A Quick Look Back at the F35

As the second coming launch of HMS Queen Elizabeth approaches, the planned visit to the UK by the F35 and of course, the ever present arguments for and against this most studied of aircraft and the continued speculation about how many the UK will purchase* I thought a quick look back at some of the Think Defence articles on the subject might be in worthwhile;

A Four Part Series on the F35

Dredging up the Past; the history of the UK’s involvement with the project, background on the SDSR switch to the CV variant and the reversion a few years later. Click Here

Future Promise; what glimpse into the future that the F35 provides, a look at range, bring back, payloads, sensors and weapons, click here

Down to Earth with a Bump; To say the F35 is ‘troubled’ would be an understatement of somewhat huge proportions, tempering the promise with the reality of complex engineering developments and cost and time inflation, click here

By Sea by Land; how the UK’s F35B’s might be operated, deployed and used in complex environments with a look at the history of the Harrier austere operational locations, expeditionary airfields, the joys of AM-2 matting and joint operations with the RAF and FAA, click here

Others

Lots more in the archive

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/tag/fast-jets/

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/tag/carrierstrike/

And a handful of specifics

The EXINT Pod

Making the Most of the F35

F35 Software Numbers

The Real F35 Debate

Are we Seeing the end of CAS

and my all time favourite rantathon

The F35 and MoD Credibility

 

 

 

 

 

* I don’t think we should be buying any more than 60

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Chris
Chris
June 19, 2014 9:41 am

I don’t agree with everything on the linked page, but it has some viewpoints not often discussed that maybe should be: http://www.pogo.org/blog/2014/02/heres-what-60-minutes-didnt-tell-you-about-the-f-35.html

Simon257
Simon257
June 19, 2014 9:45 am

@ TD

Just to clarify your very last point: * I don’t think we should be buying any more than 60

Is that 60 B’s or 60 of whatever variant? Personally, I just think long term, the B is not the right Airframe for the RAF.

defiance
defiance
June 19, 2014 10:11 am

F/A-XX for Typhoon replacement!

Martin
Editor
June 19, 2014 11:18 am

I think we would be delighted with 60. I would agree also that longer term the aircraft is not right for the RAF and it would be better to eventually remove them from the B version and leave it to the FAA.

I can’t see Europe embarking on any kind if 6 Gen fighter and even if they did I seriously doubt we would become involved after what they have done of EF.

trying to tap on to a US 6 Gen fighter program for the 2030’s is probably our only bet.

That being said I can’t see the USA starting a new program before 2025 which will mean no new aircraft until 2040 at the very earliest. I don’t think there is any way the USN will get a repalcement for the F 18 E/F other than the F35C and I don’t think the USAF will replace the F15 E with a manned fighter preferring to use a UCAV and the next generation bomber.

The big question for the RAF is will it be able to keep Typhoon relevant for long enough until a 6th gen program can deliver?

Chris
Chris
June 19, 2014 11:29 am

Martin (et al) – just out of interest what is the approximate total spend difference between taking (as an example) a third share of an international FJ project and funding a domestic project in its entirety? The thoughts that make this perhaps not as obvious as it looks (‘Derrr! A third, silly!) are much slower progress at all stages where tri-national agreement is needed, a lot of extra effort in making every effort to have common units that can interface three different ways, and ultimately the UK-only mods that are compromised by the need to be compatible with a more complicated aircraft than it needed to be. The current wisdom is ‘we couldn’t afford to go it alone’ but sometimes it looks like we can afford to go into cooperative development even less…

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 19, 2014 11:36 am

Well the R&D costs would be divided between far less airframes, probably under a hundred compared to the almost 3,000 for the F35. So I would say far more expensive if we could even manage to produce a combat relevant aircraft.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
June 19, 2014 11:42 am

Having the F35 replace Typhoon would be a huge mistake, the grounding of the entire F35 fleet last week proves that. We need to maintain a two FJ fleet in the RAF just to protect against a fleetwide issue.

If we can’t keep the Typhoon as relevant as the F-18 then we have an issue, but it should be possible.

Chris
Chris
June 19, 2014 11:48 am

APATS – fair point well made. After 70 years of fast jet production, haven’t we got to the point yet where known components of known performance and known interface can be fitted together with high confidence the system will work as calculated? Or are most of the costs involved in proving the assembly meets spec rather than getting it to meet spec in the first place?

Observer
Observer
June 19, 2014 11:51 am

Some crystal ball reading here, make of it as you will, but I suspect the next generation of FJ is going to come from the East. With the fallout from the F-35 mess and fairly secure borders, the US and Europe does not really have the will, desperation, budget and support needed to take the next step for a while. Inversely, countries like Korea and Japan do have the budget but more importantly, the desperation to keep China in check, which means that any research project is going to get green lighted more easily.

The biggest question would be how advanced can they get technologically and what kind of tactics are they going to design their planes for.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 19, 2014 11:57 am

“After 70 years of fast jet production, haven’t we got to the point yet where known components of known performance and known interface can be fitted together with high confidence the system will work as calculated?”

