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13 years 9 months

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It did not work well, but not for the tired old prejudiced 'wicked crab'/'heroic jack tar' reasons that you trot out.

It didn't work well:

Because the Navy could not hold to its end of the bargain and was unable to man its 'half' of an organisation that had been 3/4 RAF before it went joint.

Not advocating CATOBAR carriers as Liger is, but I seen this argument (about failures with JFH) thrashed out on PPRUNE Military before and the counter-argument was that the problem was that RAF required the FAA stand up a force structure identical to the RAF, which had more senior officers than what the FAA normally operated, which is why they could not man 50:50.

I have also understood from the comments on PPRUNE that there is a single training pipeline for fast jet pilots (hope I got that right) - there was a circular argument, which if I understood it correctly, was that the RAF refused to give the FAA enough training slots as the RAF felt that many of the candidates propose by the FAA did not meet (the RAF's?) standards, which eventually resulted in the RAF complaining that there were not enough trained FAA pilots.

I'm not ex-forces, and lack any first hand knowledge of what happened but I strongly suspect that both Liger's and your arguments are gross simplifications of what really happened, and both arguments are coloured by rose tinted glasses - Liger has a well known love of the RN and if you are who I think you are, you have a well known admiration of the RAF.

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24 years 2 months

Posts: 4,875


I'm not ex-forces, and lack any first hand knowledge of what happened but I strongly suspect that both Liger's and your arguments are gross simplifications of what really happened,

Correct.

The assertions about the questionable value of carrier presence are a degree off as well.

Half of the problem in Sierra Leone was that the strikers....RAF GR7's of 3sqdn, if memory serves, didnt have the hot weather performance to take off with more than a single 1000lb'er. FA.2's could have launched with ADEN pods and achieved as much....but blowing things up ashore was apparently the light blues mission thankyou very much!.

If I remember right the RAF Jags found hot conditions something of a challenge in Afghanistan in the early days didnt they as well. So maybe not as cut and dried as made out and the continued reference to carriers utilisation after 1982 has always amused....akin as it is to questioning the value of the RAF's air defence capabilities after 1944! :rolleyes:

Such issues always arise though and dilute the point of the thing here which is the agreement that Carrier Strike and CATOBAR are pretty much incompatible...as the RN have stated to Govt already. If they, the Whitehall mandarins, persist in wanting to go CATOBAR they need to give the RAF their Deep Strike budget back and increase ours to stand up a similar force to that the Aeronavale deploys...with whatever fastjet type happens along...or forget Cats and go back to JFH and the way things were.

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19 years 3 months

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Jonesy,

The problem in Sierra Leone was that the GR7 at that point ONLY had the 1,000-lb bomb. Not a weapon with great 'discrimination' or proportionality. No CRV7. No AGM-65. No gun.

The Jaguars had no problems in Afghanistan. They didn't go. And however asthmatic the Jag was, it managed ok in Iraq, Oman, India, etc. and the Jags on the Azores could have brought a lot of relevant effect to the table for Sierra Leone.

And every time we've used a carrier since 1982, land based air could have got their faster and cheaper, and would have been more cost- and operationally-effective once in place.

they need to give the RAF their Deep Strike budget back and increase ours

"Ours" referring to the Navy's budget, Jonesy? That speaks volumes for your neutrality on this issue.

Nocuts,

The problem was that the Navy said that they wanted, and could man, half of a four squadron JFH, and could do so without changing their training requirements. The requirement for QFIs and QWIs was transparent from the beginning, and the RN raised no objections until after they proved that they could not man their half of JFH.

And the quality of the new FAA pilots was variable, and included crossovers from Rotary who would never have got an FJ recommend in the RAF, and chopped RAF FJ pilots who had failed to get a single-seat/FJ recommend at Valley. And all of this while experienced RAF Harrier pilots were being let go as the RAF now had fewer cockpits to fill. Despite this, the RAF did give the RN more FJ training slots than it had had previously, but this was still insufficient for the FAA to be able to man its second JFH squadron.

Many had predicted this from the start.

