Simply Not Good Enough

Tribes of Amazonian indians as yet untouched by western civilisation will probably still have heard of the adverse press the RAF and MoD are getting about Typhoon.

And rightly so, whatever the capabilities of the Typhoon, and lets be absolutely certain here, they are significant, the programme has been a complete cake and arse party

In 1938 the first Spitfire entered RAF service, some 7 or 8 years after the initial requirements and various design studies commenced.

In 1944 the Gloster Meteor entered RAF service, the first Allied jet fighter, 4 years after the initial designs were accepted.

In 1960 the English Electric Lightning entered RAF service, the first RAF Mach 2 fighter, 6 years after the first prototype took to the air.

In 1969 the Hawker Siddely Harrier entered RAF service, a truly revolutionary design, 9 years after the first prototype flew.

In 1974 the SEPECAT Jaguar entered RAF service, a joint venture between the UK and France, 6 years after the first prototype flew.

In 1979 the Panavia Tornado entered initial RAF service, 9 years after the conclusion of the project definition phase.

In 2007 the Eurofighter Typhoon entered initial RAF service, 13 years after the first prototype flew

What strikes me is that truly revolutionary designs like the Meteor or Harrier took less time to get into service than the Typhoon and they really were cutting edge of science stuff.

Now we all know that the delays to Typhoon were primarily political in origin, especially issues around workshare and quantities, Germany being it would seem the biggest culprit and France flouncing off after their demands to have a leading role in the project were rebuffed (the issue of carrier capability also played its part of course)

In the 4 or 5 years since the aircraft entered service it has been dogged by problems, not so much technical problems, but programme related.

As usual, the UK brings a system into service that is hamstrung from day 1 by continual penny pinching and short termism.

The RAF will end up having fewer than half the original 232 from a project in which the cost of each aircraft has increased by 75% to £126m each.

The Public Accounts Committee has reported that the overall project is costing £20.2bn, £3.5bn more than first expected

The RAF has had to spend an extra £2.7bn buying 16 additional aircraft it does not need to honour contractual commitments to other countries producing the planes. In 2019, it will scrap more than 50 Typhoon jets that became operational only three years ago to a cost of more than £4.5bn because it is not seen as economic to do so.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox insisted the project was “under control and back on track”, I wonder what will be next, the immortal lines about lessons being learned, here is the MoD’s response to the multi boot kicking it has had this week.

Anyone who thinks that this weeks ground strike by Typhoons in Libya is anything but a publicity stunt designed to divert attention away from the headlines surrounding the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee must be smoking crack.

Whilst I understand that all the services will want to be seen in the best light, the fact that this shameless and rather ineffectual show boating is occurring in a live operational theatre with very real service personnel should make everyone take a pause.

The mission was a joint one, with both Tornado and Typhoon operating in tandem.

 

It has been reported that targeting pods are still in their packing cases and so the Enhanced Paveway II’s that the Typhoon’s dropped on an abandoned tank park had to be designated from an accompanying Tornado, frankly, I find the very notion of packing cases dubious at best and plainly ridiculous at worse but the fact is, it is nearly 3 years after the RAF declared the Typhoon to be air to ground capable and it would seem very little progress has been made since then.

It should also be noted that sometimes there are good operational reasons for one aircraft to designate for another.

Reported on the MoD’s web site in June 2008;

Typhoon, the RAF’s newest fighter aircraft, has passed its latest major hurdle on the way to becoming a fully fledged multi-role combat aircraft, with flying colours.

What we have in Typhoon is a world-beating aircraft. The Mantra in the Royal air Force is ‘agile, adaptable and capable’. That is precisely what this aircraft is.

We knew it was a world-beater in the air-to-air environment, but we weren’t sure about the air-to-surface capability. Nevertheless you just have to look at the world today to see the relevance of an air-to-surface role, and why it is really important that this aircraft should have the air-to-surface capability.

Well, we have done it, we have achieved it. The guys have demonstrated the capability, which is great news.

The Public Accounts Committee report commented on this;

In 2004, the Department decided to retire the ground attack Jaguar aircraft early and to spend £119 million to install ground attack upgrades on early Typhoons to cover the resulting capability gap. These upgrades were ready for use by 2008. A year later, the Department decided to retire the air defence Tornado F3 aircraft early to save money and therefore re-prioritised Typhoon away from ground attack missions to air defence tasks. It is now not using Typhoon’s ground attack capability.

Since 2008, it would seem little or no no further progress in the air to ground role has been made; Storm Shadow, CRV-7, Brimstone, Dual Mode Brimstone, RAPTOR and Paveway IV have yet to be fully integrated.

It has also been reported that a lack of trained pilots has hampered the deployment and this would seem to chime with the lack of progress on weapon integration. if the only weapon cleared is the EPII then one can see the logic in holding back valuable training time.

I wonder what impact the hastily constructed ground to air operation in Libya has had on training pipelines, has Peter been robbed to Paul?

We should also ask ourselves if the numerous qualification training hurdles the RAF puts it’s pilots through is wholly appropriate and whether some of these could be better met with the increasingly sophisticated synthetic training systems now available. These advanced simulators can be networked together, linked in with other ground and air inputs and crucially, reduce airframe hours, an increasingly precious commodity.

The NAO report is here and the PAC Report, here, if you are into horror stories that is, the report summaries below;

National Audit Office

The Typhoon fighter aircraft is already fulfilling some key defence tasks but it is unlikely to reach its full potential as a multi-role aircraft until 2018, according to a National Audit Office report to Parliament. Getting full value for money from the significant investment in the project will depend on the MOD’s successfully progressing the delivery of multi-role capability so that the aircraft can be deployed when required and affordably.

The 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review underlined how Typhoon is core to the RAF’s combat aircraft capability and emphasised the Government’s commitment to develop Typhoon into a fully multi-role aircraft which can conduct both air-to-air and ground attack missions. Typhoon already successfully undertakes air defence tasks and so far MOD has committed a total of £564 million to upgrade Typhoon for the ground attack role. However, it is unlikely to become the aircraft of choice for most ground attack missions until 2018.

The cost of the Typhoon project has risen substantially. Despite the MOD’s now buying 72 fewer aircraft (down from 232 to 160, a reduction of 30 per cent), the forecast development and production cost has risen by 20 per cent to £20.2 billion. This is a 75 per cent increase in the unit cost of each aircraft. The cost of supporting each aircraft has also risen by a third above that originally expected. The MOD now estimates that, by the time the aircraft leaves service, some £37 billion will have been spent.

Among the findings in today’s report are that key investment decisions were taken on an over-optimistic basis and costs have risen at a rate the MOD did not predict. The objectives of four partner nations on the project are not fully aligned and decision-making is slow. There have also been problems with spares and other support which mean the RAF is not flying Typhoon as much as planned.

