back to article Cameron 'to change his mind' on the one thing he got right in Defence

The Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2010 was, overall, a total cockup: but there was one major decision in it which made good sense for British servicemen and taxpayers. It now seems more and more likely that Prime Minister David Cameron, prompted by arms mammoth BAE Systems and by the RAF, intends to reverse that move …

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    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      We're the 51st state, so we buy from the US and in return they give us nothing.

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Kevin Turvey
      Thumb Up

      Re: Missing the point entirely

      Actually it's the Ministry of Defence but I agree completely. What are we defending against?, and what are we trying to prove? We are no longer a super-power, why do we always tag along and try to match up to the US in whatever wars it likes to get involved in, if they want to get involved thats up to them. If we refuse to play ball they'll simply put slightly more troops or whatever in to cover what we would have done. We are in the EU, in most cases anyone who is going to attack us is going to have to come thousands of miles across the EU before they get to us, we can back-up our EU neighbours if they are attacked and we can back them up if they are but mostly I think we should stop trying to be something we're not and start spending on more important things.

      1. Dave Bell

        Re: Missing the point entirely

        There are arguments that we should be looking at these issues on an EU-wide basis. What do we gain from the rest of the EU? What can we best provide them? There's more to a Navy than tradition, that's worthless without effective ships, but we could do a good job of being one of the naval specialists. The service we have the least need for is an Army.

        It's division of labour, all very sensible, but i can't really see the Conservatives wanting to cooperate with the EU

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Missing the point entirely

          "We should be looking at these issues on an EU wide basis"

          Who are you kidding, apart from yourself? All of Southern Europe is bankrupt and has limited appetite for military adventures, operationally the Germans are exceptionally reluctant to take part in any international action involving guns, which leaves the unpredictable French and the smaller countries. Look at the Libya fiasco - turned out well in spite of everything, but Europe's effort was a shambles - the Italian NATO control centre could barely launch and control a fraction of its planned capacity. we ended up flying antique Tornadoes all the way from Norfolk to Tripoli with inflight refueling because we couldn't have proper use of French, Italian or Spanish airfields. Germany was opposed to any action, those involved regularly ran short of ammunition, and the only reason anything came of it was because of US support in the shape of technology, cruise missiles, satellite and intelligence gathering. And if you think that was a one off, what about Kosovo, where Europe dithered, faffed and farted for four years until the Yanks decided enough was enough.

          Now take a look at the history of pan-European defence projects - Tornado, expensive, not good for much really. A400M wildly over budget, less effective but more costly than a bigger, rangier and better all round C17. Typhoon - expensive, crap, no worthwhile export orders. Even one our biggest export successes, the AW101 (Merlin) doesn't really compare too well to a CH53, costing much about the same as a basic 53, but with only a third of the payload.

          So, still want to throw your lot in with Europe?

      2. JEDIDIAH
        Pirate

        Re: Missing the point entirely

        Carriers are simply the seaborne extension of air superiority. This is something that is relevant to any conflict. A carrier means that your air power can have greater effective range and can be projected anywhere where British interests or citizens are at risk.

        If nothing else, England has an interest in ensuring freedom of navigation on the high seas.

        It's not just about misguided American adventures. It's also about hunting down pirates and dealing with natural disasters.

        You need a Churchill or Nelson icon.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How VTOL looks like

    http://www.spiegel.de/images/image-90718-galleryV9-rzrs.jpg

  3. Mr Young
    Pint

    Brit bashing!

    hopefully I'll be able to buy a Harrier on ebay soon - what's the gallons per mile and top speed?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Brit bashing!

      As with all RR products "sufficient". (At least to get you killed)

  4. swilson

    well how about signing http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/31873

    1. Dave the Cat
  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They can't see it coming

    Trust shiny faced Dave and his "never done an honest day's work ever" mates to make a further mess on something they've already buggered up well and truly.

    But they're ignoring the problem of the US budget deficit if they go for the "B". Have a look around US defence policy blogs, and you'll see the incredibly rough ride the F22 has had because of cost escalation (not a uniquely British skills, I'm afraid). Originally USAF wanted 750 F22, for a total cost of $26 billion. What they've ended up with has been 180 odd aircraft for around $74 billion. Even with the vast lobbying power of the US military industrial base, they are sooner or later going to have to cut defence spending, and there's some very obvious targets. Already the F35 programme is 54% above the first full programme estimate, there's proposals to reduce the purchases by about 180 aircraft in the next five years, the whole programme is mired in technical problems, many associated with the common platform and the needs of the B variant.