Only if you want to build yesterdays jet tomorrow. hence my point about combat relevance.

Rocket Banana
June 19, 2014 12:12 pm

60? Why 60?

Chris,

Whilst the military demand multi-role combat aircraft, naval copters, protected mobility, etc from a single “all eggs in one basket” supplier, we’re stuffed.

There’s a reason a fighter looks like a fighter and a bomber looks like a bomber ;-)

I’d rather have a few Typhoon, a few strike-optimised F35 and more mid-road, cheap-as-chips, highly numerous aircraft sitting in the middle. These multi-role aircraft would know full well that they are not the be-all-and-end-all of air combat or strike sorties. Something like Jaguar.

Basically the “frigate” of the skies.

Simon257
Simon257
June 19, 2014 12:13 pm

@ Engineer Tom

They grounded the aircraft on Friday, so the entire fleet was checked. Only three other F-35’s were found to have a similar problem, all were based at Yuma. The fleet was checked and they were allowed back in the air by Saturday night.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140616/DEFREG02/306160011

You could call it a glitch, easily fixed. But let’s put this into perspective, compare this to what happened to the PAK FA prototype the other day. Which was considerable worse:

http://www.f-16.net/forum/download/file.php?id=19078&mode=view

The Other Chris
June 19, 2014 12:20 pm

The F-35 engine issue is a success for the fledgling ALIS mechanism as well: Detection, prognosis, delivery, correction and release with information fed to all fleets in real time.

Martin
Editor
June 19, 2014 12:23 pm

@ Chris

They thought they knew everything with the F35 and the entire program could be done on computer and go straight to production. Guess we are not as smart as we like to think?

I noticed airbus also decided to build a mock up of the A350 to do the wiring rather than follow Boeing’s mistake with the 787 and do it all on computer.

The UK could go it alone I am sure but we would have to accept a lower performance like the Swedish did with the Grippen. One look at Taranis or the latest engines from RR shows we have the capability.

No doubt we could also gain a couple of hundred foreign orders from the gulf and a few others looking for top class kit that the US would not sell them. What we lack is any politicians with balls to do a solo project.

I would deffinatly opt for a solo project instead of dealing with the French or anyone else in Europe.

Martin
Editor
June 19, 2014 12:27 pm

@ Simon 257

those poor Russians, 1/3rd of their 5th GEn fleet lost, could not happen to a nicer group of people :-)

Martin
Editor
June 19, 2014 12:28 pm

@ TD – I’m guessing we could sustain 3 squadrons with 60 aircraft.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
June 19, 2014 12:36 pm

Hmm, national-go-it-alone, as in “The current wisdom is ‘we couldn’t afford to go it alone’ but sometimes it looks like we can afford to go into cooperative development even less…”

Two of the three engine greats (not forgetting that jet engine technology is Russia’s last remaining strangle hold on China) barring RR are at it, to make the Advent engine a reality.

Where would it first be used? On something where a single plane (B2) approximates in cost ($2bn) to a British carrier (had they been delivered to original spec). More specifically, the rest of the bomber programme ties together the rest of the US (jet) aviation industry:
“The redoubtable team of Boeing (prime) [big, long-range a/c] and Lockheed Martin [stealth structures] is the only one publicly pursuing the program, but Northrop Grumman engaged in black work on a bomber prototype (at least), built the B-2 and said early this year it would work on stealth and other bomber systems[read: the unmanned component?].”

The quote is from here: http://breakingdefense.com/2014/06/air-force-keeps-mum-on-new-bomber-rfp/?utm_source=Breaking+Defense&utm_campaign=3e70e12859-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4368933672-3e70e12859-407336609

Topman
Topman
June 19, 2014 12:50 pm

@ TOC

Do you have any first hand experience of ALIS? I’ve only read about it and not had a chance to look yet. But from what I’ve read they are really struggling with it, some of the features are fairly standard now. It doesn’t quite seem the leap being made out in what I’ve read. But like I say that’s just from reading. Quite a few of the issues seem very familar. Low cost/maintaince and hight tech don’t go together regardless of what any company says, the only way to low cost is simple equipment.

I don’t think either all countries will buy into it, I’m sure not everyone will want all data from there a/c sent to the US and potentially available to all other operators.

The Other Chris
June 19, 2014 3:44 pm

No, not first hand. It’s often used as a case study for logistics and resource management systems though, there’s quite a bit of material out there and LM will send a pack if you contact their press department.

Other good case studies that crop up regularly if you’re interested are the Rolls-Royce EHM/OSyS systems operated from their Derby facility (proven a successful model) as well as the NHS/Pharmacy systems from Medway in particular (the NHS is a beast that Dwarfs F-35!).

All three have issues but all three are equally staggering in both scale and overall effectiveness when you factor out anecdotal evidence.

Topman
Topman
June 19, 2014 4:02 pm

@ TOC

I’ve used firsthand RR EHM, generally good, a bit clunky sometimes to use though. I was thinking more the A/C side rather than logs, but thanks anyway.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
June 19, 2014 4:22 pm

@ simon257

That was a best case scenario, what if the fault had ept the whole fleet on the ground for two weeks, or what if it had been during an operation, risk management is all about worse case scenarios. Having a single type fleet is a huge risk.

