Air Show Blues

Anyone would think with from hype surrounding the F35 and RIAT that the very freedom of the Western World depended on an aircraft in development doing a star turn at an airshow.

Any chance of a spot of perspective?

In fact, I am rather encouraged that the engine fire matter is being properly investigated and a safety culture firmly embedded within the programme that puts pilots lives first.

UK First F35-B Joint Combat Aircraft flight BK-1 01
UK First F35-B Joint Combat Aircraft flight BK-1 01

 

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Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
July 8, 2014 8:11 am

Agreed. Though I was considering making the short journey to Farnborough for a look.

Ian Hall
Ian Hall
July 8, 2014 8:26 am

I think you are right, significant problems have arisen on the A380 and the 787 , both were grounded until resolved .
The internet loves a good feeding frenzy

Rocket Banana
July 8, 2014 8:55 am

It’s failure to show up over QE is somewhat expected of an overbudget and underperforming project that simply lines the pockets of those that are clever enough to make idiots believe that the project was too big to fail.

Even if they deliver 5000 it will still be a failure.

If I suggested I would replace everyone’s BMW, Audi, Merc, Ford, GM, etc with a new really great car that is as fast as an M5, as large as a Volvo, but can still park in the space a Ka can… and I said I’ll give it to you for £10k. Plus I said “the project is too big to fail” then you’d be pretty pissed off if I failed to show up to the Motor Show with your new car and also explained that due to some technical challenges it will now cost £20k, not be quite as fast, or large, or maneuverable.

On the bright side though, it is still too big to fail so the shareholders are happy.

mike
mike
July 8, 2014 9:12 am

They never actually confirmed they would do a flypast in the first place.

And well, still pretty stupid idea to fly them over the way they planned.

Hohum
Hohum
July 8, 2014 9:38 am

“Even if they deliver 5000 it will still be a failure.”

Wow…just…wow, it really can’t win with some people can it?

Mark
Mark
July 8, 2014 12:28 pm

If it doesn’t turn up I predict a RIAT.

I’ll get me coat…..

Allan
Allan
July 8, 2014 12:55 pm

fact, I am rather encouraged that the engine fire matter is being properly investigated and a safety culture firmly embedded within the programme that puts pilots lives first.”

Well said. It’s as if lessons really have been learned after the Haddon-Cave review.

WiseApe
July 8, 2014 5:09 pm

I take it they’re not coming then? Well, good job we have that balsa wood static display model to hand. Insured against fire I hope.

Kent
Kent
July 9, 2014 2:45 pm

Wow! How embarrassing to not be able to show off the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II at the RIAT and Farnborough! Just think how embarrassing it would have been to have one catch fire or crash on the way over or, worse yet, during the shows!

Tempest (not Hawker) meet Teapot.

Observer
Observer
July 9, 2014 3:19 pm

Kent, you mean the Centurion Tempest variant? :P

*crunch!!* Teapot? What teapot?

Anyway, think we can just leave the F-35 alone. The yanks will get it running, even if they have to blow their whole treasury on it. They got no choice. Poor them.

It might no be really politically correct of me to say that we’ll actually be reaping the rewards from their losses and headaches, but practically, that will be what is happening. We’ll just wait until they work out all the bugs, then after a suitable period of maturation and post production price decline, get a few orders in. Not a nice thing to do, but a prudent and practical one.

Kent
Kent
July 9, 2014 7:34 pm

@Observer – No, I was kinda keeping with the aircraft meme:
http://wwiiaircraft.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/hawker-tempest6453.jpg
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-aEPpTS-Z6RM/Ty8i9sF-_dI/AAAAAAAAB7w/5QzE6Ysa7Hc/s1600/Tempest+Mk+V+Series+2+NV768+%28Mod%29+2.jpg

The F-35 series will get the bugs out, and we’ll sell you all you want. :D Gotta do something to fix the Obama economy.

Observer
Observer
July 10, 2014 4:44 am

Hey that’s biased, even tanks can fly I’ll have you know. It just needs a take off ramp and some height! :)

And I blame Bush. lol

Obama came into office only just in time for the ticking time bomb to blow up in his face. Of course post performance is a bit sad, but may not be his fault totally. A colleague of mine who studied in the US commented that there really isn’t much he could have done with Congress being the mess it is. Anything he thought up would have been mired, logjammed and strangled at first reading.