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14 years 1 month

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UK F35B about to fly...

some of you may be aware of this mini debate that is happening on Ares following the news that the first UK F35B is about to fly:

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3a08cf4b73-7a93-4995-8aa6-db4019e3d138&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest

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24 years 2 months

Posts: 4,875

Jacko

The Jaguars had no problems in Afghanistan. They didn't go. And however asthmatic the Jag was, it managed ok in Iraq, Oman, India, etc. and the Jags on the Azores could have brought a lot of relevant effect to the table for Sierra Leone.

Not least recon as the GR7, as well as a very thin weapons list, also had no recce capability. So FA.2, having the time-served F95 fit, was able to bring everything necessary to the party in terms of selective fire and recce (and actually used its recce capability to good effect if memory serves) in one organically supported and defended package i.e the carrier.

Against that we would have required the Jags deployment...and its associated logistic chain...plus whatever political consideration would have been clawed back by the host nation and been at their whim for the continuation of our efforts. Seems like, to me, thats more of a justification for having left the RAF GR7's at home for Op Palliser and left the FA.2's to do the job than anything else?.

And every time we've used a carrier since 1982, land based air could have got their faster and cheaper, and would have been more cost- and operationally-effective once in place.

...and in 1982 the sum effort, without a carrier, was one Vulcan when it could be managed.

In ELDORADO CANYON we saw the French close their airspace to USAF F-111's. In IRAQI FREEDOM we saw Turkey pull out and kick the opplan in the head. In both cases workarounds were found, but, significant compromises had to be made. We had friendly local states in range of the Falklands in 1982 but they, very understandably, chose their own interests over ours so no base-in. We weren't as lucky with that one as no immediate alternative presented itself. To say that we cannot hinge our future expeditionary strategy on the basis that we'll always have more luck than we did in 1982 isnt a difficult concept to grasp surely?.

"Ours" referring to the Navy's budget, Jonesy? That speaks volumes for your neutrality on this issue.

I'm advocating the solution that gives us the greatest range of contingency operational effect for the least spend. That is undeniably a commitment to the 'golf-bag' CVF/Carrier Strike concept to enable strike effect from ashore or afloat with equal efficacy and a rapid-augment capability along either (or both) routes. After all lets not forget that coordinated diverse, simultaneous, strike vectors can be very useful in overcoming defensive forces. Sea and land basing, if we can get the numbers and have the right geographical scenario, are entirely complementary capabilities - it definitely need not be one or the other.

My aim here is to be objective....not neutral.

Member for

18 years 9 months

Posts: 13,432

... the Jags on the Azores could have brought a lot of relevant effect to the table for Sierra Leone.....

From the Azores? That's over 3500 km away from Freetown, 50% greater than the distance from London to Tripoli, for example. The Portuguese mainland is closer than the Azores to Sierra Leone.

Did you mean somewhere else, not the Azores?

[Edit]Ooops, just read the original post. Yeah, Dakar is a sensible distance away.

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13 years 7 months

Posts: 902

Liger has a well known love of the RN

I have a well known love for all three services, actually, even if people insists not to believe it. But this is another story.
"Love" does not mean that i obligatorily have to think of things in a certain way: i do not like what has been done in the years with the demise of carrier air and the management of the Harrier story.
I still wonder how the hell the RAF could promise Storm Shadow and Brimstone for the Harrier under the GR9 upgrade for 10 years, 1996-2006/7 and then integrate none of the two weapons, and use the lack of them to argue hard for chopping the Harrier and screw the navy of its only fixed wing component once and for all.
I am entitled to my opinion, i think, and a lot of things that have happened in the last two decades stink.

Regarding B and C F35s, the DoD report into development and testing for 2011 came out. The F35B is still plagued by serious problems and is 9% behind schedule. F35A is 11% behind schedule, F35C is 32% ahead of schedule, even if as we know it has some issues of its own to fix. We must, of course, look at the 32% ahead of schedule data with the awareness that the C is the variant who entered trials last. The other two variants are ahead of the F35C with their programs of development, testing and validation.
However, they are lagging considerably in terms of test points cleared, while the F35C has cleared 32% more test points than planned, which is very reassuring. Having started later also means that more corrections have been incorporated into the C at build, thanks to discoveries made on the other two variants.

The C variant has 1002 test flights left to go, and 12.442 test points yet to clear.
The A still has 827 flights and 10.257 test points to go.
The B 1,437 flights and 15.045 points.

