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back to article Blighty orders first 3 supersonic stealth jumpjets

The UK has ordered its first three Joint Strike Fighter (aka F-35 or "Lightning II") supersonic stealth jumpjets. The initial trio of UK planes will be prototypes built as part of the F-35's development phase, giving Blighty access and input to the jet's final design. The supersonic jumpjet flies: no jumping until 2009 The F- …

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II am not an aeronautical engineer, but...

If the problem is lack of thrust at the critical moment of vertical landing due to hot intake air, couldn't such aircraft carry a small quantity (10-20 secs worth) of compressed or liquid air on board, for injection at the right moment? The expansion would chill it, and give a short-term boost for the last few vertical seconds (maybe that isn't the best way to phrase it, you know what I mean).

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Paris Hilton

Carriers disappearing

I reckon the Tories would still build the carriers.

Paris - in lieu of a decent munitions icon

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What a waste of money!!

Everyone including the UK MOD have admitted these planes are not fit for purpose so WHY are we buying any?

Supposedly stealth capable they have been shown they can be picked up on radar in all profiles by systems only slightly more advanced than your average speed camera!

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Stop

Scottish shipyards blah blah yawn

Old Lewis certainly has a bee in his bonnet (or bunnet if you work in a Scottish shipyard) about this shipyard business. Does he really think that an incoming Conservative government would ignore the nature of modern warfare - low/ medium intensity, expeditionary - by canceling the carriers just to smite the Tory bashing Scots? I can't see it. The shadow defence "cabinet" are Atlantacist, support this type of capability & include a Naval reservist. Even a slippery salesman like Dave Cameron would have trouble selling this to his party/ the papers. On Great British defence posturing grounds, of course; nothing to do with people's livelihoods.

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Loud?

I'm still boggling at the thought of being supersonic and stealth. Presumably not both at the same time, given the loud noises normally associated with supersonic flight.

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This is NOT the Lightning!

There will only ever be one Lightning jet fighter - the pot-bellied English Electric version that outflew everything else in the sky. Unpainted - what was the point when it would just be scorched right off again? - the real Lightning could climb straight up at 600 mph and once intercepted a U2 at 88,000 feet. According to Wikipedia, it came out more or less even in speed trials against an F-15 Eagle, a much later aircraft with a nippy reputation. Unfortunately, the design limited its potential, as it was basically just a damn big jet engine with some covers and a small cockpit on top.

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IT Angle

Unrivalled?

I assume that when they say "our pilots will gain an unrivalled understanding of this awesome aircraft and its capabilities." they mean "an unrivalled understanding outside the US" ?

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Unhappy

What, no catapults?

You really are saying that in order to save money the Royal Navy is commissioning new aircraft carriers without catapults and arrester wires, meaning that they will be unable to launch aircraft?

What sort of a joke is that?

Perhaps the RAF should buy new aircraft without wings. That would save a few quid. Then there's the idea of tanks without guns. The cash-saving options are limitless.

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I see what they did there...

Despite Britain having superior aerospace guys (the top man at Skunkworks was a Scot) we now have to buy three aircraft to help develop them in a way the yanks can't? All for the privelige of buying more aircraft which are inherently inferior to our own homegrown kit?

Tell me again why we didn't just put a bigger engine(s) in the Harrier, re-profile the wing and maybe fit internal munitions bays?

Oh, that's right, we're nothing more than a poxy lapdog.

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Happy

Could you convert F-35Bs to F-35As?

If there is extra fuselage space in the F-35Bs, surely you could hack out the VTOL engines and stick in the normal F135/F136 and use the extra space for more fuel or avionics? Then, when the MoD kill the program, the RAF can simply re-use these three "prototypes" by converting them back to A models or even trainers. Oops - did I say something to give old Fishface Paige some more ammo?

Can't say I'm too upset at the idea of the RAF getting more tranche 3 Typhoons rather than F-35A/Bs as then they would at least have more parts commonality between the ground-attack and interceptor squadrons, and probably be superior in the interceptor and long-range bomber roles. And it might even free up some cash to get the cannon operational in the older Typhoons again.

As regards the current Harrier GR9s, it has been shown time and time again that close support and many ground attack missions do not require a supersonic capability, just lots of loiter capability, lots of stores pylons, and a good sensor set for night ops. The GR7/9s have all these and could easily be developed to include a similar sensor fit as the F-35B, and probably at a lower price. The A-10 Warthog has long since been judged the best close-support jet in Afghanistan (and that judgement comes from the US troops on the ground), and our Army seem to prefer the Apache for their close support. Even more Longbow Apaches would be far cheaper than F-35s, even if they were built in the UK. And whilst stealth is great for penetrating high-tech enemy air defences and knocking out there C3 capability (including the radar) it looks like the RAF intend giving that job to the already pretty stealthy Typhoon anyway.

As for the F-35 dominating the jet fighter scene, most countries seem pretty happy buying even third-hand F-16s, and I've yet to see any real proof the F-35A would do better than an updated (and faster) F-16 model or even the current SuperHornet.

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Linux

Three?

Whats that for then? One per carrier and one for spare?

They'd better be flippin brilliant if they are to replace eleventy Harriers each.

There is the right way to do things the wrong way and the MOD way. It's just like the wrong way but costs the taxpayer a zillion times more and is twelve years behind schedule.

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No Catapults?

Ok I can accept that we no longer need catapults, it has after all been a few years since we were first promised these carriers, but I'm assuming the fore and aft trebuchets will still be in place..

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Anonymous Coward

fully-pimped Tranche 3 Eurofighter

What 20 inch Rims

a banging sound system

two tone pearlescent paint job

and suede upholstry in the cockpit.

