4 posts • joined 6 Aug 2009
Very good article
Very good article, and certainly one of the most accurate in terms of explaining the Liftsystem, compared with recent articles in UK newspapers (not a high bar to get over, though).
We are very near the start of the whole JSF programme - given the current success of the CTOL version, and the liklihood of a successful CV, there is already enough to give JSF pole position in the market of 10 years time. A successful STOVL would cement that position for years.
STOVL is complicated, and for buyers that could have CV if they wanted (such as UK), it appears to be a bit compromised. However, for other nations it would them to have cutting-edge expeditionary airpower for the first time, or to have naval airpower without very big ships.
This article is yet another in which Lewis tries to turn off the life support machine of the patient that is the British defence aerospace industry, for little reason other than spite.
No-one in the public domain knows what is the capability or cost of Mantis, except that it now appears that a protoptype has flown, which is a "champagne moment" in anyone's book, and congratulations to the teams involved.
In terms of whether the UK should buy Mantis, the MOD teams will be analysing the cost vs capability of Mantis and its competitors, and if after due consideration another alternative is better they will surely select it.
One thing is for sure, the future of the UK defence aerospace sector depends on projects like Mantis. The MOD has supported the UK defence industry in the past, on the basis that 'some' UK defence capability is better than 'none', as explained in the DIS, DTS etc, a point of view that Lewis Page clearly disagrees with.
Yes, ok but..
I appreciate this is standard, stock Lewis Page article about BAES, and has some relevant comment.
However, I would like to read an article in which Lewis gives an alternative option for the UK to acquire and develop on-shore advanced, niche military technology that is not 'buy American'?
The reason why 'buy American' is not always (or indeed often) an option, and the reason for BAES' existence, however anachronistic to Lewis, is that BAES does supply some technology which we cannot buy from the US or anywhere else. Furthermore, for all their faults, BAE and its supply chain represent the best chance for the UK to retain and develop that capability in the future. Once gone, could it be recreated? Whatever rocks Lewis throws at it, BAE is an essentially well-run business, and if US companies or others could give more, that is probably because they are already better-funded, or they have economies of scale (again, from better funding). The UK MOD knows that it should not base its defence technology strategy on leveraging US government funds (it couldn't anyway).
Now, Lewis, how about that article?
Doubtful about this story ...
Lewis Page's analysis begs the obvious question that, if it is so obvious that STOVL is inferior to CV, why has the UK based its strategy for carrier-borne capability around STOVL?
Possible reasons are that the Royal Navy is a 'STOVL Navy', having operated jumpjets off small carriers for so long, and not the full-size thing. Clearly, CV aircraft will offer superior performance to STOVL, but this was true of Phantom vs Harrier, F-14 vs AV-8 and so on, the UK apparently reluctant to return to full-size carriers, even when funds were more available.
More rationally, the MOD may have thought that full-size carriers & CV aircraft were too expensive, or else it simply didn't know, then as now. Of course ditching JSF STOVL reads like a good news for the Navy today, but looking just at the aeroplane ignores wider issues ... the F35B is being de-risked, and will get there in time - where is the equivalent de-risking activity for the cats & traps that the Navy will need for its carriers, also noting that since the UK would be the first and so far only country to try to catapult-launch aircraft without steam, the UK would foot much of the R&D bill. Sounds very unlikely at the moment, don't you think?
I think what is behind this story is that MOD sees STOVL is getting a bit expensive, and it may help put the heat on industry for a bit if the customer says it is toying with the idea of going elsewhere ...
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