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JSF and A400M at risk?

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JSF and A400M at risk?

Old 27th Jan 2009, 08:11
  #301 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Madbob View Post
Are you advocating the return of troopships of the maritime variety? I can just picture convoys sailing along the Med......decks crowded with seasick soldiers.

Might even give the Navy a "raison d'etre" and a case for funding a new generation of convoy escorts! Plus jobs in the shipyards, if we have any left that is, (the dockyard workers were always a safe vote as far as the "Old" Labour party was concerned) mind you, it might also make a few ex pats feel proud at the sight of a White Ensign as the sail past.

O, for an Empire.....

MB

And they'd need to go round the cape, as sailing through the SUez Canal might be a bit dangerous*, and Elfin Safety would be against that

* And yes, I know Grey Funnel Lines uses the Canal
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Old 27th Jan 2009, 12:49
  #302 (permalink)  
 
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I hope I am wrong, but I suspect that the political hand that rocks the A400M cradle, may get burnt.

I am old enough to remember the problems of the introduction of the Belfast.

First aircraft too heavy and flew 100mph slower than design. Whilst Shorts made good progress with changes, I suspect that this aircrafts production was curtailed because of these and other matters.

The A400M is late, very late and if any one believes the 2012 into service date, they are very trusting.

The supply of military aircraft should be entrusted to people who have prior military experience in producing same, and how critical the into service date can be.

The C130K by that date will be completely knackered from an operational point of view, and there appears to be nothing to take up the slack.


More C17's perhaps in the short term both for the RAF and RAAF could overcome the short term problem.

I for one am glad that the RAAF is not in the que for the A400M.

Our servicemen of both services should stop having to work with one hand behind their backs.

Regards

Col
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Old 27th Jan 2009, 13:34
  #303 (permalink)  
 
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The supply of military aircraft should be entrusted to people who have prior military experience in producing same, and how critical the into service date can be.
Ah, the old, "you can only go if you've been before" mentality!!

Even if we do as you say and stick to "existing" suppliers, there are no viable alternatives at present.

"Fatter" Albert will be 2020 at the earliest provided it even gets off the drawing board,
C27 is too small all together,
C130J is too narrow,
C17 is too big for intra-theatre tac work (great for strat and for US style "Tac" work).
Antonov in any guise is not politically acceptable, nor technologically able.

Face facts, A400 might be delayed, but it is still the only realistic option in the current environment.
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Old 27th Jan 2009, 13:43
  #304 (permalink)  
 
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Sorry Moose but I have to disagree,

In the current environment more C17's and J's works just fine, however you may wish to consider swapping the word might with is
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Old 27th Jan 2009, 18:01
  #305 (permalink)  

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moosemaster - sorry but I have to disagree with most, if not all, of what you say.

C27 is too small all together - no, it's not. It would handle a huge chunk of the current C130 tasking in theatre when co-ordinated with sensible C17 usage.

C130J is too narrow - for what? I'll concede it's too narrow for FRES but then it's also too narrow for the Starship Enterprise...

C17 is too big for intra-theatre tac work - No it's not, one C17 is the right size for trash hauling tasks that would currently occupy several C130s at once.


I think there needs to be a long hard look at what we actually expect our AT (non-shiny) to do. The C17 is a very versatile tac/strat aircraft - they can deliver your FRES, tank, helicopter etc to pretty much wherever you need it. In sensible numbers too. An A400 might fit a FRES vehicle or two in it but what's the point? A C17 could deliver 3 LAVs + hod loads of troops whilst the A400 could put two in plus a couple of blokes to drive them.
I fail to see what scenario we are realistically trying to accomodate here.

Herkman - not wishing to be contentious but I don't believe the C130K going out of service will have that big an impact on day to day ops. There is the viewpoint that sustaining it may exacerbate future issues. One could argue that withdrawing it now might free up funding, hangar space, engineering manpower, crews and spaces on the Marshall's line to keep the Js ticking over. As it stands at the moment I reckon we face the ungodly prospect of most of the C130 fleet, Js and Ks, falling flat on their collective arses by 2012.
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Old 27th Jan 2009, 19:19
  #306 (permalink)  
 
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The role of the RAF has changed beyond all measure since the Wall came down. Regrettably, the thinking in the higher echelons, military and political, appears to be entrenched in Cold War strategy.