Mark
Mark
June 19, 2014 4:30 pm

There’s nothing wrong with going to a single fighter fleet you would simply be giving up the high end air defence capability being offered by typhoon we would be back to tornado days to an extent. Numbers of f35 will depend on what you want to do with it, personally I see its use more like an f117 than a sole fleet. Anyone who thinks that f35 will be cheap to buy and operate really are kidding themselves it maybe cheap compared to an f22 but I’m betting it will be the most expensive tactical aircraft we have ever operated.

However if it is decided that f35 is to be the only tactical high end jet we operate then I think there is a need for something else optionally manned to undertake all the mission jets are gd at below high end contested warfighting. It would be high subsonic in nature with reasonable endurance and with flight control systems independant of sensor and weapon software.

Toc I don’t the oil leak is a triumph of anything other that bloody lucky it wasn’t worse especially as it happened in flight. P&w are not having much luck with leaky engines of late.

“some of the features are fairly standard now.” Think that’s a statement you could possibly make about a number of f35 features now.

“I don’t think either all countries will buy into it, I’m sure not everyone will want all data from there a/c sent to the US and potentially available to all other operators.”

Unless they made chances I’m not really sure they’ll have much of choice in the matter.

Martin DMUs are fundamental to aircraft design and ensuring there at full feditility to build standard is fundamental to design practises and various readiness reviews which have in the past been routinely ignored to meet the holy grail do schedule and the usual mess occurrs at production. 787 had little to do with computer or manual mock ups and all to do with loosing control of aircraft configuration and realising making planes all out of monolithic composite is a stupid idea with more problems than its worth.

Simon257
Simon257
June 19, 2014 4:37 pm

@ Engineer Tom

The entire Eurofighter Typhoon Fleet was grounded back in 2010, the same happened to the USAF F-15 fleet back in 2007, when one broke up in flight. The F-22 has also grounded in 2011. It does happen. I don’t believe in a single aircraft fleet either. No matter how good it is.

Monty
June 19, 2014 5:10 pm

The problem with the F-35 is that the development programme has been conducted under an intense media spotlight the kind of which simply didn’t exist when previous aircraft types were brought into service. Every problem is reported, debated and exaggerated at every stage. Throw in a few disgruntled competitors sowing misinformation, schadenfruede and ill-feeling and you get a thoroughly distorted view of the truth. There’s no denying that the F-35 is late and over-budget. But is it a bad or less capable aeroplane? I don’t think anyone can say yes or no at this stage.

Much of the criticism has centred around trying to use a common platform for three different versions. I certainly believe in the law of focus. But look how single vehicle platforms for AFVs have been used to create a whole family of vehicles, e.g. ASCOD 2.

As far as replacing the Harrier is concerned, we know that the F-35B is already better than the Harrier GR9 in terms of:
– Longer range on internal fuel tanks
– Weight of ordnance that can be carried
– Easier to fly
– Better situational awareness for pilot
– Easier to maintain.

As far as the other versions are concerned, the F-35 is a fundamentally different approach to air combat. It isn’t meant to be a fighter, but more of a bomb truck. That said, with the most advanced radar in any combat aircraft it is meant to be able to neutralise enemy threats before enemy threats can neutralise it.

Brian Black
Brian Black
June 19, 2014 5:26 pm

Grounding an entire fleet might sound dramatic; but it can just be a case of check or examine a particular component at the next daily or post-flight servicing. It could be a case of additional minutes added to routine maintenance.

I can think of one example where a paperwork check of serial numbers was all that was required, as only components from a certain batch were affected. Unaffected aircraft cleared in very little time.

Certain checks or component replacements may also be deferred, requiring a brief bit of paperwork. A single aircraft fleet may also be at various modification state or mark, and so issues not relevant across the whole fleet.

Topman
Topman
June 19, 2014 5:35 pm

@ mark

‘Unless they made chances I’m not really sure they’ll have much of choice in the matter. ‘

Very much so yes, some will take it as a whole, some, including the UK I’ve no doubt, will buy in ad-hoc. We’ll use the bits we want to and let other see what we want them to. Doing some reading there appears to be at least one country building a system parallel to ALIS, with other interested. No inside info, but I’d be very (very) surprised if we put everything on worldwide online system. Some things will always be UK eyes only, I can’t see that changing.

Mark
Mark
June 19, 2014 6:04 pm

Topman

I would very much hope that is the case, my only info on the system is what I’ve read from Lockheed on the internet and some other stuff from way back years out of date now which suggested it was all or nothing type system. I can think of at least one country that would be none to chuffed about alis.

It has always surprised me that the systems on the jet and the ground would be quite as open and identical with all countries as was being made out.

The Other Chris
June 19, 2014 6:42 pm

@Mark

Agree completely. On re-reading my comment does come across as though ALIS was the saviour of the day. It was intended more as a silver-lining observation.

