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Old 30th Jul 2011, 11:17   #3041 (permalink)
 
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Here is the latest gossip.
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Old 26th Aug 2011, 15:33   #3042 (permalink)
 
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Progress is been made with construction - the first(?) super block has been safely transported to Rosyth.

This 8,000-tonne segment – Lower Block 03 to give it its official title – of the ship was towed 600 miles around the Scottish coast from one great artery, the Clyde, to another, the Forth, during a five-day operation. It safely arrived early on Saturday evening.

It took shipwrights at BAE Systems’ Govan yard two years to complete the section, which is more than 20 metres (65ft) high, 60 metres (196ft) long and 40 metres (131ft) wide. In addition to machinery spaces, it contains cabins for more than 150 members of the ship’s company and part of the vast hangar.

Lower Block 03 is the latest section of the 65,000-tonne warship to be built in six shipyards around the UK and transported to the Forth.

One of the largest cranes in the UK – its span is 120m (393ft) and it’s 68m (223ft) to the underside of the main beam – Goliath has been assembled in Rosyth to move sections of Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales weighing up to 1,000 tonnes each. It’s due to be ready to start work next month.


And here is another one, built on the Tyne.

YOU wait three years for Britain’s next generation aircraft carrier to take shape and then two massive sections are finished in a week…

Just days after the largest segment yet of HMS Queen Elizabeth was towed up the Forth, another huge section of the ship has been unveiled down the East Coast on Tyneside.

The carrier’s hangar was turned into a function room for an official reception to celebrate the completion of Centre Block 03, a 3,000-tonne piece of the carrier which comprises some of its flight deck and cavernous hangar among other compartments.

The 63-metre-long (206ft) block stands six metres (20ft) tall and is 40 metres (131ft) wide. It’s taken 18 months and half a million man hours to complete – and was finished five weeks ahead of schedule by shipwrights at A&P in Hebburn, the last yard on the Tyne building warships.

A&P won a £55m order to build segments of Queen Elizabeth and her sister Prince of Wales – it’s one of six yards involved in the mammoth shipbuilding programme.


Meanwhile: Ministers reconsider mothballing carrier


Last edited by WE Branch Fanatic; 28th Aug 2011 at 18:28.
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Old 27th Aug 2011, 11:59   #3043 (permalink)
 
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In other news:

Navy Official Questions Need For JSF Variants | AVIATION WEEK

The problem is that the three US customers have different views of the JSF.

For the Marines, it is existential: they desperately do not want to rely on carrier support, and their current doctrine calls for their amphibious fleet to be autonomous and self-supporting. They are also very powerful politically.

Of all the US services, the Navy gains least from JSF. They have a pretty capable aircraft in production, with some development potential.

The USAF wants the F-35, but has so many on the books that it could afford to trim back if it had to and buy a few F-15s and F-16s.

The run-up to the Defense Acquisition Board review will be interesting.
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Old 27th Aug 2011, 14:24   #3044 (permalink)
 
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WEBF - Re that carrier story, the same reporter comes up with some interesting items...

MoD urged to buy cheaper Navy jets - East Hampshire - The News
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Old 27th Aug 2011, 17:58   #3045 (permalink)
 
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Sailors should stick to buying ships

And that is the problem when one Service becomes blinded by the desire to own a Carrier at any cost. This is not just MoD officials; there are many RN retirees who are pushing this mantra (Sharkey for one). The (Portsmouth) News always seems to have an RN slant on any story and the local MP won’t be far behind.

There are two very important issues at stake here rather than just having a stealthy day one entry aircraft (although any change of heart in the US will obviously impact on all other customers):

If we didn’t buy it, three things would happen as a consequence:
  • The UK work share would be under huge threat and the revenue that is currently being banked by HMT could be lost – there are many 10s of Billions at stake here in inward UK investment.
  • We will be consigned to the second division if all other customers purchase. We will break away with our new French chums and sit firmly nt eh 4th Generation 2nd Division.
  • You can kiss buy to any pretence of the “Special relationship”.
Now, the RN retirees who are pushing the Super Hornet have a number of reasons why they do so. One valid, one very nefarious:

  • The valid reason is the real problem of a lack of airborne refuelling capability – you might be able to take risk with STOVL but conventional aircraft need the option. A F35 tanker looks prohibitive and a mini fleet of Hornet tankers will be a disproportionate, additional cost.
  • The dodgy one is that they believe that they can revitalise their claim to own the capability through their attempts at a large US exchange programme for their FAA aircrew over the coming years (although this has come under scrutiny now).
We must all remember, much as it pains the RN to admit, that these aircraft will be owned and run by the RAF not the RN who will, of course, be part of the team that operate them. The calculation on FE@R and other knock on impacts to ISTAR programmes would have been made on the basis of what the JSF offered as a capbility; remove it and you have to completely revamp the programme - any assumed savings will disappear very quickly.