There is the opportunity to secure increased value for money in future. The MOD has successfully put some of the building blocks in place to enable this. For example it has a better grasp of the cost of the Typhoon project. But there is more to do to improve the collaborative support arrangements, to develop a timely and cost effective way of upgrading the aircraft and to get greater certainty in long-term planning.

Public Accounts Committee

Typhoon is a multi-role aircraft capable of both air defence and ground attack. The Ministry of Defence (the Department) entered into a contract for the first 53 aircraft in 1998, and is buying Typhoon in collaboration with Germany, Italy and Spain. The total cost to the United Kingdom of buying the aircraft and supporting them in service over the next 20 years is estimated to be £37 billion.

Typhoon is a highly capable air defence fighter and is now being used to defend United Kingdom and Falkland Islands airspace, as well as being part of recent efforts to impose a no fly zone in Libya. However, Typhoon was commissioned during the Cold War and it took 20 years, and a higher budget, from the start of development to the aircraft being deployed operationally.

The Department originally planned to buy 232 aircraft. However, in light of changed operational requirements and significant funding constraints arising from the pressures of the defence budget, it is now ordering 160 aircraft and will retire the 53 oldest aircraft by 2019, leaving a long-term fleet of 107 aircraft. It is unclear as to whether the acquisition of the third phase in this contract, for the last 16 aircraft, was driven by contractual obligations or by operational need.

The project began in the 1980s and the Department was over-optimistic on costs. In particular, it failed to anticipate significant cost increases and delays from the rigid and complex collaborative arrangements. Overall, it is costing the Department £20.2 billion, £3.5 billion more than it first expected, to buy a third fewer aircraft. This is equivalent to the purchase cost of each aircraft rising by 75%, from £72 million to £126 million.

In 2004, the Department decided to retire the ground attack Jaguar aircraft early and to spend £119 million to install ground attack upgrades on early Typhoons to cover the resulting capability gap. These upgrades were ready for use by 2008. A year later, the Department decided to retire the air defence Tornado F3 aircraft early to save money and therefore re-prioritised Typhoon away from ground attack missions to air defence tasks. It is now not using Typhoon’s ground attack capability.

Problems with the availability of spares mean that Typhoons are not flying the hours required and the Department is forced to cannibalise parts from other aircraft to maximise the number of aircraft available on a given day. As a result, it is not fully training all its pilots, and only eight of the 48 Typhoon pilots were capable of undertaking ground attack missions on Typhoon. In addition, the Department had to ground five pilots temporarily in 2010. The problem is likely to be exacerbated as the number of Typhoons in-service increases and they are used in a wider range of operational roles.

Support costs are budgeted at £13.1 billion, but reviews by the Department have suggested costs could be as high as £16.6 billion across the life of the aircraft. The Department has identified potential savings of £3.5 billion to keep support costs within budget, albeit that this budget was meant to cover 232 aircraft not the 160 now being bought. We are concerned that the Department has budgeted for cuts to meet overall expenditure targets and that, over time, the costs will creep up again. To ensure good value from this expenditure, the Department will need to both reduce the cost and increase the timeliness of future collaborative spares and repairs contracts. At present, the contracts do little to incentivise better industry performance and to penalise failure.

The Department has appointed a Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) to be the person accountable for delivering each major procurement project. However the SRO on Typhoon has limited decision making powers and merely co-ordinates activity. That is not good enough.

On the basis of a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, we took evidence from witnesses from the Ministry of Defence on the past decisions taken on Typhoon, and on the improvements that the Department can make to the delivery model to get more from industry in terms of reduced costs and better performance in the future.

This is the first series of reports on Typhoon because the NAO were not even allowed to disclose the costs in it’s reports to Parliament and the public because of so called commercial issues.

For the RAF to try and divert attention away from legitimate and correct fiscal oversight is shamefully cynical and Liam Fox, if he didn’t know about the mission beforehand, should be painting the Chief of the Air Staff’s office red.

The RAF should not be playing politics, it has more pressing matters to attend to, like reflecting on why as a programme, it will be costing the UK taxpayer £37 billion and yet return the sum total of 107 airframes. Yes, I know the headline costs includes support costs and yes, the figure also includes significant economic benefit but that is cold comfort to service personnel struggling with poor equipment, slashed training budgets, empty spares shelves and a 2 year pay freeze.

For the RAF to accept into service an aircraft with 25% less airframe hours than the Tornado is also worthy of comment.

Whatever comes after Typhoon and Tornado, whether that is the F35 or UCAV the first design consideration should be cost of ownership, we have to get better at maintaining our equipment at a high level for a reasonable cost.

The contractor support packages, which we pay handsomely for, are supposed to deliver a contractual availability so why are we reportedly stripping aircraft of spares.

How has Resource Accounting Budgets impacted the availability of spares and stock holding, I suspect that all the services have had to wind down their available stock items, whilst that might look good on a balance sheet its not much use on operations and although there will be differing peacetime and wartime maintenance/spares regimes we should also ask if we have the correct balance.

The majority of costs have now been sunk, although we can spit feathers about what has gone we must concern ourselves with what is to come.

The RAF needs to concentrate on Typhoon; turn it into an effective multi role aircraft that sits within as homogeneous a fleet as possible, with all weapons integrated, an adequate training pipeline supplemented with synthetic systems and a fully funded logistics capability. Although it might pain people to do what would seem to be throwing good money after bad, additional funding will allow us to derive maximum benefit from that investment, extend operational life (thrust vectoring for example) and improve operational utility.

If this means taking funding out of other programmes, accelerating the draw down of Tornado and reducing the F35 buy for example, then so be it, we have to get used to doing more with what we have, rather than lusting after the next new best thing because money does not grow on trees.

The RAF is not the only culprit, in fact the MoD, successive governments and defence equipment manufacturers have had probably a greater influence on the programme than the RAF, but it is the RAF that is the customer and it is the RAF that needs to take this on the chin, stop playing games and do something about it.

For far too long we have allowed vested interests and a concentration of resources on the fast pointy things to distort the utility of the RAF to the nations defence needs, the RAF needs to realise that ISTAR, SH and AT are those capabilities that we actually need more of, not fast jets and however this might be difficult to swallow, like the RN accepting that it needs more amphibs and less frigates for example, it needs swallowing big time.

Instead of wasting intellectual and monetary capital on Investors in People (now dropped) and getting into the top 100 Womens, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender employer the RAF should be focussing on delivering value for money.

When all said and done, there are always reasons behind the headlines, those reasons usually turn out to be a result of people making hard decisions with the best intentions, so, I don’t subscribe to the common view but whichever way you look, the whole story of the Typhoon is simply not good enough.

