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Thread: RAF Fighter Jets: What’s the point?

  1. #1
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    RAF Fighter Jets: What’s the point?

    Forgive the overly simplistic title, and the similarly simplistic ramblings below.

    In the last 2 decades if not more, most war fighting has been carried out in a ground support capacity, where we get some “fast air” types to roll on in for a “non-kinetic attack” and then let off some ordnance towards the bad guys on the ground.
    I’m wondering what the point is in having hugely expensive assets (Tornado/Typhoon) carry out such warfighting, when in the South Americas, they use Super Tucano’s in the Hunter/Killer role.
    Yes, sure we need QRF, and there’ll always be a need to have a few aircraft under maintenance, but do we need over 100 Typhoons?
    I know I’ll get flamed, but I really think for the recent warfighting we have done needs a cheap, low speed, long loiter type(s), to combat the threat from a man waving an AK47 around.
    Over to you guys....

  2. #2
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    You don't buy assets to fulfill your recent needs. You buy them for several decades of operation, in case of and before you really need them.
    You can instead buy loads of cheap aircrafts, then loose the Falklands again...

  3. #3
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    I think you'll need some type of fast jet to maintain air space sovereignty. Even if it is just to intercept and control an airliner in a 9/11-type scenario. A Super Tucano cannot do that. I'd think you would also want to maintain proficiency in the operation of fast jets. You train for the unexpected just as much as for the expected. I question the need for the USAF to base F-15C/Ds in the UK. Maybe even the F-15E too. Can the RAF not handle the defense of the UK. Such basing arrangements are political mostly and serve to establish a form of deterrent against the Soviets during the Cold War.

  4. #4
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    Surely the US jets have nothing to do with the practical defence of the UK.

    The UK has provided a mostly risk free staging post for US forces since the Second World War. No resentment (excusing Greenback Common) and very little chance of political obstruction.

  5. #5
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    Indeed, what's the point.

    We should focus on a 20-year horizon only -- after that the AIs will reach and surpass human level intelligence and take over. What we do and say after that point may be irrelevant since humans no longer will be in charge.

    One can only speculate what kind of fighter a/c the AIs will develop and field 20+ years from now. Perhaps based on new physics? Anti-grativity? We have absolutely no idea, we will be like rats trying to second-guess what kind of rats nest the humans might be able to construct. Or perhaps we will be more comparable to ants.

    In any case it is fascinating to ponder that not just the Typhoon, Rafale, F-35, F-22 will be obsolete; also the 6-gen a/c currently in the US pipeline will at that time all be as obsolete as arrows and bows.

    Interesting times.

  6. #6
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    It’s good that flippancy is alive and well in Modern Mil as well as other forums... Rolleyes....

  7. #7
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    You could argue that the development of small smart and relatively long legged munitions such as SPEAR3 have made the type of aircraft less relevant.

    Does it matter if the Typhoon, F35 or Scorpion is carrying a brace of them? You need the technology to find the target in the first place though.


    I do agree that you can't plan for a 30-40 year operational cycle simply by looking at the war you have just fought.

  8. #8
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    It’s good that flippancy is alive and well in Modern Mil as well as other forums... Rolleyes....
    Your response is understandable -- lack of knowledge and understanding will make it very hard (or close to impossible) to spot such a dramatic shift in the history of this planet, especially several years into the future.

    No worries, in another 20 years or so you will understand what we are talking about here -- by that time even the most ignorant person will have to accept the hard truths.

    (OK perhaps I will be off, maybe it will take 25 years? who knows!)

  9. #9
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    In the last 2 decades if not more, most war fighting has been carried out in a ground support capacity, where we get some “fast air” types to roll on in for a “non-kinetic attack” and then let off some ordnance towards the bad guys on the ground.
    I’m wondering what the point is in having hugely expensive assets (Tornado/Typhoon) carry out such warfighting, when in the South Americas, they use Super Tucano’s in the Hunter/Killer role.
    Yes, sure we need QRF, and there’ll always be a need to have a few aircraft under maintenance, but do we need over 100 Typhoons?
    I know I’ll get flamed, but I really think for the recent warfighting we have done needs a cheap, low speed, long loiter type(s), to combat the threat from a man waving an AK47 around.
    Anyone with a remote interest in defence would notice that a) Russia is throwing Sukhoi´s out of the factory at an awfull fast pace, b) an armed Super Tucano could not operate in more than two thirds of the operations that the RAF conducted since the nineties, that includes the first and second showdown with Hassan Hussein, the full decade of operations in between, Jugoslavia, Lybia, etc, and in order to use them in Syria today, the Russians and the Bashar Al Assad regime would have to give their blessing c) the fast jet fleet of the RAF has almost been disbanded, any further cuts and we are looking of a force capable of only doing QRA and sticking one sqn in QEII, d) the Certifiable Predator B and the AAC´s Apache pretty much cover that particular capability.

    You can make a business case for an armed Super Tucano small force, but not at the expense of the dwindling RAF fast jet fleet.