On the topic of RPAS, not suggesting in place of a Son of Taranis, what are your thoughts on Predator C Avenger? Same GCS, training pipeline and plug-and-play architecture as Reaper. Suspect that GA-ASI, through the newly established GA-UK, would include the platform in the separate Design Authority offered for MQ-9.

Jonathan
Jonathan
June 19, 2014 6:53 pm

As a believer in maximising what you get for your investment, I would like to see a fleet of f35Bs that could provide large air wings for both the new carriers ( assuming 2015 will leave the possibility of both carriers operating together in extremis). So the potential need for 72 operational aircraft, but that should be it for the F35 buy, we should then focus on maintaining / developing the typhoon fleet then developing the replacement for typhoon( manned/ unmanned). I’m not sure about developing a third less high performance fleet as mentioned in an earlier post, we did away with harriers and did not replace jaguar for a reason (fleet cost) . If we did want this we could consider a program with our hawks ( a T1A ish type thing), dual rolling is a great way to maximise your investment.

Nick
Nick
June 19, 2014 7:05 pm

Interesting commentary on F-35 by Pierre Sprey co-designer of the F-16 on why it is such a crappy plane.

as
as
June 19, 2014 7:37 pm

F-35 JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER (THE TRUTH) playlist
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5HHhz3qoOS-56GRZLp1Z7Y8UmD1vhdzx
contains another interview with Pierre Sprey. He hates the F35

as
as
June 19, 2014 7:41 pm

Another pierre

Repulse
June 19, 2014 7:51 pm

4 X 14a/c squadrons (50/50 RAF/FAA) + 8a/c OCU makes 64 in my book.

The Other Chris
June 19, 2014 8:00 pm

Is the required number not closer to the equivalent of 143 across the lifetime of the fleet?

That figure representing the total GR5/GR7/GR9 build (Nordeen, 2006) which ultimately resulted in fleet numbers that could not sustain effective operations (“Sir Humphrey”, 2012).

as
as
June 19, 2014 8:05 pm

I know it would be expensive but we should have replaced:-
Harrier with F35,
Jaguar with Gripen,
Phantom with Typhoon,
Tornado when an equivalent when it is developed.

Phil
June 19, 2014 8:30 pm

@as

Typhoon was mean to replace Jaguar, Phantom and Buccaneer (9x squadrons).

The Other Chris
June 19, 2014 8:31 pm

“Equivalent” numbers:

GR9 airframe hours 6,000 designed. Fears over rear fuselage issues luckily did not materialise to reduce these figures (Ebdon, 2009). Forty percent (?) (reference required!) expended on vertical landing training, practice and rating maintenance.

F-35B airframe hours 8,000 designed. Aircraft has not entered service for later blocks to be measured. Assumption to be made that F-35B will have double the airframe hours available for operations compared to Harrier (Butler, 2013).

Would that place the 72 figure closer to the mark for “equivalent” numbers? Suggests a figure above that number to maintain effectiveness, across the lifetime of the fleet?

John Hartley
John Hartley
June 19, 2014 9:00 pm

Whatever the rights or wrongs, we are stuck with the F-35B for the Elephants, so around 60 need to be bought for the FAA. The F-35B makes no sense for the RAF, as it is made expensive by a STOVL capability the RAF is unlikely to use. Said STOVL capability reduces bomb load/variety and combat radius. The RAF need for an Interceptor/Fighterbomber is best served by the Typhoon. A medium range replacement for the Tornado bomber, could best be done by the mooted F-35E. An F-35E with Advent engine & the cranked arrow wing of the F-16XL, would have the range & payload needed. The cranked arrow wing on the F-16 carries ” double the load, 45% further”.
So 60 F-35B for FAA & 60 F-35E for the RAF.

The Other Chris
June 19, 2014 9:08 pm

Informational (not criticism): If F-35 receives AETD (or similar engine technologies), they’ll be rolled out as a Block increment across the A/B/C variants. The letter denotes approach to basing requirements for the variant (Conventional, STOVL, CATOBAR), block the available capability/payloads of that version of the platform and with the operator denoting their specific implementation of available payloads.

e.g. UK F-35B Block 3i vs ROK F-35A Block 3i

Rocket Banana
June 19, 2014 9:30 pm

Oh dear, Mr Pierre Sprey really doesn’t like the F35 does he.

Transcript from the US DoD to Lockhead…

“We’d like a 600nm, STOVL, CTOL capable, stealth, supersonic, strike figher.”
“Certainly Sir, which of those is the most important?”
“Err, all of them!”
“Can’t do that, they’re mutually exclusive.”
“Okay, what about a iPhone that can actually make calls, has a decent keyboard and a screen that you can actually read?”
“You mean a laptop and a cell-phone, Sir?”
“No, an iPhone, something that can fit in my pocket.”
“Can’t do that, they’re mutually exclusive.”
“Ahh, so what you’re saying is that I can have some of the above in one package, or all of them over a number of different assets?”
“Yes. Just like the last 200 years has shown us. You really are bright aren’t you.”
“So… can I have 450nm, STOVL, stealth, supersonic strike then”
“Yes.”
“Great. So, what’s the catch this time?”
“It will be obsolete as soon as it rolls off the production line.”