In some ways, the President of the United States may be the most powerless man on the planet.

Terror on the outside, pussycat at home. :P

mosquito
mosquito
July 10, 2014 3:58 pm

should have kept the jigs to build more Harries
what a joke the F-35. Will the Brits ever learn

Fedaykin
July 10, 2014 4:10 pm

@mosquito

Sigh…

What would be the point of that? Harrier II (lets forget the SHAR FA2 for a moment) was at the limit of its development potential. There was some scope to squeeze a bit more out of the engine and maybe pack some stuff tighter into the airframe via the benefits of further miniaturisation but in the end it was at the end of it’s development cycle.

No doubt more could be built the US Marines and the RAF have until still fairly recently been buying new structures to re-life tired airframes. Would it of been a cost effective idea considering there was a fleet still in service with a fair amount of life on it? Not really.

Time to move on from Harrier, in the end if you want a Stealthy, supersonic, STOVL fighter with a greater bring back capability F-35B is what you get.

Tim
Tim
July 10, 2014 5:53 pm

For the USAF to have to rely on this pile of doo for future air superiority is a joke. The 200 odd F22’s can barely fly a few missions a week due to the nightmare maintenance of its stealth coating and are available less than 60% of the time while both jets are reliant on the concept that Amraam will have a PK of 100% for its BVR “advantage’ to in anyway be decisive against more numerous 4th generation jets.

Let’s see a JSF at redflag at 50,000 ft hide from a Pirate equipped Typhoon and try and win the engagement.

The whole strategy is a mess and LM and the USAF owe their country and others an explanation.

Kent
Kent
July 10, 2014 6:11 pm

The fault with the F-22 is that we stopped building them. Build more, and the R&D cost per unit drops. Build more, and there are more spare parts thus greater availability. Build more, and it wouldn’t matter that the Russians and Chinese were far behind at the time.

Build less than 200, and you have a very expensive aircraft that no one wants to risk.

Christ, we only built 21 B-2 Spirits! That’s almost criminal!

Observer
Observer
July 10, 2014 6:12 pm

Tim, I’ll wait for the actual Red Flag results first before setting fire to LM’s offices.

And frankly, they don’t owe you anything, they tried their best, but got too ambitious/greedy. The alternative is to never try at all. Trying has a chance of success. Not trying has a 100% failure rate. Just wish the Americans would stop overestimating their own capabilities though, a simpler plane would have avoided a lot of the problems.

And btw some perspective. No F-22/35s, so what are you going to use against China and Russia? F-15s and F-16s? Would they fare better against LO aircraft? Then the tech edge would be on the other side.

Observer
Observer
July 10, 2014 6:19 pm

Kent, I always thought that the US played their cards a bit too close to their chest for the F-22. I know it is the crown jewel of your collection, but if the US had been a bit more free with sales to overseas countries, how much more would the price have dropped, parts supply would have gone up (and money flowing to the US) and the worldwide pool of F-22s where you can beg, borrow or steal from your allies would have been a good backup to the standing USAF.

monkey
monkey
July 10, 2014 6:31 pm

@Kent
“Christ, we only built 21 B-2 Spirits! That’s almost criminal!”
With you all the way there , someone posted a link showing the latest bomb load can now we 80 1000lbs JDAM’s (it was just 80 dumb ones but new racks have sorted that out ) The article is saying in tests its now not how many planes it will be required to cripple an airfield to put it out of use but how many airfields they can destroy PER sortie. No need for ECM support , fighter cover , HARM attacks and all the rest on a mission with the B2. In on its own then on to the next target and then the next. We should have 100 to help with your 200 (you should have).
You have two over here at the moment just to keep the Russians on their toes.

Tim
Tim
July 10, 2014 6:47 pm

The B2 can fly one mission a week due to stealth maintenance . How does that eve compete with a B52 racked with cruise ? The B2 /F22 and JSf are a joke.

