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East Anglian
East Anglian
December 10, 2013 9:29 am

A Tranche 3 with conformal tanks and a couple of Storm Shadows, plus AAM would be quite a useful asset.

Peter Elliott
December 10, 2013 9:43 am

Will the conformal tanks be available on Tranche 3A? I seem to recall from somewhere that they won’t be included until 3B – ie after the RAF’s current committed order expires.

If that is the case then we would be better to trade export slots if we can to take a later delivery of the fully matured 3B design?

Otherwise we will subsequently need a top-up order for Tornado replacement for which there will be *no budget*.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the design actually reached maturity after all our deliveries were finished?

Brian Black
Brian Black
December 10, 2013 10:28 am

All tranche 3 aircraft will have the gubbins for conformal tanks.

As far as I’m aware, 3A & 3B are not different aircraft. It’s budgetary fudgetary only.

The partner nations originally intended to buy N hundred tranche 3, but then found themselves a bit short of cash. So they agreed to stump up for part of tranch 3 only, 3A, so that cash wouldn’t dry up and production grind to a halt; meanwhile, the rest of tranche 3, 3B, would still be on order but not funded – with the hope that a few production slots could be offloaded onto foreign buyers before the Europeans had to reach into their pockets.

Fedaykin
December 10, 2013 11:03 am

Whilst Tornado is still in service and F-35B is still a number of years away from IOC the need for the conformal tanks is not exactly great.

Once Tornado is gone and it is a two type frontline multirole force then buy the conformal tanks for Tranche 3 examples.

I want the F35B and Typhoon to be proper swing role types with their crews training for all types of operations. So for example I would like the F35B to pick up UK ADIZ QRA work occasionally and Typhoon to train for CAS.

Peter Elliott
December 10, 2013 3:20 pm

Thanks guys.

Mildly reassuring :/

Jeremy M H
December 10, 2013 7:54 pm

@Brian

I believe the official UK position is that it is under no legal obligation to buy anything that would be part of Tranche 3b and I think that is mirrored by most of the partner nations. Their stance is that budget overruns effectively mean their buys are complete with the 3a purchases as far as I can tell.

In short without a fairly big foreign investment I doubt there is a formal Tranche 3b.

WiseApe
December 10, 2013 8:58 pm

Isn’t Lancashire lovely.

I wonder if GoPro cameras are to become standard fit.

Overseas
Overseas
December 10, 2013 10:28 pm

Beautiful day up north.

M&S
M&S
December 11, 2013 4:24 am

You’re all looking at this from the wrong end of the telescope.

If the F-35C won’t catch a wire, the F-35B will move from ’85-90 million Lot 7 projected’ (in your dreams) as engineless flyaway to 150-175 million or more. In a blink.

At which point, the U.S. will collapse the program because the USAF is looking at KC-45 and a follow-on ALCM carrier + VLO targeter UAV combination to get their Pac Rim reach-in and the USN has ASH and A-47 (and don’t really need a third bomber on-deck so much as a cheap way to keep the Boeing lines open).

Forcing the USAF and/or Corps to buy Navy would suit this plan, though it would mean the death of Lockheed as a TacAir house. No one will cry given their massive miss-management of the F-35 program from the very beginning of the DemVal effort (60 million in the hole ‘due to accounting errors’…).

The U.S. desperately needs to get it’s TacAir recapitalization plan down to 1-2 airframes with a major focus on a followon supersonic or hypersonic strike fighter option to deny the Chinese primacy in the Pacific Littorals with the DF-21D. With the political as real vulnerability of the fixed bases at Kadena, Misawa and Andersen Field, that means naval projection.

The USMC plan for the F-35B as a 25 airframe per deck ‘airwing’ only works _if_ you accept that this comes at the cost of reducing 2-4 nuclear decks for the privilege of purchasing 6-11 oil burner LHA follow-ons. And then throw in 50 billion more for a pressurization program for the tanker/AEW&C/COD variant Osprey to support the 35B beyond 300nm SOI.

None of which will happen because the U.S., as a nation, is broke.

The USN is the key service here which must prove who wears the pants in the tacair triumvirate by putting the USMC back in it’s place as a _small_ expeditionary warfighter, suited primarily for limited hostage/embassy rescue and the odd SPOD capture. While giving the USAF a lesson in economics as the loss of 90% of it’s core force tactical aviator community to A-47 shared purchases (my favorite) or walk-in shared purchase on the F/A-18E/F ASH program as the designated F-15/16 replacement.

If the USN retains a minimum 8-10 deck carrier force and has lead chair (as they have so long wanted) on the followon strike fighter F/A-XX, they _do not need_ three bombers on deck, only one of which has the 1,000nm SOI to be effective in an ASBM driven world.

Which is another reason why the F-35C will fail, even if it is fixable, because it’s ‘adjusted’ radius is now down to about 584nm.

What this means for the UK as indeed the world JSF community is obvious: No Go.

Most will breathe a sigh of relief. There will be blowback for the U.S. as contract breech penalties, as there will be a loss in trust as technically preeminent aerospace innovator nation.

Whoopy.

We’re going into a 10 year++ economic depression while the rest of the planet, having already downsized from their Cold War force standards under our Aegis, can now look forward to massive improvements in economic as military status, stepping into our shoes as World Cops as U.S. influence collapses.

You will then have to think about how much of your independence you want to give over to Chinese predominance both as a functional fiat currency and as the new Imperial force in Africa.

Where Lot-3a/3b stands in this is a good question.

I would say that if you can make a two seat Typhoon that functions like an F/A-18E/F you out to consider whether you -need- a large defensive QRA capable force of early interceptor variants. Cutting to the bone on Typhoon early Tranche gives you options with either a Rafale or F/A-18 or Navalized Typhoon for the re-re-decked QEs.

But the one thing you should least count upon is the F-35B acting as your personal assurance of continuance as a naval airpower.

Because it’s not gonna happen.

STOVL is a dead end in a world dominated by longrange missile systems with 50m accuracy using GPS/Beidou and 10m accuracy using terminal guidance.

You either stay out from under their range footprint.

Or naval airpower ceases to be.

The U.S. has, rightly or wrongly, set it’s sights on a ‘Pacific Pivot’ which will put it squarely across the Chinese path to regional hegemony in a manner which we would never accept in our own Monroe driven hemisphere.

To win or indeed, even /compete/ in that fight, the 1.3 trillion dollar F-35 has got to go.

Peter Elliott
December 11, 2013 6:11 am

@M&S

You start all that with one massive “If” regarding the F35C not catching the wire. A lot of the rest of your argument hangs on that one “if”.

While I do agree with much that you say if F35C is made to catch the wire (and why woundn’t a longer, stronger hook do the trick?) then enough of them will be bought to allow us to get our 48-72 F35B at a price we can afford. The back end of the programme may get cancelled later to fund FA/XX or something more exotic. But we will be well out of the shop by then.

Regarding Typhoon I agree with your scrap-and-build strategy. Eke out production on a Low Rate basis to encourage exports. Run Tranche 1 into the ground on hours, and keep topping up the fleet with small quantities of Tranche 3 with all the bells and whistles.

Whther our future FJ turns out to be an evolved Sea-Phoon, a Boeing FA/XX, an REL Sabre engined spacplane, or some other mythic deathsatr is too early to say right now.

M&S
M&S
December 11, 2013 9:01 am
Reply to  Peter Elliott

Peter,

Landing a jet on a carrier begins with approach speeds and the F-35C is high, towards 140 rather than the 125 it should be with a 620sqft wing (the F-15 is only 608).

This is important because it sets the relationship between hook:deck angle and stall speed as AOA for descent rate to catch the pendant. The worst thing that can happen is ‘sitting on the hook’ which causes the unit to break and suddenly it’s a landbased jet in the middle of an ocean.

The next issue is the relative proportional lengths, not just between the main gear and the hook but the mains and the nose. The F-35C has a huge wheelbase which means the nose comes down hard and late, well after the mains have started crossing wires. This creates an aerodynamic bounce condition whereby the nose is rotating forward as the hook is trailing down and then there is reflex as the nose comes back up off the NLG shock and the damper on the hook has to hold the hook compressed.

Which is where the 7.1 foot separation between MLG and hook becomes an issue because the mains trample the pendant down and if the distance is too short (the F/A-18 is something like 18.3ft and even the A-47 has 10ft) the wire hasn’t had a chance to bounce back up.

This creates further complexity in that it requires the hook:deck angle to be greater to hold the hook face in proximity with the wire and if the jet is off by just a little, the damper which holds the hook down will either fail outright or the jet will spike the hook shank through the carry through and (in this case) right on up into the bottom of the F135. Not a good idea.

This can be dealt with by increasing the trail angle of the hook but creates it’s own issues in that, with a normal jet, the pendant in fact often strikes the shank rather than the hook face and slides down to make the catch. A longer hook, in addition to adding weight to the jet (and in the case of the F-35C being limited by the useable volume of the ‘dong’ fairing length ahead of the F135 nozzle) increases the likelihood of a bounceback unless the damper is modified to accept the greater torsional flip energies.

The degree of ’roundness’ (diameter as capture area) of the hook face arc increases the likelihood of wire capture but weakens the hook overall and is incompatible with catching a low wire because an oblique catch by a low trail angle (long) hook causes the wire to simply bounce across the face.

Narrowing the radius of the hook edge increases ‘scoop’ on the hook but also effectively increases the likelihood of cutting an MLG trampled low wire by an order of magnitude so that the hook in fact rips through the upper half like a dog bite, completely.

Failure to effectively capture one wire can often lead to the jet rolling through two or more and this increases the likelihood of airframe failure while, should a pendant part completely, quite apart from the lag to rerig a new one, the whip lash can amputate limbs across the whole deck.

Bluntly: The F-35C is not going to change it’s geometries at this point. You can’t push the hook farther back because the exhaust is _right_ there. And you can’t lengthen the hook or adjust the trail angle because the fairing is volume restricted even as the aft set wings and close coupled MLG will dictate approach AOA as hook:deck angle in a manner which magnifies all variables of wire skip, AHS failure and wire cutting.

It’s just a really _bad_ design to be bringing aboard.

Beyond which, if you listen to any of Admiral Greenert’s early comments when this started to come up last year, the overall gist was that ‘his’ navair community would be just as happy not to have the F-35C.

And when you think about it, it makes sense:

1. The USN is a fighter community and they haven’t had a real one in quite awhile. One could even argue that the defeat of the F-14D ASF was in fact a victory for the F/A-18 fighter community more than the mission needs of an ‘Interim to AFX’ (which never eventuated) met by the F/A-18E/F.

2. The F-35C is falling 120nm short of radius and even at it’s original, 700nm, figure, would not be competent in the face of both Gen-5 threat fighters and the DF-21D.

3. The USN has a platform with which to hold the USAF over a barrel on all levels of denied/contested/lono threat operations: the A-47. It’s cheap, it requires no training, and it can hold a CAP station forever at a considerable distance from the carrier or a landbase, It may even be more VLO than the F-35 if developed towards that high end with better coatings as it has a superior configuration.

4. If the USAF balks at losing it’s tac aviator core force vote (as being the romantic and risk free sky knight nobility factor which sustains their budgetary predominance in Congress) they can sit, second chair, on the USN F/A-XX as the USN refused to do for the ATF. Keep in mind that, if they get the F-35A, the USAF can enable it with the F-22. Which leaves them free to invest in Hypersonics as the Next Big Thing. But if the USN insists on holding them back a generation so that they can have an F-22 equivalent performing aircraft off of an ‘All Navy’ carrier design, then the USN both trips and checks USAF planning which would otherwise leave the USN that much further behind the times of modern Deep Strike. And yes, I believe the USN is exactly that selfish and egotistically driven.

5. Personally, at the highest levels, I question whether the F-35 was -ever- popular as a joint mission airframe separated by such weight intensive and mission irrelevant capabilities. The USAF is also an ego driven fraternity of fighter drivers whose union vote is based around sustaining more of the same and their could be no doubt that the F-35 came at the cost of the much superior F-22 option (had the USAF been serious about retaining tacair power, they would have let the USN have an A-6 type airframe and simply escorted it with a 300-400 strong F-22 mission force which did the primary SEAD and OCA).

With this in mind, I think the entire JSF program may be one giant head game to put Congress and the people in their places and ‘leave the services alone’ in their own special little worlds. The proof of where this is drifting towards is the RQ-180 and the NGB/LRS-B.

Hypersonics are out so long as Falcon is the NASP 2 CONUS bomber. Too expensive.

RQ-180 gives you loitering max-LO targeting from 70-80,000ft while the LRS-B can really be anything from a C-17 with palletized AGM-158B to offshore VLS/VPM equipped submarines but will likely shape up as a slightly less LOish mini B-2 with hypersonic missiles to rapidly hit DF-21 spotted by the RQ-180 as ‘deal breakers’ to USN break-in to an A2AD restricted theater condition like Taiwan or perhaps Iran.

The USN will then lead a conventional airwar dynamic until and unless USAF assets can contribute more than KC-45 tanking ‘from a distance’.

It’s not real sexy. It’s certainly not roadmap-to-future sophisticated. But as soon as the services are done ‘dutifully’ banging the oh-so-gullible U.S. Congress as people over the head with what happens when you try to combine their service turfs through ‘jointness’ the F-35 will be declared dead on the vine.

And under the “Oh by the way…” category: U.S. led VLO doesn’t have to meet both LOCLOEXCOM restrictions and ‘one standard for all’ export sales requirements.

For these and a whole lot of other reasons, the F-35C is the red paint on the iceberg which sank the JSF Titanic a long, long, time ago.

TED
TED
December 11, 2013 12:04 pm

Would say I’m not sure how this turned into an F35 thread but it was fairly certain to happen really :)

M&S In all you design element I would say you are correct and would reinforce that its a rubbish design. However I can not agree that F35 was primarily for the USN. If it had been for the USN it would have been designed with them in mind and then STOVL and CTOL sort of bolted on as an afterthought. IF it doesn’t catch a wire which I have to agree is certainly worrying what would the USN do? For me they can continue to operate their current assets (on that note whats an A-47 I can’t find any refernce to it) whilst looking for a sucessor. If that isn’t an option for them what precludes them from getting F35b? Yes its a waste of the great big carriers but at least they’ve got some aircraft. Then I would suggest the grasp LM by the balls and tell them in no uncertain words to improve the range od the B.

That would prevent cost going up because the USN could simply move the funding for the C into altering the range of the B (I’m not pretending that would be easy.)

Back to our problems. Tranche 3 looks nice and if we do get the tanks well jobs a good ‘un. I’m not too worried about typhoon I think it will be at the top for some time. My worries centre around the carriers being of a slightly naval mind. Our carriers are being fitted for F35. And at that the B variant. Now focusing on one airframe wasn’t a great idea but focusing on a single variant was downright stupid. I know we can convert but it will cost and you can imagine the headlines. The only other STOVL option for us was harrier (ohh yeah where did we put them again?) In 2006 the RN looked at Rafale for their carriers when we were still deciding if the would be cats and traps or ramps. Now we are basicaly commited though so I fear we will be getting the B whatever the price.

Therefore I don’t think a price rise is seen as a probelm this side of the Atlantic in comparison with cancelling the program. Whereas for the yanks they can cancel it and potentially continue to use harrier f18 f15 the list goes on.

Do you think we would recover the cost if the programme were axed and how much is the running total?#

Currently were are looking at flying jets onto QE in 2018. Don’t Panic!

Defiance
Defiance
December 11, 2013 12:39 pm

The awkward moment when the F35C already has demonstrated it can hook the wire in January this year . . .

AKM
AKM
December 11, 2013 12:42 pm

TED: “…whats an A-47 I can’t find any refernce to it”

I had the same problem, but I would guess he’s talking about a hypothetical in-service X-47.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northrop_Grumman_X-47B

TED
TED
December 11, 2013 12:55 pm

AKM Cheers yeah I think thats what hes on.

Defiance… I can’t watch that yet but I’m fairly sure the problems occured more recently than JAN. Can anyone shed light on this?

M&S
M&S
December 11, 2013 1:55 pm

@TED,

“Would say I’m not sure how this turned into an F35 thread but it was fairly certain to happen really :) ”

It’s not about the F-35, it’s about the Typhoon being a better choice if the principle theater of participation is Africa under an EU/NATO flag rather than ‘points further East’ under a (suicidal, IMO) USN one.

The P2 plan is apt to go two ways: Either China shrugs and turns her shoulder, refusing to dignify the situation as her oil is about to start coming to her via land routes and the USN can no longer torpedo her economic policy with petroleum real politick.

Or it spikes China’s already nascent nationalism into a true arms race and one which the U.S. will almost certainly lose as we keep printing money like it’s not based on anything until it really is. You cannot pay for arms and social welfare programs all at once. Hitler tried it and WWII resulted.

PacPiv is another _really bad_ idea. Leave sleeping dragons lie.

“However I can not agree that F35 was primarily for the USN. If it had been for the USN it would have been designed with them in mind and then STOVL and CTOL sort of bolted on as an afterthought.”

I’m not sure I did say that. I said that AFX which should have been a twin engine intermediate platform along the lines of the Northrop NATF or the McDonnell Super Hornet 2000 (depending on how much VLO you wanted) was a certain to never-be-fulfilled program (the USN could hardly ask for dual funding to replace the Intruder and Tomcat after having run the ATA-12 right into the ground with the USAF needing money for the C-17 and F-22 which were working efforts). The Advanced Strike Fighter F-14D was a better single platform choice because it was higher capability overall than the F/A-18E/F which is kludge of a whole ‘nother sort. But because the F-14 is a 2-seat tank in the turning and burning club which then predominated USN tacair Hornet community, the F/A-18E/F was a shoe in.

” IF it doesn’t catch a wire which I have to agree is certainly worrying what would the USN do? For me they can continue to operate their current assets (on that note, what’s an A-47 I can’t find any reference to it) whilst looking for a successor.”

X-47B = A-47A as minimum change UCLASS. If a UCAV is only to serve as a point strike airframe with just enough targeting accuracy to verify aim as release point congruity, it doesn’t need all the bells and whistles of a full up ISR platform which the USAF once insisted the A-45 have.

It needs to be a truck with a big belly bay compatible with a wide range of ordnance carriage boxes. That is how the USN will sell the A-47 as a ‘companion’ to manned strike, even if it’s combat radius is more than double that of the normal Super Hornet _with CFT_.

“If that isn’t an option for them what precludes them from getting F35b?”

The F-35B will not work on a conventional carrier for three basic reasons:

1. The radius of the airframe with only 14,000lbs of fuel (likely less when hot’n’hi are taken into account) is going to be under 300nm. The USN doesn’t have the early-lot Super Hornet airframes to turn into t tankers to buddy drag the jet to the same radius it’s other airframes manage on their own. The F-35B is also payload restricted as a function lf carry through structure supporting the weapons bay, which means that the most useful SEAD loadout: a quad of GBU-53B, is not a practical option at 1,650lbs.

2. The F-35 when operated like a Harrier off an LHD or LHA needs nearly the full run of the (rampless) deck. This screws up rotary wing operations in a critical amphibious assault condition and thus makes it impossible to run mixed airwings on deck (which means that the USMC ‘vision’ of mini decks supplementing big one for lower priority theaters is a crack pipe dream). On a CV which functionally operates with just the waist cats (as half the length of an 850ft LHA) the F-35B cannot operate ahead of the JBD and still have sufficient deck roll to get airborne. The forward flight deck is almost always an airpark. And so you have a launch suitability issue.
3. The F-35B tires are having issues and the landing gear as a whole is not designed to do multiple roll-overs on a rigged cross deck pendant. This means that a conventional, rolling VL, over the angle deck turn down is out of the question. The alternative, a side-shift from station keeping off the port side is also not an option because this area is also typically populated by aircraft waiting to launch and the various deckcrew. The downblast from an F-35B in STOVL mode is equal to perhaps 2-3 V-22 Ospreys and so hot that it scorches the asphalt coating on the deck. There is _no way_ you could risk other airframes as personnel doing a lateral VL.

“Yes its a waste of the great big carriers but at least they’ve got some aircraft. Then I would suggest the grasp LM by the balls and tell them in no uncertain words to improve the range od the B.”

The B’s range will never improve because there are aero acoustic limits to increasing the massflow of the SDLF and without vertical thrust, it makes for a lousy ship borne fighter. OTOH, the Marines ‘made do’ with everything from Wildcats to Skyknights before they found the Harrier. The F/A-18F would be, not just a make do but a fully compatible airframe which, at this point, now has 99% of the bells and whistles (APG-79 and AAR-58) that the F-35 does. In this it is important to note that most Marines _hate_ the AV-8B because it gobbles up O&S funds like crazy for a capability that is laughably weight constrained (a single LITENING pod and two tanks provides buddy lasing for a pair of GBU-12 and gun equipped on the wingman). The Hornet is a working airframe it’s just that it is so old it’s starting to get rickety.

“That would prevent cost going up because the USN could simply move the funding for the C into altering the range of the B (I’m not pretending that would be easy.)”

Not gonna happen. The USN is not about giving a leg up to anyone, if they cannot have naval LO they will not provide it to the Marines free of charge. The Marines, who do not like being a fill force for the USN are on the hook for buying 60 some F-35C to ‘Semper Fi’ the marriage that was signed with the TAMP 2001 airpower merger. If the F-35C doesn’t board, twice as many F/A-18F becomes a given to sustain that promise made and it must begin soon, before the Boeing lines begin to slow and then shut down Super Hornet production.

