01 June 2010
First foreign release of the F-35 is set for 2014. The RN should get its first squadron of 10 F-35Bs then, not wait til 2018. That cuts the aircover gap by 4 years, allows experience to be gained before the bulk turn up & makes the UK look serious about the project. Cutting the second carrier now would be typical folly. All the R&D costs on just one hull!
The new carriers should gain an angled deck & arrester gear to create a hybrid like the Russian carrier.This would allow both F-35B & C to be operated by the RN. The F-35B for all weather cover, the F-35C for long range heavy strike. Perhaps 60 F-35B & 35 F-35C.
I cannot see why the RAF should get the F-35. The Typhoon serves the fighter/short range strike role. The Tornado GR4 needs to be replaced by a longer range aircraft. The ideal aircraft would be a modern cross between the Vulcan & the F-111. The proposed 2018 bomber (more likely 2022 the slow way its going) would be ideal. The UK should ask for 10% like the F-35.
John Hartley - Woking/Surrey/UK
02 June 2010
It does seem a great aircraft, albeit a very expensive one. It is just a shame that we didn't retain the capability to build complete new fighter aircraft ourselves. Throwing our lot into multi-national collaborative programs was one of the worst post war defence decisions we as a country have made. Constantly held hostage to fortune and political developments in member countries. Typhoon is a brilliant example of how not to do it. A very good aircraft, but a decade late and massively over budget. It will be virtually obsolete by the time the last aircraft enter service.
Given that Financial Services have proved to be more of a curse than a blessing, the only thing going to get UK plc out of the mire is more in-house high and medium tech manufacturing - which of course covers defence/military products as well as spacecraft/satellites. We need to concentrate again on rebuilding our industrial capacity to provide primarily for our own needs on a self sufficient basis. Exports should be seen as a nice bonus, but not integral to a projects success. For this reason i hope that JSF is the last of our collaborative ventures.
Karlo - Northwich, Cheshire
02 June 2010
A first class article and argument on our future needs.
So far as single service needs are concerned it would be sheer folly to cancel the Prince of Wales for a saving of 300 million; not much in the greater scheme of things. Particularly after so much money has already been spent. Don't forget these carriers are not just Naval toys they are planned as tri-service assets. Give, enough, and all, F35's to the RN for two carriers. We really do need to look at and adapt the USN/USAF Air Sea battle concept to our own perceived needs too. i.e. being pushed further offshore .... an emerging nation equipped with advanced Russian fighters and Air Defence systems comes to mind; as does the new containerised Russian cruise missile which they will obviously export. Does anyone remember the Falklands Exocets mounted on a trailer? The RAF should stick to Typhoons, MPA and ISTAR and, perhaps the RAF/AAC, Bronco COIN type aircraft that could, with the Apaches, fly off the new carriers when needed.
Much talk is going on about jointery; but that indicates a need for two carriers to support our future light/medium? equipped Army.
In short: we need the right mix of joint forces that are equipped for rapid/quick reaction and still able to punch well above their weight. The Carriers and F35 must be the backbone of this as the list of countries that will give us access to bases is getting shorter.
Norman - UK
20 June 2010
If this article is to be believed, it means that only the JSF can go to war alongside the US. If this is the case then does it mean that the Typhoon will be sidelined in any future conflicts involving the US and UK working together?
Kevin Boxill - Newcastle
11 July 2010
Bizarre extravagant irresponsible nonsense. Huge amounts of money per plane, plus expensive support and thru-life costs no doubt, for a vehicle which can only carry only 2 1000 lb munitions?
Someone has either lost their value-for-money marbles here, or Boeing has run away with the cheque-book!
Two 1000 lb bombs . . gee, that's good value for tens of millions of pounds per aircraft isnt it (NOT)?
philip kirk - New Zealand
12 July 2010
the aircraft is yet to enter service for training to comence a point it should have reached by 2008 with IOC orgianly due in 2011 for the F-35A 201 and is now officially only $25m ish away from the F-22's flyaway price of $150m or £103.5m per aircraft. And of course we all know what the US government did to that aircraft order. The current estimate as of the 1st of June puts the F-35C at around $191.9m or £130m for an aircraft that's yet to land on a carrier. And if that price is to remain the same our current order for 60 would cost £7.8b do we really need to spend anymore on this aircraft?
