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  • Stryker73
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Jun 2010
    • 274

    UK to ditch F35B for Super Hornet?



    Navy jet switch to save 10bn

    Published: 1 August 2010

    The Royal Navy is set to save 10 billion on the defence budget by dropping plans to buy a fleet of fighter jets costing 100m each for its new aircraft carriers.

    It is expected to swap an order for 138 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) for a version of a cheaper aircraft currently flown off US carriers, the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet.

    The cost-saving move was considered at a meeting last weekend between Liam Fox, the defence secretary, and services chiefs to discuss cuts.

    JSF is an unbelievably expensive programme, said a senior defence source. It makes no sense at all in the current climate, and even if we continued with it we cannot afford the aircraft we said we would buy.

    The JSF, built by Lockheed Martin, Boeings main American rival, would have been the most expensive single project in the defence budget, with costs already put at 13.8 billion and rising. The aircraft were set to replace Harrier jump jets flown by the RAF and Navy.
  • over G
    Muttley!Dooo sooomething!
    • Jul 2004
    • 1975

    #2
    Wonder, the new british carrier is alreay laid down?
    "It won't let me put a weapons system on it, even when I can see it visually through the canopy. annoys the hell out of me."

    -Best joke ever

    Comment

    • Arrows
      Senior Member
      • Jun 2010
      • 397

      #3
      It does seem to be a very logical decision based on finances, and especially if the new carriers can handle them.

      However, it may mark the beggining of the end for the RAF/RN operating world beating equipment.

      Comment

      • Hawkeye
        Rank 4 Registered User
        • Dec 2009
        • 70

        #4
        So what newspaper is this from? The Sunday Times? If the un-named "senior source" is going to pick a plane then surely the much mentioned cooperation with France would make the Rafale the more logical plane to mention and not put your name to.

        Sorry, I'm tired of seeing "senior source" in newspaper articles. Yes it's accurate to say we can't afford the 150 aircraft we originally wanted, but can we please have at least the department the senior source works for mentioned so we have some vague idea of where the hell this opinion came from


        End rant.
        Sorry mods.

        Comment

        • jackjack
          Senior Member
          • Oct 2009
          • 1756

          #5
          what nonsense, UK will get f-35b
          down the track will get f-35a as well, the typhoon becomes a day 2 striker i predict

          Comment

          • nocutstoRAF
            Rank 5 Registered User
            • May 2010
            • 954

            #6
            While logically the UK should get the F-35B - not for its VLO or LO abilities but because the RAF is committed to operating just two fighters the Typhoon and the F-35B and this strategy was based around the flexibility of a STOL fighter being able to operate from the carrier then from austere airfields, combined with the fact that it is easy for a pilot "certified" to launch and land from an austere airfield to land on a carrier, meaning that it is easy to move the F-35B on and off the carriers as operations require.

            If they go for the F/A-18 E/F (which is possible as Jane's reported that Converteam UK has being working on an Electromagnetic Catapult for the carriers) then is a lot more training involved maintaining the skills of the pilots to fly from a carrier, plus they lose the ability to operate from austere airfields, and would likely end up being a dedicated carrier force.

            I might be making a gross generalisation but assuming that smaller lighter aircraft like the Gripen NG or the LCA have shorter minimum take off and landing distance than say the F/A-18 E/F it would make more sense from the point of view how the envisaged operating the F-35B to go for the Sea Gripen or the LCA (N) MK II. Of course the Sea Gripen does not exist and the LCA (N) MK II will likely be another 4 - 5 years away and the LCA (N) is meant to replace the Sea Harriers in Indian service and might not have the range or payload to be able to fully carry out the role that F-35B was envisaged to fulfil (after all the Indian's have the Mig-29K's to fill the strike role).

            Sorry JackJack the RAF will not get both the F-35A and the F-35B as the current head of the RAF has stated more than once that the RAF cannot afford to support the logistics of more than two types of fast jet, and while the A and B do have a high level of commonality there will be some differences. While I agree with your sentiment, the RAF could not afford to operate four types of fast jets and are struggling to operate three types of fast jets currently and things are only going to get worse.

            EDIT: They are discussing this very story here, http://www.arrse.co.uk/current-affai...stead-jsf.html, if anyone is interested.
            Last edited by nocutstoRAF; 1st August 2010, 17:37.
            If having a little knowledge is dangerous then I must be bloody deadly

            Comment

            • pegon
              Rank 5 Registered User
              • May 2006
              • 303

              #7
              Remember, if the RN goes for the F18, they will have to buy a tool/spares package as well. This will put a RN F18 in a different price spectrum vs recent USN batches.

