The Windows Vista Ultimate of the air.
It looks pretty enough, but it's bloated, crippled, and doesn't work properly. At anything.
Some of the Royal Air Force's new Eurofighter Typhoon jets have today been announced as capable of delivering weapons against ground targets, in addition to their initial role of air-to-air combat. This has been reported as meaning that the already horrifyingly expensive, long-delayed planes are "fully combat ready". However, …
The Windows Vista Ultimate of the air.
It looks pretty enough, but it's bloated, crippled, and doesn't work properly. At anything.
....wtf are we spending all that money on these flying phallic extensions for? With all that money we could buy enough friends around the world to avoid having any stupid wars and still have change left over for a teaching hospital in every large city, more pies than Prescott can regurgitate in a year and a taxi ride home.
Oh...forget the taxi home...bloody price of fuel...*mutter*....stupid invading large oil-producing country...*grumble*...damned medieval Saudis we've been backing for decades...*whinge*...
Isn't that still adequately covered by Tornadoes?
>With all that money we could buy enough friends around the world to avoid having any stupid wars and still have change left over for a teaching hospital in every large city
No we really couldn't. Defence are not the most efficient users of cash but the NHS make them look positively frugal. The health service munches it's way through considerably more cash than defence.
Any Eurofighters not used by the RAF can be sold to Saudi Arabia or Greece or Japan or Austria or any other country which would like some aerial backbone. Once this spending period is out of the way, some more helis for the boys in Afghanistan would be welcome.
I know you think an indiginous Euro-Fighter is not really required, since we could buy American. I disagree with that analysis, nor should a supercruise high-altitude bat like the Typhoon be compared to a Stealth Bomber. An American General (apparently the only guy to have flown both a F22 and a Typhoon) said that it's like comparing a Nascar to an Formula 1. Not a useful comparison.
Although anyone living in the hills in Scotlands will attest to being occasionally annoyed by the RAF's low-level training (stealth would be .. quieter maybe). At least the RAF will be flying a plane partly designed by them, with their needs in mind. That should count for something.
And the Eurofighter is popular with pilots. It can beat any plane flying (some even outnumbered 3:1), and will save a lot of arses on the ground, if the ground combat role is sorted as promised. So pipe down and get with the program. If you're so worried about helicopters, have an office whip-round. Otherwise wait for the funds like everyone else. Sheesh..
Presumably we'll see it popping up on Top Gear again at some stage.
What a joke.
It doesn't even look pretty, no aircraft ever looks right with canards, they're the training wheels of the sky.
I for one would rather not be entirely dependent on a foreign power for protection. My view is Europe needs to retain sufficient capability that it costs a foreign power to attack us or something of ours. That foreign power could be the US or China or someone else- who knows what the political situation will be 5,10 years down the line, especially if there are shortages biting in energy, food and water, and if climate change is causing mass migration of people- refugees- to a bunch of countries who each would like to have to take in as few as possible and would like the other countries to do as much as possible.
A good design is long lived and has lots of room for enhancement. The Harrier, for instance, lasted years and went through loads of revisions yet I don't recall any derisive comments of them "not getting it right yet". This article is presented as an aircraft that has not yet met its design spec- yet it seems the aircraft talked about is already in version 2 (if that's what Tranche 2 means). So version 1 is done and in use and they're finding things to make better- why is that seen as such a bad thing? I was noseying around one of the aircraft a year or so ago and an example of one of the future upgrades that's been deliberately left open in the design is vectored thrust, which in conjunction with more engine power will allow the aircraft to do tail slides, like the SU-27. That kind of maneuverability seems very useful in combat, and though it wasn't asked for at the time it's at least one way in which a future revision will be better than the present. Will that be presented in the same light- they've "finally" got it working? Even though it wasn't something originally specced and can only be done because of foresight?
People here should be well aware that when you're engineering with new kit, things go wrong and take longer than expected. There's always snags, and salespeople and financiers- because of the way our system works- will always underplay the length of time needed and the risk of overrun. Certainly there's *cough chinook* cockups and mismanagement, but not every missed milestone and budget overrun is an indication of that.
Gawd, I could go on for ages now about how perceptions here towards engineering and technology have changed and how it's letting the far east get into a position to leave us really screwed but I need to stop somewhere.
