Of course if the switched to a conventional carrier.....
....they could use a naval version of Typhoon, or buy Rafale from France and save even more money!! But that would be sensible, so won't happen!!
The plane which will replace the famous Harrier "jump jet" passed an important milestone yesterday, with the first production F-35B rolling off the assembly line at US builder Lockheed Martin. The F-35B at the rollout ceremony The F-35B rollout ceremony. Note the raised covers above the lift fan and supplementary dorsal …
....they could use a naval version of Typhoon, or buy Rafale from France and save even more money!! But that would be sensible, so won't happen!!
Not red much about planes since I moved out of home and don't get to see any of my brother of fathers materials on planes.
The last thing I remember was that these things were called VTOL (in my opinion it sounds better than STOVL). When did this change?
Paris because I don't know enough.
Would mean losing the organic aircover available to a typical MEU from its own Tarawa-class baby carrier(s), typically provided by a half-dozen or so AV8-Bs; it would require the deployment of a massively more expensive fleet carrier AND its ancillary escorts and support vessels when these might be a) never used and b) needed elsewhere.
As far as our needs, F35B appears to be ideally suited for deployment from our through deck cruisers, whilst capable of transferring over to proper carriers, if, as and when they arrive, and at the same time having a rough/short field capability, which your F-35A and C are unlikely to develop.
And yes, it's VERY cool, as death-tek goes...
Always thought this was VTOL since I was a kid.
Ah well PH because I am lacking knowledge in this area.
what's the point of it being supersonic and stealthy if it can't transform into a car or a boat (or samurai-looking robot)?
I'm getting used to the military articles on here being opinions on the author on how it should be done his way but just wanted my 20 pence.
"As to operations from small carriers, the US Navy has a good few full-sized ones; and the Royal Navy is getting new, bigger ships which could easily launch and recover non-STOVL planes if they had the necessary kit."
Its all about the bigger picture. By buying these and the Eurofighter Typhoon the MoD have cut the costs of ownership of the fleet by having fewer niche planes to buy supplies for. And its not simply a case of adapting a plane to fly off a carrier (however a feasability study for the Typhoon was carried out), they have to be designed that way, stress on the airframe, the landing sensor suite, arrestor hook location, storage and ease of maintainence all need to be taken into account. If it really was the case you state, then any new plane would have ability to land and take off from a carrier.
"This would also permit the RN to purchase and operate existing, cheap, excellent E-2 carrier radar planes to replace its current aged, badly altitude- and endurance-limited surveillance choppers."
Yes excellent though they are, the Sea Kings primary role was anti-submarine warfare, admitedly this is less of a these days though its time will come again. The AWACS facility is provided by other aircraft of the Royal Air Force.
I don't get why we have to buy US aircraft. I understood that the Eurofighter was more than a match for anything the yanks could field.
There is no Naval variant of the Typhoon it was abandoned in the feasibility study stage.
The Rafale I have no argument against. Well maybe one, its French so only fires white flags.
The chances are it would be cancelled in the next round of cuts, and then they'd have nothing, whereas presumably the new F35B will be able to be flown off an Invincible class...
"Improvised basing in the field is at best a nice-to-have these days"
"(As an example, the Harrier was until fairly recently the only fighter cleared to operate from the poorly-maintained runway at Kandahar in Afghanistan.)"
Can't be both... Unless being able to land fighters at Kandahar was only "nice-to-have"...
Surely we should have bought into f35 from the start - assuring commanlity accross all attack platforms, then you dismantle the RAF leaving only heavy lift capability there and put all fighter/bomber capability in the Fleet Air Arm.
plus plenty of UK tech in this bird.
PS the multisensory in-helmet heads-up display is awesome
F-35 isn't really a very good aircraft.
It tried to do lots of things in a single package: as everyone knows this means it's not particularly brilliant at any of them.
You'd almost suspect someone just drew up a list of buzzwords and stuffed them into a requirements document. Then everyone else jumped in with their wishlist.