“Back to our problems. Tranche 3 looks nice and if we do get the tanks well jobs a good ‘un. I’m not too worried about typhoon I think it will be at the top for some time. My worries centre around the carriers being of a slightly naval mind. Our carriers are being fitted for F35. And at that the B variant. Now focusing on one airframe wasn’t a great idea but focusing on a single variant was downright stupid. I know we can convert but it will cost and you can imagine the headlines. The only other STOVL option for us was harrier (ohh yeah where did we put them again?) In 2006 the RN looked at Rafale for their carriers when we were still deciding if the would be cats and traps or ramps. Now we are basically committed though so I fear we will be getting the B whatever the price.”

The RN feels about buying French much like the USMC feels about buying Navy. But the truth is that the QEs are 70,000 tons of worthlessness without a full deckload of Tankers, AEW&C and ISR options. Waaaaaay overbuilt as Sea Control assets, they are not credible as inshore strike platforms without the extra members of the airwing and the ramps put the kaibosh on that.

>>
The decision to convert Prince of Wales to CATOBAR was reviewed after the projected costs rose to around double the original estimate. On 10 May 2012 the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, announced in Parliament that the government had decided to revert to its predecessor’s plans to purchase the F-35B rather than the F-35C, and to complete both aircraft carriers with “ski-jumps” in the STOVL configuration.[34] The total cost of the work that had been done on the conversion to a CATOBAR configuration, and of reverting the design to the original STOVL configuration, was estimated by Philip Hammond to be “something in the order of £100 million.”[35] In later testimony before a parliamentary committee, Bernard Gray, Chief of Defence Materiel, revealed that even though the carriers had been sold as adaptable and easy to convert for cat and traps, no serious effort had been made in this direction since 2002.[36]
>>

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Elizabeth-class_aircraft_carrier

Much as I respect the dignity of the RN’s tradition, it is not within the realm of US or USN interests to limp along an incompatible allied naval strike warfare capability which is unable to operate independently of a USN CSG and short of radius by almost double what is required to accompany U.S. strike packages. Not in the Chinese finger trap were stuffing our digits into.

For the Africa and Med missions you don’t need as much but then again, you also don’t really need carrier air.

“Therefore I don’t think a price rise is seen as a problem this side of the Atlantic in comparison with cancelling the program. Whereas for the yanks they can cancel it and potentially continue to use harrier f18 f15 the list goes on.”

We have no advanced, mid-range, fighter projects, this is true. With the coming dominance of high powered SSLs, I’m not at all certain that this matters except as it comforts the obsolescent manned fighter community.

That said, the U.S. faces serious liquidity as mission change issues which Europe does not. Whereas you may discuss aircraft to aircraft variables, the U.S. and particularly USN have to face up to the risks of _platform_ as basing mode vulnerabilities. In this the F-35 in no variant or upgrade form will ever match the capabilities of the Chinese precision guided ballistics as we cannot stand off far enough to be outside their range yet inside viable subsonic radii (as pilot fatigue) constraints and we cannot reach deep enough inland to hostage the launchers without secure targeting which may or may not be time sensitive enough to allow engagement by sub launch cruise. If the Chinese have 100 DF-21D TELs with 2 reloads each, at 10 million dollars per missile, they have a three billion dollar investment. A single carrier costs on the order of 7 billion dollars /without airwing or escort group/. And it is questionable if SM3 IIa/IIb could stop a full on launch of 100 ASBM, I doubt if there would be enough shots in the VLS to try.

With this as a given, the USN needs to step away from Carrier aviation or the PacRim coastlines if not both. Submarine VPM launched IRBM-as-ARRMD are like the best response to rapid threat developments in places like Taiwan or Korea, simply because they are faster, deeper reaching and can come from closer in with less visible presence than a CSG while costing a tenth as much to own and operate.

“Do you think we would recover the cost if the programme were axed and how much is the running total?# Currently were are looking at flying jets onto QE in 2018. Don’t Panic!”

I think that I look at the 42,000 ton Charles De Gaulle and I see a more complete Airwing and better thought out ship defense suite than the 70,000 ton QE. And if I were British, that would bother me, significantly. You’ve invested in a JFK class conventional carrier and put a puddle jumper fighter aboard it. No matter how many bells and whistles it has, that’s cheap. And if The Falklands taught you nothing else, it should be that cheap naval airpower with <300nm SOI around the boat is a terrible risk to be taking with national will.

Further to this, I think that with the U.S. off playing Great White Fleet interloper in Chinese waters for the next until-we're-sunk little while that Europe is going to be left handling the Atlantic and Med on their own for possibly several decades.

With a resurgent, autocratic, Russia; Germany leading the Continental economies in all but name; plus 'international interests in Africa' bringing renewed pseudo-colonialist intervention by European powers; it's as though we've rolled back the clock to 1900 and rendered the 20th century a total write off.

M&S
M&S
December 11, 2013 2:27 pm
Reply to  Defiance

@Defiance,

>
“What we are trying to do is make sure that we got the actual design of the hook is optimized so that it in fact repeatedly picks up the wire as long the airplane puts itself in position to do that,” he said.

A preliminary review has already been completed and was done in conjunction with the Naval Air Systems Command and F-35 Joint Program Office.

Burbage said the hook system is already being modified in accordance with the new test data.

“We’re modifying the hook to accommodate what we found so far in test,” Burbage said. “The new parts, we expect to have them back in the next couple of months.”

Tests with the newly modified tailhook should start at Lakehurst, N.J, in the second quarter of this year, Burbage said.

That will give the F-35 program another set of data to study to make sure the new design works as promised. However, until those tests are done, there is no ironclad guarantee that the redesign of the tailhook will work, but Burbage said he is confident of that the modified design will be successful.

“The big test for this airplane is not until the summer of ’13 when we take the Navy jet out to the big deck carrier and do actual traps at sea,” Burbage said.

Burbage dismisses claims that the F-35C will be unable to land on a carrier as falsehoods.

“That’s patently not true,” he said.

Richard Aboulafia, an analyst at the Teal Group, Fairfax, Va., said the claim that the F-35C could never land on a ship was always highly dubious.

“They turned the YF-17 into a carrier plane, why couldn’t they correct carrier-hook problems here?” he said. “This does not appear to be a killer problem.”
>

http://www.navytimes.com/article/20120117/NEWS/201170319/F-35C-tailhook-design-blamed-for-landing-issues

That article is dated January 17th of 2012.

This one-

>
Lockheed Martin has come up with a new design for the tailhook on the F35 Joint Strike Fighters that should allow the Navy variant, the F-35C, to land on carriers and speed the long-delayed process of getting the aircraft out to the fleet, Lockheed and Navy officials said Wednesday.

In testing, the tailhooks were failing to catch the arresting wires that are stretched across a carrier’s flight deck to bring the aircraft to a halt.

“Our original design was not performing as expected,” said Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin’s executive vice president for the F35 Lightning II program. Martin said the “toe” of the tailhook, the part that grabs the wire, had been re-designed along with the “hold down damper” gear that forces the tailhook down on the deck.

“It’s now in line with what the legacy aircraft uses,” Martin said of the new F-35 tailhook. She said the new assembly will be tested this summer at the Navy’s Lakehurst, N.J., facility and carrier tests were expected later this year.

Dunaway said he believed Lockheed Martin had found the right tailhook fix before he beck pedaled and said: “I will be a trust but verify person.” Rear Adm. Randollph Mahr, the deputy Program Executive Officer for the F-35, said “I have high confidence that that tailhook will be catching wires at Lakehurst.”
>

Is from April 10, 2013.

The F-35 has yet to go to the boat as each fix has to be cleared through Pax River NAS to make sure it’s nominally viable and safe for a given range of weight as approach speed conditions. And none of the fixes have gotten past this most basic of pre-test clearance.

That said, a simulated landing ashore never has the fidelity of one afloat because you’re not crabbed into the angle deck as this 70ft tall platform moves away from you at 12-15 knots and so there is no sense of a moving target as glideslope needle threading to put the jet on-deck between rows of other planes on either side.

The truth is that they tried the modified hook and it didn’t work, having a tendency to eat wires, just like I said.

They are now on hook revision #2 and we’ll see.

Until and unless they do at-sea recoveries with sufficient repeatability in various Sea States to prove the jet is a reliable boarder, the F-35C is and will remain a non-compatible, non-suitable, Carrier aircraft.

Again, I don’t believe the USN really wants the F-35C. And it would come as a significant fiscal relief to everyone except perhaps the USMC if the program failed because, in an era of Sequestration, the F-35 represents an overbearing (16 billion per year for the USAF, out to at least 2030) demand upon the budget for an airframe that is incredibly difficult to justify in the numbers Lockheed needs to break even.

If you look at the F-111B as an example of a jet that passed it’s suitability tests with flying colors compared to the squirrelly F-14 which was always an Ensign Eliminator, the USN has all the margin in the world to say “It ain’t what we want.” whether or not it meets spec..

Whether I am right or wrong, this particular drama is just setup to what comes next.

Jeremy M H
December 11, 2013 2:31 pm

@TED

M&S really has no idea what he is talking about. He just likes to hear himself speak. Just to itemize his errors quickly from these two post.

1. The F-35C won’t catch a wire- Well someone already covered this.

2. The USAF is looking at the KC-45- No. They bought a different platform for tanking. The KC-45 is dead with the USAF.

3. The US needs to focus on supersonic/hypsersonic fighters- This is frankly crazy as we know what these kind of things would cost and it would make the F-35 or Eurofighter look dirt cheap.

4. The A-47- This does not currently exist in any workable form. You have a drone that could do a few very limited activities and needs lots and lots of development. Plus everyone seems to be backing away from the drones for everything craze that hit a few years back. Could the X-47 develop into something useful? Sure. But USN plans are to put a small handful on each flight deck. No one grounded in reality is anywhere near turning the majority of tactical air assets over to drones.

5. The constant preference for the F-22 is very shortsighted. The F-22 is great at what it does but is really a flawed platform on which to move forward for a variety of reasons that are fairly well documented. I get that you would love it because it goes fast. But there is a lot more too the decision to stop with the F-22 and move on than what you seem to think M&S.

In short I find your vision of the future dominated by swarms and magical ballistic missiles available in huge numbers that can be fired totally without consequence to be moderately interesting but pretty far out there. Those are certainly not the answer to every single military issue that comes about.

There are lots of lots of buzzwords in these post but not really a ton of substance in all these giant walls of text. Typhoon and F-35 will both be relevant players for quite a long time. If the rest of the world agreed with your conclusions there would be no programs like the J-20 or the T-50 in other nations. Most people actually paid to get these things right are a long way from your viewpoint on the future.

Ted
Ted
December 11, 2013 3:22 pm

@ Jeremy M H Cheers I was getting that

@ M&S Wether you like it or not the RN are getting a carrier. What did we learn from the Falklands? AEWC, the importance of multiple carriers (thankfully not the hard way), how to use our inferiour capabilities to achieve a goal.

Harrier with a combat radius of about 300nm was used in two ways. Sea harrier was an interceptor with a limited bomb chucking capability. It’s easy to look at the burning ships and the Argentine skyhawks, daggers and pucaras low in San Carlos and ask where are the harriers? Our small air wing was reducing the number of aircraft coming in to that area by patrolling out to around 200nm. And we had the gr3 doing ground atatck courtesy of the RAF. Range as much as it is nice is not the be all and end all of carrier ops for us. It’s about intercepting enemy aircraft outside the range of T45 and hence reducing it’s workload. And then a limited attack capability to support ground troops. If a strik mission was required tankers would be used and either the RAF would step up or the RN would have to rendevouz with that tanker. Our carriers aren’t exactly a strike asset.

What else did we not learn from the Falklands? When it comes to learning in the forces the RN got a massive wake up call here. You try and tell me the navy didn’t learn anything from 82 every thursday they have a little get together in my neck of the woods and one thing they practice is air attack. Can we put that to bed now!

With regard the RN buying stuff from the French, I know I’m a Brit! But what about exocet we had fitted to our ships in 82? The mistral class that someone suggested to be a fairly serious contender for ocean replacement is French. The truth is as much as I think typhoon will out do rafale the Rafale is a bit of a beast.

The RN is commited to F35. As much as I love rotary assets the QE class should never become a purely helicopter carrier.

North Africa and typhoon. So far we have only used it in Libya. The french (there they are again) have been making use of rafale over Libya and Mali. There was a French jet over CAR the other day on the news (my bets on rafale.) However I digress, in Libya typhoon was based at Gioia del Colle. If we can’t rely on basing at or near to the combat area A la falklands we are a bit stuck.

With regard ICBMs and other guided systems. As Jeremy said they aren’t infallable. I seem to remember a similar prognosis by a certain someone in the run up to TSR 2 being cancelled.

With regards problems with F35b. Ship surfaces are being reinforced against the heat. I would love to see a link to the problems with SRVL (shipboard rolling vertical landing) and gear problems. Either way I’m sure they are not in surmountable.

M&S given the RNs commitment to carriers what do you suggest we go and buy? Sea phoon great I would like to see anyone sell that to the taxpayers. And this is pointless anyone because it would require a complete failure of F35b.

To Tranche 3 now does anyone know how the tanks are fitted. I.e. is it an hours job or a month. If its the work of a few hours can we just buy some tanks so we have strike capability if and when we need it?

Observer
Observer
December 11, 2013 3:29 pm

Ouch people are still reading M&S? I stopped long ago. He seems to be one of those that complains about everything then proposes fantasy solutions to problems he himself invents. Think there is a term for it. As Jeremy says, he knows all the buzzwords, but not the practical details.

AKM
AKM
December 11, 2013 4:02 pm

I appreciate that this is really a Typhoon thread, so I apologize for asking an F-35 question, but has anyone seen any CAP loiter times @ range figures for the F-35B in the air defence role?

Jeremy M H
December 11, 2013 4:26 pm

@AKM

You would not pickup nearly as much range with the B as you do with the A and C because the payload change is not as great, particularly if you cram 6 AAM’s in the bay which should be a capability around not long after EIS.

The B’s range is based on a load of basically 2,600 pounds (2- 1,000 pound bombs, 2 AIM-120’s). If you put 6 AIM-120’s in there your load is 2,100 pounds so you are only saving 500 pounds). For the A and C you are trading out a base load of 4,600 for one of 2,100 so you are saving 2,500 pounds. All the range figures are based on carrying those base loads (2,600 or 4,600 pounds) under certain mission profiles.

Since that is where your weight savings and thus range gain comes from you won’t get a lot by going to a maxed out air to air load on the B model. You just don’t save that much weight like you do on the other two.

For what it is worth I have seen estimates for the A model that push its range towards 700 miles radius in an air to air configuration but I don’t recall if those were for 4 or 6 internal missiles. The LM website references a figure of over 700 NM in a “low observable combat configuration” but does not say exactly what that configuration is, though it is fairly clear that wold not be carrying anything external.

But I just don’t see those sort of gains with the B. You don’t get to take nearly as much weight out of the published flight profiles as you do with the others.

Challenger
Challenger
December 11, 2013 4:31 pm

Taking into account the fact that modern fighter jets are phenomenally complex and expensive, and the likelihood that the RAF and the UK will get a very good end product out of the process surely everyone still agrees that the pace of Typhoon development has been a joke?

15 years from entering service to full operational capability, with possibly only another 12 or so years of service beyond that!

Plus all this talk of Tranche 3 being able to take conformal fuel tanks like its a big achievement, Well considering what’s been paid out I think the whole bloody fleet should have had that sort of thing and Brimstone, Storm-shadow AESA and so on fitted as standard long ago, not being bolted on in dribs and drabs when the Saudi’s fork out for it.

Jeremy M H
December 11, 2013 4:40 pm

@Ted

Attaching conformal tanks is generally a task that takes a few hours and can be done on the flight line. It is not depot level work or anything like that. Unless someone really screwed up the design (and I am sure they didn’t) it is something that could be done pretty simply once the tanks are built and flight tested. Just a matter of detaching the things and then recovering the attachment points.

wf
wf
December 11, 2013 4:58 pm

@Challenger: yes, it’s criminal how little Typhoon has been developed and the glacial pace of such. The ridiculous process where all partner nations have to sign off on changes is another nail in the coffin in Euro collaborative programs methinks. Well, it *should* be a nail, but right now some idiots in the Civil Service and Parliament probably think it’s just dandy….

Jeremy M H
December 11, 2013 5:16 pm

& Challenger

I am generally not a Typhoon defender but I think you have to cut them a bit of slack with some of that stuff. Typhoon and Rafale both got caught up in a pretty abrupt transition of a few key technologies that made things very hard. Started as Cold War programs to essentially match and exceed the US teen fighters and MIG-29 and SU-27’s that were starting to roll out both those programs got hit with a loss of clear focus when the Cold War ended.

Missions started to change and what was most important in fighters started to change. This is just a victim of bad timing to a degree.

Technologically both got caught at a bad moment in two key fields.

AESA radars for fighters were really not up and going when those programs were in key development stages. Having already been pushed back for a variety of reasons I don’t think that a major avionics rework when those things were first entering service was realistic. In particularly the small AESA sets were still fairly developmental at that time and these programs did not need that complication. I think it is fair to be critical of how slow Eurofighter has been to move in that direction. But I don’t think that they made a mistake in not having it from the outset.

Secondly the aircraft got in a bad place with the low observable trend. But I am not sure what they were supposed to do about it really. They made the best of it they could be reworking some things to lower RCS as much as they could but I don’t think any European manufacturer was ready to build a low observable supersonic fighter at that time. I don’t think that is something you can hammer on too much either. I don’t see a better option than what they did.

Peter Elliott
December 11, 2013 5:16 pm

We should also consider that the F35B will likely be able to lift a higher fuel fraction off a UK deck using a ski jump compared to the published figure for level take-off from a US Deck.

So in UK service the combat radius could turn out to be a pleasant surprise.

Jeremy M H
December 11, 2013 5:23 pm

It will get airborne with its full internal load off both ships. It will take a longer deck run from the US ships (600 feet vs 450ish feet) but will still take off with full internal fuel and roughly 2,600 pounds of internal ordinance. Your results may change if you start talking about external fuel tanks or weapons but in the baseline configuration there won’t be much difference.

Mark
Mark
December 11, 2013 6:04 pm

I see the usual nonsense I see little point in correcting any of it as it’s been done so many time its boring one interesting fact though in 1976 introduced the f15c air defence aircraft and in 1988 introduced the f15e strike eagle positively glacial! Interesting the airforce introduced typhoon in 2003 and cleared it to bomb things in 2007 and introduced full capability to all variants this year 2013.

Oh on tail hooks not quite fixed yet!

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130918/DEFREG02/309180023/

“The tailhook on the Navy’s F-35C carrier variant has also been a running concern, but Lockheed is confident its new design has solved the problem. The tailhook will be tested in October and November with trap runs at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, with carrier tests due next summer.”

Funny thing testing doesn’t always give you the answer you hoped!

AKM
AKM
December 11, 2013 6:08 pm

@ Jeremy M H.

“Your results may change if you start talking about external fuel tanks…”

The last I heard the drop tanks on the F-35 had been cancelled.

TED
TED
December 11, 2013 6:12 pm

M&S
Ohh and to add to the french list the Gazelle, Squirrel and Puma.

mike
mike
December 11, 2013 6:29 pm

@ Jeremy M H

Thanks for the list debunking M&S’s comment… the yank tries his best, but condensing and more thought is needed!

Especially believing the USN is pinning its hopes onto the X-47. Its not. Its certainly seems to be more active in drone development (though one could argue that it simply taking place on a carrier gains more attention than others…such as the USAF’s recently exposed RQ-180… not to mention there is the huge cultural and safety hurdle to overcome – at this moment modeling is taking place to see how to ‘fit’ drones onto the dangerous and busy flight deck) – but the USN seems to still be keeping a weather eye on the Hornet. But the F-35C is starting to improve.

For better or for worse, the MoD and RN opted for what it’s getting… and even if your not impressed with it; you have to admit its superior to whatever we’ve had, RAF Gr9’s, FAA FA2’S… heck, better really than the half fueled, half armed fixed wing jets we had up till the 70’s.

Challenger
Challenger
December 11, 2013 6:43 pm

Probably partly down to a bit of European foot dragging and partly down to nobody (including us) wanting to stump up the cash for further developments.

@Jeremy M H

OK….I’ll give you AESA seen as it wasn’t really available until recently, and even though I didn’t mention it I would throw Meteor into that group as well, but Brimstone and Storm Shadow? They have been integrated onto other air-frames for years now, and wasn’t the most recent generations of Paveway only certified in the last couple of years?

Overall I’ve no doubt Typhoon will turn out to be a formidably impressive aircraft, I’m not critical of the end product, I’m only critical of how long it’s taking and at what cost.

M&S
M&S
December 11, 2013 7:15 pm
Reply to  Jeremy M H

@ Jeremy MH,

“1. The F-35C won’t catch a wire- Well someone already covered this.”

Until it goes to sea, it cannot catch a wire. Pax River was planning for carrier tests in Summer 2012 and they didn’t get them. They ‘planned again’ for 2013 and still haven’t got them the F-35 annual progress report is due soon and I’m sure there will be an excuse.

But it doesn’t change the fact that two different fixes _have not worked_.

“2. The USAF is looking at the KC-45- No. They bought a different platform for tanking. The KC-45 is dead with the USAF.”

You’re correct, I was off by one. The KC-45 is the A330 MRTT based system and the KC-46 is the 767 mod. I meant the latter but spelled the former. That Boeing won despite having the inferior jet is yet another ‘color me surprised’ (not) moment. Which I knew would happen when the award was announced.

“3. The US needs to focus on supersonic/hypersonic fighters- This is frankly crazy as we know what these kind of things would cost and it would make the F-35 or Eurofighter look dirt cheap.”

