back to article Cameron's F-35 U-turn: BAE Systems still calls the shots at No 10

So there it is: done. As this is written, defence minister Phillip Hammond is on his feet in the House of Commons, trying to justify the fact that he and his boss, David Cameron, have decided that the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier (maybe carriers) will not now have any catapults or arrester gear in order to save money. This …

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  1. Ryan 7

    Can't we bolt hooks onto our F-35Bs for better performance?

    Or will that void their warranty?

    1. a_been

      Re: Can't we bolt hooks onto our F-35Bs for better performance?

      No point without the catapults.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can't we bolt hooks onto our F-35Bs for better performance?

        The hooks are for stopping, so in theory you could. Only problem is they don't work on the F-35C anyway, so pointless.

        The F-35B will land at about 70knots and brake, using shipboard rolling vertical landing (SRVL) . You don't need the WW1 tech to land/crash.

        1. laird cummings
          FAIL

          Re: Can't we bolt hooks onto our F-35Bs for better performance?

          @ Anonymous Coward: 10th May 2012 18:15 GMT

          Age of technology is completely beside the point - an utterly pointless strawman.* The real question is whether or not it is *appropriate* technology. Catapults & arrestor hooks reduce the cost, increase the useful payload, and increase the reliability of carrier aircraft. Who cares if catapults are over 100 years old? They *work.*

          *If we followed your strawman, for instance, the use of knives would be suspect, as clearly a technology many thousands of years old is too old to be ore modern relevance.

  2. KirstarK

    I agree with the points about the f-18 etc, but shut up about the Eurofighter for god sake.

    I want to switch off when you start moaning about that.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      but in reality it is shit compared to the F18. Lewis might go on a bit but this really was a very very stupid decision.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The F-35b has more combat radius than the F-18 and F-4 Phantom. Its about the same as a F-14 Tomcat - a long range interceptor.

        So its not exactly shit,

        1. wilber

          Assuming they ever get it to work properly.

      2. streaky Silver badge

        EFA

        It's shit (and very expensive per unit delivered/) compared to the F-22, but not the F-18. Apples an oranges anyways. At the time the thought was the US govt wouldn't release the F-22 to us. I thought at the time that was nonsense and I'm even more sure now.

        And yes the choice really is between the B and C if you're fighting a war in the next 30 years, as opposed to the last 30 years.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: EFA

          Ah yes, the $250K per hour F-22. Bargain, if they can persuade the pilots to fly in again.

          Mind you the B2 is about $500k per hour.

    2. Steve Crook

      Eurofighter???

      Why shut up about it? It and the Tornado are costing a fortune and their purchase and operation have eaten a huge hole in our defence budget.

      The thing that I find to be so depressing is that there appears to have been no change at the MOD despite everything we've been told.

      We're still going to be paying vastly over the odds for our defence equipment, mostly in the form of dane geld to BAE, who, no doubt, threatened to withdraw even more of their manufacturing from the UK to the USA. Not that they won't do it anyway, just at times more convenient to them...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eurofighter???

        "Why shut up about it? It and the Tornado are costing a fortune and their purchase and operation have eaten a huge hole in our defence budget."

        The cheap Harriers cost £41K per hour and the Tornado £51K (this includes financing and purchase cost and everything). Not much in it given both platforms advantages.

        1. Brutus

          Re: Eurofighter???

          Hmm, so the tornado is 25% more expensive than a harrier? Seems like a bloody huge amount to me.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Eurofighter???

            "Hmm, so the tornado is 25% more expensive than a harrier? Seems like a bloody huge amount to me."

            Not when you consider that the Tornado can deliver twice the bomb load at twice the range.

    3. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      F-18, F35 B, C or Z, whatever... Both the UK gov and the article's author seem to be missing a very basic point. Who the hell is Britain going to war with in the foreseeable future that will require the use of an aircraft carrier anyway?? Britain is physically dead centre of NATO with the US on the Atlantic side, and all her European allies to the East and South. China, N Korea and Iran are half way around the world. Russia is reachable by land-based aircraft from all of Europe that's closer to it than the UK, and an aircraft carrier couldn't operate in the Arctic anyway.

