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. Kevin Turvey


      I'd say it doesn't matter as aircraft don't dogfight anymore, stopping in midair (viffing?) is probably not a lot of use against an air to air missile released from 30whatever miles away.

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: valdez

      VIFFing was rarely used in the Falklands aircombats, which were usually tail-chases down to missile or gun range. When VIFFing was used it was often to tighten a turn slightly to bring guns to bear. The idea of dumping all your speed in aircombat is as silly as the old Top Gun "I'll pop the airbrakes and he'll fly right past" line. A slow/stationary jet would be a sitter for any other enemy fighters that may be loitering in the area.

      The F-35C should have an advantage against an F-35B in a dogfight but the outcome is more likely to be influenced by the circumstances (what mission profiles the jets are flying, e.g. if the F-35C is lugging Harpoons on a low-level shipping strike hundreds of miles from home, and the F-35B is flying mid-level local CAP, the F-35B is going to have the advantage) and the support available (who "sees" who first electronically, which is often also down to the radar, sig-int and intelligence provided by supporting aircraft or ships). What might be a better question is how would an RN F-35B do against an Argentinian F-35C (it could happen if the Argies steal enough Repsol oil) when the F-35B doesn't have a real AWACs (like Hawkeye) in support?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: valdez

        "What might be a better question is how would an RN F-35B do against an Argentinian F-35C (it could happen if the Argies steal enough Repsol oil) when the F-35B doesn't have a real AWACs (like Hawkeye) in support?"

        They would probably have the F-35A. AWACs and tankers have a life span of minutes in a serious combat situation, they are the first thing to target.

        I'd be more concerned about real world enemies such as the PAK FA. Its not good. Aussies did some wargaming -

  1. Rubbernuke

    This is interesting reading re the Charles De Gaulles catapult:

    It seems until the French build new carriers with stronger catapults the C would be disadvantaged as it would have to fly with a reduced weapon load- I would also be interested in seeing the maximum landing /takeoff weights of each aircraft to compare.

    1. PlacidCasual

      If we built catobar carriers and bought F-18's I imagine the problem of JSF fatness would go away, assuming it is a problem.

      As to teh F-18, in the immediate future can anyone see us fighting an enemy where stealth will be critical? Any air defence will be wiped out by the submarine cruise missile onslaught before the carrier get in range won't they? Then all we need is a relaible plane to hang the bombs off.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      CdG is a no-no

      It seems the French were cheapskates on their nuclear reactor which makes f-35C operations on the CdG a non starter.

      The F-35B may operate from the CdG, opps..

  2. jason 7

    Time to simplify things.

    Get rid of the RAF/Navy and Army as separate entities and just pull them together under one banner. That way we can also get rid of many more Chiefs/Admirals/Air Marshalls etc. etc. that just breeds masses of in fighting.

    No more bizarre arbitrary rules of RAF has access to this type of helicopter/plane but the army can only have that type of helicopter/plane etc. etc.

    It really needs to be simplified at the top. Don't we have the most top heavy armed forces in the western world?

    But what also amazes me is how those at the top of the Parliamentary chain just cave into deals that blatantly offer poor value for money in the short and long term.

    There must be a lot of stuffed brown envelopes flying around or incriminating photos locked away somewhere.

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  4. Rubbernuke

    Ironically the B model would be more compatible with more navies- the Italians, Spanish, French plus any American Marine vessel. In fact, anything with a strong deck.

    Interesting reading re the B, pure speculation but an interesting analysis none the less:

    1. Mad Mike

      Not true

      The B model (and the harrier to a lesser extent) requires a specifically reinforced deck for various factors, not least heat. The Italians and Spanish do have aircraft carriers that can only take VTOL/STOVL aircraft (basically harriers at the moment), but I don't know if they're reinforced enough for a F-35B which would require more. The French actually have an aircraft carrier (Charles de Gaule) which has catapult and arrestor.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not true

        "The French actually have an aircraft carrier (Charles de Gaule) which has catapult and arrestor."

        Which is utterly useless for the F-35C as it doesn't have to power to launch a fully armed Rafale, never mind the much heavier F-35. Seems the french went cheap and underspecified the nuclear reactor, for use with the F-35, anyway.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think it's panic stations for the government.....

