR 2015 really needs to take a bold view at the UKs amphibious capability.

    To me we have two options:
    - Keep with the RFTG approach, but realise that against anyone with more than a sharpened mango, any amphibious assault will need to come OTH, probably tens if not a hundred+ miles away. Whilst the helicopter capability from the CVF probably adds up, the LPD/LSD in my view doesn’t. To get to the shore quickly by sea and in enough strength requires either Large Hovercraft or similarly Large LST type craft coupled with faster LCVPs. If this is the case we should take bold steps quickly to get in place larger RFA “Motherships” capable of carrying these large assets.
    - Or, go back to the good old CBG and ARG model. Having the CVF at the centre of a CBG may make people smile, but with say 24 F35Bs, 6 ASW Merlins and 6 Wildcats, it would be enough to ruin most people’s day. Also, as there would be only 2 HVUs in the CBG (CVF and SSS) then perhaps 4 DD/FF Escorts would be enough even against a peer foe. In this model I would then go for 3 modest ARGs, each based around a small 9,000t LHD (like the Algerian one), and a RFA LSD which would be enough to carry a RM Cdo. As the LHD would also come armed with AAW missiles etc then an escort fleet of say 2 DDs/FFs would probably be enough.

    Happy to hear alternatives, but I do fear that post 2020 in it’s current projected state the RFTG will not be fit for purpose.

  37. Mark

    http://aviationweek.com/blog/a400m-horror-horror

    “Multinational defense programs in the West have become “a horror” for industry, and Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders said April 30 that he will not allow his company to repeat the experience of the beleaguered A400M in his tenure.

    “I am determined, at least for my company, not to ever again walk into such a program, and rather to resist [that kind of] contracting and say, ‘no, we’re not going there,’” Enders said as part of a speech at the Atlantic Council in Washington. “That hardly ever works. Industry has a lot of egg on the face, we’re losing lots of money and that should not happen again.”

  38. Simon

    Mark,

    It has the same internal payload as the f117 and from the very beginning was stated that optimal use was in a 4 ship formation.

    Can you elaborate on this 4-ship formation at all?

    By the way, I don’t think F35 can take a 2000lb Paveway internally. I thought all variants were limited to a 500lb Paveway?

  39. Mark

    F35a and c can take up to the 2000lb jdam internal . All variant the 1000lb jdam internal. The uk uses the paveway 4 internal because it sees that weapon as the best mix between blowing stuff up that it need to and collateral damage.

    http://www.janes.com/article/35968/saudi-arabia-becomes-first-paveway-iv-export-customer

    “The company has also developed a penetrator warhead for the Paveway IV, through which the company is aiming to provide roughly the same level of capability as a 2,000 lb penetrator in a 500 lb package. To achieve this, the warhead incorporates an inner hardened-steel penetrator surrounded by a frangible peeling shroud, operating on the same principle as a sabot round to provide a higher sectional density and reduced impact area to improve penetration, while maintaining the same form and fit as with the standard Mk 83 warhead.”

  40. Derek

    Mark

    F-35, in any of its variants, DOES NOT have the same internal payload as the F-117, that aircraft had significantly larger weapons bays that resulted in form fitting tests with a JASSM as well as the regular carriage of GBU-24/27- the F-35 can not carry any of these weapons internally.

  41. Mark

    Derek your talking about bay size not payload both aircraft operate with up to 2 x 2000lb weapons. In today’s world weapons now operate with similar effect in smaller sizes.

  42. x

    @ Chally re USN basic ships

    I like(d) the Spruance class. Not saying they are perfect. The variants built, proposed, and theorised showed it as basic ship(hull) it had great potential. Responsible for me believing when it comes to ships bigger is always better; if you can afford and there is a genuine person

    Often over the years if I am reading a lot about the Falklands the idea pops into mind of the RN receiving post war 4 new build Sea Dart equipped Kidd class………

  43. Observer

    Derek, bombs are rated according to weight not size, a 2000 Ib bomb in the old days is much larger than a 2000 Ib today.

    x, for every person there is a season. :P

  44. Derek

    Observer,

    As per usual you are wrong. The ability to carry ordnance is defined by both the weight and volume of the weapon, always has been and always will be be. It’s actually even more important to today given the proliferation of different guidance kits for identical warheads.

  45. Derek

    Observer,

    Wrong, payload is defined by both weight and volume- not just weight. And F-35A/C have less payload volume than the F-117.

  46. Observer

    Derek, my unit is based next to an airfield. I see those damn things every day for a month annually…

    And I believe Mark designs aircraft for a living?

    Might want to tone down with the absolutist statements. Less chance of putting your foot in it. Gives you maneuver room.

  47. Observer

    http://airwingspotter.com/luke-air-force-base-december-2013/

    Pretty nice pictures here.

    Pic 14 (5th row, middle pic) shows 3x 500Ib bombs on a TER
    Pic 22 (8th row, left pic) shows 1x 2,000 Ib on a pylon.

    Not really much length difference between the 2, it’s more a matter of girth and weight, where a larger radii increases the internal volume exponentially [(pi x r (squared)] so to gain a lot of weight in a relatively small increase isn’t too hard.

    Use the droptank to compare the length increase.

  48. Derek

    Observer,

    It does not matter where your unit is based you can not re-write the laws of physics. The ability of an aircraft to carry ordnance is based on both weight and volume, if you can’t fit something inside a weapons bay it does not matter how much it weighs and the F-35 has smaller bays than the F-117. The F-117 was form fitted with JASSM, try doing that with an F-35.

  49. Derek

    Observer,

    Nothing to rethink, the bays on an F-117 are larger than those on an F-35 and can therefore carry larger weapons than the F-35. You can post all the pictures you like but it’s not going to change the fact that once again you are completely wrong. Finally, as stated before, F-117 was form fitted with a JASSM- can’t do that in an F-35 bay.

  50. Derek

    Observer,

    Nothing to rethink, you can post all the pictures you like, but it won’t change the fact that the F-117 had larger weapons bays than the F-35 thus allowing that aircraft to carry larger weapons- as demonstrated JASSM.

  51. Observer

    I see the problem. Derek, you missed the goalpost totally. Simon specifically stated 2,000 Ib bomb capability, not some unidentified “big bomb”, and the F-35 IS 2,000 Ib JDAM capable. You gave the example as the GBU-24, a 2,000 Ib bomb, but use that as your only metric. Why not the GBU-31 which is smaller and still retain the 2,000 Ib weight? The 10s-20s series are old and large by current modern day standards.

  52. Observer

    And BTW Derek, as a warning, any more ad hominem attacks like this

    “Observer,

    As per usual you are wrong.”

    from you again and I’m going to report you. Argue facts, turn it into a personal grudge fight and I will not stand for it.

  53. ArmChairCivvy

    What is betterthanthe open thread while operatingthebarbie… Observer, pls note, with a small b.

    @Mark, I thought there was something like what you described as the Tornado retirement was brought fwrd from 2024 to 2018, and now a year has been added back.

    @derek, I trust that you can find the contract where RAAF paid Lockheedgood money to form fit (including launch considerations) JASSM with their planned F35s’ weapon bay?
    - in my books JASSM and F117 are sort of different generations? JASSM of course is the primary air defences suppression weapon of the US Navy… Are the USAF folks waking up to it ?

  54. Observer

    ACC, do you per chance remember a certain song by the amusing but short lived music group Aqua?

    And a real man should be able to operate both the barbie and the Barbie simultaneously.

    Or at least give a good go of it. Worth the 1st degree burns IMO. :P

  55. ArmChairCivvy

    Now I am not sure myself anymore… Was it jassm or nsm?

    Can’t leave the food to turn to cinders, but I am sure Dered will rise to the challenge?

  56. Observer

    JASSM. NSM was the Penguin related development one from the Northern European countries.

  57. ArmChairCivvy

    Yeah, but the Australians nEver got anything effective anti-ship onto their well- ranged F111s so this time they would like to get it right and are interested in the NSM as well (JASSM in the inventory already).

  58. Derek

    Observer,

    I actually got it square between the goal posts, but now you are trying (and failing) to move them. The facts, that I have argued and you have ignored have not changed and nor can they be. The F-117 has larger weapons bays than the F-35A/C and can therefore carry larger munitions including having been form fitted with JASSM.

    Now you have been proved wrong you are getting all whiny.

  59. Observer

    Derek, I think you’re on the wrong site. You’re probably looking for Solomon’s SNAFU. He, like you, complains about everything too. You two would get along.

    And if you insist that the F-35 is not 2,000 Ib capable even with the testimony of people who have seen JDAMs, an aircraft designer and with photographic evidence to boot, nothing is going to convince you it seems, not even God, so continuing on this line is fruitless and wasteful.

    Have you even seen a JDAM before? Or have any form of information that is not 3rd hand?

    And go check out Solomon’s site. Think you’ll fit better there than here. Though what it will do for you mentally to lock into a specific mindset is probably not going to be good in the long run, but that’s your choice and your problem.

  60. monkey

    @Simon257
    Hi Simon I have watched the vid, no USAF presence but I guess if the get they B & and C operational the less complex A will be fine. On the panel all were experienced aviators them selves with 4 out of 5 the actual F35 test pilots.
    They made big about its low speed/hover flight handling characteristics in that they are excellent and pretty much will be an automated landing and take off .No mention of high speed performance other than similar to the Super Hornet , so dog fighting not mentioned (that old debate, does it matter or not?) .The USMC colonel was confident the B2B software will be ready for sign off of all their weapons package requirements ready for deployment in July 2015 (the USN guy said they will be ready in 2017 so lucky we opted for the B -fingers in ears for loud shouting generated by that comment) .The USMC guy very complementary about the RN/RAF personnel training with them now both air and ground crew. The night vision cameras that feed the helmet displays don’t work yet but the Marines still fly them at night anyway.
    They mentioned the issues of keeping up the LO feature essential to its operation at sea,a very harsh and dirty environment but feel they have mastered the problems , mentioning some issue with cure times for the LO coatings (the F117/B2/F22 are high maintenance b4 flight, performed in highly controlled sealed hangers )
    Really good link in all to have it from the horses mouth as it were. Do watch it all. Don’t skim.
    PS the Lockheed guy as an aside mentioned that the AIM120 AMRAAM does not have the range to use the F35 effectively , is that a hint at the fabled range and accuracy of the sensor suite (also not mentioned).