      So what's the aircraft carrier for?? War with a minor African country? Another Falklands?? The real reason is delusions of grandeur from an admittedly glorious past, and the need to feed the military-industrial beast

  3. sugerbear

    You have to laugh.

    Which one of BAE's execs is Camerons pal then ?

    I think the UK needs to cut its cloth. Buy a cheap carrier secondhand carrier if that is what the army/navy/raf want. Anything above the surface of the water is going to get destroyed in the first days of any real battle (unless we are fighting someone like Azerbijan) so why bother spending loads of money on it and then filling it with expensive jets that will also be wiped out fairly quickly in any real battle.

    Dont forget we are all in this together (unless you happen to work for the arms industry of course).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You have to laugh.

      Probably the same one that was pals with Gordon and Blair

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: You have to laugh.

      "Which one of BAE's execs is Camerons pal then ?"

      Doesn't matter.

      The CEO had permanent unrestricted access to the PM as BAE is (at least still in part) UK Govt owned.

      A relationship about as healthy as that between BAe and the MoD.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You have to laugh.

        I hated the F-35 until I found out UK workshare is 15%.

        On a $1.5Trillion (to the US alone) project that is a hell of a lot of money. You can keep your bollox F-18 arguments, the UK needs its $225billion export orders over the next 50 years

        1. Greg 16

          Re: You have to laugh.

          "On a $1.5Trillion (to the US alone) project that is a hell of a lot of money. You can keep your bollox F-18 arguments, the UK needs its $225billion export orders over the next 50 years"

          You seem like a clever chap. Want to work for me? I'll pay you £1 million pa. But you have to pay me £1.5 million pa in costs.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: You have to laugh.

            Well you aren't too bright. Missed the point the US tax payer will be paying British industry.

    3. JohnMurray

      Re: You have to laugh.

      Who needs pals with nice juicy non-exec posts available for rent ?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You have to laugh.

      "I think the UK needs to cut its cloth. Buy a cheap carrier secondhand carrier if that is what the army/navy/raf want."

      Great idea, let's do what we do in IT and outsource all our defense needs to India! Ahem, maybe not.

  4. Ben Holmes
    Meh

    I have to wonder...

    ...in which Cabinet minster's skull is the Coalition brain cell residing today?

    I mean, how on earth can this possibly be seen as a good, strategic, and economical decision? For a government dead keen on such noble concepts as 'austerity' and 'cost cutting', they don't have enjoy throwing money with those BAe nobwands.

    1. Vic

      Re: I have to wonder...

      > in which Cabinet minster's skull is the Coalition brain cell residing today?

      Bzzzt. Assumes facts[1] not in evidence.

      Vic.

      [1] And brain cells.

    2. JohnMurray

      Re: I have to wonder...

      Like all this austerity govs decisions it is driven by the need to get the money, preferably tied-in with long unbreakable contracts, into the pockets of their friends or future employers before the shit has festered away (or a future election.....after the gerrymandering (sorry, boundary changes))

      Just look at the Great and Good bashing each others heads to line-up their future jobs with the like of crapita etc....

  5. Tim Wolfe-Barry
    FAIL

    Heard Lewis on BBC R4 this morning

    Talking sense as usual...

    This is just so bl**dy depressing; I've been avoiding the news and beeb website all day as a result.

    UK Gov't wastes 10s of millions of our money now and later too, whilst UK forces are crippled by inter-service squabbling and inferior equipment. It'd make you laugh if it wasn't a tragedy.

    1. Circadian
      Go

      Re: Heard Lewis on BBC R4 this morning

      Aye. Did notice that the presenter (Evan Davies? Not sure which) almost had an embolism at the stark frankness in Lewis' voice. Must have been having thoughts about getting sued to hell and back when Lewis casually dropped the bombshell about the number of lobbyists usually involved in the simplest "confidential" government meetings. Confidential as in, if you think you can get an FOI against what happens in those meetings, I have a (naval) bridge to sell you...

      Nice interview Lewis ;-)

      1. Vic

        Re: Heard Lewis on BBC R4 this morning

        > Nice interview Lewis ;-)

        Which programme?

        I'll go snaffle it from iplayer...

