View Full Version : Jp233

25th Nov 2005, 20:36
I am just in the final pages of Gen Sir Peter De la Billiere's 'looking for trouble', and he speaks about the difficulties in delivery of the JP 233 runway denial system.

I grew up with a lot of exposure to the development of the MRCA and it's weapons systems, due to my parents becoming lifelong friends with a couple of MBB engineers who were never away from Warton. I thought - as you would do when you were ten - the JP was an incredible system and a war winner. I had of course completely missed the fact that airfields were cruical strategic assets, and likely to be healvily defended.

were aircrew ever consulted in the development of this system?

25th Nov 2005, 22:19
Anyone listening to countless TV and radio documentaries, or reading books various about GW1 would believe that the Tornado suffered huge losses during low level attacks in the first days of the War.

In fact, of the six RAF Tornados lost, two were lost at medium level, one while running in for a loft attack, one 'during' a loft delivery, and one after a low level attack (loft? laydown? Lennox/Weeks).

In 100 JP233 sorties, only one aircraft was lost - and that while egressing from the target.

Any low level attack takes balls, but I'm unconvinced that JP233 required a more dangerous attack profile than some other low level weapons. Certainly GW 1 seemed to show that low level loft deliveries were more hazardous.

Moreover JP233 was a very effective weapon - doing what it said on the tin - against airfields and railway marshalling yards, and it was only the ban on landmines that saw it withdrawn early.

26th Nov 2005, 09:44
In its original guise, as a joint US UK project to equip Tornado and F-111, JP 233 was to have been powered and would therefore have had a stand off capability.

I canot recall whether the dropping of the stand off ability was the reason why the Americans baled out or as a result of them baling out.

26th Nov 2005, 10:55
I understand that the US went its own way when the UK pressed on with the JP233 as they realised that having to drop the things from a low level overflight of the target was far too risky.

Although the runway cratering worked satisfactorily in GW1, I always wondered whether the Eastern European high velocity water spraying tank used later to put out oil fires was originally designed to thwart the JPs' so-called area denial mines which were supposed to lie around the cratered runway, hampering repair efforts. All the enemy would have had to do would be to start up the old (T34?) tank with the water container and jet engine on the back and simple hose any mines out of the way.....

When the JPs were no longing being used for low level attacks, some 'senior RAF Officer' not in the command chain allegedly wrote a letter stating that future of the Tornado / JP233 would be called into question after the war if it wasn't used more against other targets. In other words, this tosseur was more interested in politico-military posturing than the theatre commanders' balanced assessemnt of risk and effectiveness. This made Sir Peter de la Billiere 'extremely angry' and a 'heated exchange' continued with the mad MoD-box until attempts to resume non-essential low level attacks faded away. The whole saga is well documented in Sir Peter's book Storm Command - spookily enough on page 233!

Bo Nalls
26th Nov 2005, 14:01
Jacko, the final loss you mention was indeed Lennox/Weeks who were lost during the recovery from a loft attack :sad:

As to the only 233 loss, after weapon release as the ac exited the target area, there have been tales of this crew being engaged in manual TF at the time. A software 'feature' which became apparent after some aircraft released their weapons, was a loss of IN feed to the main computer/TF computer. This, until then unknown, software feature certainly came as a f***ing shock to me on night 1!!!

Finally, I would certainly agree with your 4th paragraph - of the 2 LL attacks, staying low & fast is better in my opinion than hauling a very heavy ac in a challanging 3d dynanmic manoeuvre. The loft attack becomes even more challanging if you are being shot at (ignore it and fly the instruments - yeah, right) and are flying it heavier than peace-time practice (8x1000lb + 6T gas), especially if the stores fail to release (Peters/Nichol) when you could find yourself high & slow on speed.

26th Nov 2005, 14:06
It was certainly a lot safer dropping the weapon in the 'across' mode, meaning across the runway rather than along. Only 2 1/2 seconds of dropping with a big white glow beneath you! The cratering weapons (SG357) didn't work as well in Iraq as the sand beneath absorbed some of the 'heave' but the HB876s were ok. Actually, at or det, we were content to carry on dropping the JP233 at targets such as strategic roads but it was pointless using them against airfields as they were so big and the Iraqi Air Force was being repainted in a country east of Iraq!
What you don't want after dropping the weapon is an 'open loop pull-up' immediately after. 2000ft over tgt is not a comfortable place to be!

26th Nov 2005, 14:49

I hear alot about "train as we fight", which clearly makes alot of sense. I thought JP233 was inservice well before GW1, so why did some aspects come as a surprise during ops? No training with live JP233 rounds? Why were the "system features" not unearthed during OEU testing/tatic development?

26th Nov 2005, 23:43
Train as you would fight. Ha!

4v bounce - Yes Fun, but little 'tactical training' benefit when it comes to night IMC low level (night one strike one). Unfortunately, if you do not have the low level peacetime airspace to do a 'real' simulated sortie, you must rely on your pre war 'work-up' to get in good shape.

As to airfield denial, there are equally effective methods of achieving same result (by result - I mean keeping enemy aircraft on ground) without having to do the straight and level thing. Unfortunately if the designers give you a weapon that can do only one thing, you have to get used to going to the gunfight with someone else's spurs fitted.

Violet Club
29th Nov 2005, 15:34
I was told once that when going to war with JP233 and full fuel, the jets (at one particular base?) could fly only when the wind direction allowed the nearest end of the runway to be used.

If they had to taxy the long way round, to the other end, the brakes would overheat.

Nonsense, or not?