That’s because you think of them the wrong way. If you come from CONUS at Mach 25 you have to have an RCC shell that is structurally performing at incredible Q as well as thermal values and HTV-2 has shown this is not within the SOA. If you come from a Carrier at Mach 8+ you need only have a titanium aluminide one which is indeed within the SOA of nano-metallics. The real deal for hypersonics is launching and landing on a turbine, firing single use SRMs to get to Mach 5 and 100-150K and then lighting a scramjet to fly for an hour and half down range. It’s that ‘don’t wanna be an SR-71’ area of minimum residence, maximum efficiency transit losses (ramjets don’t work well until Mach 4-5 and lose efficiency by Mach 6 which is also the heart of hypersonic fluid flows on the airframe) that you want to avoid being in for more than than moments and if people would quit looking for the complete evolution from one turbopath, we could have been hypersonic ages ago.
Spaceship 1/Ansari X proves this.

“4. The A-47- This does not currently exist in any workable form. You have a drone that could do a few very limited activities and needs lots and lots of development. Plus everyone seems to be backing away from the drones for everything craze that hit a few years back. Could the X-47 develop into something useful? Sure. But USN plans are to put a small handful on each flight deck. No one grounded in reality is anywhere near turning the majority of tactical air assets over to drones.”

No one grounded in reality accepts that the U.S. military has a right to promise a 48 million dollar fighter in 2001 and fail to delivery a 150 million dollar one 12 years later.

This nation is headed for a massively deep depression when the other countries of the world ‘stop taking our word for it’ on commodities certificates which end up being worthless and we won’t even give back the gold which is legitimately theirs. They will decouple all funds from the USD and begin a barter trade system with market level vouchers for excesses until they can slowly rebuild independent gold supplies as the overeased Dollar crashes and we have to sell off America for the -privilege- of returning their property, at whatever exchange rate they set.

Gadhafi has already shown the way, Iran is trying really hard with her separate oil trades to China and Germany was the first but will not be the last to walk away, sans gold, from the Fed, disgusted by our monetary controls which are depressing the entire world economy to prop up the failed dollar.

This nation has a 212 TRILLION dollar unsecured and largely unacknowledged debt. Global health care is just a salve to ease the 13% interest payments we owe on that debt without calling it a tax.

The U.S. military is the planet’s number one consumer of oil and will not be able to pay for their ‘readiness is falling’ O&S coke habit when the dollar is worth pennies. An F-35 consumes more fuel in a single mission than a car does 4 years worth of driving while having markedly less radius as loiter performance than a UCAV which is capable of 1,100nm and 2.5hrs on station. Using 14,000lbs of gas.

UCAVs are remote control bomb pylons. They are no different than a Bucanneer buddy lasing for a Tornado because there aren’t any TIALD to go around. They don’t need to be more than that for the first generation but they do need to be cheaper than the outrageously overbilled and underpriced F-35.

It is the targeters which need to be deck-limited because they are the ones which have to be persistent and so have to combine VLO with RSTA packages worthy of the name. While a manned platform is hardly the ideal here, it is a better to have a lot of unmanned bomb trucks that need no training than a lot of manned jets which have no fuel for ops.

“5. The constant preference for the F-22 is very shortsighted. The F-22 is great at what it does but is really a flawed platform on which to move forward for a variety of reasons that are fairly well documented. I get that you would love it because it goes fast. But there is a lot more too the decision to stop with the F-22 and move on than what you seem to think M&S.”

Until and unless the USAF admits that the F-22 doesn’t meet the ATF spec for an 800nm combat radius with half it’s mission in supercruise I am going to continue to damn them with faint praise for choosing to make pilots sit in a cockpit for 12-15hrs in a From The Sea Forward mission scenario which all but killed naval aircrew in OEF and would have done so had not the manning ratio been significantly higher than normal.

Just because Guam and Okinawa are dirt, doesn’t mean that the distance doesn’t figure the same.

‘All reports’ of the F-22’s performance over the Black Mountain ranges of Edwards suggest that the jet has so much thrust that it cannot be held to 1.4 cruise within the SSC range limits. Hence the aircraft was taken to the PMTR for supercruise runs so that they could measure both it’s IR and Radar signatures with the platform ‘fully warmed up’. PMTR has 400nm of contiguous range space and something like 700nm overall.

If you have control over the skies, you can fly the Raptor 600nm to a tanker, 300nm over the fence and 300nm back out, tap the tanker again and come home. In 3hrs. That’s 1800nm.

Something that neither the F/A-18, F-14 or F-15E can even approach as evidence from OEF supports with it’s ’17hr record setting run’. The F-35 with it’s sluggish, high wingloading, high drag, cruise will not exceed these jets performances and the F-35C in particular will likely stretch them as a function of wasted hours in transit per flying day.

Wasted hours = sorties not flown.

If the USN had been smart, they would have chosen the I403 configuration for the ATA (essentially an F-111 crossbred to a Tomcat) and had their supercruise interdictor by now.

Instead, they are a generation back from the USAF and now they are facing a threat which has wisely decided to nail the boat and let planes see if they can float.

And with this one change, the entire picture of a Major Theater War has altered.

“In short I find your vision of the future dominated by swarms and magical ballistic missiles available in huge numbers that can be fired totally without consequence to be moderately interesting but pretty far out there. Those are certainly not the answer to every single military issue that comes about.”

Don’t forget the SSLs. I want a full laser light show to go with my plenty of rawwwkets.

The F-35 is a 40 year program. If we cannot do anything better than plod forward with a prosaic airframe whose stealth is less than both the preceding jets it’s based on and whose key technology features seem to be right out of an IPad generation of ‘downloadable apps’ importance to the basics of _getting the mission done_ then we are asking to be bypassed in place by threats who take general performance more seriously.

By 2020, the Gamma Firestrike will be at 100KW continuous output and productionizable. By 2030, we will have 1MW slabs. That alone limits the timeframe to which the JSF will be able to provide it’s incredibly mundane performance.

UCAVs will be sacrificially slaughterable to both DEWS and hunting weapons and this will be the only way that we can continue to -target- for long range strike by missiles.

“There are lots of lots of buzzwords in these post but not really a ton of substance in all these giant walls of text. Typhoon and F-35 will both be relevant players for quite a long time. If the rest of the world agreed with your conclusions there would be no programs like the J-20 or the T-50 in other nations. Most people actually paid to get these things right are a long way from your viewpoint on the future.”

The Chinese and Russians have not invested 65 billion in the ATF and then dropped it for a pork production effort centered around a faulty F-117 successor masquerading as a fighter. If the Raptor is as flawed as you suggest then the F-35 is doubly so for being based on it. And yet our ‘near peers’ have not failed to investigate this capability for the simple reason that, as a high end multiplier and potential export system it can terribly impair us through our abandonment of the Top Tier performance category in trade for the hamburger equivalent.

For home use, they have long since switched to missiles because they realize that every time we go into their waters, it’s a lot easer to blow the boat out from under the airwing than it is to fight the combined institutional experience of U.S. airpower in the air.

Typhoon is useful because it is here and it fulfills the NATO mission for which it was designed. Whether they will turn a 350nm radius DCA platform into a 700nm strike warfare machine remains to be seen but the F-35 is a waste of money that is only going to get worse as it’s major operational shortfalls are revealed. There is no ‘magic bullet’ capability resident in the airframe. There would not be continuous promises based on discovered shortcomings by no less than the PEO himself about ‘new weapons, new EA, new engines somewhere down the road as soon as I force it into service’ if the baseline was good enough.

When General Bogdan made promises that he knew what he was doing and then admitted he didn’t have the TDP to back up his on-cost, on-schedule (three different training squadrons, none of their spares pipes stocked) he made a complete fool of himself as the manager of the production rampup and logistics inherent to bringing this program to service. His ‘no more time, no more money’ speech became an utter fiduciary fraud.

When he said that he was willing to admit that the jet lacked the performance of other types in service and ‘he didn’t care’ he lost all integrity as leader supporting the warfighter community who _do_ care when their not-yet-IOC’d jet is significantly underperforming compared to the world standard.

The fact that the services don’t even /own/ the Technical Data Package with which to parcel out the support and maintenance effort and are seemingly unworried that China has stolen said package should tell you that there are no secrets to be lost.

The F-35 is a very prosaic solution to a 21st century warfighter environment which apt to need a tenth the performance it offers, 90% of the time (SSC/LIC/COIN) and 200%+ of what it doesn’t even come close to matching in the Raptor when the grease really hits the griddle.

You can pretend not to understand this or to know more than I do but until you come out with facts and figures, the reality is that your word is no better than mine and Team JSF’s word is no good at all.

From Bogdan on down.

AKM
AKM
December 12, 2013 12:16 am

Hmm, can anyone think of a single American or British front line fighter that was developed in the public sphere (so no sneaky black programs) in the last 50 years that WASN’T criticized heavily for either being overpriced or having lackluster performance (or both) during it’s development phase?

M&S
M&S
December 12, 2013 2:55 am

@TED,

“@ Jeremy M H Cheers I was getting that”

Not from me.

“@ M&S Whether you like it or not the RN are getting a carrier. What did we learn from the Falklands? AEWC, the importance of multiple carriers (thankfully not the hard way), how to use our inferiour capabilities to achieve a goal.”

What you didn’t learn: Kill the enablers and you kill the mission force, fail to have the enablers and your mission force is not only worthless in and of itself but also puts the entire TF at risk.

You should have had multiple effectors on hand, working the Escuadron Phoenix (Learjet Pathfinders with the only functional nav gear able to ‘find the Falklands’ for the A-4P/Q they led) and the KC-130 Chancha Fat Sow tankers which were what gave both the Mirage, A-4 and particularly the SUE the legs to reach the fleet anchorages.
Both in the Sound and the TF farther east.
You lost a carrier, it was just random luck that it was a container carrier and not a flat top.
OTOH, you didn’t have the gas pass to keep your FORCAP on station for more than about 40 minutes at a time and because you relied on STOVL, the two times when it _really counted_ (Mirage launches R530 IR and SHAR ducks, with the missile passing within 50ft of him and the 4 Skyhawks and a late Mirage TARCAP escort arriving late and driving the SHAR section completely off station) you couldn’t fight the standup fight because the threat had the altitude and missile pole advantage to beat you.
The F402-RR-401 engine was a gerbil core running a monster fan and the higher it went the compression it had to fight the transonic fight. Add this to a 100lb/sqft wingloading and you are in the soup with real fighters than can punch the Mach to get an extra couple nm out of their weapons and then turn oblique and deny you the return favor.
The F-35 is going to be the same way.
Had the Argentines focussed their efforts around a surge launch to support the kind of roll back TARCAP broom with immediate followup high angle attacks as the Anchorage escorts struggled to catch up with the fact that they had no top cover, it is likely that many more British ships would have been sunk than in fact were, just on fuzing and dtoss accuracies.
It is never wise to rely on the foolishness of your opponent’s mistakes to save you and this has become a bad habit for the British.

“Harrier with a combat radius of about 300nm was used in two ways. Sea Harrier was an interceptor with a limited bomb chucking capability. It’s easy to look at the burning ships and the Argentine skyhawks, daggers and pucaras low in San Carlos and ask where are the harriers? Our small air wing was reducing the number of aircraft coming in to that area by patrolling out to around 200nm. And we had the gr3 doing ground atatck courtesy of the RAF.”

It’s more to the point to consider that the Venticio de Mayo came within 15 minutes of launch before deciding she had had enough and limping away like cowards. Some say it was ‘engine trouble’ some say that the sugar in the mix had a Foreign Office hand behind it.

Most acknowledge that TF Corporate declared a COEA that more or less fixed them on a given radial line from the Falklands and then foolishly failed to task enough attack subs to ‘solve the problem’ with Belgrano and V12M before the the TF got there.

You lacked the assets as the ASST with which to fight a two axis naval air war and everything from Coral Sea to Midway to Taffy 3 should have instructed you better as to what happens to carriers that get two axis hammer and anvil attack going on them while close inshore.

You lose the Hermes and Invincible and Op Corporate is over before it’s begun.

And the fact of the matter is that, had you had even the Collossus class capabilities which you /gave to your enemy/ via the Netherlands, you would _not_ have been in a position where you were both predictable and blind.

Because it was a 1950s Stoof which found you.

“Range as much as it is nice is not the be all and end all of carrier ops for us. It’s about intercepting enemy aircraft outside the range of T45 and hence reducing it’s workload.”

If you don’t need overland capabilities then you don’t need VLO and the Rafale is an equal or superior jet than the F-35, across the board, in terms of smart A2G weapons, total payload carriage, heavy weight fuel options, true fighter performance and MSI. When Meteor comes online it will flatly outclass the Lightning as a weapons system.

It is foolish to accept the penalties of multirole -and- STOVL if you don’t need them.

While Operation Ellamy rather puts the lie to ‘FADF only’ (3,000 miles in Tornados to deliver _32_ Storm Shadow, another repeat of “It’s not dumb if the Americans do it.” El Dorado Canyon idiocy) missioning, I would still find it necessary to ask what operational construct you envision in which a UK AEGIS equivalent is going to need ‘assistance’ that a Lightning section with all of 4 AMRAAMs can supply but a Rafale cannot.

“And then a limited attack capability to support ground troops. If a strike mission was required tankers would be used and either the RAF would step up or the RN would have to rendevouz with that tanker. Our carriers aren’t exactly a strike asset.”

At 70,000 tons the QEs cannot justify this. I think I already said that.
Did you buy fewer Stealth Air Defense jets you could buy more F/A-18E/F and E-2 which brings EA, whaling and AEW&C to the same table in a platform that is just about as good (more missiles, slightly worse A2A performance) as a FADF.

Keep in mind that as things are going, a fully equipped E-2D (617 for 5 USN E-2D = 123 million each) and F-35B are going to run neck and neck for cost and that same amount will buy you FOUR Super Hornets.

The RN, like the USMC, has a warped vision of STOVL as all-doing for the navy on a budget when in fact it is operationally and by system costs, a _crippling_ liability.

“What else did we not learn from the Falklands? When it comes to learning in the forces the RN got a massive wake up call here. You try and tell me the navy didn’t learn anything from 82 every thursday they have a little get together in my neck of the woods and one thing they practice is air attack. Can we put that to bed now!”

Did you ever put the Stanley runways out of commission for more than 3-4 hours? Did you put down the Skyguard/Roland/GDF-02 systems? What about the Westinghouse EWR up on the ridge? Did you find the garbage truck Exocet before it blew a hole in HMS Glamorgant?

What about CAS to guard the long foot march to a prepared enemy position in superior vertical defilade on the slopes of the Sisters?

Practicing air attack (whatever that means) is secondary to having the equipment list means to proactively avoid problem areas like this. That means enough gas pass to stay in the air on a reliable CAP rotation cycle and/or to forward push the strikers to the target area without compromising your Carrier group location.

It means having the sensorization to give early warning as the Argentines come through one of only two passes in West Falklands on the way to San Carlos Waters and to perhaps attempt a Yamamoto attack on their support mission enablers.

It means having real jammers as SEAD to compliment the Stealth so as to not just sneak in but rather roll back _area_ defenses which are now much more more common. So that you don’t end up lobshotting from the edges of the engagement envelope as the SHARs did in 1982 and creating sanctuary airspace into which threat air can run C-130 resupply missions every night.

“With regard the RN buying stuff from the French, I know I’m a Brit! But what about exocet we had fitted to our ships in 82? The mistral class that someone suggested to be a fairly serious contender for ocean replacement is French. The truth is as much as I think typhoon will out do rafale the Rafale is a bit of a beast.”

My point is that the Rafale is a superior multirole tacair asset to the F-35B and it is fully navalized and thus doesn’t need to be adopted to the role which elements of the Typhoon’s design suggest it is not well suited to anyway (no central keel, hollow chin inlet with limited structural carry through for the NLG, wide track MLG with limited wingroot carry through. etc.).

“The RN is commited to F35. As much as I love rotary assets the QE class should never become a purely helicopter carrier.”

Had the QE not been designed as a 70,000 ton STOVL limited deck that would not be an issue. That said, the RN doesn’t have the last say in what flies off their decks, the U.S. does. And the U.S. economic as military theater condition requirements means that it can ill afford to be purchasing the F-35 solely to be satisfying a British perceived need for a STOVL fighter airframe.

The F-35B is bad news for the USMC who want to be a Navy unto themselves and have no clue what that means in a 21st century airpower modality where the littorals just got a lot wider and meaner thanks to ASBM which the USN is presently dealing with like true ostriches. Too wide for 300nm STOVL.

And like the RN, the USMC has a false (presented) notional ideal of what it takes to have a useful carrier capability. Namely, ignoring the need for multiple supporting missions which both extend the reach and the eyes of the fleet without requiring unsustainable sortie rates from a micro airwing.

If we cannot afford to pay 50 billion for V-22 modifications to ‘fix’ this, I assure you the RN cannot which means that your fixed wing assets have less fleet recce as ASST than the PBYs at Midway.

Of course the RN is isn’t likely to be facing a war with a major land/sea based mixed threat from the Chinese either but if that’s the case, then they don’t need VLO which is just about the only thing the F-35B brings to the table that the Rafale doesn’t do better, cheaper.

“North Africa and Typhoon. So far we have only used it in Libya. The French (there they are again) have been making use of Rafale over Libya and Mali. There was a French jet over CAR the other day on the news (my bets on Rafale.) However I digress, in Libya Typhoon was based at Gioia del Colle. If we can’t rely on basing at or near to the combat area A la falklands we are a bit stuck.”

This isn’t an F-35B or nothing condition. It _never_ was. The F-35B is an inferior airframe to the Rafale and if the Brits would swallow their pride, they would have got a better deal for it by buying in early and expanding Marine orders instead of USMC ones.

I can’t think of a single naval aviator who wants to fly STOVL if he can have CVTOL. You chose the most expensive, least capable, jet for the job.

Indeed, did the RN feel they just /had to/ buy U.S., the late lot F/A-18E/F is still a better choice than the F-35B because it brings more multi-mission support as tanking, EA and external stores options.

If the RN honestly thinks that they are going back to the Falklands then they could and should have done a far better job identifying what really was broken, screwed up or flat out _missing_ from their OOB during that Campaign.

OTOH, if they are going to be more of a regional airpower with links to other NATO supporting air arms, then they likely can indeed count upon basing rights in any joint force or coalition action.

Myself, before FOAS became FJCA became F-35 almost by default, the best solution was C-17 with palletized Storm Shadow. Your tanking requirements are zero. Two aircraft can match the warload of 16 GR.4s ‘and to spare’ and where loiter is useful, you have some options to get civvies out of the area without having to RTB on a tanker rendezvous requirement with unspent rounds underwing.

If it’s anything like EDC was with the F-111 crews, they had to peel those aircrew out of their jets with a spatula and every one of them was ‘down’ for a day as a week after.

“With regard ICBMs and other guided systems. As Jeremy said they aren’t infallable. I seem to remember a similar prognosis by a certain someone in the run up to TSR 2 being cancelled.”

I tell you what, you come fight the Chinese in their home waters with a 2,500km ranged, Mach 12, ASBM pointed at your forehead, and I will let you choose whatever method of warfighting you believe best, so long as U.S. lives are not protected by your wisdom.

For the USN, the difference is that, as things now stand, the U.S. cannot _reach_, let alone target DF-21D and cannot -find- DH-10 systems in the densities we are apt to be facing. And as we will be responding on the quick hustle to a Chinese siezed initiative in someplace like Taiwan or Korea, it’s highly unlikely that we will have the time to do a proper rollback as SCUD Hunt effort before the ROCs or the ROKs are all wearing blue pajamas and riding bicycles to work.

“With regards problems with F-35B. Ship surfaces are being reinforced against the heat. I would love to see a link to the problems with SRVL (shipboard rolling vertical landing) and gear problems. Either way I’m sure they are not in surmountable.”

We cannot take off and land from a CATOBAR carrier in the F-35B. We -should not- accept the minimum 300nm radius reduction inherent to operating a STOVL asset just so that another service as country can have an air-navy too.

The SOI around the boat for the A-12 was 700nm to begin with and 1,000nm by the time the program came to an end. The F-35 is a step back from that and it has foolishly cost the nation as the USN the ability to project power from beyond the reach of the likeliest SUW threat we will face. Forcing us to deal with that threat, defensively, rather than simply avoid it. Adding missions to an already over tasked power projection schedule and making an outrageously overpriced asset even more of a failed system when it takes half a day to execute on a single alpha strike.

“M&S given the RNs commitment to carriers what do you suggest we go and buy? Sea phoon great I would like to see anyone sell that to the taxpayers. And this is pointless anyone because it would require a complete failure of F35b.”

Rafale or F/A-18F. The navalized Typhoon is an artifact of BAe’s fervid imagination. Rafale has the superior aerodynamic performance and select weapons advantages critical to the RN mission in an already qualified airframe. The Hornet brings a broader level of sensor capabilities as cockpit controls, multi-mission options and total ordnance in a lower performance spectrum airframe.

“To Tranche 3 now does anyone know how the tanks are fitted. I.e. is it an hours job or a month. If its the work of a few hours can we just buy some tanks so we have strike capability if and when we need it?”

Good question. Mounting the early F-15 CFT were supposed to be the work of a couple hours. But the truth is that they leaked like a sieve, were hard to seal flush with the airframe and posed all manner of other (electrical) maintenance hassles such that the ground crews at Langley, Elmendorf, Kadena and Reykjavik all hated them. The F-15E is rarely seen with them demounted (except during factory PDMs as checkflight performance testing) so I would assume it is no better.

If the CFTs have a similar cement-truck-on-roller-blades effect on the Typhoon as they do on the Eagle it would be better to have crews train with the weight rather than expect their jet to fly like a fighter and then suffer a 4,500lb surprise disappointment.

As far as mounting them, the Typhoon is likely to be just as bad or worse because you have to have an overhead crane capable of spanning the jet to lift them into place and no easy access to fuel hook ups when doing pressurization tests if something blows.

dave haine
dave haine
December 12, 2013 10:55 am

Salient points of St Mike:

F35 isn’t going to be the best thing since sliced bread, despite LM and USMC programme leaders best efforts to convince us otherwise. In fact it could turn out to be a clusterf**k of pan-crackingly sh**ty proportions, or it could be barely better than the Tonka, with less range and more potential for ‘owwies’. From what I’ve read from other sources (s)he may have a point.

