back to article UK's first transatlantic F-35 delivery flight delayed by weather

Britain’s first permanently UK-based F-35 fighter jets are not arriving in Norfolk today as expected due to RAF concerns about bad weather. The open secret of the aircraft’s arrival date is being widely discussed on social media, following defence secretary Gavin Williamson’s announcement that the supersonic stealth jets will …

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  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Alternatives

    If you could construct some sort of large ship with a big flat deck then you could lift the planes onto it with a crane, sail across the ocean and then lift them off at the other side.

    There was some idea of perhaps having planes take off and land from such a ship - but this involves apparently insurmountable technical challenges solved in the 1950s

    1. Ben1892

      Re: Alternatives

      I came here to post the exact same comment :)

      1. David Webb

        Re: Alternatives

        Same, they do say great minds think alike. Now if only we had spent a few billion on building these ships and had them on the Ocean right now........

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alternatives

      by jove man, you've got it. They just need to put it into practice without faffing it up.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Alternatives

        They just need to put it into practice without faffing it up

        "The difficult we do straight away. Miracles take longer".

        In this case, sometime after the heat-death of the universe.

        (That's entropy, man!)

      2. Sanguma

        Re: Alternatives

        without faffing it up.

        And where's the fun in that?!? Recreational Impossibilities!!! I ask you!!!

    3. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Alternatives

      If it's the F35-B (VTOL) then they don't even need a crane as long (as the deck can take the hot exhaust downwash......)

    4. AS1
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Alternatives

      Probably carrier.landing.usswasp.lib is the only package available at the moment, and carrier.landing.hmsqe.lib won't be released until a block 5 of the software. This will, of course, be completely different from carrier.landing.hmspow.lib scheduled for release in block 6, and the two versions will be incompatible, requiring each B to land and be reprogrammed - a six week turnaround - if it takes off from QE and wants to land on POW. Thus ensuring we keep the maintenance contract going for block 7 that adds compatibility for multi-ship missions.

      Because even Paris has a better record when ordering aircraft.

      1. macjules Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Alternatives

        Paris has a better record at crossing the Atlantic and lowering her undercarriage than an F-35

    5. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Alternatives

      Or this is just an excuse to delay shipping a flying turd.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Alternatives

        One F35 fighter jet, delivery mileage only. About 6000 miles on the clock already and about 14 hours on the engine.

    6. Zwuramunga

      Re: Alternatives

      FedEx. They have freight rates you know.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alternatives

      1910.

      That was when the technical difficulties of operating an aircraft off a ship were solved. We got good enough at it by the 40s that 3 nations between them operated over 200 of the things during a brief period of time known as WW2 (US and UK operated over 90 each, Japan over 20).

    8. LeeE Silver badge

      Re: Alternatives

      They could have also chosen a shorter route: Alcock and Brown did it 1960 miles, the R34 did it in ~3000 and Lindbergh got to Paris in 3600 miles.

      1. Hero Protagonist

        Re: Alternatives

        “They could have also chosen a shorter route: Alcock and Brown did it 1960 miles, the R34 did it in ~3000 and Lindbergh got to Paris in 3600 miles.”

        Ok, sure, but how did they do on the Kessel run?

        1. Symon Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Alternatives

          They're here!

          https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44392148

          Well, 80% of them!

        2. MAF

          Re: Alternatives

          "It ain't like dusting crops Boy!"

    9. JustWondering
      Thumb Up

      Re: Alternatives

      LOL!! Take any prize from the second shelf.

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alternatives

      The US have built such ships, as have the French.

      The British don't need them at the moment as they are only useful for projecting power long distances to support allies and defend colonies, neither of which they have. Don't worry, they'll be sailing post-Brexit to establish Empire 2.0.

      Both the ships and the Brexit being UK Government projects can be expected to experience roughly equal levels of delay, confusion and incompetence so should arrive together.

    11. Wolfclaw Silver badge

      Re: Alternatives

      1917 HMS Fearless, oh how naval aviation has progressed until the F35s

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: Alternatives

        Does Yet Another Anonymous Coward who created this thread get the award for most thumbs-up ever? Can't remember anyone close ...

    12. siluri

      Re: Alternatives

      Isn't the Queen Elizabeth visiting the States later this year lol

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clouds are no joke - never have been ...

    Did anyone see the "Time Team" (can't recall if it was a regular or special) where they went to France and recovered a Spitfire that crashed shortly after takeoff ?

