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  • MisterQ
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Jan 2008
    • 475

    Um, where does this figure of 140 fast jets come from? we're ordering 160 Eurofighters, and even though people keep saying 53 Tranche 1 jets are going to get chopped, all of our T1A 2 seaters are within that number so I don't see how they can be.

    Comment

    • Jonesy
      Neo-conversative
      • Jan 2000
      • 5097

      If it does, compared to a conventional F35 it will be more expensive, more complicated, and carry less ordnance with less range.
      Once again John what possible importance do you think those factors have?. Mission capability is the key metric. A fighter with less complexity, more range, more payload and cheaper is not a better answer if it isnt in theatre!.

      Let me use the current Libya situation to illustrate in the simplest terms I can imagine. CVF is optimised, under routine deployment conditions, for precisely this kind of 'hotspot' crisis intervention. The 'golf bag' approach sees the vessel sailing with a squadron of F-35B's, a few Chinny's, a det of Apaches and the usual naval choppers. The order to commence air ops against specific point targets is given and, in conjunction with RN TLAM, F-35B's with Storm Shadow start knocking out coastal installations and airfield targets with the CVF standing off 600nm in the Med.

      Fresh orders for an intensive air campaign are generated from Northwood and a deployment order goes out to the ready F-35B squadron in the UK or, for that matter, anywhere else. The squadron air ops team stages the squadron to Goia de Colle and, from there, they fly out straight to the carrier, regardless of whether the pilots have operated from a ship before, land on and start finding their bunks while their aircraft are turned around. UNREP is tasked to meet up with CVF to offload stores commensurate with the larger fastjet group. After the newly arrived squadrons aircraft are regenerated the pilots attend their first strike briefing and the ship starts flying off strikes with a full readiness two squadron airgroup.

      Compare this to CATOBAR where the action happens the same right up until we need to deploy additional fastjets to the ship - save for the fact that the CVF is now able to stand off 700nm in the Med!!!. Then we have to find pilots with current deck quals in the general community and get them reassigned to a readiness squadron. If there are none available locally then any pilots with deck experience will have to have a few quick runs through the simulator then stage out to the ship - then spend a day or two getting their CATOBAR deck quals and only after that start on the business of operations. All the while thats going on the group has to attempt to do its best with the original 12 or 14 planes from the ships own squadron.

      On paper your payload/range/cost issues have merit. In the real world its the systems you can use, that offer flexibility and deployability that are king though. IF we had the political will for full time naval aviation and two or three permanent FAA fastjet squadrons with a dedicated pool of CATOBAR rated pilots sure then CATOBAR makes sense. We dont have that though. So it doesnt.
      Last edited by Jonesy; 6th July 2011, 09:00.

      Comment

      • Stan hyd
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • May 2009
        • 605

        The problem most of people have including myself with arguing with Jonsey is that we live in the world where we wish the FAA were independent and able where as Jonsey lives in the real world and understands the needs the UK has for CVF better than most.

        Comment

        • flanker30
          Rank 5 Registered User
          • Sep 2009
          • 517

          Why would a carrier need to stand 600nm or 700 nm off the Libyan coastline? Would you not be in Italy or Greece at that stage?

          Comment

          • Jonesy
            Neo-conversative
            • Jan 2000
            • 5097

            It doesnt matter whether it would need to stand off that distance or not. It could be simply that the carrier hadn't taken up station yet and was still entering theatre. The point being that the difference in range, that John is so exercised about, is marginal between STOVL and CATOBAR. Whether its an F-35B striking from 600nm or an F-35C striking from 750nm is academic in the given context.

            Comment

            • PhilipG
              Rank 5 Registered User
              • Aug 2010
              • 237

              I do agree with Jonesey that IF the F35B did what it said on the box then the scenario that he paints is a good and logical one. My issues with the F35B are inter alia It cannot land back on fully loaded with weapons so some may have to be dumped in the sea. The weapons load anyway is much smaller than its sisters. The range is lower than its sisters. There are as I understood it major issues with cracks in parts of the fuselage.
              Yes if the only difference between the A, B and C was the B did STOVL and the C did Catobar, fine the B makes sense. For an aircraft to be a strike platform as I see it range and hence endurance combined with weapons load capability would seem to be the USPs that the purchaser should look for, this would suggest that of the F35s the C is the one to go for. Who owns them is a policy issue for the MOD....