These values of course change rather frequently when a change proves necessary and needs to be flown and trialed, adding new flights and points to clear to the count, but they are indicative of the current plan.

As to the F35B trials at sea on USS Wasp, which were presented by the STOVL prophets as having proven that the B has "no issues" and that the jet blast hazard claims were "nonsense" and that everything actually works perfectly well, well, the reality is actually a bit different. The F35B jet blast does not hole the deck as someone had (rather extremely) prophetized, no, but a jet blast issues exists and the trials at sea only confirmed it. A 75 feet danger radius is reported. This is going, along with SBRVL, to ruin the day of the "working assault helicopters and jet planes from the same hull works better if the plane is STOVL". The advantages of the F35B in this sense are steadily reducing.

Also, can't remember who said, once more, that you can't use a CATOBAR carrier for something like CEPP and landing marines with helicopters.
It's ********. USS Kitty Hawk in 2001 served as Afloat Base for the US Army special ops helicopter regiment and launched waves of soldiers and SF into Afghanistan by helo while keeping up fixed wing ops with some 600 sorties flown with 8 to 12 F/A-18 routinely embarked and working from her.

Regarding the F35B, the DoD report says, among other things:

In October 2011, the program successfully conducted initial
amphibious ship trials with STOVL aircraft in accordance with
the new, restructured plan for 2011; however, significant work
and flight tests remain to verify and incorporate modifications
to STOVL aircraft required to correct known STOVL
deficiencies and prepare the system for operational use.

Jet blast from the F-35Bs is expected to produce unsafe forces
on flight deck personnel up to 75 feet from the short take-off
line.

This bit appears in the LHA-6 America part of the report.

The program halted F-35B durability testing at the end of
last year when a wing carry-through bulkhead cracked before
2,000 hours of airframe life. The required airframe lifetime
is 8,000 hours. Repair of the bulkhead on the test article was
completed in November 2011, and F-35B durability testing is
scheduled to restart in January 2012.
• Following the bulkhead crack in the F-35B test article,
analysis verified the existence of numerous other
life‑limited parts on all three variants. The program began
developing plans to correct these deficiencies in existing
aircraft by repair/modifications, and designing changes
to the production process. The most significant of these
in terms of complexity, aircraft downtime, and difficulty
of the modification required for existing aircraft is the
forward wing root rib on the F-35A and F-35B aircraft.
All production aircraft in the first five lots will need the
modification before these aircraft reach 1,000 hours.
• The program also halted F-35A durability testing after the
F-35B bulkhead crack and restarted it at the end of May 2011.
The test article restarted testing in November 2011, after
completing inspections subsequent to accomplishing
3,000 effective flight hours of testing. During the second
1,000‑hour block of testing, the wing root rib failed, as
predicted. The test team is able to continue airframe fatigue
testing in the near-term, while analysis determines when and
how to repair the test article.
• F-35C structural testing completed all structural test
objectives in August 2011, including planned “drop tests” in
preparation for simulated carrier trials. Durability testing is
scheduled to begin in Spring 2012.

Read the DoD report here for the whole list of issues and things to fix. All the variants have still quite a bit of road to travel, but the B remains the one in the worst state: http://www.dote.osd.mil/pub/reports/FY2011/

Under DoD programs, F35 section.

they need to give the RAF their Deep Strike budget back

Are we sure it is really necessary? Is there a valid strategic reason for a dedicate fleet of platforms for Deep Strike, in addition to the eventual CATOBAR-focused strike force?
I'm far from convinced, personally. The carrier strike force of 3/4 squadrons could well do the attack from a land base if it ever was necessary/advantageous. I think it's undeniable that a carrier pilot normally has no issue working from land, while a land pilot has troubles working at sea.

In a tight financial environment, with the naval strike force able to do land ops, while land strike force can't readily do naval work, my choice goes for the first, not for the ugly, risky compromise of land air doing brief visits at sea.

Besides, there is long-term funding and planning for UCAVs already, for the RAF. How many different Tornado replacements there have to be...?
Instead of investing a billion in dubious sons of FOAS, can we listen to EADS and give a look to their proposal of palletizing cruise missiles for extraction from the back of cargo planes? As many as 12 Storm Shadow deployed from an A400, at thousands of miles of distance from home, with no AAR. Sounds like the typical "good enough" solution that gets ignored because it is not shiny nor pointy.

