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Lightning or Typhoon - you decide

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posted on Nov, 26 2007 @ 05:36 AM
During 2008 the MoD's chickens look set to come home to roost. The next 12 months will see the UK having to make a firm decision on its two fighter procurement programmes as a firm commitment to buy the F-35 and/or confirmation of tranche 3 Typhoons will have to be made this year.

The plan has simply always been to buy both, but the expenditure on Iraq and Afghanistan has put a real squeeze on the defence budget. If the UK is forced to make a choice, which way would you decide based on the following factors?


economy of scale, the plane is already entering service in large numbers.
Commonality means lower maintenence costs.
better 'active survivability' (ie fights other planes better)
Fully swing role allowing available fighter and attack forces to be expanded instantly
greater payload, range performance than STOVL alternative.

Against -
too many eggs in one basket, any future grounding would remove most of RAF's capability.
Tied to runways, not carrier capable therefore not even an option for the FAA
only frontal stealth


For -
STOVL, so can fly dispersed ops and from carriers.
all aspect stealth giving superior 'passive survivability' (will be only type in UK service)
operating dissimilar types reduces impact of future groundings

Against -
Not a fighter, therefore not really suitable replacement for Sea Harrier F/A2 (but what is? - answer F-35C!!!)
strictly limited to A2G ops in RAF service so lacks operational versatility.
likely to be more expensive than Typhoon (c. £100m)

Hmm, a toughie. so if we do find ourselves forced to make a choice, what would you do?

posted on Nov, 26 2007 @ 01:03 PM
I still say we need more Eurofighters, and the FAA should be equiped with Rafales, the french are going to have near identical carriers with such aircraft, they are really the only country on the same level (i.e, 2 carrier Navy, large coastline).


posted on Nov, 26 2007 @ 01:10 PM
Hmmm, Id still have to say stick with the F-35. Why? (You already covered most of it :p)

Stealth is the biggest factor IMHO. Without the F-35 buy, the closest stealth a/c the RAF would get in its inventory would be a UCAV or similar type vehicle.

The STOVL variant may be the deal breaker for the carrier force. However, what is the minimum takeoff distance for the Typhoon with an average weapons load out? However, unless they are going to go with a Ninitz sized carrier it may not be able to have a meaningfull bring home weight. As far as a2a the F-35 should be fine when coupled with its stealth., and its a sig. upgrade over the harrier

It makes sence to me to have the F-35 for strike capacity (esp and keep the Typhoon for air superiority.

posted on Nov, 26 2007 @ 01:14 PM
Don't the Brits need an aircraft to replace the Harriers? I have yet to see the Typhoon do similiar things what the F-35 can do, which is the VTOL.

posted on Nov, 26 2007 @ 02:03 PM
Buy the EFT and the Rafale - much more commonality of electronics and there are already joint research efforts underway with the French for AESA I think.

Dump the JSF.

posted on Nov, 26 2007 @ 03:53 PM
I would hate to have to make the decision if it came to it. My preferred option, I think, would be to separate the requirements of the RAF and RN and dump the STOVL variant completely, equipping the RAF with some tranche 3 Typhoons while taking the opportunity to upgrade all existing aircraft to the same standard and buying a smaller number of F-35C's purely for the Royal Navy, maybe about 60.

The Rafale is indeed the sensible option in many ways, ie already being produced as a carrier fighter and very near Typhoon levels of performance, but it is less stealthy than the F-35 and is also quite French, which shouldn't be a valid objection, yet always tends to be.

Yes the F-35B is a massive leap over the Harrier in all ways, as you would expect (even though it is *not* a VTOL - I had this argument a few days ago
) but the salient point is what do we need STOVL for?

Dispersed operations against a Soviet tank advance? Seen as very likely when the Harrier was first developed but do we really think that is going to happen?

Operations from our tiny carriers? Illustrious has already gone out of service, Invincible and Ark Royal might even be gone too when the first F-35 is ready for UK service. Prince of Wales will be equipped with CTOL gear from the start and is due to be added to Queen Elizabeth 'in due course'. So why not take advantage of the superior all round capability of the F-35C rather than hampering operational capability and effectiveness in order to maintain a STOVL capability that is of dubious value? Surely not just because we invented it as far as combat jets go?

posted on Nov, 26 2007 @ 06:11 PM
Unfortunately waynos, what you are asking is fantasy.

