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No cats and flaps ...... back to F35B?

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No cats and flaps ...... back to F35B?

Old 5th Jul 2012, 16:11
  #1341 (permalink)  
 
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There could come a time when the various tin-pot nations in an area of strategic interest to the UK make it awkward to overfly, let alone land and 'project power'.
I'm not disputing that, but given a constricted budget, I think the idea that these carriers will give us more ability to project power compared to other ways of using our finite resources, is a complete fallacy. All in for the carriers and JSF, we're looking at upwards of 15 billion...at least; and for what? 6 jets on the worlds biggest, defenceless floating target. That's a lot of F35As or Typhoons, and even more tanks and helicopters. In my mind, having all those things in usable numbers, presents a far more formidable fighting force than one that's sacrificed, and plans to sacrifice even more, capabilty to build two empty behemoths.

would provide much more promotion projection capability"
Well if we aren't angling for a promotion, what is our job description??
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Old 5th Jul 2012, 16:46
  #1342 (permalink)  
 
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Forgive me if it's been asked/pondered before, but I can't help but wonder what the americans would have charged us for a refitted carrier of theirs, a bunch of new f-18's and a smattering of E2's etc.

The problem seems to be that it's nothing to do with getting military bang for your buck, but everything to do with jobs back home....which is fine until the day that you need military capability, when suddenly paying over the odds for a smaller number of ...... (whatever you care to mention) suddenly isn't much use.
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Old 5th Jul 2012, 17:39
  #1343 (permalink)  
 
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I can't ever see the carrier being used without the cover of the US&A and their approval, i.e. Another war where the UK hides behind the master but gives it the big one via politicians ala Hague on the TV to pretend we're still a world player on the cheap. UK hasn't the bollocks to go it alone against a half decent adversary, so the threat to the aircraft transporter/carrier isn't a credible one. US&A will provide the logistics & aew, we'll just be tipping up with a few more aircraft to up their sortie rate and preserve the 'special' relationship.

Last edited by Thelma Viaduct; 5th Jul 2012 at 17:41.
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Old 5th Jul 2012, 18:12
  #1344 (permalink)  
 
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Bastardeux,

I think you have valid points and some will always fall on either side of the fence as regards the carrier debate.

Interesting to me, though, given your figures of 15 billion for (both?) QEC carriers and 6 F35B is the price tag for Typhoon - which you would buy instead.

The NAO quotes 20 billion down and 17 billion more to come, for Typhoon, and IRRC we can field 16 ([email protected] might have gone up - admittedly, but with a total buy of 160 I can't see it getting much above 30 or so) and they aren't going to be fully up to spec until 2018.

That seems like a hideous cost for what we actually get given that the F-3 was more than capable of providing homeland security and Falklands QRA.

But anyway, it's a knock F-35B and carriers in the main thread, not a 'golly how the Typhoon's crippled us' thread - so I do apologise, but I think we need to compare like with like.
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Old 5th Jul 2012, 19:22
  #1345 (permalink)  
 
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Yeah but Tiffin does mighty good air displays at BOTH shows it deploys to and it makes a senior hoccifer go all wet that we have an aircraft to supercriuse.....


No Dave, no Boats (Yet) and a bill going upwards faster than a paniced new dad on a mothercare spree.....

place your bets as to which ever version we get - I reckon the lot gets canned and we spend the threepence we save on lager for chavs....
Oh and funding t'barons new pool house
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Old 5th Jul 2012, 22:33
  #1346 (permalink)  
 
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Orca, I agree with the thrust of your argument completely, if I had been CAS back when the decision was made, I would like to have told BAe to find someone else to bankroll them and we'd all be flying Strike Eagles, in large numbers, right now. My point is that we're about to make the exact same mistake again...crippling every other element of the military for a jet that is almost 100%, at this point, not going to be working when we get it or anywhere near the initial budget. For me, the F35 is going to have the same storyline, but even more frustrating and with fewer numbers.

And your point that Typhoon won't be getting up to spec until 2018...right when we're scraping 1/3 of them to pay for the gold-plated wonderjet - that will still be a developmental aircraft - further reinforces my point that we should be making the most out of Typhoon while it's a good jet and then replace half of them with the F35 after 2020...once the JSF begins to get up to spec.

We need to get out of the mindset that by having the JSF in 2015, we're somehow going to be a supreme air power that is capable of taking on the world, when in fact we're crippling ourselves for a non-existent capability. Don't get me wrong, I'm fully convinced the F35 will eventually become a war-winner that we should buy eventually, but we shouldn't be destroying everything it's taken us decades to develop, from challengers to Nimrods, for the sake of a jet in its extreme infancy.
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Old 5th Jul 2012, 23:09
  #1347 (permalink)  
 
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Don't disagree with what you're saying. Only a few weeks ago I thought it made sense to buy or lease a few F-18E and wait for Gen 5 to mature. But that still involved a single boat which never made sense and a conversion cost which was dreamt up by someone on crack.