Time to move on and accept that you have a strategic and tactical airlift task and to use the tactical as the driving force for change: I fail to see why highly trained personnel should be employed on strategic AT when the tactical stuff is really your bread and butter.

Civilians can do the strategic airlift and leave you guys to work on the very specialised tasks.
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Old 28th Jan 2009, 02:26
  #307 (permalink)  
 
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From Aviation Week & Space Technology Airbus's A400M May Face Design Overhaul To Meet Performance Targets | AVIATION WEEK

Airbus's A400M May Face Design Overhaul To Meet Performance Targets

Jan 25, 2009

By Jens Flottau and Robert Wall

Airbus is facing much more than just contractual and schedule challenges in its A400M military airlifter program - the company may need to do a great deal of re-engineering work to achieve the aircraft's performance targets.

Numerous issues threaten to make the A400M a less attractive and capable aircraft, industry officials say, on top of the well-publicized delays in the flight-test program linked to the lagging engine Fadec development.

One key area of concern is that the A400M is overweight, which would negatively affect its payload and range capabilities. According to Airbus Military data, maximum payload is 37 tons and range is 1,780 naut. mi. with a full payload. But people close to the program say the aircraft is considerably heavier in its current development status. The first six units to be used in the flight-test program are 12 tons heavier than planned, according to those executives. A weight-saving campaign has identified a reduction potential of 7 tons. Early production aircraft will only incorporate reductions of 5 tons at most, leaving payload below the 30-ton mark.

Airbus Military appears to have informed procurement agency Occar about the likely weight penalty. Some Occar members, including France, have accepted the changes, but Germany, whose air force needs the aircraft for so-called out-of-area deployments that are both payload- and range-critical, has not. If the A400M falls far short of the previous design targets, missions to places such as Afghanistan would become much more complex and costly.

Germany plans to use the A400M to transport the Puma armored fighting vehicle that weighs 31.5 tons in its basic version. If Airbus Military cannot recoup more of the payload capabilities, the aircraft would only be able to carry the Puma with a sizable range restriction.

Government officials indicate it is unlikely that Germany would reduce its A400M order in favor of other models, such as the C-130J or the C-17 that are being evaluated by the U.K., but mainly for political reasons. A proposal by EADS CEO Louis Gallois to use Airbus A330-200Fs as an interim solution is receiving a lukewarm response at best.

"If we wanted to have a commercial freighter, we could simply charter one from Cargolux or somebody else," one German military official says angrily. But Germany's current C-160 Transall transport fleet flies a lot of short-haul domestic legs in Afghanistan to places that cannot accommodate an A330F. One air force official hints that the Transalls could continue operating for several more years instead, as they are well maintained. But Germany leases some Antonov An-124s for missions beyond the C-160 capabilities.

If the A400M's biggest customer (60 of 192 units on order) insists on the previous performance guarantees, it could force a major redesign of the aircraft, such as a larger wing to allow for more fuel. But that seems highly unlikely, given the already huge financial and schedule challenges that made Airbus CEO Thomas Enders describe the terms of the current program as being a "mission impossible."

On Jan. 9, EADS and Airbus announced a delay of up to four years in the A400M project and proposed renegotiating the contract with the Occar nations. According to the original terms committed to in 2003, EADS is carrying most of the financial risk of the program and may face big penalty payments if no solution is found. In their statement early in the month, Airbus Military and EADS said they "want to discuss the program schedule along with changes to other areas of the contract, including certain technical characteristics of this first-class military aircraft." No additional details were mentioned and Airbus/EADS officials have declined to comment further.

Responsibility for the A400M was recently shifted under the Airbus umbrella to reduce management complexity and improve program oversight.

Airbus officials suggest the main performance criteria aren't at any particular risk. The executive vice president of programs, Tom Williams, says the more he has been reviewing the program, the more certain he has become that "this is still going to be a bloody good airplane." The aircraft is beating its short-field performance and load targets, he says.

However, the fact that Airbus has halted A400M prototype production until "adequate maturity is reached" is interpreted by industry insiders as an indirect admission that there are probably massive changes to the aircraft in the works, making continued production obsolete at this point.

