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UK considers fighter purchase

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posted on Jan, 29 2006 @ 05:43 AM
The UK's concerns over a very likely 'capability shortfall' with acquiring the F-35 have been spelled out by the MoD in almost exactly the same way as we have been speculating on this board according to the latest edition of 'Aircraft Illustrated'.

The operational debut of the F-35B in the UK will not happen before 2014, however, even then the F-35 will only be cleared to carry the AMRAAM, ASRAAM and Paveway IV bomb, the type will not be compatible with the Storm Shadow, Brimstone and Meteor, all primary weapons, until the 'Block IV capability upgrade' is introduced in 2022! Suddenly the decision to retire all Sea Harriers by the end of 2006 looks not just ill judged, but utterly insane!

To cover the shortfall in JCA attack capability (JCA in the UK means the same as JSF in the USA) it looks likely that the Tornado 'out of service date' will be put back from 2018 to 2025 (is this the first candid admission that the F-35 will replace the Tornado in place of the canned FOAS?), and the Harrier GR.9 will have to remain in service until 'at least 2019'.

In addition to this it is revealed that the UK is genuinely considering 'plan B' which currently involves studies of UCAV operations in conjunction with the purchase of navalised Gripens or Typhoons or a straight purchase of the Boeing Super Hornet (god, I seriously hope we don't go down that route!). Interestingly, no mention at all is made of probably the best available 'ready made' option, the Rafale M.

The notion that these aircraft would be bought as a precursor to F-35 operations, which the MoD seems to be suggesting as a possibility, is clearly a non starter and if any of these three types are bought, whether in conjunction with UCAV's or not, it will in my opinion signal the death of the JCA.

[edit on 29-1-2006 by waynos]

posted on Jan, 29 2006 @ 06:43 AM
I agree with your suggestions re JCA project.

Shouldn’t the MoD lease suitable stop-gap aircraft such as ex-USN F-18A/Bs (upgraded), or Rafeal Ms? Of note, the Rafael M will have Meteor capability making it better than the F-35 in certain respects. But also the Rafeal would only require minor modifications to carry ASRAAM, Storm Shadow (French SCALP…) etc. Brimstone and ALARM might be more of an issue.

The F-18E route would be foolhardy although it is a good aircraft.

[edit on 29-1-2006 by planeman]

posted on Jan, 29 2006 @ 07:46 AM
For some reason i think the Tornado is a better bomber than the F35.

posted on Jan, 29 2006 @ 08:24 AM
I think it certainly is tomcat, but the survivability and flexibilty of the F-35 should be vastly superior, it seems that load lugging and crew ride comfort are minor considerations now.

posted on Jan, 29 2006 @ 10:01 AM
I might be biased but...

I'd say the Rafale M would be the most sensible choice, since it's already in service, and UK and France are studying a joint carrier, even if they will not have the very same carriers they should still have much in common, and it would be a good point for the cooperation between Europe's two most powerful maritime forces.
Another point in favor of the Rafale M is that when small numbers of aircraft are involved, it can be better to have a plane you're not the only one to operate, which is what would happen with a navalized Typhoon. Finally, although politically it would be hard to buy a Typhoon competitor, buying it only for the RN would make it easier to swallow. And we are so eager to sell the Rafale (notwithstanding the ego pride from selling French stuff to UK) that I'm sure a good bargain can be obtained.

I don't get the idea of a navalized Grippen, ok it's marketed by BAe so it can be shown as a British solution, but that doesn't sound serious. Navalized Typhoon... Why not but what about development costs ? This could steal some funding from the JSF...

Maybe used F-18Cs could be the best solution to close the gap, the problem with more advanced fighters is they could make the F-35 look redundant. Hell it may even be an occasion to make a deal with the US to trade them for some of the old stuff the Brits will get from the Saudis when they receive their Typhoons...