  10. #10
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    Mrmalaya,

    I firmly believe that if the UK came under direct attack, the local USAF units would not say "Never mind. RAF has this one." The USAF would participate in any defense attempt because their butts are in just as much of a risk as the RAF and everyone else. I can see a reason to keep the Strike Eagles there, but not so much for the F-15C/Ds. I don't get me wrong, the F-15 is probably the finest A2A fighter ever fielded anywhere, but its supremacy is not eternal. The EF Typhoon is just as capable if not better.

  11. #11
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    Freehand, I agree.

    I was reacting to the idea that the USAF were there to defend the UK (which they are not, even if they were to "jump in for the big win" when they were asked to).

    I make no doubt that UK/US are in it together but there is a subtle difference.

  12. #12
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    I struggle to understand why the RAF has been singled out in the OP. Notwithstanding that I think the premise is incorrect, especially given that the world is probably the closest its been to a major war in over half a century, surely the same logic (or lack thereof) would apply equally to any European nation and others.

  13. #13
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    I struggle to understand why the RAF has been singled out in the OP. Notwithstanding that I think the premise is incorrect, especially given that the world is probably the closest its been to a major war in over half a century, surely the same logic (or lack thereof) would apply equally to any European nation and others.
    I agree completely; the whole of Europe should really start building defences again, including fighters that can handle major wars; so a large number of F-35 complemented with a large number of Eurocanards.

    And the Eurofighter countries should make a decision to implement an upgrade path of the Typhoon that will bring it to the same level as (or above) Rafale F4 and Gripen E, in terms of avionics... I have not yet seen anything to indicate this is going to happen?

  14. #14
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    depends on belgium maybe?

  15. #15
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    depends on belgium maybe?
    Que?

  16. #16
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    The success of Typhoon as an interceptor depends upon early warning radar data from RAF Fylindales and the E-3s. But the early warning radar platforms are vulnerable to electronic attack or kinetic attack, including sapper attacks by sleeper cells. Taking out a single key early warning node can neutralize scores of Typhoons tasked with defending the British Isles.

    While this is the Modern Military Aviation forum and posters like to discuss fast jets, killing targets with fast jets isn't the problem. RAF and Nato have plenty of very capable shooters. The issue is finding threats to shoot at once the key early warning nodes are disrupted. RAF, USAF and Nato need a robust, decentralized source for early warning data which works against stealthy threats using electronic attack, the Russian versions of F-35 and B-21. Spend your money there.

  17. #17
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    The success of Typhoon as an interceptor depends upon early warning radar data from RAF Fylindales and the E-3s. But the early warning radar platforms are vulnerable to electronic attack or kinetic attack, including sapper attacks by sleeper cells. Taking out a single key early warning node can neutralize scores of Typhoons tasked with defending the British Isles.


    While this is the Modern Military Aviation forum and posters like to discuss fast jets, killing targets with fast jets isn't the problem. RAF and Nato have plenty of very capable shooters. The issue is finding threats to shoot at once the key early warning nodes are disrupted. RAF, USAF and Nato need a robust, decentralized source for early warning data which works against stealthy threats using electronic attack, the Russian versions of F-35 and B-21. Spend your money there.
    Good points -- however Europe is in the process of getting hundreds of F-35, this will help building a sensor network.

    Anyway, pk is far from 1 so ammo should also be high on the list, together with spares (very few of the German Typhoons are available, for instance).

  18. #18
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    I wonder what the OP's views are?

  19. #19
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    Mrmalaya,

    Two cultures separated by a common language...

  20. #20
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    The success of Typhoon as an interceptor depends upon early warning radar data from RAF Fylindales and the E-3s. But the early warning radar platforms are vulnerable to electronic attack or kinetic attack, including sapper attacks by sleeper cells. Taking out a single key early warning node can neutralize scores of Typhoons tasked with defending the British Isles.

    While this is the Modern Military Aviation forum and posters like to discuss fast jets, killing targets with fast jets isn't the problem. RAF and Nato have plenty of very capable shooters. The issue is finding threats to shoot at once the key early warning nodes are disrupted. RAF, USAF and Nato need a robust, decentralized source for early warning data which works against stealthy threats using electronic attack, the Russian versions of F-35 and B-21. Spend your money there.
    Not quite that simple. Russian bombers must first travel around Scandinavia where there are also tons of radars and fighters. They are tracked and escorted all the way to and from the UK. There would have to be many sleeper cells all co-ordinating an attack without any NATO country's security services getting wind of it and that is extremely unlikely.

  21. #21
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    In times of peace, you prepare for war.
    Engine Failure:.... A condition which occurs when all fuel tanks mysteriously become filled with air.

  22. #22
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    Kurt, lots of things are bought that are rarely, and sometimes never, used. Do you have home, life, or automobile insurance? Do you have airbags in your car? Just because something is rarely used does not negate its "worth". On the defense side there is also the value of deterrent, which is very difficult to quantify, especially if you only look at how many times the trigger was pulled. Are SSBN's worth it? I'm glad we have them, but am even more glad they have never been used.

    Sure, if the crystal ball were perfect, investing in some cheap turboprops would have been perfect for many air forces over the last 50 years. But if the balloon ever went up and your turboprops suddenly found themselves in a non-permissive environment and were shot down or grounded, then they would indeed be worthless.

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