    Once again a Conservative government has decided we don't need those pesky aircraft carriers and what happens? The Argentinians start again! I think the government wants an operational aircraft carrier asap and sees the VSTOL solution as the quickest (which of course is what BaE advises).

    And what about BaE? I reckon that shower owill probably sell Britain out to an enemy if it delivered "shareholder value".

  6. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Do you think there is a roomful of guys at the MoD....

    Who's only job is to yank Lewis' chain? :) I'm beginning to wonder.

    (Imagines an oak-paneled room in the Ministry of Defense, filled with pipe-smoking grandees drinking brandy. One of them pipes up, "I know what we can do next! Let's put out a white paper mentioning that we will farm out the Prince of Wales as a mobile offshore wind farm until the F35-Cs are ready!! That'll really pee in Lewis' Cheerios!!" Gales of laughter ensue....)

  7. Mips

    What a tirade!

    But unfortunately completely correct.

    Time to disband the RAF.

  8. Hillman_Hunter

    he government has had its head in the sand on this from the get go, If we can't afford to run the ones we have with just three or four helicopters on them, at the most. how will we afford ones twice as big with 20 fast jets, this is another project that at the very best will yield expensive vulnerable floating box, most probably will soak up billions tike MRA4 Nimrod and be cancelled. Already its to late to start again and build a sensible option, Nuke power / F18, or a less sensible option gas turbine / F18. I Think at the design stage they stripped away the capability for CAT's and Traps with the propulsion choices, with only two powerful gas turbines is it really fast enough to Trap, plus power and house the CAT's

    The 35b fill face the same issues as the sea harrier, not enough power for long missions missions with effective weapons loads, particularly now the more powerful engine option is cancelled.

    Now the government is caught in dilemma either go with the brain damaged and expensive to operate current config, or go back to the drawing board and beef up the design. (probably to late and way too expensive).

    It goes back to duff choices made at the start of the project, unwillingness to be truly face up to the cost and a constant push to build it as cheaply as possible and with locally sourced resources

    Put it out of its misery before we spend any more on it,

    1. Mad Mike

      Absolutely right

      The whole aircraft carrier argument is stupid, as we shouldn't even have them. We don't have enough surface ships in the fleet to effectively protect them. The Americans have known and operated aircraft carriers (proper ones) for years and know the level of other ships required for operation. The cost is huge. The RN has how many ships in active service at the moment? Proper, big ships I mean, not minesweepers etc. How many are available at any moment in time? Each aircraft carrier will need a minimum of 4 escorts and ideally a lot more. They are the biggest target out there. At the moment, we'd use the entire remainder of the navy just to protect them, let alone do anything else.

      This is before you even get to the purchase and running costs which will also be a huge burden. We need to decide what we want to do with the armed forces. Either they're around to defend the country, in which case we don't need aircraft carriers and heavy lift capability etc. Or, we want to be able to project power around the world, in which case, we probably do need aircraft carriers and had better be willing to increase the MoDs budget by a large factor.

      None of this means the idiots in the MoD shouldn't purchase more intelligently and cheaply though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Absolutely right

        "Proper, big ships I mean, not minesweepers etc. How many are available at any moment in time?"

        The US doesn't have the ability to defend their carriers against supersonic cruse missiles, the only protection would come from a British type 45 or a French frigate. All those big yanks ships are pretty useless, the missiles would swerve round them and hit the carrier.

        Quality, not quantity.

