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Profile picture for user Jonesy

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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.

Wasnt specifically talking about the F-35B there Swerve it was a more general observation, in response to Gabby's question regarding the need for a second tactical fastjet in the RAF inventory, that a STOL (note STOL not specifically STOVL) light striker that doesnt cost £70k per flight hour is something that the RAF does appear to have a need for. The £70k per hour value I've seen several times and is apparently comparable with that the Germans list for their Typhoons.

The F-35B may end up costing a similar amount to Typhoon, as you say, there is little evidence either way to base a judgement on. The major savings with F-35B would be those associated with Carrier Strike though as previously discussed. Perhaps Sea Gripen could be another route, if it was cheap enough to field, to deliver the same capability. No depth of analysis there just an attempt to get the idea across.

There is NOTHING light about the F-35, in any variant (even the A-model is substantially heavier than a Typhoon!), and its cost figures are probably the most unproven aspect of the whole project right now. Combine this with the aforementioned peculiarities of UK defence accounting as opposed to US practise and any such comparison is fraught with potential for major inconsistencies.

Profile picture for user Doug97

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14 years 8 months

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MoD will rethink changes to UK aircraft carrier proposals that could save £600m

Armed Forces chiefs will advocate the Government drop plans to buy the F35C, the conventional carrier version of the American Joint Strike Fighter, and revert to the previous Labour government's plans to buy the short take-off, vertical landing (STOVL) F35B version of the aircraft carrier, The Times reported.
Profile picture for user swerve

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Wasnt specifically talking about the F-35B there Swerve it was a more general observation, in response to Gabby's question regarding the need for a second tactical fastjet in the RAF inventory, that a STOL (note STOL not specifically STOVL) light striker that doesnt cost £70k per flight hour is something that the RAF does appear to have a need for. The £70k per hour value I've seen several times and is apparently comparable with that the Germans list for their Typhoons.

The F-35B may end up costing a similar amount to Typhoon, as you say, there is little evidence either way to base a judgement on. The major savings with F-35B would be those associated with Carrier Strike though as previously discussed. Perhaps Sea Gripen could be another route, if it was cheap enough to field, to deliver the same capability. No depth of analysis there just an attempt to get the idea across.

The problem we have with the published figures for Typhoon costs is that none of them I've seen relate to the cost of operating the aircraft, on a basis comparable with the figures given for any other aircraft that we might buy. That applies to both the UK & German figures.

Now, forget the F-35B for a moment, & see if you can come up with the answer to this question for any other combat aircraft that we could buy might be inserted in place of X:

What evidence is there that when calculated on the same basis, the operational costs of X are far lower than those of Typhoon?

I'm quite happy to accept that the operational costs of some other types (e.g. Gripen) are likely to be lower than those of Typhoon, but I'm not aware of any evidence (as distinct from assumptions) that any model of F-35 will be cheaper to operate than Typhoon, when costed on the same basis, & I've never seen comparable operating costs for Typhoon and any other type. Even the figures published for different RAF types aren't comparable, because they're not operating costs.

BTW, what STOL light strikers are there on the market? No model of F-35 is a light striker. Greater empty weight than Typhoon, similar installed thrust.

Profile picture for user Sintra

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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.

"Requirement to bomb Eastern Europe"?!!!!

I´ll be damned if the western Airforces havent been launching long range strikes since the end of the cold war...

Iraq 1991
Operation Provide Confort, Northern Watch, Southern Watch, etc (a full decade of it)
Operation Deny Flight
Operation Deliberate Force (Bosnia) 1995
Operation Allied Force (Kosovo) 1999
Afghanistan 2001
Iraqi Freedom 2003

From the entire RAF inventory the aircraft who was more widely used, launched more munitions, had more flights, etc, etc, etc, was the Tonka.
For all the love that the Harrier gathers around here, that particular aircraft had to tail a refueler over a great big chunk of Iraq and Jugoslavia because it has the range of an AMX or Hawk 200...
If there´s one aircraft in the RAF inventory that proved that its mission is vital, thats the Tornado, and the RAF entirely agrees.