        Vic.

      2. 100113.1537
        Thumb Up

        Re: Heard Lewis on BBC R4 this morning

        That was priceless! The interviewer was crapping it when Lewis went on about BAe and you could hear his relief when Lewis also mentioned that the RAF might have been involved - he latched onto that so quickly Lewis barely had time to finish his sentence. The interview finished very quickly after that.....

        Anything more you would like to add Lewis? I am not sure they will invite you back on to Today for a while anyway so you might as well dish the dirt.

    2. Cynical Observer

      Re: Heard Lewis on BBC R4 this morning

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01h75xm/Today_10_05_2012/

      Starts circa 2hrs 45mins in.

      It was quite a shock to hear someone from the BBC defending this government.

      1. Andy Watt
        Stop

        "It was quite a shock to hear someone from the BBC defending this government."

        Wake up and smell the coffee. Watch or listen to any BBC news programme at the moment, you'll hear they appear to be trying to continuously lick the government's arse.

        I've been shocked time and time again by the regurgitation of government stats, half-truths and outright lies recently, to the extent that I've stopped watching even the BBC news. If it's not depressing it's constantly trotting out the government line on just about everything.

        What I can't decide, as I don't monitor my opinions on this matter or keep a diary, is if the BBC is constantly sycophantic to any government regardless of party colours. Any comments?

    3. Thomas82

      Re: Heard Lewis on BBC R4 this morning

      Don't believe everything Lewis writes, Tim. most of it is total bollocks.

  6. Wanda Lust
    Holmes

    Monopolies in their field

    BAE Systems & Sky (refer yesterday's rant).

    Who's going to play the Tom Watson part & get those BAE skeletons out of the cupboards?

    1. oldredlion
      Holmes

      Re: Monopolies in their field

      "Who's going to play the Tom Watson part & get those BAE skeletons out of the cupboards"

      I doubt any MP will.

      Remember the Serious Fraud Office investigation into alleged BAE bribery of Saudi officials to get rich defence contracts that was shut down by Tony Blair because the Saudis asked him to?

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Monopolies in their field

        The bottom line is that UK PLC is run with Third World levels of corruption.

        Our 'democratic' institutions exist to be profitable for a small number of finance, defence, energy and infrastructure PLCs, supported by unhygienic numbers of flea-like lobbyists, and other ticks and leeches.

        And if the public doesn't like it, it can go fuck itself.

  7. ZankerH
    WTF?

    It's more like a W-turn at this point, no?

    1. Vic

      > more like a W-turn

      Strange attractor?

      Vic.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. PlacidCasual
    FAIL

    Omnishambles a new word for a new standard in incompetence.

    I understand the cost constraints but in engineering the phrase "do it right first time" is pretty much a mantra. The whole saga of these carriers is a case in point of getting it wrong time after time after time. These carriers are expected to last 50 years we should spend the money to do the job properly first time and not come up with crippled solutions that we have to endlessly tinker with to correct. A Cats and traps solution is the gold standard and should have been the aim from the start, better to skimp on cheap aircraft now and get the bit that is hard to upgrade right and buy better aircraft later. Whilst the criticisms of Lewis on BAE bashing have traction the underlying argument that we should be building F-18 capable carriers is sound. I despair at this country, we cannot do anything properly unless it's a crisis and our attitude to technology and engineering beggars belief.

    The MOD is not alone our energy industry and transport infrastructure are also hamstrung by short term ill concieved thinking. We just can't help ourselves.

    edit: reposted too many typos, it was embarrassing.

    1. JohnMurray

      Re: Omnishambles a new word for a new standard in incompetence.

      They're hamstrung by no-term-at-all non-thinking.

      Too Many Fingers In The Pie.

      Corruption by any way of thinking

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Omnishambles a new word for a new standard in incompetence.

      "A Cats and traps solution is the gold standard "

      Or is it a very old and expensive solution to a problem. I'd hazard a pretty certain guess that not one additional country will build an conventional carrier using the F-35C in the next 50 years. there are about ten countries looking at building small carriers and it will be F-35B all the way. Its a no brainer.

      1. It wasnt me
        Happy

        Re: Omnishambles a new word for a new standard in incompetence.