    Dave is stupid enough to plump for the B, but in addition to vast additional cost increases that are likely, it (the B variant) remains a high risk programme that US lawmakers and air force officers are highly likely to can at the first opportunity. And USAF don't want the B, nor do USN, it's only the Marines. And they'd probably take a Harrier upgrade if the choice was that or no aircraft at all.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting piece

    Good comment piece passionately written. It needs more numbers though. How much more does x cost over y? How does this fit in with the scale of defence expenditure generally? How does it compare with what other G8 nations pay?

    Also, you need to get yourself on the Today Programme more often. Dodgy lobbying is a big story at the moment, perhaps you've noticed?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interesting piece

      "How does this fit in with the scale of defence expenditure generally? "

      The entire F-35 budget expenditure is expected to cost the USA $1.3 trillion over its lifespan. Other countries will add about a third to that.

      The UK's workshare is about 10-20% (minimum say, $150billion), massively overriding the comparatively piddling cost of buying the F-35 and carriers.

      Lewis ignores thinks like this.

  7. Matt Hawkins
    Facepalm

    He we go again ...

    So in conclusion another article where Lewis makes it clear the UK would be better off if we let the entire country be run by foreigners. Preferably the US but at a push the French.

    It is better to have average, expensive kit that was made in the UK by British workers than fancy stuff that was made abroad. If our Government realised this we would still have a car industry as Rover could have existed purely making police cars, taxis and ambulances.

    As we will find out in the future we won't be able to afford any US or French equipment because we will have no wealth to buy it with.

    The US can proceed with a carrier build and take the risk that the electric catapults will work. We can't. They have got plenty of other carriers. This can't be taken as a guarantee that the technology will work. The F35 is over budget and barely flying despite US reassurances to the contrary. Assuming the technology must be on-track because some US Senator gives the green light for a carrier build is a silly mistake to make given all the examples in recent history.

    1. PlacidCasual

      Re: He we go again ...

      I'm plainly not privy to the engineering reports regarding the linear induction motor catapult but the reports and videos freely avaiable on the net have shown it working well with genuine aircraft takeoffs from the land based test bed. My gut feeling is this technology will work.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He we go again ...

        Lewis ignores that the problem with the F-35C is not taking off, but landing. It may need a major redesign to work - no F-35C has ever successfully landed using a trap.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: He we go again ...

      Electric motors are known to create extreme torque, even at small sizes. It is clearly an issue of providing the necessary power and cooling. Seems a rather limited engineering problem, as Supercapacitors are already there.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Dave Bell

        Re: He we go again ...

        I've seen arguments that it's the electric and magnetic fields in the vicinity of the catapult that would be an issue. It might need some things kept further away from the catapults. That has some plausibility, and i wouldn't want to route a data cable alongside a catapult. But the thing is going into a steel box. Is it really going to be a big problem with that sort of inherent screening?

        (I bet BAE will tell you it's going to cost a lot to be sure.)

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: screening

          You can use optical fibre for data cables.

    3. /\/\j17
      FAIL

      Re: He we go again ...

      So let me get this right, it's Brit-bashing.

      Suggesting we buy the US F16 or the US F35C or the French Rafales in preference to the US F35B is Brit-bashing and not supporting UK industry...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: He we go again ...

      Lewis isn't making any such case - just that there's a variety of capability available on the world market for a whole range of costs. Our domestic experience of building our own has admittedly kept a few (and that is a few) in paid work, but at what cost? What British designed and made defence kit (or even European) is the world beating a path to our door to buy? Nothing. Our only export deals have been on the back of bribery or rigged procurement deals where we give the buyer the money to buy our kit. Looking at our history of weapons making, it's not good, is it? Nimrod MRA4, Nimrod AEW3, Future Lynx, Bowman, Snatch Landrovers, Typhoon tranche 3, Type 45 frigates, SA80 - all of them useless, expensive, crap, and there's plenty more where that list came from.

      If you were correct that the UK produced average kit that was expensive your argument might have some merit - but we haven't make even average defence kit for a good half century. I agree bail out of F35B, maybe even C, but we need a strike aircraft consistent with the military adventures our politicians choose to prosecute, and neither the antiquated Tornado, nor the Cold War "one way ticket" Typhoon are going to do it, so we need to buy somebody elses, and we don't now have time to engineer something ourselves (ten years from initial requirement.to prototype, and ten years or more to front line deployment in numbers).

