Come for the article
Stay for the inevitable comments regarding CATOBAR carriers.
The UK will buy a grand total of 17 F-35B fighter jets between 2020 and 2022 – and acquiring the A model of the supersonic stealth fighter hasn’t been ruled out. The American government announced on Wednesday the awarding of F-35 production lots 12, 13 and 14 to Lockheed Martin. A legal formality, the class justification and …
This business of US Marines lending aircraft to the UK carriers for the first few years, and F35 aircraft being bought from the US under strict T&Cs as to how they should be used and where they may be serviced, plus all the other political developments in recent years, with the UK "fighting" in Afghanistan, Irak and wherever else her US masters dictate, and joining in on the "terrorism" bandwagon so wholeheartedly, reminds me of the film The Fly, in which the apparently normal scientist*, who has just had a whirl in his teleporting machine without realising that there was a fly inside one of the pods, gradually loses his teeth, then bits of his face, and then all the other human bits, and transforms into...a fly.
"Buy Rafales (LOL!), they are already navalised How many changes would the Typhoon need to operate from aircraft carriers at sea?"
It would probably be cheaper to buy new carriers. Neither the Rafale or the Typhoon are short take capable. The Rafale can apparently be catapult launched, but UK doesn't have catapults on their carriers.
When they are within the range of launchers. Which usually move far slower than airplanes, when needed. Also, you need to hope their SEAD airplanes (or drones) didn't wipe them out already.
Usually SA systems are only good to defend static targets (preferably with fighters around to help), or slowly moving ones. Also, missiles able to engage targets far enough are usually large, expensive, and launchers may have limited spares. A plane can engage at larger distance, deliver a missile closer, and from a better position to hit.
Even your ground attack drones may require help to deliver their weapons before being downed - manned or unmanned, or they could become easy targets.
Fighters are really redundant.
That is somewhat correct for this particular case (fighters for a naval air wing) in theory provided that you do not want to "project power". If you want to operate strictly from friendly airbases, defend established positions and intercept things coming into "your" airspace you do not need an aircraft carrier and a carrier wing.
Aircraft carriers are purely a tool of power projection so you can do all of the above on the other side of the globe. You also do not know which of all the jobs they will have to do. So you end up using multi-role aircraft. Or so the theory goes. IMHO that theory does not compute for the current cost of 5th generation multi-role fighter aircraft. There is definitely a role for an auxiliary force of something in the SuperTucano class in addition to the jets. They are way too expensive.
By the way, as far as "Civilian intercept by any plane you've got hanging around.", try intercepting a LearJet (15,000m ceiling) or Yak 40 (ridiculous thrust to weight) or An-72 (ridiculously low stall speed). If they have managed to McGuiver an ECM pod to prevent you from locking on, you may find that this statement needs some revising.
Good luck sending an Airbus A-3xx up to intercept an SU-22
The Venrable EE Lightning which was basically a Jet Engine with a Pilot on top worked because it coul catch pretty well anything that flew at the time that wasn't a missile.
Drones are no good when the enemy can jam the airwaves. Even frequency hopping radio won't work against a blanket jamming.
I've wondered this whenever anyone says drones are the way forward. The seem to be predicated on bombing less technical enemies - but up against a second let alone first rate power - how difficult would it be to jam drones?
I presume this must be a viable because of the research into autonomus drones but is it more difficult than sending a plane with a jamming pod?
The issue isn't jamming, BAE Taranis is rumoured to have carried out completely automated bombing runs during its testing in Australia. The issue is do we hand over war to completely autonomous drones.
Reaper and Predator drones have at least some automation built into them and can handle a large part of mission profiles without human intervention.
Jamming is actually THE issue since where's the true faith or ability in a truly autonomous drone without a jammable "link" to a human anyways?... Think about it: For the current task of finding, fixing and engaging quick-moving, difficult to ID targets, like jihadis on the move in a civilian vehicle after dark in urban streets, a drone is tethered - Let's see ANY drone have ANY sort of capability to deal with that autonomously... What would it use to decide IF and HOW to attack if there's no data link to a human?
Sure, you can "automate" a bombing run to a fixed position, there's no magic there, and no data link even required - But true autonomy goes way beyond flying a predetermined route, or hitting a "confirmed known" target...By that simple definition, cruise missiles have been flying "autonomously" for years; but going out and deciding that there's a "higher priority" target down there, I'll go hit that?... Nope
Actually you can read a pretty good book on Predator use by a former operator. Think of them as good at opportunistic surveillance/static target kills, but they have lag and launch-time-to-kill characteristics that might make them hard to use in a high tempo hot war against a peer enemy. 30 sec flight time for a Hellfire at their usual engagement range for example.
Countries should really ditch F35s, buy some good enough gen 4 like a Rafale, F18 Super or Gripen. Save money and keep an eye open on whats coming out of the gen 6 in 10-15 yrs time. Coincidentally that matches timeline on what capabilities autonomous air superiority drones might start to show as sneak peeks - an entirely different breed, totally unrelated to the current lot.
And what the China relationship will require - a friendly enough China does not warrant a trillion $ jet procurement mainly geared towards military industrial pork. And an unfriendly China will require a whole lotta more professionalism in said procurements than has been displayed to date in either F35s or with catapult-less carriers.
And a teeny tiny fuel tank that would be empty in 15 minutes at full engine power with afterburners on.
That depends on which aircraft you ere flying; the Mark 6, for example, had a big belly pan which could be used as an additional fuel tank.
I know a few Lightning pilots :-)
"A MiG-15 would have reasonable chances against an F-35. Especially in a dogfight."
The F-35 won't be doing any dogfighting at all, because it wouldn't stand a chance against any 'proper' fighters it's likely to encounter when it eventually enters service; it'll be strictly BVR* then turn around and run away which, essentially, is what radar stealth is all about.
In fact, the fighter 'F' designation is highly questionable and an attack 'A' designation would be more appropriate.
* Beyond Visual Range
The last time this view was broadly propagated was by a certain Duncan Sandys in 1957. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1957_Defence_White_Paper). That time it nearly destroyed the UK aviation industry; doing at the least very serious harm.
This time, were we to follow your views, it is unlikely to do more than slightly inconvenience the USA.
1. 1957 was actually 60 years ago. 60 years before 1957, the Wright Brothers hadn't yet flown.
2. Sandys and his ilk DID destroy the British aircraft industry - no "nearly" about it. (See "Empire of the Clouds", passim - if you can read it without vomiting). But that began in 1945. The Yanks said, "You owe your soul to the company store (i.e. us), so for starters we'll have your aircraft industry. And the British government assumed the position.
Upvote for the book recommendation (which was adapted into the BBC FOUR series 'Jet' which regularly haunts the schedules).
It's hard to work out if Sandys, Healey, BOAC or BEA did more damage to the British aerospace industries. The outright cancellation or crippling through malice and indecision of machines like the SR-177, TSR2, Britannia, V-1000, VC10 and DH-121 borders on the treasonous.
"Does class A guarantee that they is better quality?"
I believe it works like this*:
A: Alpha can be unstable and will cause crashes.
B: Beta is feature complete but likely to contain a number of known or unknown bugs. (C and D are incremental improvements of this)
E: Enterprise is the marketing stage at which all necessary commercialization activities have been completed and a product is available for purchase. Depending however, on Government or region.
F: Final version that is for release to all, comes with massive support costs compared to E above. (Usually occurs when the next generation hits level C.
*Not really, total snark. ☺
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