  61. Red Trousers

    Baffled by the bombs, but intrigued by operating Barbie. Is she American?

    I’m of the old school with barbecues: proper brick built thing and coals. A neighbour has something quite high tech with a gas cylinder and lots of electronics, but I don’t think I’d be qualified to cook on that. It apparently cost about as much as a small car. Seems overkill to me.

  62. Simon

    Mark,

    Things drifted a little sideways… can you elaborate on the 4-ship formation at all?

    As an aside it’s great that we can get the same effect of an older 2000lb-er from a 500lb-er. Just think what could be done with a 2000lb-er with these “inner hardened-steel penetrator surrounded by a frangible peeling shroud”. I guess they’ll still need a penetrator/guidance “nose”, which would still fit into an F117, but not into any of the F35s.

    If internal payload truly meant weight and had nothing to with size I could sell Harrier with 4000lb of internal payload by saying you simply have to carry a ball of uranium with a radius of 28cm. Not that it will hold together particularly well :-)

  63. Mark

    Simon

    You’ll need to talk to operators to elebrate of why they use it that way.

    As I said they have the 2000lb jdam with the penetrator warhead which they can use in all weathers not just clear weather (same 2000lb one used on f117). F117 had 2 hard point Derek’s jassm was never used and jdam wasn’t around when f117 was designed for a 2000lb weapon hence things move on with both able to take the b61 The uk don’t have those weapons so I guess that’s why they hope to use paveway 4.

  64. Derek

    Observer,

    Whine, whine whine, its very tiresome so please find another track.

    In the mean time, F-117 had bays large enough for JASSM, F-35A/C do not. Therefore you are completely wrong and F-117 had a superior internal payload carrying ability to the F-35A/C.

    Also, you are a liar. I never said that F-35 was not 2,000lb capable, I said it’s internal bays have less volume than an F-117. Stop trying to hide your lack of knowledge and understanding behind dishonesty.

  65. Observer

    Actually Simon, ultimate top of the line bunker busters would be the GBU-28, short of going nuclear. 5,000 Ibs, wing carried.

  66. Derek

    Observer,

    Wrong yet again. GBU-57A/B is the ultimate conventional penetrator. GBU-28 is small fry by comparison.

  67. Observer

    Derek, read more carefully. Simon SPECIFICALLY stated 2,000 Ib capability, and the F-35 IS 2,000 Ib capable.

    The specific sentence was, and I quote: “By the way, I don’t think F35 can take a 2000lb Paveway internally. I thought all variants were limited to a 500lb Paveway?”

    You went all on your own down a space constraint platform route when all the rest of us were talking about weight and capability.

    And consider this a demand from someone you insulted. What is your CV that you can talk over professionals who have seen the equipment, an aircraft designer AND photographic evidence? You better bloody well be part of the F-35 design crew or oversight committee and not an armchair warrior whose sole source of info comes from Business Times (who know nuts about weapons) and online pictures. Hell, I’ll even settle for someone with service history.

    Edit: GBU-57, forgot that one. That was my bad. Now Derek, justify the rest of your behaviour.

  68. Observer

    ACC, I re-read your post and realised I got your question slightly off. The JASSM and the F-117 are of different generations, that was what I thought you asked but it was the NSM that the Aussies are planning to use.

    Really got to stop letting bratty kids get to me…

  69. Derek

    Observer,

    More lies I see. You claimed that I said the F-35A/C is not 2,000lb capable. That is a lie, I said no such thing.

    I simply pointed out, with evidence, that you were completely wrong to suggest that the F-35A/C had the same internal payload capacity as the F-117.

  70. Simon

    My notes on Simon257s one-hour long vid…

    Easier to fly
    Deploy to short runways
    Automated landing will reduce cycle fatigue therefore improving availability
    Scare the “bad guys” across the pond
    SEAD seems to be the new mission that F35 will undertake than F18 didn’t – I assume they’re excluding Growler from the F18 equation.
    F35 is central info collector/distributor
    —-Anti-Access Area-Denial
    They sell 5th-gen jet against 4th-gen jet rather than 5th-gen against enemy SAM/AESA!
    Can operate in non-permissive to create a permissive env. Unlikely.
    Focus is integration of multiple platforms not F35-only ops.
    Maintainability and Supportability
    —-Needs paradigm shift
    —-Needs massive effort to maintain the LO capability
    —-Only tested in sterile env currently
    ——–Cure times seem okay in this env
    —-Noisy jet
    —-Easier modular swap-outs
    —-Still a long way to go as they still haven’t deployed to CV yet
    ——–Cure times seem long at the mo. They’re hoping for improvements
    Marines IOC 2015
    —-Software 2B-S4
    ——–Still has bugs
    —-Mods to jets
    ——–Robust schedule (this means there’s not enough time)
    —-Weapons cert
    ——–GBU-12 for marines
    —-1st squadron will replace F18s in Japan???
    Need a new AIM-120
    —-Meteor?
    Advertising CEC
    —-Pull the trigger and another aircraft/vessel releases weapon.
    —-Shame we’re not on this bandwagon!
    Eurofighter never got to the capability wanted
    —-Same thing about Jaguar
    Seems amazing that they’re essentially advertising the idea of a NETWORK!
    1/2 way through software development – this is just another Eurofighter! Slow progress to final capability? Not a big issue.
    Tail Hook
    —-Has been a major issue (found 2011)
    —-Trouble catching the wire
    —-Structural load on catch
    —-Still not even tested on a CV
    —-6 successful catches! Is that all?
    —-This is a long way off sorted
    Helmet Mounted Display (HMD)
    —-Jitter/judder of imagery
    —-”Arms around the issue” – does not mean it is sorted.
    ——–American colloquialisms are great for reading between the lines ;-)
    —-Light Leakage
    F35-C is already called “The Reaper”
    Delta-Path
    —-F35-C locks onto the glide slope.
    —-Basically auto-pilot for the landing approach.
    ——–Does trim and throttle control leaving the pilot to do lateral control only
    —-Makes it easier to fly.
    —-Reduces training time/cost for the most difficult thing a pilot has to do (land on a carrier)

  71. Observer

    For God’s sake Derek, you’re all over the bloody place on your own thread. Go read up on what Simon and the rest of us were talking about before you cut in again will you? The quote I made should help you find the right thread to get your head straight.

    Anyway this is the last time I’m talking to a piece of shit like you. Go to SNAFU, you’ll fit in better there.

    You’ve accused everyone that disagreed with you of lying. Guess you’re the only honest man on the planet.

    Bullshit.

  72. Red Trousers

    Just some thoughts.

    500lb delivered in the right place is better than 2000lbs delivered about 50 yards away. Inverse square law?

    You need a particularly good Kevin.

    Only the USA has both F117 and F35s. For any other nation, the whole debate above is meaningless.

  73. Derek

    Observer,

    There is no need for rudeness or poor language. No need for me to do any reading, you claimed something that was wrong to be true, I pointed out that you were wrong then rather than admit you were wrong you chose to lie about what I said. I very simple but poor show and all rather unnecessary. But now you have been called out its best to just calm down and relax.

  74. Observer

    RT, true.

    There was a little rumble in the pipelines about Korea having a breakthrough in active stealth technology with powered cancellation and a combination of the current LO material, but that line of approach seems to have gone quiet. Not sure if it was a false positive or if it was viable but died due to lack of interest.

  75. monkey

    @simon
    A good summation of the points brought up .
    re the helmet problems with the Vision Systems International design , could the Americans back track and ask BAE to restart/continue with their parallel design? Its less than a year since they had funding stopped Oct last year I think. Perhaps BAE did not stop, seeing a future sales opportunity when bidding for upgrading of avionics suites (the Israeli’s excel at this type of sales , everything from US kit , to French ,to Russian etc giving poorer countries an cost effect opportunity to keep pace with their neighbours who can afford new kit). Getting one of these things to work well would give a Pilot of any aircraft a great tactical awareness/control.
    At present Pilots sit were they do primarily for visual reasons but a functioning helmet of this type would give designers of the next gen of optionally manned/unmanned aircraft more flexibility. Would locating the pilot to the centre of rotation of an airframe reduce the affect of gee forces for instance?

  76. Observer

    TED, not much. It’ll be roughly similar to the F-16. The more interesting question would be “How much better it could be program wise if it was not VTOL.” But then they had to have one plane to do them all.. On the bright side, this means that the UK can have carriers again. Without the B, who knows if the UK might have a carrier at all. But both questions are just speculation since it’s all past history with no way to test the answers.

    Simon, the timing does fit. By the time the carrier finishes testing, the first batch of F-35s would be ready in a year or less. One thing I do have to wonder about the article though. Thought the British did not name ships after surviving monarchs, or leave it one removed at naming by title. So doesn’t that mean that the ship was not named after the current Queen Elizabeth but the previous one? Then it really can’t be said that this ship bears the name of the current Queen can it?

  77. monkey

    @Simon257
    On your link at note about the T23 Iron Duke getting a up grade to Type 997 Artisan 3D last year giving Sea Wolf the ability :-
    “It can now track – and destroy – a target the size of a cricket ball travelling at 3 times the speed of sound”
    WTF !
    (Will CAMM be as good as the venerable Sea Wolf?)
    Also shock horror this is a fleet wide upgrade for this radar system ,T23′s , HMS Albion & HMS Bulwark, HMS Ocean and the new QE CVF’s also , commonality? What kind of nonsense is this? Find immediately who approved this and have them hung ,drawn and quartered on Tower Hill and their head displayed on a spike on Admiralty Arch as a lesson to all who would dare such a preposterous thing .Lets hope this kind of thing doesn’t spread to the Army or RAF or their will be the Devil to pay back with large brown paper envelopes stuffed with cash we have received for services rendered or not as in this case.