The real world will dictate the ultimate purchase - and the real world of political pressure will dictate the F-35, without consideration for whether it will do the job or not.

Cynical? - Not really - I'd say political reality. The US now dictates what everyone will buy regardless of whether it's needed, wanted, or will do a job that has to be done. Ultimately the US will make an error in role planning, or design an absolute dog and leave a worldwide capability gap which, I have no doubt, someone else (outside the sphere of American influence) will be more than ready to exploit.

History will show the folly of pursuing every dollar on the planet so vigorously with so little understanding of anything that goes on outside their own borders. Let's be realistic - the US military has been in just about every conflict in the last 60 years (and has won on the battlefield, temporarily at least), but ultimately has yet to 'win' any of them. In these people and their philosophy we put our trust and security for the foreseeable future! The US has a 'perfect' record of fighting a conflict in the manner in which the US wants and believes it should be fought - only to discover that their opponent ultimately wins by changing the rules and fighting in their way, not the US's way - I'd call that a lack of understanding and strategic planning, wouldn't you?

Sad world? - Yep, but almost inevitable when one country has all the leverage and little appreciation or consideration of anyone's needs and aspirations but their own.

And without fundamental changes in the way the USA thinks of the rest of the world (the majority of humanity, that is), then it's inevitable that it will all come tumbling down. At 60 years of age, I can only hope I don't live long enough to see it happen - but it is looking increasingly likely that it will happen within my lifetime.

The Winged Wombat

[edit on 26/11/07 by The Winged Wombat]

posted on Nov, 26 2007 @ 06:47 PM
Despite my disagreement with the OP's pros and cons of each airframe I too would cancel the F-35B planned buy and purchase another variant (since that seems the be a hypothetical choice). Now, given that we can purchase the superior F-35C (in virtually all meaningful aspects) why not cancel the Typhoon T3 buy? Supplement those T3 numbers with Lightning C's for the RAF while also purchasing it for the RN. Greater commonality and more capability for a lesser price.

posted on Nov, 26 2007 @ 11:57 PM
Personally I'd say enough development has gone into the EF-2000 to make it a viable Air Superiority option. However, there is a small snafu with the F-35B and F-35C.

The F-35B, I find, is little more than a toy to merely say "Hey, isn't this cool?!", although the original intent may have been to give futuristic capabilities to what was hoped would be a widely used aircraft. The fact remains that it has not been integrated as well as I suspect it was originally intended. I believe there is consensus here that the F-35B cannot take off VTOL with a full combat load and full fuel. Also, F-35B trades a fair amount of fuel space for that lift fan (which one could point out as dead weight in level flight). The advantage is that it can be deployed from a greater variety of areas.

The question, then, is that is the ability to be deployed more flexibly worth the disadvantages of the F-35B? If so, grab a few. If not, go with the F-35C's for striking power. One thing I would say, however, is that the EF-2000 Typhoon is far too good an aircraft for air superiority to merely cancel (not to mention the amount of money already put into development for it).

posted on Nov, 27 2007 @ 03:09 AM
Yes, Westy is playing devils advocate as he does think the F-35C will be a better fighter than the Typhoon. I do not.

I also think it has advantages over the Rafale M only in the areas of stealth, range and economy of scale. I know Westy will disagree but there it is.

I do however think it is the best option for the RN, sadly I am not in power so we will not get it. (agreeing with Wombat here).

posted on Nov, 27 2007 @ 08:52 AM
Waynos, while I'm sure we can have an argument about specific systems and capabilities of the aircraft involved I'd much rather get at the heart of the matter. Given the same weapons load out, pilot support structure and support systems, I ask, which aircraft is more survivable (i.e. the one with the best chance of completing the mission and returning intact)? Personally I cannot see how the answer to that can be anything but the F-35, within the context of this discussion. When you consider next generation integrated air defense systems coupled with next generation fighter aircraft both the Typhoon and the Rafale are at an inherent distinct disadvantage. It therefore becomes rather moot to talk about payload, range and IRST features if the aircraft in question will not survive contact with the enemy at acceptable levels.

posted on Nov, 27 2007 @ 09:59 AM
I really doubt the F35's stealth is good enough for any serious opponnent. I agree with the rafale being the most sensible buy for the british navy.

posted on Nov, 27 2007 @ 10:04 AM

Originally posted by tomcat ha
I really doubt the F35's stealth is good enough for any serious opponnent.