Industry officials say the weight problem could well turn out to be the primary issue with the aircraft, and no longer engine software. One observer believes the A400M payload will end up 3-4 tons below the original target, even after the design changes, which could include the introduction of carbon fiber composites in non-critical areas. The three-year timeframe proposed by EADS between the first flight and first delivery at the end of 2012, at the earliest, suggests that modifications to some parts of the aircraft structure are also possible.

Some weight-saving initiatives are affecting aircraft operations, though. A hydraulic system to lower the main landing gear on the ground in order to ensure an even loading ramp has been scrapped. That decision means floor beams may have to be reinforced, since heavy tanks are planned to virtually drop down when their center of gravity has passed the loading edge.

Executives close to the Europrop International (EPI) engine consortium say Fadec issues with the TP400 are expected to be resolved by June. Gallois said early this month that once an acceptable standard Fadec was provided, the A400M could fly about a month later. But, in addition to software, there are also hardware problems involving the engines. Because of unexpectedly high loads, cracks were found in some of the original design engine gearbox casings. Those needed to be partially strengthened. The executives say upgraded casings have been delivered to the Seville, Spain, final assembly line and will be installed to replace the original parts.

Some special operational performance goals are also in doubt, according to people familiar with the details. For example, the A400M may not be able to fly "Sarajevo profile" steep approaches because of possible flutter issues with the propellers.

Moreover, officials familiar with the program say some systems may be rejected by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The agency appears not to agree with how oxygen bottles and fire protection systems are installed in the fuselage and main gear bay. If no agreement is reached, the A400M will not be given the EASA approval needed for planned civil certification. An EASA official says the agency does not comment on ongoing certification processes.

EADS is talking with customers about some requirements relief, but company officials claim these have to do with special needs and are not related to fundamental aircraft performance aspects. Enders says both customers and the company's own engineers contributed to some requirements being added that are "technologically hardly feasible or only feasible at a disproportionate amount of cost."

Williams says one example is an extreme tactical navigation requirement. It calls for the aircraft to fly low and remain entirely passive - not even using a terrain-following, terrain-avoidance system - to support special operations.
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Old 28th Jan 2009, 04:46
  #308 (permalink)  
 
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Hardly the information that is needed to get this program back on schedule. Dare I say that Airbus must be very concerned at where this will end.

One tends to think that the biggest customer, is unlikely to change their position. I think what Airbus is doing, is softening the customers up for yet more delays and reduced capacity.

Very sad, very sad indeed.

Regards

Col
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Old 28th Jan 2009, 09:53
  #309 (permalink)  
 
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Hmm. A400M/Typhoon Trade Off?

It's well known UK (or Italy) don't really want Typhoon Tranche 3. It also seems niether want A400M now. But Germany wants both. Maybe we could agree to stick with A400M and drop T3, or vice-versa?
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Old 28th Jan 2009, 10:18
  #310 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by herkman View Post

The supply of military aircraft should be entrusted to people who have prior military experience in producing same, and how critical the into service date can be.
Of course the original idea behind giving it to Airbus was their experience at bringing projects in on time and to spec.......
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Old 28th Jan 2009, 10:20
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Smile Good news - for once ...


Flight Global today (28 Jan) tells us that the TP700 was taken to take-off and then (briefly) to full power on its second flight on 27 Jan (sorry, but I'm not able to link to the article).
Originally, this wasn't expected to happen till much later in the test programme, so it's a good sign of progress, as well as the earlier news that on inspection after its first flight, the engine was given a clean bill of health. Now let's hope more flights from Marshall's go as well and that the first A400M will be able to get airborne soon (my optimism function says "before Easter?").
Whatever the weight/payload/range issues really are can then be properly analysed, if any. All we have at the moment are rumours and Avweek's not necessarily unbiased article ...
As a side issue, I do wish Ppruners would be a bit realistic about "possible alternatives" - neither Lockheed not Boeing can deliver their stuff off the shelf.
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Old 28th Jan 2009, 10:26
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Flight Global today (28 Jan) tells us that the TP700 was taken to take-off and then (briefly) to full power on its second flight on 27 Jan (sorry, but I'm not able to link to the article).
A400M's TP400 engine taken to full thrust during second flight