      So if we want strike aircraft F18 is now the obvious answer, maybe re-engine with RR (like we did with Phantoms) if you want some local boondoggle element. If BAe had chosen to develop at modest cost an intermediate technology STOL (not VTOL) strike aircraft as a commercial venture (say Harrier GR9 redesigned for better airborne performance, but stripped of the costly VTOL capability, and having no US tech on board due to export controls) then they'd be well in here, andhave some real export potential. I'd say BAe have sown the seeds of their own demise by their poor cost control, lack of innovation and lack of commercial risk taking.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He we go again ...

        "What British designed and made defence kit (or even European) is the world beating a path to our door to buy? Nothing."

        Really? The UK is the third biggest exporter of arms in the World.

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Re: He we go again ...

        "......but we need a strike aircraft consistent with the military adventures our politicians choose to prosecute, and neither the antiquated Tornado, nor the Cold War "one way ticket" Typhoon...." Your arguments might hold a smidgen of weight if they actually contained any reasoning as to why you consider the Tornado and Typhoon as unsuitable.

        In reality (a place you might want to visit every now and again), the Tornado has proven very useful both in war (both Iraq wars) and peacekeeping (former Yugoslavia and between the Iraq wars, and currently in Afghanistan). I'm sure you'll start on about how the Tornadoes "failed" with the JP233 in the strikes on Saddam's airfields in 1991, neatly avoiding the fact the US asked for the RAF to carry out the attacks as they simply didn't have the capability to mount a low-level strike with F/A-18s, F-15s, F-16s, F-111s and B-2s, and also neatly ignoring the many other missions carried out by the RAF Tornados in 1991 (the RAF GR1As were the only allied jets capable of flying low-level recce missions, and did so throughout the campaign without loss). In fact, in the second Iraq campaign in 2003, the only Tornado lost was to friendly fire from a Septic Patriot missile (the dodgy IFF capabilites of the Patriot also led to a shooting down of an F/A-18).

        As for the Typhoon, the only active work so far has been in Libya, where they performed faultlessy, unlike the USAAF's F-15Es (http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2011/03/military-f15-crashes-in-libya-032211/). In training and NATO exercises, and foreign purcurement tests, the Eurofighter/Typhoon has done very well, often being ranked as the only real competitor to the F-22. The Rafale rarely gets a look in unless it's a case of the bargain basement option, as shown by the Rafale's lack of foreign sales.

        "....Our only export deals have been on the back of bribery or rigged procurement deals...." Yeah, like the L16 mortar as used by 30-odd countries, including the US (as the M252). Or the L118 105mm Light Gun (twenty-one users), also bought by the US as it was simply a better design than the Yanks could make on their own. Or the BAe Hawk trainer, used by eighteen customers (including, again the US!), and having doubly outsold the Fwench Alpha Jet. There were plenty of commentators telling us we should have ditched the Hawk and gone with the European Alpha Jet, which looks really stupid now. All three are examples of British arms export successes, no bribes required.

        ".....So if we want strike aircraft F18 is now the obvious answer...." Simply, no. The F/A-18 is a very good aircraft, but it can't even match the Torando GR4 (as proven not only in NATO exercises but in the Iraq campaigns), and is woeful compared to the Typhoon as an interceptor (less performance, less missiles, and less development potential). It is probably the best budget carrier fighter right now, but not the best land-based fighter by a long margin. It is also only cheap now because of the massive fleet operated by the US, but if they get replaced by F-35s then the people still operating F/A-18a are suddenly going to see a hike in maintenance costs, meaning cheap today is not necessarily cheap tomorrow. Trying to guess how the Fwench might price the Rafale is simply silly, especially given the large number of modifications that would be required for it to operate as an RN aircraft.

        ".....maybe re-engine with RR (like we did with Phantoms) if you want some local boondoggle element...." The re-engining of the RN and RAF Phantoms was a mistake, it actually gave little advantage for a lot of cost and an actual reduction in performance. You might know that if you actually knew anything about the subject.

        The probable reason for the RN also agreeing to the STOVL version of the F-35 is that someone remembers one of the key reasons why the RN liked the Harrier - vertical landings are simply a lot safer than the almost-crash-landings typical of conventional, hooked, naval jet landings. If you look at footage of carrier operations of Harriers, the deckcrew are calmly wandering around, no-one looks the least bit worried. Then look at footage of USN carrier operations - everyone is looking like a major catastrophe is seconds away, the flightdeck is definately not calm. If the US Marines are going to pick up the cost of the F-35B then what's the problem? We actually save on the cost of installing catapaults and the Yank taxpayers swallow the costs. It's not like the Marines can simply drop the jet, they don't have any other options (including the F/A-18).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: He we go again ...