So I'd say it is quite an occasion for UK to get a clear position with both its industry and other countries. (small whispering voice : and the Rafale M is the best choice ! )

posted on Jan, 29 2006 @ 10:09 AM
I think we should get the navilised Typhoon with the 3D nozzle mod's incorporated and get out of the F 35 program. This way we have a system which is compatable with all our requirements and we have access to all the information and programming code's etc that might not have been available to us with certain other programs!!!!!

The Rafale M is a non starter for pure political ( and historical! ) reason's......! Can you imagine the sun headlines......"Brits buy French Jet....!

Cannot see it myself!

Sv Out....!

posted on Jan, 29 2006 @ 10:29 AM
I agree with that SV, the negatives of the F-35 are starting to outweight the positives and at least there would be programme control over the 'Sea Typhoon' (maybe the RN would prefer to call theirs the 'Sea Fury'?)

There is no getting way from the basic fact (well, as far as I am concerned) that echoblade is right and the Rafale M IS the most sensible option in that it has already been fully developed to almost the very spec that the RN would require and there would be a large degree of commonality and interoperability with the French carriers (which will be largely the same BAE/Thales ships that the RN itself will be getting. The fact that the RAF wont like the RN flying Rafales might also be seen as a positive form the FAA's perspective

The Sea Typhoon would take a lot of developing juast for the sake of maybe 80 airframes? Maybe the Saudi's might want to buy a couple of carriers too and they could double the order?

posted on Jan, 29 2006 @ 10:32 AM
well its all very well not buyin a jet because its not british and french..
but i think the rafale wpuld be an excellent stop gap.

im one of those people who dosent have much faith in the f35, i think it could be a flop at the end.

posted on Jan, 29 2006 @ 10:35 AM
I know the Rafale is the most logical choice but when do our illustrious leaders ever do anything that makes sense ( one of them was even lapping milk and wearing a leotard ! ).

How about a GR9 with a radar package fitted and other fishead tweaks incorporated? I know its still a harrier but at least it's still VTOL!

Sv Out...!

posted on Jan, 29 2006 @ 10:42 AM
I suggested that very thing myself a while back, after all the Radars and A2A optimised systems already exist and have already been paid for. They just need integrating into the GR.9 airframe which would give us a cut price equivalent to the AV-8-B PLUS. On their recent deployment to the Med 801Sqn Shar 2's trounced the Portugese AF F-16's and we are just throwing this capability away

posted on Jan, 29 2006 @ 10:54 AM
I suppose it all comes down to who don't we want to upset by not buying a certain aircraft type or do we have a bit of backbone and re-vitalise our ailing aircraft industry by doing what we do best......bodgeing something together that will do the job and do it well!

The range of the harrier might be a sticking point but if we buy a few Ospreys and convert them to a COD/A2A refueller platform I reckon we have the problem licked...!

Maybe some of the top brass should read this forum instead of being in the mess on the G and T's....!

Sv Out....!

posted on Jan, 29 2006 @ 03:00 PM

Originally posted by Silentvulcan

Maybe some of the top brass should read this forum instead of being in the mess on the G and T's....!

Sv Out....!

yeh, i totally agree!!!

I think were lucky they even went with the eurofighter, and built 1/3 of it.. it makes me wonder though, if the other countrys who helped design it didn't co-operate with us, would we have ended up building a truly british fighter?

Or just bought imports, like the F-16..a few people i know are saying, we should have bought the rafales, as there isn't much in it..between that and a eurofighter, but i don't agree with that!

[edit on 29-1-2006 by clashrock]

posted on Jan, 29 2006 @ 04:50 PM
Sorry, but I don't see the Rafale as the most sensible option at all.

A relative handful of a single type and all those additional operating costs that that would entail?
No way.
In any case so what if it is available right now (debatable), we don't actually have the need for several years yet.

A navalised Typhoon (sharing huge amounts of 'commonality' with it's RAF cousin........and surely something that has no doubt already long been part of the basic design but just yet to come forward) would be a far better bet and far more cost effective to the UK tax payer in view of the far larger numbers involved (and not forgetting the wider economic benefits to the UK and the Typhoon program).