        O.K. Ill take your bet.

        You must work in civil service procurement.

        Wanna buy a bridge too ?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Omnishambles a new word for a new standard in incompetence.

        "it will be F-35B all the way. Its a no brainer"

        It takes more than one advanced aircraft to comprise an effective weapons system; without cats'n'traps you don't have an AWACS solution so your carrier is vulnerable to air attack and hence a bit useless. Or maybe we'll only use the carrier in range of land-based AWACS operated by the RAF?

        "there are about ten countries looking at building small carriers"

        Are these countries existing customers of BAe Systems by any chance?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Omnishambles a new word for a new standard in incompetence.

          "without cats'n'traps you don't have an AWACS solution "

          No true, aside from the MANY helicopter AWACS options there is also the V-22 Osprey and AW609 that will give solution that can be better that the E2 -which is not the best AWACs, simply the only fixed wing option. And the E2 Hawkeye CAN fly from the carriers without a catapult if you are that desperate. However, spending $80million on a AWACS aircraft is not an option for the UK so a Merlin based system was all we were going to get regardless of the catapult question.

          The F-35B is by no means the only STOL aircraft out there.

          "Are these countries existing customers of BAe Systems by any chance?"

          We can hope eh? After all we are not all BAE conspiracy theorists.

          1. Jon B

            Re: Omnishambles a new word for a new standard in incompetence.

            It'll be UAVs doing all the AWACS soon anyway.?

  10. Bob Vistakin
    Unhappy

    So Cast Iron *can* U turn when he is told to

    Unlike when he gave his Cast Iron guarantee of a European referendum, live, straight to the faces of the British people on TV before the election, then, when they'd fallen for it and he was safe and sound in no 10, decided not to. And won't U turn either, since that's not as important as what kind of planes to use of an aircraft carrier.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So Cast Iron *can* U turn when he is told to

      You forgot the cast iron guarantee on freedoms and reversal of the police nanny state. These are the cast iron guarantees I really care about, everything else is secondary - including the 5-minute ships (roughly their survival time during a properly executed Sunburn attack).

      As far as the catapults, that is expected. Once upon a time I worked on a project which was was offered to the navy on their ships. We were quite hopeful that our gear will sell - it was good for its time and keenly priced. Well, we were told that it was not to be.

      A few years later our BD director met one of the navy bods in charge of the procurement. He told him the price which "the usual suspect" has asked for putting our gear they OEM-ed from us. It was apparently 1100% marked-up. No I am not f*** kidding, 1100 frigging percent. Are you surprised that 125£ worth of kit will cost several billion to the taxpayer? F*** no - standard markup in action.

      1. FCNoVA

        Re: So Cast Iron *can* U turn when he is told to

        Hi,

        I beieve that there are some errors in the original article that may be causing some confusion. Looking at the link provided in the article regarding the $200m (GBP 125m) for the EMALS equipment, it appears that that specific contract was only for "long lead" time items and was not for the purchase of all components for both the EMALS and Advanced Arrestor Gear (AAG) systems.

        More recent articles have indicated that a US Assistant Secretary of the Navy indicated that the total costs for the EMALS and AAG equipment would be GBP 458m as purchased from the US asa a Foreign Military Sales item (if I am understanding correctly).

        In addition to the costs of the equipment though, there are also costs associated with shipping and installing those items. Many of these other more recent articles have indicated that 'based on input from defense experts' a value for installation of the equipment would likely be on the order of about GBP 400m. However, in addition to the costs of just the EMALS and AAG equipment and their installation, there is also likely alot of other stuff that will also be required to be installed, including insulation of adjacent spaces, structural mods to the flight deck to accommodate the two 300ft long cuts into its structure (along with any impacts that these cots and structural mods will have on the spaces immediately beneath the flight deck), plus a range of other things including potential modifications to the air conditioning, ventialation and cooling water systems to deal with all the waste heat developed by the EMALS and AAG, outfit and furnishing for the extra crew that these systems will likely require, plus expenses related to any test, trials, and certification that these systems will require to ensure that they meet all requirements for use with manned aircraft, etc.

