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First UK F35C Flight


A tip of the hat to Snafu

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55 Responses

  1. and there you have it.

    the solution is for the UK to terminate the Typhoon and make a buy of the F-35A and C to fulfill the needs of the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm.

    problem solved!

  2. But according to most of the contributors here Typhoon is fine for at least the next 10-15 years.

    It’s not as if the F35 line is going to close anytime soon. By the time the Typhoon is worn out / obsolete we should be able to pick up 100 evolved, debugged F35A at a bargain price.

  3. sorry i was back to the 2025 time period. the A has greater maneuverability,the C greater range

  4. Don’t worry, plenty of time. I imagine that one day we’ll be buying the F35F Block 50 or whatever to replace our Typhoons. No point throwing away good Typhoons at the moment. Not least because of the name.

  5. lol.

    And I do agree, no hurry. It’ll be a while before Lockheed-Martin gets its’ act together.

    They really need to learn a thing or two about managing people’s expectations. And that does not include words like delays and cost overruns. Though to be honest, their hype managed to get many people to halt new aircraft buys to wait on this, so you might consider this a sales win, but a PR loss.

  6. Well “might consider this a sales win, but a PR loss”
    – they managed the PR around Starfighter, so this one should be doable, too

  7. I think its far to hard to predict what happens in future.
    After Typhoons you could go all out F35. But I suspect it would be a small number mixed with UAVs.

    In the mean time I’ll get my hopes ups and hope Europe starts another manned fighter, after all Typhoon will probably be ending the same time as Rafale.

  8. Solomon, get over it, the UK is stuck with the Typhoon for a long time.

    The plan is so clear it can be read from even this distance:

    1 The UK fast jet force stabilises at around 160 aircraft and then declines a little over time.
    2. As Typhoon numbers buildup, the GR4 goes.
    3. As Tranche 1 Typhoons are retired, the F-35 numbers build up. That suggests a force of around 50 F-35’s by late 2020’s, when you start replacing Tranche 2 Typhoons with something probably at less than 1 for 1.
    4. Tranche 3 Typhoons will see the 2040’s easily.

    That what your likely demands on your budget says, that is minimum spend, that is ‘replacement syndrome’ which is what brass hats and pollies do unless some significant war shows up.

  9. @solomon

    Israel’s pushing for a 2 seater to lighten pilot workload and increase situational awareness.

  10. I would have thought two seater would be better then one? As Observer says “Israel’s pushing for a 2 seater to lighten pilot workload and increase situational awareness”. So why aren’t we, England, getting any two seater?

  11. Because there is no two seater version. However if you remove the lift fan from he F35-B it gives and interesting space.

  12. The reason the Israelis want a 2 seat version is they want a electronic warfare variant and want to be able to control uavs from the back seat nothing to do with sit awareness on a strike or fighter mission. The sit awareness on f35 is better than any fastjet currently flying.

  13. Mark, agreed “control uavs from the back seat nothing to do with sit awareness on a strike or fighter mission. The sit awareness on f35 is better than any fastjet currently flying.”
    – don’t they already do it from the back seat of F-15?

    The (original)rationale for the two-seat Rafale version was the nuclear bomber role (land-based, Mirage is still in service for that)
    – in a totally different, but still complex environment (Libya), I think the assessment was highly positive

  14. @Mark

    UAV control from FJ is still in the theory and design stage, it’s the awareness. You’ll find that even with all the spiffy new computers, the poor mk1 biological processing unit still works best focusing on one thing at one time. Your sit aware may be good, but you still won’t be able to fly evasive and plot a bombing point at the same time. It’s not “pilot and UAV operator” it’s “pilot and bombadier”.