I urge anyone to think this through, the consequences are far worse than just some tactical disadvantage or cost cutting for the MoD budget – it will completely affect our strategic relationships and our tax receipts.

Now that will make the politicians sit up!
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Old 27th Aug 2011, 18:14   #3046 (permalink)
 
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Well said Captain! A good input. Affordability is still a worrysome issue though.. Whatever is being said by Lockheed, the cost still seems likely to overshoot again. We do need to be able to afford a least one Carrier's worth at the outset.. and the signs are not encouraging.
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Old 27th Aug 2011, 18:41   #3047 (permalink)
 
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Capt P U G Wash,

Interesting slant on the US non-reciprocal exchanges that might suggest the Navy is hiding pilots in the FA-18 system so that might take on CV jet flying from aircraft carriers.

The reality is much more simple as disappointing as this is to the conspiracy theorists. The demise of Harrier means that RN pilots have no alternative aircraft to maintain and develop it's pilots over the next 10 years.

The RAF, when asked for fast jet slots to allow for this 'joint' force to be ready when the time came said 'no'. The RN, faced with no other option, brokers a deal with the USN (after all, navies deal with navies) and do note that this was before the variant change decision in October last year.

The cost to UK taxpayers for 3.5 years flying a very capable jet (banking upwards of 1000 hours and 300 traps in a Super Hornet) is less than the full flying hour cost of 25 Typhoon flying hours. I would call that a good deal.

Now that we are in the CV camp, it is a free and happy position for the UK that some of the pilots will be well placed to test, evaluate and operate the F-35C Carrier Variant compared to those who come from the 'multi-role' world flying 8-12 land based hours per month.

So nothing more sinister than no fast jet seats in the UK for RN pilots to fly so they went to their much bigger friend in the US and smaller friend in France who have stepped up to the plate. By doing so they have helped the RN (and the UK) to be more likely to deliver a 5th gen capability in the challenging and demanding maritime environment.

This is also why the RAF tried to progress a French Navy Rafael exchange which didn't get past first base when I had visibility of it. Articles in JDW by air ranking officers would have probably put paid to any agreed slot anyway.

More dangerous to the UK is those who think that it would be clever to push the F-35A at every opportunity as an alternative; much more likely to be a re-run of the late 60's when both the RAF and the RN lost out because of inter-service childishness.

DPOC is dead so the original reason for pushing F-35B as a non-competitor to it is no longer an issue.

We're therefore not buying F-35C because the UK needs a 5th gen capability in isolation. We're buying a replacement aircraft for FA2 and GR9 that can fly from an aircraft carrier and has 5th gen characteristics. Maybe if we could all agree that one needs the other the better else we all lose.

We have an agreed policy out of SDSR that gives the UK a fantastic aircraft and a capability from the joint QE platforms that will give us a flexible response for 50 years.

The special relationship would not be in jeopardy if future F-35 decisions that had an impact on a UK buy were because of the US financial climate.

And as for us playing second fiddle to all the other nations who remain in the programme - if the unit price cost goes up so far that the US starts to drop out, how many of the minor nations will still be in at the end?

Maybe a pragmatic UK would again be prepared for viable alternatives that keeps current policy on track without us losing the lot because we try and peddle a first day of the war mantra that we haven't achieved for the last 50 years.

Last edited by FB11; 27th Aug 2011 at 18:45. Reason: spelling (wouldn't want to incur the wrath of children)
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Old 27th Aug 2011, 18:43   #3048 (permalink)
 
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"Of all the US services, the Navy gains least from JSF. They have a pretty capable aircraft in production, with some development potential."

Errrr, no, sorry LO. The SuperBug is a good aircraft, but it's barely 4th Gen and it certainly won't do day one ops against any credible IADS with double-digit pucker-factor and any sort of credible air force.

The Navy is still paying the price for A12. Compared to the CVW of twenty years ago, the capability is relatively degraded - A6E plus F14B/D, plus KA6D & EA6B trumps any number of Bug variants today, in all but one (very important) respect - cost of ownership. In essence the USN has taken a substantial capability hit because the A12 programme failed and the only reason they are still in the game is that they've managed to get a capable aircraft ("stopgap" does the Superbug a disservice) on the back of O&M savings.