Simon257
Simon257
June 19, 2014 9:59 pm

@ AS and Nick

You do know that Sprey is not an Aircraft Designer. He’s not even a pilot or has no military experiance. The aircraft he likes to compare with the F-35 is the F-16 which he was on the development team. Now the F-16 he and the rest of the group known as the Fighter Mafia wanted, would have had an F-16 with no Radar, No missile’s and no air to ground capability! Just a very manoeuvrable Dog Fighter. Luckily they didn’t get their way! He hasn’t been involved in Aircraft R&D for over twenty years. He is in the music industry now with his own record label, Mapleshade Records!

I make no apologies for using an article from Wiki. But this covers Sprey and the Fighter Mafia. Their are some uncomfortable truths regarding him.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fighter_Mafia

I can’t believe that people actually listen to this guy. I would put the word of real Test Pilots who have actually flown the F-35 and other FJ types over this guy.

I posted this a few weeks ago. It is well worth the time to sit and watch it.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxe4Jv1cJxI

as
as
June 19, 2014 10:11 pm

Sprey also has a thing for the A10. He also hated the later versions of the F16 that he saw as Fat and over weight.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Sprey

I do disagree with the guy. Some of the best military aircraft have succeeded in roles they where not originally designed for. Multi role can work.

Mark
Mark
June 19, 2014 10:13 pm

Toc

I like what general atomics have done with the predator/reaper/avenger series the concern with “unmanned” systems is they tend to be more manpower intensive than manned ones in certain ways and you up with manned options being cheaper in certain missions. The first company to crack a really gd optionally manned platform maybe onto a winner. My vote is very much for a refurbished Canberra.

You need to be a little careful went comparing uk and american origin design life hours. Uk designed aircraft tended to design to higher scatter factors which are laid down in cert requirements hence maybe slighty more robust and can stay in service longer. F35bs make up may potentially have more problems in this area than was hoped.

Mark
Mark
June 20, 2014 12:44 pm

The real reason for the delay in the uk f35 order perhaps

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-17/lockheed-f-35-bulkhead-cracks-solution-proposed.html

“They think they’ve got the root cause,” Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, said in an interview. “They’ve got a process that they want to implement that they believe will fix the problem for the existing jets.

‘‘It’s going to take a while to certify that process,” he said. “They have reasonably good confidence in it. It’s not certain yet that it’s going to fix the problem.”

Monty
June 20, 2014 2:43 pm

@Simon,

Nice post.

When the iPhone was introduced it was marketed as an iPod, a phone, an internet browser and and personal organiser. It did not do all of those tasks well. As you say, the keyboard and phone functions were not good. Seven years later, it has evolved to the point where it has killed Blackberry and Nokia. Meanwhile, the iPad, which is the same concept in a slightly larger form factor, has killed-off cheap laptop computers, handheld games platforms, and PDAs.

However, I agree that STOVL, supersonic, air superiority and strike are all mutually exclusive concepts. I think we need two or three primary combat aircraft platforms. The Fighter (Spitfire); the Bomber (Lancaster) and the Fighter-bomber (Mosquito). Today, these aircraft are the air superiority fighter (F-15, F-22, and Typhoon), the long range strike aircraft (B52, B2, or F-111) and the strike fighter (Tornado, Harrier and F-35). The latter is primarily a battlefield support aircraft, but it needs an ability to defend itself from other aircraft.

I think that F-35 can adequately perform all strike fighter roles, but not the air superiority or long range strike roles. I think Typhoon will definitely suffice as a modern-day Spitfire until it is replaced by whatever the US designs to replace the F-22. There is a definite need for a long range strike aircraft, which reminds me how brilliant the TSR2 would have been were it not for Harold Wilson. I don’t think that Tornado was ever more than adequate in any role.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 20, 2014 2:59 pm

what i love most about the F35 is the way it totally divides opinions. What history tells us is that it will neither be as good as some claim nor as bad as others. Montys post about the iphone and indeed many other phones these days is true because they can do everything that Simons post wanted a phone to do and more but they have evolved in a certain manner since the initial design.
Therefore what development teaches us is that like the first smartphones the F35 may not be perfect but it shows us that the way ahead is indeed a single platform capable of doing everything that Simon claims is mutually exclusive.

i type this on a lap top, no longer own a desk top, no need, my lap top never leaves the house as my tablet does everything that I used to need my lap top to do. I used to own an MP4 player but now my phone does that and also takes care of my on the move emails, internet etc etc.
tech is allowing us to have less specialist platforms.

Martin
Editor
June 20, 2014 3:12 pm

@ Monty

I agree we need a TSR2 type capability to supplement the F35B and the Typhoon but this role will likley be fulfilled by a Taranis derived UCAV.

Something stealthy that can fly deep into defended airspace and take pictures or drop a couple of Paveway III or a dozen SPEAR 3’s.