              This debate goes into a number of recent threads on this forum: Will LM be able to deliver an AFFORDABLE F35abc ?

              With recent threads beeing all across the board as regards to the price of the F35. And price increase related to the F35b. It is time to ask if the US should can the F35b and introduce cost savings on the a/c ?

              Comment

              • Hot_Charlie
                ex tanker mate
                • Feb 2005
                • 655

                #8
                Certainly doesn't seem a ridiculous suggestion. The F18E/F is certainly a very decent piece of kit in operational service.

                The austere airfield argument based on the historical potential Cold War usage is more of a red herring now (IMHO). As we've seen with Iraq and the Stan, there are very few places now where you aren't going to have a usable runway within a short time period. Again, maybe (hopefully) experience deploying the Harrier into Afghanistan is influencing thought as to the future.
                Last edited by Hot_Charlie; 1st August 2010, 19:06.

                Comment

                • nocutstoRAF
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • May 2010
                  • 954

                  #9
                  Lets look at the figures based on information available: For the F-35 lets use the Canadian F-35 purchase as a yard stick which had a total contract price of $16 billion Canadian Dollars for 65 F-35's split as $9 billion for the aircraft and $7 billion for the support contract this equates using xe.com as 5.56 billion for the planes and 4.32 billion for the support contract, giving a total of 9.88 billion for 65 F-35’s.

                  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-10667633

                  To get a handle on the F/A-18 E/F lets use the latest US multi-year purchase price of F/A-18 E/F's which is for 2010 $1.9 billion for 22 planes, working out as 55 million per plane then add a cautious 20% to the price to cover integration costs and inflation to bring the price to 66 million per plane and then assuming the support contract costs are roughly the same (4.32 billion) then 65 F/A-18 E/F's to RAF/FAA standards would cost a total of 8.61 billion (65 x 66,000,000 + 4,320,000,000) which is a saving of ~12.8% on the F-35.

                  http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE64D6LB20100514

                  Obviously this is all ball park as the UK has not stated to negotiate a contract for either plane as of yet.

                  RE: Hot_Charlie - I understood form what I have read and been told that the STOL issue was more about the ease of moving between carrier ops and land based ops, I admit I emphasised the austere airfield issue as if you believe that the future is mostly going to be counter-insurgency operations against lightly armed irregular forces in countries lacking vital infrastructure then the ability to operate from austere airfields seems like a good idea. Obviously the other way to go is to keep QE or PoW on station and run your CAS operations from the carriers until the Royal Engineers can get in-country to build a full air strip but I am not sure logistically how easy that would be.
                  Last edited by nocutstoRAF; 1st August 2010, 19:21.
                  If having a little knowledge is dangerous then I must be bloody deadly

                  Comment

                  • flanker30
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Sep 2009
                    • 517

                    #10
                    If only the UK had listened to the French way back when they insisted on the need for a carrier version of the Eurofighter.......:diablo:

                    Comment

                    • pegon
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • May 2006
                      • 303

                      #11
                      NocutstoRAF,

                      I think you are comparing apples to oranges here. The Canadian offer is for the F35a, i believe.

                      The plane RN is looking at is the F35b, a plane i believe will be close to 2X the cost.

                      Comment

                      • Aurel
                        Rank 5 Registered User
                        • Oct 2003
                        • 1176

                        #12
                        There is a problem with your calculation. Canadians didn't buy B models. The -B will be by far the most expansive.
                        One compromise could be to switch to the F-35C and fit cats to the carriers.

                        Comment

                        • Hot_Charlie
                          ex tanker mate
                          • Feb 2005
                          • 655

                          #13
                          Originally posted by nocutstoRAF View Post
                          RE: Hot_Charlie - I understood form what I have read and been told that the STOL issue was more about the ease of moving between carrier ops and land based ops, I admit I emphasised the austere airfield issue as if you believe that the future is mostly going to be counter-insurgency operations against lightly armed irregular forces in countries lacking vital infrastructure then the ability to operate from austere airfields seems like a good idea.
                          If you mean austere as in a lack of facilities, then one could say a purely conventional aircraft is a better bet than an overcomplicated 5th generation fighter with both an engine and a lift fan. As long as you have a runway, which aren't in short supply anymore, then I don't think it really matters.

                          STOL was a nicety 40 years ago, but now, apart from the ability to use small, not cat equipped carriers, it's a bit of a non requirement.