Not good enough at all.

64 Comments
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x
x
April 15, 2011 5:15 pm

The current issue of Air Forces Monthly has a good article on the shape of the RAF in 2020. It easy to blame the politicians but the one constant through this story is their Airships.

Keep T1 for QRA and defence of UK air space. Keep 3 squadrons of T2/T3 for “overseas” work. Give F35 to FAA. And buy some Hawks for CAS.

Mark
Mark
April 15, 2011 5:51 pm

This program has been very badly mishandled by the MOD we can all see that.
However if you look at the a/c you mention a lot of them while technically in service were extremely limited in there initial service indeed the meteor was considered a death trap for a number of years after it entered service. I would also say you comment about the 37b and slashed budgets is more of what a politician would say that’s a number over 45 years not the last few years. Indeed there will be 160 a/c in service and if you like you can remove the cost of the 72 we sold to saudi of the 37b total too.Cuts in todays budget have very little to do with typhoon.

Lack of ground attack weapon integration and training of pilots is all at the direction of mod no one else and indeed is why tornado is lasing target in Libya for typhoon. The decision in 2004 to retire early jaguar required additional ground attack options and typhoon was accelerated in that regard then the following year the government to save money decide to suspend the typhoon stand up effectively capping the force at 2 squadrons to divert planes to saudi for about 3 years and at the same time accelerating the F3 draw down. Now we have a problem. Typhoon as the only air defence aircraft has to stand up to 3 QRAs with only 2 squadrons and build up multi role training. Raf had to make a call which was to suspend ground attack training (we had plenty of tornados and harriers) and make sure all personnel are fully air defence trained. Fast FWD to 2011 and with new typhoon deliveries just restarted we can 3 sqn of harrier and 2 of tornado jet as we get involved in a bombing campaign in Libya and the current PM asked can we have more strike a/c you couldnt make it up.

The Public accounts committee can jump up and down all it likes but it was the labour governments direction of force numbers and penny pinching that lead to the force being built up in the way it was.

Kentish Paul
Kentish Paul
April 15, 2011 6:10 pm

Its all down to 21st century thinking.

If we go back to the 70’s there were basicaly no multi role A/C. Lightning was AD, Phantom (until it went AD) then Jaguar was strike/attack and Harrier was CAS. Vulcan was long range strike and Buccaneer was medium range strike.

Then it all went “economy”. One A/C will do everything. In an ideal world maybe so, but it doesn’t quite work. Only the USN are trying it with an all Hornet carrier fleet, The Growlers use the same airframe, but they are totally different beasts internally.

In the FAA in the 70’s the Buccaneer did basically the same role as the RAF ones whereas the Phantoms were a jack of all trades doing AD and CAS with bombs rockets etc. The crews being trained in everything from day one.

Having said that, the RAF did things very quickly in 1982, such as AIM9 fitted to Nimrod along with AAR. AAR probes also fitted to C130K, Shrike fitted to Vulcan. (always remember seeing a Victor refuelling a Herc over West Cornwall on a practice sortie).

All this was done in weeks as against months or years.

Just goes to show, if you really want to do it you can if you consider yourself in a real war.

A different Gareth
A different Gareth
April 15, 2011 6:16 pm

With the Eurofighter coming in why did they bother upgrading the Jaguar?

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
April 15, 2011 6:31 pm

The Jaguar was upgraded post GWI aminly as a result of requirements for operations in the Northern No Fly Zone over Iraq and further operations over the Balkans. It was carried out mainly in house and incrementally and with the exception of the Engine was very successful, cost effective and timely. Like many rapid upgrade programmes it installed many of the items that were on the Jaguar “Wish List” but which had not been carried out mainly for funding issues. Additional capabilities then came along under the “I wonder if we can do that” ploicy and as a result the Jaguar gained capabilities like the IDM and HMS.

On the subject of Typhoon I think it will be quoted in textbooks for decades to come as how NOT to rum a programme both on a national and co-operative footing. As has been described above it has almost been a perfect storm with one bad decision being made worse by the next.

The Typhoon could be the perfect platform fr the RAF for the next few decades but only if the Top Brass pull their collective heads out of their Ar$£$ and prioritse investment even if it means diverting funds from the F-35 or whatever platform limps off the CVF.

IXION
IXION
April 15, 2011 7:06 pm

Steady On TD, you should be aware that the bloke what runs this site does not like it when people have a go at the RAF.

Mark
Mark
April 15, 2011 7:21 pm

TD

I agree with that like it would kill them to consider joined up thinking rather than limping from one planning round to the next. The only way this gets better is if the budget is set over 10 years to allow flexibility over a programs length.

LJ I agree with comments. Hobbling F35 is storing up the same sort of trouble for that too. Perhaps going to 5 tornado sqn will allow enough money and pilots/ground crew to allow an appropriate stand up of Typhoon.

IXION
IXION
April 15, 2011 7:31 pm

Sorry TD: – Was meant as a joke.

x
x
April 15, 2011 7:36 pm

@ TD

The British public are used to HMG doing things badly they are inured to it. The majority of the British public can’t get their heads around figures like a billion. And to be honest a lot of them aren’t interested in defence.

x
x
April 15, 2011 7:38 pm

@ IXION

If only there was a rich vein of anti-RN and anti-army jokery we could mine to even things up.

Anon
Anon
April 15, 2011 7:47 pm

One 3* branch of MoD comes out of Typhoon well – DGSAP.

I claim my £5 and Think Defence mug…

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
April 15, 2011 7:49 pm

Mark, a good summary from you.

I would attribute the lack of A2G to this, too: ” decide to suspend the typhoon stand up effectively capping the force at 2 squadrons to divert planes to saudi for about 3 years” as I understand that for the deal to go through, the Saudis had to have those “seats”?

Tubby
Tubby
April 15, 2011 8:42 pm

Having read both CAM and AFM with regard to the F3, it seems nothing really has changed. Nearly decade to get all the problems fixed with the Foxhunter radar, several years to get a better engine, which never really gave the F3 the performance it actually needed at high levels, and defence aids and other equipment effectively only added to various UOR during the F3’s operational life. Why should we be surprised that the F3’s replacement is any different?

Phil Darley
April 15, 2011 8:57 pm

Mark, you are absolutely right it was the lairbor gobernent that kept changing it’s mind that has had a big influence on the mess we are now in. I would normally be the last to cone to the RAFs defence but cost cutting that withdrew the jaguars just after that had been upgraded with new engines, HMS etc.. and before a replacement is ready is madness. Retiring F3s early when we only have a handful of T1s!! What was the RAF supposed ti do

Michael (Civ.)
Michael (Civ.)
April 15, 2011 10:08 pm

Looking at the Typhoon program, the Carriers, the Tanker program, the Type45’s etc etc…….what do you see?