  15. RE “It’s not “pilot and UAV operator” it’s “pilot and bombadier”.
    – it can be both, as typically the task would not be undertaken at the same time. The exception is if the UAVs are there to feed images of the ultimate target

    Press reports that Israel already has that capability can be taken with a pinch of salt, but by the time they’ll have their F-35s I would think that in a pair (or more) tasked, one back-seater would “fly” UAVs to blind or suppress AAD whereas in another plane the person in the back would act as the bombadier

  16. Look the primary reason for the 2 seat rumblings is the ew variant the us navy has had issues taking the crew of 4 in prowler and making than 2 in f18 and I doubt you could make that role 1. Thousands of missions has been flown in 1970s designed a/c for bombing missions on a10, harrier f16 typhoon rafale(carrier version is single seat and flew the storm shado mission over Libya) f117 to name a few. Situational awareness is simple not the issue.

  17. The problem with the F35 is its just a glorified and very expensive bomb truck – up against the J20 and the PAF-FA it will be blown out of the air in seconds. It is by all accounts mediocre as an air superiority fighter.

    Whilst the Typhoon lacks stealth, we Europeans went down the route that missile technology would always move ahead of stealth and the Typhoon will always be a far superior air to air fighter than the F35. With developments such as the F15-Silent Eagle showing the even 70s/80s aircraft can be made stealthier, I would not discount the Typhoon too soon.

  18. Jim,

    Take out the lift fan from an F35B and you have an F35A. The A variant has a fuel tank in that space (or was supposed to). 2 seats in an F35 of any mark is going to need a serious redesign of the whole structure. It is a surprising omission that there is no 2 seat trainer variant either.

    I think true UCAV control from a fighter platform is decades away. More likely we’ll see the control coming from a support aircraft like Sentry, Hawkeye or else a ground station, either fully remoted (like the Predators with their base in Nevada) or a forward air control station.

  19. @Somewhat

    Agreed on the UAV control, the speed difference between a UAV and a fighter is too big for UAVs to catch up to fighters, the control station would have to fly in circles or very slow for the UAVs to catch up.

    For the F-35 trainer, think they were using F-16s mocked up to F-35 controls?

  20. SomewhatInvolved, I don’t think adding a second seat will require a radical redesign of the whole aircraft, just the forward fuselage structure and the centre fuselage where it joins. The F-35B structure will take the lift fan, taking this out and adding a floor, ejector seat and bulkheads, plus the additional wiring ‘should‘ minimise any centre of gravity issues. The instrument panel will be a duplicate copy of the front seat, or at least be slightly different. Any changes will cost, but won’t be insurmountable.

    Although at present, I don’t think we’ll need a trainer as such as existing pilots will be pretty experienced as it is, and a cheaper option would be to convert the back seat of current F-16B/D’s or F-15B/D’s. And/or F-18D/F for the navy.

    I like the idea of a two-seater, given the current project over spend I don’t think there will be one in the short term, but one could be used as an EF-35A/B/C.

  21. @Ace

    It is a problem when the fuselage area is near the wing/hull join where cracks were discovered before.

  22. @Observer, from (fading?!) memory, I thought the cracks were discovered in a single structural member and thats subject to ongoing design changes. I’m sure there was an issue where a number of initial rate production aircraft would have to take the old frame in order to prevent delays, but later aircraft would get a re-designed one.

    Any two seater would be several years down the line, so there should be time to hone the design rather than try to produce and test concurrently, as we’re doing at the moment.

  23. The f35 has completed without issue both limit and ultimate static stress testing the aircraft is structurally sound. The issues with the front wing root rib and the no 496 bulkhead is due to development of fatigue cracking. This is a very different issue which is usually caused but induced manufacture stress, poorly pitched fasteners, suddened thickness changes in the fitting or tight rads in the fittings ect. The last one was the issue in this case or so I believe. As with all fatigue issues a three way fix is in place the in service a/c have been modified to pervent cracks starting the in production a/c get a different fix and the fittings have been redesigned for a/c yet to come. More areas are likely to show up as has been the case with every aircraft since the dawn of flight.