    The exact cause of the downing was a mystery, until they extracted the wreckage (pilot was recovered and buried at the time). The found the guns unfired (so unlikely to be in combat) and the propellers feathered - indicating a stall and restart procedure.

    They surmised the plane hit something while trying top restart after emerging from clouds.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Clouds are no joke - never have been ...

      That's why we don't fight wars against countries that are cloudy anymore.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Clouds are no joke - never have been ...

        Doesn't this make Britain invincible?

        Russia has its General Winter, we have Field Marshal Drizzle

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Clouds are no joke - never have been ...

          Doesn't this make Britain invincible?

          Only if you can persuade Johnnie foreigner to also buy planes that only work in deserts

          The navy of course bought boats that only work in the cold - far more sensible

        2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: Clouds are no joke - never have been ...

          Field Marshal Drizzle

          Didn't he add delays to the UK Apache pilot training programme over here in Blighty - One of the factors being the schedule being drawn up for conditions in places like Arizona rather than the conditions at home.

    2. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Clouds are no joke - never have been ...

      "They surmised the plane hit something while trying top restart after emerging from clouds."

      The earlier merlin engines couldn't handle negative G and would suffer fuel starvation and conk out**. Could possibly have been the cause of him having to restart.

      ** Proving that even in the "good old days", the UK armed forces weren't free of almighty design cockups.

  3. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Carriers??

    With the HMS Queen Elizabeth currently sitting in Portsmouth wouldn't it make sense to just treat the delivery as an extended sea trial to a friendly port?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Carriers??

      a friendly port?

      Anywhere but Portsmouth then ?

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Carriers??

        Anywhere but Portsmouth then ?

        I hear certain parts of Plymouth are *very* friendly to the Navy. Especially to swabbies with plenty of loose cash..

        But preferrably not in the same place as the squaddies with lots of loose cash. 'Interesting' things happen and the MP's actually have to do something other than march around and shout at people..

    2. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Carriers??

      You could but that would tie the programmes even closer together than they are. i.e. the aircraft coming over as part of 617 Sqn are working up to initial operating capability (IOC) in the land role and won't really have anything to do with the carrier for a few years yet. The aircraft conducting the carrier trials later in the year are part of the Joint Test Squadron and won't have anything to do with achieving land IOC.

      So using the carrier to ferry them across would delay the land IOC by ~6 months and add nothing to the carrier trials.

      Alternatively you could just put them on any old cargo ship to cross the Atlantic, but that means stripping them down and giving them some sort of environmental protection, which again would delay things.

      Worth remembering most (all?) the UK's Phantoms were flown across the Atlantic before joining the old, old, Ark Royal, so this isn't exactly a new phenomena.

      1. ida71u

        Re: Carriers??

        Yeah but Phantoms have two engines & two guys, someone to make the tea see ! Or hold the stick whilst the pilot took a wee, no not like that ! Although these days it could just as likely be a couple of ladies talking about how bone domes ruin their hair do or some such, but still a spare bod to hold the stick & make the tea :)

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Carriers??

      Also the carrier deck crew may not yet be certified for fixed-wing aviation. I don't know what stage the commissioning is at yet, but the plan was sea trials for the carrier, then work-ups with helicopters with plane operations only after that. And I presume they'll start with just a few planes, then work up to a squadron etc.

      This is not something you rush, unless there's urgent reason to. Bit like ferrying planes across the Atlantic really. In wartime they'd fly anyway, in peacetime, they won't.

    4. Smooth Newt Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Carriers??

      This is not the case with a single-seat, single-engined fighter jet, which, aside from having no creature comforts except for a seat and an air supply, is a lot riskier (from the planning point of view) to fly over the sea for long periods of time.

      But don't carrier-based aircraft have to spend a lot of time flying over the sea?

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Carriers??

        Yes. But they tend to fly near to this floating airbase full of helicopters. And they tend to come at least in pairs, so there's someone with them who knows where they are to vector in the search-and-rescue boys.

        Sea Harrier was also single engine.

        I believe the US have been more picky about this in the past, until selecting the F35C. However this may be because modern engines are a lot more reliable.

        1. Ledswinger Silver badge

          Re: Carriers??

          However this may be because modern engines are a lot more reliable.

          I'll wager that the scientific advances in some areas of design and manufacture are greatly offset by the incremental complexity of the F35B.

          Whilst complex, the F22 is simpler than F35, but even after an "improvement programme" only achieved 70% mission availability, so I'm guessing that in service the F35B will be around 60% even after similar improvement. So in rough numbers, each F35B will be available just over half of the time.

