F35 Ski Jump and Paveway IV

A couple if videos to keep us amused of the first take off of an F35B from a ski ramp and Paveway IV release

A couple if videos to keep us amused of the first take off of an F35B from a ski ramp and Paveway IV release

Made in Stockport, the ramp that is, by the very same people that make the Medium Girder Bridge, WFEL

Progress

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AndrewB
AndrewB
June 23, 2015 8:30 am

A Harrier was so much more graceful. I miss seeing them fly upwards and backwards. Many fond memories of them at airshows when I was a kid.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
June 23, 2015 8:47 am

Is the use of a rolling landing with the QEC a recent change, I came across mention of it only recently and was wondering whether this is a new idea or was it envisaged for the project all along, I know they tested it a few years back for the Harrier on HMS Illustrious.

The Other Chris
June 23, 2015 9:01 am

For a moment I thought it was a shame that the inaugural flight from a Ski Jump was with a USMC aircraft (BF-04) however on the flip side it underscores just how tightly linked and interoperable the Integrated Task Force is at Patuxent River. UK and USMC aircraft are rotating between test/training flights with each others weapons systems and take-off/landing modes from one day to the next.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
June 23, 2015 9:10 am
Reply to  Engineer Tom

@ET, at the point when the switch to “C” was decided, 17m (£ or $, don’t remember, but probably £s as it was quoted as part of the overall sum thought wasted) had been expended on the enabling software. By now (after flipping back) surely more
– so, has been in the works for a good while

Rocket Banana
June 23, 2015 9:34 am

ET,

It became a neccessity as soon as everyone realised the bring-back payload was much lower than originally sold when the aircraft operates in hot conditions (e.g. Gulf of Oman). This was due to growing weight problems, which…

I’m not 100% sure if the problem has been solved for standard internal payloads. However, it will be useful for non-stealth bring-backs and/or the multitude of post takeoff problems something as complex as the F35B is likely to experience (e.g. lift-fan door faults, 3BN faults, clutch faults).

The Other Chris
June 23, 2015 10:00 am

It has higher bring-back than Harrier could achieve in any case.

What went into SRVL work was also present in VAAC and prior. A lot of Sea Harrier hours burned on development :)

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 23, 2015 10:39 am

The earliest work was circa 2000/2001 IIRC…..

Martin
Martin
June 23, 2015 10:45 am

I know it’s not trendy to complement the F35 B but that’s one very short take off for such a large aircraft. Might not be as pretty at air shows as the harrier but it’s significantly more useful than the harrier ver could be. Even just 48 of these aircraft will give our carrier operations capabilities they could never have hoped for in the past.

ForcesReviewUK
ForcesReviewUK
June 23, 2015 1:49 pm

So we wait till Brimstone is tested…meanwhile it’s the Tornadoes that will be the main workhorses.

Opinion3
Opinion3
June 23, 2015 5:07 pm

Helps save the deck too.

WiseApe
June 23, 2015 5:25 pm

Indeed good to see but – and I don’t wish to sound churlish, but – why has it taken so long to see this? Not a priority for the Cousins, I accept that. But we have paid top dollar for three of these things (fourth one in the pipes). When will we see them test it with munitions on board. All well and good doing separation tests, but the aircraft has to get in the air with the bombs etc in the first place! We won’t always be operating from Patuxent.

Jeremy M H
June 23, 2015 5:44 pm
Reply to  AndrewB

@Andrew

The harrier was also quite deadly. While it is fun to watch them flit about operationally it is far far better to have a platform that appears to be rock stable in hover.

Personally I will prefer the system that isn’t going to get people killed at a good clip.

Jeremy M H
June 23, 2015 6:04 pm

Isn’t it over a year until the ship is commissioned? Plus I am sure the test schedule moved around when you bailed on the B for the C for some time and then had to be readjusted when you switched back.

The Other Chris
June 23, 2015 7:07 pm

No overall effect, the B was on probation at the time.

Would have liked a few E-2D’s mind…

Repulse
June 23, 2015 8:06 pm
eaglemmoomin
eaglemmoomin
June 23, 2015 9:00 pm
Reply to  Jeremy M H

Yeah it was notoriously difficult to keep in a hover I think the USMC lost a lot of pilots in the early days.

John Hartley
John Hartley
June 23, 2015 9:01 pm

Air International reports that the F135 engine will be available with a block 1 upgrade from 2018. Should give a fuel burn reduction of 5% to 7%.

Mark
Mark
June 23, 2015 9:21 pm

The f35b is exceptional in the hover and more importantly in the transition from wing borne flight to engine thrust flight. It’s testimony to all the people who worked on vaac over many years to get it to that point. The wonders of fly by wire in action.

The vaac program as far as I’m aware never completed a srvl on a ship nor was that expressly there aim approaches were I think flown. They did a number of circuits and vertical landings on ships.

The usmc did have issues with harrier crashes mainly because it started selected less suitably qualified pilots mainly from the helicopter world on to a platform that up to that point had a very good record due to selecting only the best fastjet pilot graduates. Harrier is also more difficult to land conventionally due to its landing gear configuration.

Observer
Observer
June 23, 2015 9:58 pm
Reply to  Mark

Which configuration Mark? If I recall correctly, there were 2. One was wheels at the wingtips, the other was wheels somewhere in mid wing.

Mark
Mark
June 23, 2015 10:09 pm

Observer

Yes as the av8b wing got bigger the outer riggers moved inboard or at least in appearance. It’s having the main wheels in a line (avoiding jet blast) at the centre that makes harrier tricky as opposed to the conventional tricycle layout seen on f35.

secundius
June 24, 2015 6:45 am

@ The Other Chris.

The AN/APG-81 AESA Radar is to be employed in all F-35 JSF…

AndrewB
AndrewB
June 24, 2015 8:00 am
Reply to  Repulse

Yep your right it would

Brian Black
Brian Black
June 24, 2015 1:17 pm

The American’s ski jump looks shallower than the QE’s ramp. Or is that just me?

The Other Chris
June 24, 2015 2:34 pm

Further details on the ramp trials:

http://www.janes.com/article/52509/f-35b-begins-ski-jump-trials-for-carrier-operations

– Ramp itself is from Illustrious (sans panels)
– Ski Jump trials have already re-validated the launch technique used by Harriers
– SRVL work ongoing
– UK taking lead in STOVL sea operations
– New “Bedford Array” lighting and “SRVV” symbology developed for SRVL

EDIT: Thought the ramp was being built from scratch. Wonder if the switch the Illustrious’ ramp is the reason for the five month delay in trials?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 24, 2015 2:48 pm

No. because the statement is utter b0ll0cks. Not least because the last time I looked, Lusty’s ramp is still sat happily on the flight deck.

What I suspect the dribbling halfwit from Jane’s was meant to write, was that the Pax River ramp is designed and built to the same profile as Lusty’s.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
June 24, 2015 4:44 pm
Challenger
Challenger
June 24, 2015 4:45 pm

It’s looks so dam steady in a hover!

With development gathering pace, full rate production on the horizon and the price-tag falling i’m starting to think the F35 may actually turn out to be a real success instead of the barely adequate and deeply flawed program it’s so often seemed doomed to remain.

After all weren’t the Hornet and Super Hornet similarly derided before they entered service?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 24, 2015 4:46 pm
Reply to  Engineer Tom

I suspected you might come up trumps Tom.

martin
martin
June 25, 2015 4:40 am

@ Challenger

The F18 was indeed hated as was virtually ever modern weapon system until it saw active combat at which time it became amazing.

Without trying to sound like some fanboy I think F35 B will revolutionize war at sea. The ability to put a top of the line 5th Generation fighter on a wide range of vessels other than conventional aircraft carriers massively increases the west ability to put aircraft to sea.