          "In reality (a place you might want to visit every now and again), the Tornado has proven very useful both in war "

          Err, no, it wasn't very useful, it was all we'd got. Regarding the comments about both Tornado and Typhoon, you ignore the point both were highly mission specific to Cold War needs. The Typhoon is, pure and simple, and air defence interceptor, a modern day EE Lightning, if you like. Lightweight, fast, nimble, built for acceleration and speed. So quite how it would be better than an F15 in Libya I can't see. What was needed in Libya was a proper strike aircraft - primarily a weapons platform, not some wanky modern day Spitfire, better suited to air show posing. The Tornado could have been the required weapons platform, but was too small, with design compromises required for the high altitude fighter ambitions and low level mud plugging, and in any event designed for the era before modern stand off weapons were available, and you had to see the white of the enemies eyes. You raised the JP233 business, but the key point was that it wasn't an effective airfield denial system even in the lucky event that you've not got any credible air defences. And that is part of the problem - that the whole Tornado capability of flying fast and low isn't needed anymore. PR is no longer done by aircraft, the clever people use drones or satellites. You mutter about this without loss, that without loss, but the reality is that we lost six Tornadoes to enemy fire in 1991, against a third world power that had already been softened up by sanctions and a debilitating war with a neighbouring country, not to mention USAF and RAF anti-AA activity.

          Let's take some of your other points:

          Yes, we've sold a few small arms designs to the world, but in the context of the discussion of heavy weapons and technology they are irrelevant, earning us no great international recognition, doing nothing to give us "defence independence", or employing British workers. The Hawk is the best example you've got, but it's nothing more than a Gnat replacement, designed by hand and slide rule between 1968 and 1974. What have BAe given us since?

          F18 vs F35. The F35 is never going to be ordered in the numbers of the F18 - look at the cost projections, current spend, and the state of the US military budget and government deficit. As for the GR4 being better - look at the export data for both types.

          Re RR Phantoms, do pay attention. I was responding to a comment about making local work, not suggesting it as a wise idea. BTW, ad hominems such as "if you actually knew anything" just bounce off AC's.

          And for somebody positing themselves to be quite so knowlegeable, I'd have thought you'd do better than "the probable reason for the RN..." Do a web search on "Harrier losses", and you'll find the gruesome list of losses. Safer you say? Or was that just you breaking wind?

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Re: He we go again ...

            You're just underlining the point that you have either not considered the matter, have fabricated "facts", or simply don't have the knowledge to find real ones.

            "....Err, no, it wasn't very useful, it was all we'd got...." Strange, the F-15, F-16 and F-18 you mention are also designs from the same period as the Tornado yet you somehow maintain they are "better" and more "modern". The USAAF and USN have been using them for exactly the same reason - it's what they've got. That's not an arguement, it's vacuous dribbling. The Tornado has been in RAF service since 1979, which is almost 33 years of continuous service, and the whole PANAVIA production run stretched to almost a thousand airframes.

            "....The Typhoon is, pure and simple, and air defence interceptor...." The Tranche 1 Eurofighter is that, but the airframe has always had the ability to be developed into a multi-role aircraft, as show in Libya. The whole history of BAe shows they have a very good record of doing so (SEPECAT Jaguar involvement, BAe Hawk, the Tornado itself). Even the old English Electric Lightning mentioned was developed into a fighter-bomber for the Saudis, it was simply an interceptor in the RAF as that was the sole role it was required for in the UK, just like the Tranche 1 Typhoon.

            "....And that is part of the problem - that the whole Tornado capability of flying fast and low isn't needed anymore..." Classic case of lack of knowledge. Drones can't do everything, as demonstrated by the Israelis on 6th September 2007. That was a classic low-entry strike, exactly the capability the Tornado provides for the RAF. And don't display your ignorance further by trying to pretend the Israelis don't have drones, they actually export them to us.

