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Old 11th May 2012, 07:52   #761 (permalink)
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Did anyone hear Radio 5live at lunch yesterday.

To paraphrase the guest (but not by much) changing from C to B is a great idea because:

B can operate off container ships, or from desert oasis. The lack of range issue (raised by the presenter) has been solved by recent advances in Air to Air refuelling technology.

I was left thinking who is this prat, then I found out he is head of the commons defence select committee. If that's a true reflection of the quality of the advice they get then we are FXXXXD.
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Old 11th May 2012, 08:22   #762 (permalink)
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CDS Article in Telegraph re decision

This change of course on aircraft carriers is essential - Telegraph
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Old 11th May 2012, 08:26   #763 (permalink)
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So with the decision now made, hopefully for the last time, what does this now mean for the RN aircrew flying Hornets in the USA. I can see a benefit for retaining experience and a fresh perspective of being on a large ship but where does the line move to now wrt relevance. Ship's Company need to retain a skill set and I'm sure we'll keep our Matelots on US big decks until QEC is ready for sea trials.

I think a new bun fight is about to begin all over again. Both services have a requirement for F-35 and numbers of jets will be scarce if the price continues to climb. I agree that the jets should be embarked if the carrier is off projecting power somewhere and that even in UK waters there should be a higher training requirement to keep CS well greased as it were. That said, now that the training burden for the aircrew to arrive/depart QEC isn't as high as it would have been for F-35C the embarkation tempo will be an interesting debate. Keen to hear the RN side.
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Old 11th May 2012, 09:54   #764 (permalink)
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if it is going to take extra time to get catapults fitted then possibly one of the extra expenses might be the cost of keeping a lot of people employed in shipyards while waiting for the final bit of work to materialise

I think the extra time refers to the slip in F35C deliveries. Assuming that PoW was to be fitted first, most if not all of the flight deck steel units have yet to start fabrication. That means there would be time to modify the steel drawings etc prior to starting fabrication. The changes for EMALS do not materially affect the large lower block units for PoW which are the first ones in fabrication now, so they could proceed without delay. The only likely delays would be due to long-lead times for the energy storage flywheel systems, but that would not result in wholesale delays to the rest of the ship.

Not to say that wouldn't stop BAES claiming it would lead to such effects though! Short version is that unless the cost breakdown for the fit is published (a most unlikely event!), we'll never know. At the minute, we don't even know if the costs were fully contractor furnished or not. The conversion costing contract for QEC with the Naval Design Partnership was only let last October.....
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Old 11th May 2012, 10:08   #765 (permalink)
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Perhaps the Argies have brought forward their invasion timetable from 2023 to 2020. Dashed cheek.
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Old 11th May 2012, 11:34   #766 (permalink)
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B can operate off container ships, or from desert oasis.

Even to a non-pilot like me, it is obvious there is more to operating from such "bases" than simply landing and taking off. I seem to recall a Harrier trying the first, but only in an emergency after a bird strike, or similar. The 2nd concept, a tactical land base, was in the original CONOPS for Sea Harrier and the necessary kit procured (e.g. Air/Land/Sea MADGE), but when AMSO suppliers decided to scrap it in about 1992 as a "savings" measure without mentioning it to the RN, the RN rolled over and said "It's ok, we didn't really want to do it anyway". A strange posture, given we were half way through the Mid Life Upgrade. We were shelling out big bucks for a fixed price modification contract and the kit was in the skip.

If this "oasis" concept was suddenly inserted, proper scrutiny would point out the previous waste and ask serious questions. Not that the chair of the Defence Select Committee would be interested in such scrutiny; after all, it's only his job.
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Old 11th May 2012, 11:34   #767 (permalink)
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The 2023 date is puzzling, still - but it may have to do with the USN's own schedule for getting operations spooled up. Their IOC is ten carrier-deployable aircraft, which is not a lot for trying to train the RN as well. And IOC is not until after IOT&E, currently in the Feb-Aug 2019 timeframe.

So not only does the RN need jets, but it needs a training cadre to work with US training and operational units to get started. It's easy to see where an organically supported UK carrier strike force (that is, with UK-based F-35 crew training) would not be up until 2023.

Conversely, the Marines' plan to declare IOC before IOT&E, with Block 2 S/W, could help the RN get started earlier.

On the other hand, this does mean going to sea trials in 2017 with a Block 3 aircraft, with new processors, that hasn't technically been cleared for US operational use. Chinook HC3 anybody?
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Old 11th May 2012, 11:56   #768 (permalink)
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The lack of range issue (raised by the presenter) has been solved by recent advances in Air to Air refuelling technology.

Am curious - although this looks like the commentator getting his facts wrong, could it be that perhaps the MoD/LM has developed a buddy-buddy system for F-35 aerial refuelling in order to extend its range?
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Old 11th May 2012, 12:36   #769 (permalink)
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The buddy idea has been talked about. One problem is that the F-35B can't carry much fuel anyway.

Unless you make the C/L pylon wet, and probably design a new hose-drogue pod for it, the option would be to design a buddy store to the form factor of the existing 425 gal wing tank. Let's say that store holds 350 gal + 425 gal in the opposite drop tank + the jet's internal fuel load, which is about 13500 pounds.

The F/A-18E, with about the same empty weight and thrust, has about 1000 pounds more internal and can carry 4 x 480gal tanks plus 300 gal in the buddy store on the centerline. 11,000 pounds more gas than an F-35B, my calculator says.