I think Typhoon has more potential than Rafale (IIRC the French won't go with some of their planned upgrades) and it's potential heavier lifting capabilities make it a more suited contender (not forgetting things like the 3D exhaust upgrade etc etc).

Frankly in view of the supposed 'threat' I think Tornado and Harrier will be perfectly suited to meet the need until the new planes come (particularly in view of the recent upgrades........and I wouldn't really be surprised if that was all politics and planned all along).

As for F35?
The instant the Americans started treating us as less than partners and kinda 'suspect' with the coding etc is, IMO, the instant we should have walked and taken our orders and cash with us.
They seem determined that the project won't amount to half of what it was going to anyway.

They might not care to admit it but years of our design input and money made it possible for them to make them on time and afford more of them.
If they really prefer to treat us in such a shabby way then to hell with it, we should only look to Europe and above all cooperative European projects in future where we at least get a substantial say as genuine partners in what goes on and the benefit.

posted on Jan, 29 2006 @ 05:16 PM
You make a solid argument sminkey. My dounts about the naval Typhoon are nothing to do with whether we ought to have it, I am convinced we should, but it is true that such a type would require its own development programme and would require the signing off of yet more development money. I just doubt that the political will exits in Britain today to make this happen, it is akin to our decision to make the Tornado ADV all by ourselves and looking at BAE today I doubt we are prepared to do anything like it again, sadly. Thats why I called the Rafale M the most sensible option, taking the view that it is really either that or the Superhornet, unless out govt surprises me.

I do have another thought, and that is this current 'plan B' is nothing more than a sop and what we will have is very old Harriers and Tornadoes and a long wait until F-35 FOC is reached, but the govt can at least claim to have thoroughly investigated all alternatives without actually building or buying anything.

Like I said before though, if anyone thinks that the UK will buy another type of fighter as an interim until the F-35 enters service they can forget it, IF anything else is bought it will be instead of the F-35, make no mistake about that.

posted on Jan, 29 2006 @ 06:39 PM
Jaguar is still in production in India and Mig-29/Su-32/33 would be interesting. lol.

posted on Jan, 29 2006 @ 06:57 PM
Just a point about the Rafale upgrades : much to my surprise a new upgrade program is now planned for 2012 with an "F3+" standard including an active antenna, improved SPECTRA and OSF systems and capability to use LGBs with the Damocles pod. And it seems our gov is now determined to increase the RBE-2 radar range even before the active antenna.
Who knows, maybe they'll revive the M88-3 after all...

Maybe this is just a try to put some pressure on the US and have them be more prone to sharing in the F-35 program, with the UK saying "see, we have a plan B".

posted on Feb, 13 2006 @ 02:26 PM
i think that when the F-35 can carry all the missiles and bombs that britainn currently use and it is as good as its supposed to be then it will be a good plane to have.

As the above is unlikely then i think that the best choice is massively upgrading the harriers, third choice would be a navalised eurofighter, fourth choice would be a rafale and last choice would be an F/A-18.

I get really pissed off every time i read stuff about how britains army, navy and air force get constantly screwed by the government and then the government exect the army, navy and airforce to be at a moments notice to go and fight more wars than ever. How long is it before the head of the army, navy or airforce will turn round to the government and refuse to go to war because our troops arent ready and dont have the equipment because the defence cuts our government thinks are okay have killed the millitary.

Justin (English and proud of it)

posted on Feb, 14 2006 @ 07:09 AM

Originally posted by justin_barton3
upgrading the harriers

- Whilst I can see the benefits of cost sharing (which these days seems to basically mean the difference between a program happening at all instead of not) I think it is a huge shame the UK went American on our V/STOL stuff.