Why are the RN bothering with a big carrier if they’re not going to put a proper carrier air group on it with ISTARs, AWACS, ASW, tankers etc. Fair point, i’d say.

Typhoon is good- don’t f**k around trying to make a naval version. A better solution would be to buy Rafale.
Fair point, also reasonable back-up plan if F35 proves to be a f**k-up (By the way Rafale is capable of STOBAR).

“Repugnant, sponge-licking, bit of kit” (I love Fill your Boots insult generator)

wf
wf
December 12, 2013 11:21 am

@dave haine: I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Whatever happens, the F35 will be a lot better than the Tornado: just the radar and IR is streets ahead, and it’s thrust / weight ratio and wing loading are miles better. While it’s fairly rarely going to be used in stealth mode, even with kit hanging from pylons it’s going to look quite a bit smaller, and it’s EW will be far more comprehensive.

I’m not the F35’s biggest fan, but we have managed to delay AST404 two decades in the chimera of Euro integration and throw in a Harrier replacement into the mix. We don’t really have a choice: if we had gone ahead with an EAP alike back in 1987, we would hopefully now be completing development on a UK replacement for this: something with some stealth, but mainly being a flexible “80% solution”. And we would have cleaned up with it…

Martin
Martin
December 12, 2013 11:44 am

Going back to the first point on UK Tranche 3b orders the Uk position is that the 72 jets sold to Saudi Arabia from RAF production slots were a government to government sale and as such count towards the UK’s 232 orders so that the 160 we are getting + the 72 to saudi. The German governments position is that EADS can go f**k its self if it thinks we are paying for all the planes we said we would.

Let’s just hope we never embark on another joint procurement program with other EU members again.

On the point of the F35 cancelation even if the USA did decide to cancel F35 (which seems unlikely as without it most of their airforce will be museum pieces) why would the UK have to cancel. The F35 B is in production so why would Lockheed not make the aircraft we ordered before shutting the production line as the R&D costs are already sunk and paid for by Uncle Sam. Not to mention we could buy the USMC F35B’s already in service if they were scrapping them. Also the USA is not the only show in town and the aircraft is attracting huge numbers of foreign buyers from Singapore to Korea and plenty more want it from Saudi to Taiwan if they can get it. The international orders for F35 already exceed the total production run for Typhoon so why would LM stop making it?

dave haine
dave haine
December 12, 2013 11:52 am

Indeed, it was, a tad….

I will say i’m applying a pinch of salt to St Mikes loftier statements, however, there is disquiet among some elements of both the USN and USMC…But there is generally a lot more unsaid than is said about such things, so all one can do is suck it and see… My concern is that we’ve rather put ourselves in a situation where we are reliant on one solution.

As for EAP, I agree with you…It was a mature programme, with a lot going for it… But you could say the same for P1154RN.

Ever heard of the BAe P.125? a sort of tonka-sized F35 equivalent, studied at about the same time….I wonder what would have happened if we’d had a government with a bit more oomph…

wf
wf
December 12, 2013 12:19 pm

@dave haine: no, I hadn’t heard of the P125. Interesting design, although I suspect rather more “high tech” than could be made to work within a reasonable cost ceiling: just the “artificial vision” bits are only now becoming mature.

Martin
Editor
December 12, 2013 12:29 pm

@ Dave Haines and wf

should remember that BAE was involved with F35 from the start before it was even selected as JSF. much if the work done on previous British stealth designs went into F35. if you look at replica in particular it bares more than a passing resemblance to F35.

TED
TED
December 12, 2013 12:57 pm

re F35 I agree completely

Now on to @M&S where do I start?
Firstly the Exocet that hit Glamorgan. We knew exactly where it was, Glamorgan took a calculated risk to continue to support the ground campaign at a crucial time. Unfortunatly the exocet hit.

Atlantic conveyor was a container ship with no defences. Yes we needed the Helicopters aboard but that was a lesson learned from the Falklands.

CAS for the long march to the sisters. CAS back then was pretty primitive the RAF was a strike organisation and CAS was against established targets. Now we would want CAS but the F35 will be able to provide that.

Air attack I’m not re inventing the wheel its where aircraft simulate attacks on ships. Generally in a Thursday war. Clear evidence of lesssons learned from 82.

The QEs have been designed as a STOVL deck. So what would you do?

ALso please answer my question or you look like an MP. WHERE is the evidence that the 35B cannot sustain SRVL? That could be quite crucial for the UK.

Whats the A-12. You mention its combat radius had extended by the end of the programme. Could that happen with F35. Whyb not stick tanks on it for CAP? Why would LM cancel the tanks everyone is going to want them!

I haven’t got time to deal with that whole post now maybe later unless anyone else wants to jump in.

@TD I bet theres more too… :)

@ Dave Haine I agree it wont be the best thing since sliced bread. But I believe we are commited. Also Harrier wasn’t the best thing since sliced bread. This is a counter of your argument its more of the UK will do what it has done for years now… make do.

Pleased to hear about conformal tanks. I would suggest just buying enough for a strike force say 12(?) and fit them when needed.

AKM
AKM
December 12, 2013 2:48 pm

@ TED

The A-12 he’s referring to is this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_A-12_Avenger_II

It was always a shame that program failed, it had the potential to be a great replacement for the Tornado.

Martin
Editor
December 12, 2013 3:38 pm

Re the A12 – I just can’t believe the technology existed to take LO to sea in the early 1990’s. Just look at the hassle of maintaining the F22 on land.

I think the stealth coating on the F35 will be one of the many game changers it will bring to the party. The electronics on the aircraft alone should be enough to make it a great aircraft. as said earlier in the past every western aircraft developed post WWII has been subject to criticism in development. remember when everyone was talking about how s**t the F 22 was and why the USA had to cancel it for the F35. Now the F35 is s**t and the USA needs the FXX its worth noting that the majority if the US fighter fleet was developed in the late 60’s and introduced in the 70’s. while the aircraft have been continually upgraded they are starting to look old. even with F35 introduction many will still be in the air in the 2030’s. The USA simply can’t afford to start over again on its main fighter program nor does it plan to. while the navy could probably live without the F35C the USAF and USMC would be obliterated by the cancelation of the A and b versions. The C is the most likely version to be canceled. It’s the smallest order and no allies would be affected. However if the F35 does live up to many of its claims which I I think it will would the USN be prepared to be left behind with only F18 available until the mid 2030s. Having an LHA America with 24 F35b and a hell of a lot more capability than a Ford with 36 F18’s would likely be too politically damaging for the USN and it’s cherished carrier program.

M&S
M&S
December 12, 2013 5:52 pm

@TED,
“Firstly the Exocet that hit Glamorgan. We knew exactly where it was, Glamorgan took a calculated risk to continue to support the ground campaign at a crucial time. Unfortunately the exocet hit.”

NGS off Glamorgan was a case of desultory Agitate The Argies nonsense. You could have continued to use Sea Slug for that. Or you could have put SBS teams ashore to take out the truck, the roland and Government House command and control, all at once. Mortars and Milan milad.

Everyone makes a big deal out of Goose Green and Pebbles raids but the truth is that those places had already been hit by BL.755, days earlier, nobody talks about the utter failure to black out Port Stanley, collapse the radar as air defense bubble and, _by scoring the CNS kill, take out the center ring_.

No Command and Control, no daily mail with more orders and booze and suddenly it’s some Sergeant on a hill that is deciding whether to fight or surrender.

Glamorgan was hit by a missile that you couldn’t find because it was loaded, adhoc, on a garbage truck. A similar technique happened with the C701/C802 fired on the INS Hanit.

The Chinese will do even better if we tie into it with them.

The F-35B will not function as an RSTA (What you call ISTAR) platform because it is too few and too far between on sorties to be able to functionally provide the persistent dwell that says:

“Whenever you feel you are ready, stick up your little fuzzy head you moppet so I can send someone along to blow it off…”.

Rafale/F-35C/F/A-18F might. Because they are all aircraft whose CVTOL configuration makes it possible to integrate other, better, unmanned, loiterers later on. Just as they also enable the E-2 and C-2 and potentially a tanker (Fighter Whaling is nonsense…).

STOVL for you is a permanent inhibitor to that happening as no other airwing types will ever come aboard which are /not/, in fact, helicopters.

“Atlantic conveyor was a container ship with no defences. Yes we needed the Helicopters aboard but that was a lesson learned from the Falklands.”

Sheffield was a Type 42 with the latest and greatest air defense fit, so was Coventry.

France was a NATO ally who had already given you the weapon so supplying the seeker waveforms should have been a matter of “Would you like that by mail or by courier.” with tech support in the way of a quick trip down to Istres to have the Real Deal fly against the ESM suite and make sure it all went Wally.

“CAS for the long march to the sisters. CAS back then was pretty primitive the RAF was a strike organisation and CAS was against established targets. Now we would want CAS but the F35 will be able to provide that.”

Not if the jet has a 300nm radius and no gas pass to hold overhead. The one thing that matters in the first 30 of contact is that the fires come in the second thirty and where CAS scores big is when it lets the airplane carry the weight of munitions so the grunts don’t have to and bring the height of LOS to make those fires in fact _preemptive_.

Given what the Harrier could do as a there-and-gone-again ‘NATO CAS’ asset, you would have been better off going with whatever ATV or light vehicle would carry a mortar and a SASR section back then.

Today, it would be SPIKE off a MATV, Griffin off a Shadow, Hellfire off an MQ-9 or better yet: helimobile.

See, what I said was a trap. It was to dare you to think out of the box and to prove you understood what was important about CAS and how to create workarounds when it isn’t there because it’s not got the legs or you cannot afford it.

You’re instant answer was ‘perfect corporate’: “F-35 does everything!” When you should have given more care to the conditions and said: “Well, if we have a proper LHD now, why are they walking and if the air threat is too rough to bring them by rotor, what can we do to make them mobile enough to mount their own fire support?”

With the advent of APS, there is not a single reason for troops not to be all-aboard even light vehicles and so have the edge of mounted maneuver as retained energy levels for the later assault phase.

“Air attack I’m not re inventing the wheel its where aircraft simulate attacks on ships. Generally in a Thursday war. Clear evidence of lesssons learned from 82.”

Aircraft don’t attack ships. Missiles do. Get out of the 1940s. When even the hybrid threats are firing modern AShM, the question becomes: “Can yout see them roll up in the pickup truck?” Because if the shot is prepositioned, close-in, you’re dead.

Tristram and Galahad happened because the RN air wasn’t there. But if the value is resident in the naval platform, the real question becomes: “Why were the ships?”

I look at ships like the Skol and I see a perfect future for fast deployment of mounted RAP teams. And with sufficient onboard fires as reach out, I see RAP teams as being the new “Make them hold terrain, make them be the standing targets, don’t sieze, /deny/.” tactical doctrines.

There would be no San Carlos Water condition if you would just come forward into the 21st Century and see how the real pros handle the mission. SOF always lead with applications of miniaturization and mobilization as Light Is Right, fewer does more.

They just refuse to be typecast which is what is happening with the main branches.

“Also please answer my question or you look like an MP. WHERE is the evidence that the 35B cannot sustain SRVL? That could be quite crucial for the UK.”

http://defensetech.org/2013/09/19/5th-generation-fighter-1st-generation-tires/
http://www.f-16.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=24568

Google is your friend. So is common sense. I did not say the F-35 could not perform a rolling VL, I said that it could not do so on a carrier equipped with a deployed arrestor system which it’s CVTOL, single tire, skinny-strut landing gear ran over at 50-80 knots as a series of 4″ thick speed bumps.

Over. And Over. And Over again.

As is, the Marines are faking their CPFH and MMH/FH figures (as part of the lie that F-35 is an 852 million dollar program cost rather than the real 1.2 Trillion generated by CBO/CRS) by treating the F-35 as a CVTOL platform rather than a STOVL one most of the time ashore and so tires which do okay in a STOVL condition are coming apart because they are not designed for that stress /without/ the arrestor issues.

None of which matters because if you cannot launch off the front end of the boat, whether you can land (without the arrestor gear deployed, interfering with the normal recovery cycle of the ship) is meaningless. And the F-35B cannot take off from in front of a JBD, it doesn’t have running enough room.

And it cannot make a rolling take off from the rear of the deck because the jet blast would impinge on the deck park and again, influence the launch rate of the rest of the air wing.

You or someone asked why the F-35B could not replace the F-35C if it turned out to be unable to come aboard, I supplied two perfectly good reasons: The F-35B is short legged, even compared to the Super Hornet and it is not compatible with CATOBAR configured decks.

“Whats the A-12. You mention its combat radius had extended by the end of the programme. Could that happen with F35. Why not stick tanks on it for CAP? Why would LM cancel the tanks everyone is going to want them!”

The A-12 Avenger II was the ‘Dorito’ flying wing whose failure was directly attributable to massive and highly illegal corruption at NavAir by the PEO, then a /Captain/ (tell me that wasn’t intentional). It began life as a ‘thin’ wing which was later bloated to a much thicker sectional profile with nearly 1,000nm worth of range. The problem being that the jet was overweight at the beginning by roughly 2,639lbs and by the end, closer to 8,000lbs and the USN knew this, going in, and said nothing about it but continued to front-load system requirements onto the jet which was absolutely illegal in a Fixed Price contract which, by 1987 DFAR laws, could not be worth more than 25 million and must have had a zero-risk procurement condition.

What made it a tragedy was that the USN didn’t dump the A-12 because it was a failure, aerodynamically, even with shortfalls in thrust (they chose an off the shelf engine with an upgrade fan from the F404-GE-412 instead of the PW5000 developmental one) and massive weight gain, things like SEROC and up and away performance actually improved in a couple of key areas thanks to diligent engineering by GDMD.

The USN was embarrassed that they had been caught almost 1.5 billion dollars short on program development costs that they had said were ‘completely under control’ and when GDMD refused to have their arms twisted on paying out of pocket for the overages, (having the F-16 and F-15/18 programs as national and corporate responsibilities to look after) _which is specifically what Margaret Olsen, chief USN council ILLEGALLY advised the USN to seek to do, back in 1984_, they let the airframe go.

And everything since then, the massive disappointment of the F/A-18F, the abortion in place of the AFX and the JSF-35 derives from that stupid, prideful, USN mistake.

And now that we desperately need a 1,000nm SOI on jets crossing the littoral boundary while facing an ASBM threat, we have a ‘700nm’ F-35C which is in fact a 584nm jet and a 450nm F-35B which is going to be /lucky/ to match the Harrier at 300nm radius because now, where weight really matters, it is still so heavy that they will be trading gas for carriage in most hot’n’hi conditions like AfG or the PacRim.

Thus, the F-35B is not going to have tanks for the same reason that the SHAR deployed south with the big 190s but then reverted to the 100-110 or so tanks because to put external fuel on a jet which doesn’t have the weight reserve to retain internal ordnance load is to accept both weight and drag issues inherent to not just the EFT but also the 500lbs or so of pylon and jettison kit.

Something that makes one’s eyes water when we hear that the F-35B is going to be mostly a CAS jet and so doesn’t need heavy interdiction ordnance (or VLO, or supersonics performance) because it’s going to be ‘an external ordnance’ warfighter.

In this, it is ironic that the purpose-designed F-35 tanks are area ruled for lower drag at transonic and supersonic flight, the F-35 is going to be lucky if it can hold .85 with external ordnance. As a cost savings measure, the Services will likely qualify their own, residual, tanks as they see fit which means the there will likely be 330s or 480s on USN versions.

If there is a separate tank qualified it will only be because the USAF 370s, with their integral pylons, are not safe for use from the F-35.

mickp
mickp
December 12, 2013 6:00 pm

Typhoon tranche 3 – yes slow in getting there, but a worthwhile upgrade. I would like to see our Typhoon fleet retained at around 130-140 aurcraft with a few more tranche 3 types acquired to boost overall numbers making up for the demise of the tranche 1. A resulting 60-70 tranche 3 in the mix serves as a decent future hedge v lack of any F35A which I remain unconvinced about our need for

I see no reason for the F35B buy to extend beyond sustaining 4 12-aircraft operational squadrons so I guess that is possibly 60-72 maximum buy

As to the future Typhoon will cover UK QRA for years (although I will not underestimate the importance of this with a resurgent Russia etc), F35B covers the carrier and our prime expeditionary capability in the Euro / Med / Africa / South Atlantic area (although I’m sure we will be able to also rotate a couple of Typhoon squadrons for land basing is required). So I’m left with what else do we need? I am inclined to think long legged delivery system rather than short legged F35As – so any or all of T26s and Astutes maxed out with Tomahawks or ‘son of’, Taranis, a handful of US LRBs, or modified P8s say acting as strike missile delivery trucks

As to the carriers – irrespective of what government spin puts on it, they are not providing us with US style CVBGs, I see them as an enhancement of the very successful Invincible class, arguably bigger than they currently need to be, but that is a sensible element of future proofing. I think pure carrier strike will be on the wane over the next 20 years, even in the USN. however, short of going toe to toe with China (and subject to getting crowsnest) where else in the reaonable future would an RN battle group of a CVF with 24-36 F35Bs, ASW assets, 2 T45s, 3 or 4 T26s with TLAM and a couple of Astutes be overmatched, even without coalition support?

TED
TED
December 12, 2013 6:41 pm

http://defensetech.org/2013/09/19/5th-generation-fighter-1st-generation-tires/ They spelled tyres wrong.
That’s hardly a show stopper is it. Test report: improve quality of tyres. Grand. I don’t really care what the USN need to do. F35b will not be cancelled.
However thankyou for answering the question :)

“F-35 does everything!” At what point? I said clearly at one point about making do!

Maybe you didn’t read correctly. I heard it empirically stated by the Captain of Glamorgan that they were aware of the location of the exocet.

“Aircraft don’t attack ships. Missiles do. Get out of the 1940s. When even the hybrid threats are firing modern AShM, the question becomes: “Can yout see them roll up in the pickup truck?” Because if the shot is prepositioned, close-in, you’re dead.”

Yeah they do. San Carlos for example. That’s effectively saying guns don’t kill people, people do. They practice for both down here. Falcon 20s from cobham aviation services simulate missile attacks by ‘firing’ hawk jets at the ships. You accuse us of not learning from the falklands and go on to state loads of cases in which we clearly did learn.

“See, what I said was a trap. It was to dare you to think out of the box and to prove you understood what was important about CAS and how to create workarounds when it isn’t there because it’s not got the legs or you cannot afford it.”
What sort of loiter time will we have even if we were 100nm out.

“Given what the Harrier could do as a there-and-gone-again NATO asset”
I said it wasn’t perfect in the Falklands. By 2008 the Harrier was the british ground troops favourite FJ. For a number of reasons we won’t go into.

Ok so we are likely to get tanks. That is reassuring. What about conformal tanks on F35?

M&S I’m not an expert on all things fighter jet or indeed military and don’t pretend to be. To me you seem to be lapping up every bit of anti F35 propaganda and the refusing to believe the good news like the extended trials of the F35b onboard uss wasp. I have been very clear in saying that the aircraft “will not be the best thing since sliced bread.” The UK has no flexibility anymore with regard what aircraft we will get so we should be focusing on how it can be used and not dreaming of doritos. Rafale as painful as it is to say is pretty awesome but none of this fantasy fleet building matters because we are simply getting F35.

You calls to look at how the PROs do it is an interesting one. I thought what the RN and RAF did in the Falkands with regards the air conflict was amazing. The RN using the new and largely untested SHAR put in a block stopping many enemy aircraft. The RAF did what it had been trained to do and more. I believe that using limited resources to great effect is a lot more PROFESSIONAL than using a great many assets for the same purpose.

Can we put this to bed now. We are getting F35 which will be a useful multirole aircraft alongside the useful and capable Typhoon.

Mark
Mark
December 12, 2013 10:13 pm

M&S
M&S
December 12, 2013 10:26 pm

,

“Re the A12 – I just can’t believe the technology existed to take LO to sea in the early 1990′s. Just look at the hassle of maintaining the F22 on land.”

It wasn’t. The USN jumped into the LO game on the ‘Senior Service’ assumption that they would get freebies from their younger comrades in The Blue Suit Brigade and the USAF gave them the cold shoulder, at least partially because they knew what a mess the F-117 was to keep operationally effective (loads and loads of carcinogenic ‘butter’ and a paint scraper plus new tiles every time you wanted to do basic inspections) while the B-2 was having such enormous difficulties with it’s composite approach to ‘exoskeletoning’ that USAF had actually instructed the Northrop program team to invest in a backup aluminum wing, just in case.

One of the big issues with the A-12 was that first the USN said: “Never mind the LO, get the weight out, we’ll get you your LO from the Air Force!” and then turned around and basically refused to answer the telephone even when it was the chief engineers for the two A-12 companies that were calling, with a list of specific “How do you do this?” LO questions.

GDMD eventually got a 2hr briefing which was more akin to something supplied for an FMS sales effort than a nuts and bolts sales engineering course (the USAF owned the B-2 TDP, they could give it to whomever they pleased) and what they got only added to their list of questions. The inability to both roll their own LO solutions and to ‘get the weight out!’ within a budget that was (by their own admission) only enough to do about 70% of the Navy’s original wish list is a large part of why the A-12 failed so suddenly, spectacularly, as it did at the end.