I mean, things like stealth: low RCS is a good thing to aim for and is a standard requirement, but a proper(-ish) stealth design isn't worth the compromise, particularly given the amount of counter-stealth tech on the market today. Better to build something high performance, with high survivability and cheap (so you can send lots of 'em) so it doesn't matter that they see you coming.
Then there's the A, B and C variants: couldn't get one version to do everything, so build 3 versions. Again, none is brilliant being limited by the design commonality with the other versions. Though the commonality isn't close enough for it to have been worthwhile having in the first place as each has a high unique part count!
The B variant really is probably the worst of the bunch - I would guess most people approaching the same problem would have come up with a different solution i.e. one that has been proven to work and doesn't melt the deck. And that meets the weight and other constraints...
Then there's the flawed designs that mean major revisions have been required in the 'production' aircraft: not just the minor tidying that usually happens but major structural changes. Looks like someone *was* home to Mr. Cockup, then invited him to stay.
Then there's the cost - official headline cost looks quite cheap, though for some reason the program unit costs don't seem to add up.
Overall I think this would have been better being killed off and proper dedicated designs being produced for each role. Maybe parts could be shared (avionics and engines usually would be anyway for example) but the one size fits all approach just doesn't work.
I just hope the fallout when it goes wrong isn't too bad. And the UK doesn't get stuffed too badly when the carrier aircraft aren't provided.
But that's what you always get when you dump down a deposit and hope the salesman wasn't lying too much. I just wonder which past example is the closest analogy - feels like XJ220 at the moment; end product different from what was promised, performance not so good, price not the same and everyone running around trying to get their deposit back when they see what they'll actually get.
I choose Paris as she represents the kind of person who thinks this aircraft was a good idea.
"The last thing I remember was that these things were called VTOL (in my opinion it sounds better than STOVL). When did this change?"
It didn't. Vertical Take Off and Landing craft still exist (aka, the harrier)
Short Take Off and Vertical Landing would be a different thing entirely. Of course, in brit service the harrier is only ever really used as a STOVL anyway... Apparently you can't carry much of a weapons and fuel load when you want to take off vertically.
hahaha, i would shorten that to just:
"Well maybe one, its French." and leave it at that.
Gentlemen (probably not ladies) -
Nick: Air cover from Harriers without any organic AEW has been tried in the Falklands. It didn't work terribly well. If there is an air threat, an MEU on its own will suffer just as the Op Corporate task force did. So this is not such a big deal to lose.
George: If we have RAF AWACS, we can have RAF CAPs too and we don't need a carrier at all. Where were the RAF radar birds in 1982? The lesson of the Falklands was very clear: carrier fighters need carrier AEW. They are all parts of the same system, and buying one without the other - as we are nwo doing for the second time - makes little sense. And if you don't like my stuff don't read it, that's my advice.
Anonymous Coward: Kandahar is not an improvised strip in the field, it is a heavily defended military airbase. It just happened to have a crappy runway until lately. Off-base operations and Kandahar are not the same thing, and a prolonged failure to do some basic construction work hardly justifies the F-35B. Develop a whole new jet technology, or mend a runway surface? You choose.
We could have had supersonic Harriers in the early 70's if our, as usual, shortsighted lords and masters hadn't axed the development of the Hawker P1154 and it's accompanying plenum-chamber burning Pegasus engine.
Of course it wasn't stealthy, but at that time, only Lockhead's Skunk Works knew what that meant.
Of course the Rafale only fires white flags.....you know why.
Depending on American hardware isn't so bad. Buy from the Russians....or make your own. If you can.
VTOL = Vertical Take-Off and Landing
STOVL = Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing
So VTOL hasn't been changed, it's just that the F-35B is a STOVL aircraft, not a VTOL one.
Stop spending my money on generic brand Viagra you dick less politicians.
I want hospitals and provision for the elderly, spend my money on me when I need to be looked after not crap so that dick less old men can get hard by bullying other poor saps who also have to pay tax to another bunch of dick less old men.