  24. “The problem with the F35 is its just a glorified and very expensive bomb truck – up against the J20 and the PAF-FA it will be blown out of the air in seconds. It is by all accounts mediocre as an air superiority fighter.”

    And there you have it: so much 20th century thinking loosing the air battles of the 21st.

    I don’t know much about the workings of the J-20s or PAK-FAs electronic kit. But the F-35s will be superb, it is currently 10-15 years ahead to anything Russia or China can field.

    The time when J-20 or PAK-FA will produce a working fighter, the F-35 will have the capability to lead UAV-swarms and maybe energy weapons.

    The Silent Eagle is nothing but marketing hype, having low credibility and less data.

  25. So Mark. You’re saying that not every little over publicised and grossly over scrutinised problem with the F35 is unique or a portent of complete and utter doom?

    Who’d have thought.

  26. “don’t know much about the workings of the J-20s or PAK-FAs electronic kit. But the F-35s will be superb, it is currently 10-15 years ahead to anything Russia or China can field.”

    If you’re unable to compare it with the competition due to lack of information, how are you able to tell if it’s superior? This is called an unsupported statement. Or a statement unsupported by evidence.

  27. And leading UAV swarms is one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard of, considering most UAVs are propellor driven and the F-35 is a jet, you’re forcing a jet to run at propellor plane speeds just so that the “swarm” can keep up.

  28. Phil that pretty much sums it up on a number of thing from this to buffet software. Every a/c has cracks in its structure it normal. Crack propagation and finding them early is what matters. However this jet made very power enemy’s the day Boeing were excluded from building part of it. The a380 currently had fatigue issue recently which got blown all out of proportion it occurs when people with a little knowledge meet journalists and wam. Much off these are found in the fatigue rigs which test for these very issues which are found all the time on every aircraft sometimes years after they’ve been in service.

  29. @McZ

    The F-15SE has one major advantage over the F-35 that I can see. It’s demonstrator has already underwent live fire testing with an AMRAAM while the F-35 is still in flight testing stage.

  30. Observer a current f15 with a single conformal bay has fired a single missile. The f15se is still in wind tunnel tests and may fly at some point this year if south Korea signs up.

  31. The advantage the F-15SE has at this time is that its based on a well proven airframe. I’d like to see F-35 technology cascaded down in existing models like the F-15/F-16 & F-18 and see them produced concurrently with the F-35 as insurance against possible technical issues.

    I remember when they had problems with the Pratt & Whitney F100, this affected both F-15 and F-16’s.

  32. The 35 is an absolute disaster, and is probably a decade away from being “operational”. Current major woes include the fuel dump being too close to the intakes, creating a fire risk. No solution yet, but any solution adds more weight and will most likely negatively impact RCS. No solution for the tailhook issues, but like the fuel dump, will add weight due to added structural bracing (there just isn’t enough at the tail end currently). The helmet cueing system hasn’t been solved yet. That’s kind of a must do as there isn’t a HUD on the thing. The whole thing is just a welfare program for middle class defense workers.

  33. @Mark

    Wind tunnel testing for F-15 variants are almost a formality, the airworthiness of the main airframe has already been proven. The F-35 on the other hand, is a completely new make with an unproven airframe. Their recent airworthiness cert has a few disclaimers, though it does sound like the aviation athority is covering their ass legally, it still drives home the point that it’s still an experimental airframe.

    I won’t go as far as calling it a welfare project, but it really has had a fairly bad run. Wonder if it’s due to the insistance on the B variant, without VTOL, it might have had less problems mechanically.

  34. Airworthiness is not proven by being in service a long time (see Nimrod). A major issue today is that aircraft are expected to be considerably safer and with the large growth in complicated onboard systems – this means there is a lot more work to do.

    However, these complicated onboard systems (e.g. HUMS) give large through-life cost savings and can make the aircraft a lot safer by having much more redundancy.