        In the end then, it really seems that the GBP 125m may be a misleading number, as it appears to only be for "long lead" items, and that even if you look at later numbers (like the GBP 458m provided by a US Asst Sec of the Navy) you still have to consider all the other stuff required to get the components on the ship, integrated into its systems, and ready for use, which I suspect are probably quite expensive.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So Cast Iron *can* U turn when he is told to

          The French were offered one of the carriers and came to a figure of 1-1.5 billion euros quite independent of the UK. They rejected it as pointless.

          What people seem to be unaware that the ski jump is almost as effective as a catapult. the Indian carrier uses non STOL Mig-29's with a ski jump and get a very decent 24.5tonnes MTOW.

          The F-35C or F-35B could launch from the UK carriers at a weight of 26.5 tonnes without using the lift fan, just using the deck and ski jump.

          Putting a catapult on the UK carriers is a complete waste of money.

  11. MrXavia
    WTF?

    Ok, so the way I read it is, BAE don't want to fit the catapults, so give a stupid quote...

    We instead have to use SVTOL aircraft, but sell off our harriers..

    So we have to buy the F35B as planned...

    But really, aren't we just going to be launching hundreds of drones and a few fighters by the time this is ready???

    1. Glen 1 Bronze badge
      Facepalm

      Re: give a stupid quote

      Couldn't we just give that bit of the job to someone else?

      If the yanks recon they can do it cheaper, let them. Its not like we will be spending *less* money with BAE either way.

      1. Jonathan Richards 1

        DIY

        The Royal Navy doesn't take possession of the ship until it has been launched, fitted out and passed trials. Until then, it belongs to the builders, and they just work to the contract. Oh, you'd like to negotiate a contract *amendment*, sir? Please step this way. Bring your wallet.

  12. Captain TickTock
    Joke

    Radar opportunity....

    ... wait for it.....

    V22 Osprey!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Radar opportunity....

      And the E2-D Hawkeye which CAN launch from a ski-jump carrier. It was tested, although there is a question over what happens when an engine fails (when flying from a smaller Indian carrier).

      If AWACS is a real big issue there is always the AW609 which is pressurized to 25k feet.

      The V-22 is probably too expensive, by extension the E2 is so even if we had cats they may have never bought it.

    2. laird cummings
      Mushroom

      Re: Radar opportunity....

      V22 is a hanger queen - expensive and unreliable - and frankly, more dangerous to own than I'd care for. The US Marines had it shoved down their throats by Congress, and its been killing Marines ever since.

      You really sure you want that, then?

  13. Skizz
    FAIL

    It's all so depressing...

    Is it mandatory for cabinet ministers to have the common sense and intelligence removed upon entering office? So what, exactly, is wrong with Sea Harriers? OK, they're not the latest sexy kit but they work and are cheap. Buy some and with the money saved develop them to address their shortfalls. Of course, when they get the new kit, they'll then dream up reasons to show it off - Olympics Security Theatre anyone? because it'll be so easy to take out that lone terrorist with a backpack bomb with a Eurofighter!

    "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Re: It's all so depressing...

      Harriers aren't supersonic. It doesn't really make sense to be designing your defence strategy around 1960s technology.

      1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

        Re: It's all so depressing...

        Supersonic ain't all that useful. Most attack aircraft fly low and rarely go that fast (trees are harder to dodge). Also, given the fuel needed to get the stovl F35 off the deck, it won't be going supersonic far enough to make it worth it.

        May as well have kept the Harriers...

        So we will soon have gas powered, half-arsed, oversized, over priced helicopter/STOVL carriers, instead of proper, effective fleet carriers (should be nuclear powered too) and too few under-spec, overweight, inadequate fighters flying off them. Gordon and Tony should be hung for being played by BAe in the first place and DC and co. should be hung for lacking the balls to get the job done properly.

      2. Graham Dawson

        Re: It's all so depressing...

        It does if that 1960s technology has proven capable of the role asked of it.

      3. WonkoTheSane Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: It's all so depressing...

        There _was_ a supersonic Harrier in development, until the Gubmint of the day canned it in 1965 to buy F4 Phantoms.

        See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawker_Siddeley_P.1154

      4. JohnMurray

        Re: It's all so depressing...