Would be nice if the MOD just decided to call Taranis a prototype and start building the thing but no doubt we will need to go through several different programs with numerous cool sounding abbreviations and fanny around with the French for a decade before deciding to buy whatever the US has dreamt up.

I wonder just how many people are employed at the MOD to come up with four letter program names? Could the number of staff required be the reason that FRES SV cost £500 million for a gear box change?

Chris
Chris
June 20, 2014 3:15 pm

Oh dear. I use a desktop PC every day. I also use a heavyweight laptop every day. I do not own a smartphone or a tablet PC or an mp4 player or even mp3 player. Its amazing but you can survive quite well without Apples.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 20, 2014 3:17 pm

@ martin

“Would be nice if the MOD just decided to call Taranis a prototype and start building the thing but no doubt we will need to go through several different programs with numerous cool sounding abbreviations and fanny around with the French for a decade before deciding to buy whatever the US has dreamt up.”

Unless yo know something nobody else does ref the test program then what we have is a prototype of a prototype aircraft type that quite rightly will have lots of hurdles to jump through before it is ready for ops.

@TD
yes it actually does mate :) Have you ever heard of a pebble? I have a Z1 Compact with a 2300AMH battery that gives me a whole day easily, normally stick a pebble in my day sack too. My xperia Z tablet does most other stuff and my lap top link to my 42″ LED screen wirelessly.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
June 20, 2014 3:33 pm

+1 for the Nokia / tablet combo.

I’ve got a work iphone, but for personal use out and about a modern S40 Nokia with a PAYG chip inside from 3 (Vodaphone and O2 don’t bother with the Fens) and either an ipod touch or ipod mini. Wireless tether the phone and tablet together when needed.

Back home, all of the goodness of Apple integration and device syncing with each other and the cloud.

I have no idea how they do it, but it works. Common browser tabs open on each device, iBooks open at the same page, files synced and can be edited on whatever. Watch a film on the telly, pause it halfway, watch the rest on a handheld on a train.

Data usage is about £20 a month, which might not be the cheapest but isn’t breaking the bank.

Tim UK
Tim UK
June 20, 2014 3:35 pm

Does anybody know how many fully stealth missions the JSF will be able to perform before the stealth degrades ? I understand the B2 can perform one a week at most.

The Other Chris
June 20, 2014 3:39 pm

@Tim UK

The fuselage itself is the source of the Low Observability i.e. not due to the coatings.

Interview with the Low Observable Product Team Lead on the subject:

http://www.sldinfo.com/the-f-35-low-observable-repair-facility-a-unique-asset-for-21st-century-combat-aviation/

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
June 20, 2014 3:52 pm

B2 has (had?) some paint peeling issues, even a special hangar to deal with them.

Is there 19 of them? Use two for a mission, one a day, then you can keep going. Of course the quoted statistic could be totally made up…

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
June 20, 2014 3:55 pm

TD, that may be your real reason, but you should be telling everyone else that the Nokia doesn’t get viruses (either S40 or the even more ancient versions), and that with a declining userbase, it’s not really worth anyone developing viruses. S40 is largely Java based with very little OS to attack.

Android viruses are beginning to get quite scary, with rootkits now being delivered theough malware, as well as key loggers. IPhones a little more protected, but still vulnerable.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 20, 2014 4:04 pm

@RT
@RT

You are very very unlikely to get a virus on an android phone and even more unlikely on a I phone, the major problem are on windows phones. What the people who have virus issues fail to realise or combat is that they are now carrying about a computer and they need to install the appropriate anti virus software.
“People do not use Commodre 64s because their lap tops might catch a virus, they install the fing appropriate protection and are sensible about sites they visit and what do you think your tablet is”

Quote from my brother who has the MSC in AI and is a lead designer on some extremely famous computer games, from when I raised a similar point with him point with him :)

The Other Chris
June 20, 2014 4:14 pm

First virus known to to affect a mobile phone was Cabir, which hit Symbian powered Nokia’s.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
June 20, 2014 4:15 pm

APATS,

All technically correct. But the actual uptake % of smartphone users who install and keep up to date Android or ios specific AV…..? Very low. :(

The Other Chris
June 20, 2014 4:18 pm

Sorties:

SMSgt Mac over at Elements of Power presented a review of Operation Allied Force. Of particular note are a few slides from the USAF covering current capabilities.

My favourite is the very last one entitled “From ‘Runway-Takedowns-per-Sortie” to ‘Airbase-Takedowns-per-Sortie'” for the B-2:

http://elementsofpower.blogspot.com/2014/03/operation-allied-force-15-years-after.html

Of interest on the topic is a presentation created by the Institute for the Study of War on sortie’s and systems required to degrade the Syrian IADS:

http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/RequiredSorties-to-DegradeSyrianAirPower.pdf

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 20, 2014 4:22 pm

@RT

A user rather than a system problem, I mean how stupid do you have to be to think that the computer in your pocket that connects to far more networks than the one in your house is not exposed to the same risks? I have AV and VPN from 2 different companies but they provide the same service to my phone tablet and lap top again helping them to talk and network.
No need to ignore the wonders of modern tech simply a requirement to learn about and counter the risks.