  35. Was the Nimrod’s problem flight instability? Or a honking big budget drain due to too much “techy” stuff?

  36. Observer

    Hanneys correct. Also the fact that within the last 5 years the entire f15 fleet was ground because I think it was 2 disintegrated in flight due to structural failure of longerons around the cockpit which was traced back to there manufacture I guess we should kill that program too.

    And silent eagle is quite complicated because it’s introducing a fly by wire system into f15 among other things. So it’s not a formality. F35 is progressing along a well executed and professional test program seeing no more difficulties than any equivalent program which will deliver a safe and competent a/c to the front line.

  37. “F35 is progressing along a well executed and professional test program seeing no more difficulties than any equivalent program which will deliver a safe and competent a/c to the front line.”

    In 2030.

  38. Should/Will the F35 replace the Typhoon? Of course it will!

    I mean by the time the damn thing actually comes out in numbers in the year 2025-2035 odd the Typhoon will be well past its sell by date!

  39. Mark, I believe the structural problems stem from the fact that the aircraft entered service circa 1978, they also suffer from wiring problems also due to age.

    The F-15 may not have a true FBW system, its more of a mechanical system with Stability Augmentation System, but changing this for a true FBW can only be a benefit. FBW has been in service since the introduction of the F-16 back in the late seventies, so there’s no reason why it should be problematic. Given the F-35 has yet to prove itself, a limited production of Silent Eagles would help prevent a fighter shortfall in the USAF, especially if the F-35 fleet needs to grounded in the future due to technical problems.

  40. Ace

    Yes part of the issue was age and part a manufacture of structure outside of engineering requirement that was not discovered. It was more making a point to observer that just because its been in service for years it can still lose air worthiness and also have complicated and expensive issues turn up.

    Silent eagles includes a lot of new sensors and software new das systems new radar new fly by wire new tails along with conformals ect. While this is very necessary for f15 it is by no means trivial as flyby wire software is always difficult to get right and requires testing and tweaking. This has lead to delays to miltary and civil a/c recently. The f35 is not intended to replace f15 in us service so I can’t see that happening. There is not a fighter short per say and a upgrade to us f16 jets recently announced will cover the gap.

  41. @Mark: the key difference is that the F15 design is stable in pitch, whereas F16 to a degree, Typhoon etc are unstable, and rely on the FBW to generate extremely rapid control movements to maintain stability. The former is not rocket science ;-)

  42. wf

    The typhoon is only longtitudinally unstable at essientally subsonic speed. The changes proposed for the f15 may do something similar but none of these changes are without risk.

  43. @Mark: yes I know, minimise supersonic trim drag :-)

    But the point is valid. Putting a FBW on the F15 is trivial in comparison to developing one for the Typhoon

  44. What the flip is going on?

    Seems we may be about to do a U-turn on which type of F-35 we want to waste our money on. (apologies for the Grauniad link, and I love the way they confidently talk about “cats and flaps”. Subliminally screamingly funny, but they probably know no better).

    Time for a serious reset. Tell BAE Systems to bog off with the stupid carriers and sod Gordon Brown and Lord Drayson’s ridiculous DIS, put out a tender for 3-4 flat tops with a well-deck (Korean bidders preferred if it keeps the world’s most crap company out of the race), and buy up lots of helos.

  45. If that rumour is correct, which I doubt, it will be the best decision we have made in this whole tragic comedy that is Project CVF

  46. 3-4 Wasp-class, or something very like it but slightly newer, one of which is a hospital / disaster relief ship paid for by DFID. And helos and airships and landing craft.

    Sorted. I’ll take my 1% advisory fee from the MoD as soon as they have paid the milk bill.

  47. To be honest the F35 is crap and the typhoon can beat them the f35 is huge on radar and not very agile, and i think Britain should be 1 step ahead hear France and Britain should of designed a plane together which would replace the rafale and typhoon and have a variant that could take of aircraft. aswell as this the MOD should invest in technology that can hack into UAV’s so when the future world has planes that have no pilots we will already have the software to change there routes and land them saftly at england ready for use with us.

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