          Which doesn't bode well for in flight....

          1. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

            Re: Carriers??

            "Whilst complex, the F22 is simpler than F35, but even after an "improvement programme" only achieved 70% mission availability"

            Mission availability ratings are generally regarded as a bullshit easily manipulated measurement. A squadron that does no flying can have a 100% availability - yet would be of no use at all.

            I'd no more regard such a rating as an accurate assessment than I would a "glorious peoples five year tractor factory plan" production report.

          2. defiler Silver badge

            Re: Carriers??

            So in rough numbers, each F35B will be available just over half of the time.

            Do we get to choose which half? I choose "landing".

        2. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Carriers??

          'I believe the US have been more picky about this in the past, until selecting the F35C.'

          The USN seem to go in phases with this, ignoring anything before '45 when it was all single engine they had a lot of single engine jets in the '60s and '70 such as the F-8 Crusader, A-4 Skyhawk, and A-8 Corsair. Then in the late 70s/80s they went all twin jet for some reason.

          1. ArrZarr Silver badge

            Re: Carriers??

            'I believe the US have been more picky about this in the past, until selecting the F35C.'

            You shouldn't ignore stuff before 1945 as the dual engine long range requirement was the driving force behind the creation of the original Lighting (Lockheed P-38) as they needed a figher that would be safe(er) for pilots on long pacific missions.

            1. lglethal Silver badge
              Go

              Re: Carriers??

              Also just a comment on availabilities - "Peace Time availability" and "War Time availability" are two very different things. Also dont confuse "War Time availability" with "Dropping bombs on a far off country in support of (not your country's) ground troops availability".

              In a proper war where your forces are defending your own land or its ground troops, the aircraft will fly with any number of things that would prevent it flying in peace time. In peace time, the loss of an aircraft for any reason will see generals brought before government inquiries, hard questions, cuts in funding, etc, etc. The loss of an aircraft whilst dropping bombs on a far away land to anything except enemy SAM fire would also be unacceptable in the main.

              But in an actual war, those aircraft go up. It doesnt matter if its due mainetance on some bit of equipment, that maintenance will be deferred until after the next attack. No questions asked.

            2. bitten

              Re: Carriers??

              The F35 is the new Starfighter, by now only on paper but the specs show a promising future.

              1. Sanguma

                Re: Carriers?? The F35 is the new Starfighter

                It's actually Lockheed-Whatever's new Gullibility Unit Test Framework. It's calibrated in Suction Per Square Inch, and seems to have succeeded in sucking in most of NATO.

                As such it represents the future of speculative accountancy and as such, is dear to the hearts of (and minds, such as they are) of politicians everywhere.

            3. stiine

              Re: Carriers??

              Actually, the Lockheed P-38 was designed with twin engines because it wouldn't have been able to meet the required mission specs as a single-engined aircraft. Also, if you want to read a good account of the engineering, errors, and pilotry (not sure if thats really a word) of the P-38, I'd suggest Fork-Tailed Devil by Martin Caidin.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "Then in the late 70s/80s they went all twin jet for some reason"

            Single engine jets are smaller and lighter. USN started to use dual engine planes since the FH Phantom and the Banshee, but smaller carrier couldn't operate with larger, powerful aircrafts like the Phantom II or the Tomcat - which being designed for a large payload and great operational range were inevitably larger and required more power and survivability.

            The Midway class was the smallest carrier that could operate the Phantom II, while the Tomcat required the larger Forrestal and later designs.

        3. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Carriers??

          I believe the US have been more picky about this in the past, until selecting the F35C. However this may be because modern engines are a lot more reliable.

          Might be that but part of the original reasoning was combat damage.

        4. Ken 16 Silver badge

          F-18

          I never saw the point of it as the F-16 did everything better, until I read why the Canadians had selected it; too many pilots dead in the ice because their Starfighters had flamed out.

        5. Mine's a Large One

          Re: Carriers??

          "However this may be because modern engines are a lot more reliable."

          I don't think they've fully resolved the issues where the engine casing flexed under manoeuvering causing the fan blades to rub (they did implement a workaround and added *some* stiffening to the casing).

          They've also had a couple of engine fires...

    5. MrXavia

      Re: Carriers??

      "With the HMS Queen Elizabeth currently sitting in Portsmouth wouldn't it make sense to just treat the delivery as an extended sea trial to a friendly port?"

      My thoughts exactly!

      Even the shakedown crew should be able to handle landing one fighter....

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