back to article F-35B Block 4 software upgrades will cost Britain £345m

Britain will spend £345m ($486m) upgrading its F-35B fighter jets to the most recent, combat-ready, version of the aircraft’s operating system. The figure was indirectly revealed by defence procurement minister Guto Bebb, in response to a Parliamentary question. “The UK’s contribution will be around 4.5 per cent of F-35 …

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  1. graeme leggett Silver badge

    Did we not buy the licence with [Microsoft] "Software Assurance" ?

    Bit of an oversight.

    1. ciaran

      Recent report on F-35

      This is long but interesting. Its reassuring that its still possible to criticize government programs, but its horrible that it's impossible to control them...

      http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/f-35-americas-most-expensive-weapon-war-the-ultimate-failure-24984

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Recent report on F-35

        This is long but interesting. Its reassuring that its still possible to criticize government programs, but its horrible that it's impossible to control them

        It makes for a good if compelling and horrifying read. I suspect many (most) readers here know the outline horrors but this is a little more specific/apparently informed.

    2. Len Silver badge
      Coat

      No, it's Lockhead Creative Suite.

      "Your subscription to the F-35B is about to expire, do you wish to renew?"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Compact Fusion Reactor

        Lockheed Martin announced that they would attempt to develop a compact ...F35 software release... that would fit "on the back of a truck". Later it was revealed that it needed to be at least ten times larger in all dimensions.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Compact Fusion Reactor

          Lockheed Martin announced that they would attempt to develop a compact ...F35 software release... that would fit "on the back of a truck".

          Since they didn't mention the size of the truck, that's pretty open-ended, don't you think?

      2. Usermane

        On the middle of a dogfight:"the software has been upgraded successfully, Restarting the system"

      3. mbiggs

        F-35B Block 4 Software.....

        It's worse than that. The combat pilot hears the F-35 telling him(or her):

        - "I'm sorry Dave (or Davida)....I can't do that!"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: F-35B Block 4 Software.....

          When you hit the ejector seat.. nothing happens, except a BSOD.

          Now dumping to earth.. 20% complete!

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      "Software Assurance"

      Even if the actual software is free, implementing it (and testing the implementation) certainly isn't..

      (Much like MS SA - you might get the software for "free"[1] but you'll pay a hell of a lot on the project to implement it..)

      [1] Not really free, especially given how much SA costs. More like "slightly less expensive than buying everything all over again".

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do you actually WANT the Microsoft version?

  2. wolfetone Silver badge
    Coat

    I ain't never seen a white elephant fly.

    Until I saw the F-35B take off.

    1. cortland

      Re: I ain't never seen a white elephant fly.

      Hmm.

      TFX?

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: I ain't never seen a white elephant fly.

      Until I saw the F-35B take off.

      Anything will fly if you put enough power into getting it to fly. The problem comes when the power cuts off.. (does the F-35B glide in the same way as the Shuttle did? As in "falling only slightly slower than a brick at normal airspeeds")

      1. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

        Re: I ain't never seen a white elephant fly.

        > "does the F-35B glide in the same way as the Shuttle did?"

        Of course it doesn't f'ing glide.

        1. JassMan Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: I ain't never seen a white elephant fly.

          Everything with aerofoils technically can glide. The difference is that "gliders" have a a "glide ratio" generally between 1:25 and 1:30 (some are slightly better or worse) but the F35 has a glide ratio of around 7.5:1. That's right nearly 8m downwards for every metre forwards.

          Obviously as with gliders, you can go into a planned dive to build up airspeed then level out or even climb till your airspeed drops again. Glide ratios are an average and you mileage may vary, depending on skill and whether you have drop tanks, missiles etc attached.

          1. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

            Re: I ain't never seen a white elephant fly.

            > "That's right nearly 8m downwards for every metre forwards."

            Yeah, like a brick.

  3. James 51 Silver badge
    Flame

    Will this plane even be relevant by the time it gets to fly? We keep reading about rail guns, drone swarms, hypersonic missles. Is this another case of preparing for the last war instead of the next one?

    1. Potemkine! Silver badge

      No, because aircraft carriers can be used against low-tech countries only anyway, or else they would end like submarine palaces for marine fauna.