I see HMG not fronting up enough money to get all of these things upto the standard that is needed.

The ONLY time that the military gets the kit it really needs is either near the end of a war or just after it, when destroyed kit gets replaced with the latest version.

We are trying to do too many things with not enough up front money. As for evidence to back up what i’m saying…..think about this.

If we had had a bigger budget over the past decade then the aircraft, ships, tanks, logictic train etc etc would have all the things they should already have. As would the soldiers, sailors, airmen & logistics people.

Effectively what we are doing is trying to balance all these needs by juggling credit cards. Noone has been willing to say no, we have to spend what we have next year on completing this & that program, we need more money if you also want to start that program as well or continue with this program.

Two percent of GDP, thats’s the target!

Nobody cares whether it’s enough or not, it’s just a good soundbite.

Someone asked a realy good question at one of the defence committee meetings the other day.

(my version of it without the umming & arring)

If defence spending does not rise after 2015 does that not mean that there will be a black hole in the projected spending by your department, Dr Fox?

You can imagine what sort of answer he got.

Brian
Brian
April 15, 2011 10:51 pm

The Meteor was a conventional airframe mated with new engines. It was only properly developed with the advent of the F Mk 8 in 1950. The early Harriers and the early marks of Lightnings and Hunters (both up to F.6) were essentially production development prototypes just like the early Buccaneers until Speys were fitted in new builds. The Typhoon is a vastly more complicated weapon system than previous aircraft, requiring systems integration and testing, plus the programme was slowed for budgetary reasons.

Chris.B.
April 16, 2011 1:31 am

@ All

“Among the findings in today’s report are that key investment decisions were taken on an over-optimistic basis and costs have risen at a rate the MOD did not predict.”

Outside of the crippling political delays, there’s the crux of the matter.

Was it not just the other day that some dashingly handsome, wise, and humble chap wrote an article about the F-35 which drew a similar conclusion?

Michael (Civ.)
Michael (Civ.)
April 16, 2011 2:07 am

@Brian

It is those budgetary reasons which are responsible (i think), for at least half of the current delays and problems.

We seem to be stuck in a feedback loop kind of cycle.

One where very neccessary programs are started without the required amount of money set aside, cause it’s been spent on another very neccessary program that is behind budget & schedule due to the lack of money at the start of a previous program.

How, exactly, do we break this feedback loop?

I can only think of 4 ways to do it, that is if we really want to break it for good.

1. Cut future programs (or capabilities), until the numbers or graphs line up. Then in about 10 – 15 years the numbers will meet as long as nothing goes wrong in the meantime (ref. Libya, Afghanistan or a change of Government).

2. Cut all NON stategic operations (ref: Afghanistan), cut some programs (ref. Type 26), freeze or cut some future programs (ref. F-35 or FRES). Re-direct all available money to getting existing equipment up to scratch & give exsiting people the training they need.

3. Sell to Brazil or India the security council seat and all attendent responsibilities, negotiate disposition of falklands using threats of war right now to make it stick. Sort it out once and for all, one way or the other. Cut military to a european defence force but ensure that all the kit we let them keep works.

4. Have outside experts (from for instance, Australia, Canada, France & New Zealand), conduct a real SDSR free of political influence or inter-service bickering. Then adjust the defence budget to match the report, whatever the outcome.

I favour No.4 as i no longer believe what the MoD come’s out with, be it figures or fact’s, youtube vids or rational. Anything that come’s out of that place has been through a blender, how anyone extracts any real information from these documents is beyond my understanding.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
April 16, 2011 5:54 am

@Michael (Civ.)

It seem your options 1 and 2 are what is happening at the moment but they still cannot get the numbers to line up and still need to find £200M to balance PR11. I can see DSDR 2015 being another holding action with a small chance things may pick up in SDSR 2020 but I won’t hold my breath.

The GDP target is pure spin. Even if the economy picks up in a big way net decade there will always be other more politically correct areas to spend the extra money in just like the last Government.

The only way the defenec budget is going to be increased in any meaningful way is if either our territories or those of a close allies are actually attacked and a major war breaks out leaving the Government at the time with no choice, but even then iot would be a case of the horse has bolted as lead times for training and production mean we would have to fight with what we already had for the first few years.

10+ years of concentrating on obtaining and developing Capabilities to match the US with no regard to capacity has led the MoD to this point, made worse by lack of funding and poor programme management at all levels. The MoDs top brass have been neutered, they are not premitted to speak out publically against Government policy, yet are chosen for Political reliabilty so as not to rock the boat. In future they should at least be chosen by a cross party committee so they have no affiliation to the Government at the time to give some level or appearance of neutrality and independance. Cross party committees should also carry out future SDSRs with major input from outside agencies as I don’t trust any politicians, and the Treasury should only have a watching/advisory brief.

jackstaff
jackstaff
April 16, 2011 6:04 am

@ Chris B.,

Dashingly handsome, wise, and humble? Well, cack, that’s me a three-time loser then, good I didn’t write it :)

@ Michael (Civ.)

Something on the lines of the last does seem like the best option. At the very least, there should be a concerted look at the strategy/procurement marriage, and thought processes, in a few other selected countries — Australia because they’ve just done it in rich detail and are An Island You Know (which means forward defence, much less projection, involves a hell of a lot of jet fuel and/or wet stuff), Denmark because they seem to have honed the efficiency part down well with their truly integrated (policy and budgeting) periodic reviews, the French because they know how to stick to their damned guns on sovereign strategy and defence, maybe South Korea as a notable up-and-comer in both strategic weight/thought and cultivation of a working domestic defence industry. That seems like enough data sets to keep busy.

@ various,

Back to two things here I’ve banged on about before:

– Her Majesty’s Treasury is irrationally and dysfunctionally powerful. Look at the balance of intra-state power in a number of other countries by comparison. The fact that whatever the hell the Board of Trade is called this week doesn’t carry a good deal more weight than HMT is evidence enough. Again, none of this will ever get solved till that dragon — twisted up with an economy that depends far, far, far too much on real estate (including the petroleum that comes out of same) and financial services — gets slotted.