As regards navies. My (very own) opinion is that if you want to be one of the big boys you need a nuclear deterrent. If you want to be one of the big boys and relevant you need a nuclear deterrent and carriers.

5 billion isn't that big a price tag for the carrier bit if that's what you want.

If you want to be a relevant air power you just need some decent aeroplanes - which come in at less than 37 billion for a deployable total that gets bigger than 20.

I am gradually persuaded by experts such as SSSEOWTF, ICBM etc that STOVL F-35 'ain't that bad', in fact I think it's going to be pretty special, but for the total cost of the systems involved I would have liked to see a CV capability.

So I think we're getting a reasonable capability, for which the price is high, but for a small island nation with worldwide repsonsibilities and delusions I think we're somewhere on the right lines.

I dread to think what our forces would look like if we'd bought F-15E, F-18E and a USN CVN...somewhat less dismal I would imagine.

Still, when we're not paying through the nose for Typhoon we're being quoted astronomical prices for conversions of a supposedly eminently convertible design...there is a common theme here!
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Old 6th Jul 2012, 09:20
  #1348 (permalink)  
 
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You're right, with its radar etc. etc. it will be a good aircraft when it comes up to spec, but that doesn't change the fact that we're buying the most expensive and arguably the least capable variant, both to purchase and to fly.

The price, for me, is too high and I think by trying to achieve the very goal of reasonable capability for protecting worldwide interests, we're actually painting ourselves into a corner and achieving the opposite, with far too few assets to do anything at all.

The dutch seem to be with me!

Dutch plans to buy F-35 fighter jets in doubt
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Old 6th Jul 2012, 10:21
  #1349 (permalink)  
 
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Forgive me if it's been asked/pondered before, but I can't help but wonder what the americans would have charged us for a refitted carrier of theirs, a bunch of new f-18's and a smattering of E2's etc.

Assuming that the USN would even countenance such a thing, the only carriers they have that aren't CVN are the old Forrestal & Kitty Hawk classes. Mostly built in the 50 and 60s, worked very hard through life and even after life extension refits in the 80s & 90s they were beginning to fall apart. JFK was allegedly a wreck towards the end of her commissioned service which ended nearly six year ago. It also assumes that we could find 2500+ matelots to run the ship on top of any FAA complement.

If you're thinking CVN - dream on, we can hardly get enough qualified kettle watchers for the boats and we'd again be in the same position wrt life expired, knackered ships with huge manning requirements.

As far as back-fitting EMALS / EARS later in life is concerned, it should be possible, it will be merely a question of money. Compared to the rebuild of Vic (stripped down to the hangar deck and rebuilt - literally) or Eagle and Ark, the configuration changes required should not be massively demanding. QE has a significant margin allowance for weight growth - equivalent in weight to "a number" of frigates being welded to the hangar deck - another reason why a large design is more sustainable through life.

Doing this in a refit as opposed to at build will almost certainly be more expensive, but there you go. The "adaptable" design was always meant to be big enough to switch variants if required - and it is. Imagine how difficult a "CVS on steroids" type ship would have been to convert to a CTOL configuration had F35B been canned (you'd end up starting again, from scratch). However, the timing of such a switch would always affect the price, the later you do it, the more drawing and equipment changes are required, never mind undoing work done already.

Nevertheless and without wishing to re-open the debate - it's done and we need to get on with getting the ships completed and as many F35 as we can get (definitely more than 6!) worked up and available - the actual content of the conversion has never been satisfactorily explained. Given that the cost of the hardware was reasonably well known (~500M) it is still difficult to see how the remainder of the "conversion cost" (~1.5Bn) adds up. As noted ad nauseum, it's somewhere between 12 and 20 million manhours depending on how expensive you think a manhour is and I just can't envisage how that would be needed to fabricate troughs, add local stiffening, run cables and control, inspect, test and commission etc.

It may be that there is a big nasty lurking there which I'm not aware of, but I'm b8ggered if I can think of anything that would have that sort of impact.

One thing that will be certain. If and when it comes to back-fitting such a system twenty-years from now, the risks and requirements should be a lot lower, even if the physical work content may be higher.

Last edited by Not_a_boffin; 6th Jul 2012 at 10:23.
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Old 6th Jul 2012, 12:28
  #1350 (permalink)  
 
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2 thoughts from a total outsider:

If NAB is correct and we couldn't scrape together
2500+ matelots
to man a Kittyhawk class boat, who is going to man both QE boats at c 3000 between them?

