back to article Britain must send its F-35s to Italy for heavy overhauls, decrees US

Britain will have to send its supersonic F-35 fighter jets to Italy for heavy overhauls, the UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed to The Register. BAE Systems will maintain an airframe maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade (MRO&U) capability at RAF Marham in Norfolk, according to a US announcement earlier this week. …

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  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge
    Devil

    WHAT F*** Economies of F*** Scale

    I would understand economies of scale when you are dealing with 10K fighters. That is not the case - for the amount of fighters in Europe and the projected MTBF you are at any given time overhauling 1-2.

    Any "Economies of Scale" bullshit blows the bullshitometer off the bullshit scale.

    More like "ridiculous cost of the overhaul rig" combined with "ridiculously complicated (ala Boeing Dreamliner) supply chain.

    1. Gray
      Holmes

      Re: WHAT F*** Economies of F*** Scale

      And the landing gear axles will be serviced and relubricated in Sweden; the windshield wipers will be replaced at a German R&R* site (refurbish or replace decision facility); the ejection system will be the baliwick of France (ooh-la-la!, zee bottoms up!) and the relettering and exterior iidentification and insignia decal inspections and replacement process has been let to Belgium. Scheduling, requisitions, forms, security processing and certifications remain under Pentagon guidance. Cheers!

      1. Magani
        Joke

        Re: WHAT F*** Economies of F*** Scale

        ... the ejection system will be the baliwick of France (ooh-la-la!, zee bottoms up!)

        If your ejection seat has its bottom up during operation, the F-35 driver has un problème sérieux.

        1. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: WHAT F*** Economies of F*** Scale

          Past experience suggests that might happen when crossing the Equator. Or some other imaginary line...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: WHAT F*** Economies of F*** Scale

          > If your ejection seat has its bottom up during operation, the F-35 driver has un problème sérieux.

          Why???

          1. JLV Silver badge

            Re: WHAT F*** Economies of F*** Scale

            >Why???

            Read up F-104 Starfighter aka Widowmaker

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Calrissian's Conjecture

      "This deal is getting worse all the time"

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        Right, That's It

        OK, enough. We the people are persuaded the F35-B will be a costly crock of shit (CCoS).

        I vote that we convene a nationwide scrapheap challenge to equip HMS Queen Bess and HMS Welsh Charlie with cats and traps. I've got a couple of old radiators, a knackered BBQ, some kettle leads and a horse shoe magnet. I'll also throw in free access to my underwear drawer, but I do warn that underwire these days isn't what it used to be.

        Then we can have a special Britain's Got Talent to pay for a few dozen commodity fast jets.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Calrissian's Conjecture

        Well, I'm sure there is a fallback for sending engines to Turkey if things go pear shaped. Russia, perhaps.

    3. asdf Silver badge

      Re: WHAT F*** Economies of F*** Scale

      Well the scale of this Charlie Foxtrot might well never be matched by man again. That is unless we count on someone like Boeing to get us out of the solar system.

    4. JLV Silver badge

      Re: WHAT F*** Economies of F*** Scale

      Humm, as much as I think this, like most F-35 related stuff, is complete utter bollocks, "economies of scale" does make a warped kinda sense in this context.

      When a country can only afford 2 or 3 dozen of an "affordable, high-volume" combat aircraft, it kinda makes sense to centralize major repairs so that you don't set up a huge infrastructure that has little repairs to do.

      (Of course, so far, it seems that even with low volume, F-35s keep their support crews plenty busy.)

      Also, keep in mind that during a conflict away, the major repair shop @ home will not be near the front line troops and will require shipping to anyway. Plus, Italy is much closer to the Middle Eastern oilfields and Iran than the UK, innit?

      Don't take this as an endorsement of the program, nor of the loss of sovereignty that an F35 purchase seems to imply in general. And, hmmm, yes, Turkey being involved at a key point makes no sense - both given their current political status and their long time enmity with Greece and tendency to veto anything Kurd-related. Giving them much to much power to dictate NATO activities.

      Just that setting up major repair shops everywhere for such limited volumes may also not make sense. Though if you have Norfolk already anyway, I concur with the BS meter being off the scale.

      1. Kernel

        Re: WHAT F*** Economies of F*** Scale

        "Just that setting up major repair shops everywhere for such limited volumes may also not make sense."

        In a commercial situation that would be quite correct - but in a defense situation where profit and loss are not a consideration then surely it is up to the customer to decide if they want to spend the money or not.

        1. Lars Silver badge

          Re: WHAT F*** Economies of F*** Scale

          I have a slight feeling RR will decide who services their engines, not the customers, get over it. And besides what is it some of you Brits think you are better at building than the Italians, the French, the Germans, anybody, get real.

  2. P. Lee Silver badge

    Oooh. Italian maintenance!

    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. wolfetone Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

      Can't be any worse than American engineering judging by this plane.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

        I'm guessing part of the problem is that a lot of it was outsourced, badly. There are good American engineers, just it would be good if they would hire them, occasionally ;)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

        "Can't be any worse than American engineering judging by this plane".

