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back to article No more Eurofighters for RAF, despite 232-jet pact

A senior RAF officer has stated unequivocally that the British government considers itself under no obligation to buy any more Eurofighter/Typhoon jet fighters. The statement would seem to confirm that no more will in fact be bought: but the taxpayer may yet spend billions more on upgrading the existing RAF fleet. Eurofighter …

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Grenade

Good

If it keeps British workers going, and British design skills going GOOD. I have not forgotten the TSR2 vs F-111 fiasco, or the Blue streak fiasco. Opportunities lost because of a lack political will and vision. There are those that would say that we don't need an such a fighter as the conflicts we are involved in are not traditional types. But foreign governments can change very quickly, weapons take much longer to bring to fruition. History has shown that to survive we need two things, a strong navy and a good air force. Jerry knew he could not invade without air superiority and if he did the royal navy would just steam into the channel and wipe em out.

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Plan for World Peace

1. Design new weapons system for geopolitical scenerio just ending

2. Keep armed forces and manufacturers so busy upgrading the system that they are too busy to fight

3. World peace ensues and nobody notices

4. Prophet

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Heart

Summary?

Good news, the taxpayer isn't going to have to buy another 40+ fighters that nobody wants.

Bad news, we'll still get stiffed for the same amount of money we would have spent if BAe & the MOD hadn't fucked it up.

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Stop

re Good

So it's good "If it keeps British workers going", regardless of expense? We don't see that attitude in any other field of engineering or commerce; if only Rover had been making tanks eh?

The "TSR2 vs F-111 fiasco" wasn't really a fiasco, neither of these were what we really needed at the time. Low level bombing by RAF Tornado was a real fiasco in Desert Storm, 5 losses against a relatively (compared to the Soviet Union) mediocre opposition.

The whole "weapons must be made at home" mentality is a complete millstone for the UK defence budget; modern wars don't last long enough to require re-supply of major items during the conflict (especially if BAE is delivering!). We need the best available weapons as soon as possible, ideally before the fighting begins. The RAF's original specification for what became Eurofighter was issued in 1972, probably before anyone who flies it was born! we could have benefited from three generations of US made fighters in this period.

The UK is trying to produce Premier League weapons on a Championship budget; so the development costs per unit are just ridiculous.

Do you drive a British made car or what you consider to be the best car for the money, regardless of where it is designed and made? Ditto for TV, computer etc.?

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Bronze badge
Stop

Air superiority

Who needs it? seriously?

AC 12:12, i acknowledge your point that 'foreign governments can change quickly' but quick enough to field a fleet of jets? Surely they would have to get said aircraft from somewhere, before we would need to take to the skies to blow them up, and are we to believe that the 'terrrrrrists' are going to be able to pull some sort of jets/aircraft out of their caves, with either air--ground or air--air capabilities.

Now, im not saying we need none at all, escorts for 747's with frikkin lasers stuck on em etc..

What i am suggesting is aircraft that actually serve a purpose, dual purpose even, able to carry out the functions of the craft that we use at the moment (and improve on that service) {better stealth, quicker, longer range, better armour........} but also allow them to be modularly upgradeable so that if *out of nowhere* an armed force appeared that wanted to do a bit of aerial dogfighting, we could take off the air--ground weaponry and stick on some air---air guns'n'bombs instead.

my opinion, nothing more, nothing less.

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@Good

I recall reading a while back that it would have been cheaper (and just as effective) to buy a load of secondhand F-16s and give all the workers who'd be made unemployed a cheque for about £150,000 each.

Though that was probably in a Reg article...

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Megaphone

Job Creation Schemes.

How many of the "British" cars subsidised under the scrappage scheme have £2000's worth of parts and labour sourced in the UK? Probably not that many when you consider that huge sub-assemblies are imported from the far east. (Some vehicles just get the trims and mirros fitted here, said fittings are in the car's boot when it arrives from china!)

It's the same with BAE, Although maintaining a military aircraft capability in the UK could be done quite cheaply, keeping 20,000 labour voters busy in lancashire is quite expensive, particularly when BAE's shareholders and managers are taking their cut.