Fortunately as all the magic is in the engine and the lift fan its unlikely the Chinese or Russians will be able to copy it any time soon. Its a massive achievement. Sure the aircraft has limitations but its atleast two generations of ahead of whats its replacing. We really need to work the tactics and weapons around the aircraft’s limitations just like we did with harrier. SRVL is a good start. MBDA SPEAR would be even better and if we could team up with the Israelis to develop stealth drop tanks like the F22 has then we could cover almost all the bases for a replacement for both Tornado and Harrier. Having our entire strike fleet in one aircraft should give us significant costs savings as well which can hopefully go some way to offset the higher purchase costs.

Now all we need is a decent budget to buy more than 48 :-)

AKM
AKM
June 25, 2015 8:48 am

If I remember correctly the Illustrious was originally built with a 7 degree ski-jump which was later replaced with a 12 degree one. It might be the case that this ramp is the original.

The Other Chris
June 25, 2015 9:44 am

Heh heh, cheers NaB and Tom. Knew we could rely on you two for accurate details, thanks :)

secundius
secundius
June 25, 2015 10:05 am
Reply to  Brian Black

@ Brian Black

The Ski-Jump Ramp used at the Patuxent Naval Air Station. Was a 12(deg) Angled Ramp and ~130-feet long

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 25, 2015 12:07 pm
Reply to  AKM

No. It’s not. The constituent parts of that ramp, being a collection of ships steel plates and girders, just like all the other ramps on CVS, were melted down as scrap.

Just so everyone is clear. The ramps on CVS (and on QE, Principe d’Asturias, Juan Carlos, Garibaldi, Cavour, Canberra and Adelaide for that matter – ie every ramp that’s gone to sea) are permanent structures. They are not, nor ever have been designed to be demountable and used elsewhere and usually consist of steel plating stiffened with beams and girders for the ramp, supported by bulkheads underneath.

Yet another reason to view Jane’s output with some circumspection.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
June 25, 2015 12:57 pm

Did there used to be a ramp at Yeovilton?

AKM
AKM
June 25, 2015 12:57 pm
Reply to  Not a Boffin

Fair enough. :)

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 25, 2015 1:11 pm

Yes – and one at Wittering. The one at Heron was at least partially dismantled when the SHARs left in the noughties.

ForcesReviewUK
ForcesReviewUK
June 25, 2015 1:17 pm

It’s nice to see the ski-jump test…from a stable land platform.

Wait till it’s out at sea with different sea states.

Bluenose
Bluenose
June 25, 2015 2:35 pm

@ Not a Boffin

Did you bother to read the Jane’s article? It is usually good idea before declaring any author a dribbling halfwit:

‘[The F-35B] took off from Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River in Maryland using a ramp that shares the same dimensions as those fitted to the Royal Navy’s now-decommissioned Invincible-class carriers.’

Just in case you missed it; ‘same dimensions as’, not ‘taken from the lifeless hull of’ :)

The Other Chris
June 25, 2015 2:43 pm
Reply to  Bluenose

@Bluenose

The article has been edited since I summarised the bullet points around 14:30 yesterday.

It used to say specifically that the ramp was from Illustrious.

Bluenose
Bluenose
June 25, 2015 2:55 pm

Ah, you have me there – did not see the previous iteration.

What was the original phrase, by the way? Having met Mr. Jennings a fair few times he is neither dribbling nor imbecilic (though Jane’s can be); he certainly knows the difference between a mock-up of a ramp based on a design and one physically removed from a vessel.

monkey
monkey
June 25, 2015 2:58 pm

IIRC the Janes article did mention Lusty specifically being where the ramp was taken from and now has been edited. TD’s original post mentioned the ramp has been manufactured by WFEL of Stockport, Manchester for these trials.

Bluenose
Bluenose
June 25, 2015 3:11 pm

Ah well, my apologies then to Chris and Boffin; sounds like an editing error to me – Gareth’s stuff is normally pretty accurate.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 25, 2015 3:17 pm
Reply to  Bluenose

He (or his editor) may even have been lurking here. Any commission for correction……?

monkey
monkey
June 25, 2015 7:19 pm

@TD
A perfect day for champers and a day by the beautiful river Cam :-)

ForcesReviewUK
ForcesReviewUK
June 26, 2015 3:40 am
Reply to  Think Defence

I remember the elaborate bowing (for men).

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 26, 2015 9:48 am

Having read the updated article, have now discovered we used to have something called “through deck cruise carriers”. It won’t be long now before they start referring to CVS as Carrier Vertical Strike……..

Halfwits.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 26, 2015 10:24 am

Yes.

Anti-Submarine aircraft carrier (sometimes also called “support” aircraft carrier) and Future aircraft carrier respectively.

Always have meant that. It’s only relatively recently that various halfwits have started to try and assign words to all the letters.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 26, 2015 11:07 am

Straight from APP20 – NATO Standard Ship Designator System (helpfully available online from these nice people….)

http://standards.globalspec.com/std/1658963/nato-app-20

They’re organised as Category/Descriptor, Reporting Title, Description

But of immediate interest :

CV – Aircraft Carrier, General – 1. GENERAL DESIGNATOR FOR AIRCRAFT CARRIERS. 2. DESIGNATOR FOR MULTI-ROLE AIRCRAFT CARRIERS

CVS – Aircraft carrier, ASW – CARRIER CAPABLE OF OPERATING VSTOL AND/OR HELICOPTERS IN SUSTAINED ASW AREA OPERATIONS AND ESCORT DUTIES

and while we’re on the subject…

LHD – AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT SHIP, MULTI-PURPOSE – A LARGE MULTI-PURPOSE AMPHIBIOUS SHIP THAT EMBARKS AND LANDS ELEMENTS OF A LANDING FORCE BY HELICOPTER, LANDING CRAFT AND AMPHIBIOUS VEHICLES. CAN ALSO CONDUCT SEA CONTROL AND POWER PROJECTION MISSIONS WITH VSTOL AIRCRAFT
AND ASW HELICOPTERS

CTOL and STOVL come from primarily USN pubs, so not putting them on here. The other one is made-up, so won’t have a reference.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
June 26, 2015 11:26 am

Shall we be “into the future” for the next 50 years, re:CVF?

The unruly ozzies at least have inroduced some order with their NUSHIP usage.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 26, 2015 11:36 am
Reply to  ArmChairCivvy

CVF is/was a programme name. Once in service, the ships will be referred to as QNLZ and PWLS in the RN and described as CV by NATO.

NUSHIP is simply an aussie appellation for a ship in build, much like the US use PCU (Pre-)Commissioning Unit. Both disappear once the ship is in commission.

Rocket Banana
June 26, 2015 1:09 pm

…and then there’s the LHA, which messes things up a little as it’s definition is rather similar to the LHD (which has a Dock)… as does the LHA, which does Assault… as does the LHD… Argghh!

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
June 26, 2015 1:13 pm

Just to add a bit to the carrier initials thread – the CV part of the acronym allegedly comes from Cruiser Volant (french voler: to fly) or possibly volplane (originally a towed, heavier than air, flying machine – now it means to glide, I think). CZ was the code for an airship carrier (the Z possibly a reference to Zeppelin).

Clive F
Clive F
June 26, 2015 2:53 pm

Now the difficult one, why R for Pennant numbers?

tim Uk
tim Uk
June 26, 2015 3:10 pm

BAE are the only ones to benefit from this madness. We would be better off with a 150 typhoons with Aesa and a fleet of 12 daring class rammed to the gills with cruise missiles , than a floating gin palace and ten or so deployable ferraris of the sky. There needs to be an independent inquiry in to UK defense spending and procurement as the current system has destroyed our defences.

Beno
Beno
June 26, 2015 3:48 pm

Good to see.

I note RR just got 100 million for work on the next gen engine.