      1. Milton Silver badge

        Submarine palaces for marine fauna

        No idea why Potemkine's remark—

        ... because aircraft carriers can be used against low-tech countries only anyway, or else they would end like submarine palaces for marine fauna

        —received downvotes, because he stated a simple truth. Perhaps there are more ignoramuses around here than I thought?

        Against a weak adversary who cannot project power against you (think of every country the US has waged "war" against since 1980) the aircraft carrier is useful and will usually remain unsunk.

        On the other hand, if western carriers go up against Russian, or conceivably Chinese anti-shipping missiles, submarines and even airstrikes, the life expectancy of a carrier in unrestricted warfare is about the same now as was the case with Cold War predictions: perhaps a week for US supercarriers with large battegroups, and about 48 hours max for the pitiful UK ones with their vastly depleted escorts.

        The simple fact is that even a sizeable escort defence cannot knock down every see-skimming missile that's fired at you: some will get through, more and more of them as the conflict wears on, as escorts suffer attrition, and your limited supply of AA ordnance dwindles. You will not prevent every single enemy submarine from sneaking into range (or just lurking till you sail over the top of it), nor will you dodge or decoy every torpedo they launch. Your CAP will not be able (especially if you're handicapped by having only F-35s, with their short range, poor ordnance loadout and lack of a rear view making dogfighting a losing game) to intercept every enemy aircraft before it gets within missile range. Bear in mind that neutralising the carriers is the priority task for your enemy.

        Contrary to ludicrously optimistic and untested predictions by the US Navy, even a super-carrier can be knocked out with a single well-placed torpedo under the keel, and a antiship missile does not have to explode directly in CIC to cripple the ship: a big enough bang to shake loose a lot of plumbing is quite sufficient to badly impede a carrier's operations; and how long will it before one of those big bangs severs a few fuel lines? Or knocks out the reactor cooling system? If anything qualifies for a sacred 250-year-old rule of naval warfare, it is surely "More incoming fire will do more damage of more consequence than you imagined in your worst nightmares".

        In the Pacific Theatre of WW2, without any missiles being available, carriers went to the bottom with great frequency on both sides—until the Empire of Japan couldn't shoot back, in fact.

        The only really fundamental thing that's changed since then is that the US hasn't fought a war against a foe who could threaten its carriers and has therefore become hubristically overconfident.

        As to the UK, we ought to know better after the Falklands (where we had to keep the carriers out of range of pretty much any and every threat, or lose the war) but politicial stupidity and short-sighted penny-pinching will always have their way ... our two "supercarriers", if we have to fight against a real opponent, really are just big, fat, dumb floating targets.

        1. EvilDrSmith

          Re: Submarine palaces for marine fauna

          "As to the UK, we ought to know better after the Falklands (where we had to keep the carriers out of range of pretty much any and every threat, or lose the war) but politicial stupidity and short-sighted penny-pinching will always have their way ... our two "supercarriers", if we have to fight against a real opponent, really are just big, fat, dumb floating targets."

          And yet, without the carriers, we would have lost the Falklands war.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Submarine palaces for marine fauna

            And yet, without the carriers, we would have lost the Falklands war.

            Partly because the the other side had a very limited supply of Exocets and didn't know where the carriers were (or didn't prioritise them).

            The HMS Invincible or HMS Hermes could have just as easily gone the same was as RFA Galahad.

            1. graeme leggett Silver badge

              Re: Submarine palaces for marine fauna

              Not sure if it was quite what you meant but Sir Galahad was hit inshore by bombs dropped by Skyhawks and caught fire but did not sink. More similarity with Ark Royal in WWII. Where you thinking of Atlantic Conveyor?

        2. Ledswinger Silver badge

          Re: Submarine palaces for marine fauna

          Milton: "Against a weak adversary who cannot project power against you (think of every country the US has waged "war" against since 1980) the aircraft carrier is useful and will usually remain unsunk."