This may change after the election, unless lancashire suddenly turns blue, in which case all bets are off.

Meanwhile the overpriced shite from warton is cutting into funds that could buy decent kit for the lads in afgahnistan.

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Grenade

@ AC 13:13

"Low level bombing by RAF Tornado was a real fiasco in Desert Storm, 5 losses against a relatively (compared to the Soviet Union) mediocre opposition."

Compared to the US figures yes. However you also have to take into account the fact that the UK was bombing 24 hours a day while the US bravely dropped their bombs only after the sun went down.

Our losses in Desert Storm had nothing to do with the Tornado and everything to do with tactics.

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air-to-air fighter, but such combat is very rare

I'm not convinced by that. I suspect the QRA aircraft see a fair bit of action at the moment.

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@AC 13:13

The biggest delay with the Typhoon was political, down to the various treaties that allowed the manufacture of the plane across multiple countries. In reality, the UK could have comfortably built the plane itself, the laughable reason we didn't ? To cut costs.

Amazing how things turn out.

As for 3 generations of US plane, which 3 generations are we talking about here ?? Working backwards, the F-22 hasn't taken on fully it's role as yet (still in transition), so we couldn't have them (USAF are still being equipped); F/A-18 is not the same type of aircraft (the fighter/attack being the obvioua point); which takes us back to the F-16, introduced in the 1970's, with a spec laid out during the Vietnam conflict (i.e. older then the Euro-fighter).

I don't have my Jane's with me, but from memory those would be the choice from the US.

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Flame

One has to laugh

We've bought years' old technology that doesn't do the job required now and are stuck with them for years to come. We ordered more than we could ever need and only got out of the contract through a technicality and it has cost us the same anyway. And we'll undoubtedly do the same again in ordering replacements when it's decided these don't fit the bill.

Is this gravy train invite only ?

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Grenade

@SlabMan

Was point four deliberate or just an apposite typo?

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Anonymous Coward

Not a fiasco?

"TSR2 vs F-111 fiasco wasn't really a fiasco."

Quick overview:

The TSR-2 was already flying and other airframes being built.

Cancellation was for a "cheaper" US solution

The prototypes and complete airframes used as targets

(even in previous cases of projects cancelled, any flying examples were kept on and reused for various testing purposes)

The F-111 goes through cost overuns and order is cancelled.

RAF take on F4 Phantoms and Bucaneers - aircraft that were already flying

Sounds like cake-and-a**s party.

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Bronze badge
Stop

woeful

I for one remember us going into Gulf War 1: First Blood, equipped with Buccaneers and Jaguars because the Tornaduh was virtually useless. But then again the Iragi's were well equipped back in those days. In 30 years time we'll be attacking some part of south-east Asia using modified Typhoon-mkV's and no navy (we'll have to borrow a French aircraft carrier).

And to the commentard who says Rover never made tanks, I give you, the SD-1 also know as the "Chieftan Metro"

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Silver badge
Flame

Facepalm

"The RAF makes no secret of its desire to fit the Eurofighter out with homing anti-tank weapons and standoff cruise missiles, allowing it to attack enemy armoured formations on the move, and targets protected by tough air defences."

*Who exactly* still has "armoured formations on the move" twenty years after Desert Storm 1?

Would the enlightened planners maybe foresee "reverse Kosovo", with NATO fighting the Russian Bear down to the last Georgian to de-independentize a few regions or something? Looking for enemies to justify one's paycheck, indeed.

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@Alien8n

" However you also have to take into account the fact that the UK was bombing 24 hours a day while the US bravely dropped their bombs only after the sun went down."

Remember that the roles were switched during WWII when the US was dropping bombs on Germany during the day so that the RAF could bomb at night. The US lost a lot more than 5 bombers.

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Anonymous Coward

re. Not a fiasco

My point was that we didn't really need either TSR2 or F111; the role was finally filled by the Tornado, and when put to the test in Desert Storm the whole strategy of low-level bombing was shown to be too hazardous. I say "strategy" rather than "tactic" as the Tornado, like TSR2, didn't really have an alternate strike role other than low-level; after that they lashed together a medium altitude bombing system for Tornado using Buccaneers as target designators for American made smart bombs - full marks for working with what you've got, but no marks for the initial concept of low-level bombing!