Profile picture for user Sintra

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BTW, what STOL light strikers are there on the market? No model of F-35 is a light striker. Greater empty weight than Typhoon, similar installed thrust.

Absolutely correct.

The F35B is heavier than a F4E Phantom or a Tornado GR4...

Profile picture for user mrmalaya

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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.

But that is as of today. I am taking about post entry into service, in ten years time. From a commercial perspective, MBDA will make sure meteor and brimstone get in there, plus there is the spear 3 project to consider . Having seen the uk F35 in the air, it makes the whole thing a little more exciting.

As to tornado replacement, I think its mainly a UCAV designed in part to keep british industry at the cutting edge and with no consideration for carrier operations.

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The MoD usually releases two sets of flying costs per hour, full and marginal.

The full rate includes a wide range of things and with an aircraft that is early in its service life will be artificially higher because of accounting charges, forward and depth servicing, fuel costs, crew costs and training costs, Typhoon for example started out at over £90k per hour full and the last time it was published I think it had come down to £70k. This is because the fleet costs are spread over a larger number of airframes and hours.

The marginal rates are very similar for most fast jets, Typhoon (£3,780) and Harrier (£3,945) for example, 2009/2010 figures

Last time I looked, the C17 was the most expensive to operate RAF aircraft, although don't hold me to that

Profile picture for user Fedaykin

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When can I emigrate to a country that actually cares about proper defence!

I will ONLY support this decision if it means BOTH carriers in service and even then its five shades of disaster as far as I am concerned!

It looks pretty much that it is true, the leaking has been fairly comprehensive!

Anyhow here's to to the next near term budget driven decision!

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9 years 10 months

Posts: 87

Still no explanation about where the £1.8 billion figure has come from. I wonder if they've bothered to ask the French if the CdG can take the F-35 or not, wouldn't surprise if they're planning to use the French as scapegoats, "We'd really like to do CTOL but there's no point doing it if the French carrier can't take it..."

Muppets. :mad:

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14 years 2 months

Posts: 69

Hello,

I think the deciding factor may be the in service date of 2027, the SDSR took a big gamble that we could do without carrier aviation till 2020, along comes Libya, which proved that a Carrier would have at least been an option (using fast jets and tankers saved the Goverments blushes but at great expense).

Maybe the people in charge presumed we could "muddle through" till 2020, but now realise the world is changing faster than they thought and 2027 for 1 carrier is a non starter.

Cheers

Profile picture for user Jonesy

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20 years 9 months

Posts: 4,875

I´ll be damned if the western Airforces havent been launching long range strikes since the end of the cold war...

Iraq 1991
Operation Provide Confort, Northern Watch, Southern Watch, etc (a full decade of it)
Operation Deny Flight
Operation Deliberate Force (Bosnia) 1995
Operation Allied Force (Kosovo) 1999
Afghanistan 2001
Iraqi Freedom 2003

From the entire RAF inventory the aircraft who was more widely used, launched more munitions, had more flights, etc, etc, etc, was the Tonka.
For all the love that the Harrier gathers around here, that particular aircraft had to tail a refueler over a great big chunk of Iraq and Jugoslavia because it has the range of an AMX or Hawk 200...
If there´s one aircraft in the RAF inventory that proved that its mission is vital, thats the Tornado, and the RAF entirely agrees.

I'm sure the RAF are very defensive of the GR4's capabilities. The simple fact is though that the operations you list saw Mirages, Jaguars, F-18's, F-16's etc deployed that contributed fully despite not being possessed of GR4's range. The Tornado was conceived for a purpose and has on occasion proven useful for its weapon carry and range, but, often enough to require a manned replacement?. Nope. Going forward pursuing manned deep strike is begging for obsolescence.

As you say above a shorter ranged light striker can have its range extended by AAR or, if STOL, by the simple expedient of basing closer to the operational theatre. You cant take such steps to mitigate the costs of a big twin and if the runway is too short to deploy heavy fastjets to then you are faced with extending it or finding somewhere else to fly from...however much time that plugs into your localise-to-hit operational cycle.