              Comment

              • Jonesy
                Neo-conversative
                • Jan 2000
                • 5097

                Originally posted by PhilipG View Post
                My issues with the F35B are inter alia It cannot land back on fully loaded with weapons so some may have to be dumped in the sea.
                That was an issue projected to be resolved with the short rolling landing (SRL) technique in the, anticipated, odd circumstance it was required. It being worth noting that reserve fuel limits for a STOVL jet could be much lower than for a CATOBAR one owing to the difficulty of a STOVL bolter so whole airframe return weight could be at a much different payload/fuel ratio than for a CATOBAR jet!. SRL onto a 65000ton carrier being an entirely different proposition than trying the same manoever on a 20k ton CVS of course.

                No contention here that F-35B is having a difficult time of it. STOVL is, naturally, only an option if there is a viable STOVL jet to select. My point here isnt that F-35B is viable at this time.....patently it has some way still to go and, if, the UK CVF decision to go CATOBAR was predicated on a lack of confidence in F-35B there is obvious justification for that.

                My point was to respond to John's assertion that there never was any sense in CVF being STOVL. Hopefully I've now been able to illustrate why STOVL was the right choice, for our very specific requirements with CVF, and why CATOBAR now carries attendant, significant, dangers for operations the way UK MoD currently envisage them.
                Last edited by Jonesy; 6th July 2011, 12:05.

                Comment

                • Geoff_B
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Jul 2010
                  • 507

                  Originally posted by PhilipG View Post
                  I do agree with Jonesey that IF the F35B did what it said on the box then the scenario that he paints is a good and logical one. My issues with the F35B are inter alia It cannot land back on fully loaded with weapons so some may have to be dumped in the sea. The weapons load anyway is much smaller than its sisters. The range is lower than its sisters. There are as I understood it major issues with cracks in parts of the fuselage.
                  Yes if the only difference between the A, B and C was the B did STOVL and the C did Catobar, fine the B makes sense. For an aircraft to be a strike platform as I see it range and hence endurance combined with weapons load capability would seem to be the USPs that the purchaser should look for, this would suggest that of the F35s the C is the one to go for. Who owns them is a policy issue for the MOD....
                  Thats pretty much what the UK did, when originally selected the B as the preferred choice for JCA the it matched the A in all but range due to the lift fan in place of fuel capacity. Plus it was first one expected into service and matched our timeline with the minimal change to operating practices.

                  When the B's specs were lowered following the weight cockup, the previos govt adopted a wait and see approach preferring to see what happend once the flight testing had been done, as they still had till 2012 before making the final choice. Last year the flight testing was less than spectacular, performance was shown to be little better than the Harrier it was to replace at an astronomic unit cost , and with Gates aiming to isolate the B from the rest of the program it proved a wise choice to switch to the more capable Catobar F-35C variant which is more in line with our Carrier Strike goals

                  Comment

                  • marktheevildude
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Feb 2008
                    • 385

                    "Then we have to find pilots with current deck quals in the general community and get them reassigned to a readiness squadron. If there are none available locally then any pilots with deck experience will have to have a few quick runs through the simulator then stage out to the ship - then spend a day or two getting their CATOBAR deck quals and only after that start on the business of operations."

                    Correct me if I am wrong, but did Harrier pilots not have to re-qualify for ship operations if they had not been at see for a while, I can remember in the recent channel 5 documentry 'Ark Royal' that the harriers were deploying to the ship whilst off the coast of Scotland to conduct training to get signed off on ship bourne landings, and they were frustrated by the ash cloud putting an end to this.

                    So all pilots whether F35B or c would need to be current?

                    Comment

                    • Jonesy
                      Neo-conversative
                      • Jan 2000
                      • 5097

                      Originally posted by marktheevildude View Post
                      Correct me if I am wrong, but did Harrier pilots not have to re-qualify for ship operations if they had not been at see for a while, I can remember in the recent channel 5 documentry 'Ark Royal' that the harriers were deploying to the ship whilst off the coast of Scotland to conduct training to get signed off on ship bourne landings, and they were frustrated by the ash cloud putting an end to this.

                      So all pilots whether F35B or c would need to be current?
                      The difference between the two, Mark, is that on the STOVL type the deck-qualification is procedural. In 1982 GR3 pilots who'd never been aboard a carrier before were able to land-on and undertake operations with no issue within a very short timeframe.

                      With CATOBAR the lack of deck qualification carries very significant operational risks. Would you want a pilot flying ops and bringing back live munitions on the aircraft if he wasn't fully practiced in the art of a CATOBAR deck landing.