It's my money stop lining your pockets and give it back you thieving bastards!
(Decembers pay slip has just arrived.)
Couple of points:
Why buy E2s? If the Seakings are than much of a problem, then the Searchwater AEW system could probably be moved to something else (Merlin?) without huge problems as it's a pallet mount - the helicopters aren't particularly customised. And the radar is certainly OK given it's basically common to the current Nimrod setup. But one of the nice points about using the existing helicopters is that they can be tasked to AEW *or* the equipment can be quickly removed and they can be used in a conventional role - try doing that with a Sentry. Plus they can be deployed to smaller ships, used in conditions that don't allow fixed wing aircraft to operate etc. etc.
Naval Typhoon variant wouldn't be huge effort - main constraint to date has been no-one wanting them. More robust landing gear and extra corrosion proofing is quite simple. As is the landing sensor suite. Arrestor hook is already fitted on the existing aircraft. So technically it could happen, though I would guess failure of F35 program needs to happen first.
As I understand it the new carriers are designed to allow catapult retrofit so Plan B may still happen!
Personally I still think that for the role it carries out, a design refresh/update of the Harrier would have been a better plan - take something known to work, incorporate the material and manufacturing advances of recent years, fit more modern avionics and an updated cockpit suite, and see how it goes. Better than the hacked bastard child that is the F35B, and likely much cheaper too.
The early versions of the Harrier were VTOL - the later versions are heavier and carry a larger payload.
This extra weight had the effect of making the Harrier unable to take off vertically - so its not STOVL. (i.e. it needs to do a running jump rather than a standing jump).
Yeah - I'll get my coat
As to the Lightning II's short range, the AV-8B or GR-7/9, have very short ranges without drop tanks which cuts the weapons load in half or more. AV-8A and pre-GR-7 models had a published combat radius of 125 miles (250 for the newer ones). That is OK if you are only 50 miles from the front and doing CAS missions. Deep interdiction is out with either of these aircraft.
While the author gripes about the Lockheed-Martin version that won with its three different verions, the Boeing competitor needed only two models and used the same lift system as a Harrier. The fan system on the Lightning II (British kit), with the swiveling nozzle and 10 doors that have to open up externally blows my mind. Seems much easier to damage.
The idea that the F-35 can only carry internal weapons is non-sense. Yes, it isn't stealthy that way, duh! I guess that is what stand-off weapons are for.
As to buying an AWACS, the AESA system on the F-35 is probably more powerful than AWACS systems used in Dessert Storm and each aircraft can share the data which provides a joint, composite picture of the battlefield. Is it nice to have a dedicated platform? Sure, but how much do you need?
Right, Mr. Page, as a child of both UK and Italian citizens, I hereby decree that your monthly subsidy of linguine and prosecco has been indefinitely suspended.
So, please tell me, just how are you going to cope without a fundamental El Reg unit of measure, and the accompanying knickerless-sponsored beverage ..?
The final version of the Typhoon was supposed to be quite good, not sure they've reached it yet tho, can't remember from all the conflicting time lines and order schedules and quotas and selling all of ours to the Saudis.
The problem was, being British, we don't like to make things easy for ourselves. Feels too much like cheating. The Eurofighter was going to incorporate the same technology as the F-22, had similar maneuverability, similar payloads, all kinds of stuff. Perhaps the F-22 was a better design, who knows? We'll never find out, or at least the RAF won't.
You see we like our armed forces to posses a touch of death-wish. Look at the Tornado. The idea was simple. Fire all it's missiles via-point-and-click, and then die in a fiery death when they all miss and the other side gets all uptight about being shot at. Just for good measure we'll include the maneuverability of your average Space Shuttle, and fly low enough for them to shoot us down by chucking rocks at us.