...and its the last point thats key. Afghan and Libya have proved that a ready-responder capability is essential to exploit theatre surveillance as it can be provided now. However impressive the range of your heavy twin interdictor there is always the issue that, bombed-up, you are subsonic and, if you need to use the long range, you are looking at an hour lag in weapon delivery. A long-legged jet can loiter, but, only in a permissive environment and at the cost of airframe flight hours, weapon carriage hours and increased maintenance to regenerate. Fleets are smaller now so there isnt the same ability to spread airframe wear fleet wide...likewise pgm stocks are smaller so burning through airframe carry lives uselessly tooling round on cab-rank waiting for a tasking call is less than efficient.

Again citing Libya French Rafale-M's were 200nm offshore and delivering effects 20 minutes from the launch - the advantage there is obvious. The closer the ability to base the better - enabling that and the faster response time is now more useful than raw range performance.

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11 years

Posts: 38

Well for me the decider has got to be the number of hulls? I like many would have loved to see the 'C' in UK service, range, payload etc. I would also admit that I got carried away a bit by the romance of 'cat n traps'. If we could have afforded two hulls converted - brilliant. Truth is if were honest is that was never going to happen, and that either QE or POW was destined to end up as a big 'White elephant', with no fast jets, derided by the press and other detractors right from the start, and I think that would have killed us off. if we could have made the 'C' work, and for the right price, would have been excellent. It would have been a first class Tornado replacement as well, and even the First Lord conceded recently that GR4 did a brilliant job over Libya - and relatively cheaply as well? Truth is however that we are not the US. We would never be able to put a CV group, plus an ARG, or even a MEU to sea simultaneously. Carrier strike has long been replaced in doctrine by CEPP, and CEPP, whatever the single service die hard's might wish, is the ability for all to think 'Purple' and as a part of this to deploy a tailored air group when required. A TAG means at times all THREE services, however unpalatable to some that might be. To the USMC this is at the very heart of what they do. co-ordinated and simultaneous operation of fast jet, rotary, and the land force component from a single deck. As Frosty and Jonesy amongst others have pointed out frequently - It has been, and must be for us. To me, with my admittedly very limited experience of Joint ops, its a no brainer. If its a choice, as harsh financial reality dictates, of one with the the 'C', or two with the 'B' - then too 'B' it MUST be?

(Apologies to TD and Jed - who have heard this all before!)

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20 years 9 months

Posts: 5,396

Still no explanation about where the £1.8 billion figure has come from. I wonder if they've bothered to ask the French if the CdG can take the F-35 or not, wouldn't surprise if they're planning to use the French as scapegoats, "We'd really like to do CTOL but there's no point doing it if the French carrier can't take it..."

Muppets. :mad:


You might never learn where the magic £1.8 billion figure came from.
The US Assistant Secretary of the Navy, citing costs of installing EMALS and AAG on the USS Gerald R. Ford, says it will cost £458 million for hardware and £400 million for installation costs -- less than half the £1.8 billion figure.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/9164155/Aircraft-carrier-costs-will-be-half-what-you-think-US-tells-ministers.html

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Well for me the decider has got to be the number of hulls? I like many would have loved to see the 'C' in UK service, range, payload etc. I would also admit that I got carried away a bit by the romance of 'cat n traps'. If we could have afforded two hulls converted - brilliant. Truth is if were honest is that was never going to happen, and that either QE or POW was destined to end up as a big 'White elephant', with no fast jets, derided by the press and other detractors right from the start, and I think that would have killed us off. if we could have made the 'C' work, and for the right price, would have been excellent. It would have been a first class Tornado replacement as well, and even the First Lord conceded recently that GR4 did a brilliant job over Libya - and relatively cheaply as well? Truth is however that we are not the US. We would never be able to put a CV group, plus an ARG, or even a MEU to sea simultaneously. Carrier strike has long been replaced in doctrine by CEPP, and CEPP, whatever the single service die hard's might wish, is the ability for all to think 'Purple' and as a part of this to deploy a tailored air group when required. A TAG means at times all THREE services, however unpalatable to some that might be. To the USMC this is at the very heart of what they do. co-ordinated and simultaneous operation of fast jet, rotary, and the land force component from a single deck. As Frosty and Jonesy amongst others have pointed out frequently - It has been, and must be for us. To me, with my admittedly very limited experience of Joint ops, its a no brainer. If its a choice, as harsh financial reality dictates, of one with the the 'C', or two with the 'B' - then too 'B' it MUST be?

