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Thread: UK back in for the F35B?

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  1. #1
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    UK back in for the F35B?

    You couldn't make it up!

    Guardian

    Britain's troubled and increasingly expensive plan to equip the navy with new aircraft carriers has been plunged into fresh turmoil as ministers consider reversing their earlier decision to change the type of plane that should fly from them, it has emerged.

    The government announced in last autumn's strategic defence review that it had decided to buy the "cats and flaps" (catapults and arrester gear) version of the US joint strike fighter. This would have a "longer range and greater payload ... the critical requirement for precision-strike operations in the future", the government stated.

    Moreover, the government added, it will be cheaper. It would also enable French planes to land on British carriers, and vice versa, inkeeping with the new UK-French defence spirit of co-operation.

    Now, in an extraordinary volte-face, the Ministry of Defence says the "cats and flaps" planes may well be cheaper but it would be too expensive to redesign a carrier – more than £1bn – to accommodate them. The ministry is thus faced with the prospect of renegotiating a deal with the US, reverting to its original plan – namely buying the short take-off and vertical landing version of the aircraft, even though it is acknowledged to be less effective and more expensive .

    The latest chapter in the troubled saga of Britain's future aircraft carriers – whose own estimated costs have soared – was raised on Thursday in a letter to the defence secretary, Philip Hammond, from Jim Murphy, his Labour opposite number.

    Murphy referred to "worrying suggestions" that the government was about to change its mind about the kind of aircraft to buy from the US. "It is vital that there is now clarity on the government's plans for this vital area of the defence equipment programme," he wrote.

    Murphy said the decision in the defence review to scrap the Harrier fleet meant the UK would have no carrier aircraft capability until 2020 – and then only one carrier would be operational.

    Defence officials said that the government was "re-assessing" its earlier decision because, they indicated, of pressures on the defence budget.

    HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first carrier, will be mothballed immediately it is launched in 2016, according to existing plans. The second, HMS Prince of Wales, will be able to put to sea by 2020, but it is not known how many planes will be able to fly from it – nor what kind.

    The two carriers, originally priced at £3.5bn, are now estimated to cost £6.2bn. According to the Commons public accounts committee, the cost is likely to icrease to as much as £12bn.

    The government, which originally said it wanted more than 100 joint strike fighters, says that it will have just six operational ones by 2020. The unit cost of the joint strike fighter, made by Lockheed Martin, has soared because of production problems and delays caused by US defence budget cuts. Britain's BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce have big stakes in a future deal adapting the joint strike fighter for British forces.

    A spokesperson for the MoD said: "We are currently finalising the 2012-13 budget and balancing the equipment plan. As part of this process, we are reviewing all programmes, including elements of the carrier strike programme, to validate costs and ensure risks are properly managed. The defence secretary expects to announce the outcome of this process to parliament before Easter."

  2. #2
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    Were these carriers & aircraft designed by a Committee , by any chance ????

  3. #3
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    This is the same Jim Murphy of the Labour party who said it was the current governments fault that six Type 45 were cancelled...that's despite the decision to drop to 8 being made in 2003 and six in 2008...two years before the current government came to power.

    The report from the left leaning Guardian has to be taken with a pinch of salt as it involves a speculative letter by said Jim Murphy and nothing else...

    Maybe they are thinking about going back to B but the Sea Lords and Air Marshals would be up in arms! For the Sea Lords that would mean they accepted Harriers retirement for nothing and the Air Marshals want F35C as a realistic manned Tornado GR4 replacement. Also the long lead items for the EMALS and AAG have been ordered...the US is going to be fairly naffed off with a cancellation.

    So lets wait and see before we all descend into a confused panic!
    Because sometimes in life we need a bit of fun

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXNAp3mKepc

  4. #4
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    More and more I think that this program (carriers and planes) is a huge mess.

    Those carriers are simply too expensive for UK.

    UK should settle with 35.000 ton class carrier with F-35B (and Merlins), without premature retirement of Harriers and Invincible class carriers.

    The more I look at them, the more I think that those carriers will never be fully operational. The more they try to save money, the more whole project looks like in case of Chinook HC3.

    Queen Elizabeth class carriers are more than UK can swallow.

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    *snicker*

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post
    More and more I think that this program (carriers and planes) is a huge mess.

    Those carriers are simply too expensive for UK.

    UK should settle with 35.000 ton class carrier with F-35B (and Merlins), without premature retirement of Harriers and Invincible class carriers.

    The more I look at them, the more I think that those carriers will never be fully operational. The more they try to save money, the more whole project looks like in case of Chinook HC3.