  78. mike

    @ Monkey

    The Navy funded it by selling T45 radar components to the Chinese ;)

    That is good to read c:

  79. Think Defence

    Just so you chaps know, haven’t deserted the place.

    Am balls deep in going through just under 2,500 posts to retag, check authors, refresh video and image content.

    All the blog pots are done and working back to front on the longer and more media heavy journal posts.

    Only 230 posts to go!

    Expect light posting for this week as I get it completed, it is a bit of a mammoth job and have been putting it off but there are very good reasons, which I will explain when complete!

    I have to say there is a bloody load of great stuff from guest authors (and the odd one from me) in the archives

  80. Lord Jim

    Both the weight and size of a weapon are relevant to where and how many a platform can carry. The A and C variants of the F-35 can carry a 2000lb JDAM or similar sized dumb ordinance in each bay, but cannot carry a 2000lb Paveway III because the latter is far larger due to the guidance kit on the front, where as the JDAMs replacement tail section is similar in size to the dumb variety. The F-35B though can only carry a 1000lb JDAM in each bay due to the reduced size asa result of the lift fan etc. This is one of the reasons the RAF will be phasing out both the Paveway II and Paveway III, with the Paveway IV becoming the RAFs sole LGB, but with the advantage that the bays of the F-35B can carry two each. Mind you it is a bit irrelevant as for the majority of missions the F-35 will use underwing hardpoints.

    LO is going to help against top tier opposition, but the chances of the UK going up against such an opponent especially by itself are very low to non existant. Against tier two or lower, air dominance is likely and the GBAD, likely to comprise of single digit SAMS, MANPADS and AAA are easily countered by active and passive means or simply flying at altitude.

    So is the extra we and others are paying to have LO bling on our next generation platforms worth it or have our military leader and politicians gone all google eyed and the shiny new technology? Yes the F-35 is faster than a Harrier but with upgrades to avionics and a HMD that works, the Harrier would be able to do most of what the F-35 can in most possible future conflicts.

    However the F-35C is the only game in town for the RN and RAF. I just hope we are willing to invest sufficent funding to ensure we get the most out of it as we have a terrible history of not developing our platforms to their full potential. Just look at the Buccaneer, Jaguar as examples, though the latter did get a boost post GW1 through UORs and in house incremetnal improvements, not counting the disaster that was the Adour Mk106!

  81. The Other Chris

    Good stuff TD. Will make cross referencing easier than a Google “site:thinkdefence.co.uk” search :)

  82. Simon

    Legacy…

    SEAD – External Storm shadow from 400km
    CAS – External Paveway IV and external Brimstone
    Interdiction – External JDAM/PIV
    OCA/DCA – External AMRAAM/ASRAAM

    F35B…

    SEAD – External storm shadow from 400km
    CAS – External Paveway IV (plus internal Brimstone?)
    Interdiction – Internal JDAM/PIV
    OCA/DCA – Internal AMRAAM/ASRAAM

    So F35B only really gets the edge with interdiction missions because it’s going to be crap A2A once it is illuminated by a large AWACS or ground based radar or simply “seen” using IR/EO technology.

  83. Obsvr

    IIRC some years ago Roke Manor discovered they could detect stealth a/c by using multiple transmitters, mobile phone towers to be precise. Obviously some fairly fancy signal processing is required.

  84. The Other Chris

    Aye, that’s widely believed to be how an F-117 was detected and shot down in the Balkans, hence “all aspect” LO designs such as the B-2, F-22 and F-35.

    Also worth noting the thermal properties of the F-35 surface materials and that the engine exhaust is mixed as well as sheathed in cold air from the intakes.

  85. Chris

    Obsvr – sort of multistatic array processing. The same was investigated in the US but I don’t know if any product resulted. Its no real surprise though – it doesn’t matter how stealthy a flying object is in terms of emissions and reflectivity, it still blocks light & RF. The object might be hard to see but it still throws a shadow…

  86. Jonesy

    Yep Passive Coherent Locator Systems. LockMart put their PCLS ‘Silent Sentry’ on the market back in the mid 90′s from memory. Originally, so the story goes, it was intended to be a civvy surveillance/ATC system for regions where the local primary radar net was a bit thin on the ground but there were civvy FM transmission stations etc.

    Only useful for basic localisation under the right background conditions, significant false alarm rates, vulnerable to broadband jamming and, obviously, no value at all for weapon employment. If interleaved with a conventional air search set it can tell you when you have a stealthy aircraft inbound though.

  87. Mark

    an aircraft which a massive plumb of afterburner sticking out the back is stretching the bounds of being called low observable IMO.

  88. The Other Chris

    They work very hard to reduce the IR signature. Long exhaust prior to exiting the vehicle, fuel cooling throughout, heat transferred from the long pipe to the previously mentioned surfaces to distribute evenly, mixed in air from the fan bypass, geometric shaping of the exhaust, aerodynamic mixing of external air, that specially designed tail structure to shield the nozzle, other LOAN system developments, -50C air temperatures not unexpected when running in it’s normal high bypass mode at altitude.

    Imagine once that afterburner is lit it becomes much easier to spot, as Mark says.

  89. Observer

    Think people misunderstand LO. All these talk about detecting the plane is very common. Even the F-117 had the radar signature of a bird and was not totally invisible. Detection is easy. Identification and tracking is what gives LO aircraft their edge.

    LO aircraft are almost always detectable, but they are more difficult to track. In the past, high altitude SAMs were almost always useless because they chased a target’s last know position and ended up in a tail chase. This all ended in the 60s when the programming for SAMs changed from a tail chase to a predicted forward interception where the missile is directed to where the plane *is going to be* this drove up their efficiency tremendously, resulting in the famous Gary Powers incident and caused the death of many high altitude-high speed bomber programs (I personally loved the idea of the Valkyrie bomber, impractical as it was). LO hinders this by giving out less “known location” points to track, so it is much harder to predict where the plane is going to be and hence makes it harder to send something explosive ahead to meet up with the plane.

    So next time someone goes “plane ABC was detected by method DEF by nefarious country XYZ”, it really doesn’t mean anything. Most stealth aircraft are detected, especially at longer wavelengths. Tracking is a different story, hence all these new multi-radar techniques of gathering much more detection points to track the target.

  90. El Sid

    @TOC
    All those measures do is smear out the signature, you still have the basic problem of engines kicking out 30MW or so of energy (ultimately all heat) in a relatively small volume. Draw an imaginary box around an F-22 and it has a surface area of about 850m2, so the surface of that box is pumping out ~35kW/m2 at full chat if you have perfect heat redistribution. Which obviously you don’t, but if your sensor can detect 35kW/m2 then no amount of IR signature reduction will make a difference.

    The first of these vids shows an F-22 in IR at Farnborough, the second is a fanboi trying to “prove” that a cruising Rafale has a lower signature than a F-22 on afterburner, but has a number of other aircraft along the way – the B-2 is impressively uniform from below.

  91. The Other Chris

    Well aware, but thank you.

    As you point out, it’s all about the gradients. Smooth out the heat to avoid hot spots.

  92. mr.fred

    El Sid,
    I think that you have a flawed assumption in there. Namely that all the heat generated has to be output through the airframe. If you can put it out through the exhaust then you have a much larger volume and apparent surface area to put it out from.

    The comparison video is fairly meaningless unless all videos were taken at about the same range with the same sensor with the same settings applied while the aircraft is doing the same thing at the same time in the same place with the same ambient conditions. It’s pretty easy to set the range on the camera so one thing looks uniform while another doesn’t . For example, comparing an F22 when it is doing it’s display routine (i.e. roaring around on maximum afterburner) at a land-based airshow to a Rafale as it coasts in to catch an arrestor wire at sea is disingenuous at best, even if the same cameras were used in each case (which they weren’t)

  93. Simon

    LO should stand for Less Observable

    It’s like the difference between someone wearing a T-shirt and jeans or wearing camouflage gear.

    And in the immortal words of the low-quality supermarket giant “every little helps”.

    The trouble with F35 is that it only gives a little but costs a hell of a lot.

  94. Observer

    No worries Simon, we got nothing else to spend it on. lol

    LM seems to have the future light aircraft market boxed into a monopoly. For now.

  95. Simon

    TOC,

    If you value F35 as a networked sensor platform and LO strike fighter then it only gives “LO” over anything else that would be built nowadays (if LM didn’t have all the momentum at the moment).

    I’m sure you’ll be unhappy with my use of the word “only” too ;-)

    I just wonder if our money is better spent on things like SM3, mega-radars (both ground based and airborne) along with low-level strike aircraft and decent air-superiority jets augmented with CEC?

  96. Mark

    TOC.

    I’m not sure boeing had a monopoly anywhere except the us navy. The f18 superhornet or f15 has never really sold well outside of the US as there high cost high end aircraft. General dynamics f16 has been the star in the western world in terms of the performance/cost/ build development. Part of the problem has been there was a lot of buy in to the idea of a 21st century f16. Unfortunately it’s turned into a 21st century f15 which means while a very capable aircraft will eventually appear its costs have had owners taking a sharp intake of breath as to what there going to have to give up to buy it.

  97. ArmChairCivvy

    Mark, F15 started selling when a strike version became available. Sure, only the ones with a real need would dig into their wallets.

    Conversely, the rest of the world noticed the economics of operating multirole a/c (notably the F16) decades before the RAF… Which has paid with a huge dip in front line niumbers.

  98. All Politicians are the Same

    @Simon
    “LO should stand for Less Observable

    It’s like the difference between someone wearing a T-shirt and jeans or wearing camouflage gear.””

    The issue is that the people wearing camo gear who know what they are doing and can communicate with each other will massacre the punter running around the woods in jeans and a t shirt the vast majority of the time :)

    @All

    There seems to be an assumption that something is either detected or not detected, nothing could be further from the truth. It is vastly more complex than that, range of any detection, strength of contact, is it intermittent, can it see you and respond to it? How does a possible intermittent contact delay ROE progression and even response and launch of a CAP etc (especially if you have cried wolf a few times before and have spooked operators). Will the determination to nail down this “intermittent” contact lead to “target focus” and allow an attack from another direction to slip through.