        Not supersonic at sea level.....get it right !

      5. uncle sjohie

        Re: It's all so depressing...

        That doesn't really matter, since you can move the airbase it flies off. Just park the carrier roughly in the right area, and presto.

  14. Ironclad

    Sounds familiar

    All valid points but isn't this fundamentally the same article as this one:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/17/f35_carriers_plot_by_bae_and_raf/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds familiar

      The best rants are those you keep repeating.

  15. Captain TickTock
    Facepalm

    And...

    they've got all that money they saved scrapping the Nimrods burning a hole in their pockets...

    1. JohnMurray

      Re: And...

      Saved ?

      What about the contracts that they had to buy out of ?

      Hmm ?

  16. MJI Silver badge

    French carrier

    Is this the one with the under sized reactor?

    1. Yag

      Re: French carrier

      Yes, it's the one with the undersized reactor and the sometime missing propeller.

      It's also the one that was available with a complement of planes for the interventions in Afghanistan and Libya.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: French carrier

        The French carrier has spend half its life in dry dock, so it was a bit lucky to be available with 10 Rafales. Its now in dry dock again.

        1. Yag

          Re: French carrier

          Actually, its disponibility is around 70%

          Nimitz-class carriers are around 50%.

          Of course, 30% of overhaul time is far more annoying when there's only one carrier...

  17. MJI Silver badge

    Would have been better off with

    The 3 Invincible class carriers and a load of Sea Harriers.

    I think they were capable enough.

    1. do the work

      Re: Would have been better off with

      Except they weren't really were they because the radius of airspace they were able to control was small and declining because the range of the harriers and the helicopter aew was not keeping pace with the range, speed and stealth of potential adversary aircraft, missiles and submarines.

      1. peter wegrzyn

        Re: Would have been better off with

        The harrier has a very good combat radius and weapons load, better combat radius than the Hornet would you believe, because of the huge fan which is very efficient. In vertical take off its useless, but in normal operation (rolling ski-jump) its pretty damn good.

  18. Captain TickTock
    Joke

    As the headline suggests...

    Should the new planes be called...

    the F35U ?

  19. Gary F
    Unhappy

    This stinks

    Putting the defence of Britain first must always be the priority. Being chums with company bosses or supporting monopolies must never be allowed to come into the decision making process, so why does it feel like it has?

    Why hasn't the Government questioned the cost of adding the electric catapults to the carriers? If the supplier says £125K but the ship builder says £2bn then tell BAE to shove off and hire the American suppliers to come and fit the catapults themselves. I'm sure they have enough expertise to do so. It will save a fortune and we'd get the attack and rader aircraft we need. The MoD owns the carriers, not BAE, right? Or was it done under PPI?

    Why does the MoD/Gov always, always screw up procurement? Same with IT. Anything that relates to technology is mishandled. If private companies handled procurement like the Gov does there'd be people being fired on a daily basis - something that never seems to happen in the public sector. Jobs for life, zero accountability and generous pensions (yes, even with the cuts).

    1. Luke McCarthy

      Re: This stinks

      Carriers aren't used for defence, only for military adventures 1000s of miles away.

    2. Jonathan Richards 1

      Re: This stinks

      > The MoD owns the carriers, not BAE, right?

      No, wrong. The builders own the ship right up to the point she's finished and handed over.

    3. P. Lee Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: This stinks

      We don't need any of it. We can quite easily nuke the french using trident.

      Apologies to Yes Minister.

      1. Yag
        Joke

        Re: This stinks

        I think the brand new M51s would be nice flying over London sometime... ;)

    4. eaglemmoomin

      Re: This stinks

      So you reckon blokes that have designed and are building (it's not yet been fitted to a US carrier or tested on one) a brand new untrialled at sea catapult system designed for a completely different aircraft carrier with different wiring and deck layout and superstructure are just going to rock up to a totally different half built ship and start knocking the walls in and laying pipe? Yeah right.

      The carriers were designed so they can be fitted with catapults and I suspect if the trigger had been pulled much sooner before huge sections of the ships had been built and the EMALS design team had been involved day one then the original estimate might have possible.