          An excellent and well reasoned comment, but I'd just add that the rising belligerence of Russia (and to an extent China over the South China Sea) makes proxy wars more likely, and both could cascade moderately advanced assets into war zones, in the manner of Russia's behaviour in eastern Ukraine. In addition to weapons transfers, there's a number of unaligned, politically unstable countries with some advanced capabilities (mainly Iran, Nork, Pakistan, but others exist and will emerge).

          So for example, a modest shooting war in the Gulf that involved Iran is always possible, but the relevant thing for this argument is that Iran has not only a range of non-conventional forces and tactics, but it also has a range of moderately advanced largely home grown missile capabilities to sink carriers. In the 2011 Libyan engagement, all the strategically important vessels had to be kept out of the range of sea skimming missiles. There's also the possibility of technology cascade by the unaligned countries - for example last year when Iranian technology was used by Houthi rebels to cripple a Saudi frigate using a speedboat as an expendable drone.

        3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Submarine palaces for marine fauna

          Against a weak adversary who cannot project power against you (think of every country the US has waged "war" against since 1980) the aircraft carrier is useful and will usually remain unsunk.

          Unless said country has access to lots of small fast boats packed to the gummels with explosives and a ready supply of people willing to die for the cause.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Submarine palaces for marine fauna

            "..said country has access to lots of small fast boats packed to the gummels (sic) with explosives and a ready supply of people willing to die for the cause"

            The trick there is to park your task force further away than those small boats range since a) aircraft can cover the distance really quickly and b) it's not like the RN et al don't have access to the history of Decima MAS, S-Boats, MTBs, Biber, etc...

          2. Ledswinger Silver badge

            Re: Submarine palaces for marine fauna

            Unless said country has access to lots of small fast boats packed to the gummels with explosives and a ready supply of people willing to die for the cause.

            Like many other unskilled workers, the kamikazi boat drivers have had their jobs automated away.

        4. Demetrov
          Mushroom

          Re: Submarine palaces for marine fauna

          If my memory serves correct;

          Was there not a man who leaked the specs of the US Carriers a little while ago (I think it may of included the Super Carrier also), and with that there is a known "weak spot" in a very nasty area of the carriers that if hit can cause a lot of trouble (Reactor related maybe?).

          They could not repair the section as the hulls were already complete and that section would of set them back many years.

          It only takes one direct or in direct in or near the correct area to cripple a carrier and its power plants, redundancy be damned if its reactor related.

    2. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Is this another case of preparing for the last war instead of the next one?

      Actually no. For the forseeable future, even with the advanced threats you mention, there's still going to be a role for conventional aircraft. Most of the big tech is expensive and complex, and the irregular forces we're usually fighting don't have access to anything other than older cast off weapons that are simple, portable and robust. Even with trickle down that's not going to change much. So basically there's a continuing "need" for an aircraft to bomb a few raggle taggle tribesmen, maybe disarm a third rate belligerent, and perform air-exclusion duties. None of which need the F35.

      The problem with the F35 is not so much preparing for the last war, rather that they tried to prepare a single aircraft for all roles in all possible wars. So stealth doesn't come cheap, and is of zero use in probably 90-95% of missions the RAF will likely undertake in the next half century - but good to have in case you wanted to fight Russia, or attack a minor country with some modern weapons. Supersonic, likewise - IIRC every air to air kill by UK forces since WW2 has been by a subsonic aircraft (you know, the one we decommissioned). STOL is of no real combat use for fast jets - if you need it because you ordered the wrong ships, you need it, but militarily there's no advantage from the added complexity and weight, and some considerable downsides.

      The remaining question is what use then is the F35B in a deterrent role against the Russians. And the answer is little or none, just as the Su57 wouldn't deter us. We wouldn't have enough F35 to do air defence of the UK against conventional air attacks, it doesn't have any operational air to sea missiles, and regardless of stealth would stand little chance against Russian air defences around their critical targets. Even in a conventional fight with Russia, both sides would be using cruise and standoff weaponry as their main choices. And considering the F35B on our carriers, given that we've only got two (and possibly only one operational at any one time), under what circumstances would the RN risk such a precious yet vulnerable asset? Against the tribals certainly, against anybody with sea skimmers, no way. These carriers will be like the capital ships of Reichsmarine - too few in number to risk, and thus held back to the point of being strategically ineffective.

