CVF Construction

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8 years 4 months

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Good question as technically none they are being built at present to their original design..

Not true, some items were removed from the baseline quite quickly even though their CATOBAR equivalents were not necessarily added. They may be small beer, but they may add up.

As to the cost of training, it is generally accepted that it will be more difficult to train up for CATOBAR ops than STOVL. Thus it is reasonable for the delta in training costs to be included in the cost comparison to be used for decision making,., Indeed it would be negligent for them not to so do.

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I mostly mean the latter. Even though they had not been "fitted", costs will have been incurred because they have been removed from the design and now need to be added again, which because the design and build has progressed means they will cost more.

Remember that even if something is not "fitted" to the ship, the systems integration has been continuing apace, messing around with systems mid-development is well documented as a cause of cost increase.


Nobody is arguing that there aren't costs. What's being doubted is that these costs are as huge as claimed. Do you really believe that the extra costs you mention could account for a 50% increase (after deducting the cost of buying & fitting catapults & arresting gear) in the price of the ship? Because that is what has been claimed.

If it really does cost that much, we'd do far fewer refits.

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8 years 4 months

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No idea Swerve. It would seem surprising, but I haven't seen the breakdown. I was merely correcting the views that there would be o increase in costs to go back to STOVL etc

But what we do have so far as possibilities for differences between the UK and US figures:

  1. difference between fitting into a design intended to take EMALs/CATOBAR and one that has to be amended for that (which US won't know)
  2. Systems changes - in many cases to adopt US systems
  3. Training Costs
  4. Costs of stripping out or changing design
  5. Training Costs
  6. Marching army costs for ACA of all those things
  7. Possibly higher through life costs (CATOBAR must cost more to maintain than a ramp right?)

One would hope that the figures being considered by the NSC also include the offset the other way (cheaper aircraft, weapons bring back etc). Though I admit that does not seem to be the case

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9 years 3 months

Posts: 487

And the hulls aren't converted yet, so the reversal would be of planning rather than implementation.

Prior to the SDSR two hulls operating the B was worth doing for most people.

Post SDSR the only option worth considering was the C despite the possible loss of one of the hulls. Given the delays in the C it is no longer the wonder jet it seemed.

Realistically this aircraft is going to sell in the thousands and arming it with weapons not drawn from the US will be a good way for the UK to make some of the money back IMHO.

Plus development of a VSTOL strike UAV for sale to Italy, Spain, India etc would be a fun and exciting way to make the CVF something to look forward to.:)

Prior to SDSR they didn't know the F-35B had a decent chance of being too heavy to work and getting heavier each time they have to design a part to fix something.

What "money already committed to modifying the two carriers to CATOBAR"?

They have production commitments to General Atomics for EMALS and AAG ahead of the JFK There would generally be some kind of cancellation penalty.

Other than a ski-jump on the front of the ship, which isn't even wholly necessary, what are the associated costs with going back to the STOVL design for the carriers?

For the ship, nothing.

For the plane assuming there's not a major downgrade in capability: increased maintenance cost for working on a machine with significantly more moving parts and basically a second engine in the lift fan, higher tanking costs for the reduced range, having to dump large amounts of fuel and weapons that it can't bring back.

Not true, some items were removed from the baseline quite quickly even though their CATOBAR equivalents were not necessarily added. They may be small beer, but they may add up.

As to the cost of training, it is generally accepted that it will be more difficult to train up for CATOBAR ops than STOVL. Thus it is reasonable for the delta in training costs to be included in the cost comparison to be used for decision making,., Indeed it would be negligent for them not to so do.

That is true, but on that big deck the F-35B will be operating more STOSL than STOVL as a vertical landing gives the aircraft basically no bring back capability. The Training requirements for SRVL at night and in bad weather on a pitching carrier deck will take training. Hell, doing a vertical landing in those conditions isn't easy and the RAF hasn't shown much of a will to keep up currency and with the F-35B the RAF has a lot more of a say in training. With the F-35C, they won't make it through training unless they're thinking and flying like a Naval Aviator. Naval Air Training Command is under no obligation to pass client SNAs.

Profile picture for user mrmalaya

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9 years 11 months

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Now that definitely need to be somewhere else no?:)

We've been pushing it by talking about the fine detail of the F35 design, but I don't think the FA-XX is ever going anywhere near the CVF.....

or is it?;)

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I think we can take it as read that if the CVF hulls are not fitted with cats and traps at the building stage, then there is no chance at all that they will be retrofitted with them 20 years down the line. It simply will not happen. The reality therefore is that the two ships will be limited to the F35B for their careers, as I rather doubt that there will be any motivation to design a subsequent STOVL plane after the F35B. Any sort of future proofing for the CVF programme will have been lost.