For comparison purposes, the French "Livre Blanc de la defense" advocates a 13,5 sqn Adla/MN fleet backed up by 300 airframes.

Grossly outdated. Expect that to change in the 2012 Livre Blanc update due to come out. The 300 figure was based on a long term ambition of 234 Air force Rafales and 60 Navy Rafales.
As of now, there's a total of 180 Rafales delivered/to come, and of 108 Rafale yet to be delivered there's talk of eventually getting just 91. The Indian order is unlikely to magically change the picture for France, either.

A more recent target for 2022 of the Armee de l'air is to have 225 fast jets, of which 67 or so would be upgraded Mirage 2000D. A figure that is seen as increasingly unlikely, while a "worst case" figure of 150 has started to circulate, since Rafale orders are at risk and the Mirage upgrade itself has not yet taken solid shape.

And the Naval aviation is going on with around 30 Rafales, some of which still at F1 (AA only) standard and 27 old Super Etendards, soon to go. There's, i believe, a total of 48 Rafale M delivered/on order, and 3 have been lost. That means potentially as few as 45 airplanes.
With a rumored 50 F35 buy, you can get a naval strike element as effective as France's, in theory. Which would not be bad at all.

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14 years 1 month

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Hi Liger, interesting reading. But where are the bits about the C? I would like to read those to compare the 2....

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24 years 2 months

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Gabby

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20111018/DEFSECT01/110180301/U-S-Marine-Corps-Demonstrates-F-35B-Sea

The aircraft has flown very well during the sea trials, said Marine Lt. Col. Matt Kelly, lead F-35 test pilot at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Md. While he couldn't compare the jet directly to the Harrier since he was an F/A-18 Hornet pilot, Kelly pointed out that the sea trials are his first experience operating from an amphibious assault ship, which is a testimony to the F-35B's excellent handling characteristics.

"I have found this airplane to be just a really nice airplane to fly in the shipboard environment," he said. "Prior to two weeks ago I had never landed or taken-off from this type of ship… It's a pleasure to fly."

Kelly added that the F-35B is easier to handle on the flight deck than he had imagined it would be. The challenge is not landing the aircraft but rather "putting the nose tire in a 1-foot-by-1-foot square box," he said.

Cordell said that one piece of good news is that the "outflow" from the jet's exhaust while hovering is less intense than expected. "It's counterintuitive, but the jet has a less harsh environment hovering at 40 feet than it does at 100 feet," he said. Engineering models had predicted the outcome, but skeptics - Cordell included - had doubted those conclusions.

We've already had confirmation, from the Lt Col doing the driving, that the deck trials had shown no major issues in terms of jetblast. You are talking about a 20yd safety zone around an air vehicle thats sitting on 40 thousand pounds of thrust during a landing??!.

I've been up close and personal to several flavours of Harrier setting down and, please believe me on this, I would, by choice, stand a good bit further back than 20 yards any time I had to repeat the experience!. Also the way your article is written it states a 20 yard limit from the STO line?. Is your clip actuallly saying dont stand within 20 yards of the reheat jetblast of a fighter taking off?. While thats clearly good advice I'm not sure that its a reg that would need all that frequent enforcement!. At most it does, perhaps, call into question the deletion of the JBD's from the STOVL deck design...but I believe the comment was, with the deck length available, the simple expedient of spotting the following aircraft a bit farther back would achieve the same effect...at the cost of a small decrease in maximum sortie generation rate.

In terms of the structural issues the bulkhead cracking is clearly serious, but, is identified and quantified at the 1000hr mark....more than 3 years uninterrupted normal service in US projected flight hours!. The presumption would have to be that some level of maintenace will be performed through those years in service to keep a track on this and whatever the stiffener solution is introduced?.

I think it's undeniable that a carrier pilot normally has no issue working from land, while a land pilot has troubles working at sea. In a tight financial environment, with the naval strike force able to do land ops, while land strike force can't readily do naval work, my choice goes for the first, not for the ugly, risky compromise of land air doing brief visits at sea.