    All these good things and more are advantages that the tactical operators of LO platforms can exploit :)

  99. Mark

    Acc yep only 5 f15 operators outside the US and only japan and Saudi buying more than about 50-70 aircraft. Conversely there’s 25 operators of the f16. I know there was a cold war but the Dutch bought nearly 200 f16s they will buy just 37 f35s at some point numbers matter.

  100. The Other Chris

    I apologise for not having a lot of spare time tonight to chat, I’d love to, especially now RAF F-16′s have been mentioned! Sure beats working ;)

    Couple of things I was looking into earlier of a bank holiday Monday before the call into the office:

    Program costs for individual F-16, F-18 and Harrier replacements. Lot of money projected for each at the outset that adds up to an awful lot. Especially when doubled. This put me in mind of, think it was TD who said, the UK scored a complete bargain with the £2b plus technology sharing for F-35 access and work shares.

    Also, came across a couple of my old RIAT photo’s and the name on the side of one of the Nighthawk’s over for the display (maybe the year it joined the Red Arrows flypast?) was an RAF Squadron Leader. Anyone know if our ongoing officer exchange has stretched to the F-22?

  101. monkey

    @All Politicians are the Same

    The soon to be wide spread ability to field LO aircraft , Brazil (PAK-FA) ,Russia (PAK-FA),India (PAK-FA) , China (J-20), the BRIC countries all will have some form of LO available about the time the F35 is deployed in large numbers i.e. 10 years.
    How are we coming along with a counter to this problem, its alright slipping a knife in on an concealed thrust as long as your opponent doesn’t all ready have one 1mm from your balls.

  102. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Monkey

    Look at the issues that the US is having with the vast amours of money, expertise and experience with F117, F22 and B2. yet you blithely state that your named designs will be in service at thee same time as the F35 and Brazil who can just about afford some Gripens will buy PAK-FA?
    Of course they will right :)

  103. Chris

    Ref radar stealth and F117 – in the 90s a fellow called Jim Router made a car based on F117 intended to be radar speed-trap immune. It had an XR3i motor/gearbox/subframe at the back, a single central driver seat and by all accounts an instrument panel styled on the fighter plane’s (although no idea how he had details of that at the time) http://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_214162-Custom-Made-Stealth-1993.html

    Funnily enough, it had slipped the designer’s mind that the car looked very unusual, literally unique, so had it been seen speeding there was no room for the lame excuse “you must be mistaken; it must have been someone else’s car”.

  104. ArmChairCivvy

    There have been murmurings about India withdrawing from PAK FA and spending the money on modernisation of the existing fleets… Exactly for keeping the numbers up.

    Theirs would not have been the std plane, anyway, but a two-seater.

  105. monkey

    @All Politicians are the Same and ArmChairCivvy
    Perhaps you are right that neither Brazil or India will buy the PAK FA but we would not be really factoring them as to potential opponents as being long term allies but Russia and China will make it happen as they have the money and technological resources to come up with a workable design. The Have Blue prototypes flew first in 1977 based on a mathematical model found by a Lockheed employee in an obscure Russian Mathematical research paper that had escaped the importance of its nature from the KGB censors (there’s irony for you , the Russians invented the algorithms that ended their own Empire and their own secret police let it out into the world!) .I think in the intervening 35+ years they Russians and Chinese have played catch up seeing the worth of LO demonstrated in GW1.
    “Although the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing Provisional and its 42 stealth fighters represented just 2 1/2 percent of all allied fighter and attack aircraft in the Gulf, the F-117As were assigned against more than 31 percent of the strategic Iraqi military targets attacked during the first 24 hours of the air campaign.” They kept up this pace throughout Desert Storm the F-117A logged nearly 1,300 combat sorties while flying 6,905 combat flying hours. During their mission, the F-117A pilots delivered over 2,000 tons of precision-guided ordnance. They flew alone just using tankers for top ups well within our controlled airspace but after that no fighter escorts or EW aircraft needed to make their runs making them very cost effective when you compare the total cost of a 2000LB JDAM on target on a similar mission flow by conventional aircraft dropping the same bomb by the USN/USMC/USAF.
    http://www.f-117a.com/DS.html
    Still the point is out there, can we detect the PAK FA/J-20?

  106. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Monkey
    “Still the point is out there, can we detect the PAK FA/J-20?”

    The question surely is how LO are they, how close to being operational are they and what issues do they have? Only then can you answer your question and it is not about detecting or not, as I pointed out earlier it is far more complex than that. it is about exploiting strengths and weaknesses.

    LO aircraft did not end the Soviet Empire. That was ended by increased military spending whilst freezing civil spending and the people seeing what life in the West was like.

  107. monkey

    @All Politicians are the Same
    The abilities of the B2 leaked to the free press (you could buy an accurate plastic model in a department store before its ‘official’ unveiling and with the all ready operational F117A being unveiled shortly before did have an impact. The cost of counter acting such a threat was unthinkable as you say “was ended by increased military spending whilst freezing civil spending and the people seeing what life in the West was like.” and that along with the ‘Star Wars’ programme launched by Reagan put them off balance long enough for Gorbechev and his allies to step in.
    Back on point the mission profiles of an attacking F117A and B2 take very careful considerations to their weaknesses , IR (those jets dump huge amounts of heat) and problems with radar reflections from certain aspects as well as sound of those jets (we all remember all the AAA losing off randomly over Baghdad in GW1 at the sound of an ‘invisible’ jet) meant very careful route planning for an attack and escape. LO has its issues as you say which we need to exploit but what are we going to have in place to foil their dastardly attack plans?

  108. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Monkey
    I have read many opinions on the end of the Cold war but you are the first to say it was down to LO aircraft. They simply could not afford to spend 25% of GDP on the military whilst freezing non military spending at 1980s levels.
    Not an alleged western Wonder weapon which we had in pretty small numbers and were in no way a decisive weapon given the huge Warsaw pact Superiority in conventional land forces and their Nuclear weapons. The B2 did not fly until 1989 by which time the foundations had long since started to crumble.

    ” LO has its issues as you say which we need to exploit but what are we going to have in place to foil their dastardly attack plans?”

    Whose dastardly attack plans, nobody outside the West has in service Lo aircraft and is unlikely to have for some time. The Russians and Chinese have flown something that looks like it may be LO but that is it.

    Now I am not an engineer but if I was the US and had the advantage of operating LO aircraft for decades i am pretty certain that I would have worked out the best means of combating them as both a means to maximise their operational effectiveness and for the inevitable day somebody else gets one. hat day is still over a decade away in all probability but the US has had decades of real aircraft to practice with and against.

  109. Observer

    Monkey, I was pretty sure the Berlin wall was not brought down by LO bombing but by civilians with crowbars. And that it was Russian tanks that rolled into Moscow, not US F-117s.

  110. Mark

    You know the way the us defence is shown as bigger than the next multiple countries well there about that far ahead in complexities of these very high end tech. There’s also a reason why we tend to get in on the act too. We don’t even have to look at military side the problems the Russians Chinese Japanese Indians have doing there civil aircraft program’s and the vast western help they’ve had just to get to this point.

    What ended the Cold War probably economics and the fact people want to buy things and better themselves which soviet communism didn’t allow, backed up with a western armed force and the resolve to use it.

  111. Observer

    Another possible facet is the fact that the Western system allows for dissent to bleed off in protests that let off steam before blowing up, as opposed to the Soviet system that once you blew, you’re committed to a do or die path. The anti-war movement was very strong near the end of the Cold War.

    Loved the music in those days, despite the philosophical differences.

    This was one of the ones I remembered.

  112. Observer

    Chris, if we were to rock or breakdance now, it’ll probably be accompanied by rather loud cracking noises from our backs and joints. :)

    ToC, definitely. If not in the UK or US, then in some country where they absolutely have to use the F-35 in CAS. Not everyone is flushed in cash that they can have specialized aircraft for specific jobs, which means a lot of shoehorn. In the F-35 case though, it would be a rather small shoehorn as it was designed for strike. If the designers have their head on right. Which isn’t a small worry come to think of it.

  113. monkey

    @Observer
    The Los Angeles Class SSN was regularly tracking soviet SSBN during the 80′s eliminating them from the equation combined with the in service F117A Nighthawk and the B2 Spirit are/were nuclear capable with their at that time ‘Full Stealth’ abilities had drastically shifted the first strike balance , very expensive ‘crowbars’ they were but helped bring the Wall down non the less. Would the Soviets consider the 1956 style repression of a uprising at that point when as that point to quote TDR “speak softly and carry a very big stick” the potential threat was unstoppable.
    Remember teenager Mathias Rust landed next to the Kremlin in a CESSNA with only 50hrs flying time only shortly before, he passed through the heaviest air defences in the world. All in all I think the contribution of the F117A/B2 is much underestimated , put yourself in an Air Marshal Alexander Yefimov shoes being asked can we stop them? Star Wars was many years away but the Night Hawk and the Spirit were real and in their face only they couldn’t see it before they disappeared in a blinding flash.

  114. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Monkey & Observer – You are both right…the USSR were forced into an unaffordable technological arms race by seeing items like the LA Class Subs, and the F117A and B2 in use and knowing they couldn’t match them – but it also required Reagan (with Thatcher immediately behind to stiffen the sinews) to show real resolve…and the poor sods behind the Iron Curtain to announce loudly (and very bravely) that they had taken as much marxist bollocks as they were willing to put up with.

    Our outing to all points south might have helped persuade the Commissars that we could and would still fight as well…

    As somebody inclined to be on the West is Best side of the argument on this issue, I am still waiting for the Trade Unions, Labour Party and CND to apologise for having mis-called the Cold War so badly…and in some cases taken blood soaked Moscow Gold as well…but they won’t… :-(

    Another good reason to be Gloomy.

  115. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Monkey

    We in no way ever tracked enough Soviet SSBNs to eliminate them from any equation, that is a myth. An SS-N_20 could hit every city in N America submerged 200 metres from its pen in the inner Barents Sea. There were a lot of factors including spending in Afghanistan but exposure to Western values overshadowed any single military contribution.