                      CATOBAR night landings, somewhat infamously, have been pegged as more stressful than combat. How limiting is it, on your flying programme, that you can only select pilots who are night deck rated if there is a chance that a mission could stretch past the hours of daylight. How much of an impact is there on your operational flying programme if you are trying to conduct deck quals at the same time as flying operational sorties?.

                      As I said if we were going to do what the other CATOBAR-club nations do and have permanently tasked naval squadrons CATOBAR is fine. No complaints. We arent going to do that though....so we have the potential for some very big availability issues.

                      Geoff,

                      Last year the flight testing was less than spectacular, performance was shown to be little better than the Harrier it was to replace at an astronomic unit cost
                      Which testing is this and can you clarify what you mean by 'little better than a Harrier'?. All I have been seeing from cursory press releases etc is indications that the reliability issues have been improving markedly?.
                      Last edited by Jonesy; 6th July 2011, 12:42.

                      Comment

                      • John K
                        Rank 5 Registered User
                        • Jul 2010
                        • 311

                        Originally posted by ppp View Post

                        But there was no call for a naval Eurofighter. The naval requirement only comes into it if France is involved as they were the ones with the naval requirement. If the French didn't get what they wanted, they would have (and did) leave the programme.
                        My point is that there should have been. The Royal Navy should have had the confidence to look to the future and plan for a new aircraft after the Harrier/Invincible combination retired. There was no need to stay with STOVL, and the Eurofighter would have been the ideal project to have navalised. The RAF were committed to it, and the French wanted a naval fighter too. They would be in service by now, and we would not be waiting for the "jam tomorrow", or rather in 10 years, of F35Cs which may or may not actually be bought. My point is that the French had the self-confidence and foresight to say that they were sticking with conventional carrier air power and wanted a new fighter. In Britain, as usual, we muddled along and ended up with the worst outcome possible: no carriers and no aircraft. Compared to that, Charles de Gaulle and the Rafale M don't seem so shabby do they?

                        Comment

                        • John K
                          Rank 5 Registered User
                          • Jul 2010
                          • 311

                          Jonesy:

                          I realise you are a big fan of STOVL, my point is that the Royal Navy only stumbled into it by luck, and when planning must have started for a replacement for the Harrier, there was no need that I can see to have stayed with it. No other navy which can afford a full deck carrier has seen fit to go down the STOVL route, the Royal Navy was unique in that. As far as I can tell, the reason was that Joint Force Harrier kept the RAF on board, and the RAF wanted to keep a STOVL capability after the Harriers retired, so the Navy was happy to go along with STOVL, which meant the F35B. However, the RAF's commitment to STOVL proved to be rather skin deep, and they were more than happy to axe the Harrier so as to keep the Tornado. The Navy should have been planning since the 1980s for a new generation of carriers and aircraft, given that the Invincibles would be due to retire around 2010. They should have gone for a navalised Eurofighter from the start, a plane which now would be in service on new carriers. Now we have nothing, and even the best case scenario is that we will have nothing for 10 years. Who knows what will eventually happen? All I know is that a politician's promises are worthless, and the future of the Royal Navy is bleak.

                          Comment

                          • Jonesy
                            Neo-conversative
                            • Jan 2000
                            • 5097

                            Originally posted by John K View Post
                            My point is that there should have been. The Royal Navy should have had the confidence to look to the future and plan for a new aircraft after the Harrier/Invincible combination retired. There was no need to stay with STOVL, and the Eurofighter would have been the ideal project to have navalised. The RAF were committed to it, and the French wanted a naval fighter too. They would be in service by now, and we would not be waiting for the "jam tomorrow", or rather in 10 years, of F35Cs which may or may not actually be bought. My point is that the French had the self-confidence and foresight to say that they were sticking with conventional carrier air power and wanted a new fighter. In Britain, as usual, we muddled along and ended up with the worst outcome possible: no carriers and no aircraft. Compared to that, Charles de Gaulle and the Rafale M don't seem so shabby do they?
                            John will you appreciate that in the context of the Royal Navy's role in any conceived Cold War WW3 scenario 3 CVS's with heavily weighted rotary-wing airgroups would have been far more useful an asset to have than a single CVN. The RN's task was not to steam around to the Kola peninsular and start sending off WE177'd Bucc strikes....it was to win the "Battle of the Atlantic part 2" primarily against Soviet Northern Fleet submarine and surface units. Hunter-killer ASW surface taskgroups built around a CVS and its rotary airwing backed by a flotilla of first-class SSN's with SSK's gatekeeping on the GIUK were the systems to do this. A CVN, designed to follow on from the CVS's, would have drawn money away from the T23's and T-class SSN's that formed the backbone of our fleet ASW capability just as the deGaulle drew that money from the French fleet.