As for the UK money already invested in the F-35 either way you look at this project it relies on one thing, and that one thing is out of the UK's governments and other partner nation's control. With a US order or without the US order to have a plane for the rest of other partner nations it relies on US staying in this project and to keep the price down for the rest of us they also need to be ordering lots of them 2,500 plus this would bring the fly away cost down to around $90m or about £61m. If however the US for what ever reason decided to pull out there will be no aircraft for any of the partner nations to buy anyway. From what I have found out because we entered the project at Level 1, even if the UK pull's out now and the US and the other countries went ahead with there order's we would still get a healthy return on the £3b we have invested in the project so far. We would also generate a healthy profit from any further orders from other customers down the road. On the other hand there is also a real possibility that come 2016 we will have a nice new aircraft
25 August 2010
This is quite correct. The comments made by Lord Guthrie are to be expected from a convential "brown" General. The army still do not understand air power, buzzing helicopters like the AH64 will not survive in a scenario when we may have to fight an enemy who has an air force and knows how to use it. We not only need Typhoon and Lightining, we also need a decent long range strike aircraft like the Tornado
R.E. Hex - UK Retired RAF
29 August 2010
The JSF spells the end of the indigenous UK aircraft industry. The UK makes the best combat aircraft in the world, the US marketing machine then pushes an inferior alternative and prevents the UK developing a world beating fighter design for the strike roll. JSF vs. Typhoon, yes, but also the Phantom verses the BAC Lightning. History has shown that the BAC lightning was easily the best combat aircraft of its day and was never exported or developed as much as it could have been. Do we learn nothing?
And I fear we are going the same way with the Typhoon. You only have to look at the effect of cancelling the Typhoon tranche 3B. With 2000+ BAE staff loosing their jobs and probably 10 times that in the wider industrial sector in the UK. Where as cancelling the JSF for the UK armed forces would have a negligible effect on the UK aerospace industry. Where is the long-term benefit of the Navy buying the Phantom in the 70's, so why should there be any from buying the JSF now.
No, cancel the JSF, which is really only a replacement for the Sepecat Jaguar (same range, payload & speed), navalise the Typhoon and fly it from both carriers. Develop indigenously the Taranis or something very like it (only bigger) to use as a strategic bomber to launch from the carriers. Cancel Trident, preferably for an indigenous resurrection of the Black Arrow rocket. Remove most of the RAF's strike assets and give them to the Navy. Remove the army from Germany and only have an army big enough to launch from Navy ships.
Basically have a defence and foreign policy closer to that of France where British interests come first and we maintain as independent a stance as we can. Fire or retire as many of the transatlantic freeloaders in the MOD who have allowed the UK armed forces to become a slightly less trigger-happy division of the US Marine Corps.
Martin Bayliss - Stroud
30 August 2010
Commenting on R.E. Hex - UK Retired RAF point that the Tornado is a decent long range bomber.
Utter nonsense, the Tornado is a short range strike aircraft with a combat radius of 300 miles with a meaningful payload. This is because the Tornado was built to German requirements in the cold war. Actually the Tornado has a range/payload capacity similar to the Typhoon, only the typhoon is obviously more manoeuvrable and quicker accelerating.
The last decent long range bomber the RAF had was the Buccaneer, which with an avionics upgrade and some FADEC for the engines would give the RAF what this gentlemen was referring to. As an option that is too British and would give the RAF an asset the US could not match. So the transatlantics would see to it that this option would never see the light of day.
Martin Bayliss - Stroud
01 October 2010
Fifth Generation? probably. Supersonic? definitely. Advanced Stealth? Only in the sense that the RAM requires less maintainence and is less vulnerable to damage by rain and sunlight than that used in earlier stealth aircraft like the F117 and B2. The F35 is much stealthy than than these aircraft, or the F22 Raptor. Compared with the F22, it is also inferior in every other significant repect in terms of performance and capability. Comparing the two aircraft, it could be said that whereas the F22 was designed to be the best fighter in the world, the F35 is more a product of what might be termed the Henry Ford philosophy.
Fundamentally it is a compromise between several things; a fighter, a strike aircraft, a VTOL aircraft, and something that the US Navy can use for air show displays- a "fighter plane" in the traditional sense of the word, with "fighter speed and agility" as Brookes puts it. That is at least two compromises too many.
The F35 is not stealthy enough to survive in the face of modern air defence systems, and it does not have anything like the range it would need to have to meet certain future contingencies, even when deployed on a carrier.
J. Southworth - University of Hull
05 October 2010
Possibly the most significant compromise in the F35 design is that between "fighter speed and agility" as Brookes puts it, and range/payload. Granted, the F35 does not have quite the dynamic performance of some previous aircraft, but even so it seems clear that the US Navy in particular put combat radius a long way down in the list of priorities after speed, acceleration and high g manoeuvering capability. They might claim that this was done partly for safety reasons- they used to write hundreds of aircraft each year in the days when jet engines were less powerful and responsive than they are now. But in any case, the requirements for a high thrust/weight ratio and supersonic speed is bound to cripple range/payload performance.
I can't help getting the feeling that the F35 was really designed more for air show displays than anything else. Surely it is too expensive to be put in situations (eg, close air support) where people might actually shoot at it? Bird strikes would be embarrassing as well.