Fedaykin
June 20, 2014 4:56 pm

Pierre Sprey has a huge chip on his shoulder and is no-longer taken seriously by anybody apart from those at Air Power Australia or Bill Sweetman’s acolytes. He lost the argument about light fighters long ago and now spends his time doing interviews in the non aviation news media.

As for UK F-35 procurement numbers it should be noted that 138 is still the stated UK buy number and statements by various government departments and ministers that smaller numbers would be procured have been rapidly back tracked on since last year. Lockheed Martin clearly stated at an industry press conference with a government minister present they are expecting the UK to procure 138 and if less was purchased the level of UK work share would have to be explored.

Rocket Banana
June 20, 2014 5:18 pm

Gents,

Continuing with the silly analogy thing…

If you’re happy with an iPhone or iPad you’re happy to compromise on them not actually being particularly good at everything (other than being there when you really need to know which actress showed her knickers in Goldeneye).

My real point is that if you want a fighter-bomber you probably need a fighter, a bomber and a fighter-bomber (as Monty says). This does not make the F35 the panacea. It places it in the middle and at £100m+ per airframe a flippin’ expensive one. I have little issue with this as long as we don’t decide that air superiority is not important and that deep/heavy strike is not important, only that F35 can do a little of both, pretty well.

PS: Apple products are the current “target” for virus writers, certainly not Android or any other open source code base.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
June 20, 2014 5:21 pm

– plenty for that third CVF then…with the deep strike capacity provided by a mixture of Taranis and the Skylon space-plane by about 2030? :-)

I think I’d better go to the pub now…I’m hallucinating…

GNB

Rocket Banana
June 20, 2014 5:38 pm

It says 138 F35, not 138 F35B.

We have 117 Typhoon and 102 Tornado as of 11th March 2014. Call it 219 fast jets.

Who’s to say that whilst we ramp Typhoon numbers to the touted 160 we’ll plug the gap with (219-160) = 59 F35? What it could also imply is that we intend to have sorted out Typhoon’s replacement when we get to the 138 F35 figure (Typhoon numbers down to 81 – four squadrons).

So max F35 = 138 and gap F35 = 59 >>> other F35 = 79. Dangerously close to a sensible buy of 60 x F35B and 80 x F35A with the final 80 Typhoon being replaced by the next high-end air defence jet?

Fedaykin
June 20, 2014 5:40 pm

@GNB

Now there is an idea ;-)

Personally I think F-35 orders should be staggered into batches over many years (even decades). Each batch should be worked harder and then retired and parted out to support newer batches.

That means we can buy the 138 keeping Lockheed Martin happy but not break the bank. It has the added benefit of not having to maintain and upgrade older airframes, just replace with newer Blocks built to the latest standard and use the old ones for parts.

Fedaykin
June 20, 2014 5:43 pm

@Simon

Exactly! All the Tornado GR4 gone and the early batches of Typhoon (painful yes considering the money spent) but it allows the UK to standardize on a late Tranche 2 and Tranche 3 Typhoon fleet alongside F-35 and some drone.

Peter Elliott
June 20, 2014 6:00 pm

A policy of ‘scrap and build’ has much to recommend it if we are to maintain a meaningful industrial capacity on small lean-staffed armed forces.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 20, 2014 6:07 pm

@ simon

“PS: Apple products are the current “target” for virus writers, certainly not Android or any other open source code base.”

Purely as they have only in the last few weeks managed to write one that may actually work. 80% of actually functioning “mobile” malware is targeted at Android whilst windows mobile remains most vulnerable.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
June 20, 2014 6:10 pm

Simon,

know which actress showed her knickers in Goldeneye”

I am not about to destroy my Google credit rating with that. Instead i am going to buy the film from iTunes. I will tell you the answer in a week. ;)

And if they are good knickers, I will have to buy Mrs RT some. This will between film and knicker purchase set me back the best part of £100. Thanks for nothing.

Mark
Mark
June 20, 2014 6:13 pm

We must be getting a budget bump or something but considering force 2020 numbers suggested seem hopelessly high. F2020 has us with 107 typhoon and 48 f35 in 7 operation units at 3 airbases. If we expect (hopelessly optimistic) 138 f35s to be purchased it sounds suspicious close to numbers required to sustain a 7 sqn single aircraft fleet.

If you consider the use of simulator and potentially hawk t2 training methods then there is the potential to operate with a higher personnel to airframe numbers than the past, allowing support to 24/7 deployed operations with fewer total fleet airframes.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
June 20, 2014 6:22 pm

An interesting idea “If you consider the use of simulator and potentially hawk t2 training methods then there is the potential to operate with a higher personnel to airframe numbers than the past, allowing support to 24/7 deployed operations with fewer total fleet airframes.”

Typhoon fleet availability (out of the total inventory numbers) may not be a good pointer (counter?) due to the constant upgrading and even cannibalising of airframes for spares, to keep others flying?