The russians and chinese are not dumb enough to waste trillions of dollars on such crap.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
July 10, 2014 7:02 pm

@Tim
If you actually knew anything about B2 or F22 mission availability you would not be daft enough to post it on here

The Other Chris
July 10, 2014 7:15 pm

@Tim

Could I ask that you include more qualification in your comments rather than just making statements please? The site attempts to foster informed discussion and reasonable debate.

For example — to also answer your rhetorical question about how a B-2 could possibly compete with a B-52 — in a single sortie the B-2 can convert a payload such as this:

B-2 “Smart” Bomb Rack Assembly

…into an effect such as this:

From “Runway-Takedowns-per-Sortie” to “Airbase-Takedowns-per-Sortie”

The B-52 has no similar capability advertised, despite its payload capacity.

Source: http://elementsofpower.blogspot.com/

The Other Chris
July 10, 2014 7:21 pm

@Kent

I rather feel that the F-22 may have been the victim of its own development program’s success. It was able to inform on an approach to LO that would result in less maintenance and more resistance to wear and tear (including damage).

The lack of drive/investment to equip AIM-9X was always curious, still slated for 2017 when Increment 3.2B rolls out:

http://www.dote.osd.mil/pub/reports/FY2013/pdf/af/2013f22a.pdf

On top of that, the most likely export customers were invested in Eurofighter at the time. Can’t have helped.

mike
mike
July 10, 2014 7:22 pm

@ ToC

Just to add to your point, that the B2 was built for a entirely different, evolved, type of mission.
Much like the SSBN’s, they were/are are a strategic asset.

Whether or not they have a place in today’s threat environments, is an entire different question that goes way beyond simplistic headlines.

wf
wf
July 10, 2014 7:56 pm

The B52 is only effective provided there are no significant air defences. It cannot fly low per se, it has the radar cross section of a very large barn, and it cannot penetrate transonically like the B1. Even worse, it’s cost per flight hour has now eclipsed the B1’s.

Mark
Mark
July 10, 2014 9:02 pm

“Stealthy, supersonic, STOVL fighter”

That is true f35b is about what you get if you have those requirements. However in my view it should never have been supersonic and that changes the dynamic dramatically.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
July 10, 2014 9:09 pm

@ Mark

“it should never have been supersonic and that changes the dynamic dramatically”

come on you have been here long enough to realise we are going to ask why? :)

The Other Chris
July 10, 2014 9:11 pm

@Mark

Have you seen the 90’s artistic concept for the “Avenger VTOL UAV”? Think the drawing also appeared on an airfix style kit box as well:

http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i176/Mossie105/Aircraft/AvproAvenger.jpg

Looks like a Pegasus inspiration with the underside nozzles.

Reckon with a pre-cooler they could counter hot gas ingestion from a Bristol Siddeley BS.100 inspired plenum chamber burning?

Mark
Mark
July 10, 2014 9:33 pm

Apas

In a nutshell the entire VTOL system would have been simplified, the stealth and range characteristics would have been enhanced I think deployablity would have been improved further than it has been but some air defence tasks would have been at increased risk but arguably more of an issue for us than the marine corp.

Toc. Hadn’t seen that looks a bit like the Boeing proposal x-32.

Rocket Banana
July 10, 2014 9:50 pm

Is there any chance that Lockheed and the US DoD are using the F35 project as a vehicle to create a wonderful new weapon system that they’ll then shoehorn into a much more capable airframe (F22). Ending up with a Mach 2+ JSF?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
July 10, 2014 9:54 pm

@Mark

” some air defence tasks would have been at increased risk”

In a nutshell would it have delivered an all round capability in the 21st century? The answer is no.

Mark
Mark
July 10, 2014 10:07 pm

Apas

Didn’t you know missiles do the work now the airframe doesn’t have to or at least LM say so. Not sure I would agree with no to that question or that f35 answers unequivocally yes.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
July 10, 2014 10:17 pm

@mark

you mock extremes LM simply stated that mach 1.6-1.,8 was sufficient, not sub sonic, i could go into multiple reasons why speed is a factor but were you being serious you know them already.

tim
tim
July 10, 2014 11:11 pm

@All Politicians are the Same. The info on the B2 and f22 is public domain ! and just ask any senior defence official current or ex within the beltway and you will hear nothing but bad about the JSF. The BAE/LM posters on this site can spout spin all day long but the fact is the jet is a donkey.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
July 10, 2014 11:24 pm

@TIM

” just ask any senior defence official current or ex within the beltway and you will hear nothing but bad about the JSF”

I do not know any but they know nothing military wise either. So i tend to rely on me an people who actually know what transpires.