      1. Ledswinger Silver badge

        every air to air kill by UK forces since WW2 has been by a subsonic aircraft

        Erratum: I'd forgotten that a 92 Squadron Phantom shot down a Jaguar from 14 Squadron back in 1982, so in fact we have had one air to air kill by a supersonic aircraft.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

        "The remaining question is what use then is the F35B in a deterrent role against the Russians. And the answer is little or none, just as the Su57 wouldn't deter us."

        sorry to say it but aren't you still thinking as an independent island ...

        the joint fighter is a NATO & Friends thing, no?

        so if we count all F-35's in NATO & Friends then we can deter the Russians, Chinese or booth ...

        i presume

        1. Ledswinger Silver badge

          Re: It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

          so if we count all F-35's in NATO & Friends then we can deter the Russians, Chinese or booth ...

          The numbers ordered of the F35 by European countries are so pitiful that collectively they would struggle to defend European air space - as usual Europe hope that the Yanks would be willing to turn up and save them.

          If (say) Russia decided to invade one or more of the Baltic states, it would be largely accomplished before the West could fully react - and any reaction on the couple of days of the invasion would be reliant on whatever Europe's scant air forces had operational and available. In that context, would Russia be deterred by the handful of F35s scattered across the EU? I suspect less so than by a larger fleet of less technically advanced aircraft.

        2. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

          @AC

          "the joint fighter is a NATO & Friends thing, no?"

          I too assume that is the case (which does not discredit Ledswinger's comment in any way), but I am not sure where NATO is heading. Trump doesnt seem to have patience with European countries who dont pull their weight in funding their armed forces and the EU wants its own army which doesnt seem to be well defined in any respect (a solution looking for a problem it seems).

          I am sure if things kicked off we would band together for our selfish protection (not arguing against it) and we do allied work (rent out our forces and gear for allied strikes) but how well NATO will continue probably depends on future events.

          As for buying the F35-B, thats a cock up concerning the aircraft carriers.

          1. Ledswinger Silver badge

            Re: It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

            but I am not sure where NATO is heading

            Its all gone to pot, really. They've long ago let in countries they probably wouldn't fight to defend (the Baltics), countries very unlikely to answer the call if things kicked off (Turkey), and countries with a defence need but no material assets, so diluting the overall strength (like Romania and Bulgaria). Then they've bloated the whole thing with the idea of a global role that's a further load of bollocks (eg Afghanistan is part of the NATO "Partnership for Peace" IIRC).

            The European still won't pay their share of agreed budgets (including the UK, who cheat by including service pensions as defence spending), most of the European military assets are creaking and ancient, and inadequate in number, and the closure and run down of military bases means that they can't afford to expand easily as well as being vulnerable to a pre-emptive strike. For example, the German Air Force operates two thirds of its Tornado strike variants from Buchel, which has a single runway; the RAF is in a similar position at Marham, albeit with two runways.

            Even when they try, NATO cooperation is a bit crap - for example in the misbegotten Libyan operation, the Italian ATC and ground systems couldn't support more than one third of the potential mission numbers, several NATO countries refused to get embroiled despite the UN resolution, and British and French both had problems of running out of ordnance, even against a piss pot, essentially defenceless bit of desert.

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

              most of the European military assets are creaking and ancient

              To be fair, most of the Russian military is much the same. As is the Chinese[1]. Now, the Chinese have the resources to amend that (and are doing so) but I somehow doubt whether Russia does.

              [1] Who was it said "quantity has a quality all of its own"? It's all very well being able to shoot down fighters and bombers but, if the other side has more fighters and bombers than you have missiles to shoot them down with, you have a problem..

              1. Ledswinger Silver badge

                Re: It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

                CarzyOldCatMan: "Now, the Chinese have the resources to amend that (and are doing so) but I somehow doubt whether Russia does"

                Correct up to a point, but Russia's gone back to a command economy in some respects, and is making plenty of money selling gas to the Europeans. So whilst there's a lot of older military stuff around, they've updated quite a bit of it, and other elements in production (like the Su 57 and MiG 35) are potentially a match for anything we've got, and there's other current assets like the Su 30/34/35 that are modern and dangerous.