Well I don't. See how irrelevant such comments are? Besides, VLO characteristic are only part of what makes the F-35 such a capable aircraft.

[edit on 27-11-2007 by WestPoint23]

posted on Nov, 27 2007 @ 10:05 AM
Sorry, double post.

[edit on 27-11-2007 by WestPoint23]

posted on Nov, 27 2007 @ 12:02 PM
Of course there are other considerations for Britain.

Ultimately the decision may hinge upon retaining design capability and aircraft production capabilities and employment of a skilled workforce.

Cancellation of the Typhoon by Britain would have an ongoing effect regarding sales to other countries and support for those who have already bought it. If that were to happen, I would expect that the Saudis would immediately cancel their order, and the aircraft would have no sales future. The resulting collapse of the British aerospace industry would be final and complete. Typhoon would be the last military aircraft ever built in Britain. This would have an obvious effect on the companies involved, affecting the workforce and ultimately the British economy.

So, the situation is very different to, for instance, if Australia (with our shiny new government) were to cancel F-18Fs. We would just have to buy something else from the USA - politically we don't have a choice. Cancellation of Typhoon would put Britain in the same situation - then the USA only has to negate French design capability and they own the whole market from the next aircraft generation onward. (The Russians retain design capability, but don't have the money to build their next generation)

On that basis, waynos, I feel sure that (whether it is the best item for the job or not) you will see the Typhoon contracts go ahead. In fact, on that basis alone, it is just pure greed for any in America to even suggest that Britain kill the Typhoon and buy more F-35s.

Once again it is the pursuit of the dollar regardless of the cost to Britain's economy, workforce or design and construction infrastructure - not to mention political independence.

I have no doubt that Sweden had been put in the same situation any number of times - but ultimately they have made the choice to maintain their indigenous capabilities regardless of the monetary costs, and therefore remain (comparatively) independent of political blackmail - unlike the rest of us.

On the matter of interoperability / networking - the question boils down to - do you want to have common equipment that will network with the US military so that you can join in the wars they seem to want to start - or do you want an aerospace / military industry that is independent of America's fickle foreign policy. A no-brainer for me, old chap, but does the British government have the brains and the guts to reach the correct decision?.

If not, then the next time America wants to go to war (Iran for instance), they won't even have to try to 'convince' Britain - you'll just get a fax telling you that you are in the fight, or else your F-35s, etc won't get spares or upgrades. That's the real political reality, I'm afraid.

I think it is fair to say that American business philosophy is not to gain a fair or even majority share of any particular market - they want it all - and that doesn't bode well for any other national economy on the planet. What that all means for the majority of the world's population and their future living standards, doesn't bear thinking about. What the US misses (and also many economists) is that for the US to continue selling product, there has to be someone with enough money to buy it - if they take over the world's markets, then nobody will be able to afford to buy from them. Americans cannot become rich by trying to sell F-22s (for instance) to countries who's industries have closed down due to US competition and therefore do not have the income to buy F-22s - and a country cannot get rich simply by selling to itself - the rest of the world MUST have some of the market share, otherwise they cannot buy anything!

Ultimately, when America gains all the market, effectively making every other country dependent upon them, their own economy will collapse because there will be no customers left with money to buy from them.

The Winged Wombat

[edit on 27/11/07 by The Winged Wombat]

posted on Nov, 27 2007 @ 12:41 PM
To be honest Im not sure why the rafale is even being thrown out here.

It is a capable airframe and can cover a variety of bases (The most recent AWST article on the rafale talks about adding SEAD capability) but as Waynos already pointed out:

Its a political consideration first and foremost. France had the oppurtunity to partcipate in the consortium that is building the Typhoon but chose its own route.