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Pirate

A small correction

While you seem happy to bash the scots and claim the carriers are only to keep scottish shipyard workers(voters) happy, do not forget some fairly hefty chunks of the new carriers will be built down here in dear old England and they will be based down here in dear olde England too

As for the catapults/arrestor gear.. I believe there is space being left in the new cariers to install said items as and when they are needed.. but with the F35, they wont be needed therefore not fitted

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Joke

These things are useless

John McLaine killed one.

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Paris Hilton

Timing

They are making the purchase as it hold a few advantages.

They are doing this NOW as the exchange rate is still relatively favourable compared to the mess it will be once the "quantative easing" comes into its own.

Paris, as she knows all about timing her strokes.

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Boffin

FBW

It occurs to me that there's more to this landing business than meets the eye now that we live in the fly-by-wire era. Have you ever seen the Typhoon do its low speed pass at airshows? It practically hovers anyway without a vectored tailpipe or a fan providing 'downward' thrust (who's to say which way is 'down' anyway?) How easy/difficult would it be, I wonder, to bring it to a standstill from this configuration?

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Alert

No icon for "pedantry alert"?

"...hoping to do well out of an alternate engine..."

You mean "alternative". Alternate and alternative do NOT mean the same thing, whatever Americans may think.

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Black Helicopters

What we really want to see

Strip out that useless lift fan and drop that Northrop 100kW laser in the bay. There's already a shaft there to take power from the engine and nice big bay doors for cooling and shooting through.

Laser dogfighting here we come!

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Flame

This is the line that I liked

[quote] "It can drop smartbombs already" [/quote]

so, what's so smart about dropping bombs on people?

have we developed a bomb that is so smart it can actually seek out WMD?

why does a pipsqueak little impoverished nation like ours still insist on bankrupting itself by trying to play with the big boys?

another example of stupid men and their big boys toys huh?

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Re: What, no catapults?

Catapults require steam. Nuclear powered carriers produce huge amounts of steam as a by-product. New carriers will be diesel powered and thus steamless to keep the OH NOES, IS NUCULAR=BAD fuckwits happy*. Presumably the OH NOES IT IS TOO MUCH CARBONS AND PLUTION FROM NEW SHIPSES fruitcakes are limbering up for a protest here.

Why one earth they've also deleted the arrestor wires (which would conclusively solve the "bring back" problem) is a mystery to me. Maybe there are hordes of anti wire protestors I don't know about.

*Officially this is a money saving thing. Everyone knows that it's really 'cos the Society of Nuts and Pillocks that currently runs Scotland won't let 'em make nuclear ones up there without a huge fuss / public enquiry / display of political ego-wanking and the whole purpose of building the things is to prop up the moribund Scots shipbuilders.

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Pirate

@Dave regarding Loud

Umm, If the plane is flying supersonic, you won't hear it until it has flown past you. If you happen to be the enemy, it will be too late to care about hearing it at that time.

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Black Helicopters

Infamy

We had the Mach 2 version of the Harrier flying in the 1960/70s until it was cancelled by those arch traitors, the British Labour party. The technology was GIVEN to the USA and, by their actions, they have proved since, that they would have had to BUY big time in order to compete in effectiveness aeronautically but did not have the competence to design and build. Some people in the USA believe that they invented the Jump Jet but we had the P1127 harrier and the P1154 Kestrel flying. The latter was dumped by the treacherous Harold Wilson, along with the supersonic fighter/bomber TSR 2 which was designed as being the advanced "must have" aircraft for the latter stages of the 20th century. Both dumped by order of Moscow as the Soviets had nothing with which to compete and would have been vulnerable in the event of conflict. The labour mob should have been tried for treason then, as they should be today for totally failing to produce the weapons and protection for our troops. And you know the possible outcome of a guilty verdict for treasonable behaviour don't you. If you don't look it up and see if you agree that politicians should not be above the law.

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Black Helicopters

Lightning

I agree with T. Walsh this was not the Lightning neither was the English Electric version, with which I served for some years. The original one was the twin hulled one made by the Yanks during the latter stages of WW2. They were a familiar sight over Southern England in the mid/late 1940s and gave good account of themselves in action. Had the Yanks listened to our advice they would have fitted them with 40mm cannon and made them viable for longer but they would never have stood against the Mig 15s in Korea, as did the Aussie Spitfires.

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Go

The irony of the pegasus engine

fitted to the Harrier was that the initial concept came from Michel Wimbault, a French aircraft engineer. Most of the initial funding was coughed up by the US funded NATO "Mutual Weapons Development Program"

To put it bluntly, thought up by a Frog and bankrolled (about 75%) by the septics. Had we put up more advanced versions (of which a number of options existed) they might have got their investment back several more times over.

You should only be buying this kind of high tech kit if you expect to face a sophisticated enemy with well developed air defences, and presumably an air force of its own. Its naive to think anyone like that won't have munitions that can vigorously crater runways, and something relatively simple to do the same for carriers. Note that VTOL has proved its worth in real shooting wars. its implementation has been the issue.

Not including arrestor wires does seem a nonsense

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Boffin

@Francis Offord

"the Mach 2 version of the Harrier flying in the 1960/70s "

I don't think so.

M2 experience. Certainly.

Upgrade path for Pegasus. Absolutely. You need something to get you over the transonic drag hump (multiple improvements possible, some at least were actually tried. "Plenum Chamber Burning," is a phrase that gets used on this)

Design for vehicle. On drawing boards almost certainly.

But *no* actual VSTOL hardware.

The insistence on making newer Pegasus versions sit in the same envelope was (IMHO) another PITA. MD in the States during the AV8b showed that there were a lot of improvements you could make by refining body and wing shapes but the big one would have been the engine.

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Over here

Looks like we're going to be Beta testers again...

BTW, how are we going to pay for these, exactly?

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