It is clear that the current administration is completely disfunctional. After the granny tax, the pasty tax, the church repair tax and the charity tax fiascos, the all enveloping omni-shambles is too big to ignore. We are being governed by people who are simply not up to the job.

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Why is it a given that in 30 years time no one will want to design a STOVL or VTOL fighter? How can anybody say that?

There will always be flat surfaces for fighters to take off from. I don't think that too big an assumption, but predicting that all aircraft will need hundreds of meters to get airborne seems somewhat short sighted to me....

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Well, the only country with the wherewithall to build a STOVL fighter is the USA, and God alone knows what state they will be in in 30 years time. Apart from the Harrier and the Yak, the F35B is the only STOVL fighter design which looks like it may be built, and even that is not certain. In my opinion it's a brave man who would predict that in 20 to 30 years there will be a STOVL fighter ready to replace the F35B, and I take it you accept that if there is no political will to fit the CVFs with cats and traps when they are actually being built, the chances of installing them on a 20 or 30 year old ship must be close to zero?

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It is clear that the current administration is completely disfunctional. After the granny tax, the pasty tax, the church repair tax and the charity tax fiascos, the all enveloping omni-shambles is too big to ignore. We are being governed by people who are simply not up to the job.

What has any of this political drivel got to do with CVF unles your some kind of lefty fanboy.
It was labour (aka Gordon Browns administration) that ordered the carriers and it was labour (aka Gordon Brown as chancellor) that raided the old age pensioners pensions a number of years ago by taxing them in the first place a number of years ago.

They are all as bad as each other, so don't just blame the current administration on their own.
I view the political class in a much lower light than I do the working class.

I think we can take it as read that if the CVF hulls are not fitted with cats and traps at the building stage, then there is no chance at all that they will be retrofitted with them 20 years down the line. It simply will not happen.

You are obviously forgetting.
When they were ordered with the basis that the design had them so that they could be fitted with cat's and traps at a later date if the requirement was decided that this be the case.
Who's to say we'll actually see them in service based on the kind of quick throwaway assesment you have made, even years before they ever put to sea.
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I can see your point about the likely hood of conversion in decades to come.

But ever the optimist I see the UK F35B as ushering in a new era of UK expertise in JSF weaponry and STOVL UAV designs over the next 30 years.

Not that its official yet.

Also think it puts the emphasis back on the capability of a UK built UCAV GR4 replacement rather than the half a$$ed F35C red herring....

Its just better all round really

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Meanwhile, LB05 roll out this weekend/early next week I hear

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Problem with a UCAV based GR4 replacement is there are some rather large Elephants in the room.

Risk of jamming of the datalink

Lack of bandwidth to support many aircraft on the datalink

No politician would allow a truly autonomous system (or military for that matter) do you trust the smarts in an autonomous UCAV to discriminate between a civilian bus and a TEL? Or what happens if there are civilians suddenly close to a preprogrammed target? (Actually already a problem with cruise missiles)

So I suppose the question will be is what will the payload performance of an F35B operating off a normal long runway with Voyager tanker support. Also what other aircraft types could launch the Stormshadow, in particular the palletised solution for the A400. Or could the A400's wing pylon points for air to air refuelling be equipped for the wiring and multi point pylon for missile launch. Or does stand off penetration strike become purely a Royal Navy thing with cruise missiles launched from submarines and surface ships with the F35B being all about CAS...I can't see the Air Lord Marshall-ships being overly keen on that!

On a side note this does mean the RAF and RN will be adopting an aircraft and operations concept similar to the long ago cancelled P.1154.

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They have production commitments to General Atomics for EMALS and AAG ahead of the JFK There would generally be some kind of cancellation penalty.

Nope, AFAIK there are no signed contracts to acquire Emals.
The November letter to Congress by DCSA is not a contract, is an expression of interest.
There are some very small contracts for design and engineering support, thats all.

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So I suppose the question will be is what will the payload performance of an F35B operating off a normal long runway with Voyager tanker support. Also what other aircraft types could launch the Stormshadow, in particular the palletised solution for the A400. Or could the A400's wing pylon points for air to air refuelling be equipped for the wiring and multi point pylon for missile launch. Or does stand off penetration strike become purely a Royal Navy thing with cruise missiles launched from submarines and surface ships with the F35B being all about CAS...I can't see the Air Lord Marshall-ships being overly keen on that!

Stick CFT´s to the Typhoon´s T2 and T3A and the problem solved, at least this one, but if the Typhoon fleet is used on out of area operations doing long range strike, recon, ATA, etc, another arises, what will the RAF use to do QRA?

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What has any of this political drivel got to do with CVF unles your some kind of lefty fanboy.

You are obviously forgetting.
When they were ordered with the basis that the design had them so that they could be fitted with cat's and traps at a later date if the requirement was decided that this be the case.
Who's to say we'll actually see them in service based on the kind of quick throwaway assesment you have made, even years before they ever put to sea.