– Push the full 232 Tiffys through to actual British service: 172 for land duty and 60 in whatever livery we finally settle on for carrier air. Sod the rest, skip a generation, as Jed and a few others (incl. a non-zero number of me) have suggested try to work that Jaguar magic again with an Anglo-French UCAVed “regional bomber” for further strike capacity. Then either make a commitment to come up with something like son-of-Replica to one-for-one the Typhoons in twenty years’ time or so, or to buy late-model F35 off the shelf. Then file the plan under “High Wycombe, Head, Arse, For The Removal From” …

Chris.B.
April 16, 2011 6:12 am

If an SDSR is going to be carried out again, what is really needed is four lobby groups;

1. The RAF,
2. The Royal Navy,
3. The Army,
4. The Treasury,

Who would all present their case to a committee made of independents, e.g. not in the services, not from the services, and not in government. This group would then assess the merits of the various arguments and file a report for the PM, and nobody but the PM.

A back and forth discussion would ensue until a position can be agreed upon.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
April 16, 2011 8:54 am

HI LJ & Jackstaff,

RE “10+ years of concentrating on obtaining and developing Capabilities to match the US with no regard to capacity has led the MoD to this point, made worse by lack of funding and poor programme management at all levels”
– that’s pretty much as I see it; matching the US is different from paying attention to inter-operability (which is a good thing)

RE “concerted look at the strategy/procurement marriage, and thought processes, in a few other selected countries — Australia because they’ve just done it in rich detail and are An Island You Know (which means forward defence, much less projection, involves a hell of a lot of jet fuel and/or wet stuff)”
– specifically concerning strategy/procurement marriage, one should look at their 2009 base document (two updates publically available), because they have inserted the two missing links in between. 1.Independent (of individual Services) unit to define requirements and track overlaps – some is good; too much is expensive. 2.Once that unit hands over (each accepted project) to an SRO to use our home grown terminology here, the SRO being within the respective Service, the unit will then track the projects at the portfolio level, assess risk and recommend funding adjustments – that includes cutting the project if it starts to look like not delivering value

RE “Denmark because they seem to have honed the efficiency part down well with their truly integrated (policy and budgeting) periodic reviews”
– I don’t know how they approach it, but they have also done the effectiveness part:Decide what needs to be accomplished, and then focus on those capabilities (invariably means cutting something)
– they generally take a no nonsense approach, I still remember the Nordic Finance Ministers convening after the second Oil Crisis, to learn from each others policies. The Dane ” I know that we (specifically Denmark, compared to the rest) are on the road to hell – but at least we are travelling in the first class”

Anthony Gilroy
Anthony Gilroy
April 16, 2011 11:12 am

Interesting article without a doubt.

That said I am not sure that we should be willing to cut F35 or UCAV to get the Typhoon up to scratch.

While the fighter is a capable plane the overcost of the project, it’s delays and total failure have cost the other forces heavily. Cutting F35 would cost the RN heavily because you can BET the RAF would take thoe cuts from the RN operational deployment first.

Your right, we need to get wise, we need to start having a better procurement process to avoid these hideous over costing issues.

However we also need to get the RAF playing politics and being the “blue eyed boy” sorted out.

It deploys less often than the 2 other forces, it deploys for less time than the 2 other forces, it has shown to be less flexible than the 2 other forces being primarily interested in it’s FAST JETS and nothing else… yet it has the biggest budget that is almost as much as the 2 other forces combined.

The RAF and MOD deserve the grilling they are getting. I mean, Libya is a publicity stunt… initial strike was 6 storm shadow cruise missiles launched by 6 Tornado… Sure the distance traveled was impressive but you know what?

Sea Harrier off the Invicible with Sea King AEW.7 would have been within 20 minutes strike time from request of help from these rebels we want to support. It would have been capable in ground attack and air to air…. Sorry we got rid of those assets… could have kept them if the Typhoon wasn’t such a sham… or the RAF Air Marshel played politics at the SDSR in it’s final stages.

Typhoon shouldn’t be fixed at the detriment of the other services and lives lost… that’s the problem with a cock up of this level.

McZ
McZ
April 16, 2011 12:03 pm

History repeats, always…

In 1982, we had BAe building a prototype aircraft vastly superior to any contemporary fighter including the F-16 and F-18.

The project was named ACA (Agile Combat Aircraft) and was a project to get a new fighter until 1988/9. The bird felw, was absolutely world class, and best of all: was ruthless common with the Tornado (shared the aft section). BAe estimated, to have a working production aircraft by 1988.

Then, someone found it cheaper to not buy british. Procurement should either be “cheap and cheerful off the shelf working american kit” or moved down the european cooperation road.

The latter solution had bad times and good times. Bad were the NMBR-projects, especially NMBR-, where the P.1154 was designed for. Basically, neither the RN nor the RAF wanted that plane, the RN torpedoed it with making it’s requirement as different as possible. 1964, it was cancelled entirely. Two years later, the Wilson-gov cancelled carrier air, and the RN was stuck with it’s neither cheap nor chearful Phantom. It was pure luck and BAe making a private venture to get a naval Harrier variant, which essentially saved HMG from it’s own follies.

The first thinking was never delivering any suitable platform – including the Phantom, and was never cheap. But the thinking is back: let’s buy off-the-shelf and anything will be OK. No, it will be not.

After the TSR.2 was cancelled, the Labour-gov decided to buy 50 F-111K. Two years later, they got also cancelled. Commentaries said, one strike aircraft scratched was a decision, two smell like having no policy. This is also valid in todays environment.

The well-known TSR.2 story also had a few other parallels. It was called by Labour ministers “this inherited monster … which was already gone on long enough”, later they proclaimed that it was “not the duty of the defence forces to act as a wet nurse to the overgrown and mentally retarded children in our economy”.

This was made worse by the civil servants already hammering each and every project that was going on. It was essientially impossible for a british company to deliver a project in time and on budget, because there were expert circles for each and every piece of kit. There was a 30-persons commission deciding on what switches to put on a cockpit, but there was not a single pilot involved.

This ‘two-fronts-war on the industry’ raged basically with any post-Churchill gov form 1956. In a time, where each and every nation was welcoming a thriving aerospace industry as a technological enabler and as a sign of national greatness, the UK simply gave up. BAC was the first major mistake, eating up three very innovative and competing companies, virtually eradicating innovation and competition. BAe was the second, eating up the rest of the once well regarded industry.

What do I want to say: always remember history when making proposals on this blog.

TD, your proposal to concentrate on the Typhoon is sensible, with a possible SeaTiffy we would also have state-of-the-art carrier air for miniscule money, and we would be ruthless commonal.

Jack
Jack
April 16, 2011 12:17 pm

@think defence

I’m speechless! I imagined attacks on tanks by the RAF Typhoon to be precisely the kind of thing you would jump on and tell us all how great it was, how brilliant the Typhoon is, how the RAF is the best etc etc. But you didn’t!

I thought it was spot on the money! An operation not in the slightest bit military in effect but purely political in nature. As were the 3000nm bombing missions by the Gr4s. Truly shocking. It’s sad that the Airships are driven to this sort of political thinking and then allow it to influence mission planning during live operations.