But Chinooks and Tornado's aren't pretty and shiny any more. Isn't that enough reason for the RAF and MoD to spend their money elsewhere?
I went to an air display evening at the Shuttleworth collection last year. Their 1911 ('ish) Bleriot still flies. They just don't build them like that any more...
Is it just me or does this all seem rather silly.
Why would you buy a super agile top of the range air to air FIGHTER and then decide that it's not really what you want and you then go back and bolt really heavy air to ground bombs on it. Of course the plane is designed to be light and agile so now to carry these bombs you need to take the engine out and put an engine in that can lift the load.
It seems about as silly as buying a sports car and then complaining about the load space, only to come up with the solution of putting a tow bar on it and permanently attaching a trailer to it, taking out the engine and putting a tractor engine in it.
If they wanted a fighter/bomber why didn't they just buy one in teh first place
It's for all the world as if defence procurement is conducted with political goals in mind rather than the efficient equipping of the armed forces.
No, I must have that wrong somewhere....
While the article implies the RAF are wanting changes/updates, that is about par for the course.
The plane was designed in the 80s is overr 20 years in the making and only now going into service.
Usually a military jet in an ideal world has a lifespan of 20-25 years and usually has a midlife update either half way through that lifespan, or after a war where they are reminded how out of date the aircraft's systems are.
With the sort of lead times being acheived, It seems no surprise if the RAF are already asking for changes.
It seems to me that if one could just get their hands on the "waste" that is in the budgets, a pretty good armed forces could be had.
I guess that is what some countries actually do, rely on others for security. Cf: Costa Rico.
The whole point of the Typhoon is that it can wipe the floor with any other fighter in existence (except maybe the F-22). One of these babies was bounced by a pair of F-15s during combat trials and took both of them down, so it has enough capability to deal with anything any other air force can throw at them. I, for one, feel a bit better that we and our NATO allies have equipment that good. The 'enemy' won't always be insurgents with rifles in the future..
As for the old chestnut of buying 'cheaper' or 'ready made', in other words buying from the US, the British defence establishment have usually ballsed that up too - cases in point, cancelling TSR2 to buy the F-111K and then buying Buccaneers because the F-111 was way overbudget, not building the supersonic V/STOL (Super Harrier) development P.1154 (that would have kicked the 'Forger Mark II' F-35's ass) and instead buying converted Phantoms using British engines that ended up being delayed and overpriced too... remember the Chinook is a off the shelf US design that the MoD managed somehow to turn into a crippled wreck.
I'd rather that more of the tax payer's money stayed in this country on European designs like Tornado and Typhoon.
What does Iran having nukes got to do with Eurofighter? And it has always had air-to-ground capabilities, the RAF just didn't take the option before.
Given the trouble with the US controlling their military technology (such as not letting UK engineers do their contracted work on JSF), buying everything off them, which would include maintenance, would be a ridiculously stupid idea.
With China on the rise, and Russia getting back up to strength, air-air combat might happen a lot more regularly than previously though.
I thought I managed to get away from all the completely untrue "Eurofighter doesn't work and costs too much" by not reading the Mail, but it looks like the Reg and some of their readers actually believe them.
We train our pilots in Tucanos and Hawks. Both of these aeroplanes are relatively small, relatively cheap and can do the job of ground attack perfectly well, yet we don't use them for it! Cheaper operating costs and less temperamental then the cutting edge stuff. Both crewed by a pilot and a navigator to share the workload, and both support British jobs (Hawks built by BAE and the Tucanos built under licence by Shorts).*
I believe we use Harriers in Afghanistan for ground attack roles. A good plane really, but like many of the aircraft we operate there is one thing missing - a bloody great big gun. The US Marines have one that can be fixed to the underneath of their Harriers in place of bombs. We ought to at least have that as an option.
Part of me thinks the Eurofighter is great. Late, complicated, expensive to buy and expensive to operate. But great. Yet I suspect we won't employ it as much as we could. Perhaps if they fitted it with drop tanks and either big guns or lots of little bombs it could loiter and do the ground attack stuff more effectively.