                            You do realise that you are condemning the RN for not having the "foresight" to take money away from the platforms we operationally needed at the time and putting it into a platform that we didn't!.

                            As far as I can tell, the reason was that Joint Force Harrier kept the RAF on board, and the RAF wanted to keep a STOVL capability after the Harriers retired, so the Navy was happy to go along with STOVL
                            STOVL had other benefits for the type of operations we wanted from CVF. The requirement for the 'golf bag' approach to carrier airwing deployment is, as far as I know, unique to us. CVF has never been intended to be a normal fleet carrier in the US or French model despite its size. Too many people cannot cope with this idea, but, it is the truth.

                            RN planning incorporates the knowledge that if we only have one deck in a task group our operations we will always be vulnerable to the loss of that deck either permanently through enemy action or temporarily through mechanical failure or accident etc. Knowing that we wouldn't be deploying two big decks together short of the direst national emergency UK MoD planning has always been to minimise the risk to an operation caused by the loss of that single deck. Our planning therefore called for the deliberate deployment of the fastjet airgroup ashore to an austere operating location at the earliest opportunity should it be available and necessary. STOVL enabled that approach.

                            STOVL also brought operational advantages in terms outlined above in deployability, cross-training with the RAF, adverse weather operation and, importantly for the RN, it allowed for a cheaper and mechanically simpler carrier design to be built. Some in the RN wanted CATOBAR all the way through, but, STOVL always had its champions for very good reason.
                            Last edited by Jonesy; 6th July 2011, 16:30.

                            Comment

                            • John K
                              Rank 5 Registered User
                              • Jul 2010
                              • 311

                              Jonesy:

                              I wasn't calling for a Royal Navy CVN. Furthermore, the Cold War ended circa 1990, so there should have been plenty of time for the Royal Navy to have been planning for a new role. If the Navy had stuck to ASW in the North Atlantic it really would be out of a job.

                              Your description of Royal Navy carrier doctrine may well be right, and it is the doctrine of a service lacking in any sort of self-confidence. This is understandable given the knocks the Navy has suffered since the cancellation of CVA-01, but regrettable nontheless. You are right that the "tailored air group" approach is unique to the RN, and is again a symbol of failure. It led to the end of the Sea Harrier, then the Harrier, and thus the carriers, as the RN gave up control of its air assets in some sort of naive belief that the RAF would play fair on "jointery". The RAF dealt with the RN much as the USSR did with Czechoslovakia, and must have to pinch themselves that the Navy falls for it every time. As for the idea that STOVL is necessary so that the air group can decamp from the carrier on to an "austere" air strip ashore, again, that smacks of the sort of RAF-centric thinking which views a carrier as merely a device to move land based aviation from one place to another. We should not be thinking of spending money to build an aircraft ferry for land based air, the carrier is the basis of the most flexible way of deplying air assets ever devised, but only when operating its own air group composed of dedicated naval air assets, not just a convenient way of giving the RAF a lift. I stand by my opinion, the Royal Navy has lost its confidence, and is unable to make a proper argument for its air arm, problems which have never troubled the RAF. The end of naval aviation has been a long time coming, but it came about due to the failures of the Navy's top brass over many years to plan properly for the future and to realise that the RAF would never be happy until everything that flies is theirs.

                              Comment

                              • Jonesy
                                Neo-conversative
                                • Jan 2000
                                • 5097

                                So your problem is with Carrier Strike as a capability set then?. Would I be correct in thinking you want us to be fielding full Fleet Carrier capability?.
                                Fleet carrier capability to counter what blue water threat exactly?. We are gapping patrol slots and filling others with amphibs - REAL taskings that we aren't meeting today. We have an SSN fleet that desperately needs extra hulls to keep our global reach capability and you think we should be condemned for not trying for a naval air capability we cant even use?.

                                John everyone likes to play fantasy fleets, but, dont confuse that with the job that 1SL does trying to keep all the plates spinning without the resource to do the job ok?

