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Old 27th Apr 2019, 12:16
  #11850 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2006
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I’d like to respond to JTO’s really thoughtful post. Firstly, I absolutely agree that there is no substitute whatever for practicing ‘real world ops’ flying rates.

The issue, as he so well points out, is what ‘real world ops’ levels of flying are. Staffs can plan and assume all they like, but those plans and assumptions will almost always be way off. That doesn’t make the staffs bad people - it just makes them human.

F-35 does pose some interesting challenges in that many of its expected missions and tactics can only feasibly be rehearsed in a simulator, unless you have access to some seriously high end adversaries, ranges and threat simulators.

But as JTO so rightly says, not flying at near full rates means that key aspects don’t get tested. Weapon loading teams are one area. I’d add embarked ops. You simply won’t get that large and complex ‘system of systems’ working effectively unless it’s exercised at or near full rate. But there’s more. More flying generates better serviceability.

Here’s my experience, for what it’s worth. In 1982, I was an engineer officer on a 9 aircraft ASW squadron in a CVS. We were set up, manned and equipped to fly a ‘ripple 3’ for about 14 days.

In the event we flew a ripple three for around 71 days, plus another 3 or 4 lines during the day. Weapons were loaded and unloaded for almost all the ripple sorties. Most of the ripple sorties involved active dipping using a 1960s era sonar. Our main radios were 1950s technology. Our flying rates over those 71 days were about three times maximum normal peacetime rates.

Our serviceability levels, measured in terms of when aircraft successfully completed a ripple sortie, were somewhere above 85%. The main reason we achieved those amazing figures was not shutting the aircraft down between sorties. Hot refuels and hot crew changes kept the aircraft serviceable.

So, if I were in charge for a day, I’d instruct all FJ units to plan their sorties as ‘double bubbles’ separated by a hot refuel and hot practice rearm or dearm. In my view that would almost certainly raise availability by 30%.

Thoughts, anyone?

Best regards as ever to all those juggling the flypros to meet the training needs,

Engines is offline