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F-35 Cancelled, then what ?

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F-35 Cancelled, then what ?

Old 11th Jul 2016, 15:52
  #9421 (permalink)  
 
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Is there a desire to land Taranis on the QEC? Is that a Taranis requirement? I genuinely don't know chap, so I'm asking the wider illuminati that often pause here for entertainment. Failing that, if they nail the range/persistence it won't need to be an embarked capability per se, akin to tankers. Even ambition needs to be managed.

V-22 is an excellent choice for the RN IMHO. I sincerely hope they find the money for that because it would help SF, MITL and whole other bunch of stuff too.

Sorry I don't see or appreciate your dim view of future plans. FWIW I think they are lining up to be very good for all sides. Just because some within the RN want to be like Uncle Sam, we shouldn't all be.
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 15:53
  #9422 (permalink)  
 
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That's interesting to know, pasta. Is that the case for the X47? Would that also be the case if it was bringing back a weapons load of the same weight expected of the F35?
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 15:58
  #9423 (permalink)  
 
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Again, I ask you what the Taranis requirements are. Why is an F-35B payload a comparator? We're not replacing the latter's capability in a UCAV, to my knowledge.

Once again we seem to be conflating the RAF's requirement, for a Future Combat Air System, with a confusing argument (or straw man) about why the C isn't in the line up. The C variant is best suited for a conventional carrier, which we won't have. The A variant has 95% of the fuel load and range, with the same payload and none of the parasitic weight of the C.
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 16:02
  #9424 (permalink)  
 
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MSOCS, I think we're dancing around each-other's point. I'm not trying to make mystic meg style predictions about the future; the point that I'm taking issue with is that there was a concerted effort (maybe) to say the C was off the cards. I think it's weird, and represents an unwelcome level of inflexibility about the future is all. And if (as an accusation) it is true, then I hope it is not politically motivated. That's what I'm getting at. Cheers
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 16:31
  #9425 (permalink)  
 
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The RN covet the V-22 as a MITL/COD bird - and the new USN COD variant would seem to fit that spec quite nicely. I can't be alone in thinking that the extra fuel it carries would be useful for SF but a likely RN buy would be too small to allow them to use it. If the much touted enlarged SF "war chest" stretches to V-22 I imagine it would be the USAF SOCOM CV-22 variant, recently publicly trailed in all of the papers, that would be favourite. Rumours are rife on the extent of the "shopping spree" - but the niche use of V-22 makes sense (if affordable). Once it's in service, then you can start looking at other roles (Crowsnest, AAR etc). Re the F-35A, it makes a more sensible GR4 replacement than Typhoon, with the option to buy ever-improving small batches through life rather than have a costly attrition fleet sitting around (assuming, of course, you don't end up in a high tempo shooting war...). Lots of potential through life savings by buying into a large long running programme......just like with AH64, P8 and I wonder what else?
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 16:41
  #9426 (permalink)  
 
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Is this the first time the RAF's interest in the F35A has been spoken of in such a public way?
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 16:45
  #9427 (permalink)  
 
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Evalua8er, your view pretty much matches mine in this. Though you clearly have more knowledge re: V-22.

Dave - probably.
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 17:41
  #9428 (permalink)  
 
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There have been a few posts here on carriers and aircraft - perhaps I can help clear up a few points.

MSOCS - no, Taranis was not required to operate from a carrier. As I've posted often here, the whole business of getting an aircraft on and off a cat and trap ship is extremely difficult, and demands some specific design features and expertise which only the USN really have.

Both Taranis and X-47B were nothing more than flying shapes, and as the F-35 programme shows, getting from that stage to a military aircraft with a usable combat load, range , endurance and speed is a non-trivial problem. It's interesting to note how many people were, a while back, proposing that we buy 'X-47B' as our carrier borne UCAV - less people have commented on the fact that the USN appears to have put their UCLASS programme on hold while they go back and look again at requirements and available technology.

I've posted before on the tendency to assign UCAVs with nearly god-like powers of range and payload, despite the fact that they are still machines governed by the laws of aerodynamics and physics. It's just possible that the USN have determined that, for now, building a UCAV to operate from a carrier with a payload and performance envelope a bit better than a legacy manned aircraft would probably result in a UCAV nearly as big, complex and expensive as a comparable manned aircraft.

