Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
Good for the Navy, POSSIBLY getting a more capable aircraft than F35B AND meaning the carriers will get catapults and traps meaning they can maybe angle for a decent carrier AWACS like Hawkeye, although what will the RAF do now without an aircraft to replace Harrier in the VTOL, rought forwards airstrip role, if the CTOL F35C is procured. Surely they already have an aircraft for that, in the Typhoon?
I would say that it is broadly good news for WAFUs and the Senior Service. Admittedly there is the loss of expeditionary / rough field ability in the exact same way as is provided by the JFH mates.
To have the option of CATOBAR carriers will (if they aren't deleted too) bring additional capabilities - plus cross decking opportunities with the Aviation Navale as well as USN.
I guess we can all contribute once again to the F35C / Rafale / Rhino & Growler / marinised Typhoon high jinks.
As pretty as the Rafale M is, I would probably back the F18 family and accept the 'not the super dooper cutting edge latest generation' options - but hey ho - I guess the Flanker option (with the coolio camouflage) isn't on the table.
As the Typhoon is the RAF's answer to any question - can't we go for the extra 40 and reduce the light blue F35 build?
Not sure about this. Whilst far removed from the coal face these days, the article is talking about not having 2 competing engine manufacturers. It is common for US sourced aeroplanes to have two sources for engines. Cost cutting and only having one source doesn't really translate to the F35B being at risk. It means there will only be one engine manufacturer who will make engines for all F35 derivatives.
The "rough forward airstrip role" has always rung hollow for me in relation to F35. The jet efflux rips into the slightest defect in a concrete airfield surface, so I don't see MEXE strips or tarmac standing a chance. If you were the proud owner of a 5th-generation stealth airframe, why on earth would you want to land it on such a surface, when all the debris stirred up would leave your expensive bodywork looking as dimpled as a golf ball? Kiss goodbye to your low RCS! And the arguments about F35B vs F35C payload and range have been done to death elsewhere on these forums.
The apparent preference for F35B has always come down to 2 factors, in my opinion - firstly, the desire to keep Rolls-Royce involved, and secondly, unconditional attachment to STOVL by the bootflapped fraternity. Arguments trotted out about the training burden of arrested landings don't ring true to me; what about the present-day burden of training Harrier pilots to do all their tricks?
I really hope there is substance to the Telegraph's story - it would mark a rare victory for common sense in the procurement world!
Archimedes - No, it's not just you. I think the 'cheaper American alternative' referred to is the F-35C (vs. B), not the F135 (vs. F136). According to the HASC, the acquisition cost of the F135-PW-600 (F-35B) has risen 47% in the last three years, outstripping the -100/-400. Much of the increase has been due to the recent hike in metals costs, but the premium charged for the F-35B has nevertheless continued to grow.
Anyway, since Rolls only has a 40% stake in the F136, I think it'd be a bit rich calling it 'Rolls Royce's engine.'
But the MOD have just signed the contract to buy 2 F35B STOVL instrumented jets for Operational Test. This article doesn't quite add up. Perhaps this decision was what CAS was really wound up about? Didn't he leave this week too?
If it is true, my guess would be: 1) 1 CVF will be shared with the French + a joint Hawkeye squadron (HMS Concorde) 2) The US has offered emals 3) The F35c will replace the GR4, therefore... 4) JFH can be binned immediately.
The last 4 paragraphs... Mr Davies also described as "pure drivel" a newspaper report that up to 750 jobs were under threat at Rolls Royce because the MoD was preparing to reject its fighter engine in favour of a cheaper American version.
Mr Davies said: "There is no sense at all in which a decision has been taken. We are a long way from taking a decision.
"I haven't in my own mind reached any conclusions. I'm still in the process of examining the evidence, having conversations with people.
"We will move to a decision over quite a lot of months. I'm sorry that all sorts of people may have been upset and agitated in Rolls-Royce from a completely false report."
The second paragraph does hint that a decision is to be made.
Davies is denying that a decision has been taken. The Torygraph simply says that there will be an announcement in the autumn, and that the MoD is "preparing" for a CV choice and "indicating" that that is the way it will go.
1. Ditching the F136 makes no difference to the UK buying the F-35B. It can still be powered by the Pratt & Whitney F135 + the Rolls-Royce lift system. It might only affect Rolls-Royce if nobody else decides to buy the F136 or the US government decides to cancel the engine (which Obama wants to do but is opposed by US Congress). More of Rolls-Royce's work on the F136 and lift system is undertaken in the States, so it is questionable as to how badly if would affect the company here.
2. The F-35B is the favoured option for the UK with two test models now ordered. Third to be ordered next year for delivery in 2011/12. All three will be powered by the F135 engine as the F136 won't be first test flown in any F-35 until 2012 (I think). The MoD has said last year that decision on whether the F-35B will be the final platform to be bought will not be fully made until 2014.
3. If the F-35B (which will be the most expensive F-35 variant of the lot) is found to be a load of rubbish then the F-35C will be bought instead.
4. Of course, by then a new government will probably be in power, so who knows what will happen.
Double Zero - Not really the end of the story. Unless the Torygraph totally has the wrong end of the stick, the final STOVL-versus-CV decision has not been taken (which we knew) and there are MoD people actively pushing for the F-35C.
Why? My guess is to make the carriers look more effective. Other things being equal the C provides more time on station at a given range, supporting the troops on the ground, and fewer sorties to provide CAP. The idea was the operational and decking flexibility provided by STOVL would offset the difference in performance, but if you're stuck with SRVL (shipboard rolling vertical landing) that advantage just went out the window.
Paging Not A Boffin... if there is a Not a Boffin on the aircraft, would he please make himself known to a member of the cabin crew, before making himself known (in the Biblical sense) to Ms Ann Widdecombe?
What I do find bizarre and equally confusing though is Quentin Davies' comments this morning (having only just read them) saying... "We have to take a decision as to which version of aircraft we shall be agreeing and we shall be focusing on this situation in the coming months. There is no sense at all in which a decision has been taken, and we are still in the process of examining the evidence." This is completely different as to what was said last year.
Moreover, what is the point in ordering three F-35Bs for testing purposes that haven't even been delivered and then making a firm decision to opt for the F-35C instead, at least until they try before they buy.
The UK had already committed to paying for the F-35B test articles. They're needed for the program as a whole, and if the US had to pay for them it could well trigger a Nunn-McCurdy breach - that is, where the projected costs have increased that the entire program has to be reviewed, by law.
Its probably been covered here before, and sorry if it has but I can't find it at the moment!
Anyway, which squadrons are likely to get JSF? Can I assume that 800 and 801NAS are to be reformed as full squadrons and supplied with the type, with the rest of the aircraft going to the remaining RAF Harrier squadrons? Also, will there be a joint-service OCU or will there be seperate units, such as 899NAS for the RN and another squadron for the RAF?