Observer
Observer
July 11, 2014 1:30 am

Tim, the real serious information is almost NEVER public domain, especially on strategic assets like the B2 and you should know by now that 90% of the stuff on the net is gossip and rumors. And IIRC, no one here works for LM, so you can wind in the anti-LM “they got spies everywhere!” trash talk which is simply your bias talking. You got to be careful about the media, enough repeated untrue statements can brainwash people into believing that it is true. I suspect this is partly the case for the F-35. There is a faction of “bigger = better” out there that is unloading on the F-35 because it is not an F-22 which they are rooting for.

I do believe that the original scope of the program was overambitious and I’m not sure if you know this, but the original purpose of the design actually changed halfway through the development process because of the 2008 economic crash. More on this later if you are really interested and not just anti-company, got to run.

BTW “everyone knows” often is also the same as “so I didn’t bother to go and double check”. Did you go and check personally or know someone who did? Or did you just take it on faith about these faceless and nameless “everyone knows”?

Tim
Tim
July 11, 2014 2:31 am

@observer F22 availability http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663196.pdf plenty more from the US gov online about the B2 and JSF .

on the F22 “in March 2012, the GAO increased the estimated cost to $412 million per aircraft.” So thats 187 F22’s at 60% availability ermmmm wow a 112 F22’s to lead US air superiority ! Great work LM !

B2 http://www.militarytimes.com/article/20131002/NEWS04/310020026 erm 46% percent ! Hey less than 10 B2 available !

They cannot fight hi-tempo intense peer wars , the question is will the JSF be able to ?

Observer
Observer
July 11, 2014 6:38 am

Tim, numbers. I’ll give you an example. You got two planes. One breaks down. What is the availability? 50%.

You got 100. One breaks down. What is the availability? 99%. Numbers pad the effects of availability, so the percentages are skewed towards the 700+ fleet of the B-52. Using Kent’s numbers of 21 + your 46% that is 10 planes down spread out over time throughout the year. With 700 B-52s and 75% that is ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY FIVE down throughout the year.

Anyone can throw out numbers, but you have to think a bit to actually understand what the numbers mean and how factors can skew in one way or another. In this case, statistical sampling is hurt by small sample size for one and aided by big sample buffering for the other.

I’ll evaluate the F-35 when it comes out, not simply act as a parrot for vested interests. My current guessimate (and I do admit it is a guessimate) is that it will act in a similar manner to a modernized F-16 with an improvement in LO.

The Other Chris
July 11, 2014 7:04 am

Interesting thing statistics. Utterly meaningless without context.

If only half of your B-2’s are available, you’re able to “Takedown” 10 Airbases at any one time, to continue the capability example linked above.

This seems to me a very desirable capability and worth maintaining 20 aircraft in a fleet in order to provide this devastating (conventional) strategic effect against a peer.

If you can expect three quarters of your RQ-4’s to be available, you need a minimum of six/seven deployed to each station in order to maintain Orbits requiring four aircraft in the air each (figure includes aircraft undergoing turnaround) operating from each station.

The availability rates are constantly changing between reporting periods. If your entire fleet of F-22’s are rotating to undergo the Increment 3.2A upgrade program, fewer aircraft will be available until after the upgrades are complete.

The Other Chris
July 11, 2014 7:15 am

Incidentally, 112 “available” F-22’s outnumber the whole front line fleets (and top-tier fleets) of many peer nations.

The UK, by comparison, has only received 115 Typhoons in total so far which doesn’t take into account Availability. The total fleet is only set to reach 160.

Fedaykin
July 11, 2014 11:05 am

@Mark

“That is true f35b is about what you get if you have those requirements. However in my view it should never have been supersonic and that changes the dynamic dramatically.”