As an example: One of the big issues turned out to be getting a proper LO exhaust system because the ferrites lose their molecular coherence pattern and go all fuzzy linked when subjected to prolonged, high temperature, conditions this ruins their ability to channel RF as magnetic field flows around and within the surfaces and requires a very thick exhaust duct which is very heavy. Enough to structurally compromise the F-117 ejector shelf. Turns out a jet cooks after it’s turned off and if you don’t take into account this post-shutdown rise, the materials are ruined. Ben Rich (of LM Skunkworks fame) told the presidents of GDMD this and they dropped by his office to tell him he was all wet and they were firing him.

Six months later, they called back and said he was still all wet but could they please have the drawings back as they had trashed the ones he had sent them. At which point Rich got some choler up and told them that he had done the same thing after shipping them the originals _because program security required it!!_ They ended up losing Lockheed Martin as their VLO consultant which was a shame because, again according to Rich: when GDMD brought them the basic design it was a 4 or 5 and when LM Skunk Works was done cleaning it up on their RATSCAT ranges, it was a 10-11.

So, at least by LMs standards, as ‘unbiased observer’ the A-12 was viable.

A similar issue happened when they learned that the B-2 was made from the outside in with the frames tailored to meet the skin contour instead of the other way around. This changed their approach ot the tolerances of the main longitudinal ribs and getting the ribs so that they wouldn’t expand and crack around the metal tools in the autoclave was another adventure that didn’t need to have happened (Northrop had already been through this with the B-2).

Northrop had already taken a look at the USN RFI for the A-12 and laughed as they walked away so they were very much more reticent in providing design expertise on a program they lost because they refused to underbid as GDMD had and felt they shouldn’t have to give up their own techbase to help the cheaters. The USAF felt no urgency in disbusing them of this notion.

One other thing you have to keep in mind here is that the early 80s was a grand time for aerospace engineering as the early Reagan money /poured/ in. And one of the ‘new and coming things’: resin thermoset composites was being succeeded even as it was developed, by thermoplastics which were a great deal easier to manufacture (lower temps) and combine with different materials as structural and RF properties (dielectrics, deep channel RAM etc.). Thermoplastics ran up against some tough issues later on with produceability, cost and useable vs. scrap material waste but it was and is a good idea if you want to have significant material properties ‘baked in’ with complex shapes. Which is why I believe it is one of the big deals in RAM coatings (and one whose price raises the total airframe amount by quite a bit) becuase it is in fact -not- ‘the skin’. It’s an applique.

Like tank armor, the ability of RAM to continue to defeat certain bands and waveforms is perishable on an analytical (Finite Elements) as much as experimental basis and this is why -modern- RAM is more about stackable appliques. In this, it is critical to be aware that RF signature reduction is about both Optical and Resonant EM behaviors.

Optical is about scattering which is a problem solved by shaping as a function of angular geometries and total surface areas for in-band and harmonic tailoring vs. preexisting (big tails, supersonic inlets etc.) requirements.

Resonance is all about treating the airframe as a dipole over which impingent loads flow like water towards and away from impedance loaded conduction as scattering features. It can be a change in shape, a gap between panels or a different material EM response but as as a radar hits a target, it’s going to build electrical charge and that charge is going to flow over the surface in a manner which you -want- to reach a point where a deep channel RAM can take the load and bury it inside (as heat) or scatter it on a neutral bearing. The ‘RAM Ribbon’ around the otherwise blocky F-22/35’s boundaries is what this is about and it is one of the reasons why the Lockheed ATF beat the otherwise superior YF-23.

So too are the jagged circuit analogue shaps which form a layered hedgehog look on the F-22 and F-35 in particular. They are what captures and manipulates lower wavelength as a resonant load in the non-optical portion of the specturm and for both maintainability and upgradeability, they are all surface mount add-ons. Don’t believe me? Just look at the early SDD vs. later LRP F-35s, do you honestly think they made separate skin types for each ‘mistake’ jet, with and without RAM, knowing they would never be upgraded?

Which is where the A-12 comes in. Because aside from having a decent front quarter planform alignment as scatteing model (vastly better than either the F-35 or F-22 across a wider azimuth range) and a sadly ill considered trailing edge (from an RF engineering stand point, it was likely essential to getting a flying wing on-deck), neither the drawings nor the mockup show the slightest sign of RAM materials but the engineering artwork does show an -incredible- number of maintenance access and of course weapons/landing gear bays which puts paid to the traditional notion that the A-12 was going to be a continuance of the F-117 ‘linoleum approach, only thicker!’ which is commonly stated.

Indeed, because the A-12 is a composite airframe for which any surface adhered (epoxy glued) RAM panelling would damage the skin, it is almost certain that this approach was not practicable.

Which is why I think that, whether they originated there or not, there is evidence that the USN was going to go for applique coatings on the ATA, just like those of the F-22/35 and that the proof of this lies in the fact that they had significant RCS problems with the nose and inlets of the jet and specifically the blocker vanes in the inlets which, combined with their shape geometry actually acted as resonant cavity reflectors, increasing the frontal signature from some aspects.

The solution, which was part of a top secret, ‘Level 4’ improvement program applied, last minute, by a multiagency task force to save the jet, was a ‘bra’ which completely altered the appearance of the nose. That brasierre was the first applique RAM approach and it, along with the plethora of service doors, is thus the likely proof that, far from never building on the A-12’s RAM approach, it was in fact _the first_ to use modern composite absorbers.

In Appliques.

This technology has since been massively reapplied to areas like the JSF diverterless inlet which is otherwise a very harsh region, aero-acoustically, for traditional RAM treatments.

The ‘baked in’ element of the F-35 coatings is accurate but the nature of the coatings is one of external additions added with fastener or glued on adhesion over complex curves.

Anything less would make the jet subject to fast aging as the basic absorber scheme was mapped out (at airshows, discretely or via espionage and anechoic modeling) and changes had to be made by stripping the entire skin.

Just such a change was applied to the F-117, post Serbia, and it required practically redesiging the jet, which is likely why it was retired shortly thereafter (though the extreme maintenance issues probably helped).

The F-35 RAM scheme likely doesn’t work that way anyway, but rather operates by band shifting or attenuative channeling, using surface features to capture and scatter on opposed angles from that of the emitter like bouncing a pinball off of bumpers. It’s the only reliable explanation for the complex geometries and drag inducing sharp edge breaks in the present system.

“I think the stealth coating on the F35 will be one of the many game changers it will bring to the party.”

Doubt it, seriously. The F-35 is tailored by shape and by admission to fire control radars operating in the X-Band and across a very narrow azimuthb of 20-30`, either side of the nose. Anything having to do with the active degradation of residual X or other-band signals outside these spatial as spectrum limits is resident in the appliques and by careful analysis and mapping, it should be possible to tailor AESA scans and waveforms to defeat the optical and exceed the loading factors of the resonant absorber system. Quite beyond which, EO tracking is going to be a major element of 21st century fire control as RF degrades to a network comms system.

In any case, VLO was never meant to work alone, it was always intended to be part of a functional group of enablers to include very sophisticated EA, physical as altitude and Ps dominant energy multipliers and raw standoff via powered or glide-based munitions kits.

“The electronics on the aircraft alone should be enough to make it a great aircraft. as said earlier in the past every western aircraft developed post WWII has been subject to criticism in development. remember when everyone was talking about how s**t the F 22 was and why the USA had to cancel it for the F35.”

The electronics on the F-35 (if by that, you meant the AAQ-37/40, MADL and APG-81) could be applied to any jet. The F/A-18 program has already matched the big-screen displays.

People talk bleep about the F-22 because the F-22 was not going to be sold overseas, ever. And Congress which uses DOD exports as a way to level the massive trade imbalance as well as to gain pork moneys for their own districts, would not hear of a defense program that was so effective that it could not be betrayed.

The USAF essentially went along for the ride when they were told that they were never going to get their 750 desired Raptor jets, even if they dropped everything else and they didn’t want to drop everything else because they are a flying club whose union voting members are all pilots.

It is critical to note here that the one time the USAF bought a single, ‘bonus’, F-22, using money’s save from leaning up the line at Marietta Georgia, it cost them 117 million dollars, flyaway. Congress was so mortified that they instantly closed the loop hole, making it impossible for funds to be reallocated rather than returned to the Exchequer and so now we are going to be stuck with 12 times as many, utterly worthless, ‘multirole’ jets which are not as good at the one thing that they need to be: putting down the IADS in an FNOW conditioned fight.

After which (two or three nights worth of work, collectively) it doesn’t matter if the rest of the force on force reduction as interdiction or invasion support effort is delivered by powered sailplane MQ-9s or 1950s vintage F-100s. Because the real strength of the game is in the better bullets as standoff munitions and telescopes as easily mounted targeting pods, not the rifles that fire them.

That and the fact that unmanned aircraft typically cost less than the SAM or battle tank they blow up and only the former can actually shoot back, effectively, at them.

“Now the F35 is s**t and the USA needs the FXX its worth noting that the majority if the US fighter fleet was developed in the late 60′s and introduced in the 70′s.”

The F-35 is bleep because SecAF Roche said, at the program downselect announcement in October 2001, that each jet would cost only 48 million dollars. The USAF then cancelled the A-45 as ‘too expensive in wartime’, removing the option of a true, 30 million dollar, airframe to fulfill Congresses Mandate to create a 1/3rd unmanned interdiction force by 2010. Meanwhile, the last limited run jets Norway just bought are running 163 million dollars and while the foreign customers have a contract guarantee, the U.S. taxpayer doesn’t even get a smile in the morning. We are sustaining a separate military culture that doesn’t believe it has to live within a budget to support itself at a time when rampant peace and terrifying debt should be encouraging everyone to tighten belts. Tightening belts in the airpower services means moving to ONE common-not-joint airframe with ONE basing modality and 500-800 jets. Which, even at a manning ratio of 3:1 would mean a 50% cut in the Core Force aviator community and nobody wants to face up to doing that.

Here’s why they should: Ninja sneek into the castle at night to kill the sentries and open the gates so that Samurai can storm in in the morning and ‘do what they do’ as bulk engagement butchers of enemy and infrastructure alike. Yet where your entire force is Ninja based, all’s you’ve done is give away the secrets of Ninpo-as-VLO on the principle of inverse square secrecy loss to the number of people who can betray it.

The F-35 is equal or less than an F-16 for platform performance and yet there is every indication that an F-16, firing a Meteor class weapon could defeat either an S-300 SAM or a Pak-FA/J-20 class fighter platform, just based on how little the relatively few threat states who own them in numbers themselves know about how VLO really works. There are massive flaws in both the J-20 and Pak-FA basic configurational design points which effectively prevent them from ever being fully VLO and the best way for a SAM to kill an airframe is not to waste massive amounts of telephone-pole sized motor volume transiting inbetween launcher and target at Mach-5 but instead to _launch early_ and ‘walk to the cows’ where it maneuvers like any other fighter to formate alongside the cockpit canopy and blow up a handgrenade sized warhead from a 6ft missile like the MALD.

I _guarantee you_ that both of the above conditions will change once the F-35 whores stealth to the world. If it works, nations will invest in target/recce drone technology to saturate airspace with optical sensors and defeat the jet that way. If it it’s vulnerable, they will shoot a few down from the sides or rear as it overflies ambush SAM traps and then get access to the technology to make the system of VLO itself better.

“While the aircraft have been continually upgraded they are starting to look old. Even with F35 introduction, many will still be in the air in the 2030′s. The USA simply can’t afford to start over again on its main fighter program nor does it plan to.”

Rubbish. The F-22 is the game changer in our arsenal and half or more of those are non combat coded because they are based on early airframes with weak heat treated titanium, primitive imbedded electronics and/or simply other-tasked (schoolhouse and R&D) associated missioning which doesn’t require full maintenance of capabilities.

The FNOW capability is -at least- 50% missile based, as the Odyssey Dawn attacks on Libya prove with 110 Tomahawks at 850,000 each for the Blk.IV Tactical being the equivalent of 70% of the cost of ONE F-35.

“While the navy could probably live without the F-35C the USAF and USMC would be obliterated by the cancelation of the A and b versions.”

The USAF and USMC would lose a lot of ego as status points admitting that the difference between an F-35A or B and an F/A-18F _in the days after the roll back effort_ was essentially zero. Yet this country cannot afford multiple airframe lines, let alone houses producing them and so the F/A-18 becomes all the things the F-15/16 cannot be: dual engined and navalized as a bomb truck whose radius is set by the number of KC-46s which are dragging it along.

Navalization is important because it would mean, for once, we had a unified force construct which, with the introduction of JPALS, would be universally capable of going to the boat and catching a basket and this would imply a combined service airpower construct that could be reduced from several thousand airframes to under a thousand, total.
Something which the USN itself proves, every time a CSG sets out on a cruise with 40 jets onboard instead of the 80 that the Nimitz class was designed for.

“The C is the most likely version to be canceled. It’s the smallest order and no allies would be affected.”

Economically, the cancellaion of the C would add a minimum fifty and probably closer to one hundred million to every othe airframe which was not contractually protected from price escalation which would mean that _U.S specific_ airframes would go up even more. There comes a point (which PEO Admrial Craig Steidle said was 1,600 jets) where you cannot export penny packets of 40-50 airframes to a sufficient number of export customers to make up the losses in U.S. primary ones.

Indeed, IMO, there is no threshold where ‘profit’ exceeds the loss of VLO to international sales. With select, special relationship, exceptions.

Beyond this, the USN and USMC wailed like children who didn’t get their own candy when the ATF turned out to be the best thing since sliced bread. Their excuse was one of ‘What if there are no bases around for the F-22 to support us from?’ and if the F-35C, as poor a ‘fighter’ as it is, were to be abandoned, that is exactly what would happen as we have switched to a Pacific Theater where the Air Sea Battle is one of principally naval projected airpower and the F-35A is out of the game for radius from Kadena or Guam while the F-35B never was capable of adequate power projection beyond the littorals because it is too short legged.

“However if the F35 does live up to many of its claims which I I think it will would the USN be prepared to be left behind with only F18 available until the mid 2030s. Having an LHA America with 24 F-35B and a hell of a lot more capability than a Ford with 36 F18′s would likely be too politically damaging for the USN and it’s cherished carrier program.”

To which the only appropriate answer is that it’s not either-or.

The F-35C is such a slug with so many restrictions (no jammer, no HARM, limited BVRAAM) that it cannot operate without the support of jets like the F/A-18F and EA-18G. Both of whose radial restrictions removes the F-35C from the deep interdiction game anyway.

More importantly, since the F-35C is itself coming up short on total radius, the need for refueling as a function of converting bomb dropper to fighter whales becomes overwhelming in terms of useful, extended range (AfG, Iran, China) sortie generation.

OTOH, as few as 12+6 F/A-18F could support 50 A-47A and the total bombs on target would go up, massively. Because the 6 tankers would only need to feed the Combat Controller modified F/A-18F (not the Classic Hornets or a much larger airwing of E/Fs) as the A-47As, with no maneuver as supersonic as stability margin requirements, are -vastly- more aerodynamic in cruise and could be designed to achieve the original, J-UCAS, requirement of 1,100nm + 2.5hrs on station, without refueling.

All while carrying a pair of HARMs + 8 GBU-53/B, internally. Leaving the ‘escort’ F/A-18s to carry much more limited (CUDA or Meteor conversion or MALD based) AAM/Suppression Weapons in a single, internal podded, approach. Which would allow them to come onstation, hunt down the threat, optically and by SAR, kill it whether it shot back or not. Because the A-47A is also likely going to much LOer than the F-35, again due to simple configuration (no tails, no gaping inlets, no hog nose radar, no canopy).

And the next day, they would be back. Only this time it would be wall to wall SDB-II equating to 900 DMPIs served which would utterly obliterate either field armies or infrastructure, making it too costly to continue the war.

Quite beyond which, the truth is that someone is about to throw a wild card into the mix with SSLs. Modern FO/Diode Pumped, digital, lasers are based on civilian telecomms technology and so are already proliferated. It’s just a matter of stacking Slabs or Bundling FO output in a manner (cooling and beam stability) that is sufficiently powerful (100KW or better) that you can start shooting at targets in the 15-20Kft range with the same assurance as you would one at 3-5K.

When this KT Boundary event happens, every guerilla out there with a ZPU-2 or SA-24 is going to upgrade and contemporary LGB delivery from 10-15K doctrine will die a screaming effigy death.

We can start to prep for that day by buying cheap and avoiding a massive investment in another generation of manned airframes when we can do the same thing with missiles and UCAVs and a few combat controllers, for much le$$.

Or we can be stupid. Because that day will come. The tech base is already in foreign hands to make it happen. We cannot stop it. And the more emphasis we put on manned tactical airpower as our primary expeditionary warfighter modality, the more countermeasure focus will be laid upon defeating it to speed the process along. With UCAVs, the day when they win the measure:counter game may not sting quite so much as when a dozen manned jets play WWI flaming-kite games.

M&S
M&S
December 13, 2013 12:51 am

@TED,

“That’s hardly a show stopper is it. Test report: improve quality of tyres. Grand. I don’t really care what the USN need to do. F-35B will not be cancelled.

However; thank you for answering the question :)”

Keep in mind that I was _not_ the one who suggested that the F-35B do the job if the F-35C could not. I simply showed how the F-35B is not equipped to handle recovery and launch aboard a conventional carrier and nothing of what you accused me of has changed this.

If the services were -serious- about making a cheap fighter rather than ensuring roles and missions as separate turf protections, they would not have divided the JSF up by the least important of it’s flight evolution behaviors, one which consumes all of 2%, at most, of it’s total sortie time. They would have settled on one configuration and made it work for all basing modes by making the basing modes themselves answer to sensible extrapolation of trends in technology as tactical doctrine which have been ongoing since Hitler and Company first had a lightbulb moment and said: “I know, Vergeltungswaffen!”

It’s not like the basic advantages of the missile weapon has not been known for ages in terms of speeding the engagement cycle and making high value targets subject to long range, unstoppable, hostaging.

““F-35 does everything!” At what point? I said clearly at one point about making do!”

But where cognitive dissonance steps in is in assuming ‘make do = good enough’ -to do-, the mission set. Because you have no choice. At which point your one option, ‘flexibly used’ becomes the /sole/ option. And must do everything.

And it cannot.

Both because, if your primary mission has you elsewhere, you are not going to be doing a third order tasking as overhead support role. And because if you are not capable as a CAS provider, there should be something which replaces you for the forces at risk which need the added capability more than you need to be Ricthofening about.

At some point in the overall theater mission, it’s no longer going to be about the boat. It’s going to be about the boat -and- the landed force. If you cannot put up some PSP and bring your jets ashore while taking the carriers completely out of the engagement area picture (dicey, for heavy maintenance, POL and munitions transfer reasons) then you end up splitting the force to try and do both.

And what was ‘half as good at either mission’ now becomes ‘half as present at each’.

“Maybe you didn’t read correctly. I heard it empirically stated by the Captain of Glamorgan that they were aware of the location of the Exocet.”

Of course he knew where the bloody missile was, it was right under his boot where he stood resting it against the hole in the side of his hull! Seriously, you should send this to Captain Morgain and let them shoot a commercial.

“Yeah they do. San Carlos for example. That’s effectively saying guns don’t kill people, people do. They practice for both down here. Falcon 20s from cobham aviation services simulate missile attacks by ‘firing’ hawk jets at the ships. You accuse us of not learning from the falklands and go on to state loads of cases in which we clearly did learn.”

I accuse you of defending against the home invasion by reaching for the pistol in your nightstand as the big ugly mean man comes through your bedroom door rather than as he crosses the property line on your yard.

People win the reflex battle about 50% of the time because the difference in neuromotor twitch rates, from Grannys to Bruce Lee, is about 10%. Where you are sitting atop a 300 million dollar hull packed with lives YOU are the responsible for, accepting a potential mazcat on a coin toss basis is _dumb_.

That wouldn’t be (as bad) an issue if you had a real airwing sitting on the 70,000 ton Sea Control Ship because you could stand off the carrier, refuel the FORCAP and the PHIBCAP and still _go hunting the other guy’s tankers and ASST and inbound strikers_ with the rest of the airwing.

Point Defense against the arrow means that you are fighting the quiver. Long Range OCA against the Archer means you are fighting the eye as the arm. Choose the eye and the arm.

“What sort of loiter time will we have even if we were 100nm out.”

Two common figures for F135 SFC are .86 and .7. That’s pounds of gas per pound of thrust per hour. Jet engines are not infinitely tweakable between zero and max thrust but rather have a flight idle function of around 60% of IRT which means that if the jet is capable of 30,000lbf in full military, it’s flight ide rating should be 18,000lbf. Which means that you are burning about 12,600lbf per hour.

I’m going to say that this is a little high and instead suggest that 60% is an RPM driven function rather than a thrust one for a cruise setting of say 10,000lbf which means that you are burning around 7,000lbs per hour.

If you are carrying 14,000lbs of fuel at startup and your naval reserve is 2,000lbs, you have a little over 100 minutes of flight time. If you are throttled right back to a minimum safe speed of 300 knots for maximum endurance, you are talking about 20 minutes each way so 60 minutes on station.

Take the starting minimum thrust figure down to 5,500lbs thrust and things start to look better at about, 3,850lbs per hour and 3.1 hours flight time, with the reserve.

However; the F-35 is a tank of an airframe, I doubt if it can hold 300 knots at 5,500lbf and certainly would not achieve good cruise efficiencies at the kinds of altitude that a 5,500lbf would enable as a minimum drag tranist profile.

The answer is likely somewhere between these numbers due to the much greater fuel burn at takeoff and climbout, a lower fuel burn in 20K cruise and depending on your weapons options and the weather (USMC would deliver GBU-38/53/54, RN would be carrying pairs of GBU-22 which requires SALH penetration of any cloud deck), a midrange (10,000ft AGL) efficiency on station.

Keeping in mind that a heavy, draggy, (external) CAS load equates to a much less efficient cruise as throttle setting and if the day temps are hot you are going to be putting your naval reserve into a less than full internal fuel condition because you will lose thrust.