If they do as well as they were doing with the F136 we could be looking as a very very capable F35B in a few years’ time. Boosted power and massively extended range.

The performance increases they delivered with Harrier over the years were just amazing.
On the subject of weapons, we seem to have been designing the recent set to really enhance the Lightening. Meteor Asraam ( or CAMM ) and particularly Spear 3 all negate the need for superior kinetics, and with Brimstone 2 tri or quad packing internally + external stealth of storm shadow, we have a very very nice package in the British F35’s

They should represent the most capable F35’s in the world. Tho we can obviously argue about that ;)

Beno

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 26, 2015 4:05 pm
Reply to  tim Uk

What an astute analysis not. I like the fact that you examined, flexibility, basing rights, over flight rights, presence, persistence, diplomacy etc before you made you posted your little rant.
Out of interest where do you even suggest we put all these cruise missiles on a T45?

Jeremy M H
June 26, 2015 4:14 pm
Reply to  tim Uk

@Tim

When is it those AESA Typhoons will be in service anyway?

The Other Chris
June 26, 2015 4:21 pm
Reply to  Jeremy M H

I’d look it up for you JMH, but I’m busy calling the other 110 suppliers in the UK to tell them it’s only BAE benefitting from their manufacturing… ;)

Ron5
Ron5
June 26, 2015 5:52 pm

Don’t feed the troll.

My guess: A & C were taken. I looks like a one, Next man up: R.

I thought there was a CVA. A for attack. No?

Observer
Observer
June 26, 2015 6:08 pm
Reply to  Ron5

Once upon a time Ron, once upon a time. Think it was in the 70s, died off after that.

Our doctrine was dependent on “dispersal of forces” due to limited land area, so there were exercises carried out to see how long it would take to recall the forces from different countries. An F-16 flight took 4 days to be recalled from the US, country hopping through Europe and India. Not exactly fast reacting. The closer countries fared much better. Now if people were to cut off the transit route with diplomatic pressure, that would be a problem.

Ironically, that would be one of the very, very few cases where a carrier would be useful to Singapore. If it wasn’t such a manpower sink. As a lilypad for returning forces immune to diplomatic interference. Unfortunately, the associated cost, manpower and money vs benefit wise, isn’t good, costs too much for too little gain, which is why the doctrine is still to use tanker refueling in mid-air instead. More limiting, but more value for money.

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
June 26, 2015 6:19 pm
Reply to  Ron5

@Ron – Yes, CVA (attack) and CVB (large), CVE (escort), CVL(light), CVHA (helicopter assault) and many others – mercifully all retired except for CV and CVN or reclassified under L- and A- codes

whitelancer
whitelancer
June 26, 2015 7:12 pm

Personally I much preferred calling them Fleet Carriers, Escort Carriers, Commando Carriers etc.
As for numerical designators for Task Forces yuk. What was wrong with Force H, Force J etc.

WiseApe
June 26, 2015 7:18 pm

Typhoons and T45s did he say?
comment image

Observer
Observer
June 26, 2015 8:57 pm
Reply to  WiseApe

But APAT’s point still stands Wise. I’m not sure of the status of the SCALP-N, but that is going to be your cruise missile for the future. How is the integration for that and the silos?

The Other Chris
June 26, 2015 9:01 pm
Reply to  Observer

MdCN. Test firings have been going on for a few years now.

Latest was a surface launch from a Sylver A70 onboard a FREMM:

http://www.janes.com/article/51626/mdcn-completes-first-firing-from-fremm

Sub test launches started back in 2011:

http://www.naval-technology.com/news/newsfrench-dga-demonstrates-mdcn-missile-submarine-configuration-capability

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 26, 2015 9:03 pm
Reply to  WiseApe

Fantastic pic taken in the South Coast Exercise Areas but how do you replicate the capability expeditionary? The answer is QEC

Martin
Martin
June 27, 2015 6:20 am

one has to think that the French cruise missile is a bit of a lost opportunity. They have taken a stealthy missile in SCALP/ Stormshdow no turned it into a 1970’s era direct much to TLAM.

It would have been better to do some,thing more like LRASM instead. It’s also working out at 4 times the costs of TLAM.

Jeremy M H
June 27, 2015 1:34 pm

Without getting into lots of details there is a reason that LRASM and anti ship missiles have a much higher cost per unit than their land attack equivalents. The seekers are much more complex. If you tried to take the land attack version of SCALP and make it an anti ship missile I would think your cost would sky rocket yet again.

Overseas
Overseas
June 27, 2015 9:57 pm

I have a floating gin palace in the pool out back, it’s pretty spectacular.

We should have sprunked our eurodollars on more Astutes and drone research, rather than the JSF/CVF combo (can man 6 Astutes from the boilersuited oiks destined for the CVF). They look pretty mind, so it’s not all bad.

I’m off for a ‘swim’.

Martin
Martin
June 28, 2015 2:23 am

sorry Jeremy, I was not suggesting making SCALP an anti ship missile rather make the French land attack missile stealthy like SCALP. Both weapons use the same seeker but the naval missile is cylindrical like TLAM and not stealthy. I am guessing this is to aid fire from torpedo tubes or the smaller A70 VLS system.

Jeremy M H
June 28, 2015 3:59 am
Reply to  Martin

Ahh I see. Seems like storm shadow should fit in a tube in some fashion as it’s not bigger than TLAM is in diameter. Shape is kind of funky though.

Tim
Tim
June 28, 2015 3:20 pm
Reply to  WiseApe

I guess thats the entire QRA force and naval air defense for the UK. Keep up the great work fellas !

Tim
Tim
June 28, 2015 3:23 pm
Reply to  Jeremy M H

Mate , I’m not part of the horror story that is BAE and UK defense procurement. So I guess when ever best suits BAE’s balance sheet.

Tim
Tim
June 28, 2015 3:28 pm

Yep we build huge destroyers that are “fitted for” the US actually fit theirs with a whole range of “weapons”. As for the carriers , they are just more proof of the corrupt UK defense industry. The UK is barely able to defend its own airspace and surrounding blue water, so lets build a gin palace with a token number of fighters just in case ………. . Instead of more subs , cruise missile equipped destroyers ( beyond UK defense thinking it seems. BMD capability and enough Typhoons to actually defend UK airspace. Pensions need to be stripped from establishment MOD idiots and sanctions taken against the pork barrel entity BAE.

The Other Chris
June 28, 2015 4:55 pm

Ahh you’re American, aren’t you?

All politicians are the Same
All politicians are the Same
June 28, 2015 5:07 pm
Reply to  Tim

barely able to defend own airspace? evidence please, the problem with this site is most of us actually know what we are writing about.
Bars on the QEC are not really up to Gin palace standard :( If you actually offered a nuanced case for why and how we would use more submarines and CM armed DDs then maybe people would listen to you.
Much like you claim about UK defence thinking, submitting a balanced argument with some knowledge seems well beyond yours.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
June 28, 2015 6:47 pm

I have to agree that the UK’s defence procurement has been a train wreck at time but this has been unavoidable due to contradictions in policy and processes that continue to plague not just the MoD but all Government departments. The last Labour Government in an example of its financial prowess integrated a policy if financial micro management that resulted in systems such as RAB being introduced. This resulted in the no one priority for all department being the balancing of the spread sheet each year. This in turn led to programmes being slowed down, put in limbo but rarely cancelled. This was or is totally at odds with long term planning and greatly increased overall cost of basically ever procurement programme on the books, as well as pushing the delivery date further and further back. To this you have the £36 bn black hole that was basically a huge number of programmes stuck in the assessment or if lucky development phase that could not be moved forward as they were not funded. This goes back to the 1997 SDR which was never accepted or funded by the Treasury but no one told the MoD who still planned 9wished) to introduced all the capabilities mentioned in the SDR, though planned equipment numbers continued to fall, as the think tanks agreed that technology could do the same with less.