As for US fighter generations; it depends on where you draw the line, but the US has deployed a number of fighter and attack aircraft with air-to-air capability since 1970:

70s F14 F15 F16

80s F/A18

90s F/A18 E/F Super Hornet (major redesign)

00s F22

Fortunately the UK has avoided any further European collaboration and will instead is likely to buy F35s to supplement Eurofighter, especially in ground attack which Eurofighter was never really designed for.

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13:57 Alien8

Not so. During Desert Storm or 'Op Granby' as we called it, the US air force carried out night missions due to the superiority of their navigation/targeting kit on F16/F18s, nothing to do with 'bravery'. Tornado was an obsolete piece of junk and was committed to daytime missions to a), achieve something, and b), show our participation.

By the way, if you consider conducting nighttime bombing cowardly, tell that to RAF bomber crews from 43-45.... And ask similar Yank crews how much fun daytime missions were.

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@Mike S and kawazx7r

"Remember that the roles were switched during WWII when the US was dropping bombs on Germany during the day so that the RAF could bomb at night. The US lost a lot more than 5 bombers."

Well if you are going to turn up late to the performance don't expect the best seat in the house

Same goes for kawazx7r

"Not so. During Desert Storm or 'Op Granby' as we called it, the US air force carried out night missions due to the superiority of their navigation/targeting kit on F16/F18s, nothing to do with 'bravery'. Tornado was an obsolete piece of junk and was committed to daytime missions to a), achieve something, and b), show our participation."

An obsolete pile of junk that continually handed the yanks their arse on a plate in red flag. Same reply goes for your 43-45 comment - the war started in 39, if they wanted a decent seat fucking turn up on time.

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Paris Hilton

How much military might does the UK need?

Aside from The City, one could truly say the sun has indeed set on the British Empire.

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@AC 20:26

"The role was finally filled by the Tornado"

Yes, and the Tornado was later, more expensive, poorer, and had it's own development costs.

So scrapping TSR-2 led to...

1) Lost exports of the same.

2) A long delay before it's role was sort-of filled by an inferior aircraft

3) Costs of developing said aircraft

4) Extra cost per unit.

but this wasn't a fiasco?

Better get over to downing street pronto, Brown wants you to lend mandy your dictionary!

The only reason that TSR-2 isn't a by-word for defence procurement fuckup is that it was so spectacular and irrational that a lot of people thought (and still think) that there was political foul play.

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Eurofighter for ground attack

What makes a good ground-attack aircraft and why won't the Eurofighter fill, or could be modified to fill, this role?

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Silver badge
Unhappy

RE: re. Not a fiasco

".....the whole strategy of low-level bombing was shown to be too hazardous....." The problem wasn't the strategy, it was the tactics forced on the crews by the JP.233 bomb dispenser. This forced the crews to fly a straight, level and predictable line for over a minute in the target zone due to the way the dispenser operated - against an organised defence this was a bad idea! If the Tornados had been allowed to conduct toss bombing with ordinary bombs they probably would not have had any losses but would not have achieved the same level of effect without a lot more missions.

Low-level is still considered the best way to penetrate an active and hostile enemy airspace. Just ask the Israelis - when they bombed the Syrian nuke plant in 2007 they flew a massively circuitous route so they could fly in low under the Syrian radar.

As reagrds the Eurofighter Typhoons (what a silly choice of name), we definately don't need that many. My pref would be even less but all Tranche 3 (and with the cannon put back in!), and the balance in a Hawk 200 variant. It would just as useful in the low-intensity UN "policing" actions we get into where stealth and Mach2 are irrellevant; is British-built so we can tell the meddling Europrans to go get stuffed; a lot, lot cheaper, and shares parts with the RAF's Hawk trainer; and has the core systems common with the second-hand F-16Cs we would probably buy wholesale off the US if we ever did got to a real Third World War, which means it would effectively be a lead-in trainer as well. Seeing as it can already carry essentially the same radar as the F-16 I'm sure a 200 variant could fit one of the planned next-gen scanned radars. It can even carry AMRAAM if required and probably the if-it-ever-arrives Meteor missile.