Gabby I dont really know where to start with this. You seem to have an idea of Carrier Strike that is completely unrelated to the reality of the situation. You seem to be contending that the Carrier Strike squadrons be kept permanently deck-rated and detach to shore duties only as the need arises. With one operational deck that means keeping at least two squadrons embarked at any one time with a third on stand-down. We'd need a pretty big OCU/reserve component as well to keep the airframe trap cycles well spread across the fleet. Its a costly solution and it still leaves us with two major issues a) why are the RAF going to pay a percentage for the shore basing/logistics/training of the FCA force when its primarily a sea-based capability and b) how do we keep pilots assigned to shore duties, especially a lengthy shore tasking like Herrick, deck-rated?. You can short-cycle pilots between the shore-task, OCU and the deck but that leads to poor operational efficiency and low morale. You could establish a 4th squadron for shore deployment in the rotation...but that means additional airframes and pilots which is more cost again.

The issue always comes back to the same thing. If you want CATOBAR you have to do it the same way everyone else who uses CATOBAR does things. With permanent naval squadrons. There is NO commitment to this from MoD and there never has been. Any attempt to move in this direction will be met with direct opposition from light blue and, most importantly, very little desire for it from an Admiralty who would have to foot the bill for such a capability out of their budget. I've, simply, not heard of any flag rank RN officer express a desire to reconstitute a 3 or 4 fastjet squadron Fleet Air Arm.

Given the additional funding to do so, which would be considerable, sure - lets stand up 4 14-plane Rafale-M squadrons plus a 40+ aircraft OCU/reserve establishment. I'm not entirely sure Yeovilton could take all that lot and Culdrose is up to its armpits in rotaries and museum tourists these days so I'm not entirely sure splitting the force between the bases would be a goer either?. Maybe we could stick the OCU at St Mawgan now thats meant to be a 'joint' facility?. Suffice it to say....more expense. That would provide the capability for Carrier Strike though and surely offer better payload/range for the odd time its required.

Alternately we go back to STOVL keep the NSW on the deck and have the RAF STOVL jets fly out and embark when they need to. That does Carrier Strike as well.

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14 years 1 month

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Seeing as the discussion is here and now for the time being I am asking this question:

How many 2000lb JDAM class weapons will the UK embark on its fast jets in the future?

If the weaponry we plan on using is mainly smaller and more flexible - more about knocking down mobile targets than fixed bunkers (Stormshadow excepted), does this aspect matter at all?

I ask because one of the Defence Report articles I have read recently quoted a Mr Jonathan Lake thusly:

"It is a weakness likewise identified by aerospace expert Jonathan Lake. Fifth generation fighter category characteristics include capabilities like super cruise and networked communications along with stealth. “The F-35 can only achieve stealth if its ordnance is concealed within the weapons bays and the F-35B can’t do that – the spaces are too small for a standard load.” "

So on the assumption that this quote is out of context - what is a "standard load" defined as in an aircraft that isn't in service yet and with a range of weapons that have yet to finish testing?

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15 years 4 months

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Trend on munition is towards miniaturization, expect TDB (tiny diameter bomb) soon.

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13 years 6 months

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Seeing as the discussion is here and now for the time being I am asking this question:

How many 2000lb JDAM class weapons will the UK embark on its fast jets in the future?

None, the if the UK continues to use Paveway, (at lease internally). Modern versions of the Paveway kits are about the same size they were during Vietnam, and because of that only the 500lbs version fits internally

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yep and by 2020-30 they will regularly use only that version i would wager. Certainly I don't see it as a major block to the B being useful.

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Also the way your article is written it states a 20 yard limit from the STO line?. Is your clip actuallly saying dont stand within 20 yards of the reheat jetblast of a fighter taking off?. While thats clearly good advice I'm not sure that its a reg that would need all that frequent enforcement!.

Actually, it says 75 feet... 25 yardss behind an F-35B that is ready to take off.

Seems logical to me, and that's only directly behind it... you park the helos & extra F-35B on the starboard side of the flight deck and all is good.

In terms of the structural issues the bulkhead cracking is clearly serious, but, is identified and quantified at the 1000hr mark....more than 3 years uninterrupted normal service in US projected flight hours!. The presumption would have to be that some level of maintenace will be performed through those years in service to keep a track on this and whatever the stiffener solution is introduced?.