* I have sometimes wondered if a Tucano would have made for a decent enough UAV platform. Replacing the pilot gubbins with computer gubbins and have longer wings for a longer range.
The Eurofighter has already been on Top Gear. Last season.
I am confused about the "convert a fighter to the ground attack role". Isn't this what happened in Germany with the F-104G Starfighter? Otherwise known as the Flying Coffin due to it not being up for the job. Hope this "cut 'n' shut" is better engineered.
So the complaint here is doing something that has been done to every other combat aircraft since the first world war? The F16 when first introduced was meant to be nothing more than a cheap fighter for use during the day to combat the hordes of ruskies over the other side of the iron curtain. 40 years later it is an all weather capable fighter with far more capabilities than when it was first launched. And todays F16 is probably far more capable than the original F15As that were the bees-knees at the time. What the RAF want to do is no different to any other aircraft in any air force in the world. And like every other programme it will have to be prioritised over the 30+ year life of the aircraft. Or should the RAF be flying exactly the same aircraft in 30 years time?
Even if the UK could get hold of some F22s (US law bans their export!) their air-ground capability is more limited than the Typhoon's.
Said it before and will say it again, the Government can't fight two wars on a peacetime whilst simultaneously having to spend serious money upgrading all sorts of defense kit in the Navy, Army and Air Force that desperately needs replacing. The UK has the sixth largest economy in the world, we shouldn't need to act like a pauper when it comes to defence, science and engineering funding. Yes, the army needs more helicopters, the RAF needs more transports, etc. but robbing one part of the budget to cover a shortfall elsewhere is just short sighted. Yes we are currently fighting one type of warfare but who knows what will happen in five, ten, fifteen years?
The cost of oil is going up, drinking water is getting scarcer, the potential for countries going to war over resources will only get bigger.
The Armed Forces are ultimately an insurance policy only, when the brown stuff hits the fan, you don't want to discover that previous goverments only paid for third party coverage.
The RAF bought TIALD Simulators for the Eurofighter back in the late nineties....Cheap at £25k a pop, but seeing as they were made from recycled computer games (ironically from the EF2000 PC game) they were still pricey due to the silly price of genuine controls. The plan was to buy one for every air station that housed the fighters but i dont think they completed more than a couple. Wonder if that had anything to do with the failure of performance in 2003.
Question for the experts / opinionated: At £20M each (ish), why don't we simply get a load of Hawks (flown by RAF pilots in training anyway) and send them out to Afghan with some weapons? Excellent Ground Attack, and far cheaper / more resilient than Typhoon / Harriers. Also, the Taleban don't seem to have the stomach of old for air defence a la 1980's vs Soviets....
Eurofighter is a Swing role aircraft - it can do ground attack and air attack on one mission with avionics that switch depending on what the pilot is doing. The reason it doesn't have a navigator is because the pilot doesn't need one - he doesn't have dozens of dials and buttons to operate, with the next upgrade being tested he'll be able to do everything other than launch a missile by looking towards the target and speaking.
The reason we spend billions designing and building stuff like this is so we can design and build stuff like this - we can't mine our own coal, or build our own cars, or build our own nuclear powerstations anymore - if you're happy we have to buy weapons from another country as well then great - you pay the unemployment benefit for the couple of hundred thousand people employed by the defence industry and good luck buying a jet from the americans if we fall out with them - even the french can build their own fighter jets
The US had one of their fighter party type things last year or so, with their new fangled super stealth fighter that is apparently "the best in the universe, ever". The Typhoon obtained lock BVR on whatever that super US fighter is. After that the US decided to stop the trials because they didn't want the embarrasment of the Typhoon winning.
Yes we can buy American, but do we really want our military to have to rely on the Americans to give them the information they need? Computer problem with the on board software? Can we fix it? Nope!
We need solutions which do not require intervention from other nations, we have the capability to build world class aircraft, and in the Typhoon we have arguably the best jet fighter in the world.
What we don't really need is another lecture from a pro-american-buy-anything-with-star-spangled-banner "journalist" about why the US has cheaper/better/etc items
So presumably the only use for this thing will be bombing unfortunate Third World and/or Middle-Eastern sods when the Americans tell us to do so.
(oh, and for racing Richard Hammond down a runway)
Paris, because she's expensive too.