If F-35 is a stealthy aircraft why are we bothered about overflight of neutral nations? They presumably would be none the wiser, unless the F-35 is not stealthy, which begs the question; why buy it?
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Old 6th Jul 2012, 12:50
  #1351 (permalink)  
 
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HQ

Each QE requires something less than 800 matelots to run the ship as opposed to US CV/CVN which need 2500+. Both figures exclude the CAG which is projected as 7-800 for UK and is usually about 3000 for the US.

F35 is only fully stealthy at night. Mk1 mod 0 eyeball will be capable of identifying it given the right optics. Violation of third-party territory is something that will land you in the UNSC bad-boys corner in fairly short order if caught. The BBC and John Simpson might get a bit upset and self-righteous about that.......
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Old 6th Jul 2012, 13:05
  #1352 (permalink)  
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Its also not all-angle stealth. They might not see you on the way in but they would on the way out. Plus that big tailpipe would make a juicy IR target.
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Old 6th Jul 2012, 15:45
  #1353 (permalink)  
 
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Thank you for your answers.
NAB I did use the figure of 3000 between the two boats and I still fail to see where that manpower is to come from.
Navaleye, won't the target nation also see you on the way out, they may even be more alert because the boat is within striking distance (I believe c700 miles for F35B)?
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Old 6th Jul 2012, 18:34
  #1354 (permalink)  
 
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Deleted double post

Last edited by hulahoop7; 6th Jul 2012 at 18:44.
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Old 6th Jul 2012, 18:43
  #1355 (permalink)  
 
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They won't be active at the same time as a matter of course. But the UK will be able to now generate a full time capability - the ships will cover each others refit periods. Much like the Albion LPDs will be run. Clearly it would be a great idea for the RNR to train for these two capital ships to ensure that they could be regenerated quickly if required.

I guess it very roughly works like this:
Before SDR availability was 150%
After SDR it was 75%
After 2015 it may be 100%

As QE will also need to supply the UKs LPH capability, I personally think the U turn was worth it if it gets the UK that crucial 100%
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Old 6th Jul 2012, 22:54
  #1356 (permalink)  
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1SL has stated that with pool of just 30,000 sailors he won't have the manpower to manpower for 2 carriers except in an emergency. The idea is to rotate them and that is what will happen.

The interesting question is what will the RAF use to replace the GR4. Given that we have just spent the family silver on Voyager. I suspect it will probably end up being a mixed order over time for B (first) followed by A. We will see.
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Old 7th Jul 2012, 05:28
  #1357 (permalink)  
 
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Interesting post Navaleye and having crews to man a ship in an emergency would to me indicate waffle....

In this so called emergency does that mean our illustrious First Sea Lord would

'Rob Peter, to pay Paul?'

In other words take sailors from the rest of our mini or minuscule fleet to man these ships?
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Old 7th Jul 2012, 08:58
  #1358 (permalink)  
 
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Navaleye,

I suspect you are spot on, as is Glojo.

Nothing is all-aspect stealth, not even a RAM-coated rugby ball, it is about 'how much stealth do I need'. The combat edge that sufficient stealth brings is part of the allure of 5th Gen but not all of it. Now add in the phenomenal SA, networked everything, jaw-dropping weapons capabilities and the potential for as-yet-untold growth and you start to appreciate why the UK should be in that game. It costs to be in, it is sometimes frustrating and many rightfully ask 'why' but the US/Brit relationship is a big factor in this programme through choice. Pulling out cuts off not just our own noses but that of others. It will drive cost up even more and introduce more risk where enough exists.

Just an opinion.
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Old 7th Jul 2012, 13:07
  #1359 (permalink)  
 
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They won't be active at the same time as a matter of course. But the UK will be able to now generate a full time capability - the ships will cover each others refit periods. Much like the Albion LPDs will be run. Clearly it would be a great idea for the RNR to train for these two capital ships to ensure that they could be regenerated quickly if required.
The RNR does not have the range of skills to run ships as complicated as a LPD. They are quite busy supporting operations too.

As QE will also need to supply the UKs LPH capability, I personally think the U turn was worth it if it gets the UK that crucial 100%
Agree.

Last edited by WE Branch Fanatic; 14th Jul 2012 at 11:49.
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Old 7th Jul 2012, 16:44
  #1360 (permalink)  
 
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In this so called emergency does that mean our illustrious First Sea Lord would

'Rob Peter, to pay Paul?'
A future 1SL will if needed no doubt find the men the same way that Henry Leach did in 1982, when all sorts of things re-appeared off trots. Denude the shore establishments for experienced Officers and Snr Rates and the training pipeline for Jnr Rates.

Worry about the ensuing mess after the emergency.

That was always how the third CVS and its CAG was designed to be manned, even in the days when 'committed to NATO' actually meant something.

N
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