When it comes down to it, the F35 is a product of the idea that it is possible to take a conventional jet fighter aircraft and turn it into something more sophisticated by ajusting a few details and adding some radar absorbent material, rather like adding options to a car. I think this is what they mean by advanced stealth, that you don't have to think about it any more. In reality, of course, it doesn't work like that at all. The basic configuration of the aircraft has to be optimised if the aim is to produce a truly stealthy aircraft like the BAE Taranis UCAV or the B2. Sorry for any spelling errors in my previous posting.
J. Southworth - University of Hull
11 October 2010
The right choice for Britain was three new build slightly enlarged Invincible class concept carriers flying the STOVL JSF. It may be that so much money has been spent already on the Queen Elizabeth class, that it would be very expensive to scrap the project, so perhaps the best solution is one QE class flying the STOVL JSF and an aim to supplement it with a new build Invincible class concept light fleet carrier when economic conditions would improve.
Adrian Wainer - Taipei, ROC, Taiwan.
03 November 2010
McDonald Douglas tried selling me the F-18 in 1993. We didn't have any carriers that could fly it and BA systems was touting 6 Tornado replacements which were financially viable to them but couldn't reach any of the operational scenarios being analysed at that time. F-18 would provide most of the flexibility that we currently don't have in terms of range and interoperability with the US (and Canada) at a fraction of the cost of the F-35. It is madness to have carriers with no aircraft as it was madness to waste billions on going for the STOVL F-35 variant. Typhoon was a disaster via concept, operational analysis and capability - no scientific need and analysis, fraudulent COEIA studies and an IAB incapable of understanding technical issues and the financial implications to UK defence capability which are now coming home to roost.
Matt - Portsmouth
04 November 2010
Excellent, we should have this machine, and it should have followed on directly from the Harrier. The problem is that the Army has forgotten that air power is needed for air superiority, over land and sea and if you remember the Falklands without the SHAR and the RAF GR reinforcements we could have been humiliated by a third or fourth rate power. Former CDS Guthrie does not seem to realise that this is not "nice to have". If we have to go to fight a war against a nation who has an air force and is prepared to use it and knows how to use it, then it becomes a must have, the army and the surface forces of the navy would not be able to operate, no good relying on Apache helicopters, this is an expensive nice to have and without air superiority they would be useless. Drones would also be useless for the same reason. Not everything is going to be counter insurgency in the future. The F35, like the Harrier, is fully deployable to anything at sea and on the land and does not need massive runways. I am afraid the army is responsible for agitating to cut the air force and the navy, and they really should be ashamed of themselves.
R. E. Hex - Peterborough ex-service
07 March 2011
Having an interest in aircraft for many years but only as a layman I believe the JSF dev is absolutely necessary to replace the Harrier. The Harrier proved the principle but is now unforunately outdated and slow. Its days as the prima donna of the Falklands campaign are well over. It is hoped that the new aircraft can be developed at a sensible cost and will answer the majority of our wish list.
h Willits - Walsall
09 May 2011
Given the number of criticisms of the F 35 on technical grounds, it seems almost gratuitous to point out that it looks a bit like....a duck. It's the combination of the rather bulky fuselage and the chiselled nose contours. That might not be so bad if it did'nt fly like one as well. If the viability of the aircraft in the strike role is doubtful, it's a complete joke as a ground attack/close support aircraft. The F 4 Phantom was considered too big and heavy for close support, this aircraft weighs at least as much and only has one engine. The experience from Afghanistan with the Tornado and the Harrier again demonstrates the need for something smaller and lighter.
A Small-ish UCAV with a payload of about 500 kg might well be ideal as it would, if properly designed, be able to operate from unpaved airstrips in the forward area. No need for air-conditioned clubhouses and miles of concrete runway.
J. Southworth - University of Hull
11 June 2011
"Not all future wars are going to be about counter-insurgency". Really? I'd be interested to hear a single scenario in which the UK alone is fighting a country that "has a decent air force and is prepared to use it."
How many countries can anyone think of that have a better fighter aircraft than Typhoon, that have the organisation and logistics to support it, and that we might be fighting? Fighting alone, that is.
And if we were fighting alone, why would we need interoperability with the F35s of the US?
One more thing - hand on heart: if fighting, say, Russian aircraft of the 1980s or older, or even the latest F16s owned by some newly-rogue Middle Easter power. Even fighting other Typhoons owned by the same: would the F35 really be more able to assert air superiority than the Typhoon variants either in service, on order, or recently cancelled?
I think it's perfectly fair to say that politicians and others (me included) are ignorant of technical issues. But it's also true that defence manufacturers and boys who want new toys, are often equally ignorant - perhaps deliberately - of the realistic threats and the needs to meet them.
The Linoleum Surfer - Oman