Wooo, hoe did you know I was from Maltby, have I said it before or are you related to Derek Acorah?
Whereabouts in Maltby are you from, and have you
moved away now?
I made quite a detailed post on this subject (just search F-35, UK, decision, etc) without coming to s definitive conclusion, and I really can't now.
Its all ifs and buts.
If we REALLY need the STOVL option, which is far from clear, then only the F-35 will do. I think this is the position that Lockheed is praying for but
it just may not be the case.
If we can manage without STOVL then, for a common force, we need to bite the bullet an build a 'Sea Typhoon'. The prospects for this would be
enhanced if such a proposal could be incorporated into the Indian Navy search for a new fighter, this would bring an economy of scale to the venture
for the Royal Navy and as a selling point, a degree of force commonality with the Indian Air Force who are about to recieve an onslaught from BAE
Systems to try and get them to buy the standard model. an IAF Typhoon order coupled with a FAA/IN Sea Typhoon would be like winning the lottery for
BAE systems but unfortunately is probably as likely as winning the lottery too.
The next most appropriate option, in my opinion, is a joint RAF/RN 'Griffon FA.1'. a navalised SAAB Gripen, which would be a better ship based plane
than the Typhoon but would lack its radius of action. On the plus side it would be smaller, cheaper, and would fill the 'small agile tactical
aircraft' requirement to a tee for both the RAF and RN and would avoid the RAF relying entirely on a single type, as it would if the Typhoon was
selected. This would allow joint RAF/RN operations to continue as they do now with the Harrier and as they are planned to do with the F-35, in fact I
think the Gripen is the only type on offer that would allow this if the F-35 was canned.
As a ' thinking outside of the box' option the HAL Tejas is in the same class as the Gripen, is already being developed in a Naval version, and
might benefit from BAE input in its own right. This is completely unlikely but occurred to me as I type.
The Rafale option would only work in one way, if integrated RN/RAF ops are abandoned and the Navy goes back to owning and operating its own
independant fixed wing force, otherwise it has no chance as putting the Rafale into RAF service after all the time expencse taken to develop the
Typhoon is suicidal, and unnecessary.
Moving on to the F-35, the preferred option, it only has two benfits that are unequalled amongst itys immediate rivals, STOVL, and stealth. If both of
these are considered essential then we have no choice but, briefly, the questions are 'do we need STOVL when we are unlikely ever to face a short
range European confrontation such as the Harrier was designed for?' and 'do we need a stealthy platform when we intend to use it merely as the
'flight leader' for a force of stealthy UCAV's actually carrying out the attacks?' When these questions are considered then any of the above will
do the job very well, as long as the UCAV's do actually appear. On the other hand we should consider various possibilities of deployment because few
conflicts ever worked out as envisaged by military planners.
Therefore it is to be hoped that the issues over the F-35 (which WILL do the job we ask of it very well) can be resolved otherwise we face a
difficult, and expensive, choice.
I hope I didn't waffle too much there but I quite got into that question and I reaise I still have't really answered it; hmmm.
If it was my choice and my money I'd go for the F-35 IF it was 'as advertised', if not I'd go the Gripen route.