Martin
Editor
June 21, 2014 4:41 am

@ APATS

“Unless yo know something nobody else does ref the test program then what we have is a prototype of a prototype aircraft type that quite rightly will have lots of hurdles to jump through before it is ready for ops.”

That is true however we do have a working flyable aircraft from what I know that has bomb bays and apparently mission software (although no doubt limited) that allows it to perform some form of bomb run.

We can go off an build a proper prototype and spend a fortune developing software to give us the full Gucci extra capability but as its an unmanned aircraft do we really need to?

The work that General Atomics seems to have done on UAV’s and now a UCAV with Avenger seems to be cheap because its not a big program like F35.

If we have a limited scope for the aircraft and we accept human control via satellite link (even though it probably wont work if we are bombing china in an A2/D2 environment then its bound to be massivley cheaper.

If we go off and build another prototype with the French using lessons learned from Taranis and Nueron then we will have to go to the expense of designing an entirely new aircraft that will no doubt look almost identical to Tarnais but will also no doubt cost well north of a 1 billion.

I think we really need to ask what do we need.

Stealthy yes
Super sonic No
Radar No
Air to Air capability No
EO and SAR Sensors yes but off the shelf tech
Bomb Bay yes 2 able to take Paveway III
Fully autonomous operation (no but something we can work on in the future as the off the shelf software improves)

Now I know Taranis does not meet these specs but nor is it a million miles away either.

martin
Editor
June 21, 2014 4:48 am

Sorry meant A2/AD not A2/D2 who is the new star wars robot :-)

Brian Black
Brian Black
June 21, 2014 6:44 am

Developing Taranis into something that is essentially a LO Reaper might be a reasonable way forward for the UK, considering the cost of developing all singing and dancing multi-role fast jets.

Start off with something small, carrying a couple of 500 pounders and Brimstone, then go for the Paveway III carrying long-range strikebot as an evolution of the first.

If Taranis does become a useful in-service thing, would we be able to make use of the control infrastructure that the RAF has for Reaper? How locked in is the American’s system; and would they want to make it hard for us to use a competing UAV, or would they perhaps think that forcing us to build our own ground control system would shut off the UK as a market for future American UAVs?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
June 21, 2014 6:56 am

BB, a good description that “LO Reaper for penetration missions”.
– such a thing was actually on an equal footing with the surveillance MALE/ HALE a/c on the US UAV/UCAV Road Map in the 90’s, but priorities were set, to speed up progress, so the Avenger/ Sea Avenger comes perhaps the closest of today’s machines?

Martin, your list finds a match in a JASSM (even that one is now being made into a 500+ km ER- version)
“Stealthy yes
Super sonic No
Radar No
Air to Air capability No
EO and SAR Sensors yes but off the shelf tech
Bomb Bay yes 2 able to take Paveway III
Fully autonomous operation (no but something we can work on in the future as the off the shelf software improves) ”
– the no bomb bay is compensated for by a “yes” to the last point

Mark
Mark
June 21, 2014 9:44 am

Martin

Your list says no radar yet you then ask for SAR ( synthetic aperture radar) so as far as I know you need a radar for that. And you’ll definitely need radars in a Uav for sense and avoid if nothing else.

Paveway 3 are massive I think tornado can only carry 2 and the taranis demonstrator is only hawk sized. You’ve also specified low observable feature that adds cost big time.

Taranis is like our submarine technology so I hope we do develop it further it’s very much not a reaper.

as
as
June 21, 2014 12:52 pm

Pierre Sprey’s Anti-F-35 Diatribe Is Half Brilliant And Half Bullshit
http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/pierre-spreys-anti-f-35-diatribe-is-half-brilliant-and-1592445665/+pgeorge

Jalopnik ripping in to Sprey.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 21, 2014 1:01 pm

@AS

Pretty much sums Speys BS up nicely.

McZ
McZ
June 22, 2014 6:47 pm

@APATS
“You are very very unlikely to get a virus on an android phone and even more unlikely on a I phone, the major problem are on windows phones.”

You do know, that Windows Phone 8 is the only mobile OS not yet cracked and is widely regarded as being the most secure smartphone option? What does that tell us about conceptions in technology? Don’t believe a nerd!

Dear Mr Sprey, a 2010 multirole-combat-aircraft operating in a networked environment full of cheap bomb-trucks called “drones” has nothing to do with a 1975 lightweight-fighter.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
June 22, 2014 6:54 pm

my organisation has refused to certify android devices for use on the corporate network, they see it as too insecure.

we do have apple via MDM, and we believe it to be secure.

we could equally have adopted BES, we just chose not to.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 22, 2014 6:56 pm

OMG you actually believe that, I do not trust a nerd I listen to my brother and an entire team who are pretty capable tech guys and girls, Battlefield series, my brother did the original GTA titles, now doing new mass effect title, think they know what they are talking about, i would employ them in the RN in a minute but am short of a few zeros on the pay packet front.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 22, 2014 7:21 pm

@TD

GCHQ and CESG are unfortunately also a few zeros off recruiting the people I know and that is sad :(