I actually worked on TIALD. I was visiting Edinburgh to work on it the day it was announced that a nice American arm dealer had run off with most of Ferranti's money. From there on in the development was undertaken by GEC who needed the cash after the Nimrod AEW debacle.
Anyhow I digress. As far as i remember it was a bit of a mongrel in the firstplace. The laser was from a blindfire rapier system, the computer from somewhere else, etc. But we are talking about a system being developed in the 80's, so its not surprising the Israeli system is better. We are talking 30 years of electronics progress here. Also it was rushed into service in the gulf war so again its not surprising that it wasn't an instant hit(no pun intended).
On the other hand what can be said is that the RAF were very slow to get into precision munitions, which is why the TIALD as an add on pod was required instead of ground attack aircraft like the Tornado having them as part of the airframe.
Finally I wiil take one of Mr Page's article seriously when he shows some balance. Not all things American are cheaper, better or more capable nor are there always benefits in foreign. For one thing, the RAF is as capable of attacking targets in Syria or Iran(and lets hope it never comes to that) as Israel and probably for the same reason. We have the capability of setting our own defence agenda's and not relying on other nations for our defence tech.
essentialy the UK couldn't decide between the 2 for typhoon at which point the other partner nations decided they were buying litening regardless of what we did
as we needed a Pod asap we decided to go with the group tiald was good in its day but that was 15+ years ago
re harrier the US gun needs both of the same pylons we put the Laser pod on, so it cant carry both
Still cheaper than the NHS database, and probably work a bit better too!
' I was noseying around one of the aircraft a year or so ago and an example of one of the future upgrades that's been deliberately left open in the design is vectored thrust, which in conjunction with more engine power will allow the aircraft to do tail slides, like the SU-27.'
Interesting analysis. The SU-27 does not have thrust vectoring and a tail slide does not require it. Additionally, the Typhoon has a thrust to weight ratio in excess of unity and therefore more engine power is not required. Indeed, the only thing required for a tail slide is auto-ignitors on the engines. Air rushing up your tailpipes has a tendency to cause the engines to flame out. Rather bad news when you're effectively hovering (or moving very slowly) in the air like that.
Also, a tail slide is absolutely worthless in todays world. Indeed, anyone trying it would make a huge target of themselves without any ability to get out the way. A strictly airshow act only.
The only problem with the Typhoon is that like everything else in this country, it always goes massively over budget and takes forever.
"Modern smartbombs such as the RAF's Enhanced Paveways can be dropped using only their onboard satnav guidance, but this reduces their accuracy and it is preferable to shine a laser dot on the target for them to home in on."
Perhaps we could replace them with cargo planes and just chuck the bombs out the back door. We'd probably still hit less friendly targets and do less collateral damage than the Americans.
The GR4 seems to make a pretty good bomber, some say the best in its class. And given all the mothballed airframes lying around there shouldn't be a shortage of spare parts.
Living in Norfolk we get kind of attached to the Tonkas from Marham. But sentiment aside wouldn't a Tornado "GR5" make for a more suitable and cost effective solution? Better than trying to retrofit a ground attack capability to what is essentially a thoroughbred fighter.
to spend on making sure we have something to do a fly past above the Royal family every June on the Queen's official birthday.
That Lancaster is looking a bit long in the tooth, although I believe it was employed in Helmund province earlier this year...
Black helicopter, because they are obviously cheaper than the Typhoon.
From 12,000 miles away, it appears to me that they want to make a fighter carry bombs.
A short time ago a fellow named Adolf , asked if a fighter(ME262) could be made to carry bombs. When the answer was yes, he told them to start on modifying it.
Caused an unfortunate delay in getting it into production a a fighter. With unfortunate results (for Adolf)
This time you may not be in such a desperate situation - thankfully
Peace and Joy to you all.
PS -Don't let them put Microsoft systems on it.
There's some perfectly reasonable used A10 Warthogs that would do the job nicely. Cheap easy to fly and protect Biggles really well. Carry Hellfires and a REALLY big gun. Sorted!
Paris - because she knows what to do with a really big gun.
Tornado £20 milllion.
Typhoon £60 million.
That's a hell of a difference in price.