Although the 2010 SDSR did come to many conclusions I disagree with, it did cut out a lot of the dead wood from the Procurement plan. That it did so without really looking at if we really needed a piece of equipment or capability has caused many of the problems we are now experiencing, and has left us with some programmes we cannot really afford either to procure or operate effectively.

The in year balancing of budgets is not by itself a bad thing, where the MoD goes wrong is that it takes its eye off the big picture and any effects fiscal expediency will have on long term programmes. Saving £10 million this year may mean that there are no spares available for that platform there. Therefore we cannot deploy that platform the following year so urgent funding is diverted from another two programmes and so on. Yes I would rather have a ship for example fitted for but not with than no ship, but the MoD has a history of not revisiting such a situation at a future date leaving platforms way below their potential and only through UORs are any made fit for purpose, at greatly increased cost to the Taxpayer.

I am hoping with this years SDSR the MoD looks to consolidate its capabilities over the next five years, rather than gain new ones. Order enough F-35Bs for a single squadron to conduct trials etc. for the Queen Elizabeth but no more. Complete the Warrior improvement programme, accelerating the timetable if necessary. Ensure the Typhoon is integrated with Brimstone and Storm Shadow. I would slow down FRES)SV) until we decide what we are actually going to use it for and what formations need it. The T-26 needs to be locked down over this period to allow industry to plan the procurement of long lead items etc. Initial work needs to be carried out into making FRES(UV) a reality. As for the need for an MPA, well yes but I would look at leasing five to six as we did with the C17 initially.

But all of the above is nothing without a change in the way we manage the finances of the MoD and other Government departments. If we are to stick to in year controls than we need to adopt the US or Japanese procurement system where a number of units are funded and purchased each year, like six Typhoons in 2016 and four in 2017 and so on. Or we plan long term but ensure the funding planned is either available or a programme is halted, not remain in limbo, costing money but getting no where.

Reality is that we can no longer afford to do everything we want to. I certainly cannot but the MoD and Government needs to wake up to this. If you have not got either the money or enough hardware to do something, all the wishing or PR in the world is going to make it happen with the results you want. Here ends the sermon.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
June 28, 2015 6:49 pm

Damn edit function has vanished again, sorry for the typos.

John Hartley
John Hartley
June 28, 2015 10:17 pm

Leasing then buying the first 4 RAF C-17, cost £469 million more than if we just bought them in the first place. Please do not repeat that disaster with the MPA.
BAE may be hard to love, but no contractor can hope to build on time & budget, when the customer (UK Gov) launches a project without fully knowing what it wants, keeps changing numbers & specs, then just as the project is coming right, cancels it on a whim.

Challenger
Challenger
June 28, 2015 10:31 pm

Hartley

Yep. BAE in my view has a lot to answer for and i dislike it’s dominance and practices, but so does the UK governments past and present and the vague, muddled, ‘what we can afford’ rather than ‘what we need’ culture that has permeated defence and foreign policy for too long.

A good example would be the T45, which ended up costing a billion a pop, which led to a lot of criticism of BAE, which was mostly unfair seen as the government had slashed the number from 12 to 6 and chosen a very expensive design with high-end end, gold plated systems in the first place.

To be fair to BAE in that case they built the 6 ordered vessels on time and to the specifications they were given, and if 12 vessels had been procured they would have each costed half the amount.

The constant changing of specifications, time-frames, numbers etc really doesn’t help when a company, whether it’s BAE or any other, is naturally trying to deliver something on time, on budget and up-to standard.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 29, 2015 6:33 am
Reply to  Challenger

Do please elucidate on which parts of T45 are “gold-plated” and what the alternative might have been?

Rocket Banana
June 29, 2015 7:20 am

Standard answers are:

Gold Plated: SAMPSON, Aster, WR21 and IEP, accomodation standards.
Alternative: Arleigh Burke

…although, I’d prefer a T45 protecting my task force to an AB, so they’re not really an alternative and tends to prove the “gold plating” is actually “required plating”.

‘Tis, however a shame that they didn’t come with Harpoon, TLAM or CEC… although things are changing.

The Other Chris
June 29, 2015 7:41 am

SAMPSON could have been a four faced fixed array.

Aster could have been AEGIS. All of it. Instead of building on our existing world class battle systems.

WR21 could have been PWR2 reactors with Azimuth pods.

Arguably a nuclear cruiser class vessel would have had even more room for improved accommodation, stores and global range and more than satisfied the Requirements.

*Those* would have been gold-plating.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 29, 2015 8:02 am
Reply to  Rocket Banana

In what way are SAMPSON, WR21/IEP and the accommodation standards “gold-plated”? As opposed to national-specific – there is a difference.

Aster is/was a European missile available (just) OTS.

Just as a bit of history – when T45/CNGF were in gestation, those nice people in Russia who had been designing and building some very clever and rather unpleasant anti-ship missiles, were being paid in the universal currency of beetroots. Unsurprisingly, they were rather indiscriminate about selling that technology in order to get what people might describe as real currency that allows them to buy soft toilet roll, medical care, that sort of thing. Those weapons (and we’re not talking cricket balls here) are still on the market and in the inventories of a number of countries who may or may not be well-disposed to us. The entire driver behind T45 was to be able to defend a piece of sea/air space against those sorts of threat and manage all the air traffic within it. Without that capability, it is much harder to turn up and offer a credible naval force when you’re facing that sort of threat. People may debate whether AB, De Zeven P, F100, T124 and Horizon are (as) credible against that threat or not. It’s not just about the missile (or numbers) and radar combo, there’s a huge amount of performance tied up in the combat management system as well.

Couple of other things of interest wrt T45 production and delivery. The IPT leader was an army brigadier and the industrial construct was a Joint Project Office (BAES & MoD) who accepted the ship off contract from the shipbuilder (errrr BAE Surface Ships).

Chris
Editor
Chris
June 29, 2015 8:43 am

Challenger, Lord Jim – on the subject of requirement moving targets, the fine and comprehensive write-up TD provided for FRES (https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/projects/future-rapid-effects-system-fres/) demonstrates what we would all hope was an extreme example of requirement instability, which is why the original FFLAV requirement of 1988 for 7000 C-130 transportable light armoured vehicles to replace CVR(T) resulted in the ordering of 590 35-42t vehicles of Warrior size.

Rocket Banana
June 29, 2015 10:08 am

ToC,

Yes, SAMPSON could have been a four-faced AESA, but instead we decided to buy six, yes, just six rotating ones. A little like selling a diamond encrusted mobile phone. It’s still a mobile phone… ah, I’ve buggered up because my example is diamond encrusted instead of gold plated.

Aster could not really have been AEGIS. Aster is a missile, so could have been SM2. AEGIS is the combat system that NaB eludes to “…huge amount of performance tied up in the combat management system as well” – basically Windows for Warships.

If we’d have used PWR2 we would have had some better economies of scale, instead we chose to build the world’s only dozen WR21. It’s a little like building a diamond encrusted mobile phone, but we’ve already been there.

I jest, of course, as I was merely helping the discussion along. I have learned recently that I would prefer T45 rather than an AB in my task force for much of the rationale NaB mentioned.

Just a shame we only built six of them without Harpoon, TLAM or CEC. The latter being (IMO) not-an-option to exclude.

monkey
monkey
June 29, 2015 12:11 pm

“the world’s only dozen WR21.”
I think there are only six , one for each T45 . All the other potential customers the French , the US and private shipbuilders all backed out for some reason but we knew better and fitted them anyway and didn’t bother building any spare complete units ;-)

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 29, 2015 12:58 pm
Reply to  monkey

I suspect that you’d be looking at some very underpowered T45 if they only had one apiece…..

The Other Chris
June 29, 2015 1:50 pm

The units use Trent cores at their heart so there will be a form of support and maintenance available for quite a while.