Actually, the bulkhead weakness had been identified in individual component fatigue testing some time earlier, and by the time of the grounding new F-35s of all types rolling off the line had the new, stronger (and heavier) bulkhead.

This is to be retro-fitted (along with many other changes) to any of the early LRIP airframes that are scheduled to be assigned to regular or training squadrons once testing is completed.

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13 years 7 months

Posts: 902

But where are the bits about the C? I would like to read those to compare the 2....

Open my link. In the list of links on the left select "DoD programs", and then the F35. There's the data of all variants.

We've already had confirmation, from the Lt Col doing the driving, that the deck trials had shown no major issues in terms of jetblast.

Unfortunately, the report of the Department of Defence Testing authority reports it as an issue instead, along with tons of other problems, inclusive of yet unsolved issues that prevent the F35 from engaging STOVL mode in high temperature environments due to clutch overheating, forcing the production F35B delivered so far to work as CTOL planes.

Read the report, and think about it.

In terms of the structural issues the bulkhead cracking is clearly serious, but, is identified and quantified at the 1000hr mark....more than 3 years uninterrupted normal service in US projected flight hours!. The presumption would have to be that some level of maintenace will be performed through those years in service to keep a track on this and whatever the stiffener solution is introduced?.

And what will maintenance do? Kiss it better, put glue on it, or weld it? Not something you can do.
That piece should have a life of 8000 hours as of design. When it cracks, the only solution is to tear the airframe apart and replace it.

Gabby I dont really know where to start with this. You seem to have an idea of Carrier Strike that is completely unrelated to the reality of the situation.

I have an idea of carrier air that is not a trasvestism of RAF airplanes that the RAF is only able to justify by promising them as "reinforcements" for the carrier strike "now and then", while keeping them ashore most of the time because none of the personnel is eager to go to sea. This is the original sin of the whole matter.
It might well be what we get, thanks to yet another U-turn, but it is an abomination, not a smart thing. It will never be a smart thing.

Not a single person yet who's been able to give a realistic answer about the real need for a second land based jet fleet for strike missions. What does it add to the nation's defence?

With one operational deck that means keeping at least two squadrons embarked at any one time with a third on stand-down. We'd need a pretty big OCU/reserve component

I'd so like to know how France does it without a OCU and without a large reserve of Rafale M airframes, then. Are they supermen?

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13 years 7 months

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By the way, the US Navy manual sheds some more light on the real needs for carrier currency. http://www.navyair.com/LSO_NATOPS_Manual.pdf

Their Initial Carrier Qualification is set at 12 day landings (10 arrested) and 8 night landings (6 arrested).
After achieving currency, you maintain it by refreshing it with a number of landings depending on how much time has passed from your last currency.

If you've last been current 30 to 59 days ago, you do some Field Landing Carrier Practice and 1 daytime arrested landing to achieve day currency. You have to add 3 more (another one arrested) and then do a night landing to be also night current.

If you've been current 60 days to 6 months ago, you need to do some Field Landing Carrier Practice ashore with the LSO directing you, and then make 4 day landings, 2 to 3 of them being arrested, and 2 night landings within 36 or 48 hours to be again day/night current.

If more than 12 months have passed since your last currency, you go through Initial Carrier Qualification again.

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15 years 6 months

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yep and by 2020-30 they will regularly use only that version i would wager. Certainly I don't see it as a major block to the B being useful.

Yeah but there are question marks over what else will fit in the weapons bays, Paveway 4 and 500lb Paveway 2 may be the only UK weapon that will fit on the air to ground station, and we still don't know if Meteor will fit.

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24 years 2 months

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Unfortunately, the report of the Department of Defence Testing authority reports it as an issue instead, along with tons of other problems

25yds danger zone (thankyou for the maths correction Bager!) is not a 'problem' Gabby its a scare story. The clutch plate heating is unresolved but is not uniform across the fleet, or even from flight to flight, and is easily corrected by flying at a higher altitude using ambient air temp for cooling...you arent going to lose a plane from it...operationally you would abort a mission for it I'd expect...just as you would for an engine failure in a non-STOVL type.

And what will maintenance do? Kiss it better, put glue on it, or weld it? Not something you can do.
That piece should have a life of 8000 hours as of design. When it cracks, the only solution is to tear the airframe apart and replace it.