Brilliant article! Very very good!

Mark
Mark
April 16, 2011 12:27 pm

Mcz

I agree totally with your post. However typhoon will not be a gd carrier a/c. If you want a plane to fly off a carrier it need to be designed in from the start like rafale or f35. We may never learn. Commonality of platforms and systems across the services is a must

Anthony Gilroy
Anthony Gilroy
April 16, 2011 1:20 pm

“I agree totally with your post. However typhoon will not be a gd carrier a/c. If you want a plane to fly off a carrier it need to be designed in from the start like rafale or f35”

I disagree with this, due to the nature of the Typhoon it would fly very well off a carrier anyway. Indeed it was shown early on in it’s development that this was a real potential.

IXION
IXION
April 16, 2011 3:36 pm

Can I make a general observation.

Am I stretching TD’s point?

There is much it’s all the fault of those *$%!!! politicians, or: The failure of the MOD’s latest:-

‘Knowing Our AR*e from our Elbow when buying sh*t policy’

On this site.

However how much of this is the fault of service chiefs ‘I want that one’ (In best Little Britian voice) attitude? Someone put the idea for:-

CVF
T45
Eurofighter
Fres

Etc etc Into the heads of the various politico’s and suits. Perhaps those in the gold braid should shoulder some of the blame?

Anthony Gilroy
Anthony Gilroy
April 16, 2011 3:53 pm

However how much of this is the fault of service chiefs ‘I want that one’ (In best Little Britian voice) attitude? Someone put the idea for:-

CVF
T45
Eurofighter
Fres

Except that the T45 was needed, Britain had desperate need of an AAW destroyer. Unlike the T22 B3, or T23 the T42’s are hulls in the water and really needed replacing.

The CVF was needed, it has been needed in the form of CVA-01 since before 1980’s. The CVS do well however a proper carrier with a versatile strike group was and still is needed.

Tornado and Harrier were going to get old, when the concept for Eurofighter was put down it was a good idea. Tornado is an excellent fighter and a multinational effort, I guess that contributed to us going multi-national.

To be fair, I do wonder if Naval Typhoon wouldn’t bring the cost per fighter down again due to adding numbers in the form of the UK and India (if done right due to the minor modifcations made and many of those are planned such as ASEA).

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
April 16, 2011 4:43 pm

Another Kilroy says:

CVF: necessary for being able to reorientate from always riding along with the US, with whatever we’ve got to offer (regardless of the actual context)

T45: Absolutely so, to bring a lob-sided capability uptodate with today’s threats, and able to deploy, to meet them (with the rest of the relevant assets)

The last two: All about managing (not strategy; comes from “above”), but capabilities, portfolio, requirements (for change in capability), then we go to procurement vs LEP’ping and so on (bad mngt and whatever happened…)

Chris.B.
April 16, 2011 5:14 pm

@ IXION

The trouble is, all of those tools shouldn’t have cost what they do now. All would be seen as reasonable expenses. It’s not unheard of for Navies to operate aircraft carriers or missle destroyers, for air forces to want fighters and for armies to want well protected vehicles.

It simply cannot be denied that if it wasn’t for the bungling of the MoD and successive governments, then these projects would have likely come in on time and on budget.

Jan Guest
Jan Guest
April 16, 2011 5:30 pm

However how much of this is the fault of service chiefs ‘I want that one’ (In best Little Britian voice) attitude? Someone put the idea for:-

CVF
T45
Eurofighter
Fres

Etc etc Into the heads of the various politico’s and suits. Perhaps those in the gold braid should shoulder some of the blame?

Of course they should but in my perfect fantasy world those politicos who style themselves ‘Prime Minister’ or ‘Minister of Defence’ should know and care enough about the Armed Forces and the kit they use to be aware when they are being sold something and know the difference between need and want. To often the Ministry is just seen as a reward for a political safe pair of hands or someone “who always voted at their parties call and never thought a thinking for himself at all”.

Peter Arundel
Peter Arundel
April 16, 2011 5:44 pm

I begin to wonder if the MoD needs to go independent – a bit like the Bank of England. Budgets could be set as a percentage of GDP or of government spending overall and cannot be reduced below that level although governments would be free to increase it if they liked BUT they would have NO influence on how that budget was spent.

Just a thought – and not a well thought through thought either but there you go . . .

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
April 16, 2011 5:45 pm

RE “often the Ministry is just seen as a reward for a political safe pair of hands or someone “who always voted at their parties call and never thought a thinking for himself at all”
– surely not the one on the “hot seat” right now?

Tubby
Tubby
April 16, 2011 6:12 pm

Poor Liam Fox, got the job he wanted, likely had a good idea what he wanted to do, and has discovered he has zero chance of actually doing it.

x
x
April 16, 2011 6:29 pm

@ Peter A

Sound eminently sensible to me. Then again I think the BBC should put the cost of each show in the end credits with a link to a webpage showing a full cost breakdown.

Mike
Mike
April 16, 2011 6:49 pm

Anthony Gilroy

The Sea Harrier’s attack and CAS capability was pants, compared with the Gr, was always rather pants…even in ’82 when the RN recklessly ignored the GR3’s capabilities much to the army and marines detriment, surely you mean Gr9’s, the sea harrier was first and foremost a fighter. Was dumped because it couldn’t (with the money we had) fit into the CAS/Attack role.

Interesting article TD

Will be interesting to see how far this goes until the whole show changes, with the entire services and MoD, how far will it go? For how long will this go on for until things are finally straightend out.

McZ
McZ
April 16, 2011 6:57 pm

@Mike
As I wrote, it goes on since the mid-50ies. As long as politicians are being promoted for what I call “short-range politics”, there will be no enhancement.

Last time such a mess was corrected, it needed a Cromwell…

IXION
IXION
April 16, 2011 8:17 pm

CHRIS B ET AL

I was not Knocking the kit I listed as equipment, (Quite happy too but for another day perhaps).

What I meant was that the organisation and managment of the programs was total crap making them stupidly expensive and thus reducing the number we could afford.

But in many cases it started with a: –

Gold plated
Furr lined
copper bottomed

Fantasy Fleet spec’ed requirement in the first place, which having been written as a wish list; rapidly becomes an absolute no compromise accepted tablet of stone at a very early stage. Whilst it’s still in the hands of uniforms.

And having got it what do you know we can’t afford the spares etc to use them. See TD above.

x
x
April 16, 2011 10:41 pm

@ TD

I think for many history has stopped happening. “We” have been far too safe for far too long.