They can't afford to do that again.
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Old 27th Aug 2011, 20:13   #3049 (permalink)
 
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FB, I must answer your allegation of RAF reluctance to offer FAA pilots cockpits. Whilst the demise of the Harrier clearly cost the RN the vast majority of her fixed wing slots, the RAF lost far more cockpits. Did you really expect the RAF to take an even bigger hit?

In fixed wing squadron terms, the RN have lost one in the last three years, the RAF have lost eight and gained one. Reductions in fast jet fleets have cost the RAF well over 100 cockpits, when the RN lost about 20. The question that should have been asked at this stage was could Defence afford to keep a disproportionate amount of RN aircrew who rarely compete above OF5. If the RN had a ship’s Captain (and even a 1SL) who was a fixed wing aviator (like the USN) then we could have a different conversation. But your address may indicate that you know more than most on the exchamge agenda.

Also, your sums are flawed: there would be no additional Typhoon flying generated (an RN pilot would merely have supplanted an RAF one), so any one-way exchanges in the US are costing Defence additional money - nice try though!

As for the need to keep current FAA pilots in the cockpit, just how many of the current crop do you think will see a JSF slot? The vast majority of our future JSF pilots have only just got their GCSE results – A*s of course! There is no need to keep a bunch of thirty something’s in the cockpit if there is nowhere for them to go later.

You don’t hear the RAF talking about F35A and no Carriers, but if some continue to peddle the Super Hornet agenda you will….
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Old 27th Aug 2011, 22:08   #3050 (permalink)
 
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And how many of the Kipper fleet currently dispersed around the world will see the back of whatever MPA we choose to buy in 5/10/15+ years time? Either there is an argument to be made that continuing seedcorn activity is good, regardless of the fact that some, or nearly all, the specific individuals involved won't be used "in role" or that we intend to regenerate specific skills from an ab initio position. The risk taken on several options was mitigated, in part, by a seedcorn activity offered by other nation's armed forces.

Oh, btw there used to be a way a zoomie could become a 2*, without ever going near sea command, but then FOMA/AOC 3 Gp suddenly became "reorganised" and disappeared......

edit - and you know why aviators are Capt of ship's in the USN, and their cultural issues were not replicated in the RN. There have been plenty of rotary pilots and observers who've made 2/3*.
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Old 27th Aug 2011, 22:22   #3051 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
There is no need to keep a bunch of thirty something’s in the cockpit if there is nowhere for them to go later.
P U G

The RN are sending their youngsters too.... and good for them.
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Old 28th Aug 2011, 06:53   #3052 (permalink)
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Quote:
They can't afford to do that again.
Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work’s July Tac Air Memo
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Old 28th Aug 2011, 09:57   #3053 (permalink)
 
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How many times, F-35C and F-35A will not get axed. F-35B is looking dodgy though.
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Old 28th Aug 2011, 09:58   #3054 (permalink)
 
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Note the explicit reference to it being a numbers trade-off rather than a cancellation exercise (although B2 & F22 unit prices show what happens when you trim numbers too far).

My point was that cancellation of F35C would actually hurt the USN more than most. No "new" aircraft entering service for twenty-odd years is a recipe for extinction, even in an age where the frame "performance" capability growth rate of both threat and own forces has lessened when compared to the 60s to 90s.
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Old 28th Aug 2011, 10:10   #3055 (permalink)
 
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That's a bit of a memo, just how are they going to define the performance differential of the magical "stealf" [sub-para (a) of analysis requirements] for starters when one is neither operational/ has been exposed to the operational environment??
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Old 28th Aug 2011, 12:12   #3056 (permalink)
 
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Capt P U G Wash

Thank you for answering my non-allegation. It was a statement of fact. Question asked and the answer was no (but we are now all the more wise for the heart aching demise of the RN and RAF fast jet fleet cockpit seats.)

Defence withdrew Harrier from service and committed the RN and RAF to flying F-35B and then the F-35C to flying in a joint force. It didn't suggest that the RN walk away from flying until the young officers fresh from their GCSE results walked into flying training to become the first operational JCA pilots on the lowest rung.

Defence has a requirement to keep the correct minimum sustainable numbers of RN pilots in cockpits when they removed the only UK based jet they flew.