(Apologies to TD and Jed - who have heard this all before!)

Not as a personal attack but a general remark:
This all smells of downgrading expectations and capabilities to a point where you won't be able to do any operations against anyone who shoots back. And if that is that end state better take some airliner and make it a loitering aux bomber, combine it with a decent MQ-9 force and be done with it.

Flying VTOL jets from amphib decks is far from optimal. Characteristics just don't go together. And your sortie rate will be like once or twice a day. Forward basing is also questionable since you need a squadron of Hercules to support a squadron of fwd based fastmovers out of a short aux field.

Truth is that the UK ordered two supersize-me carrier and now doesn't know what to do with them. Btw, those who preach CEPP now - you are aware that part of the concept is having the capability to operate Rafale and SHornets?

EDIT: Take the plunge! Drop F-35 and go all UAV!

Profile picture for user kev 99

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But that is as of today. I am taking about post entry into service, in ten years time. From a commercial perspective, MBDA will make sure meteor and brimstone get in there, plus there is the spear 3 project to consider . Having seen the uk F35 in the air, it makes the whole thing a little more exciting.

As to tornado replacement, I think its mainly a UCAV designed in part to keep british industry at the cutting edge and with no consideration for carrier operations.

I've seen Brimstone cited as internal carriage, but having seen videos of launch I'm not sure how it would work.

I've also seen 2 x Spear capability 3 mocked up in F35 internal bay, but it was an A (I believe Liger posted the picture or at least a link), not a B and I can't see 2 being carried internal in the B.

Unfortunately it looks like we'll be going for the cheap short term solution that the labour party came up with; cheap aircraft carriers and more expensive but less good jets, and the dogs breakfast that is joint force harrier 2 (hopefully it will work this time).

Profile picture for user swerve

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Posts: 13,432

The MoD usually releases two sets of flying costs per hour, full and marginal.

The full rate includes a wide range of things and with an aircraft that is early in its service life will be artificially higher because of accounting charges, forward and depth servicing, fuel costs, crew costs and training costs, Typhoon for example started out at over £90k per hour full and the last time it was published I think it had come down to £70k. This is because the fleet costs are spread over a larger number of airframes and hours.

The marginal rates are very similar for most fast jets, Typhoon (£3,780) and Harrier (£3,945) for example, 2009/2010 figures

Last time I looked, the C17 was the most expensive to operate RAF aircraft, although don't hold me to that


Excellent! Can you tell me where the marginal costs are published? I'm sick of seeing the full cost compared with the marginal costs of US types.
Profile picture for user Jonesy

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Posts: 4,875

Distiller

Truth is that the UK ordered two supersize-me carrier and now doesn't know what to do with them.

Thats too simplistic...the truth is the UK ordered two carriers scaled for purpose. That purpose being to generate 100 sorties per day, on surge, off a 30+ fastjet airgroup with the, somewhat conservative, surge-rate of 3 sorties per day per aircraft.

Further it chose an airgroup that enabled the 'joint force' deployment strategy that kept a significant degree of recurring cost, inherent with naval air, off the Navy and gave the RAF the operational control over a sizeable fraction of the JCA force. This whilst retaining a basic, permanent, deck establishment for contingency ops. Effectively it was a plan to let the Navy do their part best and the RAF do their part best with the ultimate goal that we could project fast-response airpower quickly afloat, ashore or both.