                          Comment

                          • Jonesy
                            Neo-conversative
                            • Jan 2000
                            • 5097

                            #14
                            Try amending the title to 'UK looking at ditching F-35B for Super Hornet'.

                            Part of any procurement review are a list of 'what if.....' analysis options. One will be replacing F-35B with Hornet, another will be replacing F-35B with Rafale and, yet another, will be replacing -35B with -35C. All options will be studied.

                            ....and yet again it will be pointed out that STOVL is the cheapest way to accomplish the requirements of the Carrier Strike tasking just like every other time the government has asked MoD to undergo this process.

                            Comment

                            • obligatory
                              Senior Member
                              • Oct 2008
                              • 7043

                              #15
                              It said 100 million pound a pop, that's 157 million USD,
                              what's the price of a Hornet ?
                              and since UK aren't looking for long range, C/D will do fine.

                              Comment

                              • Super Nimrod
                                Rank 5 Registered User
                                • Dec 2005
                                • 1053

                                #16
                                If this decision is made it will prove to be a false economy that will end up being reversed.

                                The SH will not be bought into the UK for anywhere near the same cost that the USA buys them for. The initial set up costs will be significant and then on top of that the MOD is going to have to dob out to integrate all the UK missile systems, and you can be sure there is bound to be some communication changes required that will also have to be paid for. I bet the eventual saving will not be anywhere near as minor as they thought

                                And where will we end up ? In Twenty years time they will have an aircraft that will be a rapidly aging design (some might say its heading that way now) when many of the UK's friends will be operating a modern stealthy F35 and the UK won't have any stealthy fast jets at all when the world has moved on. To me that sounds like they are setting themselves up for failure in the medium term for the sake of short term expediency.

                                Comment

                                • nocutstoRAF
                                  Rank 5 Registered User
                                  • May 2010
                                  • 954

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by pegon View Post
                                  NocutstoRAF,

                                  I think you are comparing apples to oranges here. The Canadian offer is for the F35a, i believe.

                                  The plane RN is looking at is the F35b, a plane i believe will be close to 2X the cost.
                                  Originally posted by Aurel View Post
                                  There is a problem with your calculation. Canadians didn't buy B models. The -B will be by far the most expansive.
                                  One compromise could be to switch to the F-35C and fit cats to the carriers.
                                  I agree with both of you, however I could not find a reliable cost for the F-35B to compare the F-35B to the Super Hornet. Also I think the support contract for Super Hornet would be lower than for the F-35B and the support contract for F-35A would also be lower than for the F-35B so in all likelihood the savings are greater than 12% that I calculated.

                                  EDIT: I agree with your reasoning as well Super Nimrod, but 20 years of usage is quite a long time for cat and trap aircraft.
                                  Last edited by nocutstoRAF; 1st August 2010, 21:08.
                                  If having a little knowledge is dangerous then I must be bloody deadly

                                  Comment

                                  • exec
                                    Rank 4 Registered User
                                    • Feb 2010
                                    • 408

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by nocutstoRAF View Post
                                    Lets look at the figures based on information available: For the F-35 lets use the Canadian F-35 purchase as a yard stick which had a total contract price of $16 billion Canadian Dollars for 65 F-35's split as $9 billion for the aircraft and $7 billion for the support
                                    Not exactly. This $7 bil is an expected maintnance and support cost for 20 years of service. $9 bil is the cost of aircraft/support systems/staff and pilot training/weapons package an so on. ~60% of this $9 bil should be the actual cost of the aircraft. And remember that this is expected cost in 2016.

                                    Comment

                                    • Super Nimrod
                                      Rank 5 Registered User
                                      • Dec 2005
                                      • 1053

                                      #19
                                      Nocutsto RAF. Well in real terms it might be out of date well within the aircrafts service life as they wouldn't start flying from the CVF's until 2016 anyway. By then the F35 will have been flying 10 years and the F18 SH maiden flight 25 years previously I am not sure that anyone who buys a fighter at the end of its production run gets true value for money................

                                      Comment

                                      • Hot_Charlie
                                        ex tanker mate
                                        • Feb 2005
                                        • 655

                                        #20
                                        Super Hornet's maiden flight was 1995, was it not, so 21 years. Considering we've planned for 40 odd year service lives for some types in the UK armoury (Eg Tornado GR1/4 with planned OSD of 2025), it can't be considered too long in the tooth (RAAF taking deliveries soon too).

                                        You could argue it would also be more than an adequate off the shelf airframe to take on the majority of the RAF's ground attack roles, replacing the GR4 and Harrier, and in fairly short order too without years of fannying around.

                                        Comment

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