Jeremy M H
June 29, 2015 2:32 pm
Reply to  Rocket Banana

@simon

I think the general issue with T-45 is not really the system as it exist now but the ability of it to incorporate upgrades. To me if I had a general criticism of UK equipment, particularly naval stuff, this would be it.

WRT T-45 specifically there are a couple of issues I have beyond the obvious ones already raised about the power plant. One I think not fitting the biggest cells available for ASTER was likely a mistake. Granted it’s a mistake repeated by almost every navy using the thing. Yes, one can add the bigger cells but it will involve cost and a not inconsiderable expense. The smaller size cells create issues beyond the commonly discussed strike capability. You can’t fit an SM-3 in there. There really isn’t much room beyond Aster-30 at least in tems of length. doing ABM work will be more difficult with less cell volume to work with. It wasn’t a dumb decision but it is a limiting one.

Also, while I think going with a unique combat system makes a ton of sense as AEGIS is moving towards a networked solution to fire control leveraging assets other navies won’t have, I worry about it being supported with proper development over time. AEGIS is deploying its ninth version now so it sees an upgrade it capability about every 4 years. Weapons on the ship have changed a lot over the years as well. It may still say SM-2 but it’s a lot different from what was trotted out in 1983. The system has added SM-3 and SM-6 since Aster went to sea. ESSM Block 2 is underway. AMDR is coming as well.

There will be issues with all of that for sure. But the point isn’t really what struggles one will hit moving forward rather than the need for constant improvement of such systems. The UK does a great job in the initial design of many systems but often seems to fall down on the sustained improvement part. That is boring and expensive and hard to explain to politicians but it’s probably almost as important as the weapon development itself.

Lots of interesting stuff comes out of the UK, but I think part of the problem with selling it is people don’t see long term support to continue improving the systems. ALARM for example was pretty innovative. But after being built it kind of languished then it just goes away.

To me that is the big risk on the T-45. It isn’t that anything at all is wrong with the initial ships (setting aside the propulsion and fitted for but not with issues that have been argued to death). It is that I can’t say with much confidence it will get improved as it needs to overtime.

I have often wondered if the UK spreads its defense budget too thin with development projects in the first place. It seems at a casual examination that other than France it likely tries to run more national projects than just about anyone in that same budget bracket. I would have to sit down and go through it by my gut tells me this may be an issue.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
June 29, 2015 3:25 pm

Simon, you did not bugger up your example, as you can have either or, gold plated, or diamond encrusted
http://www.vertu.com/gb/en/collections/?gclid=CLzd3JOatcYCFZHHtAodJh8M2w

There is a difference, though, between buying and selling…

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
June 29, 2015 3:32 pm

Jeremy, it is easier than you thought:

We can’t afford full spectrum defence force, so instead, we design and build specimen of advanced systems, so that we can ramp up the force at a moments notice, to fight and defeat the threat… once it has been identified and classified. Now, to make sure that nothing happens too fast, we have implemented a two-tier Parliament ( a bit like yours, just that we don’t have a quorum in the upper house that often… they are busy with other things), RE

“I have often wondered if the UK spreads its defense budget too thin with development projects in the first place. It seems at a casual examination that other than France it likely tries to run more national projects than just about anyone in that same budget bracket. I would have to sit down and go through it by my gut tells me this may be an issue”

monkey
monkey
June 29, 2015 3:54 pm

@NaB
My bad , only 12 WR21’s in the world hence RR investment in the MT30 test and repair facility to add the equipment out of the MoD facility at Whetstone ( him to the first gas turbine :-) to build a quick diagnostic and repair facility for the WR21 to get a T45 operational again if one or both get a bit asthmatic. I imagine the power plant is on the to do list for any future major refit of the T45’s . One day we will hear why the project was abandoned as a lot was poured into it for very good reasons , the main one being its low load efficiency. This however led to a reduced diesel auxiliary plant size which I suspect will cause issues in the future refit to.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
June 29, 2015 4:04 pm

I believe there are 13 WR21, one was RR’s test bed.

Also the fitted for but not with stuff comes in because the MOD’s design team sit down and decide what they want and write up a spec, they also then have to look at how much free space to leave for future upgrades for instance the main gun on the T45, when they specced the ship they knew they wanted the current model of gun, they since then have upgraded the gun on the T23 to match, but they knew that when T26 came along they might want to put a different gun on it and then later change the T45 gun to match, so they ask for space to be left in case this decision was made. They also knew that at some point the Harpoon missiles on the T22’s were going to become available so asked for space to be left for them and in the 90’s when the design spec was written ABM was a pipe dream (it is 20 years later now and it still isn’t ready) so they asked for a space to be left for that.

What I am really trying to say is that the T45 meets the spec that they originally asked for. Harpoon has only been fitted as the T22’s were decommissioned early. ABM is still not ready to be fitted and the new main gun decision for T26 is quite recent so they couldn’t have fitted that to T45.

The choice was a T45 as per spec or T45 with the space to upgrade certain systems they had a good idea might be upgraded or added.

T45 was initially designed in the 90’s.

The Other Chris
June 29, 2015 4:14 pm

NaB’s detailed response on the topic, very illuminating if you haven’t read it already:

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2015/01/open-thread-2015-week-04/#comment-319747

Mark
Mark
June 29, 2015 4:51 pm
Reply to  Challenger

While bae is everyone’s favourite supplier to bash it is perhaps worth noting that less than 14% of the mod pocurentment budget is spent with bae system.

Jeremy M H
June 29, 2015 4:54 pm
Reply to  Mark

There isn’t enough spending to support two high level integrators anyway. If it weren’t BAE it would be someone else honestly.

Challenger
Challenger
June 29, 2015 5:03 pm

I probably should have put UK specific instead of ‘gold-plated’ in my post about the T45.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
June 29, 2015 5:29 pm

Just look where the contracts BAE doesn’t get go, mostly overseas. i.e. General Dynamics got the deal for FRES.

@ Mark

Guessing a large chunk of procurement is food, fuel, etc and the percentage of the equipment budget would be much higher.

Mark
Mark
June 29, 2015 5:42 pm

Engineer Tom

Maybe don’t know how the equipment budget breaks down but this is where I got the figures from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/378998/20141105-DSB_Trade_Industry_Contracts_13_Nov_2014-FINAL-O.pdf

The section on defence exports also interesting

Bae systems represents a spend of less than 5% of the mods budget. The point I’m making is if you want to find route cause of the issues with the mods budget and value for money it’s probably elsewhere.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
June 29, 2015 6:01 pm

The MOD seems to be a common factor.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 29, 2015 6:31 pm

T45 design stage began “properly” in about 1999-2000. While some things could be taken from the previous CNGF iterations, the ship is essentially all UK – and had to be done at a relatively compressed rate to have any chance of getting in service when needed.

IIRC there was no RR test-bed per se, that was in the MoD engine establishment at Pyestock and my understanding is that that WR21 unit made it into one of the ships……

In truth, given that we were aiming to buy 12 ships, we were always going to go our own way. AB/AEGIS was already an ageing design by then and not suited to UK operating practices. The other potential partner nations all wanted small numbers, yet would most likely be unwilling to compromise on design features to suit the RN. Particularly important when comparing a navy that habitually operates globally, with some that don’t. Not a derogatory statement about other navies, just a fact.

The contract construct was less than helpful – quite how you can have a Prime Contract Office (largely BAES) accept a ship off contract from a (BAE) subsidiary on behalf of MoD without some form of conflict of interest, I don’t know.

However, all of this re-inforces the need to maintain the expertise to do naval ship design and procurement in-country. Because no-one else will do it for you.