Enter the Eurofighter. Undoes all the death-wish stuff by having dogfighting maneuverability, lots of missiles, stealth and all manner of fancy addons that until now were only found in an F-22 prototype. No! No! No!. Can't have any of that, we'll get ours nice and early, well before anyone gets a chance to implement such rubbish, and as a punishment for trying to survive we'll take away your cannon too.
Apparently running out of missiles is not a scenario acceptable to RAF doctrine, so it won't be planned for. And just in case anyone decides they can survive after shooting all their missiles, we'll sell all our new Eurofighters to the Saudis and put you back in Tornados.
And people wonder why the Navy decided against trying to land a Typhoon onto an aircraft carrier. Is it too late to order some F-22s?
and don't get me wrong, your articles always raise good points, especially the Stealth paint issue damaged with grit, something I hadn't even thought of.
I see your point with the Falklands but that Anti-Air Radar is now done by the Type45 destroyer (or will be when they are deployed). Admitedly far more expensive than a fleet of E-2 Hawkeyes but more profiecent in defending the fleet against both missile and plane threats.
It is difficult to know what they are planning (are they even planning at all!) but there seems to be change of roles across all the forces and their equipment.
...but I actually agree with most of the things that Lewis has written in this article! The RN would be much better off with the F-35C and the E-2D, and the new carriers will be 'fitted for but not with' catapaults and arrestor gear i.e. they will not be fitted from new, but weight and space has been set aside so that they could be added in the future. Officially this is to allow for the possibility of conventionally launched UCAVs coming down the line, but...
The one quibble that I have with the article is the assertion that UK dropping the F-35B would kill it. Personally I think the USMC would have enough muscle to keep the programme alive, and the USAF has shown at least a passing interest in acquiring a number of them. Add in export potential to the likes of Italy and Spain (and possibly even Australia, Japan and South Korea all of whom are investing in flat tops of various sorts), and you have some reasonable(ish) reasons not to can it.
The big advantage the Harrier had was that if could VIFF - vector in forward flight. Pointing the engine thrust forwards allowed it to decelerate much faster than any other aircraft, forcing any attacking aircraft to overshoot the Harrier and put it right in the middle of it's gun (well rocket) sights. The Harrier also has the massive advantage that it doesn't look like it is straining to have a poo when in hover.
'Kandahar is not an improvised strip in the field, it is a heavily defended military airbase. It just happened to have a crappy runway until lately. Off-base operations and Kandahar are not the same thing, and a prolonged failure to do some basic construction work hardly justifies the F-35B. Develop a whole new jet technology, or mend a runway surface? You choose'
Not entirely a correct. In a larger war situation which has to be planned for militilary wise as well as the smaller venues (such as Afghanistan) operating from forward runway locations that are constantly attacked might be an important consideration. Indeed was that not reason why the marines purchased the AV-8B Harrier for ground support in the first place (As well as off-field) ?
Just to point out the flaw in this comment:
The only problem with the concept of the rapid deceleration (whether like this, or Topgun style using the airbrake) to attempt to cause the following aircraft to overshoot so you can shoot them in the arse is that it's a fundamentally flawed idea.
Any fast jet pilot will tell you that if someone tried that kind of thing, all they're doing is making themselves an easier to target to hit. And in a combat situation you'll probably point this out to them in the most direct manner possible.
Coming from the country that made ze spitfire? gotta buy from the yanks???
Poor show gentlemen....
I know technology has advanced since Concorde, but I'm still trying to equate stealth and supersonic flight. You might not know where it is but you know it's there somewhere just because of the noise.
Anyway, didn't the Soviets have a VTOL aircraft with a spare engine pointing down? I think it was prone to high-speed impact with the ground because it never really featured much. The Harrier appears to have the unique selling point of managing to do everything with a single engine and steerable nozzles.
One wonders why it's taken the nation with the most technologically-advanced military so long to duplicate the Flying Bedstead, even to the point where they resorted to buying the Harrier design (how many non-US aircraft designs have the US had in service) because it was unique?
"Despite being packed with sexy features..."