  116. Observer

    monkey, you were born in the 90s+? One thing Vietnam taught us very very well is that you can bomb someone back into the stone age, but you can never make a pissed off guy surrender by bombing. Unless you blew him into small small pieces, then his whole family gets pissed off.

    Tech toys are very pretty, but the real thing that brought the Soviets down were the values system that people mentioned before and the fact that the West could militarily stalemate them, not eliminate them. They were contained till they self destructed, not awed by toys into giving up. Worst case, they’ll just finish you with ground based ICBMs. You overestimate military ability and capability.

  117. Observer

    As a funny aside, monkey, did you know that Rust was later tossed into the slammer in West Germany for assaulting a nurse in hospital? Remembered that from the papers.

    And it was a myth that he flew in undetected. He was tracked but no one had the balls to give the order to fire on an unarmed civilian plane.

  118. ArmChairCivvy

    Interesting that the Airbus a/c came to be kitted out in the US (by ATK). I think EADS acquired the rights to Viper Strike to give their gunships real teeth (but so far they only exist as paper designs).
    - the low recoil Apache gun is a natural choice over what has been fitted to the much sturdier Herc airframes in gunship conversions

  119. monkey

    @ Jim and ACC
    That gunship adaptation of the C-295 shows what good all rounder it can be from basic transport to MPA/AEW/SIGINT , its size gives it a niche where deploying a A400M would be not be cost effective (a $25m aircraft v a $150m+ aircraft)
    On an aside the Americans have tested a ‘derringer door’ for their KC-130J which can deploy the MBDA Viper Strike (and other munitions) without depressurising the Aircraft. Perhaps the C-295 could use this idea.
    http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=4921

  120. ArmChairCivvy

    That derringer arrangement is a v good solution for situations when there is enough of a threat to make flying high preferable and there are targets bigger than a force on foot.

  121. Obsvr

    @ Observer

    I didn’t see any stone-age people when I was there. Bombing was notably ineffective, didn’t provide adequate suppression because of the safety distance and didn’t hit point targets such as bunkers. All a B-52 strike did was give you ‘good vibrations’ several km away, and the targeting was based mainly of faith, hope and bullshit.

  122. monkey

    @TOC
    These along with China’s Z-X Experimental Compound Helicopter, Russia’s Kamov’s Ka-92, Eurocopter’s X3 are going to revolutionise the versatility , range and speed of the VTOL world presently dominated by conventional helicopters adding a new scale to military operations. One of these types operating in say the ASW role be able to cover much greater areas (twice the range gives four times greater area) and 50%+ faster speed giving the ability to reach a potential target much faster before contact is lost with a greater payload of sonar buoys and weapons to prosecute the target harder. All in all who deploys one these first will have a game changer over all the Arms Land, Sea and Air. Lets see if we adopt one type or shall we have three very different versions because we save a kilo or two here ,marinized or not , it last longer on land if you do , folding rotors or not, much easier to hide on land if the rotors fold :-) or ‘but we don’t quite need that but this would be nice’ .

  123. Observer

    @Obsvr

    That was a quote from Curtis LeMay, the USAF Chief of Staff. I believe there was significant damage to Hanoi in Linebacker 2, but there seems to be a basic complacency that any damage is permanent and that people can’t do repairs or rebuild, and eventually, despite all the bombing, the North Vietnamese remained stubborn, endured and finally won. Which partially proves your point. Though there can be significant damage, it is useless at forcing an end to a war where people are emotionally committed to.

  124. monkey

    @Observer
    The same happened for the Russians in Afghanistan , even without the self imposed limitations the Americans and their allies put upon themselves in Vietnam they too lost to a determined people. I read somewhere before the American intervention in Afghanistan at a news conference an American Military person quoted the same thing as Curtis Lemay , a reporter stood up and quoted a few figures back about the percentages of people in Afghanistan who access to running water, sewage systems, electricity , telephones , TV and car ownership etc. The American Military person then handed the rest of the conference over to a junior and said not another word.

  125. Observer

    monkey, sometimes you have to be careful with “humiliation” articles like that. Very often, it is written by someone with an axe to grind and a political agenda. Face it, would someone without an agenda play up the humiliation aspects of the conference if he was not biased? And I know about having to research material.

    Can you, off the top of your head, remember how many people % in your country (UK? US? God knows where?) have access to electricity or car ownership or housing? You got to go research it right? I can’t, off the top of MY head remember things like that. So what does it mean? That the “reporter” did a pre-search and came ready to set the guy up.

    Cloak and dagger. Always fun. And even paranoids have enemies.

  126. jules

    Well it would make a great COD and CROWSNEST and maybe ASW Sometime in the future, post Merlin I guess, Range is good, not so much new tech as and amalgam of existing, a Lot to like.
    Though four ducted fans (Front and back) off a Ski Jump, who knows…
    He He He…

  127. monkey

    @Observer
    Very true re that reporter being prepared to shoot down the Military , I guess someone leaked his statement to the press so the reporter had prepped up a crash and burn question. A good few of the ‘self imposed limitations’ I mentioned re the Vietnam war was because of the presence of the press on the ground (few such restrictions in their two previous major conflicts WW2 and Korea )

  128. Chris

    Monkey – fun, but now pile 30mm armour all round and send them up the hill again…

  129. monkey

    @Chris
    I guess not very well if it was 30mm RHA but using Dyneema and Armor Line Corporation products like in the new experiment ULV. TARDEC have built three and tested them extensively and now are at the final stage they will keep one to go for pizza (very cool) and the other two are to be blown up in survivability tests.
    http://tardec.army.mil/ulv/overview/index.html

    Or without the armour maybe an adaptation for the US Army new Ultra Light Combat Vehicle RFI.
    http://snafu-solomon.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/us-armys-ultra-light-combat-vehicle.html
    p.s. I still think the dump truck with 8 Leopards on the back has a place somewhere even if only last round of a video game:-)

  130. x

    @ TD re http://www.containertug.com/

    Before here when I have mentioned LASH I have spoken of “folding” tugs/workboats using the LASH barge hull.

    I do hope this container tug idea is a success. Shame “we” didn’t come up with it. Hopefully the MoD trial an example.

  131. monkey

    @Chris
    There does not seem to be any skid marks on the road behind them (at least not from before the shot then an awful lot where their standing) so I guess no practice runs?
    You can just see those dutch boys (and girl) pacing it out from out from the little track that runs across the road ‘ its says in the manual fifty meters so we stop here ,at least I think it says fifty meters , its in german , WTF more beers on me afterwards ‘

  132. Observer

    Never did like Solomon, the only thing he seems to do is rip a piece of meat out of everything. Rather rabid chap, fear for the people around him TBH, someone like that is very unstable, you’re not for him, you’re against him and evil and everything. Won’t be surprised if he pops someone off one day just because the guy stared at him funny.

    As for the US army’s Ultra Light, the first thing that came to some of our minds, especially Swimming Trunks and I, when the RFI came out was “Technical”. Seriously. Some of the technicals in those 3rd world hotspots fit that requirement to a T, minus some roll bars and seat belts.

  133. WiseApe

    Re Solomon – I don’t waste my precious typing time commenting there anymore, but there’s no disputing the interesting range of all things military he posts on. Great pictures too.

    How about this for a genuine tri-service multipurpose vehicle:

    http://vimeo.com/92696522

    BTW, the death spiral is here. Again.

  134. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @WiseApe – seen something very like that before…my boy’s HALO UNSC Marines are equipped with them to take the battle to the Covenant…available from Mega blocs at a toy store near you; some great recce vehicles in the range as well… :-)

    GNB

  135. TED

    @wise ape
    What if? What if? What if?

    What if, we refit refuel probes to our helicopters (thus negating the range increase) and buy more of them with the money we would save through not buying AVX?

    Lovely video, get 100 of them flying and in service and then they are worth looking at.

  136. Swimming Trunks

    “The virtual-reality Oculus Rift headset has been put to a novel use by the Norwegian army – helping soldiers to drive tanks.By mounting cameras on the outside of the tank, soldiers were able to create a 360-degree feed to the Oculus headset, worn by the driver.The device – still just a prototype – is much cheaper than conventional military camera systems.But the picture quality is not yet good enough for operational use.”

    http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27292447

  137. Obsvr

    @ Observer

    It’s useful to remember that the VC were defeated in 1968, but they were mere proxies for NVN. The NVA army also took a hammering in the South until the FWMAF departed. But short of a ground invasion of the North all Hanoi basically had to do was wait. They then launched a conventional war against the South, whose army was totally incapable of ‘conventional’ warfare. The NVA tank driving thru the gates of the US embassy in Saigon says it all (for old Vietniks tanks are not an insurgent weapon). I don’t think we’ll see a Paki tank doing the same to the US Embassy in Kabul (Delhi would have major sense of humour failure), some I’m not among the doom and gloomists on Afg.

  138. Observer

    I’m seeing a continuity failure here Obsvr.

    The reference to bombing in Vietnam was in response to monkey’s claim that the Soviet Union collapsed due to their inability to stop LO aircraft. My rebuttal was that bombing, even with LO has never caused enough damage to cause angry people to back down, so no matter how hard you bombed the Soviet Union, you’ll never get them to cry uncle. The example was Vietnam/Hanoi and Operation Rolling Thunder and the Linebacker bombings. They flattened 80%(?) of Hanoi, but that didn’t make the Vietnamese give up Communism. The only way the USSR could be brought down was from the inside when their forced austerity makes them believe in a better life with a western system and go “Screw Communism, go starve yourself.”

    Nothing to do with current day Afghanistan. Other than the fact that all the bombing there still didn’t stop the IED attacks and suicide bombings, but the factors for that are also a bit different. Afghanistan is so fragmented that everyone and their dog is a faction.

    Do you believe the USSR collapsed because of the F-117 and the B-2?

  139. Chris

    This in answer to Dean’s post on the FRES thread which refuses all attempts to post there – spammonster at it again.