The airframe was finished many years ago and the engines came along not too longer after that - aircraft and it's flight control system had been tested (although with RB199 engines of the tornado). It was the avionics software which was then being worked on, has it really taken this long and that amount of money to put that last part of the package together?
I'm not covinced any more that this aircraft is such a great solution - not at that price.
...reading comments on Lewis's stories. It's always the same thing:
"He doesn't know what he's talking about!"
i.e. "I've read two whole pages of a Bill Gunston book, whereas Lewis has only served in the armed forces longer than I've been living in my mom's basement!"
"Lewis is a Yank-ophile who just wants to throw money over the Atlantic!"
i.e. I'd rather enrich British crooks like Quinetic than American crooks like Northrup.
"It's better to have British/European designs 'cos we don't want to be dependant on the Yanks."
i.e. I don't want to admit that these designs are woefully inferior and cost more, because national prestige is more important than actually doing the job.
And no-one mentions the poor troops who have to yomp from one end of Afghanistan to the other, on a salary of three packs of fags a month. I guess jobless workers are more important than armless/legless/dead troopers.
Seriously, how shit at their jobs do they have to be before they get taken out and shot?
And don't give me that crap about not buying US kit " because then we would have to rely on the Americans" - the UK armed forces have been unable to fart without US help for years.
This is all a sick joke and I just don't think I'll bother getting out of bed today : (
STOP because -well, just make it all stop
Many on here are very quick to attack Typhoon as a useless whit elephant. To say it has been mismanaged is very true and this has lead it to go over budget and with large delays. However it is now operational and is proving to be one of the finest military aircraft ever made! It can out manouver just about anything in the sky and has technology that even the americans would kill for. It has always been a multi-role aircraft but was originally designed with air to air as its primary role. The fact that the MOD have upgraded the weapons systems is a good thing as sending pilots out with a second rate targeting system would be dangerous! Buying american aircraft is not always a good solution as by building the Typhoon here we are keeping hold of the technology and skills required if for some reason in the future we fell out with the US. We are also buying a stealth aircraft to replace the Harrier but this is co-designed by Lockheed and BAe so again we have a hand in the technology. Lets stop attacking the aircraft and just complain about the poor management (in the vain hope that the Government can do better in the future) and lets celebrate the Typhoon for what it is; Currently the best multi-role attack aircraft on the planet!
...you're missing the bleedin' point. All these extortionate willy-waggling big boys toys (like Typhoon, the Trident replacement, etc.) offer are bragging rights/junkets/backhanders for politicians and top brass while the execs and shareholders of arms companies laugh all the way to the bank. The same execs and shareholders of the 'British' arms industry are the same people who are bellyaching about paying British taxes when they already pay less pro rata that a cleaner on minimum wage.
And if we don't have platinum plated fighters or bigger glow-in-the-dark nukes we're going to be vulnerable to the Russians and the Chinese? I'm sorry but watching a bunch of 007 movies hasn't raised your grasp of geo-politics and economics above the infantile.
And even if we make these fabulously futile weapons ourselves do you think that the USA would allow us to use them *even* if our spineless politicians decided to stand on their own two feet and take a different line from the yanks? More likely we will just be acting out our usual role as the convenient junior arm of US foreign policy and paying through the nose for the pleasure.
And as for all that bollocks about British jobs in the arms industry: those are some of the most expensive jobs in the British economy (with the possible exceptions of the royal family and those chaps who hand-make wallpaper for the Lord Chancellor's office) and if the money were invested in public services and manufacturing unemployment would be slashed and we might see the beginnings of a country we could be proud of.
"The US had one of their fighter party type things last year or so, with their new fangled super stealth fighter that is apparently "the best in the universe, ever". The Typhoon obtained lock BVR on whatever that super US fighter is. After that the US decided to stop the trials because they didn't want the embarrasment of the Typhoon winning."
Take that Lewis, I hope the shame at finding out about what happened at that 'fighter party thing', and good old Typhoon sticking it to 'whatever that super US fighter is' (perhaps he means Chuck Norris? Although I doubt even Typhoon could take him).