Problem is you then get into an Apple and Pears comparison argument. If F35B had been sub-sonic you could probably of squeezed greater range and payload out of it but here is the rub. The Supersonic F35B has a greater range and payload capability then Harrier II the aircraft it is directly replacing. For that matter it out performs the legacy Hornet in that respect as well.

Even with its flaws (and I do think that they are rather shrilly over egged in some quarters) the F35B represents a performance and capability improvement over what it replaces.

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
July 11, 2014 1:55 pm

Bother, was hoping to see it on Saturday with my son. Note that RIAT site says it would have been “the 1st Trans Atlantic flight”of the aircraft. I do wonder when we are going to have one to keep, and not just borrow! :-(

The Other Chris
July 11, 2014 2:11 pm

@DD

We have 4. Just keeping them in a garage across the pond for now ;)

monkey
monkey
July 11, 2014 4:06 pm

Re B-52 , They are receiving further upgrades to the 76 B-52H bombers that remain in service out of the total production run of 744 aircraft. This will extend their life till about 2044 (that’s in service for 84 years , that as long as the beginning of the American Civil War to the end of WW2) . Most were scrapped in the SALT treaties by chopping them in half with a gigantic guillotine blade but a lot are in long term storage in the desert.
When it retires the LRS-B should be up and running.

Darned Consultant
Darned Consultant
July 11, 2014 4:33 pm

@ Alan “Well said. It’s as if lessons really have been learned after the Haddon-Cave review.”

Harrumph – some of us have been working hard at the business of making things safer in the aerospace and military world for the last 25 odd years, long before Mr H-C pointed out some rather obvious and institutional failures of that particular program.

Sorry – humph over – As you were everyone, as you were…

Kent
Kent
July 11, 2014 4:55 pm

@The Other Chris- “If only half of your B-2′s are available, you’re able to “Takedown” 10 Airbases at any one time, to continue the capability example linked above.”

No, you only send out half the available fleet (5) so you have a reserve or second strike, and you can take out 100 airbases (That assumes using four 1000 pound JDAMS per airfield.), or 50 if you really want to plow the ground. (Eight 1000 pound JDAMS per airfield.) Dropping eighty 1000 pound JDAMS on one airbase is a bit much, even by my standards.

Darned Consultant
Darned Consultant
July 11, 2014 5:35 pm

@ Kent…

I know not JDAMs and I know dumb ballistic bombs were used…
But, an Avro Vulcan Dropped 21 1000lb bombs onto the Falklands runway in Operation Black Buck 1 in 1982…
One hit the centre of the runway. It is about Weapon Effectiveness, CEP and how much ordnance you need to drop to make the target ineffective.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 11, 2014 5:41 pm

With the “dumb” weapons, even with 21 to drop, you had to plan for a diagonal pass to get a reasonable (expected) result
… one of the B52 upgrades is rebuilding the bomb bay so that precision weapons can be carried also internally, with a big improvement to range/ loiter time

The Other Chris
July 11, 2014 6:25 pm

@Kent

Understood, thanks :)

The example was an introduction to the concept for Tim’s benefit.

I think your 1000lb description is more akin to the “Runway-Takedowns-per-Sortie” rather than the “Airbase-Takedowns-per-Sortie” outlined in the presentation.

In addition to penetration cratering of the runway, albeit with lighter precision weapons with smarter fuzes, the sortie plan as described aims to inflict catastrophic damage on the remaining infrastructure of each airbase to more permanently decommission the facility.

It’s quite a formidable capability on paper for a conventional strategic effect, you should be proud :)

Observer
Observer
July 11, 2014 6:44 pm

ToC, I think I’ll call that op “Operation: Airbase? What Airbase?” :)

Bluenose
Bluenose
July 11, 2014 10:30 pm

Cogent arguments as there are against the F-35 ( and other combat aircraft), it is a little surprising to see the continued free ride given to any Russian or Chinese programmes, advanced as they are for their respective industrial base and equally-unproven in any kind of combat scenario. Almost as though APA had the definitive information on the minutiae of all such aircraft.