But then that would require someone with a clue actually working for the MoD. My experience is they have a lot of very clever people just not in the right jobs.

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Anonymous Coward

remember the Spitfire ?

The Spitfire was an air-superiority fighter. Turned out to be rather useful, no ? A lot more than a fighter bomber: who/what does the British want to bomb in any foreseeable future ?

Also: what about the Harrier ? THAT was a good and useful plane. Why did the Britts stop working on it, or a successor to it ?

As for the F-35... if you consider the TSR2-F111 a fiasco, I suggest to start looking for superlatives. That plane will turn out to be the greatest looser in memories. Even bigger than the B-1.

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Stop

"It was designed as a pure air-to-air fighter"

<sigh> ... not again. The UK joined the FEFA programme (later EFA, then Eurofighter) in the early 80s to get a replacement for both the Jaguar in the ground-attack (close air support) role (the AST.414 requirement) and the Phantom in the fighter role. The Phantoms got replaced by Tornado F3s in the meantime, while the Jaguars were retired prematurely, creating something of a "capability holiday".

See this 1984 Flight article:

http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1984/1984%20-%200278.html

Or this one from 1995:

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/1995/11/08/21207/eurofighter-delay-forces-raf-to-rethink-upgrades.html

which show that Jaguar replacement was an objective right from the start.

As for the TSR-2 - any combat aircraft programme that gets cancelled *after* considerable sums of money have been spent, *and* the first prototype is well into its flight testing (with several more completed or under construction), *must* be a fiasco. Similarly for the F-111K, although at least they managed to cancel that before the first prototypes were completed.

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@Matt Bryant

"The problem wasn't the strategy, it was the tactics forced on the crews by the JP.233 bomb dispenser. This forced the crews to fly a straight, level and predictable line for over a minute in the target zone due to the way the dispenser operated - against an organised defence this was a bad idea! If the Tornados had been allowed to conduct toss bombing with ordinary bombs they probably would not have had any losses but would not have achieved the same level of effect without a lot more missions."

http://www.raf.mod.uk/gulf/loss.html would suggest otherwise... Toss bombing gives you the advantage of not needing to overfly the target area, but it also gives you the dual disadvantages of

a) not being particularly accurate

and

b) requiring you to impersonate a game bird startled out of its hiding place by the beaters, shooting skywards into full view of whatever AAA is in the vicinity of the release point.

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Thumb Up

Should sell them all.

The government need to stop wasting money, sell all the eurofighters and get an order for F-35s in. Then they should cancel the type 45 destroyers and put in an order for the Arleigh Burke class destroyers (and get on the list for its eventual replacement, which promises to be epic. Railguns FTW!)

Sentimentality and trying to preserve jobs needs to end (or a HUGE increase in budget for development of defence systems, and fast), let the industries make the things they are GOOD at doing (mainly weapons, plus subs)

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@ADAM52

...yeag, QRA has been very busy. This year they have intercepted two Russian aircraft approaching UK airspace and last year it was five.

Well worth the £20 billion investment in Typhoon obviously.

I'd suggest:

1) Cut the number of Typhoons to 140.

2) Sadly, to make them any use we will have to enable them to carry Storm Shadow and LGB's. 3) Leave the ground support role to the Harrier and then the F35

4) Institute a massive RAF base closure programme (60%+ of existing bases) to recognise the smaller number of aircraft they are flying.

5) Reduce the number of RAFand civilian personnel accordingly

6) Transfer all helicopters to the Army Air Corps allowing further manpower savings through winding up the Joint Helicopter Command

7) Cancel the Future Lynx helicopters component relating to the army and buy additional UAV's for armed reconnaisance instead

8) Use the savings from base closures and personnel reductions to lease additional C117's, A330 Tanker/transports and Chinooks (things we actually need)

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