Lewis, can I take a moment to remind you that this machine is designed to kill
You find this sexy?
"Pointing the engine thrust forwards allowed it to decelerate much faster than any other aircraft, forcing any attacking aircraft to overshoot the Harrier and put it right in the middle of it's gun (well rocket) sights."
Surely, if the other man is close enough behind you to be unable to react to such a manoeuvre, you are in terrible trouble that will not be rectified by clever engine management. Perhaps this kind of capability could be used to pull tighter turns in a dogfight, but from what I have read in Sharkey Ward's "Sea Harrier over the Falklands", the Harrier is not a natural "turn and burn" aircraft, the wing loading is too high. A pilot trying this kind of thing would not be exploiting the aircraft's strengths. And once the Harrier has lost its speed, who will save it from the enemy's wingman?
"We could have had supersonic Harriers in the early 70's if our, as usual, shortsighted lords and masters hadn't axed the development of the Hawker P1154 etc"
Here's a navalised P.1152:
Now there's a what-if. Presumably they would have been built and used and worn out a long time ago; perhaps we would now be complaining about the JSF in the same way that Americans complain about how the Super Hornet has replaced the F-14.
Because planes are a lot heavier taking off than landing. Nowadays they take off with a full weapon load and limited fuel, refuelling in-air once they get to high altitude where the jet engine is more efficient.
Amusingly, it's only in jet fighters that VTOL is even close to possible, because they have a thrust to weight ratio better than 1, at least when they're not carrying a couple of tons of weaponry.
For anything else, VTOL means carrying around more engine than they need for most missions. The Harrier's thirst for fuel was legendary.
Stealth is about getting close enough to hit the enemy before you are detected. These days, "close enough" can be measured in miles. The F-117 is neither invisible nor particularly quiet, but by the time you've detected it and scrambled or directed your fighters, it's been and gone and dropped its load. Of course it's not
capable of supersonic flight, but it goes pretty fast for all that. If you detect it at 10 km, you have 30 seconds or so to do something about it. If your stealth plane is supersonic, cut that time in half.
having said that, going supersonic on the way in is a bad idea for all kinds of reasons, but going supersonic on the way out is a really good idea if you can do it.
"your articles always raise good points, especially the Stealth paint issue damaged with grit, something I hadn't even thought of."
True, but you'd need a metric buttload of paint damage to get any serious radar reflectivity. First, each paintless area has to be as large as (or larger than) the wavelength of the radar signal, in at least one dimension; for example, assuming X band radar at the top end of the band, each paint chip has to be at least 25mm long. That's a huge scratch. Secondly, you'd need hundreds of them reflecting the signal to make a blip that any trained operator would read as an aircraft.
Good article, really, but that point was not well thought out, IMHO.
...though I'd point out that organic AEW is provided at the mo by those Whiskey Sea Kings that you dislike so much, and that solution could be carried over - indeed it'd be a good stopgap to suggest to our colonial brethren on the LHAs. Indeed, it's largely as a result of the Falklands that they were introduced. Of course, not shitcanning proper carriers in the first place would probably have helped... As has been noted, you could shift it to another helo platform (unless, of course, they ever get the Osprey un****ed, in which case, hey, I'll have a dozen ;-) ). If you're not mucking about trying to launch prop aircraft to provide AEW, you don't NEED catapults.
Try doing a search on harrier crash la times. Read the series by the LA Times on the problems with the Harrier, all the lives wasted because the design is flawed, and the USMC insistence on pursuing this crap regardless.
The carrier version of Eurofighter actually died out quite late in the day, well into this decade, although I don't know how much development work was done. The (official) reasoning was that Eurofighter had badly over-run, and there was more confidence that JSF would be ready in time. As it happens EFA over ran so far it very nearly didn't sell at all.
Anon Coward - I cannot begin to disagree with you enough!!!