                                Comment

                                • John K
                                  Rank 5 Registered User
                                  • Jul 2010
                                  • 311

                                  Jonesy:

                                  What naval air capabilty? We don't have any do we? We may get some sort of capabilty back in 10 years, but I can't be optimistic. Jock Stirrup played a blinder on behalf of the Tornado Mafia, and prevailed upon Cameron to axe the Harriers and therefore naval air overnight. That is what comes of losing control of your own assets. The Navy played fair over Joint Force Harrier and has been left, literally, with nothing. If, in 10 years, a CVF is ever actually finished and joins the fleet, I have no doubt that the RAF will see it, as you give the impression of doing, as a means os moving RAF aircarft from one air base to another. They have no understanding of the use of naval air, and they don't want to learn. The leson I draw is that unless the Navy owns and operates its own air assets from its own carriers, then talk of strike carriers v fleet carriers is meaningless, as we simply end up with no carriers. You can see the pattern can't you?

                                  Comment

                                  • Jonesy
                                    Neo-conversative
                                    • Jan 2000
                                    • 5097

                                    John,

                                    You seem to be putting a lot of focus into getting the cart before the horse here. The carrier is the end of the process in acquisition not the start. We don't build them to keep up with the French, to impress the Americans or so that internet warriors can play today's equivalent of Top Trumps on august fora such as this!.

                                    A carrier is the net result of a defined military requirement. In our case the requirement that has led to CVF is Carrier Strike which is a capability set intended to provide force projection capability in low-middle intensity conflicts alone and, in coalition, in major conflicts. That requirement builds us two 65k ton carriers that will last between two and three generations ok?. Once we have the ships built we can adapt them to the prevailing threat level of the day with the budget availability of the day. We must have the ships first though.

                                    Your way, that Fleet Carriers with dedicated FAA airwings should have been built, leads to a fall at the first hurdle as no-one can justify the spend with a real military requirement. I notice you dodged the question of where the bluewater military threat was....the team trying to get that pushed through would have similar difficulty just without the luxury of ignorance as a defence. So, far from a better end result, we end up with no aircraft carriers at all....in 10 years or otherwise.

                                    I, genuinely, would love to know where you get the concept from that Fleet CVF with permanent FAA CATOBAR squadrons was ever something that was available for the RN to accept less than?.

                                    I have no doubt that the RAF will see it, as you give the impression of doing, as a means os moving RAF aircarft from one air base to another.
                                    Absolutely. That is the price of CATOBAR and the additionalpayload/range you seemed to find so important. With STOVL the aircraft would have been as easily operable from ship or shore so the light blue would have had a vested interest in CVF. The thing we dont have so readily now is the ability to push the airgroup ashore so, now, we will have to be that much more defensive of the single deck. You may pour scorn on the concept of forward deploying the aircraft, but, simply it could be the difference, one day, of keeping in a fight or having to make a distastefully hasty exit from theatre. Professionals always talk of capability before platform.

                                    Comment

                                    • serge
                                      Rank 3 Registered User
                                      • Mar 2011
                                      • 75

                                      hi
                                      personaly im all for the f35b variant but since the government say no,im just glad that they are being built,then maybe if we are very lucky that when they are in service that the politicians realise how versatile these mobile airfields can be for the next 40-50 years & give them the equiptment they deserve,hawkeyes+dedicated f35 squdron for defence,extra planes for surge operations,& my opinion that what good value for money they are! i just saw on the mod website that the brazilian defence minister is getting a tour of the construction so far,lucky geezer!
                                      Last edited by serge; 6th July 2011, 21:44.

                                      Comment

                                      • F/A-18RN
                                        Rank 5 Registered User
                                        • May 2005
                                        • 256

                                        Originally posted by Jonesy View Post
                                        I notice you dodged the question of where the bluewater military threat was....the team trying to get that pushed through would have similar difficulty just without the luxury of ignorance as a defence.
                                        The blue water military threat is fitting out right now behind a branch of Ikea in a dockyard in Dalian China.

                                        Inicdentally the National Audit Office as decided to put its two-peneth in. And the BBC has yet to update its CVF graphics. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14057337

                                        Comment

                                        • nocutstoRAF
                                          Rank 5 Registered User
                                          • May 2010
                                          • 954

                                          You can see the full report NAO report here:

                                          http://www.nao.org.uk/idoc.ashx?docI...4c7&version=-1
                                          If having a little knowledge is dangerous then I must be bloody deadly

                                          Comment

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