Further, it’s a fool and his airbase soon parted who drives a 70,000 ton target within 100nm of contested airspace as a targeting predictor.

If you remove the naval reserve requirement, you are talking about a 90-110 minutes on station.

“Ok so we are likely to get tanks. That is reassuring. What about conformal tanks on F35?”

The upper fuselage profile has already been distorted to provide space for added fuel and unlike say the F-16, the surface RAM layers there will not put up with significant pressure or friction. Centerline, you have to clear the weapons bays. Wingroots, you have to clear the landing gear.

I have heard that the Israelis are working on CFT but if it happens it is questionable how useful they will be as the ‘cutouts’ for the MLG doors and tire clearances will take a large chunk out of the middle of the tank and get messy with doors-for-doors clearances and reliability issues.

About the only other option that strikes me as likely is something overwing and you don’t want to be further degrading those stubby little airfoil’s lift capacity.

“M&S I’m not an expert on all things fighter jet or indeed military and don’t pretend to be. To me you seem to be lapping up every bit of anti F35 propaganda and the refusing to believe the good news like the extended trials of the F35b onboard uss wasp. I have been very clear in saying that the aircraft “will not be the best thing since sliced bread.” The UK has no flexibility anymore with regard what aircraft we will get so we should be focusing on how it can be used and not dreaming of doritos. Rafale as painful as it is to say is pretty awesome but none of this fantasy fleet building matters because we are simply getting F35.”

My attitudes are based on the U.S. getting the wrong platform for a changing mission set at such an enormously fraudulent (seriously, RICO country) price that it destroys our acquisition budget for another 2+ decades.

Your attitude stems from the assumption that the you are getting the jet because the U.S. is getting the jet. If the U.S. crumbles economically or if someone stops hitting the snooze button in the Pentagon and wakes up to realize what this jet means in a world where the USD is no longer the petro currency of marque and we can no longer afford to subsidize the world’s largest petroleum consumer as our DOD, you will get what the U.S. gives you which may be a fat lot of nothing.

At that point, the best you can hope for is that we will help you pay for converting your ‘Queen Size’ STOVL carriers back to something which will give you some alternative purchasing options for a decent airwing.

I suggest memorizing the following phrase: “Or we’ll sue!” could be useful in such a negotiative process.

The French Rafale solution is a better one than the F-35B. Even the F/A-18F is at least compareable (stronger in some areas, weaker in others).

In your shoes, looking at matters from a purely ‘what’s best for the RN?’ perspective, I would be hoping the F-35B failed, big time.

“You calls to look at how the PROs do it is an interesting one. I thought what the RN and RAF did in the Falkands with regards the air conflict was amazing. The RN using the new and largely untested SHAR put in a block stopping many enemy aircraft. The RAF did what it had been trained to do and more. I believe that using limited resources to great effect is a lot more PROFESSIONAL than using a great many assets for the same purpose.”

Attrition law always wins in the end sir. Attrition is based first on how many chances you get to shoot (which is a function of who sees and shoots first) versus how long you stay in contact to apply streaming vs. salvo engagement reduction formula. From Waterloo to Midway, this has been a constant.

In the air, getting the most shots from the earliest targeting condition is about sortie rate generation which is typically an exercise in numbers off the pointy end of the boat being balanced by recoveries over the spud locker, not always in sequence but rounding out to 1:1 or close.

That’s damned hard to achieve when there is a great flaming hole in the middle of the flight deck and you can look all the way down to the diving pool in the bottom of the ship. Which is what the DF-21D will manage.

In this, there is a difference between ‘doing your best’ with a composite group whose operations are about reserving attrition for the jets you can afford to lose (GR.3 could be tossed, SHAR could not) and about reserving a high end capability to deliver high SSPK weapons that take out the entire airpower modality from further consideration.

AM.39 is what made a third rate power in the South Atlantic nearly the RNs master because the Sovs were supplying first rate targeting intel on the TF Corporate with every satellite pass and the Argies were able to put guided weapons into ships which, had they been the right ones rather than the random ones, would have meant the death of ALL the Harriers.

What would (and will, for U.S.) have changed this is the radius vs. rate as servicing interval modification.

To keep the boat out of the tactical picture and let all sortie generations be offensive in support of the mission.

You failed in this because you failed to target the support mission enablers, either with special forces on the Mainland or with dedicated flights as missile traps (or perhaps both) to the West of the Islands.

We have _no choice_ but to use the alternative approach (standoff) because the DF-21D and the ROTHR which targets for it will be too far inland for us to reach with conventional raids and the streaming effect of an attritional model which includes a Mach 12 ASBM is one which is very unfavorable to us under the ‘slink away’ heading of defeating a first round arrow only to see the archers darken the skies with more.

“Can we put this to bed now. We are getting F35 which will be a useful multirole aircraft alongside the useful and capable Typhoon.”

Whatever. You’re getting an echo of 1982 without thinking about how bad an idea that really is.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
December 13, 2013 2:26 am

Jesus, M&S. No idea at all what you said there, as I don’t read wall of text comments. Especially two of them in a row. For the Cavalry, can you précis your remarks into something shorter?

I’ve got an IQ of 137, and your comments still appear to be obllocks, but that might be because they are so effing unnecessarily wordy. Brevity is good my friend.

dave haine
dave haine
December 13, 2013 8:43 am

@ RT

What St Mike is trying to say, i think, is:

JSF programme badly organised and daft (therefore expensive) because, instead of having different versions for different carriers as well as land-based, they should have just designed the airframe/engine to cope with the toughest condition. LM/USN/USMC won’t admit errors and so are pushing on down the path, compounding the expensive.

F35 hasn’t got enough combat radius to be an effective carrier based aircraft.

We should buy Rafale.

Oh… And, the chinese anti-shipping Ballistic Missile is a war-winner….

TED
TED
December 13, 2013 10:10 am

M&S here we go again. I’m not the sharpest object out there but you answers sound like pig latin in places :D

“2%, at most, of it’s total sortie time” I’m sure the time the typhoon spends landing and taking off in a sortie is about 2%. Should we just not bother with undercarriage? Of course they are dividing it up like this the difference between the aircraft is where they operate from. B will operate from USMC LHDs and our QE class. C will operate from conventional carriers and A will operate from land bases. I’m not saying only but these are the roles they were designed around.

“But where cognitive dissonance steps in is in assuming ‘make do = good enough’ -to do-, the mission set. Because you have no choice. At which point your one option, ‘flexibly used’ becomes the /sole/ option. And must do everything.”

Harrier was the same that seemed to do quite well to me. Sea king and now merlin for the RM are not really assualt helicopters but guess what. There is no choice.

Annoyingly I agree completely with you on Rafale. But there are two issues. Firstly F35b will not be cancelled. The UK have put far too much into the programme to walk away now and is commited to the aircraft. Secondly if we assume I’m wrong about the first I have serious doubts we would get 30% (as a demonstration figure) back. Sadly buisness rules the world these days, not goverment or military. “Or we’ll sue!” Sadly doesn’t work or we would be screaming it at FSTA and roughly every other project we have on the go. Rafale would be great for us or maybe something swedish but I’m afraid we simply won’t get it.

According to wikipedia (apologies for the cardinal sin) the QE will typically deploy with 12 F35 going up to about 24 for a wartime load. Hermes in 82 had apparently 26 total harriers onboard including GR3. If we propose a 50;50 split between CAP and CAS in peace time you have 3 pairs fore each. This is how we used harrier in afghan and I suspect Tornado. The point is you don’t tend to fight a full on air war whilst troops attack a position. A favourable air situation has to be set up first and like in Iraq you qould be looking at sending in full fighter waves first to get rid of enemy aircraft. I don’t deny it would be a high sortie rate however you could fit fuel pods for the ensuing CAPs and CAS sorties that are more benign.

“In your shoes, looking at matters from a purely ‘what’s best for the RN?’ perspective, I would be hoping the F-35B failed, big time.”
Trust me the RN will not get whats best for it. But IF F35 fails we will be so deeply in it we will need aqua lungs.

A quick thought occured data for combat radius. I solemenly swear to reasearch this later without the use of wiki but it says a combat radius of 469nm on internal. Now it doesn’t say if that is with any weapons or what types but its significantly more than 469nm. If anyone wants to get some more helpful pages in the mean time fill your boots.

“Which is what the DF-21D will manage” If you believe the RN have overlooked this massive tactical advantage and haven’t got a signle solution or counter measure against it :(. Anyway what stops the ‘PROS’ from receiving the same fate?

“boat” lord I hope no one from an RN persuasion reads that or in deep trouble and about to be on receiving end of an essay ;D

“You failed in this because you failed to target the support mission enablers, either with special forces on the Mainland or with dedicated flights as missile traps (or perhaps both) to the West of the Islands.”
Apologies we were trying to recapture a small group of island not invade the whole of south America.

We are getting an echo of 82 but with the lessons learned a 21st century aircraft I doubt its an echo that will be repeated.

I would love to answer all of these points in intricate detail but I only have an hour at a time :D

Mark
Mark
December 13, 2013 11:31 am

Anybody here think we would still be buying f35 if we didn’t have to land on a ship?

The 48 aircraft we intend to buy will cost in the 10b dollar mark so its a hell of an investment in a requirement the uk isn’t exactly 100 percent sure it absolutely needs.

Rocket Banana
December 13, 2013 11:40 am

TD,

Please can we have a maximum size for a comment?

Although M&S’s posts are interesting, they are simply too, too long.

a
a
December 13, 2013 12:13 pm

AM.39 is what made a third rate power in the South Atlantic nearly the RNs master because the Sovs were supplying first rate targeting intel on the TF Corporate with every satellite pass

No, this is rubbish.

Please can we have a maximum size for a comment?

I’d be happy with a maximum percentage bllcks content, to be honest. If bllcks was horsemeat, these comments would whinny.

TED
TED
December 13, 2013 12:45 pm

@a I could not agree more.

@M&S with regard Glamorgan I am desperately trying to remember what book it was in so you can personally read that the captain deliberately exposed his ship to the KNOWN threat to provide fire support for I believe the Battle of two sisters.

Now another hour wasted but I believe fruitfully:
http://warships1discussionboards.yuku.com/topic/20281
With two 1,000# JDAMs and two internal AIM-120s, full expendables, execute a 550 [NOW 600] foot (450 UK STOVL) STO from LHA, LHD, and aircraft carriers (sea level, tropical day, 10 kts operational WOD) and with a combat radius of 450 nm (STOVL profile). Also must perform STOVL vertical landing with two 1,000# JDAMs & two internal AIM-120s, full expendables, and fuel to fly the STOVL Recovery profile

Very roughly AMRAAM is about 200kg whereas JDAM is about 450kg and asraam is roughly 100 kg. So if you remove the two JDAMS you would have an extra 4 asraam with spare weight or 2 asraam and 2 asraam with a lot of spare weight. These will not impingine on the pylons that could carry fuel tanks in the future. Ok so that is a reasonable CAP load out. With 4 ARAAM and two ASRAAM and the (I think) the gun you are LO.

With regard CAS: Paveway IV is 230kg ish. Given I’m working on ishes (technical term that) that means nearly 2 paveway 4 for a JDAM. I’m pretty sure you can carry 4 paveway IV and still carry asraam. There numbers overlap a bit here but I do not think substantially. I can certainly say you can carry 4 paveway IV and two ASRAAM. Having no AA requirement will only allow you to carry one extra paveway but you could carry the gun and maybe ASMs. That isn’t a bad CAS load out.

But this is at max range isn’t it. No loiter. At 300nm which earlier we were seeing as its much range what is its loiter time. Well 450-300 gets 150 and bare in mind that is there only so 2×150=300. Right now it gets a bit tricky. Understandably LM will be reluctant to release a cruise or minimum drag speed, like service ceiling do we really want every man and his Labrador to know? Just for demonstration though M&S stated earlier a 300kts minimum drag speed (effectively). Now 300/300 is 1 (hurrah for maths). That is 1 hr of loiter at 300nm the old combat radius of the harrier.

And if you look at the above this is whilst carrying its original load out and a stovl recovery.

The prosecution, your honour, rests.

AKM
AKM
December 13, 2013 1:20 pm

@ Mark

“Anybody here think we would still be buying f35 if we didn’t have to land on a ship?”

We do need something to replace Tornado GR4 as our primary interdictor. Typhoon with CFTs should be able to match Tornado with regard to range with a couple of Stormshadows (while also operating at higher altitudes and speeds and being able to self escort). However Typhoon is a bit weak on the stealth side of things and even if F-35 isn’t in the F-22 or B-2 class it’s still going to provide us with a desirable capability. Less importantly it may also be possible for F-35 to carry four Stormshadows over a short range which Tornado can do currently, but Typhoon won’t be able to.

Tornado with four Stormshadow: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mayj1nPwSo1r04vbeo1_500.jpg

The ideal for the RAF would probably be a F-35K which would be identical to the F-35A except replacing the gun with the retracting refuelling probe from the -35B/C model (and maybe scrapping the boom-refuelling receptacle as well). Oh well, I can dream… :)

Rocket Banana
December 13, 2013 1:24 pm

Mark,

If we don’t have F35B then we’re going to need Taranis, Aster45, properly marinised and upgraded Apache, more air tankers, and Typhoon with conformals.

Maybe this is the way to go?

AKM
AKM
December 13, 2013 1:33 pm

Just to correct myself, I just double-checked the load capability on the F-35’s external pylons and the outer stations are less than I remembered, so the 4 Stormshadow loadout is not possible. Now I just wish I’d checked before posting!

Mark
Mark
December 13, 2013 1:37 pm

AKM

From memory I don’t think f35 has 4 external pylon mounts rated at about 3000lbs or higher only 2 so I don’t think it can carry 4 stoshadow.

Simon yes there are options you could even ask bae/American for access to the jamming pods they use on growler and fit to typhoon. Sea outer air defence becomes an issue away from land bases but then other than the us navy everyone else is in the same boat all or a at least significant portions of the time

Rocket Banana
December 13, 2013 1:42 pm

Sea outer air defence becomes an issue away from land bases but then other than the us navy everyone else is in the same boat

That doth not a strategy make ;-)

Zaitsev
Zaitsev
December 13, 2013 1:44 pm

“Attrition law always wins in the end sir. Attrition is based first on how many chances you get to shoot (which is a function of who sees and shoots first) versus how long you stay in contact to apply streaming vs. salvo engagement reduction formula. From Waterloo to Midway, this has been a constant.”

Nope.

“In the air, getting the most shots from the earliest targeting condition is about sortie rate generation which is typically an exercise in numbers off the pointy end of the boat being balanced by recoveries over the spud locker, not always in sequence but rounding out to 1:1 or close.”

Then why are you going on and on about lotiering time? If the QE and F35B can launch the most sorties then there going to negate any of the disadvatages youve been banging on about because if you can keep lauching your aircraft you going to be able to keep more aircraft on station than a conventional carrier with tankers. And your going to be able to keep up vollys of missiles

“That’s damned hard to achieve when there is a great flaming hole in the middle of the flight deck and you can look all the way down to the diving pool in the bottom of the ship. Which is what the DF-21D will manage.”

So youve gone on about how its all about keeping your cap far out, then said no its really about how many vollys you can get in, then said oh no its really about the chinese winning with the DF-21D and all carrier ops being irrelevant.

You are purposly swicthing your argument around differnt issues to avoid being pinned down on anything.

“the Argies were able to put guided weapons into ships which, had they been the right ones rather than the random ones, would have meant the death of ALL the Harriers.”

This argument is retarded, its like saying that firing artillary randomly into a forest is an unbeatable tatic because the other side is relying on luck that you wont hit their hq, You are also relying on luck and you fucking lost in FI. Face it Mns the one conflict you keep bringing up to support you veiw is an example of your entire doctrine failing. it dosnt matter by how much you lost. The princible lession of the FI is that you dont get to target the carrier you get to target the carreir group. There is a chinese MnS right now screaming “but what if our magic dong rockets dont hit the carrier and just whipe out a couple of destroyers, oh well then youve got got an american carrier controlling our sea ways, and all we have our a bunch of missiles that may or may not work getting shot down or hitting the wrong targets, making us look like impotent lebonnese peasants lobbing fire works at the iron dome”. I get that is desireible to not have to take these risks but it is an imperfect world, you write as if people who have to take these risks are idiots. they are not they are dealing with limited resources and unkowns as are the enamy. You act as if the Argintines where just hopeing to get lucky so it was worth a go. No they NEEDED to get luckly just as much as the carrier group, they didnt the RN did. People who use it as example of the supremecy of the air craft carriers are fools. poeple who use it for the supremecy of anti ship missiles are beyond reason.

No one gets to bring certainty to war no matter how many achronyims they can spit out in one post.

The whole problem of dealing with a falkands islands like scenario on how important airborne early warning is was dealt with here https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2013/08/the-f35-the-worlds-worst-new-warplane-and-the-sequester/

Stop bringing up the tatics of someone who lost as if they are unbeatable tatics, and that the people who did beat them where idiots.

Rocket Banana
December 13, 2013 2:14 pm

Just thinking about the “expeditionary – sea based” air power requirements.

Without F35 we currently have:

TLAM for day-one strike
Aster for 2nd rate air defence
Apache for air support – hat being eaten as I type ;)
Also Apache and TLAM can provide 2nd rate interdiction capabilities.

The hole in the equation is air defence.

Essentially we need another 2nd rate asset (obviously better to have a 1st rate asset but if I can’t have F35…).

I make this SHAR FA3 with AMRAAM!

TED
TED
December 13, 2013 2:24 pm

@Simon NOW you want navalised apache! SHAR F3 great if only someoe had suggested to BAE they maybe make a SHAR FA3.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
December 13, 2013 2:50 pm

No offence to anyone else here as I read and enjoy all your posts, but I do really find M&S’ posts exceptional and often read them more than once. They often have me off googling stuff I never knew existed. I also find he’s pretty tolerant of other poster’s viewpoints and doesn’t insult their intelligence, which is always a plus.

a
a
December 13, 2013 3:23 pm

You missed all that hideous crap he was posting about how the blacks are genetically inferior, I take it.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
December 13, 2013 5:14 pm

Ummm. Yes. What thread was that on?

a
a
December 13, 2013 5:16 pm

The “don’t get rid of your sunscreen just yet” one.

Mark
Mark
December 13, 2013 7:02 pm

The move is part of a transformation of the RAF’s combat air capability which will see battle-proven Tornado GR4 aircraft replaced by advanced Typhoon and F-35B Lightning II fighters.

Number 2 (Army Co-operation) Squadron, based at RAF Marham, celebrated 100 years of service in 2012 and its personnel are currently training for their next tour of duty early next year flying Tornado jets in Afghanistan.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-typhoon-squadron-announced

That’s the tonka force reduced to two sqns

M&S
M&S
December 13, 2013 7:07 pm

@RT,

“Jesus, M&S.”

Also not me. Not a Christian, not likely to be cannonized any time soon.

“No idea at all what you said there, as I don’t read wall of text comments. Especially two of them in a row. For the Cavalry, can you précis your remarks into something shorter? (0)”

I can try to make it simple but it will not be short.

First, a conditional posit: The JSF is stealth optimized to prevent it being shot at by X-band fire control systems and only across a frontal sector of roughly 20` to either side of the nose.

Aspect Based RCS
http://ericpalmer.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/jsf-rcs-qualitative-a-xlvhf.png
http://www.ausairpower.net/XIMG/JSF-Beam-Specular-1.png

It is completely visible to long wave radars and to both long and shortwave radars outside this frontal sector. Comparitively, modern IADS are like a dark room of sleeping vipers with 1-2 longway radars waaaay off in the back, hooked up to a sprinkler system.

You walk in amongst the reptiles and the radar waits until you’re right in the thickest bit of the slither (unknowing because they are as invisible to you as you to them unless they hiss) and then it turns on the sprinklers. Now -everyone- hisses and you get bit from all directions at distances where your LO functionality, such as it is, is overwhelmed by the high power of late generation S2A radars.

BAM. The sole advantage of the F-35 is blown.

Second, a question: If partial Low Observables is insufficient to protect the F-35B by itself and it costs nearly half again what the Rafale does and almost twice as much as the Super Hornet, why are you buying it if the cost of doing so is the utter ruination of your decks with a ski jump that removes any and all possibility of the support systems which could save the jet as jammers, tankers and standoff/penetrating ISR?

STOVL is _not_ a fashion choice. It is a last resort when you have no other options left and accepting the cost of STOVL, in both direct performance and (ramp launch = no CATOBAR) supporting platforms loss is your only method of gaining a functional naval airpower capability at all.

If you can build a _70,000 ton_ supercarrier and the STOVL F-35 in fact costs more than the CVTOL alternatives and their E-2/C-2/Tanker enablers -combined-, there is no excuse but that someone, somewhere, is getting paid a lot of money to give Britain a lesser naval air capability than what she needs and can clearly afford.

QE is not Invincible. She is three times the displacement.

70,000 ton HMS Queen Elizabeth
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/01/07/article-2258574-16CBA41C000005DC-95_964x669.jpg

22,000 ton HMS Invincible
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/ff/HMS_Invincible_%28R05%29_Dragon_Hammer_90.jpg

Observer
Observer
December 13, 2013 7:12 pm

Werb

Got to be a bit careful on that mate, he really is erudite, but some of his theories are really out of left field. I can’t say much on his A2A posts as I’m not in Aeronautics, but I am somewhat qualified in terms of his posts on CQB, genetics and biochemistry and casual army matters and his posts do not mesh well with reality. I’m of the impression that he’s a well read ideologist with a strong view on how the world “ought to be” rather than “this is what we have, how do we work from here?”

AKM
AKM
December 13, 2013 9:06 pm

@ M&S

Those are hardly authoritative sources on F-35 RCS. In fact I really question why you express such certainty on that issue, given that the actual measurements are obviously highly classified and if you actually had good numbers you wouldn’t be at liberty to share them.