            "....You mutter about this without loss, that without loss, but the reality is that we lost six Tornadoes to enemy fire in 1991...." Which is proveably FALSE! Of the six Tornadoes lost in the 1991 action, one (ZA403) was lost to premature bomb detonation, one (ZD893) crashed on take-off due to a technical fault, and ZA467 crashed after a bombing run but without having reported any damage from enemy fire, so assumed to be pilot error. Oops, did I just make your less-than-impressive "losses to enemy fire" figures drop by 50%? So you have three Tornado combat losses against a total of 52 allied aircraft lost in combat during the 1991 campaign. And that includes the Torandos being chosen to fly the strikes deemed too dangerous for the USAAF. The 1991 losses also include one F/A-18 lost in air combat, it's thought that the F/A-18 was shot down by an Iraqi MiG-25, an even older fighter than the Tornado, which just goes to show the hollowness of your "it's old, it must be no good" bleating. If you're going to try quoting stats at least try and validate them. It's probably a good thing you post as AC.

            A total of 46 aircraft of different types have been lost during and since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, including F-15s, F/A-18s and F-16s, and even one F-14A! But you try and maintain the Iraqis and insurgents had no air-def - did they throw stones? One particularly damaging case for you was the loss of F-16CG serial 90-0776, which crashed into the ground when attempting a strafing run, something the F-16 was NOT originally designed for, being originally designed as a mid-level dogfighter. Against this background of losses to all the aircraft types you maintain are superior, the Torando had a faultless campaign and follow-up (until the GR4A ZG710 was shot down by a US Patriot battery). Oh, and please don't pretend this was all due to the stand-off capability of Shadow Storm, which was only used in eleven strikes during the whole 2003 operation. I see you don't even try denying the faultless record of RAF Tornados and Typhoons in Libya.

            "....The Hawk is the best example you've got, but it's nothing more than a Gnat replacement...." The Hawk is the best selling trainer jet ever. It won many competitive sales against other types long after its original design date due to BAe's work on updating and developing the airframe and systems. For example, the Hawk 127 version is very more advanced than the original Gnat replacement. The latest Hawk sale was to India in 2007, with the production lines still open, long after its European competitor (the Alpha Jet) has stopped production. But the most striking point of the whole Hawk story is that the original design exercise and most of the subsequent development were driven by internal Hawker-Siddely/BAe processes, not the RAF or MoD, which exposes the lie in your idea that BAe cannot develop worldbeaters alone. I suggest you just steer clear of aicraft related threads in future.

            "....Do a web search on "Harrier losses", and you'll find the gruesome list of losses..." Once again, you are simply exposing your complete lack of research. Try here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Harrier_Jump_Jet_family_losses), which lists all the opeartional losses of Harriers by all operators. You'll see six Royal Navy losses, NONE of which were landing accidents. Indeed, the RN Sea Harriers have a remarkable record of only one on-deck loss (ZA174), which slid off the deck in the very heavy swell during the Falklands campaign, the pilot being rescued. That's out of a total of 52 operational RN Sea Harriers over almost 28 years of service. Now compare with the record of the Sea Vixen (http://www.seavixen.org/), a conventional RN two-seat naval jet with catapault-launch and arrester-hook landing, of which 145 examples were built and of which 55 were lost in sevice accidents. 30 of those accidents killed 51 of the aircrews flying them. As far as I can see in the records, 22 of those accidents were deck landings or cat launches (15:7 ratio). This example clearly show the STOVL Sea Harrier was far safer in deck-landings and take-offs than the conventional jets it belatedly replaced. You sure you want to continue with that "gruesome losses" male bovine manure?

            1. Mad Mike

              Re: He we go again ...

              Interesting comments about BAE having a history of developing aircraft into multi-role. I'm not quite sure which roles you're thinking of, but I can't see this.

              Tornado - decent ground attack, especially low level. Absolutely awful fighter. Not multi-role. Reconnaisance is a standard conversion from ground attack these days by adding (normally) extra pods.

              SEPECAT Jaguar - decent small ground attack. What else? They did mount a couple of sidewinders over the wings, but that didn't make it a fighter.

              BAe Hawk - great trainer. Did move it into reasonable ground attack for small/poor nations. Maybe a bit of multi-role, but again, this is a common conversion route.

              Lightning - you have to be joking. For its age a good fighter let done by dodgy missiles. It could even outturn a Phantom at altitude. Ground attack.......you must be joking. Nobody ever seriously considered it suited to that. It could carry next to nothing (a decent bomb load is the primary requirement of a ground attack aircraft) and had no real aids etc. That was never a successful conversion.

              Typhoon - good fighter. Ground attack....lets wait and see. First signs look reasonable. However, you can get just as good or better ground attack aircraft for considerably less because they don't need all the bells and whistles that fighters have.

              In all these, you can say it has the capability, but making it practical and usable is a whole different kettle of fish.