29th Nov 2005, 15:51
I thought that the reason it was withdrawn was due to the time delay (continual denial) and movement sensors (to hamper a clearup operation) on some on the bomblets meant they fell into the "land mine" category?

Don't shout at me if I'm wrong......

Haha, found this!

Politicians sticking their nose in (http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm199899/cmselect/cmdfence/273/273r18.htm)

30th Nov 2005, 09:13

Thank goodness SOMEONE stuck their nose in to ban those hideous things!

The main victims of APL worldwide are children, scores of thousands are either dead or limbless because of their use.

30th Nov 2005, 09:24
Not sure you get too many children wandering across the runways on military airfields.....

30th Nov 2005, 09:40
Not sure you get too many children wandering across the runways on military airfields.....

Agreed - in the developed world but in parts of Africa and the Far East, whole non-mil communities camp out inside the perimeter! Many perimeters are not secure - the fencing has been stolen for ulterior means.


30th Nov 2005, 12:52
In answer to your question: were aircrew ever consulted in the development of this system Undoubtedly! The MOD(OR) desk of the day would have been primarily involved in writing the requirement and significant in the down-selection of the bids received and the subsequent contract award. You can be sure that the officer concerned was aircrew but probably, as it was not then in Service, not a Tornado operator. That stated, he would have been constrained by: the interferers; the budgeteers; the political jessies; and any other gnome who thought he knew better! Believe me, I have been that soldier but post-JP233 era!

JP233 was a bl**dy good weapon and, as has been stated previously, 'fit for purpose'. The SG357 submunitions did do what they were designed to do, but the design was against a WP runway with European sub-strata and construction - not the soft sandy wastes that tend to absorb shock better. The HB 876 submunitions were very, very clever with different delays and anti-tamper that would have penetrated a bulldozer blade and the engine block had a WP chap ventured to mechanically remove them. Thus, I for one wouldn't have wanted to be on the end of a hose (no matter its power) because you would have been very likely to got a vf quick jet of tungsten in the teeth as the HB couped towards you (that was its design) upon the pressure that the water would bring to bear. Of course, that might have not been a problem for a WP Base Commander, but for his troops.....! The HBs could cover a very sizeable acreage from a 2xJP233 delivery!

The real problem for us was that most WP airfields had an SA-3 site off the end of the runway. The best delivery was either across or along the runway and both were practised regularly in coordinated attacks when we operated with JP233 in Germany. The problem with JP233 was that you had to be S&L at 500 kts as you ran in towards the release point and remain so throughout the delivery, which took about 15 seconds IIRCC! Thus, you had to fly straight at the SA-3 without deviation and remain so after you had overflown it! Not the best idea and thank God, we never had to do it for real in 2 ATAF.


30th Nov 2005, 16:28
but the design was against a WP runway with European sub-strata and construction - not the soft sandy wastes IIRC the length of the runways in the sandpit was a factor also..

... remember seeing some BDA piccies at the time, where JP 233 had worked as advertised, but still left lengthy MOSs on runways and parallel taxiways etc...

30th Nov 2005, 17:41
The huge perceived advantage of JP233 in the procurement period was the prospect of reducing the OTR (over target requirement for a set probability of achieving the damage required) from hundreds of aircraft to tens. Bear in mind that one of the pre-JP233 options favoured was long toss with 1000lb dumb bombs with variable delay fuses, and one does not need to be a weapons expert to realise that many hundreds of attacks would have been necessary to achieve a reasonable probability of closing an airfield for even 24 hours.

Yes, JP233 made tens of aircraft highly vulnerable, particularly around the target but that was perceived to be much better than making hundreds vulnerable and maybe not achieving the objective due to lack of resources.

Interesting to note that this weapon was among the first procured to take the place of the dumb 1000lb bomb of WW2 vintage but many regretted the lack of flexibility in the new weapon compared with the old. Change the priority from airfields to bridges, for example, and all aircraft needed rearming. It was also hyper-sensitive to target construction and dimension - the craters were only just big enough if the concrete and sub-structure were similar to the conditions assumed. It was also sensitive to crosswind - too much and it would not penetrate at all.

Perhaps the most significant fact of its' procurement was that it marked a shift in the head-shed thinking - prior to that a weapons system just had to look good at airshows and there was, apparently, no need to spend money on weapons.

Pontius Navigator
30th Nov 2005, 19:31
I visited Huntings in 1974, well pre-Tornado let alone GW1, when I was on the WEC. We had concluded that overflight of an airfield defended by Rapier equivalent missiles was a no-no and that a rocket booster and an IN (Blue Steel :O ) would be ideal.

The guys at Huntings went quite white about the gills as they thought e might recommend cancellation of JP233.

We were also told that it was designed as a modular weapon with dimensions tailored to match the available fuselage lengths on Jaguar and Tornado and another aircraft probably Buccaneer or F4.

Bear in mind we already had Martel coming in to service so stand-off munitions were hardly new.

30th Nov 2005, 20:02
Re my earlier post, any interesting anecdotes re its performance in GW1 versus OEU experience. My interest is from technical / lessons learnt perspective as I assume this is no longer a sensitive subject given its withdrawl from service.

L Peacock
30th Nov 2005, 21:49
Wasn't the stand-off version named 'revise'?

30th Nov 2005, 23:08
Bo Nalls

Check your PM


Pierre Argh
1st Dec 2005, 13:25
Many years ago, in a conversation at RAF Bru****, a Tornado GR1 Nav, through a slip of the tongue, referred to dropping JSP233

Quick retort... was that what they mean by "throwing the book at them"?

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