        A stinging rebuke is headed your way as soon as I've got one.

        And, boy, you'll be sorry.

    2. Mephistro Silver badge

      Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

      Careful with those stereotypes. Italy has produced lots of outstanding engineering, including what is considered by many as the first desktop/personal computer -(the Olivetti Programma 101), many terrific cars and several outstanding airplanes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

        >Italy has produced lots of outstanding engineering,

        And some very shit boiler valves that constantly leak or fail.

        http://www.newtonnet.co.uk/house/boiler/

        This is a bastard of a job but that's down to crap British layout.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

        Italians certainly know how to dress too (and I'm being gender neutral here).

        Still, most of these facilities will be manned by the same specialist UK/US folk that would have serviced it in the UK.

      3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

        Careful with those stereotypes. Italy has produced

        Produced versus maintained. Look them up in the dictionary.

        I somewhere have an old card on what "What is Europe" card from a late 1990-es holiday in Ibiza.

        What was Europe supposed to be - A place where the Mechanics are German, Lovers are Italian, Police are British, Cooks are French and all of it is Organized by the Swiss.

        What did we get: A place where the Mechanics are Italian, Lovers are Swiss, Police are German, Cooks are British and all of it is Organized by the French.

        I have seen it in two versions by the way: the even more fun is "organized by the Italians"

        Alternatively, watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxqwXNfYmOQ

        While South European engineering is generally excellent (both Italian and Spanish produce some really cool stuff), South European maintenance...

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

          While South European engineering is generally excellent (both Italian and Spanish produce some really cool stuff), South European maintenance...

          Config file wipe blunder caused deadly Airbus A400M crash – claim?

          1. anothercynic Silver badge

            Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

            The A400 crash was *not* maintenance. That was *initial configuration*.

            That's been fixed since.

        2. Mephistro Silver badge

          Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance! (@ Voland's right hand)

          "Produced versus maintained"

          Nowadays we can see maintenance failing everywhere. In the case of private enterprises, it's seen as a cost centre, so everybody and his brother are skimping maintenance costs.

          Ditto in the case of government. Nobody is going to win an election saying "We maintained our roads in perfect condition, thus preventing many accidents"*.

          But regarding Italian Mechanics and Engineers, mechanics at Lamborghini or Ferrari aren't too shaggy, are they?

          * But they should've. Educating the public on these kind of matters in the schools would make fuck-ups like the elections of Donald and Adolf, to give just two examples, far scarcer. ;-)

          If we don't teach kids about critical thinking, logic, complexity, negotiation and such, we can't expect them to elect good leadership in the future. It's not just presidents or prime ministers, but many/most politicians, who will be spilling seven hues of bullshit for weeks instead of confessing to a SNAFU, even a small one.

          1. Red Bren
            Headmaster

            Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance! @ Mephistro

            "If we don't teach kids about critical thinking, logic, complexity, negotiation and such, we can't expect them to elect good leadership in the future."

            Which is why politicians are more concerned that kids are able to regurgitate facts and figures than have the ability to think. An educated electorate might not listen when told which section of the community to scapegoat for society's ills and might start to blame the vested interests holding the levers of power.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

          The issue is many foreigners don't understand actually there's two Italy - the north that competes with Germany, the south that competes with Greece (guess The Economist published a "corrected" map some time ago). Guess the F-35 maintenance will happen in the same facility where they are being assembled, at Cameri. Look yourself on a map where it is.

      4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "Careful with those stereotypes. Italy has produced lots of outstanding engineering,"

        Indeed.

        Italy made about half of the modules of the ISS.

        A fact NASA don't like to emphasise.

      5. Wibble257

        Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

        But also the gearbox for the Merlin helicopter. Again, this was political as Westlands had already made a perfectly good gearbox that was then scrapped.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

          Since the Italians completely bought out Westland by 2004, a few years after Merlin entered service, perhaps it was just waiting to happen anyway?

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

        And great motorcycles (Piaggio, Cagiva, Ducati, Moto Guzzi, Belgarda-Yamaha, Gilera, MV Agusta) braking systems (Brembo), specialist gearbox makers Graziano https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graziano_Trasmissioni as used by Audi, Mercedes-AMG, Aston Martin .... VM Motori

        Aermacchi

        Finmeccanica ...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

          > And great motorcycles (Piaggio, Cagiva, Ducati, Moto Guzzi, Belgarda-Yamaha, Gilera, MV Agusta) braking systems (Brembo), specialist gearbox makers Graziano https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graziano_Trasmissioni as used by Audi, Mercedes-AMG, Aston Martin .... VM Motori

          > Aermacchi

          > Finmeccanica ...

          Sophia Loren

          Ornella Muti ...

      7. The First Dave

        Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

        "many terrific cars"

        I say: Name Them!

      8. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

        have to say their bathroom saniatry ware is beautiful to the eye, almost a shame to take a dump in it.