    Queen Elizabeth class carriers are more than UK can swallow.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0jgZ...layer_embedded


  7. #7
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    Try sell one of them and use the money to make one carrier complete w catapult
    the missile will require about five times the G capability of the target to complete a successful intercept.
    -Robert L Shaw

  8. #8
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    To counter some arguments. The point of having aircraft carrier is not to have aircraft carrier but to have capabilities it can provide. Let’s consider two cases:

    Case 1: Reality

    UK will have two 65.000 ton aircraft carriers with F-35 of yet unsure variant. IF it will be F-35C (what is still most likely) only one carrier will have arresting gear and will be in use (what is the point of the other ship then?) That means that only one ship will be in use and even if the other ship will be brought to service when the first one will be overhauled what if ship will be out of service because of something that wasn’t planed earlier? So Royal Navy (like French Navy) will not have carrier available at all times. Even when one carrier will be in use, still two will be build what will make them more costly. The retirement of Harriers will create something like 10 year of gap in capability of having fixed wing aircrafts operating from a ship.

    Case 2: Alternative

    If UK would decide for only 35.000 ton carriers – on one side it would be substantial improvement over 19.000 ton Invincible’s, on the other cost to build and operate them would be greatly reduced. Reduced to a point when both carriers could be operational in a way that there would be one available carrier on all time and if there would be urgent need (Falklands) it should be possible to have both ships deployed at same time. Smaller carrier would force RN to use F-35B that is somewhat less capable than C, but with carriers still in line the ship could start operating them just after being commissioned (2014 according to plan) when Queen Elizabeth will have operational air wing not sooner than in 2020 (and I expect it to be lather). One can argue that if financial situation get better bigger carriers will be better – well if financial situation would really got better (and I don’t expect it to happen) RN could get third carrier or smaller helicopter carriers (like Ocean) leaving aircraft carriers for only fixed wing operations.
    And my last argument – If RN would use smaller carriers RN and RAF would need smaller number of aircrafts reducing the order on F-35, and using Typhoons THAT WERE ALREADY PAID instead.


    Hilarious

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post
    Case 2: Alternative

    If UK would decide for only 35.000 ton carriers – on one side it would be substantial improvement over 19.000 ton Invincible’s, on the other cost to build and operate them would be greatly reduced. Reduced to a point when both carriers could be operational in a way that there would be one available carrier on all time and if there would be urgent need (Falklands) it should be possible to have both ships deployed at same time.
    Cancelling one or both of the QE class carriers is no longer an option. The program has just come too far and far too many resources have been expended on it. A 35,000 ton carrier was feasible ten years ago, or even five years ago, but at this point the only choice to be made is with regard to the aircraft.

    Also the costs involved in recruiting and training a RN crew for CATOBAR operations are minuscule relative to the massive capital expenditures incurred in acquiring and operating the carriers and aircraft.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post

    UK should settle with 35.000 ton class carrier with F-35B (and Merlins), without premature retirement of Harriers and Invincible class carriers.
    Less of the drama, the steel is cheap and they are both already being built. They actually require less manpower than the Invincibles, It's the cost of the planes that is the big problem. I wonder if the government have found out the real cost of regaining CATOBAR skills and changing the CVF's design is going to be too much.

    I actually believe a switch to 'B' would make sense for what the UK wants to do with the carriers as well as see both CVF in service.

    CVF's are actually being built with no problems at all, the mess of this program is entirely political with specs being changed constantly due to a change of government.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stryker73 View Post
    I wonder if the government have found out the real cost of regaining CATOBAR skills ...is going to be too much.
    Now that is a good question. We have to do everything the USN does; with a fraction of the complement; and meeting UK H&S rules which are far tighter. I think the brass have caught on now though, hence 1SL recently quoted as saying:

    "important as the Pilots are, the core of the problem for him is the 'enablers' ; flightdeck crew / air engineers / those resposnibvle for the catapults etc"


    Quote Originally Posted by Stryker73 View Post
    I wonder if the government have found out the real cost of regaining CATOBAR skills and changing the CVF's design is going to be too much.
    Trouble is they have now committed quite a lot of money to the change. And taken the savings on removing PAR etc from the QEC. So it will be hard to go back

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post
    More and more I think that this program (carriers and planes) is a huge mess.

    Those carriers are simply too expensive for UK.

    UK should settle with 35.000 ton class carrier with F-35B (and Merlins), without premature retirement of Harriers and Invincible class carriers.

    The more I look at them, the more I think that those carriers will never be fully operational. The more they try to save money, the more whole project looks like in case of Chinook HC3.