This "political drivel" is what is driving this issue. We have a defence secretary, Phillip Hammond, who knows nothing at all about defence, but was shoved into the job because of the furore about Dr Fox (who did know about defence) and his dodgy friend Mr Werrity.

As to the idea that the CVFs might be fitted with cats & traps at a future date, surely you must see that if it is deemed too difficult and expensive to do when the ships are being built, there is no way it will be done in 20 or 30 years' time, when the hulls are old and the ships would need a major refit to be equipped with them? It's now or never.

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Why is it a given that in 30 years time no one will want to design a STOVL or VTOL fighter? How can anybody say that?

There will always be flat surfaces for fighters to take off from. I don't think that too big an assumption, but predicting that all aircraft will need hundreds of meters to get airborne seems somewhat short sighted to me....

Because its very difficult for to design a STOVL aircraft. Many projects have been proposed and in 50 years only the Harrier has has any kind of success.

Profile picture for user Fedaykin

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Stick CFT´s to the Typhoon´s T2 and T3A and the problem solved, at least this one, but if the Typhoon fleet is used on out of area operations doing long range strike, recon, ATA, etc, another arises, what will the RAF use to do QRA?

Indeedy! Looking beyond the myth pedalled to Joe Public by those in the media and other self interested parties that too many Typhoon have been procured. With the selling on of part of Tranche 2 without replacement, effective cancellation of Tranche 3B and early retirement of Tranche 1 (including a significant proportion of he two seater airframes) meeting QRA requirements and the projected OSD of the type will be problematic.

Profile picture for user swerve

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As to the cost of training, it is generally accepted that it will be more difficult to train up for CATOBAR ops than STOVL. Thus it is reasonable for the delta in training costs to be included in the cost comparison to be used for decision making,., Indeed it would be negligent for them not to so do.

Agreed. But it isn't part of the build cost, which is the figure that we've been discussing. It's part of the operational cost. What's been discussed in the press recently is leaks from government referring to the short-term cost of equipping a carrier with catapults, its impact on the current budget, & whether to avoid that cost by reverting to STOVL, not a discussion about the long-term operational costs. The claim that converting a carrier will cost £1.8 bn appears to refer to build cost only. There's no hint in any of the reports that it refers to training costs.

Given its record, I think both the Treasury, the MoD, & government in general (both main parties) are perfectly capable of ignoring long term costs when making decisions. They do so all the time. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they've been negligent on this occasion.

No idea Swerve. It would seem surprising, but I haven't seen the breakdown. I was merely correcting the views that there would be o increase in costs to go back to STOVL etc

But what we do have so far as possibilities for differences between the UK and US figures:

  1. difference between fitting into a design intended to take EMALs/CATOBAR and one that has to be amended for that (which US won't know)
  2. Systems changes - in many cases to adopt US systems
  3. Training Costs
  4. Costs of stripping out or changing design
  5. Training Costs
  6. Marching army costs for ACA of all those things
  7. Possibly higher through life costs (CATOBAR must cost more to maintain than a ramp right?)

One would hope that the figures being considered by the NSC also include the offset the other way (cheaper aircraft, weapons bring back etc). Though I admit that does not seem to be the case


Yeah, but from what was said, & the context in which it was said, the US figures weren't the costs of fitting EMALS to a US ship, but an estimate by their technical people of what it would cost to fit a two-cat set (something they aren't fitting to their ships) to CVF. I would expect them to have some idea of the construction of CVF, & to have been consulted about what needs to be done to install EMALS. That process should have informed them as well as the British side, & they've had far more experience of doing it than we have.

I'm certainly not saying that there would be zero cost in reverting. All I've said is that I don't believe the claims of £1.8 bn for CATOBAR conversion, or that we have committed to large expenditures on CATOBAR which will still be incurred even if we revert. We have incurred costs which will have been wasted if we revert, certainly, but that's not the same.

Note that the two things above which I don't believe are on different sides of the argument. I'm trying to make a reasonable assessment, not pump up one option.

The 2010 decision cited long-term savings (e.g. the cheaper aircraft you mention) offsetting the short-term extra cost as a reason for switching, as well as improved performance. If that calculation is now being ignored, & we're back to decisions being made because of this year's budget balance, as it appears, I despair.

Profile picture for user obligatory

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11 years 1 month

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Why is it a given that in 30 years time no one will want to design a STOVL or VTOL fighter? How can anybody say that?

There will always be flat surfaces for fighters to take off from. I don't think that too big an assumption, but predicting that all aircraft will need hundreds of meters to get airborne seems somewhat short sighted to me....

No problem with VTOL if your ambition is set to bomb insurgents in former colonies,
but if you're going up against one of your own size, or control over sea lines, (used to be UK top priority) you'll need AWAC & long range recce/strike/CAP,
and that will remain preserved for cats n traps