Some or all may exhibit shortcomings on operations, but we are far less aware of what might be wrong with the
T-50, J-20 and J-31. Given the ongoing combat experience of NATO force I would be a little surprised if all US and European aircraft were as flawed as their casual detractors suggested, especially given the laters’ emphasis on training, support and through-life support.

I am not saying that it is not possible, but US combat aviation has not fielded a ‘bad’ aircraft in a long time, even if they have had to adapt their training, tactics and operation based on unforeseen operational conditions.

Bluenose
Bluenose
July 11, 2014 10:32 pm

Errr, where do all my posts go? The one I just submitted disappeared. What fun…

Chuck
Chuck
July 12, 2014 6:38 am

@Bluenose No-ones giving them a free ride. It’s just we’re not planning on spending billions of pounds on them, so we care a lot less.

Same reason I don’t care what your breakfast tastes like; I don’t have to eat it. I care about getting my breakfast right, especially as F35 is pretty much the only thing in the fridge right now and it’s a really long walk to town to refill it.

Observer
Observer
July 12, 2014 6:59 am

Chuck’s right. It’s unfortunately a seller’s market and unless you want to buy from Russia or China, you’re stuck with the F-35.

We still got a bit of fudge area, relations with China are colder as of late due to the influx of immigrants and their different ways rubbing people the wrong way, but still does not exclude possible Chinese aircraft buys, though it is seriously politically unpalatable and the government will pay for it in the future elections. Relations with Russia are actually neutral leaning towards good. We were not as rabid in ripping stripes off Russia as others were over Ukraine, so they are not too pissed off at us, and there has not been too much contact with Russia to cause civil strife, so buying Russian is a good option if the F-35 does not pan out.

Unfortunately, relations between you and Russia are in the doghouse right now due to Ukraine and China isn’t going to sell, so you’re stuck with the US.

Mark
Mark
July 13, 2014 10:54 pm

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140713/DEFREG02/307130026/Kendall-Fan-Blade-Rubbing-Cause-F-35-Fire

LONDON — Inspectors now believe they know the cause of the fire that damaged an F-35A the morning of June 23, but remain unclear on why the incident occurred.

The fire was caused by “excessive” rubbing of fan blades inside the F135 engine that powers the plane, Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s head of acquisitions, told reporters today in London. The news was reported by multiple outlets, including Reuters.

The Other Chris
July 14, 2014 6:45 am

Claimed Test and Operational availability figures are interesting.

Chuck
Chuck
July 14, 2014 9:08 am

I’ll believe those numbers when I see them. That’s A10 levels of availability; a rugged and brute simple plane and nearly double that of it’s closest analogue the F22.

I’m betting it’s available in the same way it’s ‘cheap’ and ‘beating all development milestones’. I.E. only in the fever dreams of the Lockheed board and by redefining the requirements and definitions.

I mean they’re obviously not including the same the whole fleet spent grounded in those figures are they and rather skewing the definition of operational, seeing as if you want to get technical it has far demonstrated 0% operational availability because it’s not operational yet, it’s still in development. A load of marketing nonsense IMO. I don’t have anything against the F35 but Lockheed wriggles a bit further up my nose every time they open their mouth about it.

A Different Gareth
A Different Gareth
July 14, 2014 10:26 am

Kent said: “The fault with the F-22 is that we stopped building them. ”

Perhaps there should have been two versions. A large production run of fairly conventional aircraft that look identical to the F-22 but are made from less expensive and exotic materials, relying only on shape for its low observability. Then on top of that the extra special expensive and super effective one in smaller numbers reserved for roles where the stealth is required. You would then at least get large production of the common parts. Maybe even export the more conventional one too.

Likewise with the B-2. Stamp out some visually identical bombers just without the very fancy and precious stealth qualities that require climate controlled hangars. The non-stealthy version could operate wherever the B-52 and B-1 can.