On carrier design versus variant choice - it might be useful to remember that JSF (remember that?) actually came first, and the UK's place at the table as a Tier 1 partner on JSF was predicated on two things. First, and most importantly, our STOVL knowledge and a long (over 20 years) history of high level co-operation with the US on that technology. (The MoU under which the UK joined the JSF was actually titled the 'JSF STOVL MoU'). Secondly, the fact that we actually had a requirement, which was (I think) Naval Staff Target 6466, for a Harrier replacement - it was called Future Carrier Bome Aircraft (FCBA). This became Future Joint Combat Aircraft (FJCA) in around 2001, and from where I stood, FJCA was the Tornado replacement.

At that time, as far as I understood, the high level plan for the RAF was a mix of F-35 as a strike asset, with Typhoon as the AD asset. F-35 variant was not specifically identified, but it was my impression that a buy of F-35A was never far away from the table.

UK carrier requirements were framed to include a wide range of aircraft, including FCBA, F-18, Rafale, and even a marinised Typhoon (which didn't actually exist, thus making designing a ship around it a tad iffy). Why not only FCBA? There was some UK nervousness over putting all our eggs in the STOVL basket, but the lack of decisiveness in the UK's carrier design looked worse and worse as time went on. Lack of expertise and an accurate cost model led to the debacle of SDR 2010 and the subsequent carrier design 'hokey-cokey'.

8ter is right on target (as usual) on V-22. My view (and that's all it is) is that the combination of STOVL capability plus good range and endurance will eventually make the case for a UK purchase, especially for SF ops from a carrier.

Hope this helps a bit, best regards as ever to all those building our future land based and maritime aviation capabilities,

Engines
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 18:10
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My (probably hazy) recollections are that the FCBA requirement looked at JSF-STOVL, JSF-CV, F/A18E and what was referred to as Navalised Eurofighter 2000 (NEF2000) as candidate aircraft. With STOVL, CTOL (in the carrier sense), STOBAR and Advanced STOBAR as operating modes.

The FJCA project was created by combining the RN FCBA and the RAF FOAS (Future Offensive Air System) requirements into a oner, as part of the ongoing Equipment Capability requirement rationalisations. FOAS was most definitely the GR4 replacement - sorry, future required capability(!).

The danger (IMO) of going down the mixed A & B route is that we will eventually end up with an orphan fleet, where - as has happened before with an aircraft that shall not be named - small fleets end up in the "savings measure" target sights.

Aside from the known divergence in commonality across the variants, I'd imagine the training requirements and syllabi would start to diverge as well, to the point where you'd end up with de facto three separate forces (Typhoon, F35A and F35B), with a concomitant reduction in commonality and an increase in DLOD costs.
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 18:50
  #9430 (permalink)  
 
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There would most assuredly be a common syllabi for the A and B, you then just add the element of STOVL trg for those destined for the B. Remember the Mission Systems of F-35 family are 99% the same. The selection of the A over the C would actually save on the requirement to train, because there is no additional burden to train cats and traps which is a massive overhead (FCLP etc)

Sorry but the whole orphan paranoia is exactly that, paranoia. The F-35B fleet will be very difficult to cull while there are Carriers. What else would replace them? Let's not clutch at straws.
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 19:14
  #9431 (permalink)  
 
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Why not just give the F-35B to the FAA? The RAF could then operate the A. I'll get my coat...
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 19:35
  #9432 (permalink)  
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I'm just considering numbers. We are buying the joint F-35B wing to allow surge capability and reduce costs (plus no doubt the opportunity of a shore tour to maximise retention). With the reducing size of the RAF and the shrinking Tornado force vs Typhoon, what size additional but are we looking at, particularly if a "force" with a mix of manned platforms controlling UAV wingmen? One, maximum two, squadrons?

For this we would introduce a new type with reported only 10-20% airframe and spares commonality? Even accepting the idea is to solve the problem by sharing spare with the USAF wing at Lakenheath it seems weird - plus the cost of converting the tanker force.

Why not go the whole hog and base them as an integral part of the Lakenheath wing including USAF tanker support? But with long timeframes I am old enough to remember the fallout from the Skybolt cancellation. Not suggesting that the F-35A will be cancelled, but what if the USAF/USA relocated them back to the USA or Eastern Europe etc?

