Closedown Phase I Complete

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Phew, that took longer than expected.

As I mentioned in my last post on the subject, the first part of the Think Defence blog closedown is to move most of the posts over to an archive site.


What is there?

In order to stay within the limits of a free blog offer, and given the TD database is pretty large, have had to weed a lot out, but I hope the majority of the useful posts are there. As a by-product of the process, all the authors have been collapsed into a single author account. This means a guest post is now incorrectly flagged as being posted by yours truly, sorry about that, couldn’t be helped.


The comments are open but is a different environment to here, so you may have to register, and there may be some spam issues to deal with.

The Open Threads

As per the many comments, people tend to have a genuine affection for the old open threads so have opened one over there. Have to say though, if people don’t help with the administration of comments, creating new open threads on a regular basis, and generally keeping it ticking over, I won’t be able to either. The point of shutting up the blogging shop is not to move!

How can you help?

If you fancy pitching in to help with the open threads at the new place, or maybe even post the odd blog, let me know in comments below. This will allow me to send an invite from the new system and set you up as an administrator, you will have the keys to the castle!

What next for TD?

The next of my master plan is to move all the thousands of images over to the Think Defence Flickr, a few thousand are already there.

The images can be embedded in forum posts or blogs etc, or just viewed.

After that?

Had a number of offers and interesting proposals for keeping the long form content alive but am veering towards keeping it here. This will allow me to maintain the existing content and possibly generate more but at a much reduce pace and scale of effort. Of all the long form content I have produced, the two perhaps that I want to do most, bridges and containers, are curiously absent. This is an itch I will probably be unable to resist scratching!

Mabey Quick Bridge
Mabey Quick Bridge

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31 Comments on "Closedown Phase I Complete"

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Senior Moment

Thanks for all the hard work- you did a fantastic job


TD, If its idiot proof, then I could volunteer (a bit, if its simple).


TD. I think someone on wordpress is using JohnHartley, so hang on while I think of something else to call myself. Doubtless others can think of a title for me, but I dread to think what it is (apologies to Carry on don’t lose your head).


So you are serious then about leaving us uninformed.

Perhaps Mrs TD gave him an ultimatum :(


The real reason is High Wycombe need the space and are kicking him out of the office


So you’re closing down in phases then? Like Frank Sinatra.

Would be happy to help with the admin of the new open threads. Finally able to keep the lawyers out.

And the Germans, the Russians, the RAF, and Bob…? ;)

(It’s short for Kate :p)


TD, I’ve not written on here before, but I’m a fan of old and have read with huge interest everything posted in the last few years. I think it is important that I say that not only is it fascinating to read the posts themselves, but also the (mostly/often!) very educated and mature comments that follow below. You have created a space here where the sadly all-too-present trolls of common denominator Internet-land have failed to profligate, and it is a wonderful thing. Will the new archive maintain not only the great original content of posts, but also the fine conversations that so often follow?

Happy to stick my hat in the ring!


Donald’s been on twitter again

The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.

the f 35b question will never go away.Why not cancel 5 and use the money saved to fit a CATOBAR to the Q.E. class? then buy the super hornet at 30 mill cheaper?

El Sid

@andyreeves9 The answer can be found here :

Plus we’ve got a cracking deal on F-35 manufacturing that means in effect we get 30-40 free, we won’t get that on the Hornet (assuming the production line is even going by then).

Hate to see this happen, some great content was posted here, and the liveliest comments.


After the meeting, Trump reserved most of his ire for the F-35. A week ago, Trump tweeted that the F-35 programme and costs are “out of control”, and he didn’t change his mind after meeting with Hewson.

When asked by the pool reporter what the meeting was about, Trump replied: “Trying to bring costs down — costs. Primarily the F-35, trying to get the costs down. A programme that is very, very expensive.”


I have just come across your wonderful site, and now it is closing…well all good things must come to an end. thank you for the time, effort and insightful comments. all the best for the future.


Well the President Elect has done what was needed thrown an elbow

‘Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!”

There is a number of people in the US military who believe against a peer enemy the f35 requires growlers to be effective, with a very clever next generation brite cloud decoy making a appearance in the last few weeks and coupled with focus on chinca and his request for a more robust strategic nuclear capability perhaps the B21 will gain more importance at the f35s expense.

As USAF number of F35 where alway way out of kilter with current force structure a reduce in number by 30-50% could well be a possibility.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

@ Mark

The issue is that there will never be a “comparable F18”. Recent reports are beginning to highlight just what the F35 brings.