Unless you are suggesting that the RAF would populate the CO, XO, 2xFC, QWI, QFI and the RN would have a handful of JOs that might make Flight Commander status by 2030? Not very joint.

And the first 2 aircrew for the F-35 Test and Evaluation Squadron start next year with a steady requirement increasing until the operational squadron is formed. The more senior aircrew the RN has going through the US system will (happily for the UK) be in a much better place to get the best from UK OT&E of F-35C than, for example, a pilot flying a land based jet with half the number of flying hours in the same period and no embarked experience. Working alongside other RAF pilots who have completed exchanges on unique aircraft, we might just do a half decent operational test.

Nothing contentious in that, just a statement of fact.

As lj101 correctly identifies, the RN is sending ab-initio pilots (not quite fresh fresh from their GCSE results but not far) to become the QWIs and flight commanders of the 2020's and the commanding officers of the late 2020's. They are sending more experienced aircrew from first tourists through to aircrew who are therefore able to compete for posts at SO3 through to SO1 from now onwards. As you'd expect from a joint force.

As for RN fast jet pilots not competing above OF5? As though, if that were the case, it were somehow a 'waste' of a slot? The RAF fixation for the fast jet pilot being at the top of the organisation must be mildly amusing for the C-130 pilot Chief of the USAF. And I assume that if the 'vast majority of JCA pilots' have got A* in their GCSE, the A400M; CH-47; C-17 pilots etc are scraping through with a handful of B and C grades?

It's like reading a letter from Torpy.

Quote:
Also, your sums are flawed: there would be no additional Typhoon flying generated (an RN pilot would merely have supplanted an RAF one), so any one-way exchanges in the US are costing Defence additional money - nice try though!
I don't understand your point. I know there would be no extra Typhoon flying generated; the Typhoon can't generate enough flying hours anyway - it's a blessing in disguise that UK pilots (think about that one for a minute) can get up to a 1000 hours of true multi-role in the same time a Typhoon pilot struggles to get 500 at best. All for the cost of 25 hours of Typhoon flying.

The brokers of that deal should get their 25 quid Herbett Lott award from HMT.

Quote:
You don’t hear the RAF talking about F35A and no Carriers
Yes, you do.

Quote:
but if some continue to peddle the Super Hornet agenda you will….
And we'll all be screwed if it happens.

Retired and passionate lobbyists versus serving senior ranked officers lobbying against endorsed policy.

There is a difference and the politicians know it.

But....yeahhhhh! Let's cut our nose off to spite our face and we'll face another generational equivalent of flying Jaguars, F3s and GR1s while everyone else flies F-15s, F-16s and F-18s.

Last edited by FB11; 28th Aug 2011 at 12:18. Reason: grammar
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Old 28th Aug 2011, 12:49   #3057 (permalink)
 
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NaB - Despite the Super Bug's limitations, it's still more modern than anything that the USAF has, except for the F-22 - whose current grounding is only one of its problems. It's getting good at FAC-A, CAS, NTISR and all the weird things you use fighters for these days. And it has two engines...

The Ultra Bug proposals (which improve signatures, speed/agility and range) should defer the day when IADS does start to close major regions off to the F/A-18 and EA-18 combo.

It seems that battle lines have been drawn up, though, and that the Bug push is coming from certain UK CV advocates with an RN leaning. I suspect from the two Portsmouth stories that they hope that the lower acquisition and operating costs for the Bug will ease the way for the second carrier to be activated.

Foghorn - Not sure I agree. If the F-35B is cancelled - and I suspect that some people hope that it will fall on its ar*e of its own accord, obviating an all-out fight with the Corps - the C's flank is exposed to an F/A-18 + UCAV pitch. Risky, but not completely crazy - and you'll have Boeing, Raytheon, GE, their flock of Congresscritters and the CV Bug mafia pushing it.

I'm sensing an unusual degree of twitch from the advocates of the Lockheed DeathStar these days. The long delays to the Defense Acquisition Board review don't suggest that anyone's yet made a lead-pipe-cinch case for going damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead with the program of record.
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Old 28th Aug 2011, 13:29   #3058 (permalink)
 
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LO, F-35A and C models will not be cancelled.
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Old 28th Aug 2011, 15:05   #3059 (permalink)
 
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It won't shock me if they are not cancelled.

However, this is no time to be talking in terms of absolute certainty about any aspect of the JSF program.
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Old 28th Aug 2011, 16:26   #3060 (permalink)
 
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Carrier, schmarrier. It'll all be academic if this baby ever sees the light of day.



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