The problem was that too many saw big-deck carrier and concluded, wrongly, that it meant the return of the Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm of old. Suddenly the, very sensible, plan to stay the STOVL course meant continued Harrier-Carrier 2nd tier status. This view seems to have crawled up the stack and, thinly screened by promises of inter-operability etc, we suddenly have the policy shift to put in fleet carrier capabilities, but, without the commitment to dedicated naval air ops. So we knew exactly what we were doing with the carriers before the half-thought out and under-committed switch to CATOBAR.

Profile picture for user Sintra

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I'm sure the RAF are very defensive of the GR4's capabilities. The simple fact is though that the operations you list saw Mirages, Jaguars, F-18's, F-16's etc deployed that contributed fully despite not being possessed of GR4's range. The Tornado was conceived for a purpose and has on occasion proven useful for its weapon carry and range, but, often enough to require a manned replacement?. Nope. Going forward pursuing manned deep strike is begging for obsolescence.

As you say above a shorter ranged light striker can have its range extended by AAR or, if STOL, by the simple expedient of basing closer to the operational theatre. You cant take such steps to mitigate the costs of a big twin and if the runway is too short to deploy heavy fastjets to then you are faced with extending it or finding somewhere else to fly from...however much time that plugs into your localise-to-hit operational cycle.

...and its the last point thats key. Afghan and Libya have proved that a ready-responder capability is essential to exploit theatre surveillance as it can be provided now. However impressive the range of your heavy twin interdictor there is always the issue that, bombed-up, you are subsonic and, if you need to use the long range, you are looking at an hour lag in weapon delivery. A long-legged jet can loiter, but, only in a permissive environment and at the cost of airframe flight hours, weapon carriage hours and increased maintenance to regenerate. Fleets are smaller now so there isnt the same ability to spread airframe wear fleet wide...likewise pgm stocks are smaller so burning through airframe carry lives uselessly tooling round on cab-rank waiting for a tasking call is less than efficient.

Again citing Libya French Rafale-M's were 200nm offshore and delivering effects 20 minutes from the launch - the advantage there is obvious. The closer the ability to base the better - enabling that and the faster response time is now more useful than raw range performance.

Jonesy

An USAF F-16 Block 50/52 or a US Navy F-18 ladden with external fuel has the range of the Tornado, an Harrier or Jaguar doesnt. A classical Hornet carries the same amount of internal fuel that does a Tornado while weighting two tons less.
Today´s F-16 is an aircraft weighting from 8,5 ton to 10 ton clean, a Jaguar or a Gripen weights 7 ton´s, a Jump Jet GR9 weights 5,7 ton.
You can substitute a Tornado with a RAFALE, a Block 60 Viper, a JSF, a Super Hornet or a Typhoon, you cant do it with a "light" VSTOL fighter (Gripen?).

And AAR is fine and dandy, unless you have to fly the refuelers over contested airspace.
When i said that the Harriers (or Jaguars) had to tag along refuelers over Yugoslavia and Iraq it was literaly so, the refuelers were flying over enemy airspace. If there werent F-15´s, Tornados F3, Tornados GR4, F117, Strike Eagles, Vipers,Hornets to clear the way, the Harriers and jag´s would be flying to the edges of the combat zone, because the Refuelers couldnt follow.

Quite contrary to your belief, far from being obsolescent, subsonic range and ATG capability are all the rage now, every single combat aircraft on the market (with the exception of the Gripen and the FC17) have an equivalent range to the Tornado GR4. Subsonic ATG (backed up by eight tons of internal fuel) is the primary mission of Dave A, the aircraft that is suposed to be the "future of Western Air power".

Yes a light multi role aircraft could be a good adition for the RAF, IF the Tonka mission was carried by another platform (the Typhoon with bigger external fuel tanks, JCA or both), and dont get it wrong, long range air strike, was, is, and will be essential in any armed conflict.
And if your answer is "unmanned", well, lovely idea and concept, on theory i would agree completely, now were are the extra 15+ billion pounds to develop and acquire 150 platform´s (never mind the satelite network)?