Of course moving from a harrier or the majority of the US tactical fighter fleets pilots will see a huge upgrade there all pretty old.

yes the f18 cannot do what a f35b can do i.e. Land and takeoff in short distances. An f18 will never be as low observable in radar frequency or the azimuth that f35 is targeted at, but modern ground targeting systems and irst flying on other modern jets are a generation ahead of what’s on f35 now. Asea Radars and advanced ew systems on modern jets deliver similar situation awareness.

Does it fuse the systems as well as f35 is supposed to, do they have the integrated logistic like f35 maybe not. The problem to an extend is a number of the really high end sensor fusion and ew capabilities supposed to be delivered in the systems development stage are being moved right to supposed block 4/5 upgrades because they don’t work yet.

It hasn’t helped that they’ve gone back and asked for another 500m dollars just to complete the current truncated development faze.

There has always been a big question mark over the need for an all low observable tactical fighter fleet and the USAF in particular are asking for 1700 f35as to replace a little over 800 active f16 and a10s, numbers have always looked bonkers.


I suppose the real question mark for the USAF is what replaces the F15…?

Its was supposed to be F22 but that got curtailed. Its now supposed to be F35A but that is now coming under the microscope.

Presumably what Boeing will do is dust down their concept work of F/A XX and the Congressional enquiry about “The costs of re-opening the F22 line” and come up with a twin engine CTOL F/A plane that leverages the F22 heritage for a reasonable cost/capability compromise.

I thought a while ago that such a plane might be what we would buy into for a Typhoon replacement. But it finally looks as if the Anglo-French FCAS may be about to lumber into action. If thats the case then so be it.



The f35 was never supposed to replace f15 in the USAF even after the f22 buy was shortened it is simply not capable of being a high end air superiority fighter. The f15 is considerably larger than f35 and as such allows a much larger radar to be carriered over much longer range than f35. If you offered the USAF the chance to restart f22 production as was muted relatively recently they may go wobbly on f35.

The likely hood is Boeing will offer something along the lines of the advanced hornet that was put fwd in 2013. Conformal fuel tanks, asea radar, irst and external weapons pod with the large single display cockpit and possible engine upgrade enhancements.

But The long and short of it is the b21 is the aircraft you want if you are to conduct strike operations in the Pacific area of operation not a tactical fighter. The question then becomes what do you want to provide air defence of the continental US and its fwd bases.


Wonder how many containers fit on these trains. Someone will know

China has launched a direct rail freight service to London, as part of its drive to develop trade and investment ties with Europe.

China Railway already runs services between China and other European cities, including Madrid and Hamburg.

my favorite ever website, people with genuine intelligence and news real ideas and a real caring i have no idea where i’ll go now,but like here i hope i’ll stumble on somewhere that has a similar format and bredth of news and information. i take my hat off to all who have produced this wonderful site, i wish on behalf of all the site , my best wishes and gratitude for all you have done so very well i hope the future will bring you all you wish for if, on a rainy day in a november while you are fiddling thumbs you can come back with a new site there is plenty who will join you. farewell and on behalf of all us, thank you. ‘splice the mainbrace’.


The f35 has had is dose of reality delivered by in the annual dot&e evaluation

In an August memo, Gilmore doubted the F-35A’s initial combat ready status. The Block 3i configuration, which carries weapons limited to Block 2B, would need support to locate and avoid modern threats, acquire targets and engage enemy aircraft he wrote. Gilmore echoed those criticisms in his last report, saying the F-35 with Block 3i software could not even match up in a permissive environment to some legacy aircraft, such as the F-18 and A-10. He also asserts pilots report the F-35’s electro-optical targeting system’s ability to identify targets is worse than those fielded on legacy aircraft.

“Environmental effects, such as high humidity, often forced pilots to fly closer to the target than desired in order to discern target features and then engage for weapon employment, much closer than needed with legacy systems, potentially alerting the enemy, exposing the F-35 to threats around the target area or requiring delays to regain adequate spacing to set up an attack,” he says.

For the entire report

It’s highlight some issue of uk interest. Apparently issues have been experienced with paveway IV and asraam integration the fix apparently may result is issues with US aim 9x and jdam so more testing will be required.

Also the f35b static test aircraft has now experience so many structural failures and subsequent fixes the aircraft is no longer representive of a delivered aircraft and so an additional airframe maybe required to be procured to continue testing. As a result of these issues early production f35bs may not be upgradeable to block 4 capability.