              Low level attack is pretty much a relic in most wars these days. There will be exceptions as always, but most don't require it. Any modern airforce will shy away from it as it is so dangerous, as we found out in Iraq. Standoff munitions are the way forward. When you're at or near ground level anyone putting a suitable amount of lead into the sky can shoot you down and there have been plenty of examples of this.

              Using a F-16 for strafing is an example of gross stupidity and the pilot probably deserved everything he got. The rotary cannon is totally unsuited for the job.

              BAE able to develop world beaters........well one (Hawk) at least. Not sure if this should give them the credability you claim though.

              The Sea Vixen v Harrier comparison is a little dubious as the Sea Vixen is from a decade earlier. This is almost a generation in terms of development times in those days which were a lot quicker. Cat launches and arrestor recovery is certainly quite dangerous, but you have to compare the performance differential when up there as well. The F-35C will have considerably more capability than the F-35B. Do the extra risks outweigh the performance degradation? Well, that depends on the scenario. However, if you were to put a Harrier up against a Phantom for instance, the Phantom is far more capable in every way, except possibly agility.

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                Pirate

                Re: Re: He we go again ...

                "....Tornado - decent ground attack, especially low level. Absolutely awful fighter...." The ADV variant was designed as a long-range interceptor, not a pure dogfighter. In apprasing the F/A-18, the RAF confirmed it did not meet their equirements met by the ADV. However, the Tornado F3 also had quite good combat capability through excellent speed, especially at low level (faster than the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18), combat persistance (lots of missiles - more than the F/A-18 or F-16, both BVR and SRAAM, and a gun), and reasonable electronics. Of all the US jets of its day, only the much pricier F-14 came even close to meeting the RAF requirement met by the Torando ADV.

                "....SEPECAT Jaguar - decent small ground attack...." Actually, at the design stage the Fwench wanted to make it smaller and less capable to prevent it stealling sales from the Mirage, but the Brits perservered in making it larger and more powerful. The result was the Jaguar actually beat the Mirage III/5 in fighter competitions such as that in Oman, and the Viggen and Mirage F1 in the case of India. Whilst the RAF versions were always ground-attack only, the developed versions, as used by India, are very capable multi-role fighters, being tasked with anti-shipping strike and deep-penetration interdiction. Indeed, despite having Mirage 2000s and various Russian alternatives, the Indians are currently extending the lifetime of their Jags with engine and avioincs updates.

                "....BAe Hawk - great trainer. Did move it into reasonable ground attack for small/poor nations..." The Hawk 200 series offers developed F-16 avionics and multi-mode radar (and therefore BVR missile capability) in a supersonic platform. Personally, I'd rather see the RAF buy a mix of Hawk 200s and Typhoons than F-35s, it would seem to be a lot cheaper option and just as suited to UN "peacekeeping" actions.

                "....Lightning - you have to be joking..." Oh dear, the limits of your knowledge are showing again. ".....a good fighter let done by dodgy missiles...." The Red Top had all-aspect engagement capabilities against supersonic targets years before the Sidewinder, a superior performance, and a larger warhead. A SARH version ("Blue Dolphin") was proposed and would have been a match for the American Sparrow, but the Sparrow was already working with the Phantom. So the Brits just made a better Sparrow called Skyflash for the Tornado. "....It could carry next to nothing..." The Saudi F53 version could carry up to 6000Lb of ordinance, including 1000Lb bombs and rocket pods, which is a long way from nothing, and more than the F-15Cs that replaced it in the Saudi service (they were fighters only, the Saudis didn't get bombs on their F-15s until they bought F-15S models in the late 90s). When the RSAF got Tornados they set themselves a target of being able to match the F53 in ground attack exercises as their acceptance criteria, such was the popularity of the Lightning amongst Saudi pilots.

                "....Typhoon - good fighter. Ground attack....lets wait and see..." Why? Job already done in Libya, in a combat environment. Don't tell me, you now want to move the goalposts and insist it has to see X number of wars before you concede you're wrong.

                ".....In all these, you can say it has the capability, but making it practical and usable is a whole different kettle of fish....." Well, the Tornado is proven in combat, and so now is the Typhoon. Case closed.

                "....Low level attack is pretty much a relic in most wars these days...." Yes, tell that to the Israelis. Indeed, the Yanks have been pushing that bilge since before the Vietnam war, where Aussie Canberra B2s managed to operate just fine in low-level bombing (using visual sights!) in an environment where Phantoms, Thunderchiefs and Skyhawks were being shot down by AAA whilst employing computerised dive-bombing tactics. The drive to laser-designated bombs was a result of the losses by the Yanks in their use of dive-bombing.