In both cases accepting a poorer performance and lower survivability due to heavier materials and less stealth. A bit like the relationship between the BMW 5 Series and the M5.

monkey
monkey
July 14, 2014 10:47 am

@A Different Gareth
With you on that , a the F22 and B2 aerodynamics, software and sub systems all work after decades of in /pre service flight testing. A new build run of EXACTLY the same aerodynamics , software and sub systems resulting a slightly heavier aircraft (maybe – materials technology has moved on) and a reduced LO (maybe – again same reason materials technology has moved on ) should drastically reduce the to in service time and development costs (i.e. no wind tunnel, engine development , no soft ware to write from scratch etc ) could result in an affordable air superiority fighter and a long range strategic bomber in numbers that could make a difference come an all out slugging match with a P2P enemy.
The use of these airframes on missions where non-LO is required would extend the service life of the originals and provide cheaper training aircraft to work up pilots for the ‘real deal’.
All in all sensible idea but it won’t happen as the original manufactures would have their costing’s laid out bare and would not be able to sugar the plum for themselves i.e. charge ridiculous amount for ‘R&D’ and ‘TESTING’ which they mostly completed and charged for on the last fighter/bomber.

Chuck
Chuck
July 14, 2014 10:50 am

Honestly I think if they’d abandoned F35 early and spent the same amount of money(hundreds of billions remember) and time developing the F22 into their mainline fighter to properly replace F15/16/18 and offered it for export( countries keep trying to buy it even now it’s out of production, so there’s demand) they’d be in a much better position today. Not to mention an order for 3000+ of them would of sent the cost plummeting and ended up with a vastly more capable fighter. I doubt you’d of even needed to build a downgraded version, except maybe for less trusted export customers. I think in the end the ‘economical’ light fighter is going to end up more expensive than it’s big brother. Penny wise, pound foolish.

Only downside I can see would be a lack of STOVL, but the marines could of sucked it up and we could of gone CATOBAR, or we could of developed a simpler, pure harrier replacement rather than the sprawling F35 program alongside raptor.

Hindsight is 20/20 and all that.

Rocket Banana
July 14, 2014 11:58 am

I have an interesting (albeit highly controversial) F35/sensor/AESA/Link-16/CEC type question…

With F35 being “the eyes and ears of the navy” and a “flying sensor platform” what do we really need Crowsnest for? Especially when you look at Vigilance being nothing more special than the same 1200 element AN/APG 81 that will be on F35 anyway.

Peter Elliott
July 14, 2014 12:15 pm

Simon

Crowsnest isn’t just for the Fixed Wing carrier. Although I suspect the cost in hours and fuel of keeping rolling coverage aloft 24/7 will be less for Merlin than for F35B. And any F35B you are using for lookout duties aren’t available to go in the Strike or CAS Packages. And the Merlin also carries a dedicated crew who can concentrate on the picture not on flying the aircraft.

If we are sending an Amphib Group closer to shore then it may need to lillypad eyes in the sky.

We’ve also deployed SK-ASAC on Destroyers in high threat environments before.

And used it over land as part of our integrated surveillance in Afghanistan.

So there’s plenty of utility there.

Peter Elliott
July 14, 2014 12:19 pm

TD – absoultely agree. I can foresee a future where every T45 carries a flight of 3 or 4 rotary UAV with radars fitted.

Issues with the data links and power demand. I don’t think these would be toy helicopters by any means. But it probably has to come sooner or later.

Rocket Banana
July 14, 2014 12:40 pm

Interesting responses.

I completely agree about fuel burn and wonder about rotary UAVs as they will be even lighter in terms of logisitcs.

However, without wishing to pick anything apart…

We don’t need dedicated crew due to Link-16 or CEC – the whole point in it really.
ASaC on T45 makes sense I suppose but they don’t embark enough to provide 24-7 cover, so were not really in high-threat environments.
Overland scouting/surveillance is the domain of Apache or Wildcat. Crowsnest can’t see land further than 200km so you’re better off higher up (so you’d be better with Sentinal, Sentry, F35, or another more efficient, less maintenance fixed-wing). Besides, due to appalling procurement I would guess that actually ASaC was all we had anyway :-(
Lillypadding would not be necessary for a jet with a 400-500km horizon loitering over the LZ. It’s only needed for pushing the window forward.