Why successive people couldn't see the final point was never going to be a genuine 'partnership' and was always going to be about their eventually buying up and ending up in complete control of the technology we developed is beyond me
(it's the standard way of dealing with a successful competitor, isn't it?).

I get really pissed off every time i read stuff about how britains army, navy and air force get constantly screwed by the government and then the government exect the army, navy and airforce to be at a moments notice to go and fight more wars than ever.

- Well you can take that tack - something 'those of a certain persuasion' always do, no matter who is in government; it is never going to be 'enough' - or accept that military funding is a political decision because we live in a democracy.

The funny thing is that lurid tales of the failure(s) or inadequacies of the UK military are usually politically motivated and very slanted and that the truth is very rarely anything like as bad as made out.

It's not perfection but it isn't quite as the Daily Mail or Telegraph make it out either.

How long is it before the head of the army, navy or airforce will turn round to the government and refuse to go to war because our troops arent ready and dont have the equipment because the defence cuts our government thinks are okay have killed the millitary.

- Probably never, cos if they did they would almost certainly be sacked and replaced by those willing to do the job for the funding offered.

This is nothing new and these kind of rows have happened with every spending department of government since year dot in this country and just about everywhere in fact.
Throw in the difference in view about the seriousness of the military 'need' at any particular time and there you have it.

You might want a 'Rolls Royce' military regardless of cost with every 'i' dotted and every 't' crossed and all possible 'belt and braces' applied cos it means life and death for some.
That's fair enough as far as it goes - except 'we', the people, could not and would not afford it.

It's just the standard tension between the tax-payer and the revenue spender, the political and military; always has been always will be.
Pick a side.

But what it boils down to IMO is, irrespective of where you stand on this, that 'we', the people, control the military in this country - thank God - and not the other way around, thank you very much.

[edit on 14-2-2006 by sminkeypinkey]

posted on Feb, 14 2006 @ 09:05 AM
Some things to consider-

1. Is CVF going to stay STOVL?
If not, if it's going to go UCAV in particular, then the field opens up.
To define where-when-why you might WANT to make it CVTOL involves being able to define precisely what long range standoff (Tomahawk and Storm Shadow), VLO-on-drone (A-47) and midrange glide kits can do to energize a carrier airwing whose 'air dominance from the sea' capability is essentially biased towards long range S2A fires (either via a serious upgrade to Aster or through 'owning' SM-6 development with a much firmer grip on the technology base).
My personal belief is that subsonic fightering with BVR centric tactics is an excercise in stupidity but that Meteor makes even a _leased_ AV-8B (no GR.9 upgrade crap, just sign on the damn line like you did with the F-4JUK) better than an Su-27 or F-16 with Adder/AMRAAM.
Provided you can cue them into lane fast enough.
Which is where buying into an AEW capability built around the E-2D and an advanced (again Brit owned) antenna system would make most inshort ops with ERAM even better (risk the DDG, not the big deck).
For those /rare/ moments when the enemy comes out to challenge you.
Again, the real question being IF you need to worry about an air threat in 'coalition' joint force work where there is already a pattern of acquiesence to Tornado F.3 being disallowed 'from the Coalface' of Desert Storm. And the SHAR was chased three times out of Bosnia due to S2A threats.
While the UCAV is as if not more stealthy than the F-35.
If an overland power projection role is indeed too (S2A) threatened to allow for conventional signatured airframes. I see no reason in wasting money on manned fighter aviation for LOMD ego trip reasons at all.
PARTICULARLY if it costs you a loitering ISR option to generate deep targeting independent of a U.S. leash.
Hasn't the E-3 humiliation (20 years on) and MP-RTIP's effects on AGS taught you folks /anything/?