McZ
McZ
April 17, 2011 11:27 am

@TD
I agree in most of your points. Wanna add, that the last strategic shock in 1989 induced a ‘peace dividend’ because of the enemies utter and instant collapse. While the current 2010/11 strategic shock may give Egypt and even Saudi-Arabia to islamistic outlaws, each having large and potent armed forces capable of wiping out even US interest in the middle east.

So, it’s time to get independent especially from external energy ressources.

Secondly, we have to bear in mind, that the UKs industrial arm is broken and needs healing on a wide scale. The problem is, the return-of-investment on making things is far lower than on so-called financial products.

And maybe, just maybe, the moral hazard connected with the financial crisis is only the most obviuous sign, that the entrepreneurship that made the west great is simply gone.

So, what is needed is not one reformer, we need two at minimum.

If Osborne is the man to crop the financial sector, I have my doubts. I don’t even see a single initiative to make banks and fonds smaller to have no too-big-to-fail game again.

McZ
McZ
April 17, 2011 11:56 am

Want to further add something to the article: excluding Jaguar and Tornado, every one of the designs noted were revolutionary designs (if we admit Typhoon to be son-of-EAP).

Each and every system mentioned including Spitfire was introduced into service in a version having minor initial capabilities, but enormous potential (used – as with Spitfire – or not – as with Lightning).

So it’s OK with systems having evolutionary steps.

What really bothers me is the fact, that integration of new weapons should get easier the better the technology becomes. Really, it is (or should be) only a matter of modularity of the software architecture.

It’s a bit off-topic, but as a senior software architect, I still cannot believe how someone can promote to write complex systems software in C or C++. The basic drivers, OK, maybe. But for anything high-level, the Java or .NET-environments are better and more secure. They both keep getting constantly faster and more efficient.

So, if we talk about integration or systems development times & cost, we have to change horses and provide not only hardware standards but software standards as well. AQAP-160 on NATO-Level is just not enough.

Jed
Jed
April 17, 2011 3:26 pm

McZ – interesting comments ref software. I thought the excepted standards was ADA, which of course no one uses, as apparently it’s too difficult to learn !

Surely C / C++ is all you need to pass a set of coordinates from one computer to another, why do you need a high level language like Java ? As for .Net, call me a M$ hater, but after the “Windows for Warships”debacle, the last thing I want running on a combat aircraft is a Microsoft stack !!

Jed
Jed
April 17, 2011 3:38 pm

Mike ref “The Sea Harrier’s attack and CAS capability was pants, compared with the Gr, was always rather pants…even in ’82 when the RN recklessly ignored the GR3′s capabilities much to the army and marines detriment, surely you mean Gr9′s, the sea harrier was first and foremost a fighter. Was dumped because it couldn’t (with the money we had) fit into the CAS/Attack role.”

Wow, are you in the RAF by any chance ? In 1982 the Sea Harrier FRS1 was actually a more capable attack aircraft because it had the better, more reliable and more accurate Inertial Navigation System and a radar that allowed it to update said system. The GR3 had a nose mounted laser rangefinder and marked target seeker. Neither aircraft of course had anything like the modern targeting pods or precision guided weapons available to it. So the Sea Harrier could do medium altitude bombing with greater accuracy, while down in the weeds with 68mm rocket pods, I don’t think there would have been any difference.

Otherwise your right, second generation Harrier Gr7/9 or Harrier II in other peoples use, was designed primarily as a bomb truck for the USMC. However every user except the RAF fitted a radar to make it a multi-role / all weather aircraft. Once again it all comes down to cash, but admittedly, even if Sea Harrier FA2 had been given a targetting pod, it was short on lift and weapons pylons to actually carry the stores. Fitting a radar to the GR7 would have been the ideal solution – single type, multiple roles – and we can guess who put the mockers on that one – starts in T and ends in reasury…….

ADB
ADB
April 17, 2011 4:57 pm

Some people have said that the Tranche 1 Typhoons are eating through thier airframe hours at a rapid rate (due, I suppose, to there not being many reserve airframes as the follow-on a/c were diverted to Saudi Arabia) and may be knackered by 2015 anyway. Can anyone enlighten?

Richard W
Richard W
April 18, 2011 11:39 am

The cut in budget due to deficit reduction was ‘only’ 8% and that only had to be achieved by2015. If that was the end of the matter it wouldn’t have been too bad. The current budget cutting is, we therefore have to assume, to pay for the wave of projects the MoD entered into without ever having the means to pay for them.

In the case of the RAF they couldn’t stop themselves from leasing a fleet of 14 air tankers costing circa 500 million per annum. But having got them, to pay for it they have seen their fast jet fleet reduce to five squadrons and not enough spare parts and training for those. The irony is of course if you only have five squadrons you don’t need 14 air tankers! You would think that such a basic point would have been recognised before someone signed on the bottom line.

Wibble
Wibble
April 18, 2011 1:05 pm

There is a Typhoon et out in Canada right now to carry out various A to G clearances so the fact the Typhoon got quickly singed off to drop Paveway II is no big surprise. The Canada det had been planned for months/years so there is no PR conspiracy.

McZ
McZ
April 18, 2011 1:08 pm


Is it that simple? As I understand software driven signal processing, the system needs to work like an high-performance application server. State of the Art in this category is Tomcat, a pure Java system, or a middle-tier .NET-WCF-service (the strategies are quite different).

ADA is actually not too complicated, but there are few developers. This is mostly due to the fact that ADA is not used in the business environment and has no database-connectivity features.

Software IMO has some irreducable dimensions, in detail: inherent security, developmental cleansiness, innovative development techniques and realization time & cost. None of which sees C/C++ in a lead position.

.NET is a MS-stack, but it’s standardized by the ECMA. There is an OSS-clone, mono. It’s main advantages are the integrated security features and with C# being the more advanced language, making it easier to develop memory-constrained apps.

Jed
Jed
April 18, 2011 2:23 pm

McZ – I hear you, I do, I am in IT, although I have never been a developer, and have not done any ‘real’ programming since my degree (only shell scripts since then). Personally I want a weapons system and its interfaces to be written in Machine Code !

Mike
Mike
April 18, 2011 3:51 pm

Jed

Yes I am, and that was what I was getting at, the modern Gr5/7/9 compared to the FA2 was simply superior because it was designed as such, since the shar was foremost a fighter; simple fact it was never intended to do ground work, and in todays mantra of multi-role, it simply couldn’t catch up sadly. If any ‘naval’ harrier was alive today; it’d be around the Gr frame… damn we should have had the radar installed and crossed over, the blue vixen was rather good, then again that too was mostly for air-to-air work.
Also, I mean to mention in ’82 the RN rather badly ignored 1 Sqn’s huge experiance in ground attack, not just platform, but the men with the know-how, kinda did restrain operational capability, though I do think it was that experiance which slowly produced JFH – makes me rather dour to feel such a good combat prooven joint force is now languishing in a few hangars :/

but as the JFH commader said, its dormant atm, its Adieu, not goodbye, lets hope the experiance pays dividens when – if – F-35 or whatever comes to fly from our flat-tops comes into fruitition.