…I’m trying to get my head round the initial rationale. Bearing in mind that in 1982 we maintained three CAPs so if we had AN/APG 81 and Link-16 (or CEC) on the SHARs we wouldn’t have needed AEW at all. Especially if the “picture” were supplmented by Sampson and Artisan.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 14, 2014 12:43 pm

In this future ” a future where every T45 carries a flight of 3 or 4 rotary UAV with radars fitted.

Issues with the data links and power demand. I don’t think these would be toy helicopters by any means.”

where do the tethered ones (data and power solved) meet the toy ones (that we can afford to lose)?
– I guess nowhere as long as there a top-notch radar onboard
=> points to the tethered ones, then. 24 x 7, no manning except in the Ops room (where you can work shifts), persistence (esp. if power is through the cable) etc etc… Discuss?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 14, 2014 12:50 pm

For this part “Lillypadding would not be necessary for a jet with a 400-500km horizon loitering over the LZ. It’s only needed for pushing the window forward.” I would suggest a few V22s on tanker duty
– can use any platform that can refuel helos (e.g. all the amphibs, even if they don’t hangar them), do a couple of runs, and go back to where they came from (the carrier 200 nm off-shore, as opposed to the amphibs maybe only 10-20?)
– that’s how you would keep the wonder-sensor on station, without taking too much away from strike/ CAP
– of course within reason, the poor guy in the cockpit will need to go for a pee at the end of the day!

Rocket Banana
July 14, 2014 1:13 pm

You drop your guard as soon as you start to fuel up. You’ll be down for 10 minutes refueling and spend another 20 minutes going down and back up. So that’s almost 1/2 hour off-station. I suppose it gives people time for a wee – even if it has all compromised Early Warning.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 14, 2014 1:30 pm

Simon, it was the Osprey going up and down (with fuel on the way up)
– coverage OK
– the other problem still to be solved (OK, you can totate those, too, as they have the speed to cover the 200 minus 20 nm difference)

Rocket Banana
July 14, 2014 2:16 pm

ACC,

Oh yes, sorry, you have V22.

Why not just use V22 in the first place for AEW?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 14, 2014 2:51 pm

Simon, yes, why not?

I was just playing along. It does go higher, and if you need to reposition (vectoring as per perceived threat) also faster. And has more range… but is no F35
– having said that, both can be retasked easily, so we come to sortie generation … and who is disruptive to whom… how many decks… all the stuff that has been up for discussion

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 14, 2014 2:54 pm

It was actually the how-many-decks and in which elative positions I was looking more into
– making only fleeting use of helo (refuelling) facilities closer to the shore
– as and when required

The Other Chris
July 14, 2014 4:45 pm

Big limit on V-22 for the AEW role is the lack of pressurised and properly heated cabin for altitude work over 10-14,000ft.

http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2002training/wakayama3.pdf

Back when the V-22 was being being pitched for MASC (forerunner to Crowsnest) there was a version with a triangular radome on the top being proposed, mainly with the E-2 replacements as a target. A formal wide array AESA (4-5m arrays IIRC) carried on the top and a pressurised cabin for the crew workstations. Altitude of 27,000ft.

Both the RN and USMC were obviously also interested. I expect that costs got in the way here, especially with E-2D on the radar (no pun intended) for the USN leaving the USMC and MOD to foot the whole bill.

This lead onto the unfortunately named TOSS study (the Totally Organic Sensor System, dude) which essentially involved moving Cerberus onto the V-22 platform complete with the Searchwater 2000 bags. That fell by the wayside, again likely due to the cost of a V-22 fleet being too much for the MOD budget leaving the USMC to foot the bill. The RN process ending up with Crowsnest.

Undoubtedly the USMC will be interested in what we select, especially if Cerberus/Vigilance is selected rather than Cerberus/Searchwater (likely easier to fit to their own V-22 / Rotor fleets).

Vigilance/Searchwater range and resolution is likely a good fit at 10,000ft without splashing out a huge amount of cost on a superior radar that the unpressurised aircraft can’t loft to a higher altitude to take advantage of.

You see a pressurised V-22 still being floated, Block D / Block 30 features haven’t been announced yet. We could yet see a pressurised full-fat AEW version, especially if a USMC Crowsnest V-22 is a success.