    Queen Elizabeth class carriers are more than UK can swallow.
    So if you add up the cost of keeping the Invincibles in service, the cost of keeping the Harriers going; the additional expense of the F-35Bs (through life as well as purchase) and then deduct the savings made on the smaller carriers, and decust the cost of EMALS, I think you will need to find about about another £2-3bn.
    Capital expenditure is always small compared to sustainment costs, something jounalists and most forum posters ignore. Making decisions to save what is perceived as unaffordable capital costs, which result in obsolete kit having to be kept in service and thus costing more, is what caused the black hole in the MOD finances in the first place. Please do not repeat the mistakes now they are finally getting to grips with this.

    You may recall that the MOD asked for smaller carriers. 2 independent teams concluded that the smaller design just was not viable. Had either managed to come up with a smaller design that did work then they would have won the competition hands down. Both then had to persuade the MoD of the case. Several hundred man years of work.

    Just reduce the number of aircraft is the common cry. But there are many other elements needed to produce a modern carrier. So 35k tonne ship cannot carry half as many aircraft as a 70k tonne ship. Not even close. So unless you want a mixed squadron of kites and paper aeroplanes, the QEC design is the best compromise we have

  13. #13
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    The fact that the Guardian article refers to "cats and flaps" tells you how knowledgeable about defence it's author appears to be.

    And in the worst case scenario in which the F-35C doesnt come up to scratch why would Britain have to go back to the B model? Couldn't the RN just buy Rafales and the RAF could buy F-35's to keep BAe workers employed?

  14. #14
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    The Times are quoting a letter by the Shadow Defence Minister Jim Murphy, seems that much of these so called 'doubts' can be sourced back to his statements.

  15. #15
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    Just when I thought good sense had finally returned to the British MoD...

    The F-35B shouldn't be touched with a barge-pole. The F-35C orders will comfortably outnumber the F-35Bs. The CTOL variant has better range, higher performance, is cheaper to acquire and operate, is far less likely to run into further technical issues and isn't going to adversely affect the condition of the flight deck.

    It would be incredibly shortsighted of the MoD to opt for the F-35B, just to save on the cost of the EMALS.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prom View Post
    So if you add up the cost of keeping the Invincibles in service, the cost of keeping the Harriers going; the additional expense of the F-35Bs (through life as well as purchase) and then deduct the savings made on the smaller carriers, and decust the cost of EMALS, I think you will need to find about about another £2-3bn.
    Capital expenditure is always small compared to sustainment costs, something jounalists and most forum posters ignore. Making decisions to save what is perceived as unaffordable capital costs, which result in obsolete kit having to be kept in service and thus costing more, is what caused the black hole in the MOD finances in the first place. Please do not repeat the mistakes now they are finally getting to grips with this.

    You may recall that the MOD asked for smaller carriers. 2 independent teams concluded that the smaller design just was not viable. Had either managed to come up with a smaller design that did work then they would have won the competition hands down. Both then had to persuade the MoD of the case. Several hundred man years of work.

    Just reduce the number of aircraft is the common cry. But there are many other elements needed to produce a modern carrier. So 35k tonne ship cannot carry half as many aircraft as a 70k tonne ship. Not even close. So unless you want a mixed squadron of kites and paper aeroplanes, the QEC design is the best compromise we have
    You are so blinded not to see that it is not. On one sentence you write that the cost of aircraft is crucial suggesting that on big carrier the number of aircrafts can be reduced to reduce a cost, but on the other you write that bigger carrier is better because it can carry more aircraft. Hay man - one way or the other.

    If you can't afford aircrafts for a big carrier then what is the point of having a big carrier?

    You have capability gap, and it will take years before QE carriers and it's air wing will be fully mission ready, and current financial situation in Europe can even make it never happen.
    Last edited by Corran; 2nd March 2012 at 18:26.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rourkey View Post
    You couldn't make it up!

    Guardian
    Yes you could because someone at the Guardian obviously has.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kev 99 View Post
    Yes you could because someone at the Guardian obviously has.
    "Cats & flaps". That article is about a month early.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vnomad View Post
    Just when I thought good sense had finally returned to the British MoD...
    ...
    It would be incredibly shortsighted of the MoD to opt for the F-35B, just to save on the cost of the EMALS.
    Where is there any evidence that any of this comes from the MoD?

    The Grauniad article is obviously written by someone who has either had no communication with the MoD, or has ignored what it has said. As already said, it seems to be based on spin by the Labour defence spokesman.

    This is a non-story. We've already ordered EMALS.
    Last edited by swerve; 4th March 2012 at 13:40.
    Juris praecepta sunt haec: honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere.
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