  9. Rubbernuke

    Quote from Think Defense:

    Using some quick figures for the debate about ‘C’ ability to use the C de G:

    Rafale M Empty Weight: 10,200 kg

    Rafale M Max T/O Weight: 24,000 kg

    Rafale Max Landing Weight: 22,000 kg (not clear to which variant / exactly to what this refers)

    EC-2 Max T/O Weight: 26,100 kg (for reference)

    F-35B Empty Weight: 14,515 kg

    F-35B Max T/O Weight: 27,216 kg

    F-35C Empty Weight: 15,785 kg

    F-35C Max T/O Weight: 31,751 kg

    F-18 E/F Empty Weight: 14,500 kg

    F-18 E/F Max T/O Weight: 29,900 kg

    So it looks like the B and C at max T/O weight might not be able to land on C de G, but clearly both could at less than max. Given landing at max weight is usually not undertaken, this point ‘in favour’ of the F-35B is suspect to say the least. With a larger deck, the Rafale could operate from QE class (though I am not sure if EMALS would in actuality rule this out)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Using some quick figures for the debate about ‘C’ ability to use the C de G:"

      Rafale cannot use its maximum payload on the CdG, its a couple on tones short. That equates to 9 tonnes shorter than the 35C - all its fuels and weapons...

      Its not just weight, but speed (therefore energy).

      The E2 is heavier but requires a much lower speed than a fighter (the C2 delivery aircraft the E2 is based upon has a stall speed below 100mph).

      The CdG simply isn't up to the job, the French need another carrier, maybe we could sell one to them and share it..

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        "....the French need another carrier, maybe we could sell one to them and share it.....

        No! No, no, no, NO! The political ramifications of sharing anything with the Fwench would be a disaster. Just look at the history of NATO - rest of Western Europe agree on the need for NATO, accept its standardisation program despite the impact on national programs, but the Fwench throw a tantrum and go their own way in 1966. They even insist on referring to NATO as OTAN (Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique Nord) just because they have to have everything their way. The Fwench would be a nightmare to work with, they would insist everything had to be Fwench or written in Fwench or designed by a team with Fwench lead (i.e., Fwench). Just look at their awful history of co-operation in European military projects to see their determination to destroy projects if they can't force their view on everyone else.

        I can just imagine the problems if something like Falklands 2 or Gulf War 3 happened and we had to go ask the Fwench if we could take the carrier our for a bit of action. You might as well just give the carrier to any potential enemy.

        And then you have the unbearable Fwench insistance on bragging that would follow any independent British action. I'm not kidding, if we had a shared carrier and took it out for Falklands 2 the Fwench would soon be claiming any victory was solely due to them. Think I'm kidding? Fwench historians like to claim it was actually the Fwench "defence" in 1940 that won the Battle of Britain! Anyone contemplating sharing anything military with the Fwench should remember the quotes following the Fwench surrender in 1940:

        King George VI: "Personally I feel happier now we have no Allies to be polite to and pamper."

        Air Chief Marshal Dowding, architect of the RAF victory in the BoB: "I went down on my knees and thanked God."

  10. FredDavies


    OK, folks, if you agree with the article, there is now an e-petition to let Mr Cameron know:


  11. FredDavies


    It seems we are not the only ones to agree this is a bad idea:

    The petition is still up:


  12. Anonymous Coward

    If The Australians Are Correct

    ..then the Eurofighter looks even better compared to the JSF:

    What they claim is that their simulation proved that infra-red sensors make the JSF quite un-stealthy and that the aerobatic performance is not good at all. What they claim is that aircraft like the Su27/35 equipped with the best IR sensors are more than up to the job of defeating the JSF. If that is true, Eurofighter will be very valuable for defending Britain's core interest - the Islands where the main population lives.

    Also, EFA has proven to be one of the safest, if not THE safest aircraft ever developed and produced. So far only two aircraft have crashed out of hundreds in service. There have been less F22s in service but more crashes.

    But hey, EADS can't bribe as well as the American super-weapons-peddlers !

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Regarding "Ineffective" Tornadoes

    Mr Page and others also like to bash the Tornado here and I would like to dispute that notion. The soviets built a special jamming van to electronically attack the Tornado's ground-hugging radar.

    So in the eyes of the soviets at least, Tornado was a system that brought them some headaches then. Also, Tornado was specified by a large degree by the RAF and it fits British requirements quite well. It defends the main Islands against long-range bombers from the north and it allows for deep-penetrations in order to attack airfields, bridges, railways, ports and other critical installations. And no, the Russians aren't fscking idiots who buy their weapons from a northern power and drink tea the rest of the day while playing backgammon. They make stuff themselves and love people flying at 3000 meters so that they have fodder for their S-400s.


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