John Hartley
John Hartley
December 13, 2013 11:31 pm

Flight International this week has its annual World Air Forces issue. The UK is not in the top ten nations in numbers of combat aircraft, transport aircraft or combat helicopters.

Challenger
Challenger
December 14, 2013 1:15 am

Hartley

‘The UK is not in the top ten nations in numbers of combat aircraft, transport aircraft or combat helicopters’

Out of interest when was the last time the UK actually was in the top 10 for those?

Challenger
Challenger
December 14, 2013 1:35 am

@Mark

‘That’s the tonka force reduced to two sqns’

Good that the 5th Typhoon unit has FINALLY been named, but not so good that this will be the final Typhoon unit we will see and from next year (actually only a few months from now) the entire RAF fast-jet force will be down to just 7 squadrons for the foreseeable future….with the terrible possibility of it dropping to 6 at the end of the decade.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
December 14, 2013 1:42 am

I notice that France are further up a couple of these league tables than we are…including transports and tankers…but it seems to be us flying them into the Central African Republic…needs to be taken with a pinch of salt I think…
GNB

Martin
Martin
December 14, 2013 3:29 am

@ John Hartley

If only we had kept all our old lightnings, F4’s and Bucks then we too could have been in the top 10 of flight globals airforces.

when was the last time an operation required more than 100 fighter aircraft? I can only think of GW1 and GW2. I would rather have quality in few numbers with capability like air seeker, sentry and sentinal over large numbers of useless fast pointy things.

Observer
Observer
December 14, 2013 5:01 am

Gloomy, that is because of the French strategic doctrine or playbook. They put a premium on relatively light air-mobile forces while the UK focuses more on heavy, sea-lifted units, so obviously they would have more planes, both to haul and to cover their forces.

martin, quantity can sometimes be a quality in itself. :) And remember, sentinel, air seeker and sentry that you mentioned are also vulnerable to the useless pointy things.

dave haine
dave haine
December 14, 2013 8:36 am

On balance, I think we need lots of fast pointy things as well as the force enablers, like Sentry, air seeker, Sentinel & Shadow, Globemaster, Voyager, Atlas and Hercules.

Force enablers aren’t offensive capability- Doesn’t matter how much we find out, can see or control, unless we have sufficient capability that can defend an airspace or apply force to identified targets in the other sides territory, they are a waste of money.

And if you think that missiles and/UAVs are the only solution needed….then welcome to M&S’s virtual fantasy land.

John Hartley
John Hartley
December 14, 2013 8:51 am

Well if you go back to the 1970s when Britain had to call in the IMF, the RAF still had over 400 combat jets + the RN still had a proper carrier with F-4 + Buccs.
The USN has more F/A-18E/F than the UK has combat jets of any description.
Yes some of the top ten have Mig 21 & F-4, but before you get smug, many have Mig 29, SU 27/30, F-16, Mirage 2000, etc.
Playing fantasy air fleets, I reckon the safe minimum RAF number of combat jets is 200 + 60 RN FAA.

Mark
Mark
December 14, 2013 9:20 am

Challenger

You are seeing the future getting laid out. Unless there is a change at sdsr15 the future uk fastjet fleet is transitioning from 5 typhoon and 2 tornado sqns to 5 typhoon and 2 f35 sqns (I doubt well see them on board cvf for extended period) I suspect it will be unlikely that that tornado and f35 will operate from the same base at the same time and so expect that tornado is unlikely to see 2019.

Martin the uk only sent 100 fastjets to gw1 the force was too small after that to send that many to gw2 and cover other tasking. However 60+ were sent to Kosovo and gw2 we couldnt do that today. If however you mean from a coalition perspective gw1, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq no fly, afghan, gw2 and Libya have all seen well in excess of 100 coalition fastjets deployed.

Challenger
Challenger
December 14, 2013 10:41 am

I agree that force enablers are crucial, and as seen recently in Mali are a good way of the UK punching above it weight when it comes to working with allies, focusing on providing the framework and behind the scenes stuff for other nations that tend to only bring pointy fast-jets and other predictable to the party.

But it’s still a balance, the UK can lean more towards providing high-end ‘bespoke’ enablers to wider coalitions, but I’m sure not many of us want to see the scales tip so far that way that that’s all we can do.

@Mark

Yeah it seems we are doomed to see the RAF hover around 7 fast-jet squadrons for the foreseeable. For my money 8 is about the minimum I think they should be working with (2 Typhoon on QRA and 3 of them and the Lightning to each provide high-readiness force elements) and 9 being the optimum.

Out of interest how many fast-jets could the UK commitment to a Bosnia or Gulf War level of operation today?

Mark
Mark
December 14, 2013 10:58 am

Challenger

They Raf is even having to give one of those 7 sqns to the FAA! I would have thought for a major one off operation probably in the 40 a/c mark. But combat ready personnel will be the limiting factor so maybe less than that.

Peter Elliott
December 14, 2013 11:34 am

@Mark

Given that we are going to have a carrier I would have thought it a distinct advantage to have 2 out of the 7 Fast Jet squadrons with pilots who train regularly and are qulaified to be able to use it.

If that means some of those pilots wear a funny uniform then so be it.

And as you and others regularly point out all the support arrangemets are common anyway so I’m afraid this comment just comes across as a bad case of capbadge envy.

“They Raf is even having to give one of those 7 sqns to the FAA! ”

So even if we do have the possibility to get back to 9 or 10 squadrons at some stage I would still keep the same joint arrangement for the 3 or 4 F35B equipped ones

Mark
Mark
December 14, 2013 11:56 am

Peter well it appears there is a sense of humour failure on this topic even when comments are made in jest!

If you think about what f35 is and the contested strike missions they were designed to employ and considering that the training and mission packages they need to operate with its likely the only place to get that level of training will be flag exercises in the US ( don’t know what the loiter time is like from a carrier to Nevada and back). Then again the tactical leadership exercises in the Mid East are popular not to mention training in the uk and time off ect for the force, how much time do u think we’ll be able to keep half the force eg 1 sqn on a carrier?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
December 14, 2013 12:16 pm

@Observer – A bit puzzled – we are giving the French lifts on our aircraft to undertake exactly the sort of operations they are optimised for,,,for the second time this year…despite them having more aircraft than us…

GNB

dave haine
dave haine
December 14, 2013 12:18 pm

@ Peter Elliott

No it doesn’t come across as cap-badge envy….

To me it comes across as ‘we’ve effectively only got 6 FJ squadrons which only leaves one squadron to conduct deep strike operations’

It limits the RAF’s ability to deploy aircraft in suitable numbers to carry out the mission.
No-one is denying the RN’s requirements, it’s just that the government seems to think of the RAF as some sort of reinforcement pool- until they need the RAF, then they get all arsy, because the RAF has apparently ‘failed’.

Effectively it’s the same argument as the RN’s escorts- Arguably, it is a given that there is not enough destroyers and frigates to fulfill all the tasks required of them. I certainly wouldn’t disagree with that- especially when we finally have two carriers to look after…I suspect that the escorts will become the limiting factor in any operations, which is a daft situation.

How would I resolve it?

Give all the F35b’s to the FAA, chances are that the lightning will spend most of it’s time flogging off carrier decks anyway.

The RAF can MLU the tranche1 Typhoons, and trickle buy more Tranche 3a or, even b, to replace them and become a one airframe fleet, (maybe develop a ‘Growler’ typhoon, using two seaters). Or join the USAF LRS-B programme, and extend the tonka to 2025 (the projected in service date of the LRS-B)

I’m sure that the USAF will happily let the RAF have 18, or so, probably under the same sort of arrangement as the airseeker, or C17.

Topman
Topman
December 14, 2013 1:05 pm

@ DH

‘Or join the USAF LRS-B programme, and extend the tonka to 2025 (the projected in service date of the LRS-B)’

I don’t normally indulge myself, however now your talking, *wonders off thinking of a modern day v force* :)

Mark
Mark
December 14, 2013 1:41 pm

It is rather a shame that when extremely sensible ideas such as those proposed by Dave and Topman are put fwd you can only +1 the comment once.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
December 14, 2013 1:49 pm

@Observer.

Point taken – I just like “thinking out of the box” type posts. I’ve been on various military discussion fora for getting on for two decades now and seen a lot of subjects literally discussed to death within very narrow parameters (how to build a better mouse trap, rather than how to control mice, or make ourselves less vulnerable to mice). I think some of the things M&S describes are going to happen in some form and some of them will be what he describes as K-T boundary events. If they don’t happen we’ll still have had some fun discussion them rather than enduring yet another 100 page thread about the merits of 6.5mm Grendel over 6.8x43mm SPC.

x
x
December 14, 2013 2:06 pm

@ Mark

I have +1 David H’s remark for you for the F35 comments. But I won’t +1 Topman’s because I can’t -1 Dave’s comment for suggesting we buy a bomber and I don’t think it fair I -1 Topman for agreeing with Dave. I think. :)

Any bomber money should be spent on ISTAR satellites. It helps to have something to “shoot” at if you buy these toys. The UK is starting to lag even behind the likes of Turkey.

Whatever follows on from Tomahawk and Storm Shadow ER (Scalp N) should be our deep strike asset launched from ships, drone “mother ships” aircraft, or indeed ground based launchers.

Tornado raids from Norfolk with the launch aircraft aircraft flying through friendly skies accompanied by tankers to launch 250nm range missiles may look good to your average Clarkson-esque DM reader but it a waste. And we shouldn’t perpetuate it.

Topman
Topman
December 14, 2013 3:12 pm

@x

‘But I won’t +1 Topman’s because I can’t’

Of course you can, you’ll see the light soon enough ;)

I think XI (B) Sqn would work out quite well, V bomber –> Tonka –> modern v force bomber, yes quite well infact.

Mark
Mark
December 14, 2013 4:39 pm

Yes I can see a uk equivalent to the b2 force only with the LRB instead, greater flexibility than trident subs and we don’t even have to worry about the Scottish question! Now either we kick the istar guys out of waddo or how do we go about upgrading scampton…..

Topman
Topman
December 14, 2013 4:43 pm

Nah kick the pongos and the rocks out of Leeming and put them there. Might need to make each HAS a bit bigger though!

Peter Elliott
December 14, 2013 5:06 pm

Surely the relevant point is what the UK Requirement is, not what the jet’s designers have in mind?

“If you think about what f35 is and the contested strike missions they were designed to employ”

If an operational job comes up that can’t be done by multi-role Typhoons or ship or boat launched TLAMs then of course F35B would be considered. But land based strike is not what we are buying it for. We are buying it for Naval CAP, CAS and strike. If we didn’t need it for that we wouldn’t be buying it. We’d be going 100% Typhoon. That’s the UK Requirment and that’s what will define F35B role in the UK armed forces.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
December 14, 2013 5:07 pm

We have to ask ourselves under what circumstances we would send a tiny fleet of fabulously expensive manned long range bombers into contested airspace, particularly with directed energy weapons coming online. If they’re not going into defended airspace (which you could address by dropping Storm Shadow’s successor out of the back of C-17s) you can get away with a much cheaper platform as a bomb truck for permissive air environments, or dual-role your MPAs (which was done with the Shackleton Fleet and Avro Lincolns before that). You can hang standoff weapons on MPAs too – MRA4 was intended to carry Storm Shadow and P-8 carries SLAM-ER-ATA. As someone else pointed out earlier, it’s all a bit pointless without strategic/theatre level ISTAR anyway.

Peter Elliott
December 14, 2013 5:09 pm

Quite like the idea of a Long Range RAF Bomber though.

The boring unfighty percentage choice would be a modified P8.
LRS unfortunately sounds a little bit like ‘me too’.
To justify a whole new UK capability we need to bring something unique to the coalition mix.
The batshit crazy choice would be Skylon…

dave haine
dave haine
December 14, 2013 5:28 pm

@ X
It makes sense to have F35b under one service, for all sorts of reasons.

However, your suggestion that the deep strike role should be solely a missile function whether off a ship, ground launched or a Mothership aircraft. I think smacks a little of putting all our eggs in one basket. Whilst I agree, we certainly need a deep strike missile capability, having a manned clarksonesque (as you so eloquently put it) capability gives us flexibility. Manned fast strike platforms can be used for many roles other than just offensive, and give a speed of response that the other platforms will never match.

We have to accept that, just as the carrier groups cannot be everywhere Mothership platforms will not be everywhere either- there will be times when we need to launch from a home base, in a time scale that the other methods cannot match.

Satellites have a wide range of uses, but they have limitations. Not least of which is vulnerability, so you have a big, complex (=expensive) manoeuvrable satellites, with either self defence options, or a coterie of sacrificial satellites, expensive to launch and maintain in orbit, or you have an array of small ones with sufficient redundancy to overcome the inevitable losses.

Another option is to launch on demand, but this requires holding and maintaining a stock of satellites and either holding launch options with a launch provider, or maintaining a launch capability, and launch vehicles. The cost of launching into a particular orbit, is significant.

Mind you if ‘Skylon’ is developed properly, that will give us a very useful launch capability. And it could also provide a very useful deep strike capability. But to be honest, I can’t see ‘Skylon’ being available, in a working form, before LRS-B.

@ Topman
Do you mean IX (nine) sqn?

x
x
December 14, 2013 5:34 pm

I quite like the idea of a class of 15,000 ton cruisers with a main battery of 8in automatic guns at A and B, Sea Viper, 4 Merlin, a secondary battery of 4 76mm, and 16 BrahMos-eque missiles. Doesn’t mean it is sensible. Doesn’t mean it it is the right choice for the UK. Basing UK defence requirements on US capabilities is wrong. To be honest I doubt the US needs B2 or would miss B2 if they didn’t have it. They have lots of capabilities we don’t have or had and have now lost. They can afford to progress technologies and families of vehicles the rest of the world has consigned to the dustbin. Further you have to factor in how divide the US services are in terms of technology. And dare I say strategy too? They have that much capability though it masks that they have too much…… :)

How much would a long range bomber cost per copy? Where would most likely use it? And how would we obtain targeting information for it? I would say you are looking at £500 million a copy, never mind the development costs, and how many would need to buy to make it viable,. 8, 12, 16? We would probably be using it in the Middle East and Gulf, all of which have sea flanks. And we would probably get the targeting information from the US and probably rely on them to broker overfly rights. Much cheaper to buy 6 new ships that can do other things unlike a bomber and make sure they have a large VLS aft stuffed full of missiles that we could afford to buy (and replenish) because we are not launching missiles off expensive aeroplanes. But as I said above what we need is own ISTAR capability or we are dependent on the US (mostly) to use our own weapons. T3 Typhoon and conformal tanks is the way to go now, more TLAM for the RN, and buy satellites.

Mark
Mark
December 14, 2013 5:48 pm

Peter be rest assured the contested strike role is very high on the uks requirement list for f35. We also bought it when we thought we would have several hundred land based aircraft as well as some on for a ship.

“We have to ask ourselves under what circumstances we would send a tiny fleet of fabulously expensive manned long range bombers into contested airspace, ”

Prob the same missions the us has been flying b2’s these past 20 years the pacific pivot means we got to make up for a lack of us capabilities you know.

“Basing UK defence requirements on US capabilities is wrong.”

Had a chuckle at that one x especially as that’s what’s the navy’s been doing since 98 :)
Targeting information becomes much easier when you have persons actual flying over/near a target with onboard targeting sensors.

Challenger
Challenger
December 14, 2013 6:33 pm

@Dave Haine

‘How would I resolve it?

Give all the F35b’s to the FAA, chances are that the lightning will spend most of it’s time flogging off carrier decks anyway.

The RAF can MLU the tranche1 Typhoons, and trickle buy more Tranche 3a or, even b, to replace them and become a one airframe fleet’

I have certainly long felt that we are under-appreciating what we could get from Typhoon if we weren’t so reluctant to fork out for it.

If we could keep the Tranche 1 air-frames even only until 2025 then it would allow the RAF to form up 6-7 squadrons and provide the time for a drip buy of extra T3’s to keep the overall force at a decent level.

If the government want to get as much foreign business out of Typhoon as they suggest then it’s about time we showed some confidence in the product ourselves and made it clear that it’s going to be our primary fast-jet for a long time yet, not treat it as some embarrassing miss-step that we can’t wait to get rid of so we can get our hands on the shiny new Lightning.

With the Lightning I’m not particularly bothered who gets what between the FAA and RAF, I’m more interested in it being a truly joint force and national asset. If we want to continue to grow the force beyond 2 squadrons in the 2030’s and beyond then I think it makes sense to get the RAF as well as the FAA in on the act early, the FAA aren’t going to be able to operate more than 1-2 squadrons on it’s own after all (not without some major reorganization and investment that has dubious benefits to operational capability).

6-7 Typhoon squadrons using extended T1’s and then a few more T3’s plus 2 Lightning squadrons for the RAF and another Lightning unit for the FAA (perhaps a 16 air-frame Naval Strike Wing?) is what I’d be aiming for if I were making the decisions.

Although we can’t expect our overlords to use such good common sense and straightforward thinking now can we!

dave haine
dave haine
December 14, 2013 6:55 pm

@ X

There’s a post fighting it’s way through the spam gremlins, which ripostes your 14/2:06…

Suffice to say, I wasn’t arguing for the UK to follow the US blindly, although TBH we’re doing that anyway, and have been for a while, although, as usual we’re going about it half-arsedly.

My justification for LRS-B, is more that we have a requirement for deep strike, some of which will be at a degree of notice, that other platforms cannot achieve, and possibly in areas where naval assets are not immediately available, or in a situation where they cannot be tasked.

Manned fast deep strike is a flexible platform, which can be (god, I hate this term) de-committed very late in the mission. Missiles are committed at launch, and although can be de-committed they are then a lost round.

And what overflight rights? There is no internationally defined, or agreed vertical limit to sovereign airspace. In civil terms it is generally accepted that controlled airspace is up to FL450.

Mind you Peter Elliott, raised ‘Skylon’ as a contender for LRS…in my eventual post, I posited it as a sat launch vehicle as well…which could give you a vehicle that deploys a sat then launches a missile…

ooh dear… shades of St Mike coming on….

x
x
December 14, 2013 7:29 pm

Deep strike isn’t CAS. Deep strike is hitting the enemy’s CoG which tends to be “fixed”. In the past you needed a crew to take the ordinance where it needed to go. Let us not forget that the bomber and its crew will be fat too detached from the target to make any decisions. The ordinance can fly itself; you can send twice as much ordinance towards a target from many directions. How is an aircraft more flexible? A B2 cost $1 billion use. Or in other words 1000 cruise missiles. The follow on will cost similar, if not more, we would need 12. I would humbly suggest £12 billion would be better spent on a constellation of 4 to 5 satellites; you have to a target. You could then if you want buy a few thousand cruise missiles of your favorite flavour; you would rather just buy a plane instead of 1000 missiles that can fly themselves. You are basically saying to me lets buy a single purpose platform for the best part of a billion which we can’t risk so we will need expensive long range missiles and to get the whole combination into range we will need another tranche of multi-million pound aircraft, and this is all more important that having systems that can gather intelligence on which we decide whether we need to target something or somebody. You need to qualify terms like flexibility. A B2 can carry 16 2000lb bombs. A TLAM cost a million. You could mount the same mission 62 times with TLAM. And that is without the cost of operating the squadron, pilot training.

John Hartley
John Hartley
December 14, 2013 7:30 pm

How unaffordable is the LRS-B? I understand US industry has been told that the unit price of $550 million is firm, as with sequestration there is no room to increase it. With F-35B costing around $150 million each, an LRS-B is three & a bit F-35B.
So playing fantasy fleet, a RAF equipped with 180 Typhoon plus 20 LRS-B & a RN FAA with 60 F-35B, would be able to handle most crisis that come our way.

Observer
Observer
December 14, 2013 8:32 pm

The heart of the Skylon system is the SABRE engine, I don’t see a problem if people wanted to chuck one of those into any new LRS-Bs, though it would be contrary to the design purpose of the stealthy flying wing. High speed + high altitude is usually contradictory to stealth which emphasise going low and slow.

“in my eventual post, I posited it as a sat launch vehicle as well…which could give you a vehicle that deploys a sat then launches a missile”

What was it supposed to do again?

For the deep strike role, why can’t it be done with a small F-35A loaded with internal and external droptanks and a small bomb load? Jettison the externals as you enter the mission area for full internal fuel load, AAR as you exfiltrate. I do know that our F-16s do Singapore to Darwin in a single hop on droptanks for Ex Pitch Black biannually, that is about 3,000km, so why can’t an F-35 do something similar? Unless you are talking about bunker busting, think that most targets like factories or office buildings would not be too resistant to even a small LGB.

WiseApe
December 14, 2013 8:47 pm

The only people fielding long range bombers are superpowers, or superpower wannabes; I think/hope we are neither.

Mark
Mark
December 14, 2013 8:57 pm

One could say the same about aircraft carriers and ssbns WiseApe.

The us has thousands of cruise missiles yet they still sent in the bombers wonder why that is?

http://www.airforcemag.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/2011/July%202011/0711libya.aspx

“A quick symphony of planning allowed USAF’s heavy bombers to strike 150 targets in Libya.
On March, five Air Force bombers—three B-2s and two B-1Bs—attacked targets in Libya as part of NATO’s mission to protect civilians from government attack in that country’s uprising and civil war.

On the first night of the operation, March 19, three B-2s of the 509th Bomb Wing struck 45 targets at an airfield in Ghardabiya, Libya. Photos of the airfield released by the Pentagon the next day showed hardened aircraft shelters at that base struck with great precision. All were collapsed or showed blackened trails emanating from their entrances, confirming that whatever was inside exploded and burned.”