The point is that, despite all the drama and hand-wringing, this issue is identified and quantified. The plane is not going to break apart in flight on its third sortie. 1000 hours for the unstiffened part is 3 years operational service....maintenance involves checklists for known issues and any cracking in that bulkhead will be identified under that routine maintenance. Its absence will likewise be noted during that same maintenance...and if there is no cracking there is no cause for alarm!. That is what properly scheduled and effected maintenance does. As Bager states though the issue has already been addressed and a weight penalty paid.

Not a single person yet who's been able to give a realistic answer about the real need for a second land based jet fleet for strike missions. What does it add to the nation's defence?

Are you talking about the need to replace Tornado?. If so I agree...the requirement to bomb Eastern Europe from the UK has diminished to a large extent. Replacing Jaguar and GR7/9 though I'd say is a different story. Typhoon looks to have rather a large price tag when it comes to operational costs. I'd say a STOL precision light striker with fair air-air performance with far lower operational costs and 'easy' deployability is something that the RAF does need...though, not being glitzy and flash, I'd imagine you'd be hard pushed to find an RAF officer to agree.

I'd so like to know how France does it without a OCU and without a large reserve of Rafale M airframes, then. Are they supermen?

As explained once before the Aeronavale splits its airwing between two types - Rafale and Etendard. It has not stood up three squadrons of Rafales yet. When it does, if it wants to be able to keep two squadrons of Rafales on the CVN to ensure 30+ are ready at short notice - as we have a requirement to deploy 30 JCA to CVF - then it will be a significant ramp up in naval ops for that type. They then will need to be able to spread the load on airframes across a wider fleet. They dont appear to have that requirement now so no need for blue underpants outside their trousers. Simple as that.

If you've been current 60 days to 6 months ago, you need to do some Field Landing Carrier Practice ashore with the LSO directing you, and then make 4 day landings, 2 to 3 of them being arrested, and 2 night landings within 36 or 48 hours to be again day/night current.

So, as I've been saying, your pilots, who've been on a Herrick-style shore det for 4 months followed by a well deserved spot of leave, have to spend a few days at the OCU doing touch-and-goes then join the ship and only then EACH PILOT has to perform the above, to the correct standard, to get their deck rating back. You'll doubtless be able to pull some from the OCU and perhaps recall some from secondment with USN/MN who will be further along the curve, but, its not going to substantially alter the situation. Even IF every pilot performs perfectly you are looking at more than a week, at best, to get up to establishment - especially so if you are bringing in a full squadron or more of additional capability!. This is why I'm saying that, practically, the only way to get the full surge 100 sortie rate, with CATOBAR, is to keep a basic establishment on deck of 20+ aircraft (realistically two squadrons) and bring a 'wartime surge' in from, likely, the OCU to top off to 30+. That means more overheads, higher loading on aircraft and a larger aircraft pool required and THAT on top of needing the extra spend on the CATOBAR kit and the higher running costs of cats, arresting gear and the extra ships complement needed to run and fix it.

Against this STOVL pilots could, in an emergency, deploy straight to the ship from an operational det and likely fly operational sorties the following day, perhaps the newbies fly the lighter loaded flights, inside VL bringback, for the first few sorties and leave heavy-loaded SRL-likely missions to the NSW...if the conditions are a bit bumpy.

Member for

13 years 6 months

Posts: 487

I'd so like to know how France does it without a OCU and without a large reserve of Rafale M airframes, then. Are they supermen?

France has a single training squadron (2/92 Aquitaine) for the AlA and MN. They are so common that except for actual carrier landings and maintenance on the M's landing gear, the B/C are sufficient for most activities

Member for

18 years 9 months

Posts: 13,432

...Typhoon looks to have rather a large price tag when it comes to operational costs. I'd say a STOL precision light striker with fair air-air performance with far lower operational costs ....

What evidence is there that when calculated on the same basis (i.e. not comparing F-35B operational costs on a US basis & Typhoon costs on the basis used by the NAO, which includes fixed costs as 'operational'), F-35B operational costs will be far lower?

I've never seen a comparison on a comparable basis. Do we have the information to make one? If so, I'd love to see it.