                I think you're right about the numbers as well. Even the creaky old stuff can pose a threat, like the MiG 29. Not a match for today's best in any respect, but if they can get it airborne with missiles it's still a viable weapons platform. Worth thinking about how in WW2 the Hawker Hurricane gave excellent service throughout the war in several roles, despite being technically outclassed in 1939, and continuing to lose ground to each subsequent increment in fighter design.

                1. LeeE Silver badge

                  Re: It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

                  "Even the creaky old stuff can pose a threat, like the MiG 29."

                  The MiG 29 is in the same league as the SU Flanker family but, being quiet a bit smaller smaller, has a lower range and is primarily tasked with point defense.

                  Were you thinking of the MiG 21? The MiG 21 has received numerous upgrades during its 59 year service life and is likely to remain in service for some time yet. Whilst not so good in scenarios where it might end up in a turning dog-fight, which is where the MiG 29 has taken over, it's still a pretty good super-sonic interceptor.

              2. JohnMurray

                Re: It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

                Not so... Massive re-arming, design and planing have been performed on Ru forces since 2008... http://carnegieendowment.org/2017/05/03/assessing-russia-s-reorganized-and-rearmed-military-pub-69853

                Plenty of sources quoted..

            2. EvilDrSmith

              Re: It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

              "who cheat by including service pensions as defence spending"

              Financial and Economic Data Relating to NATO Defence, published 13 April 2012 (by NATO), makes it clear that "Personnel expenditures include military and civilian personnel expenditures and pensions".

              The same document notes that defence expenditures do not include pensions, in one exception: Bulgaria.

              So including military pensions in defence spending may seem to mis-represent the degree of funding on active defence capability, but for NATO countries, it's not cheating. The change in UK accounting procedures simply made us compliant with the rules.

          2. Lars Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

            @ codejunky "the EU wants its own army".

            Radoslaw Sikorski, a former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Defense has some views about it, and the EU, at the University of Greenwich.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pI54yarKz_o

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

              @ Lars

              Cheers for the link. At what point does he mention the army? I started listening to him but it does seem to be a long video with the usual excitement of listening to a politician.

              I will try to give all of it a watch/listen when I have time.

        3. Potemkine! Silver badge

          Re: It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

          we count all F-35's in NATO & Friends then we can deter the Russians, Chinese or booth ...

          It is not the role of conventional forces. There are nuclear weapons for that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

            we count all F-35's in NATO & Friends then we can deter the Russians, Chinese or booth ...

            It is not the role of conventional forces. There are nuclear weapons for that.

            -----------------------------------------------------------------

            It's both.

            A credible nuclear deterrence needs the support of conventional deterrence for dissuading others from actions that are below the threshold for starting a nuclear war.

            There are only three sure ways of starting a nuclear war:

            1. Start lobbing nukes at a target or three.

            2. Get rid of all conventional forces.

            3. World wide nuclear disarmament.

        4. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

          >so if we count all F-35's in NATO & Friends then we can deter the Russians, Chinese or booth ...

          But not at the same time!

        5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

          so if we count all F-35's in NATO & Friends then we can deter the Russians, Chinese or booth ...

          Probably.

          Russia has approximately 500 fighter aircraft in its inventory - Su27 onwards, Mig29 and some others (in smaller numbers). All have been upgraded to carry very heavy radar jamming so while they are not stealthy, the amount of ECM on the battlefield will deny any stealth tactical advantage and grant tactical advantage to the more agile and more manoeuvrable Gen4 "classic" aircraft. Most are with upgraded weapons and avionics now as well.

          Additionally, they can probably field half a dozen Su57s, but they are of no tactical relevance.

          NATO if USA commits all of its assets can field:

          280 F35s

          184 F22s

          300 Eurofighters

          200 or so others.

          On paper NATO outnumbers Russians at least 2:1. If USA does commits only its assets stationed in Europe it is still > 1:1

          However, while having VAST numerical superiority, NATO airforce is formed out of assets which are inferior in a "radar does not work" line of site combat units. The projected score for "no radar" line of sight combat between Eurofighter and Su-30+ as shown by RAF vs Indians is 1:9. F35B is even worse. That leaves the oldies from the remaining F18 and Saab squadrons as well as F22 which is actually a fairly decent dogfighter to pick up the slack and they are more or less numerically even with the Russians.