All those people saying that we should be using regular versions of other aircraft for carrier duty do not understand the design requirements of carrier life. The landing and takings do not actually apply that much of a problem to the aircraft. The biggest issue is the motion of the ship on water. A Seaharrier (designed for carrier landings) is 30% heavier then a regular land harrier because the wings and wing joints have to be strengthened by that much to accommodate the continual up and down flexing caused by waves when its sitting on the carrier deck. You "could" use a regular F-35A on a carrier but its life would be about a quarter of the life you were expecting because it is not reinforced for this continuous motion.
The comments made about making cheap, throw-away planes is incredibly stupid in that if you look at the biggest costs to any airforce you will find that it is pilots who cost the most so sending out lots of cheap planes with expensive pilots that get shots down will cost a lot more in the long run and after a few such sorties would leave you with a massive skills shortage. I suppose the alternative to this is unmanned aircraft but lets face it killbots arent yet at a level where they can do all our killing for us yet!
yes there are 3 versions of the F-35 they share about 40% commonality that is all. 60% of an aircraft allows specialisation, so on this point your incredibly wrong. All 3 have very distinct roles and have been designed in parallel which in itself is a great achievement as in most cases like this a single version is created then the variants begin off that basis. This does not allow anywhere near the degree of specialisation accomplished by the F-35.
Yes there have been substantial structural changes in the design process of the F-35. This happens in MOST fighter designs as new technologies and developments occur. However, most fighter programs are done in secret for one country and the public never hears about the problems faced. The transparency shown in this program is quite outstanding. Oh and on the delays front the majority of delays have been caused by the americans attempting to make the aircraft reverse-engineering proof, so that some other foreign power cant steal the american tech put inside it (stealth, etc.). This is completely and utterly fucked by the americans because if they want to sell a military product to another country they should accept the fact that that is now another country's product to do with as they wish. I must applaud the Uk MOD for threatening to pull out of the JSF program when the amercians initially refused to give them any technical data.
@ the dog fighting people - modern fighter aircraft dont dog fight. They fire Beyond Visual range Missiles at each other or when one notices a BVRM coming at them they fire a counter measure that (hopefully) distracts and misguides the missile, they then fire their BVRM and the other guy fires his counter measures. The person with the best counter measures wins if both exhaust missile supplies they call a draw and go home. That is modern fighter warfare. The days of the Red Baron are dead and gone...
At present, the 3 versions of the F-35 are all on target to meet their specs. yes there behind schedule and probably a bit overbudget there still a hell of a lot cheaper then developing your on inhouse british fighter!
PS As an aerospace engineer who has worked in both military and civilian aerospace design projects - i do have an idea what im talking about. Hence the boffin icon!
Ask the American pilots in Vietnam who flew missile-armed interceptors without guns against the MiGs.
Maybe modern missiles are good enough that no enemy will survive to get into dogfighting range--that I can't judge--but what happens if your opponent is radar stealthy? And, biggest question in warfare since the days of stone clubs, what if he doesn't fight the battle you expect?
Using expensive ships as radar pickets leads to large attrition in expensive ships. You need to be using "cheap" aircraft, and the cheap aircraft need to be aloft all the time, which means using Helos or fighters is probably not great.
No dogfighting happened in the Falklands: it was all superior missiles.
And running out of ammunition, be it missiles or bullets, is scarcely a new phenomenum. I think in the Battle of Britain a Spitfire carried around 30 seconds of ammunition.
As the informed readers have noted, dogfighting is as dead a military art as fencing.
Yes, in some conceivable situations someone on a battlefield might wish they had a sword, and a pilot might wish they had a machine cannon.
But it's just not worth the weight anymore, or the training time that could be spent on something more useful.
Also on the subject of stealth. If it was just a coat of high tech paint then there would be no problem with external stores, just give them a lick of the magic paint.
Stealth technology has far more to do with the shape of the aircraft deflecting radar rather than reflecting it.