Last edited by LowObservable; 11th May 2012 at 13:48.
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Old 11th May 2012, 13:08   #770 (permalink)
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The quote comes direct from the MoD and I think is referring to FSTA, which is all well and good in an operation such as Libya or the Balkans, but when you are over a thousand miles away from a friendly base, things can get a little more challenging. The whole point of having a carrier group is that it will be self sufficient, without being an a leash to shore based tankers or ISTAR (UAVs) Notwithstanding that, low endurance can be mitigated by a higher sortie rate although reach will always be less without AAR.
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Old 11th May 2012, 13:20   #771 (permalink)
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Don't we think that C/L or Drop Tanks would make all the compromises and expense of purchasing a LO platform slightly pointless?
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Old 11th May 2012, 13:21   #772 (permalink)
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Don't we think that C/L or Drop Tanks would make all the compromises and expense of purchasing a LO platform slightly pointless?
LO day 1 & 2 of 'The War',

Pylons galore day 3 onwards,

I believe that's the theory, anyway.
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Old 11th May 2012, 13:47   #773 (permalink)
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WW - Exactly, because that's how it worked in the war just before they wrote the requirements.

Bosnia, not so much. Defenses were suppressed but not destroyed.
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Old 11th May 2012, 15:01   #774 (permalink)
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It'll be interesting to see how many pylons Dave-B can cope with.

My money's on it requiring a fairly hefty stretch of tarmac in order to carry a significant loadout.
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Old 11th May 2012, 17:13   #775 (permalink)
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Costings in context.

ACA to charge MoD for modifying one QE carrier to accept "cat and traps" 2 billion.

French charging Russia $1.47 billion for two complete Mistral class amphibious assault carriers.

As our ship is now apparently going to carry no more than twelve F-35s and a few helicopters perhaps we should trade down to something much cheaper? Particularly as the crew of a QE strike carrier is around 600 not including the staff of the "air wing". Though I think anyone now using the terms "strike carrier" and "air wing" will probably be doing so tongue in cheek!
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Old 11th May 2012, 18:50   #776 (permalink)
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The 'pylons galore' comment prompted a thought for those of us who have had to turn the 'B bring back capability into reality.

The 'B's 'bring back' capability is open source and I have no issue with what is in the open domain. Now try to imagine the exact same performance scenario with 2 AMRAAM in the bays, 2 ASRAAM / AIM9X on the outer pylons and all the other pylons fitted but empty.

Yep, no bombs at all but feel free to guess if this fit requires more or less available performance.

This is the challenge the USMC is facing right now. The bring back scenarios are reliant on the fact that no IR missiles are fitted and 6 pylons plus gun are safely stored on the ship. Equip the aircraft with pylons and the gun and jet is starting to look pretty heavy all on its own. For the USMC role the pylons are pretty important and the option of ditching a bunch of weapons so that they are only carrying the weight of the gun, 2 AMRAAM and 6 pylons does not appeal to them at all.

Again, not challenging the 2 bombs plus 2 AMRAAM requirement, but this is the '1st day of the war' fit that the USMC cares little about. Carrying a mixed weapon load on 6 pylons to serve their customer for all the other days in the war is giving the USMC kittens.

Sorry that I cannot quote open source info on the 6 pylon fit, but we all know the weight of the 1st day fit and work the rest out with a pencil...
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Old 11th May 2012, 20:14   #777 (permalink)
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JTO - Some of the issues, as the aircraft enters service, will be reminiscent of the Scottish hell-fire preacher...

And those poor damned souls will cast their eyes up from those tormentin' flames to the Laird above, and cry out "Laird, Laird, we didna ken".

And the Laird himself will answer them, in the kindliest of voices, "Well, ye ken the noo".

Correct, six pylons, the gun pod (1000 pounds or so) and AIM-9Xs will consume most of the bring-back without trying too hard. But that's the result of trying to stuff ten pounds of stealth, supersonic and STOVL into an LHA/LHD-compatible five-pound bag.

Later Edit: The last sentence indeed implies great difficulties, as Engines stresses, and yes, it is a great achievement to do it at all. That does not mean that (at a strategic use-of-resources level) it was a good idea to try. Let alone to build global tacair recap around it.

Last edited by LowObservable; 12th May 2012 at 00:17.
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Old 11th May 2012, 22:56   #778 (permalink)
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Ok, shambles.

Am I the only one who is looking at whether Dave-B is going to survive the US Presidential Election? In a time when there are going to be big defense cuts in 2013 onwards (even if Romney wins, which I doubt will happen anyway). The choice seems pretty straightforward, esp. as the USMC are now going to be flying -Cs off CVNs; the -B is incredibly impressive, but the USMC ConOps are utterly illogical; no-one has been able to coherently argue circumstances under which a MEU / MAGTAF would go to war needing Day One stealth and the US wouldn't feel compelled to send a CVN.

So if the ConOps are bust, it's the most expensive variant that does least, is still on technical probation, and you've won your final election so there's no need to deal with USMC worries, what do you think you're going to do? If I were advising Obama, and we won in November, I'd bin the -B before Christmas and before any more cash is wasted on it (though it is clearly a massive technical achievement.)

And then get Obama to ring his main man Dave, and explain that he has a problem, but we can lease him some F-18Es cheep for PoW. Good thing that N-a-B and Engines are all over this redesign stuff.

Tragic doesn't begin to cover it.

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Old 12th May 2012, 00:03   #779 (permalink)
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UK defence policy, circa 2012:

Yes, there are better merry-go-rounds out there, but as ever, ours is particularly sh1te,

Last edited by Willard Whyte; 12th May 2012 at 00:08.
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Old 12th May 2012, 00:06   #780 (permalink)
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S41 - Very true. And you send the CVN not only because it has the extra fighters but because it has the Growlers and the Hawkeyes, and because without those there is the risk that a lucky shot with a discount-price Chinese ASCM will hit a ship full of Marines.

So why did anyone get into this notion of a stealth jet for the Marines? Because we were all assured it would not cost anything extra, because of the magic of the universal fighter and its 3000-4000-5000-unit production run.
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