Due to weight growth from these and other issues the later block f35bs will exceed there vertical landing structural weight this will reduce weapons and fuel bring back requirements.

There is significant issues with amraam launch capability within transonic speed range and this may limit weapons carriage and missile capability in this speed range. A g dig in is also being experienced within this speed range that will over stress the airframe significantly and cause immediate rtb during peacetime for maintenance checks, this which will lead to operational restrictions.

The horizontal tail continues to experience heat debonding when the afterburner is used. Temperature measurements of the hstab were significantly beyond the design limit as a result hardness check on the rear spar where conducted but determined to be within acceptable limits.

Apparently sensor fusion is continuing to return false tracks or lose tracks all together some of these issues are being mitigated by switching off sensors to try and stop overloading the system. The serviceablity has apparently platoied over the past 18 months at a level 30% below the target required to replace legacy systems.

Just confirms how right we are to buy only one squadron of F35B in 2018 to stand up a capability and get a training pipeline going. Typhoon will be our go-to combat aircraft for a while yet.

Doesn’t mean we won’t eventually ram up a significant F35B fleet in the mid 2020s once all the fixes have bedded in. And on bringback weight it just undelines the value of the ski jump and SRVL capability that the UK will have and the US won’t.



True, it is worth remembering however that we have currently only actually order 48 f35s to be delivered to achieve FOC with 2 sqns in 2023. Current planning would indicate a fast jet force of 7 typhoon sqns (aspiration for an 8th Sqn) and 2 f35 Sqn up to 2030. There is an aspiration to order 138 f35s over the life of the program e.g. Between now and 2060 however there were aspirations on 232 typhoons, 12 type 45s and 13 type 26s.

I am extremely sceptical over a f35 ramp up in mid 2020s for too reasons first budget, that is main capital expenditure time frame of type26 and more importantly ssbn replacement I suspect budgets in this period will be stretched!

Second I would look at training aircraft fleets, while simulators will continue to absorb an ever growth proportion of the training syllabus the orders for new training aircraft are tiny, it certainly doesn’t sugest a ramp up in Sqn numbers are likely. Therefore any expansion in the f35 fleet imo is likely in the 2030 to 2040 timeframe as typhoon enters its final planned decade of service this is to far away to predict.


Do you believe the talk that Tranche 1 Typhoons will hit a brick wall of obsolescence in around 2025?

If that happens will we have enough Tranch 2 and 3 machines to sustain a 7 squadron force out to 2040?

In that context it would not surprise me to see Typoon force shrinking back to 5 squadrons after 2025 and the people switched to squadrons #3 and #4 of F35B. Although your point is taken about pressure on the capital budgets from Naval Shipbuilding. “More Ships” ;)

All internet pundit guesswork of course!



There will always be obselencance issues to address as jets get older but the manufactures have already demonstrated an upgrade option if you so wish to pay for it. It is likely the tranche 1 jets will remain without the full air to ground upgrade primarily providing uk air defence. I would expect it will be from 2030 onward the typhoon force will start to shrink most likely to a 5 or 6 Sqn force with a likely 3rd f35b Sqn standing up around that time.

The question in this time frame is what does the ucav look like and what portion of the mix will it form. I could see a major f35 expansion from about 2040 time frame if it was determined the type was to replace typhoon as sole manned fighter in uk service but I would doubt the answer to be of the b variety.

I however would place a small wager we will not see the f35 force expand beyond a 3 Sqn force with the total buy halved from current 138 a/c estimates.


The other thing to think about is the Complex Weapons pipeline. Currently this favours Typhoon with the UK’s full A2G suite funded for Typhoon but not for F35B.

As the years go by however the new SPEAR 3 and SPEAR 4 weapons will be designed and funded specifically for F35B integration.

Paveway 4 and Brimstone 2 have, I think, long lives ahead of them in the guise of SPEAR 1 and SPEAR 2.

But there will presumably come a point when Storm Shadow is replaced by SPEAR 4 and integrating both SPEAR 3 and 4 on Typhoon may become viewed as a discretionary choice we can afford to omit.



There will indeed come a point where that happens though I’d be confident spear 3 makes it onto typhoon. There is around 500 typhoons that have now been delivered to 8 airforces round the world so there is a market.

The thing to remember with f35 is we’re at the wim of the Americans as to what we’re allowed to integrate on f35 and once we leave the SDD phase everyone’s jockeying for their weapons on a equal basis.