“”The air defenses in Libya just weren’t that worrisome,” he explained. However, it is now standard operating procedure that if stealth aircraft are going to attack a target, they will be supported by Navy EA-6B Prowler or EA-18G Growler electronic warfare and defense suppression aircraft, “whether they need it or not.” The electronic attack aircraft flew from undisclosed ground bases in the region.

The 617th AOC was responsible for building the air tasking order and deconflicted the bombers from other aircraft and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles launched at Libya from US and British naval vessels. Some TLAMs were directed at targets adjacent to ones selected for the B-2s.”

Topman
Topman
December 14, 2013 9:01 pm

@ observer

‘I do know that our F-16s do Singapore to Darwin in a single hop on droptanks for Ex Pitch Black biannually, that is about 3,000km’

I was under the impression F16 was pretty low internal fuel. That’s similar to uk to Aki. No stop over at all? If not must have big UWT.

Observer
Observer
December 14, 2013 9:52 pm

Top, the photo I saw was triple 600 gallon droptanks, 2 under wing, one in center pylon. Can’t remember if it had CFTs fitted, I’ll see if I can dig up the pic again.

FWIW, wiki quotes a ferry range of about 4,200km with droptanks, so it is theoretically possible. 3,000km is practically possible from air force experience and the obvious fact that they arrived in Darwin and not at the bottom of the ocean. :)

dave haine
dave haine
December 14, 2013 10:00 pm

@ X

You keep assuming that the only munitions that will be deployed are missiles, or the only mission is an offensive one. And we only need one method of delivering capability….and we will have a carrier within range to launch aforementioned missiles…
Which once launched are expended…whereas a manned aircraft can be recalled, or the crew can elect not to deliver the munition if the launch conditions/ ROE aren’t met.

We are introducing airseeker, one role of which, is sigint collection…as we have constellation of satellites already undertaking sigint, why are we introducing another method? Could it be that satellites aren’t the only solution? But having another method, allows for more flexibility in mission planning.

@ Observer

Sorry I went into M&S mode; I was inferring that Skylon could deliver a disposable satellite into orbit to carry out the targetting guidance, come down into the atmosphere and then launch a missile that used the guidance from the aforementioned satellite to direct itself onto the target. I suspect that dropping from orbit has a stealth factor all of it’s own.

I was more thinking of Tiffy carrying out most of the strike roles, with LRS-B doing the real long range stuff. Or indeed ‘Skylon’ which to be honest would be preferable as it has uses beyond offensive missions, anyway.

John Hartley, summed up my thinking nicely.

John Hartley
John Hartley
December 14, 2013 10:00 pm

TLAM is great, but a one trick pony. Unless you go nuclear it just has a single HE warhead. A submarine cannot deploy at 600 mph. Some deep inland spots can only be fired on from narrow, shallow gulfs.
A bomber can drop everything from a Brimstone to a bunker buster & a specialised weapon like Alarm.

Topman
Topman
December 14, 2013 11:16 pm

@ obs

‘and the obvious fact that they arrived in Darwin and not at the bottom of the ocean’

Well that’s true enough :)

Still that’s a good range. Even if a ferry range.

x
x
December 14, 2013 11:33 pm

@ david haine

No. I am all about the HE. There is no difference between a bomb and missile.

The need for a bomber beyond what Typhoon can bring us is very very narrow.

@ John Hartley

We are talking about heavy bombers and deep strike here not CAS so your Brimstone comment is a bit off. Further we are talking about cruise missile in general. To accuse TLAM of being a one trick is a bit much if that missile is launched from a frigate and submarine that then goes on to do other work while a jet fighter’s portfolio of capabilities is very narrow. Tornado could carry as much as a Lancaster. You are reading a little too much into straight line speed. What if the missile is supersonic? What if you have no over flying rights and have to go round? Nor are you factoring in things like planning. If we had an escort with 50 cruise missiles with 1000 mile range in the Mediterranean it would have been within range of Libya well before planning was complete and could have sustained a campaign for a lot longer. You have to move aircraft into range. Do you not see how the US mounts campaigns? When ever as the USAF in a major campaign ben the lead service in the air campaign? All their campaigns start with TLAM. The costs of buying a viable large capability would dwarf the cost of CVF for a much shorter service life and a less flexible asset.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
December 15, 2013 12:32 am

@ x,
“We are talking about heavy bombers and deep strike here not CAS”
— On the contrary, heavy bombers have become a prime CAS asset, the ability to loiter for extended periods over the battlespace carrying a mixed bomb load being quite handy.

” If we had an escort with 50 cruise missiles with 1000 mile range in the Mediterranean it would have been within range of Libya well before planning was complete and could have sustained a campaign for a lot longer”
— Given the rate that the US looses off cruise missiles in the early doors of its more recent campaigns, 50 are not going to last you very long. On the other hand, the ability to fly back and forth night after night, carrying cruise missiles one or two nights, heavy bombs for the next few weeks, and then lighter bombs later on is quite a neat trick.

” When ever as the USAF in a major campaign ben the lead service in the air campaign?”
— That depends what you mean. If you’re talking about who has the C2 for the air campaign then it would appear the USAF takes the lead most of the time. If you’re talking about who specifically fires the first shot then I would suggest you’re clutching at straws somewhat, assuming of course that you can prove beyond reasonable doubt from open sources that Naval tomahawks hit their targets before air force air launched cruise missiles hit?

Not saying that I entirely support the idea of spending around £1 billion per year on a new bomber in these times, but it is quite a handy asset to have if the cousins are anything to go by. The ability to arrive in theatre (or at least withing range of the targets in theatre) in less than 24 hours, the ability to launch a wide array of ordnance to match target sets, and the ability to keep coming back time after time to give the enemy a good pasting seems like quite a good trick to be able to pull out of your arse when needed.

Observer
Observer
December 15, 2013 3:37 am

The difference between your cousins and you is that they have a much bigger piggy bank (or pork barrel depending on who you are asking) to spend, and even they are finding it hard to fund their wishlist.

I’m not putting down heavy bombers, they are a very useful tool in a total war scenario, but there is a big chance that you might get more value for money if you poured the whole lot into small fast jets backed by TLAMs than a force of FJ/TLAM/LRSBs. FJs are more flexible and in a H+30min scenario, can be used to dominate the airspace by numbers before being handed off to do CAS once the area is pacified, something a heavy bomber cannot do. There is a sacrifice in strike range, but the flexibility and the chance for air superiority is not a casual result.

Long story short, a LRS-B may be a nice buy, but it might not be better value for money in a war as compared to a FJ which is multi-roled and can be used to boost numbers in either the air battle or land interdiction.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 15, 2013 7:38 am

@ Observer

Correct about the piggy bank. I know I harp on about it but when you have limited funds then flexibility is the key. A heavy bomber may be a nice to have but they are not really flexible.

Yes they can do CAS but only in an area where we have air supremacy. Yes they can fly long range missions but they require a lot of maintenance hours and put a lot of stress on crews to do so. Given the limited numbers we could buy we would not be operating night after night at range for very long.
If we are going to forward deploy them to theatre then they lose much of their advantage (range) over a more flexible FBA.

Nothing against heavy bombers but we do not have the wonga to support such a platform over and above more flexible FBA/SSN and even FF launch platforms.

martin
Editor
December 15, 2013 8:17 am

@ Observer

“martin, quantity can sometimes be a quality in itself”

I know we are all fond of saying this and I have used the statement myself but in all honesty I cannot think of a situation where an air force superior in numbers and inferior in training and equiptment won the day. And I can think of nemurous examples where a smaller better equipped and trained force dominated.
@ Dave Haine
“Doesn’t matter how much we find out, can see or control, unless we have sufficient capability that can defend an airspace or apply force to identified targets in the other sides territory, they are a waste of money.”
Unless our smaller better equipped force knocks the other force out on the ground first.
@ John Hartley
“Yes some of the top ten have Mig 21 & F-4, but before you get smug, many have Mig 29, SU 27/30, F-16, Mirage 2000, etc.”
So a group of Gen 3 and Gen 4 vs us with our Gen 4 and Gen 4.5 aircraft and soon to be all Gen 4.5 and Gen 5.
@ Mark
“Martin the uk only sent 100 fastjets to gw1 the force was too small after that to send that many to gw2 and cover other tasking.”
I did not mean UK contribution but total coalition forces. Kosovo, Libya and the Afghanistan. I don’t think any of these ops involved more than 100 fighters or not much more.
@ Challenger
“But it’s still a balance, the UK can lean more towards providing high-end ‘bespoke’ enablers to wider coalitions, but I’m sure not many of us want to see the scales tip so far that way that that’s all we can do.”
Agreed but I don’t see a role for more than 250 FJ’s. Anything above this number would be better spent on force enablers.
@ Topman
“‘Or join the USAF LRS-B programme, and extend the tonka to 2025 (the projected in service date of the LRS-B)’”
Not sure of the real need to keep the Tornado to 2025 but I think a handful of LRS-B’s would be much more useful than a couple more squadrons of FJ’s.

@ X
“Any bomber money should be spent on ISTAR satellites.”
Not sure about this satellite imagery is so easily available today from commercial sources and like others we would end up spending billions on imagery that is far inferior to what we can get from the cousins 99% of the time. Even the USA uses commercial imagery these days. Also compared to real time imagery from UAV’s and bombers I am not sure how useful satellite imagery is these days compared to ten or twenty years ago.

John Hartley
John Hartley
December 15, 2013 9:57 am

A fighter bomber usually has a combat radius of 450-700 miles, so it needs a friendly, nearby airbase or it is a useless waste of taxpayers money.
A long range bomber is freed from that. A bomber can be multi role. It can carry out recon tasks. You can put sniffer pods on it to look for nuclear tests or chemical weapons use. In 1982, the RAF sent a radar equipped Victor to check a chunk of South Atlantic was clear of Argentine ships.

John Hartley
John Hartley
December 15, 2013 10:06 am

In the early nineties, I was one of the few voices wanting the RAF to get a few C-17. All the we don’t have them so we could not possibly need them, waste of money, better off with smaller aircraft arguments. Well I think the C-17s have proved themselves, & if the RAF got a few LRS-B, I suspect 15 years later, we would wonder how we ever did without them.

Mark
Mark
December 15, 2013 10:15 am

us long range bomber missions were around 10000 – 13000 mile round trips that from the uk would be to Beijing and back which though impressive would unlikely be the case for uk launched missions we are after all on of the USAF fwd bomber bases as is the uk territories of Diego Garcia.

They can of course undertake everything from the nuclear mission to cas in afghan so in terms of air delivered ordnance totally flexible. The ability to strike any type of target anywhere in the world in 24hrs no other weapon system offers that. The ability to loiter and provide istar or other functions in contested airspace is in the lrs-b remit also the option to be optionally manned to allow huge loiter times. How do we pay for our small force easy chin f35b and ssbn program much more flexible asset than either of those projects.

Mark
Mark
December 15, 2013 10:36 am

Martin

In Libya coalition forces other than the US deployed about 170 fighter aircraft add in the us and that’s well north of 200.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_military_intervention_in_Libya

In allied force over Kosovo of the 1055 coalition aircraft committed the US alone numbered in the several hundred fighter aircraft

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/kosovo_orbat.htm

Can’t find numbers for afghan but considering two US carrier air wing were involved not to mention everyone else’s fast jets I’m pretty sure that number would easily exceed 100 fast jets too.

WiseApe
December 15, 2013 12:15 pm

@Mark – Just to clarify – ” How do we pay for our small force easy chin f35b and ssbn program much more flexible asset than either of those projects.” – Are you suggesting we ditch the nuclear deterrent , or put it back on bombers? Also, if we’re not having F35B, then what replaces Tornado? Are you really saying that a bomber is more flexible than a multirole fighter-bomber? Especially one that can operate off a carrier.

Also, if we’re doing strike and CAS with bombers we might as well cancel those eye-bleedingly expensive tankers as well.

To answer you’re earlier question (why the USAF uses its B2s) I suspect it’s because it has them and if it didn’t use them it would have a hard time explaining why it has them. But then I can be a cynical so and so. Perhaps you can come up with a different explanation.

dave haine
dave haine
December 15, 2013 12:32 pm

@ Martin

It’s a given that the key to success is well-trained, well equipped air forces…quantity only works when you VASTLY outnumber the opposition, and can withstand the losses. No argument there.

And it certainly is a folly to beef up combat capability, at the expense of force enablers. Any force needs to have proper intel, to make sensible, informed operational choices. No argument there.

However, your riposte to my comment doesn’t really shoot my argument down does it?
“Unless our smaller, better equipped force knocks the other out on the ground first”. Kind of agrees with my argument, doesn’t it.
In that we need a small well equipped and trained strike force to hit targets, from outside of theatre if necessary. A first strike capability… Independent of a carrier force…because we will only have two carriers, or more likely, one, which cannot be in two places at once, and may well be fully employed already.

The USAF LRS-B programme is designed to be exactly that;
“The Obama Administration in its 2012 budget request asked for $197 million and a total of $3.7 billion over five years to develop the bomber, which is to include modular payload options for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), electronic attack (EA), and communications.”

“The LRS-B is intended to perform any long range mission, rather than have any one specialized mission, which drove up the cost of the B-2.”

So a very flexible platform, given that it is also intended to be able to loiter in contended airspace and will have command and control gear to direct and control other forces. Potential replacement for the various Rivet’s/Combat Sent/Cobra Ball, AWACs and strike as well…

In our Orbat, that airframe could replace Sentinel, Sentry and AirSeeker, as well as undertake deep strike. We don’t have to UK it, it could be managed in the same way as ‘Air Seeker’.

I’m not arguing for it to replace the carriers, indeed i’m arguing for F35 to be solely an FAA asset, on the grounds that they will best employ it. The RAF can use Tiffy, which seems to be maturing into a very useful aircraft, for all the things it needs to do, thereby saving money by having a one type FJ fleet.

LRS-B will be able to do all the other stuff….and provide us with another operational option.

wf
wf
December 15, 2013 12:55 pm

@dave haine: excellent idea, the FAA can have the F35B, RAF go to Typhoon only (and hopefully get them all the Tranche 3 standard), then we revisit Typhoon replacement in the early 2020’s when either an improved Typhoon/FA-XX/F35 could be considered.

Hartley: I understand all the great points re bombers. Hell, a Vulcan today, with modern engines and systems would be great. But it would not be a penetrating bomber per se like the B2 or LRS-B, more of a bomb truck that could only penetrate with fighter escort or with cruise missiles. On that basis, if we can depressurise a C17 at 20K plus and drop out a cruise missile or JDAM it will do 70% of what we would like a modern Vulcan to do…much as the idea of a new fleet of Vulcan’s sounds!

AKM
AKM
December 15, 2013 1:22 pm

The problem with using C-17s (or MPAs) as bomb trucks is that you are very likely to need those platforms for their primary roles at the same time. It’s not as if we have a lot of C-17s, and at point of cancellation we were only planning on 9 Nimrods. So any raids using those aircraft will probably be one-off pinpricks, rather than part of a sustained campaign.

If we’re discussing fantasy fleets I propose a tanker/bomber based on the A330 with the fuselage converted to carry as many cruise missiles as possible on rotary launchers. It would likely mean surrendering most of the transport capability of the tanker, but the aircraft could still function as a tanker when not required as a bomber. It might even simplify the planning for the raid as one squadron would be able to provide both the bombers and the tankers for the mission, or the bomber could function as a tanker for its own F-35 or Typhoon escorts.

wf
wf
December 15, 2013 1:57 pm

@AKM: you are absolutely right with regard to the pressure on use of the C17, but I disagree for two reasons. Firstly, technical: the issues with say the A330 is more to do with the necessity of a) building some unpressurised bomb bays and the structural changes required to isolate them from the cabin and b) the likelihood of pitch authority and response issues when dropping weapons. As a low wing design, there’s no capacity for bomb bays around the centre of lift and gravity around the wing, so the bays would have to go fore and aft. Assuming you cut the freight load of 60 tonnes in half, that’s still a big stability issue if you drop/eject from one bay but not another if there’s say, a launcher failure.

The C17 has no issue with depressurising at altitude, and is designed to drop loads out the back as well. Assuming we see TLAM and the like as a “first day” weapon, buying another 10 vanilla C17 while converting all the fleet to be capable of carrying 50 Storm Shadow / TLAM each sound like a good deal for both long range strike and follow on force reinforcement.

dave haine
dave haine
December 15, 2013 2:00 pm

@All

I suggest you all go and read about the LRS-B… It’s not going to be just a strike aircraft…. think Vulcan, Sentry, Sentinel and AirSeeker all rolled into one….effectively, it will be a long-range offensive air platform.

“The LRS-B is intended to perform any long range mission, rather than have any one specialized mission, which drove up the cost of the B-2.”

Mark
Mark
December 15, 2013 2:10 pm

WiseApe

Yep the bomb would go back on the bomber. The fleet would be used in a similar way to USAF b2 bomber fleet.

Tornado was designed as an interdiction strike a/c to fly low and fast to deliver nuclear ordnance it replaced the Vulcan and victor because it was decided low level was best. F35 was primarily designed for the same mission strike against defended targets it is weak in the air defence task but the makers are selling it that missiles and sensors are now so advanced you don’t need manoeuvring or performance aircraft for that task (which makes you wonder why they designed the f22). So a bomber can replace that capability but with the benefit of long loiter, more ordnance carried, larger recon and imagining sensors and much more complete low observable characteristics for contested airspace.

The USAF uses the b2 because of its range, response time and its ability to attack any target and destroy it with very high precision, if that is possible with air delivered ordnance.

Not that I think well ever do it now but much more interesting to play fantasy airforce than fantasy navy!

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 15, 2013 2:51 pm

Given the issues with F35 and the proliferation of decent fighters and SAM systems throughout the world does anyone other than me think the prospects of the US producing an affordable ( for us) bomber that can loiter in contested air space is non existent?
They will produce either a hugely expensive B2 replacement we can afford 3 of or a bomber that cannot loiter in contested airspace and is totally inflexible as it simply becomes a long range maintenance and crew intensive msnned strike platform.

Martin
Editor
December 15, 2013 3:05 pm

@ Dave haine – as I said before I think a small buy of LRS-B ( if we could get it) would be a very good idea. The point you were making is that there is no point in having ISTAR type assets if we can’t defend our airspace using fast pointy things. My point was if we use our smaller number of fast pointy things or missiles qued in by our ISTAR assets we could knock an airforce out on the ground instead of flying CAP to defend against it.

x
x
December 15, 2013 3:17 pm

I think some here need to understand how the US goes about business. If all three services had a capability in an area they would fight to keep it; rationality isn’t the rule . The USAF don’t field B2 because it is the only platform capable of doing the job. They field it/keep it because it is their capability for doing that specific job. The US government is a collection of fiefdoms. As I keep saying armed forces are products of the human mind and so behave as if they are human. It is the exceptional leader who says his organisation should stop doing something because some other entity can do it better. Rarely do organisations vote themselves out of existence. Saying that sometimes this isolationism works for the good of organisation. The US Army operates it owns large helicopters. Naval air is looked after by sailors. And so on.

Martin
Editor
December 15, 2013 3:20 pm

@ APATS – if and its a big if the LRS-B comes in a the $500 million mark then a small buy of say 5-7 in the 2020’s is conceivable. Given the capability of something like a B2 then I would say a small fleet if 5-7 would be more capable than our entire tornado fleet atleast in deep penetration.

while we managed to get the air seeker which is arguably a more secret sensitive program I doubt congress would allow the sale of the LRS-b to the UK because a stealth bomber is more politically sensitive. now thing like the decision not to allow Japan to buy F22.

I think our typhoon / lightning combo will be very good but if its lacking anything its range and deep penetration with heavy weapons. adding on a small number of LRS-B would solve much of this issue.

In my opinion the RN has the right idea. Its traded numbers for capability and once the carriers arrive with F35B and crows nest it will be arguably a full spectrum force. The RAF has tried to cling on to numbers and shed too many capabilities such as MPA, ELINT, SEAD. The Navy of the 2020s will be able to do almost any job asked of it on its own. The RAF of the 2020s won’t be able to pick its nose without major USAF support.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 15, 2013 3:21 pm

@ Martin

With an initial cost ceiling of £375 million per airframe, yes that is £375 million per aircraft and obvious experience of cost overuns and increases these things are going to cost North of £500 million each. We should buy 2 :)

Martin
Editor
December 15, 2013 3:24 pm

Did anyone else notice on the flight global list of airforces how the UK does not come any where near the top ten for combat aircraft but is number 4 for training aircraft. What does this say about other airforces? Do any of these “world powers” actually have the ability to do anything other than fly QRA and practice bomb runs over home soil?

Martin
Editor
December 15, 2013 3:30 pm

@ APATS – I did say it was a big if :-)

But in all fairness the USAF knows the mistakes of the past and can use a lot of off the shelf components which it could not do with the B2 so it is atleast theoretically possible the LRS- B could come in near $500 million. with the USAF budget problems if it does not come in close to this price it will have to be canceld anyway.

The alternatives for deep strike are either going to be a Taranis style UCAV or a supersonic cruise missile neither of which are going to be cheap either a $3.5 billion purchase of LRS- B may appear cheap in this context and possibly more capable.

x
x
December 15, 2013 3:34 pm

AKM said “The problem with using C-17s (or MPAs) as bomb trucks is that you are very likely to need those platforms for their primary roles at the same time. ”

Yes. But this is Think Defence so no because module. :)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 15, 2013 3:46 pm

@ Martin

God loves an optimist but please, the USAF learns? Off which shelf would the components for this super aircraft come?
You still have to pay for ordanance to put on this thing.
Call me a cynic but your £2 billion pound buy will get you 6 max, more likely 5 of a platform designed and possibly capable of conducting a task that DPA say we will not conduct outside of a coalition and nothing else.

Mark