Finally on the subject of AEW&C (we've moved on from AWAC peeps) I imagine you've defined an excellent use of an unmanned vehicle which will be able to cruise for a long time at a great height without needing to carry the weight of a toilet or food, let alone the meatbags who need these things.
Finally on the Falklands an organic taskforce air capability of just a handful of planes held off a large land based air force reasonably well. That would seem to be a pretty good argument for it.
The picture on the front of this article has a pink hue to it, as so aptly pointed out by my lovely wife. So, that leads me to ask if there's a "Hello Kitty" version available to civilians?
For the love of <insert your Deity here>, have you no shame? My wife has a Hello Kitty <expletive deleted> fetish. I mean it's bad enough I have to see that mouthless freak plastered all over her, the house, her bike, her car, damn near every shred of her clothing and "accessories", but on an aircraft that is going to replace one of the UK's greatest aircraft?
But seriously folks... Sure, I'm a homer, when it comes to US aircraft, but when it came to seeing the harrier, the lone exception being the SR-71, seeing Harrier in flight still gives me an erection.
Below is a good place to start.
The U.S. Marines actually are as tough as they think they are.
They also like having their aircraft so close to the front that the pilots sleep in a foxhole.
Oh well just another piece of canon fodder for the more versatile and cheaper Russian Sukhoi given that it's original parent the 27 model could in real time both out fly and out shoot the entire complement of NATO air craft sent up to shoot it down for breakfast lunch and dinner and then some !
Mind you to say those pesky Siberian Russian Bears in the Arctic Circle can build a better fighter cheaper then the wankers in the west will undoubtedly start a flaming match !
Flame on wankers !
Just a shame the Russian simulators are crap and their (as a result) under-trained pilots will be plucked from the sky in their flashy beasts by missiles coming from targets they can't even see.
Like cavalry charging at tanks.
All the peepz pointing out the "penalties" in the F-35B's design remind me of old Bill Gunston and his desperation with the people that used to whine in the exact same tones in the 80s... the people who gave you that utter monstrosity called the Typhoon. Those intakes are so big Voyager 2 will be able to detect a radar return from beyond the heliopause. And besides, it needs more runway than a 380 to take off. Ugh.
My only question re: the F-35B would be Can it VIFF? If not, it's a waste of money and a step back, just like PrivatAir is (all the Connolly leather in the world gets tiresome after 7 hours, compared to 3 for the wonderful and equally expensive Concorde). VIFFing turned a flying-brick close support ugly thing like the Harrier into a credible fighter that smashed some very well-flown opposition (see the YouTube videos of the Argentines for factual support) and made the war winnable by reducing the number of bombs with good fuses they could drop (search the Web; six fuses --just six-- and the war would have been lost, so say the boys that were there). What effective vectored thrust can do with a good design... The latest derivatives of the Su-27 come to mind. What VIFFing would do to that handsome beast is no doubt in the nightmartes of Western air-force types.
So shut up. All the "penalties" in the world wouldn't have mattered if Argentina had had some STOVLs they could base at Stanley instead of the ground-loving Mirages. That was settled the "penalty" argument for all time. A war you beancounting types almost made impossible. If Galtieri had waited 6 months, there would have been no carrier force and no Harriers. Bye-bye Kelpers.
"...The Rafale I have no argument against. Well maybe one, its French so only fires white flags."
Remember the Falklands war, George? If I recall correctly some (initially) floating Royal Navy infrastructure was left somewhat 'scratched' after a close encounter with Exocet missiles. These missiles were launched from Argentinian Super Etendard strike fighters. Both the Exocet and the Super Etendard are ... French-built.
Also nice to know:
"These uprated aircraft, designated Super Étendard Modernisé (SEM) participated in NATO's "Allied Force" operations over Kosovo in 1999, flying over 400 combat missions with 73% of the assigned objectives destroyed : the best performance of all the air forces involved in the missions over Kosovo. The SEM also flew strike missions in Operation Enduring Freedom".
Pretty deadly and accurate white flags. Wanna buy some?