Seems extremely poorly explored and thought out. The route of more F-35B would seem lower risk, and the tanker force was scaled for more squadrons than we will have anyway.

Accepting the additional range and payload would be advantageous, it does seem ambitious as an idea and reflective of an age of a larger Air Force. Nowadays we have to cut out cloth to suit our purse.
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 19:39
  #9433 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by ORAC View Post
... and the tanker force was scaled for more squadrons than we will have anyway.
Having a few too many tankers beats not having enough.
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 19:45
  #9434 (permalink)  
 
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you then just add the element of STOVL trg for those destined for the B. Remember the Mission Systems of F-35 family are 99% the same.
My bold. Once on type though, how much cross-pol would there actually be? Absolutely agree on the mission systems, but the airframe and lift engine? Emergency procedures? Non-aircrew training? It's an additional cost which always gets the accountants (and eventually SO1s) salivating.

The selection of the A over the C would actually save on the requirement to train, because there is no additional burden to train cats and traps which is a massive overhead (FCLP etc)
Don't recall suggesting the C. I'm just questioning why you'd add another type.

Sorry but the whole orphan paranoia is exactly that, paranoia. The F-35B fleet will be very difficult to cull while there are Carriers.
Once (in fact twice) bitten, twice shy. Understand and grudgingly agree with the 2010 rationale. However, why risk repeating history? There were carriers in 2009 - miraculously in 2011 there were none.

What ORAC said....
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 20:36
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ORAC, the vital statistics of the B don't meet the FCAS requirement. The A does. It's that simple. The aggregate sustainment and logistics cost of staying within the same program as opposed to a completely different type makes sense. Given the above logic, the F-35A would make complete sense to me, as someone earlier said.
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 20:42
  #9436 (permalink)  
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ORAC, the vital statistics of the B don't meet the FCAS requirement. The A does. It's that simple.
And since when have MOD requirements been written in stone? I can give you ample examples when political needs and costs have changed requirements.
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 22:06
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...and I could give you just as many examples in return, as could many other experienced military personnel on this forum. Your rather weak and diversionary fact about moving the goalposts of requirements doesn't alter the fact that the FCAS ones aren't met by aircraft currently in our inventory.
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 22:23
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Originally Posted by MSOCS View Post
...and I could give you just as many examples in return, as could many other experienced military personnel on this forum. Your rather weak and diversionary fact about moving the goalposts of requirements doesn't alter the fact that the FCAS ones aren't met by aircraft currently in our inventory.
Did you mean the A instead of the B, or the A instead of, or to replace, Typhoon? If you mant A instead of B, what do you do with the carriers built for B's?
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 22:23
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"Why not go the whole hog and base them as an integral part of the Lakenheath wing including USAF tanker support?" - Why not base an RAF F-35A wing very close? Mildenhall is going to be very quiet (i.e. shut...) soon and Honington is almost as close with a couple of HAS sites. The Rocks would love digging holes somewhere new...

I'm not sure, but is there confirmation of the make up of the 138 ac buy? Just thinking the 35B numbers could get capped at the 60-70 mark to give a reinforced CAG plus spares and the other 70-odd as 35As would make a reasonable sized wing for the RAF. If you shifted the balance further to the F35A (say 40/100) then you could conceive of giving the RN the B in toto and leaving the RAF with the A. Mind you, would the rump FAA struggle to man two Sqns plus dedicated STOVL training unit and still supply the required number of Staff and support posts?
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Old 11th Jul 2016, 22:36
  #9440 (permalink)  
 
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There would most assuredly be a common syllabi for the A and B, you then just add the element of STOVL trg for those destined for the B
Mind you, would the rump FAA struggle to man two Sqns plus dedicated STOVL training unit and still supply the required number of Staff and support posts?
Forgive my intrusion in this excellent and informative thread, but I need some clarification. Part of the JSF STOVL research which included the VAAC Harrier was to look long term at reducing the training requirements (and therefore cost) of STOVL training. If the project succeeded in their goal of getting the aircraft to behave the same at 5 knots as it does at 500 knots then it follows that there would not be much to teach a budding F-35B pilot as opposed to one assigned to a different variant? I understand that the only difference in the cockpit is the hook handle is replaced with a STOVL mode switch in the B model.

Thanks in advance for any answers.
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