As an example, here’s a small (and now fixed) example of how things can bite you in the @rse if you’re not thoroughly clued up. Some will have noticed the remarkably clean foredeck of the T45, with the absence of clutter from mooring and anchoring arrangements. They’re all in an enclosed compartment below – keeps the RCS down don’t you know and might reduce maintenance costs. Great idea, n’est-ce-pas? What could possibly go wrong? Low RCs, low maintenance? Where do I sign?

On her trials, Daring was bimbling along and encountered what is know as “roughers”. While shipping green water over the bows, what was not apparent was that water was also shooting up the hawse-pipe and into the enclosed mooring deck. Which didn’t have any scuppers capable of shifting the amount of water being shipped. Tens of tonnes of enclosed water are not entirely compatible with the ships stability criteria. So a relatively minor omission (the absence of compartment drainage) as part of a “good idea” (RCS reduction) ended up with a significant safety issue (since fixed). Likely lack of experience in the design (and sign-off)team the most probable cause.

Rocket Banana
June 29, 2015 8:10 pm

NaB,

Sorry, but doesn’t that go to show that we don’t really have a credible warship design industry?

Peter Elliott
June 29, 2015 9:40 pm

It shows we’re on the edge of not having one. After T45, QEC and T26 the big question is what next to keep the team together and the skills sharp. It should be LHD really. But there may not be the budget or appetite for two more big grey ships when Successor is gobbling budget, F35B needs ramping up, ISTAR planes are needed (R1, E3, MRA), Taranis+ needs funding and the army is still running around in 50 year old vehicles while shouting bang.

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
June 29, 2015 11:29 pm
Reply to  Peter Elliott

@PE – isn’t it the MHC next – I thought someone on here (or maybe it was Gabriele) mentioned the fact that it was already in the early design stage? IIRC there were mutterings about it being quite a bit bigger than expected – around 3000 tons – perhaps it’ll be reminiscent of the “through-deck cruiser” and end up as a frigate-sized “large multi-mission sloop” to complement our cruiser-sized frigates and destroyers

Challenger
Challenger
June 30, 2015 12:03 am

Even with an ever contracting RN there SHOULD be just enough demand to keep the current baseline of shipbuilding going.

Up next will be the T26, and around the same time MARS SSS and Argus/Diligence replacements will be required, then after all of them some sort of MHC vessel, then new LSD/LPD replacements and by that time (probably the mid 2030’s) the T45’s will be getting a bit long in the tooth.

If Barrow got a minimum drumbeat of 12 subs that would provide a steady level of work and avoid any stretching out of orders or contraction in capacity on that front as well.

I think the bigger issue that may well cause problems won’t be so much the level of work it will be the fact that a shipbuilding capability now predominantly focused on the 2 Clyde yards with little more than (we hope) Appledore and Cammell Laird limping on will mean that we can only have 1 major project running at a time.

The T26 for instance will in all likelihood so dominate all availability during peak production that MARS SSS will probably end up being built abroad and only fitted out here like the Tide’s because construction won’t be able to be deferred much past the mid 2020’s.

I don’t think commissioning little more than the 6 T45’s between 2003-2004 when the Rivers, Echo’s and Albion’s arrived and the upcoming completion of QE in 2016 has helped matters in putting off broader fleet renewal for so long that we are now facing this bottleneck where the rest of the fleet is simultaneously and rapidly ageing, becoming harder and more expensive to keep going.

Peter Elliott
June 30, 2015 6:10 am

It’s not build I was commenting on but complex warship design. Wiling to be corrected by @NAB but neither MHC nor MARS SSS comes into that category. The former us likely to consist of off board systems hosted on adapted civilian OSV type ships. The latter will not be fighting ships at all. LHD is thus the next complex warship we need to design. But the age and condition of the Albions plus the likely spend profile in the 2020s means that work may be deferred for a long time yet. By which stage all the hard won experience from our recent three warship designs will have dissapated once again.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 30, 2015 6:41 am
Reply to  Rocket Banana

Not at all. For all its issues, T45 is a capable ship. It shows that when you lose experience (and we’ve regained some of that since), it costs you more money in rectifying mistakes.

On MHC – don’t forget that all this offboard systems tomfoolery is not a done deal. It has to work and be better and/or cheaper than the traditional approach. Otherwise, its not a runner.

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
June 30, 2015 8:33 am

@PE – I suspect that the RN may have other ideas than using a straight civilian OSV hull, not only because of their traditional view of what an RN ship should look like, but also because, if they have any sense, they will also take into consideration the fact that, simply because of the shortage of hulls, they have had to press both minehunters and replenishment ships into service in policing and protection roles (that they were never originally intended for) and design in additional capability from the start. Arguably that is a greater design challenge than simply designing for a specific role.

Chris
Editor
Chris
June 30, 2015 9:13 am

NaB, PE, Challenger – there is a huge difference brought by experience. American colleagues used the term ‘Grey Beards’ to describe those that knew their domain so well they had a feel for what was necessary and what would work without plodding through design from first principles. I have worked with people in the vehicle business who could take a sheet of paper, sketch out a design with a few key dimensions and state with confidence “That should work.” And so it did. Similarly in electronics I have seen some really unusual circuit designs scribbled out in one go that did exactly what the designer said they would. So when talking about the UK ship design capability, it is misleading to equate those good at creating shapes and assemblies in CAD to those who can decompose requirements to those who can manage workflow to those few Grey Beards that can in short order create a workable efficient all-points-considered design. All the other trades are needed, but without those that inherently know what would make a good solution, the design effort either has to increase significantly or the finished product will have unfortunate ‘features’.

The problem is that there is too low a volume of work to create future generations of fully experienced design engineers. The problem made worse by the rise of clever (not intelligent) software that by look-up table can do the sums to prove an aspect of the design meets its criteria – the software operator never having done the hard sums will not get a feel for what works or what doesn’t. Ultimately by reliance on software the Grey Beard will die out and the only things we will be able to design will be those things the software has functions and tables for.

When I was at school (seems like yesterday but probably wasn’t) the pocket calculator was brand new. No more slide-rule! No more log tables! But it was so easy to tap numbers in the machine that the operator stopped bothering with the sums and just believed whatever the display said. With horror one day I realised I was no longer sure what two times three was because I recognised entering two and three on the keypad could produce both five and six as answers and I couldn’t recall which the calculator said when the multiply key was used. I stopped using the calculator. Now though, who has the brainpower to double-check the results of a fluid dynamics run using mental arithmetic? We all believe whatever the screen says because we have no natural feel for what should be right or wrong.

My gut feel is that fully computerised design will slow the rate of progress – software has no imagination. Between 1900 and 1915 the car was invented as were its bigger cousins the truck and the bus, the aircraft was invented and developed into a standard form with standard controls, the tank was invented, fledgling radio developed into a widely used military comms tool. All of these were taken to the battlefield as effective parts of the war machine. Between 2000 and 2015 the biggest technological advance has been in the speed of digital networks – fibre broadband not copper dial-up internet at fixed locations, 2G mobile comms has done 3G and is on the verge of becoming a 4G network. Digital broadcasting has replaced analogue. Anything else happened? Oh yes – a lot of Apps have been produced to do what was previously possible but in a new funky fashionable way. Whoop-de-do.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
June 30, 2015 10:03 am

@ NAB
i was under the impression there was a 13th that had been decommissioned and left in a shed for a few years and they had them dig it out and refurbish it when they realised RR weren’t going to be able to build a full replacement if anything went horribly wrong.

The problem with building so few vessels and more specifically so few different vessels, is that there will be a 10 year gap between the end of T26 design and MHC design ramping up. Yes there will be two small teams, one working on T26 defects found in build and one on the MHC concept, but the majority of the design team won’t be needed between 2018 and 2028 for UK designs. So unless BAE can sell it’s design abroad all of these engineers and designers will head off into the civilian market and then when they need to ramp up to MHC the majority of the team won’t have the experience or know how.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 30, 2015 10:43 am

I think that shed is probably the one in Pyestock – I don’t think Rolly’s did another test bed. My understanding is that it went aboard one of the ships as a programme cost-reduction measure, but could be wrong.