    3. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

      At least the reverse thrust will be in perfect working order!

      1. JustNiz

        Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

        ...and the horn.

    4. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

      "Heaven is where the police are British, the lovers French, the mechanics German, the chefs Italian, and it is all organized by the Swiss.

      "Hell is where the police are German, the lovers Swiss, the mechanics French, the chefs British, and it is all organized by the Italians".

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faxlore

      The planned F-35 maintenance system sounds like some sort of intermediate Purgatory...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

        > "Hell is where the police are German, the lovers Swiss, the mechanics French, the chefs British, and it is all organized by the Italians".

        The problem with these jokes, apart from being old, is that in order to work there has to be at least an inkling of truth about them. As it happens, German police are amongst the most professional I've come across (just don't get on the wrong side of them, they know how to dole out some impressive aggression), and there are some truly excellent British chefs around Europe (not the idiotic TV celebrities).

        1. Kurt Meyer

          Re: Oooh. Italian maintenance!

          @ AC

          " 'Hell is where the police are German, the lovers Swiss, the mechanics French, the chefs British, and it is all organized by the Italians'.

          The problem with these jokes, apart from being old, is that in order to work there has to be at least an inkling of truth about them. As it happens, German police are amongst the most professional I've come across (just don't get on the wrong side of them, they know how to dole out some impressive aggression)"

          AC, I believe the joke (which is seen on t-shirts over here), is making reference to these men when it says "the police are German".

  3. localzuk

    What a clusterfrack

    The idea of outsourcing maintenance of military equipment to foreign nations, especially now we are leaving the EU, seems moronic.

    As the Belgian example shows, our allies are only are allies when it suits them.

    All military equipment should be serviced/serviceable in the UK plain and simple.

    1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: What a clusterfrack

      "especially now we are leaving the EU"

      And what has the EU got to do with using NATO allies to service equipment? try not toconflate teh two things please.

      That said, I agree our kit should be serviced in the UK. If it were up to me I'd also be designing and building it too.

      1. Mephistro Silver badge

        Re: What a clusterfrack (@ IsJustabloke)

        "And what has the EU got to do with using NATO allies to service equipment?"

        Red tape and customs, mainly. Which IMHO is bad enough.

        And given The Rug's statements regarding NATO and Russia during the Presidential Campaign...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What a clusterfrack

        Well since deliberately aggravating Russia seems to be off the menu ..... who cares?

        Apart from certain officials who really ought to be brushing off their resume, or making their apologies to Karma, or something ...

    2. boltar Silver badge

      Re: What a clusterfrack

      "All military equipment should be serviced/serviceable in the UK plain and simple."

      Sadly in the UK with governments of all parties in recent decades, military considerations have had lower priority than political ones with regards to our armed forces. Personally I think this situation is borderline traiterous as it puts the entire nation potentially at risk for the sake of some glad handing, but I won't kid myself anything will change until its too late.

      1. daemonoid

        Re: What a clusterfrack

        "Sadly in the UK with governments of all parties in recent decades, military considerations have had lower priority than political ones with regards to our armed forces."

        And yet the UK politicians still approve the 4th largest budget in the world for military spending. I'm not sure how much more committed you would want them to be...

        1. Red Bren
          Mushroom

          Re: What a clusterfrack

          "And yet the UK politicians still approve the 4th largest budget in the world for military spending. I'm not sure how much more committed you would want them to be..."

          That would be great if the money was spent at home, rather than going straight to the coffers of US weapon makers.

          Can't we adopt a Vendor Managed Inventory policy where we only pay for these things if we actually use them? It would make sense for Trident, seeing as the UK would need the Yanks' permission to launch its "independent" deterrent anyway

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What a clusterfrack

            As I'm not a Brit I wasn't aware that you'd need US approval to use Trident. Good luck getting that under Trump.

            Of course, optimally, that would never be required, but...

            1. Archtech Silver badge

              Re: What a clusterfrack

              "Of course, optimally, that would never be required, but..."

              That really is the understatement of your (and anyone else's) life. You do realise that, if Trident were ever launched, it would mean the death of everyone in the world?

        2. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: What a clusterfrack

          Handing out billions of pounds to armaments manufacturers is not the same as providing properly for the defence of the realm.

        3. M.Zaccone

          Re: What a clusterfrack

          "And yet the UK politicians still approve the 4th largest budget in the world for military spending. I'm not sure how much more committed you would want them to be..."

          The politicians do seem to spend this budget really really badly! Or is it down to civil servants? I have no idea. It has all gone a bit tricky at any rate!

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: What a clusterfrack

          "And yet the UK politicians still approve the 4th largest budget in the world for military spending. I'm not sure how much more committed you would want them to be..."

          Sir Humphrey: Bernard, what is the purpose of our defence policy?

          Bernard: To defend Britain.

          Sir Humphrey: No, Bernard. It is to make people believe Britain is defended.

          Bernard: The Russians?

          Sir Humphrey: Not the Russians, the British! The Russians know it's not.

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