2. Is the Flubber baselined to be carrier compatible?
I see it in the JAS, centerline keel for the gear and side mounted inlets with midwing mounts and relatively long wheelbase (if not particularly nice track). But the Typhoon seems to be a structural disaster waiting to happen with so much of everything either suspended over the hollow inlet box. Or cantilevered off the wingroots. I'm not even positive that the single wheel nosegear with aft-tract is replaceable without a noteable reprofiling of the entire inlet system. Then there's the damnably high vertical tail in a small hangar, wingfolds on a slatted leading edge. And all all the underdeveloped systems elements remaining to be integrated into the landbased version to make it truly more than just an ADF.

3. Given what eventually happened with the SEPECAT consortium and Jaguar vs. MirF-1, I can see you being a little gunshy on the French. But is it ONLY a U.S. or EADS choice? And is that because you are afraid to pass off the key 'pride factor' of fighter missioning to a robot?
Again, especially for what is essentially a cheap LO missileer platform, I would rather seen investment in a 4-6 missile fighter expansion to a baseline UCAV strike variant (i.e. 'adding value' to what you're saying you will buy anyway) than investing in a 50,000lb interdictor which cannot generate as many DMPIs or AAM shots as a VLS full of day-1 cruise and Standard missiles 'after which we rollback with ALARM and Jamming as usual'.
Again, this gets into basing mode vs. roles and missions constraints on the airframe. I don't think that the F-35 SDLF is altogether British. And I'm sure that the Russians would argue over the lobstertail aft post. Everything in the turbomachinery (by definition of your complaint over the axing of the GE 'backup') being entirely U.S.. That only leaves PCB and tripost conventional VT. None of which is a currently 'hot' active technology bed for Rolls Royce occupied with EJ-200 and F136 work.
Such again argues towards a non-STOVL deck arrangement and quite probably much smaller and/or cheaper airwing than you could get with mixed types onboard.
At the same time, I honestly don't know if whatever is left from GHC is still doing high datarate (CDL like) comms on the order of the MIDS work that 'took over' Ami JTIDS in the 1980's. If not, then again, it may well be that you need to think standoff rather than penetrating strike for at least the first few days. If so, then again, a _UCAV_ (think about it, /no one/ else is going 'fighter first!' that means sales while the attack-idiots play catch up) accomodation of AMRAAM/BVRAAM may be a wiser choice than you know. If only because a true weapons carrier approach, what I call an 'atlatl' system, ONLY NEEDS SHOOT. While an E-2 provides tracking and MCG (at least against conventional signature threats) from much, much farther back.

No matter how 'useful or just used' you feel over JSF (And I still laugh to think how hard some factions are trying to kill it /over here/ much less how little your version of the truth matters in Blightey.) the fact of the matter is that you need to 'move the heavens' (or at least rearrange a few fires vs. ISR constellations therein) as to how your ENTIRE conop should you choose to 'just walk away'.

And it is in the details of what can be (twelve years on) done different outside that particular JCA definition of the fighter mission that I think you will find the greatest truths as to what is needed to replace the F-35B itself.

i.e. Don't define the point of the sword until you have the wrist that holds it, the eyes that guide it and the brain that innovates the tactics of it's employment a lot better handled than 'Quick, pick another extant airframe!' is the case today.


posted on Feb, 19 2006 @ 11:45 AM
From; Rafale fighters delivered to the Navy so far are F1 standard with air-to-air capability. F2 standard with air-to-ground missiles will begin an initial testing phase at Mont-de-Marsan military flight test center from September 2004. A contract to develop the fully capable F3 standard aircraft with terrain-following RBE2 3D radar, RECO NG optronics pod and capability to launch ASMP-A nuclear missiles and AM39 Exocet anti-ship missiles was signed in February 2004. The Rafale F3 will be delivered from 2007 and the first squadron of 20 aircraft will be in service in 2008.

On the other hand, the Super Hornet's a tried and tested platform, can utilise a whole host of air to air and air to surface weapons and has a more advanced radar suite. All in all, the Super Hornet is probably the world's most potent and efficient naval strike aircraft.

Not in my lifetime would the MOD turn to purchasing French-made aicraft as a stopgap; it's just not gonna happen.

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