SSS was supposed to bridge the gap twixt T26 and MHC originally, but depends how they contract it. It could conceivably be a UK design and then send out as EPC to Korea or similar, which would have some impact on design skill retention, albeit not in the “difficult” region, which is DD/FF type ships.

wf
wf
June 30, 2015 11:02 am

: here’s the best example of a lack of experience with the going rate, courtesy of Not the Nine O’Clock News :-)

https://youtu.be/OXDK3x5lAYI

I think the point is that if we want to retain meaningful design authority for a class of equipment, we have to be continously designing and making them, although the occasional demonstrator program to fill the gaps should be acceptable. This says to me that for AFV’s for example, we could alternate making CR2’s, FRES(SV) or CVR(T) replacements, but we always have to be designing or making something. Likewise, we could alternate building carriers, LP* or frigates, but should always have something in the pipeline. Of course, that requires consistency in budgeting…..

Chris
Editor
Chris
June 30, 2015 11:45 am

wf – ref continuity of design activity – I’m guessing, unless there is a super-prime like BAE doing the work, in the land domain MBT design work would not be undertaken by the same organisation that would make light armour (or trucks or towed generators etc)?

However, an enlightened customer might create a 20-year-plan with interleaved vehicle family replacements, allowing the design teams and R&D and development testers and trials teams to run in parallel but on staggered schedules within different organisations.

If as an example MOD had grey-beard designers on its books it might choose to move its own designers between design teams both to create the sort of machine it desired and to train by example the up & coming engineers in each organisation.

Or MOD could restart the Establishments and pull the clever design bit in-house using its own scientists and engineers like it once did.

monkey
monkey
June 30, 2015 12:28 pm


On a government run dept for a specific defence line say warships or armoured vehicles how many engineer / scientists would be needed ? For the programme you mention an on going phased development rolling development of new designs and rework of existing designs would say a 50 lead engineers/scientists with a 100 mid level and 200 low level . Putting their salaries at 200k/100k/50k would give a annual bill of £30million . Affordable ? Cheaper than BAE ? Add the same again for offices support and then rents of University / Private specialist lab + a if factor your on £100m per year per dept. Still affordable? I think so considering any IP rights become UK Gov property over the next 50 years and would build up over time offsetting these costs. P.S. The salaries I quoted may be slightly exaggerated :-)

monkey
monkey
June 30, 2015 12:33 pm


I remember splitting my sides at so much Not the nine a o’clock news . So very true when specialist start to use their jargon, knowledge, experience to baffle rather than educate.

Chris
Editor
Chris
June 30, 2015 12:41 pm

monkey – the rough guesstimate charge-out figure for technical & engineering staff (when last I looked) was £100k per man year. But even if your figures are a bit light, consider that GD has its £500m development & trials contract that was awarded mid-2010 (with a £100k top-up a year or two later if I recall correctly) to get to production in 2017, although the £3.5bn production order was placed in 2014. Sounds like GD cost just as much as your imaginary Establishment, and all the learned skills and IP will be to GD’s benefit.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 30, 2015 6:07 pm

“Or MOD could restart the Establishments and pull the clever design bit in-house using its own scientists and engineers like it once did”

Except that certainly for Maritime and probably for Air, the design bit was not done by “the Establishments”. I’m willing to take on faith that Chertsey may have once done, but not the others.

Not to say that they didn’t have a lot of very skilled analysts and people who knew all the minutiae of a particular specialism and RAE certainly had access to some stand-out pilots.

However, there is a difference between analysis and design. Creating a ministry of military design sounds good, until you realise that it will work like all civil service departments. Dead mens shoes……

The thing about IP is fairly specious anyway – all UK contracts quote Defcon 705 which gives MOD free use for UK defence purposes of what it has paid for.

Tim
Tim
June 30, 2015 6:27 pm

Oh dear, why bother building a fighter if it can’t fight ?

https://medium.com/war-is-boring/test-pilot-admits-the-f-35-can-t-dogfight-cdb9d11a875

Peterw
Peterw
June 30, 2015 8:43 pm

The only thing that suggests the JSF/F-35 is a fighter is the letter F. Change it to an A and it makes far more sense

AN pilot who flew the F-22 and Eurofighter made the comment that they were designed with a different philosophy, both equally valid. Thats how the F-35 v F-16 should be viewed; a forty year difference in approach.

Mark
Mark
June 30, 2015 9:14 pm

Tim

Because the design brief was to heavily bias the airframe design to a strike aircraft which is what f35 is (it’s not a million mile from a tornado to be honest) marketing men may have tried to change that since mind.

Rocket Banana
June 30, 2015 9:33 pm

F35 is supposed to replace F16, A10, F/A18 and AV8B.

Perhaps they meant to only replace the attack part of F16 as all the other’s have leading A’s.

If an F16 can outturn an F35 then I would suspect LM need to do some serious work on the flight control software.

WiseApe
June 30, 2015 9:39 pm

They used to put Sidewinders on the A-7 “sluf,” didn’t make it a fighter; likewise putting the same on Jaguar. But, wasn’t the requirement that an internally loaded F-35 was supposed to match a clean F-16? I don’t attach too much credence to a leaked memo on a site known to be hostile to the F-35 project, but if true, it drives a train through that requirement.

The Other Chris
June 30, 2015 10:21 pm

Axe’s “source” is from the initial February sorties to establish initial training and performance baselines. i.e. the starting point to build on. In addition the test aircraft was still under flight restrictions at the time.

Topman can probably give us more insight into the tentative steps towards introduction and how to operate. Didn’t Typhoon get trounced by F-15’s in their first sorties? Now regularly chalking up Raptor “kills”…

Take everything WiB reports as fact with a healthy dose of NaCl. Confirmation Bias is rampant.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
June 30, 2015 10:35 pm

As it’s posted on the WiBbler, give it a stiff ignoring.

Simple fact is that no-one outside the F35 community actually knows how good or bad it is, one way or the other.

Allan
Allan
July 1, 2015 9:36 am
Reply to  martin

“Now all we need is a decent budget to buy more than 48 :-)” Fair comment….but how much more does the MoD wish to extract from the taxpayer?

Jeremy M H
July 1, 2015 11:26 am
Reply to  Not a Boffin

It is generally not worth arguing about that aspect of the F-35 anymore. People will think what they want. The F-16 is a very efficient energy fighter that is firmly ground in the energy maneuverability theory.

The F-35 isn’t. The maneuverability instantly will be fine but it isn’t going to sustain speed (energy) like an F-16 that is pretty clean or a Eurofighter or an F-15. The tactics as it gets into service will be very different. You will likely want to maneuver defensively and leverage you distributed sensors to take a shot that puts your opponent into a defensive mode.

It is a different way of thinking about things. Personally I find it interesting and it makes sense to me but I grant that others can disagree. I think plenty of legacy pilots will struggle initially to adapt to the thing as well.

The exercise results one really needs to see is how a four ship of F-35 does against a similar 4 ship of high end 4th generation fighters. Put it one on one in most of those scenarios and try for gun kills and you are going to get poor results depending on what everyone is carrying.

Tim
Tim
July 1, 2015 2:44 pm

So nothing to worry about because the enemy will “never” be able to detect it nor shoot it down. Great I just hope all those airforces currently equipped with thousands of actual fighters are happy in the knowledge its just a bomb truck.

The Other Chris
July 1, 2015 3:04 pm

Having re-read each comment since you posted the link, only you have mentioned the word “detect”…

TAS
TAS
July 1, 2015 3:51 pm

The Sea Harrier’s maneouverability was much touted, but what made it such an effective fleet air defence asset was the FA2’s Blue Vixen radar and AMRAAM. AN/APG-81 and Meteor will still make it a pretty lethal air defence asset.