    Dean’s comment: http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2014/05/random-fres-pictures/comment-page-2/#comment-288321

    Dean – whether the VBCI product is good or not that would be a completely inappropriate way to select it. If indeed MPs have mandated the purchase I shall expect their names to be gouged into the contract as the ones to take personal responsibility for any issues arising with the imposed vehicle fleet, especially if the issues were already noted as part of the FRES-UV trials of truth. So the MPs would be on the hook for everything from paying for addition of UK standard cupholders to being tried for corporate manslaughter if the vehicles are not up to the Army’s baseline protection level for the role. That sounds fair…

  140. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Chris

    For gods sake it is not as if it is a complex thing like a ship :) It is an armoured box on wheels with a gun on top that carries x people.
    They are virtually all the same, just buy one.

    I also tried to post in the appropriate thread but spammed out :(

  141. ArmChairCivvy

    ME, TOO!
    DN, an excellent read.

    Digitisation of the infantryman is overlooked, as only when that (at least down to squad leader and his deputy) has been achieved, can the heavy (take ground), medium (stay on top of the fluid situation, fill the gaps and exploit opportunities) and the light (make sure that none of the terrain theOpFor has, or has taken, counts as a secure zone for further ops) forces be fully utilised together, while being independent at the BG level, or for light forces often at a much lower level.

    What is the Felin equivalent of the British Army… And how good is the integration with the vehicle system architectures? The individual systems will keep changing, anyway, so where is the guiding script?

  142. x

    Yes that RUSI article is interesting. But it could have been any First World nation’s army with any one of about 12 different models of 8×8. The only nation it couldn’t have been is the UK who despite being able to build nuclear submarines and super FJ can’t buy a simple wagon.

  143. Simon

    The FRES project is an epic failure.

    I think it should be used to make an example of MoD procurement process. We need heads to roll. We need people (not companies, not committees, but real human people) to be held fully accountable and utterly shafted (if not executed) for gross negligence and incompetence.

    It should NOT be possible to get into this mess.

    How many have died due to the cretins that think they’re in charge and adept?

    What exactly has changed since 1940 that has caused the entire civil sector management layer to be crap at absolutely everything they do?

    I’ll answer the last question: a total lack of quality education, a belief that the “world owes us” and the lie that we all have equal opportunities, so that someone with an IQ of ten should be allowed to design road and rail networks and organise the procurement of a steel box on wheels.

    It’s going to take a couple of generations to educate the apathy out of this country. How many grandfathers would turn in their graves at what their beloved country has become?

    PS: TD must have set “FRES” as a spam word :-)

  144. Think Defence

    Simon, try and post your comment to the FRES thread again. Strange that it allows it on one but not another although I did see a number of \ characters in the error log

  145. Chris

    APATS – there’s a principle at stake here – the UK has an organization in place to determine what meets requirements, and I trust it also has mechanisms for taking responsibility for issues with kit that they should have noted but didn’t. It is absurd for equipment selection to be imposed by uninterested inexperienced career politicos ignorant of the good or bad aspects of that which they impose; the selection being made on what deals offer the MPs most brownie points with voter or other governments in order to promote their own career prospects.

    As an aside, in this particular case the French Gov’t must have laughed themselves hoarse that they are making a deal to sell French built equipment in exchange for equipment made by a French Gov’t owned company. OK so Thales is only 31% or so owned by the French Gov’t but clearly they profit from the sale of all Thales products. I doubt the deal would have gone through if instead of Watchkeeper the French had been offered BAE equipment.

    Maybe I’m naive, maybe I see the world in too simple a light, but I expect politicians to limit themselves to shouting across the Commons like kids in a playground, with occasional forays into lawmaking taxation and electioneering. I do not expect them to assume they have authority to personally unilaterally make any decision on any subject at any cost in any aspect of UK business – that’s beyond the mandate the election to the Commons gave any of them. Grrrr!

  146. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Chris

    What is wrong with VBCI though, we need to stop dithering and choose something. It is a bx with wheels and a gun, almost every country in the world has a version and the differences appear to be minimal so if we get soemthing out of buying this box lets bloody buy it.

  147. Chris

    TD – FRES thread open again for business – pasted comments previously bounced now acceptable.

  148. Chris

    APATS – nothing to do with specific issues the imposed solution may or may not have. But if MPs ignorant of the domain can pick APCs on the grounds of what’s best advantage for their personal careers, why shouldn’t they assume that authority for any other acquisition? I hear there are some moderately recent Project 971 SSNs that the nice Mr Putin might sell – the politicians could double the UKs submarine fleet at the cost of one Barrow built Astute – what’s wrong with that?

  149. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Chris

    Apples and pears and unlike the FRES fiasco we have no issue deciding what type of SSN we want. How did a bloody armoured wheeled box get so difficult?
    TBH it is time somebody made a decision and yes maybe it could be a Politician this time.

  150. Chris

    APATS – on the ‘how can it be so hard?’ point we are in full unequivocal agreement. Its beyond belief that we should need to spend 25 years and to sink billions of taxpayers’ pound notes into not deciding what needs to be bought.

    Personally I think the process has skewed way off course and as a result expect that another procurement (hopefully fewer years and much cheaper) will quietly be set up to buy a set of vehicles pretty much in line with the original FRES requirement of 2001.

  151. bigdave243

    http://www.janes.com/article/37525/first-iraqi-f-16-makes-maiden-flight

    I see the Americans are continuing the long and proud history allied forces have of arming and training a force that we’ll no doubt end up fighting again in another 10 years.

    I know the F-16 isn’t exactly the last word in fighter tech anymore, however it’s still a pretty decent capability with some pretty advanced sounding features.

    (this post is very much putting the cat amongst the pigeons) You’re welcome. ;-)

  152. DavidNiven

    ‘What is wrong with VBCI though’

    There are only two operational versions in production due to it only replacing the AMX 10 IFV and we require a full family of vehicles. If we adopt VBCI we will still need to have the other versions designed (more money) the Boxer is ready to go now in Ambulance, Armoured Engineer, APC, Battle Damage Repair, Cargo, Cargo/C2, Command Post and IFV
    Plus the engine has commonality with FRES SV and its variants. As it’s modular it would not take a lot to design just a rear module to suite any other role we will require.

  153. All Politicians are the Same

    @DN

    Well buy boxer then, just buy bloody well something and stop mincing around.

  154. DavidNiven

    @APATS

    Agreed x 100, Boxer it is. They should have ordered it as soon as the requirement for C130 lift was dropped after we realised you could not get the protection in that light a vehicle.

  155. Frenchie

    I don’t know if you’re interested, but here’s a documentary of our intervention in Mali, this lasts 45 minutes.

  156. x

    David Niven said “. They should have ordered it as soon as the requirement for C130 lift was dropped after we realised you could not get the protection in that light a vehicle.”

    It isn’t the protection, surely it is a matter of scale? It would be nice if the Army’s main vehicle fitted in A400 to move the occasional one about. But that an occasional need should be promoted to major driver that says a lot to me. How many A400 are we buying? How many vehicles are there in an infantry battalion? Much the same can be said about trying to fit vehicles into ISO containers; nice for niche but why limit yourself? What should drive the vehicle’s characteristics is its main purpose, not how it reaches theatre.

  157. bigdave243

    @x

    The fact remains that the UK Armed Forces are expeditionary in nature so having as many things as possible within our inventory being air deployable is a no brainer.

    We’d look a lot more stpuid if we bought a whole load of new vehicles and they didn’t fit into an A400M or the very least a C-17.

  158. x

    @ bigdave243

    Not sure how to answer that because surely that is the very thinking that ballsed up the FRES programme from the very start?

    Moving thing by air isn’t about mass, it is about small niche loads. Very nice if you can get a spare whatever vehicle flown into theatre, not particular the avenue of approach if you wanted a battlegroup flown in. An armoured infantry battalion has upwards of 75 large vehicle we are going to buy how many A400m again? If the situation required us to move so much kit we would have lots of notice, our overall logistics would be greater, and the last thing we would be doing is tying up precious cargo planes moving solitary vehicles about.

    This is all very well and good,

    http://www.shephardmedia.com/static/images/article/Oshkosh_L-ATV_C-130_Wire_Photo.jpg

    but this is really how vehicles get moved,

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/09/Merchant_Vessel_Hartland_Point_Carrying_Military_Equipment_During_Cougar_12_MOD_45154449.jpg

    Wars are fought on bulk. Lots of kit is outsize.

    Planes have got bigger because technology allows us to build them bigger. But the reason why need them bigger is because useful kit doesn’t fit in smaller planes. The user requirements is for a vehicle of such and such a size and that has to be moved. Not we have 20 or so planes so you can build vehicle inside them just in case you want to move one of the one thousand vehicles you bought.

    “The fact remains that the UK Armed Forces are expeditionary in nature”

    Lummy really? Is that why Army’s big re-org is just in reality moving 1 Div’s kit to 3 Div all based on heavy high end armoured warfare? Most of that kit is only transportable in the meagre handful of C17 that we possess. Again the Army have wasted 1000′s of millions on not buying an 8×8 that would have allowed it to undertake a true re-organisation aimed at delivering expeditionary warfare. But they pissed it up the wall trying to get the blasted vehicle to fly in an intra-theatre transport aeroplane.

    The fact remains……….give me strength………..

    ………..I am off to hit myself about the head with a book on the USMC.

  159. Frenchie

    I think that If you’re going to get vehicles over 30 tonnes it is a reason to protection, not a military objective. It is a question of whether we are prepared to sacrifice soldiers or if you abandon some military operations. I think you have need to intermediate size vehicles for accomplish some missions, in addition to heavy vehicles such as FRES SV and WARRIOR.

  160. x

    @ Frenchie

    True. But in this day and age the public’s concerns are the military’s concerns. Protection means weight means size. Volume gets overlooked. Cargo weights effects range that gets forgotten often too. As I said it is nice if something fits in aeroplane, but that shouldn’t be a main driver. As I said that is why FRES unravelled.

  161. WiseApe

    Apologies to The Other Chris who had already posted that link to the AVK rotor/coptor/thingy – guilty of skimming again.