          Dunno. While math looks like mutual assured destruction to me, the destruction of F35 and Eurofighter does not look mutual - they clearly have the role of cannon fodder.

          1. EvilDrSmith

            Re: It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

            The Typhoon vs Indian Su30 claim was actually 0-12.

            However, it was apparently made in an Indian equivalent of the mail on-line, and, from what I read reading around the subject at the time, no more reliable.

            It appears to be based on the RAF playing nice in the first couple of days that the Indian pilots were there and learning the area, prior to the exercises starting properly (the idea of the exercise being to learn from each other, not humiliate the guests). When the actual exercises started, the Su30's suddenly weren't anywhere near as good.

            That's not to say that the Su30 isn't a very good aeroplane. But so is Typhoon.

            The SU 30 gets its very good manoeuvrability from thrust vectoring - but if you're not moving in the direction you are pointing, you tend to generate a lot of drag that slows you down. And if you've vectored your thrust, a large chunk of that thrust is not available to counteract the drag.

            Typhoon gets its very good manoeuvrability aerodynamically, and so keeps its energy (speed) much better. (Apparently, if I understand all the technical bumf correctly, which I might not have).

            Both has IRST (passive detection), both have helmet-mounted sights (giving high off-boresight missile lock-on).

            Typhoon carries ASRAAM, which can successfully engage a target directly behind the aircraft, which I think remains a unique capability: RAAF did it, firing from an F/A18:

            http://www.yourindustrynews.com/raaf+has+successfully+fired+asraam+at+a+target+located+behind+the+wing-line+of+the+‘shooter'+aircraft_26109.html.

            Typhoon also has what is claimed to be the best Defensive Aids System fitted to a combat aircraft (incorporates warning receivers, threat library, expendable decoys, jammer and towed decoy).

            As I said, the SU30 is a very good aeroplane, but so is the Typhoon.

          2. Rudeboy

            Re: It's not RAF nor UK It's Nato ...

            If you seriously believe the Indian claims you need professional help, and an understanding of how these exercises are undertaken. The RAF noprmally never comments about these things, but dismissed the Indian claims (made by an Indian journalist NOT by the pilots) in a particularly clear cut manner.

            The best example being the US/Indian exercises when Indian SU-30's triumphed against US F-15C's.

            But...when you read the circumstances and restrictions that were placed on the US side and the advantages stacked on the Indian side by the exercise rules it was very easy to see why.

            More interesting would be when the Indians went to the US. They weren't allowed to join in with Red Flag but were allowed to attend a prior event. They got absolutely hammered. And on that occasion the rules were very even.

            Typhoon was developed specifically to defeat SU-27 derivatives. The chances of it losing 9 times out of 10 are comical.

            Now have a look at what weapons the SU-27 derivatives actually carry....not vaporware...not active homing missiles that don't exist. What they actually carry.

            The Russian air force wouldn't last beyond the opening day and they know it.

      3. EvilDrSmith

        Some sound comments, but implying the new UK carriers are 'the wrong ships' ignores a whole host of very good arguments for STOL carriers and against the 'cats-and-traps' type (which arguments have been repeated more than once in these comments pages).

        Also, referring only to UK air-to-air kills strictly limits your data set - plenty of air-to-air kills have been achieved by supersonic capable aircraft (Indo-Pakistan wars, Arab-Israeli wars, Various US adventures, East Africa, etc)

      4. graeme leggett Silver badge

        "every air to air kill by UK forces since WW2 has been by a subsonic aircraft"

        But how many wars have we been in with supersonic aircraft against an enemy airforce since WWII

        Korea - transonic

        Suez - transonic, barely a war

        Malaya - no air force

        Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation - no supersonic fighters

        Falklands - no supersonic aircraft available

        Gulf War - not on fighter aircraft duty

        Afghanistan - no air force

      5. JohnMurray

        Except their "stealth" capability doesn't work if a low-frequency radar is in use....

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