Reading the comments it certainly looks like some military plane spotter or similiar forum is linking here, and that it's members are ignoring the fact you haven't actually insulted the Eurofighter's ability to do it's original job, just queried our need for it and whether altering it for A2G is wise.
With our current deployments, and high likehood that it will be other low capability forces we face in the near future I think questioning why we aren't spending more of the budget on areas relevant to this is important.
Hmm... That is a bit too early to say. As far as wiping the floor with a couple of F15-s that is something that a Su-35 has been able to do for a very long time. And it is much much cheaper as well.
This is even without the vector thrust upgrade. With the vector thrust upgrade... This is one test that will be worthy to see. I suspect that the Typhoon will lose fair and square.
i'd far rather be sat in a nice air-conditioned bunker playing RTS with a squadron of UCAVs.
You've got to prepare for high intensity warfare regardless of current threats.
The point is the long term security of the UK. Not having an air force capable of fighting its own fights would undermine that. Even more, having a defence industry that isn't on (or as close as possible to) the leading edge of technological development would threaten it across all forces and have further ramifications for all British industry.
That's not to say that the way defence procurement is conducted in this country is anything better than a sick joke, with the logistic support issue above one of the more piffling examples, the actual issue isn't that we shouldn't spend less on the Eurofighter necessarily; it is the way all programs are initiated, funded & prioritised within the defence establishment and how much is given to the forces in the budget.
As the European Coal and Steel Federation has shown to great effect. Contracted opium production in Afghanistan and fair trade with North and West Africa will give us the peace and security we need at a price we can afford.
Now as for military spending itself: yes, it's ludicrous and never value for money. It's arguable that much of the benefits are ancillary in that much of the costs are actually R&D which the civilian economy benefits from: GPS is an obvious current example. This is why Boeing and EADS and the rest do both military and civilian products. Having some form of competition even if it's systemic (our machines have to be better than their machines) rather than market does improve the product. But basically it's expensive because it's considered a necessity and not a luxury.
Where's the flower for this bearded and bespectacled, peace-loving, sandal-wearing hippy?
If they want Eurofighters of new choppers? Ask someone in the RAF the same thing and they will tell you "We need these new jets. Ours are falling apart".
As for the Idea of buying UK kit, good plan, if they will let us use it, and it dosent come with a tie in like "you will help us in every war we start".
No I don't know why you bother either. Feck off unless you have something to actually say.
The UK needs to be involved with more projects like the Euro Fighter rather than buying off the shelf from the US. That is all that needs to be said.
<--- cos Aliens are Listerine too
Our lads in Afghanistan are still getting blown up by land mines because theres not enough cash for helicopters.
whilst the rest of Europe 'observes'
Not an option really as contrary to popular belief and media hype they are not accurate unless a target is painted by an on the ground team which in heavily defended areas is difficult and very dangerous.
@AC: Try some actual arguments, 'cos bullshit doesn't become truth just 'cos you ay it is. (Ironically, *you* accuse *me* of not having anything to contribute to the discussion. ROTFLMAO!)
@N: Good point. The rest of Europe should have joined in this pointless and (arguably) illegal war. Then the whole continent could have been stuck in a quagmire, gaining nothing but filled body-bags.
Any one consider that the original bid might have been nearer £65m based on more orders, more quickly and with a fixed spec....
Nimrod MRA4 gets quoted as hugely over budget and time, but is almost bob on the original price and timescales before the sales bods and bean counters got let loose on the figures...
No thats Iraq. Afghanistan via its then Taliban government assisted in the direct attack on a NATO member, who invoked article 5 of the NATO charter.
Afghanistan is a NATO and UN sanctioned action, so take up your "illegal" tripe with them.
And at Typhoon detractors. Exactly what major defense program is on time and on budget these days ? Even the F22 and JSF programs are being eyed jealously by US lawmakers looking to reduce costs and government pork. Neither is 100% safe.
Where would we be if the JSF gets canned ? Well, not so badly off, because we have an alternative.
Not we shouldn't have just bought the Rafale anyway, doing a good enough job for a much cheaper price. That way we could have avoided this Eurofighter and JSF boondoggle, and the French may well have bought a third carrier of the design we are using to operate them from potentially saving money there too.
Don't know why Lewis didn't mention that, its not like he's a US shill or anything.