    @Ted – I was looking at them long term. If the cousins choose the AVK – I’m going to call it a rotorcoptor until they come up with a proper name for it – then might we look at it – Merlin replacement for all three forces. Imagine these on a future LHD. Even a gunship version. Conveyance of choice for SFs?

  162. monkey

    So all this has been going on for 15 years , we have been through Kosovo, GW2 ,Sierra Leon, Iraq (‘stabilization’), Afghanistan(‘stabilization’) basically at war somewhere in the world continuously in varying theatres from deserts ,to mountains, to jungle, to the forests of Europe. We have had to make emergency purchases of various off the shelf MRAP vehicles as well as up armouring others as best we could. During this time the Boxer, VBCI, Piranha, LAV, Pandur , VBTP-MR, Freccia, Stryker (and many others no doubt) have all entered service, combat tested, upgrades proposed and implemented, etc , all finished and put back in service . We on the other hand have what to say for our £100m’s spent on talking for f**ks sake. That my money that is , and yours for that matter as UK tax payers its a shambles. I going to have a drink now and calm down.

  163. The Other Chris

    @WiseApe

    No offence taken. Reposts quite often let you see if there’s something new or you missed!

    It’s a Compound Helicopter, just implements this with a Coaxial rotor and ducted fans.

  164. The Other Chris

    Agree with APATS on the “just buy one” stance. Publicly, there really is hardly anything to choose between the choices, if you go 8×8:

    Boxer – If you want immediate access to the existing variants.

    VBCI – If you want to really show the French we’re committed to Lancaster House and Beyond.

    SuperAV – If you can see Royal Marines in it as well.

    Others – If you can show a significant USP beyond the above.

  165. Chris

    Monkey – the CVR(T) replacement studies (plural, consecutive) have been running for 25 years not 15, and the cost so far to not buy anything is just over £3bn, not a £100m or so. £3,000,000,000. Three Thousand Million Pounds.

    Another drink necessary?

    Through the course of the study many designs would have been proffered by the engaged teams, compliant to the requirement as stated. The requirement however changed fundamentally on a cycle of two to three years so that the compliant designs so carefully crafted and costed were by the time they were ready for review compliant to an obsolete specification. Ultimately the studies were in such a mess that Atkins was hired; they chopped FRES into dozens of totally separate studies completely isolated from each other and which produced at the end whitepapers worthy of DSTL for the high science and experimentation documented, but had absolutely nothing to do with buying nut & bolt mechanical vehicles. The studies had gone off like wildly impressive fireworks, all ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhhs’, but by the time Atkins was done the bright interesting exciting fireworks had all but fizzled out and the smouldering remnants could be seen fizzing off in twizzly erratic paths into the dark. Nothing to see here. Move along now.

    By the by, interesting the list of wheeled utility vehicles. CDP having stated most firmly to the defence committee that the FRES team in conjunction with the great and the good from the Army had reviewed every single off-the-shelf vehicle available and concluded that none of the extant vehicles could meet the needs embodied in the FRES requirement. Not one. Bear in mind this was not a rogue study group of scientists and civil servants; the Army itself (according to CDP) had dismissed all existing vehicles as inadequate. Considering the discussions the likes of which can be found in TD’s archives, its somewhat unnerving the Army was so hooked on an impossibly optimistic requirement it chose not to buy any CVR(T) replacements of any capability even as stop-gaps.

    FRES (originally) was meant to be a family. Big & little. Utility and specialist. Wheeled and tracked. But a family. Common support, common training, reduced logistic tail. What it has become is the world’s most expensive upgrade on a 20 year old IFV, allied (if reports prove correct) to a wheeled platform chosen by MPs because their re-election prospects will be bolstered by the high profile trade deal. So not a family. And not designed from first principles defined by the hugely expensive FRES TRACER FFLAV studies as we were constantly promised.

    Time for another drink.

  166. bigdave243

    @x
    Yes ultimately a huge portion of kit we have and use is moved by sea, however we need stuff that’s airportable too.

    Our experience in Afghanistan proves that. Although i’ll grant you we probably won’t go to war with that many land locked countries. However the C-17 (and the A400M if we had them in time) have proved thier worth in Afghanistan with the rapid deployment and re-deployment of vehicles.

    We ARE expeditionary. That is a fact…..it’s written all over the place in military publications.

    I do agree that we have faffed and fannied around when it comes to FRES. We need to just get on and buy the damn Boxer/Piranha/VBCI already. I don’t really care which. Then we really can take the fight to the enemy quickly and efficiently. (regardless of the means used to transport them there)

  167. Peter Elliott

    Over on Military Photos’ QEC thread they are saying that some of the ASAC Seakings will now be extended past 2016 to close the gap with Crowsnest.

    Good news if true.

  168. Tubby

    While I echo the sentiment of wishing that they just get on purchase something to fullfil the FRES UV role, I am not sure I see a way for them to buy VBCI without going for another open competition as if they just went out an ordered the VBCI they would be in breach of EU rules. Also if I was a betting man I would be betting that none of the contenders from the Trial of Truth would meet the GVA standards and that we will have to pay for further development work and then end up spending money certifying the UK specific variants we do order. I suspect that we will end up spending at least £500 million on a demonstration phase contract to design a UK specific version of which everyone 8×8 we do order, only to see us order only a couple of hundred of them.

    http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/09/generic-vehicle-architecture/

  169. x

    @ bigdave243

    How much stuff do you think was flown into Afghanistan? And how much stuff was carted in over land?

    An infantry company will need 12 vehicles , even if you 4 per load those 3 loads are still taking up airframe hours. It is useful. It is done. But should it be a major driver for a design no? What if in the next decade’s wars we require 40 ton vehicles. Bradleys are already topping off over 30 tons. Lastly there is a difference between shipping in an extra vehicle and expeditionary warfare. And I don’t think Afghanistan for the last few years has been expeditionary; unless that now is decided by how many varieties of fast food can be purchased on base.

    We are expeditionary are we? Good for us. I think you will find the US are expeditionary we go along for the ride. It is the difference between going to Everest, and climbing Everest.

  170. Simon

    x,

    What should drive the vehicle’s characteristics is its main purpose, not how it reaches theatre.

    I would have thought that one of its main purposes is to reach theater. Pretty pointless having a 200t armoured car if there’s nothing that can transport it.

    If I were spec’ing this FRES thing a maximum weight of 30t would be part of it as would certain restrictions on width, height and length.

    The Mini was spec’ed to fit in a 10x4x4 foot box. Look how successful that was :-)

    I make no apology for the fact that the BMC design staff’s rulers were not to the same scale as yours!

  171. x

    @ Simon

    Everything is a compromise. I will confess I think our main scout vehicle should be internally transportable within CH47. But I am not sure that we should stay below what 37 tonnes for the infantry’s main vehicle just so it can be move occasionally in A400m if 40 tonnes is what is needed. Let’s hope in the next war nobody advances the design of IEDs or RPG tandem warheads further.

  172. monkey

    @Chris
    Another drink necessary?
    £3000000000 WTF
    That’s 150,000+ Unibuffels ,assume all the members of the Army+RAF+RN +cab drivers+ white van man (all ways a dangerous dude) can drive we have’d swamp ANY peer opponents forces by our BLUE wave of forces manned by the boys from the local pubs armed with pitch forks, sharp fruit etc and now we have occupied their rear as they have run out of things to shoot at us and General RT can redress the gene pool imbalance that brought on our necessary actions.
    Tomorrow I have to deal with a simpler problem so good night.

  173. Observer

    Might I suggest a simple solution to your “expeditionary” problem?

    Use infantry. Need more punch? Add airpower. Wait for the big stuff to be shipped in normally before breaking into other people’s homes. Only the first 2 could be time dependent, the last, you got time to do it right.

    I fail to see what scenario would account for anyone needing to immediately assault an objective the instant you stepped off a plane, and I suspect we’re sometimes talking about different things when we say “expeditionary”. Some means deploying far from home. Others mean amphibious assault. There are also those that use it as a synonym for “invasion force”, while yet other see “intervention forces” as the prime role of any expeditions.

    monkey, welcome to the wonderful world of job security via research.

  174. bigdave243

    @x

    I know that a huge portion of what we have used in Afghanistan has come by sea. However there will always be a need to get several vehicles into theatre quickly, which means airlift. So the need for vehicles to be airportable increases their usefulness and allows us to quickly get stuff on the ground to get our foot in the door while we wait the extra weeks for a more substantial number to be moved by SLOC.

    To take away airportablity of these vehicles to me sounds short sighted. In any case there would be no point in having something that weighed 100T or more because even after you got into a theatre of war it couldn’t go anywhere without huge support and would be an entirely compromised vehicle.

    Likewise if it’s too light then it’ll get blown to hell by the first RPG fired at it. So you need a middle ground. Within that middle ground you have a weight that can be moved by A400 and C-17.

    In saying that airportability shouldn’t be a factor in vehicle design then i’m not really sure what you’re advocating??

    Also why are you so resistant to the idea that we are an expeditionary force? Afghanistan is perhaps a bad example…. Op Ellamy might be a better example of how we quickly deployed a force.

  175. Observer

    Dave, to make a 30 ton vehicle air portable is usually more trouble than it is worth, the 30 ton limit is usually more as an infrastructure limit than an air portability limit. And I really can’t see what scenario requires armour in the field within 48 hours save for an old one. REFORGER. Anything else, you can either make do with infantry/light vehicles or you got the time to do it right.

    And if time’s a limiting factor, then the equipment limit I’d recommend is not A400 capable. It’s anything that can’t fit on a 747 gets tossed. You move more men and equipment in civilian aircraft than military aircraft. Which means MRAPs, Light Strike Vehicles, bikes and ATTCs, not 8x8s and IFVs.

  176. ArmChairCivvy

    @TOC,
    You wanted differentiators. Here are two generations intended for service in the same country http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DG7qpxaLBP0 so artificial differences, like weapon options, don’t have the dazzle effect, skewing the ciomparison
    - I am not aware how much better the Piranha V is over the in-service Stryker
    - the latter are going to be double- bottomed,but will go into that process heàvy and lumbering to begin with.