Also, no export sales means a small base. No doubt Dessalt will be happy to provide parts and maintain any aircraft the export assuming they are willing to pay the $$$$$$$$ needed to do so.

The UK is the only Tier I partcipant in the F-35 and also have a workshare alotment for production. Now public media reports that the workshare portion is secure regardless of the MOD's purchase of 150 of the fighters, Ill bet dollars to donuts that that could change. Would any workshare be avalible for the Rafale?

posted on Nov, 27 2007 @ 03:26 PM

Originally posted by FredT
ance had the oppurtunity to partcipate in the consortium that is building the Typhoon but chose its own route.

Which has subsequently been shown to be correct all along (in terms of operational concept).

If the Eurofighter consortium had made the EFT carrier capable from the get go, and also gave it A2G capability from the start, they would be in a much stronger position with regards JSF, tranche upgrades and exports.

posted on Nov, 27 2007 @ 04:03 PM

Originally posted by WestPoint23Well I don't. See how irrelevant such comments are? Besides, VLO characteristic are only part of what makes the F-35 such a capable aircraft.
[edit on 27-11-2007 by WestPoint23]

Yet 2 posts above this you made a clear inference that the VLO was what separates it from the EFT.

Given the same weapons load out, pilot support structure and support systems, I ask, which aircraft is more survivable

When you consider next generation integrated air defense systems coupled with next generation fighter aircraft both the Typhoon and the Rafale are at an inherent distinct disadvantage.

If you weren't inferring VLO, what other advantage does the F-35 hold over the EFT?

Manouverability? No
Speed? No
Twin engine security? No
Combat radius? No (not that I'm aware of anyway)
SA? Incremental
Cost? No

It is generally accepted that in terms of a VLO platform, the F-35 does fall some way short of the F-22. It is generally accepted that the F-22 is detectable by long wavelength radars. Next generation SAM technology is using longer wavelength radar to detect this exact kind of target. For example, the S-400 uses a metric wavelength radar (don't know the exact numbers), but the F-22 is designed to hide from X, K and C band (0.5 to 6ish cm). Thus assuming that the F-22 (never mind the F-35) will be able to roam around future cutting edge air defenses is likely to be a mistake.

It will come back to low flying incursion for strikes, and guess what, the EFT is better for that than the F-35 - why? Because it isn't gonna be # scared of birdstrikes.

posted on Nov, 27 2007 @ 04:15 PM
reply to post by WestPoint23

But surely that depends on what the mission is? If you are talking about an anti shipping strike from which you would like to return undetected if at all possible then yes, the F-35 is best which is why I am advocating it.

When you consider next generation integrated air defense systems coupled with next generation fighter aircraft both the Typhoon and the Rafale are at an inherent distinct disadvantage.

I honestly don't get that westy. What disadvantage? in the frontal aspect (ie face to face A2A approach) the Typhoon has just as low RCS as the F-35. If you are talking about datalinking with AWACS etc then both planes do that anyway and the F-35 is not an LO air superiority fighter like the F-22, its a bomb truck with enough A2A capability to look after itself if caught. A couple of questions that I do not know the answer to; Does the F-35 have as comprehensive a DASS suite as the Typhoon? Does the F-35 have the precision passive target detection capability like Typhoon (effective at up to 160Km on the heat of the aircrafts skin)? I know it has an LPI radar, but LPI is not passive. Also the high energy supercruise missile launch should not be dismissed either as an area that the Typhoon pilot might exploit in order to dictate the engagement.

I know you disagree, but I cannot see how something designed to drop bombs is going to be the best A2A fighter after the F-22 as well.


posted on Nov, 27 2007 @ 04:30 PM

Which has subsequently been shown to be correct all along (in terms of operational concept).

I don't think it was ever in doubt that Dassault would produce an excellent aircraft, and they have.

There was never any possibility of a Naval Typhoon being developed as in its early days the Govt was thinking only in terms of our tiny carriers, hence our current fixation with the F-35B.

[edit on 27-11-2007 by waynos]

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