                "....Using a F-16 for strafing is an example of gross stupidity...." Strafing is a common part of ground-attack, still taught to RAF pilots and used in action (Falklands, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan). The F-16C/D is supposedly a fighter-bomber and ground-attack aircraft, the only problem being it suffers from serious sink when pulling out of attack dives, which is what led to the loss of the F-16 in question.

                "......The Sea Vixen v Harrier comparison is a little dubious as the Sea Vixen is from a decade earlier....." Not really. The Sea Vixen was operating on the larger carriers, not the little "through-deck cruisers" the Sea Harriers operated from, making the Sea Harrier record all the more remarkable. You're also forgetting that the USN operates much larger carriers than even the ones the Sea Vixens were operating from, and hence the navalised F-35s are designed for those larger carriers, not the smaller QE class ones the RN will get. The Harrier pilots I've spoken to have said they see vertical landing as better because "you stop, then you land, whereas with a normal carrier jet you land and hope you stop!" That hasn't changed from the days the Sea Vixens were operating. If you like, we can compare the number of RN Sea Harier

                landing/takeoff accidents (zero) with more recent USN F-14s activity (two lost in 2002 alone).

                "....but you have to compare the performance differential when up there as well...." OK, lets compare. The VTOL RN Sea Harriers managed a score of 22-0 against the Argentinians, including much faster and supposedly superior Mirage IIIs with BVR capability. The F/A-18 only managed 2-0 against inferior Iraqi MiG-21s in air comabts in Iraq in 1991. BAe has the clear winner there! And in NATO exercises the ordinary Harrier GR1/3s completely trounced the Phantom, so guess again. Don't forget, our over-cautious politicians often insist on RoE which include visual identification (one reason the Tornado ADV had a long-range TV camera which the Phantom did not), meaning the Phantom loses any BVR advantages even if the Harrier wasn't carrying AMRRAMs (which the Sea Harrier FA2 could). Indeed, when the Marines got the original AV-8A they trained against Phantoms and found the Harrier won most engagements. You're not really helping yourself here.

        2. Dave the Cat
          Facepalm

          Re: He we go again ...

          @ Matt Bryant.... You make some good points, BUT, Gulf War 1 was 21 years ago. Times have changed a bit. While at the time the Tornado was a reasonable platform, it's now outclassed by cheaper and more effective airframes.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: Re: He we go again ...

            ".....Gulf War 1 was 21 years ago...." Gulf War 2 was only eight years ago, and the Tornies were still operating over Iraq in support of anti-insurgent operations there and in Afghanistan to today, as well as in the brief Libyan campaign. Despite many alternatives, including leasing surplus USAAF F-16s, the Italians chose to lease ex-RAF ADV Tornado F3s in 2004.

            "....it's now outclassed by cheaper and more effective airframes." Yeah, please do supply some details to back that theory up. The Tornies now cover the following roles, please do make sure you supply comprehensive pricing to show how your "cheaper and more effective" options stack up for each role:

            Low-level recce, a role not even available to the USAAF or USN, which is why the Tornados supplied it in Iraq for the Allied forces. Drones such as the Reaper cannot supply the same capability, and definately not in the face of any real air-def.

            Low-level strike, day or night and all weather, a role avoided by the USAAF and USN, which prefers to fly dozens more aircraft in complex mid-level and high-level operations and often only in good weather. Again, long range and heavy weapon loads are required.

            Anti-shipping strike, a role which involves both long range and low flying over water.

            I'm not holding my breath.

            1. Dave the Cat
              FAIL

              Re: He we go again ...

              So how are things at Lossiemouth/Marham?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: He we go again ...

            "it's now outclassed by cheaper and more effective airframes."

            Aside the Air defense variant (which wasn't something it was designed for), all the users of the Tornado continue to use and plan to do so for decades to come. They are also upgrading the aircraft.

            What cheaper and more effective airframe has replaced the tornado?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He we go again ...

        "the antiquated Tornado,"

        It fly's fast, its got a very tough airframe and delivered the best weapon in Libya - the Brimstone. That weapon alone meant it outperformed the 'modern', 'best for A2G' Rafael.

        Old, but still very capable.

    5. Trygve

      Re: He we go again ...

      So the UK taking a punt on some cobbled-together heap of electrics being able to lob a bog-standard plane off a carrier is waaaay too risky.