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Old 28th Jan 2009, 11:03
  #313 (permalink)  

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As a side issue, I do wish Ppruners would be a bit realistic about "possible alternatives" - neither Lockheed not Boeing can deliver their stuff off the shelf.
Who said anything about buying new?
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Old 28th Jan 2009, 12:47
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In light of the weight and range problems with the A400 may I raise the subject of it's AAR capability once again? I did not consider this to be one of the reasons to have receiver qualification right from the start but surely this must be the case now.
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Old 28th Jan 2009, 13:09
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Wink Change of boss ...

The A400M went to Airbus because of the company's then-justified reputatio for on-cost, on-time deliovery of programmes ... That was earned by the predecessors of one Noel Forgeard, whose qualifications for the job included being an "industrial adviser" to top politicians and, in the words of his biographer (paraphrased) his long-standing ambition to run a large company before he was 40 (he had missed his self-imposed deadline by 3 years).
His failure to manage the A380 programme in sufficient depth (or back the relatively inexperienced programme manager he put onto the A380) resulted in the mismatch between Catia versions across the programme and the problems we all know about, and which seem to be still not fully solved.
On THIS thread, he also reckoned that CASA could handle something bigger than their products to date, but also failed to allot enough design resources ... Recovering from the "Catia mismatch" on the A380 and his insistence on retaining the "traditional Airbus twin-aisle" fuselage width for the A350 needed vast amounts of design engineering time which could have been available for the A400M.
What his "expert input" to the power plant decision was, Gornose, but as it seems to have been political, what's one to suspect ??? P&W Canada had a suitable-sounding contender (but no hardware), but politics prevailed. Forgeard was, as we know, eventually unseated (with loads of dosh, but also many a law-suit over his head), and his successors and their teams of engineers are even now still hard at work to recover from one man's overweening ambition.
I'm sure they will get the A400M "right" ...
One can feel like shooting the pianist, but don't let's take an AK47 to the whole orchestra ...

"The evil that men do lives after them" ... and it's left to the good 'uns to tidy up afterwards.

Last edited by Jig Peter; 28th Jan 2009 at 13:31. Reason: add mangled quotation ..;
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Old 28th Jan 2009, 13:12
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Old lamps for new?

What? More second-hand, non-standard aircraft for her Majesty's air fleets ... They've been there, done that - and regretted it, haven't they ?
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Old 28th Jan 2009, 13:25
  #317 (permalink)  

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They've also "been there, done that - and regretted it" when it comes to believing the lofty promises of aerospace manufacturers.

Second hand C130Js (for example) from the US would be (as long as they weren't twatted about with by some random UK company on the way here) ideal. Given that I've got more hours on the Wii-Fit than most of their Js have got flying hours, "second hand" would apply merely in terms of ownership rather than usage.

A mini-fleet operated effectively as a seperate type would cause few issues. Different software standard (better) and equipment fit (better) would not mean the end of the world, far from it. Just look at the way the C17 is operated. US kit/trg etc etc. I'm led to believe they've been something of a success.....
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Old 28th Jan 2009, 13:27
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As one who has the pleasure of enduring 14 hours on Monday on one of the Tri*s, I can conclude that they are looking very, very tired. They cannot go on forever...even the bodge tape on the leading edges is in need of a refurb!

Secondhand cannot be a good idea again.

The other thread on a review of procurement procedures ties in with this nicely.

G

Last edited by gijoe; 28th Jan 2009 at 13:39.
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Old 28th Jan 2009, 14:40
  #319 (permalink)  

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Agreed, second hand tristars would be a bad idea but we're not really talking about shiny AT.

"Second hand" C130Js on the other hand is a totally different kettle of fish. Having seen the USMC fleet leader C130J out east a couple of months ago I'd say it's probably in better nick than ours were when they were originally delivered....

Ultimately though, it's all pie in the sky. Still, it's raining outside so I can't play in the garden...
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Old 28th Jan 2009, 14:50
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"Given that I've got more hours on the Wii-Fit than most of their Js have got flying hours"....................those J's must be bloody new..........or your Wii thingy is broken........
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