WiseApe
July 1, 2015 4:19 pm

If TOC is right re: “… the test aircraft was still under flight restrictions…” then this seems to be much ado about nothing. At least it’s got a real radar in the nose instead of cement.

The Other Chris
July 1, 2015 4:34 pm

Heh heh, a Blue Circle Lockheed? What would be an equivalent US based cement supplier?

Mark
Mark
July 1, 2015 4:39 pm

Tornado provided perfectly adequate air defence capability especially with jtids. Phantom was gd as was f14 even for maverick. F16 is considered really very gd by those that have flown it in a turning fight.

F35 flight test aircraft af2 in being the envelope expansion aircraft that’s been way way into the aoa business doesn’t haven restriction. It’s the aircraft in the training fleet which aren’t instrumented that have restrictions.

Toc the typhoon f15 story was the other way round.

Mark
Mark
July 1, 2015 8:14 pm

Media report has been answered by the f35 jpo and is indeed genuine

The media report on the F-35 and F-16 flight does not tell the entire story. The F-35 involved was AF-2, which is an F-35 designed for flight sciences testing, or flying qualities, of the aircraft. It is not equipped with a number of items that make today’s production F-35s 5th Generation fighters.

Aircraft AF-2 did not have the mission systems software to use the sensors that allow the F-35 to see its enemy long before it knows the F-35 is in the area. Second, AF-2 does not have the special stealth coating that operational F-35s have that make them virtually invisible to radar. And third, it is not equipped with the weapons or software that allow the F-35 pilot to turn, aim a weapon with the helmet, and fire at an enemy without having to point the airplane at its target.

The tests cited in the article were done earlier this year to test the flying qualities of the F-35 using visual combat maneuvers to stress the system, and the F-16 involved was used as a visual reference to maneuver against. While the dogfighting scenario was successful in showing the ability of the F-35 to maneuver to the edge of its limits without exceeding them, and handle in a positive and predictable manner, the interpretation of the scenario results could be misleading. The F-35’s technology is designed to engage, shoot, and kill its enemy from long distances, not necessarily in visual “dogfighting” situations. There have been numerous occasions where a four-ship of F-35s has engaged a four-ship of F-16s in simulated combat scenarios and the F-35s won each of those encounters because of its sensors, weapons, and stealth technology.

The release of this FOUO report is being investigated. The candid feedback provided by our test community is welcomed because it makes what we do better.

https://www.f35.com/news/detail/joint-program-office-response-to-war-is-boring-blog?sf10503378=1

Phil
July 1, 2015 8:24 pm

History shows most kills come from bouncing. Melee’s would see the kill rate drop dramatically. If you want to win the air battle you start doing so well before you get into a dog-fight. If you’re in a dog-fight you’re not fighting the war well.

Cky7
Cky7
July 1, 2015 8:53 pm

Mark,

I’m in the happy to wait and see camp on the f35 and am taking everything the haters and fanboys say with a rather large pinch of salt. Besides anything else from a uk p.o.v. It’s still gonna be a good bomb truck which it will be doing a lot more of than dogfighting in raf colours I’d imagine.

Something you quoted caught my eye though – that the f35 in question didn’t have its stealth coat applied. I thought I remembered them saying the f35 wouldn’t be relying on expensive and maintenance intensive stealth coatings and most of its stealth features were built Into the shape of the aircraft? Perhaps they’ve now changed their minds on this?! Apologies for typos, was posting from my iPad :)

Mark
Mark
July 1, 2015 9:11 pm

Cky7

Yes very much so the RAF has been built around a strike orientated aircraft in tornado for 30 years and we’ve ain’t done half bad.

The general planform shape is important for low observable performance that’s not what there referring to however. The first few f35s were built using standard composite materials and finishes. Later variant of the test fleet and all production aircraft used the production standard composites and finishes.

Note the difference in this test fleet line up
http://files.air-attack.com/MIL/jsf/f35a_lineup_edwards_20110901.jpg

wf
wf
July 1, 2015 11:44 pm

The test seemed to revolve around attempting a gun kill. Given that there have been no Fox3’s in more than two decades, why do we give a toss?

Jeremy M H
July 2, 2015 12:36 am

In theory it test some things that are important, particularly if the DAS system doesn’t work and target like it is supposed to.
The biggest reason to do it is to learn and build tactics going forward.

ArkadyRenko
ArkadyRenko
July 2, 2015 3:58 am

For the Brits here, question from America…

What will the British response be if the F-16 v F-35 story proves the F-35’s total incapability for any air defense other than BVR? Given the improvement in ECM technology, is there any plan B for this contingency?

Also, if you want to have fun, read the full report and Bill Sweetman’s article in Aviation week. It appears that the F-35 lost even though the conditions were as favorable as possible.

AAMR
AAMR
July 2, 2015 6:12 am

http://fightersweep.com/2548/f-35-v-f-16-article-garbage/
Basically you have to understand that F-35 is operating in very restricted criteria. As they clear up , they wil have more things coming online and clear the restriction.
The story’s headline is sensationalist, attention grabing more than anything. It is written by David axe. He is the next pierre sprey (F-16,F-15,F-18 didn’t work according to him). F-16 debuted as daylight aircraft as well as eurofighter typhoon & rafaels with minimal strike capabilities. The F-35 will arive with strike and fighter integration on the first day.The typhoons bomb integration is still not done after all these years. the new F-35 will have those integratio but people seemed to sight of that.

Simon257
Simon257
July 2, 2015 10:39 am

Well it turns out that the F35 used in the test with the F16 was AF-2 a Test aircraft and not a production model. This is LM’s response to the War is Boring Article:

The media report on the F-35 and F-16 flight does not tell the entire story. The F-35 involved was AF-2, which is an F-35 designed for flight sciences testing, or flying qualities, of the aircraft. It is not equipped with a number of items that make today’s production F-35s 5th Generation fighters.

“Aircraft AF-2 did not have the mission systems software to use the sensors that allow the F-35 to see its enemy long before it knows the F-35 is in the area. Second, AF-2 does not have the special stealth coating that operational F-35s have that make them virtually invisible to radar. And third, it is not equipped with the weapons or software that allow the F-35 pilot to turn, aim a weapon with the helmet, and fire at an enemy without having to point the airplane at its target.”

The Full article is here:
https://www.f35.com/news/detail/joint-program-office-response-to-war-is-boring-blog?sf10503378=1

Mark
Mark
July 2, 2015 7:11 pm
Jeremy M H
July 2, 2015 7:50 pm

Seems to be basically what one would know. Don’t get in a turning fight with an F-35. Sounds like there was excess loading they could still utilize for a high AoA attempt to get the nose around for a shot.

But for the most part I would guess the tactics are going to read very much riddled with warnings about keeping your speed and not overturning. Leverage you let sensors, fire a defensive shot and regroup.

Once the tweak the flight control laws it will likely turn as hard as anything, it’s just going to burn speed more quickly than your higher end energy fighters.

Should be interesting to watch at least. My prediction remains that it does very well in force on force exercises like Red Flag and what not where they can adopt tactics to suit them. If pushed into a turning fight would be a matter of how one chooses to evaluate high off bore site missile shots and its sensor systems. If you decide we are having a gun fight, it’s not going to do well.

Rocket Banana
July 2, 2015 8:00 pm

Interesting read.

I can only conclude the flight control software needs some modifications.

I also have a feeling it would be useful to have a [sport] button to disengage some of the smooth flying code and allow the aircraft to be more responsive, especially if the rudders are large enough to whip round and the tailplane isn’t.

Either that or fit some canards ;-)

The Other Chris
July 2, 2015 8:27 pm

“Silly Mode”?