Yeesh
Yeesh
April 19, 2011 2:46 am

It’s political correctness gone mad!

The Ministry of Defence has problems with procurement but I doubt those are caused by being a good employer for LGBT people. How much time and money do you think Defence Equipment & Support spent on obtaining that rating? My guess is somewhere between none and very little.

You can make your point without going all Daily Mail.

McZ
McZ
April 19, 2011 12:00 pm


“Personally I want a weapons system and its interfaces to be written in Machine Code !”

Then you have to use Assembler, as C/C++ itself requires a runtime-environment, too. And you have to live with high development cost and cycles.

I predict, the next major war will be won by the side pulling out the safest software systems and fielding software-based evolutionary improvements as fast as possible.

Bad times for C…

Alex
Alex
April 24, 2011 12:52 pm

I predict, the next major war will be won by the side pulling out the safest software systems and fielding software-based evolutionary improvements as fast as possible.

This!

Also, what does this “integration” consist of? Couldn’t we have made the various whizzy bang things more standard?

Chris in Virginia
Chris in Virginia
May 3, 2011 4:37 pm

Why doesn’t the UK purchase the Gripen NG to replace the Tornado? I have been on another thread trying to give you guys the USS JFK, and Kitty Hawk, (assumes E/F-18 deal), but few takers…

However, wouldn’t the Sea Gripen NG give commonality to both the navy, and RAF? Lower costs, and although it is one engine, so is the F35.

If you are looking for lowering long term costs, don’t look at USA jet fighters… look at what the thieves have done to the cost of F35 now; you expect better in the future?

I am willing to bet you could fly a Sea Gripen off the HMS Ark Royal STOBAR also. Look at the Harrier specs, and Gripen’s, and they are almost identical, to include Gross Take off weight, wing spans, and height. (Just to throw that out there).

The UK could use Typhoon – Gripen, as the USA uses F-15/F-22 – F-16/F35. Higher cost air superiority, and low cost multi-role.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
May 3, 2011 5:34 pm

RE “Why doesn’t the UK purchase the Gripen NG to replace the Tornado? … Lower costs, and although it is one engine, so is the F35.”
– I am mainly responding because a Tornado just flew over, at under 100 meters and with a full weapon load… very rare over the UK? and without the normal wingman in tow”
– yes, the Gripen costs are very appealing, but from the main takers of other (agreed) aircraft, I’ve only noticed Denmark disappearing from the F-35 roster (an editor’s mistake? or a fact?)
– the above could relate to a Nordic initiative, but Norway seems to continue on the F-35 track, as they have the long gap between mainland Norway and Svalbard to worry about (range! plus anti-ship strike, for which they will supply all the other users)
– do note that the SeaGripen is a paper aircraft, and if Brazil does not take it, it will probably never come into existence

Wibble
Wibble
May 3, 2011 6:02 pm

@Richard

Tanker deal is PFI and will perhaps pay for itself in opart. The big idea is that the RAF leases back spare capacity to the PFI partner. So out of 14 aircraft you may see half leased out etc.

Dont forgot it is MPs that sign off on these deals, not the RAF!!

Chris in Virginia
Chris in Virginia
May 3, 2011 10:38 pm

:
F-35 is going to bleed your coffers dry, for an aircraft that carries half the ordnance, for a supposed stealth capability.

I am not a believer in stealth, i.e. F-117 was shot down by the Serbs by simply adapting their tactics to the threat.

From what I am reading from you guys (and it is very informative), cost is handicapping both services to the point, they are ‘kneecapping’ each other rather than finding a common solution to both branches. I understand the dynamic, as the US Army has been trying to do away with the USMC since its conception.

In that light, I suggest you guys start thinking outside of the box, and get some commonality to save costs, and save both services. For instance if an RAF crew goes down in Libya, you are better served with carrier aircraft to go in and get that pilot, and vis versa depending on the mission.

I see commonality in the Gripen, or E/F-18 for both services, and Gripen would be far cheaper. The Gripen is also STOL so half way carrier capable. Also, had ya’ll retained the former HMS Ark Royal with F-4 Phantoms, it was lights out for the Argies..

i.e. You could have taken the fight to their mainland… and the junta would have been caput! I want the UK to have that capability… and back to my carrier offer, or some combination thereof.

x
x
May 3, 2011 10:53 pm

The Argentines were flying at extreme ranges with limited tanker support. Why would the RN have wanted to go any closer to mainland South America?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
May 3, 2011 11:13 pm

“The Gripen is (also STOL so) half way carrier capable”…
SPLASH !!!

Sorry, I could not resist it

Chris in Virginia
Chris in Virginia
May 4, 2011 12:40 am

X:
Simply to

A: Sink their carrier in port, if not after dispatching it at sea. I have read six books on FI, and never read where SN spotted their carrier, before, or after it’s aborted A-4 raid on the TF.

B: Strike their airfields, thus virtually isolating ground forces on FI.

C: Take the wind out of the sails of the public enthusiasm for the venture in the first place.

ACC:

You are skeptical I see.. My point being their undercarriages are already beefed up, and from what I have read already capable of dealing with the salt water environment.

From the videos, it rotates very quickly on t/o. I wonder if the current Gripen ever been tested utilizing a ski jump on land? I sure it hasn’t been tried at sea, but inherently the aircraft was designed, unlike any other aircraft to use STOL. The exception being dedicated STOVL aircraft.

It’s current specs almost mirror the Harrier, and the thrust specs, are without F414 engine that the NG is designed to have. I was reading on this blog a F-35B would need almost all the deck for it to take off.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
May 4, 2011 7:21 am

Hi CIV,

Don’t get me wrong: I am a great Gripen NG enthusiast, but also I try to keep realism “intact”.

RE:” I wonder if the current Gripen ever been tested utilizing a ski jump on land? & I sure it hasn’t been tried at sea, but inherently the aircraft was designed, unlike any other aircraft to use STOL.”
– google the Brazilian fighter competition: at some point they sent 20 aeronautical engineers to work with the Gripen team, and they would have focussed on your theme (as the rest in all in the literature). Sweden also offered full tech transfer and to buy the Brazilian tactical transport (as Herc replacement)

“I was reading on this blog a F-35B would need almost all the deck for it to take off.”
– yes, the British carrier’s deck, with full weapon load (ie. on a strike mission)
– we know the exact meters because the trialling was against original design/performance criteria (which were met)