      But for the UK to take a punt on vertically launching a cobbled-together overweight assemblage of turbines, software, electrics and composites designed by powerpoint specialists to please lobbyists - that's Just Good Business Sense (TM) (R).

      I can't say I'm convinced.

      The UK is a clapped-out second-rate economy, spunking billions on getting the cutting edge of late-nineties tech into service around the 2020 mark seems rather silly. The only thing sillier is applying the same industrial policy that gave us the Austin Allegro to military weaponry.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    USN Digging The JSF Grave

    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/04/super-hornet-jsf/

  9. Rubbernuke
    WTF?

    Perhaps people have forgotten how much experience the UK has in VTOL/STOL combat aircraft and operations. It was a crime to sell of the Harrier and it would have been stupid to buy the C since the catapults would have added 7 years and nearly 2 billion onto the carriers themselves.

    And since the UK is beginning to operate with the French, it would be great if UK F35s could land on the Charles De Gaule.... unfortunately the C is too porky so no go there.

    F18? Nah, too old and limited. Rafale? If we could get them at the same price as the Indians (25 % off anyone?). A better use of money will be to invest in UCAV technology (like the BAE Tyrannis or the consortium built nEUROn) and have stuck with the Harrier.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "since the catapults would have added 7 years and nearly 2 billion onto the carriers themselves.

      And since the UK is beginning to operate with the French, it would be great if UK F35s could land on the Charles De Gaule.... unfortunately the C is too porky so no go there."

      All of which seems completely unlikely. The carriers were based on the CdG design and with the capability to add a catapult at a later date without a redesign. How is it possible to add 7 years and 1.8billion to the cost - something the Yanks spotted and public stated was bullshit.

      The French fly the Haweye with is only slightly less heavy than the C, so that another lie exposed.

      1. Rubbernuke

        Then why the switch? And will you believe the Americans regarding the cost when they would say anything to sell the catapult system?

        1. LPF
          Thumb Down

          Because BAE are the biggest bunch of Lying gits on the face of the planet, how exactly does adding a couple of eletricals catapaults and amending the deck to allow the launch add up to £1.8 Billion? Get a grip , its an old trick used to ge6t out of doing work you don't want to do. You give a figure so stupidly high it puts off the customer

  10. Tankboy
    FAIL

    Boondoggle

    Politics aside, the JSF is going to be a White Elephant, regardless of what flavor it comes in. A S/VTOL, supersonic, stealth, carrier aircraft?

    I can't possibly imagine what could go wrong with that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Boondoggle

      Remvoing VTOL will certainly reduce costs by 30%, if you look at the complexity of that endeavour.

  11. John A Blackley

    How odd

    A nation elects people who take vast amounts of the nation's money and spend it on toys.

    Odder still, the nation keeps on electing the same people who keep on doing the same thing.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: How odd

      The intial problem was caused by the Labour administrations of Blair and Brown, and they were kicked out by the electorate. The Tories have inherited the problems and are trying to clean up without the massive and unsustainable overspends left by Labour.

      1. John A Blackley

        Re: How odd

        Did you read the part about 'keep electing the same people'?

        I don't care what colour tie they're wearing. They're the same people.

        Go fail yourself.

      2. Dave the Cat
        Thumb Up

        Re: How odd

        Now you speak sense.

  12. FredDavies

    Pathetic

    This is so pathetic it beggars belief. Has anyone thought about sending this to their MPs to ask uncomfortable questions in the House?

    FD

    1. Magnus_Pym

      Re: Pathetic

      "Has anyone thought about sending this to their MPs"

      Yes. It's waste of time.

      It's very expensive and difficult to get elected if you are not a member of the party of general choice in a constituency. To become the chosen candidate you need the backing of the local and national parties. You don't get that by looking like the type who might rock the boat. You get that by joining the party as a student reading PPE at the "right" university then spending years rising through the party system by proving how loyal they are, saying the "right" things to the "right" people and generally being seen to do the "right" thing. Anyone with moral fibre or backbone is weeded out along the way.

      It's no surprise then that they all toe the party line and do as they are told.

      1. Andy Fletcher

        Re: Pathetic

        Yikes - thanks for destroying my already fragile belief in our electoral system. Next thing you'll be telling me all the real power is in the hands of unelected civil servants.

  13. valdez

    Which would win in a dogfight, the B or C? I'd say it would be the aeroplane that can stop in midair, and get on the tail of the other as in the Falklands war.

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