  177. mr.fred

    ACC,
    That link goes to a Sparky video, so I wouldn’t put too much credence in anything it contains.

  178. Observer

    mr fred, my apologies, I wanted to tell him something similar but chickened out and you ended up with that duty.

    mr fred and I have our difference when it comes to equipment fits, I prefer a more belt and suspenders approach while he prefers to go lean and mean, which is also a doctrinal option. That does not mean I can’t see the value in his approach and shipping is one of the advantages of his method. Without big guns and having most of the unit’s striking power in the infantry plays well to the strategic airlift possibility. The minimalist approach to vehicles means that any of his designs would be a lot easier to lift than any of mine, including supplies, which leads to the whole unit being easier to transport.

    Which might lead to an interesting speculation. If you really need fast airlift intervention, couldn’t you fly in the RM and their Vikings?

  179. Chris

    Obs – in UK parlance the term is “belt & braces”, the latter being the over-shoulder webbing often brightly coloured so beloved by people who consider themselves ‘something big in the city’. Suspenders on the other hand are an altogether more feminine and – um – exciting item of clothing…

    I really do hope you were using American terms Obs, really I do.

  180. Simon

    I agree with Observer in that there should be a split between fast (infantry + air power) and heavy. However, there is a bit of a crossover as soon as you introduce an LCU/LCAC into the equation. The rapid reaction force can suddenly become heavy(ish).

    I do really agree with x in that if it takes 40t to provide the level of protection needed then there’s little point in a 30t vehicle, however, we now use a 500lb PavewayIV because of improvements in explosive yields. What on Earth is stopping the same concept being used back at us pretty quickly. Why is 40t of armour going to make any difference against the future enemy in the next war?

    You have to go back to basics and look at the fundamental requirements. This is lifted from wiki…

    The vehicles were to be rapidly deployable, network-enabled, capable of operating across the spectrum of operations, and protected against current threats.

    …how true it is I don’t know but a 40t vehicle cannot be “rapidly deployed” and a 30t vehicle probably struggles to protect against “current threats”. Catch 22. Split the requirement.

    1. Rapidly deployable = VBCI or just live with Viking/Warthog.
    2. Current threats = ASCOD with CT40.

  181. Observer

    Simon, LCUs are not “fast deploying” or “rapid reaction” :)

    Unless the amphib they are being carried on is already in the area by chance or that the situation took a long time to develop. If you can deploy the RMs from the UK to your trouble spot, you could have deployed your heavies at the same time. And arrive at about the same time too.

    If you need boots on the ground in 48 hours from a cold start, aircraft is the only way to do it unless you got very lucky and have an RM “expeditionary” force in the area. And that means lots of infantry and light equipment only.

    As for the 30 ton/40 ton debate, I’ve to clarify that the 30 tons or 40 tons isn’t really about rapid deployability. 30 tons is usually the bridge or road limit in less developed countries, and I’ve no idea how the 40 tons came to represent “more protection from threats” considering that the 40 ton weight was the weight of some old Warsaw Pact MBTs. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t remember any of the proposed vehicles save the US’s GCV breaking 40 tons.

  182. Chris

    Obs – FRES/SCOUT-SV is 32t with growth capacity to 42t. In all other armour programmes where better protection in the form of appliqué has been developed – certainly in UK – the MOD has been too scared to field vehicles without the full set of appliqué for fear of the media storm and subsequent litigation should a serviceman be injured in the less well protected vehicle. As an example, once Warrior had appliqué developed for the Balkan deployment it stopped looking like this http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/be/MCV-80.jpg and instead looked like this http://www.military-today.com/apc/mcv_80_warrior.jpg, then like this http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/resources/images/1930032/ and no doubt will soon only be seen looking like this http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-t3pt3PTuF70/Uci-FsdBYCI/AAAAAAAACRU/JuvjZ0aPd4g/s1600/WCSP.bmp – it is unthinkable to those who fear the legal storm to send a 24t Warrior anywhere outside the UK; the risk assessors will have seen to that. According to our very own TD Warrior is already in the 40t class http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/06/new-warriors-in-afghanistan/

    So while the marketing flyer lists the base vehicle dimensions & weight, the deployed vehicles go big and go heavy…

  183. x

    @ Chris

    The kits like Chobham for Warrior we couldn’t afford. :)

    Even if the armour can be screwed on/off it still has to be moved into theatre,

  184. Observer

    Chris, in that case, god help you if you have to deploy into a country with a lot of bridges….

    PE :P

  185. El Sid

    Harpoon fans might note that the Brazil deal mentioned by Mike above is US$169m for 16x AGM-84L Block II for their P-3′s, including training, spares etc. Original press release is here http://www.dsca.mil/sites/default/files/mas/brazil_14-09.pdf

    For comparison, a 2009 website lists the cost of just the missiles to the USN as $1.2m per Block II :
    http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=2200&tid=200&ct=2

    It’s always the “other stuff” that gets you – but you do wonder what else is being covered by this deal.

  186. Simon

    TOC,

    Ooo DARPA. If only we had something similar. If only we had a Defence Research Agency. Perhaps we could do some Evaluation within it too.

    Bring back RAE, ARE, A&AEE, RARDE, and RSRE.

    Does DSTL actually do anything?

  187. Simon

    Observer,

    Simon, LCUs are not “fast deploying” or “rapid reaction”

    I figured that our Response Force Task Group was mid way between the supa-fast 16AAB and the supa-slow conveyor of ships necessary to bring large quantities of heavy armour.

    It’s within the RFTG that too heavy is pointless and not enough protection is rather wasteful too.

    I’ve been doing some thinking and have now come to the conclusion that our LPH approach is somewhat flawed. Better to stick with jets and amphibs. Not a particularly surprising conclusion I suppose but it all came about watching an Apache fly over the dual carriageway the other day and thinking that I could build something to shoot that down with relative ease (optical tracking). However, as soon as I start buying the bits I need I figured some alarm would go off somewhere and I’d be taken away to have “a chat” with some mean looking chaps :-(

  188. x

    @ Simon

    google, 5000 dollar cruise missile

    As for 16AAB being supa-fast surely you just mean 2/3 Para and some kit, not 16AAB proper which is the biggest brigade in the Army. To do that properly we would need about a pool of C17 big enough to gives us 12 or so pretty easily. You would need a vehicle that is stuffable into C17 in 4s and do 3 lifts pretty sharpish. Even then you could only move about a battalion plus and stores; they would be a speed bump for a peer. Against a band of Third World ragamuffins it would be a different story………. Of course the obvious answer is for the Uk to have a modest ARG in the Med / Gulf full time-ish. The number of II’s crossing the Med mean we will soon be tasked by some supranational organisation to provide hulls to help protect the soft under belly. It is a bigger threat to European stability than some pirates off Somalia…….

  189. Simon

    x,

    Googled it. Got arrested. Got interrogated. Cried like a girl. Escaped. Had a beer. Happy again. :-)

  190. Red Trousers

    Simon,

    “Does DSTL actually do anything?”

    Yes. They are paying my company a shed load of money for Concept phase studies into an advanced new technology in big data analytics, visualisation and human cognition. Leave them alone, there’s proper big money in this in 3 years, and it’s not going to IBM.

    ;)

  191. mr.fred

    Going back up the thread a bit, I’d like to point out that I am not averse to heavy armour, I just feel that you are going to go one way or another, it should be done properly. If you want a lighter vehicle, go for it. If you want a heavier, more protected vehicle, do that. I dislike the wishy-washy, half-arsed, indecisive medium-weight wibble that most of the 8x8s and IFVs seem to end up as.
    Putting it in comparison to other AFVs, a T55 weighs 36t. I strongly doubt that any of the IFVs are as well protected at the same weight, and that’s comparing modern composites with old fashioned cast steel.
    The 8x8s in particular seem to suffer from trying to fit a full section in behind a manned turret. I say, if you want a light protected vehicle, make it for a full section in APC mode. If you want an IFV, either have an overhead weapon system that does not intrude into your crew space, or sacrifice some of your dismount seats. Protection should be realistic, not optimistic. Ultimately, these are going to be light vehicles, so don’t pretend that they can replace the heavy vehicles (which often happens with the medium weight vehicles)

    If you wan’t something well protected, go for broke, make it using the same technology as your MBTs, Namer-style. Again, either an OWS or fewer dismounts.

  192. Repulse

    @Simon: “I figured that our Response Force Task Group was mid way between the supa-fast 16AAB and the supa-slow conveyor of ships necessary to bring large quantities of heavy armour.

    It’s within the RFTG that too heavy is pointless and not enough protection is rather wasteful too.

    I’ve been doing some thinking and have now come to the conclusion that our LPH approach is somewhat flawed.”

    Agreed – I’ve come to the conclusion that the SDSR should replace the RFTG with separate CBG and ARG capabilities (again). Longer term for the ARG, I would go for something like the Kalaat Béni Abbès Class or even the Osumi Class (actually prefer the latter). Smaller and more versatile than larger LHDs, buy say four and allow for the ARG to grow / shrink as needed. Would like the LCAC also :)

  193. Chris

    MrFred – you speak sense. I’m sure there is a role for you in my company (if it ever gets off the ground) [insert smiley here]

  194. Observer

    A 30mm RWS still needs an ammo feed into the main cabin though.

    We did have a M-113 variant that acted as a test bed of sorts way back in the 90s, they called it the OWS (Overhead Weapon System), a low tech attempt at the modern RWS system. Still had a turret basket, so some dismounts still got axed but the general direction was there.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v210/skyflash/Events%20-%20Singapore/2005/05-07-02%20NDP2005%20Rehearsal/DSC_4330_sz-640_USM.jpg

    With more modern electronics, I think they could do a better job of it today, but now it seems like the trend is all enclosed turret or pure small scale RWS. Makes sense. All enclosed is better for ammo feeding if you have a larger calibre while the small 40mm/7.62s can carry decent amounts of ammo externally that they don’t need to reload that often.

  195. ArmChairCivvy

    Each triple launcher only had one missile… Wonder if that was just for the tests, or is there a weight limitation?

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