      1. Yag

        Re: This stinks

        Don't forget that taking into account an eventual catapult fitting was in the freakin' statement of work.

        Don't forget that the initial costs of the TWO carriers was initially estimated at 3.9 billion. (I wonder how much the costs have ballooned since...)

        Such a price quote looks like a breach of contract actually (It looks like BAE DID NOT took into account the fitting of the catapult and need to redesign almost all the ship.)

  20. Ottman001

    £200m for a catapult before meteoric price rises? £2bn now?! I could do with some of that. Few days with a welder and access to a reasonable scrap heap ought to be enough. Where can I send my job estimate?

    1. Captain TickTock
      Joke

      Angry Birds...

      Catapults.

      Pork.

    2. jason 7
      Unhappy

      Exactly! What other dimension does this work in???

      You have your decorator round to make a written quote and he says £500 to paint the house.

      Then three weeks later he says its now going to cost £5000 so you politely say no but then ask him to build a patio for you for £5000 instead.

      It's a bloody scam and should be investigated. The Whole of the MOD/BAE needs to be full investigated by the Fraud Squad ASAP.

      Crooks getting away with it time and time again.

    3. kain preacher Silver badge

      The conversion rate between dollars and pounds is lousy

  21. DenisN

    Faulty Tailhooks

    The BBC coverage suggests that one of the "changed facts" is that the F-35C tailhooks don't work: "The F-35C can fail to catch the wire or "trap" on landing due to the design of its hook". Can that be be a real issue? On our timescales?

    1. PlacidCasual

      Re: Faulty Tailhooks

      It's a reasonable question, if they can't fix it in 8+ years they probably shouldn't have the job.

      I'll bet my last pound that the hooks on the F-18 work today though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Faulty Tailhooks

        "if they can't fix it in 8+ years they probably shouldn't have the job."

        Strictly speaking they should stretch the aircraft (the position of the hook violates carrier aircraft design rules), which would be a massive job and probably destroy the F-35C. If they can defy physics and modify the hook to fix it, then all will be well.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Faulty Tailhooks

      Yes, the F-35C has failed every attempt at landing using the hook. Its a fundamental problem that may require the airframe to be redesigned, they are trying an alternative hook design which may fix it but that would an outside chance if it did.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £57million

    That's how much it will cost to prang an F35-B.

    At that price, our enemies know that shooting one down fulfils at least 2 goals -

    - removes one aircraft from our arsenal

    - has an significant economic impact

    I'm sure some people will be thinking of creative assymetrical warfare techniques to achieve these cost-effectively.

    I vote we give the military a reasonably sized fixed budget and tell them to find ways to live within their means, even if it means they have to stick labels over Russian control-panel legends

    1. IDoNotThinkSo

      Re: £57million

      Given the likely cost of running the F35B, NOT destroying them might have a greater economic impact...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: £57million

        I like the cut of your jib

        (jib supplied by BAE Systems, £1million quid)

        1. P. Lee Silver badge
          Terminator

          Re: £57million

          > (jib supplied by BAE Systems, £1million quid)

          and has four corners.

          The redesign will cost another £1million.

    2. Ottman001

      Re: £57million

      Absolutely right. Any military historian will tell you history teaches us that quantity is AS IMPORTANT as quality. And you're screwed if you don't know how to use the kit you have.

      Its fair to say that Germany had the best kit during WW2 but they failed to capitalise on it because they were unable to produce the quantities needed. The British Hurricane, American Jeep and Sherman and Russian T34 were all war winning bits of kit that were successful because of their simplicity.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: £57million

        We were caught napping with Aircraft but soon caught up in design, but they didn't have overwhelmingly high numbers, they just gave the perception that they did which was enough to make us run away even though we on paper out gunned them both on the land and in the air.

        You point on the Hurricane is correct, as that was the principle winner as its bigger better brother wasn't available in sufficient numbers until much later. Tanks we outnumbered them by a staggering proportion to start with but their tech was sufficient to kick us in the balls, just enough to make us think we were shafted, again the reality is we were not. Later in the war we did beat them on numbers and not tech.

        But it think the point im trying to make is that initial victories for Germany were as a result of better tech and more importantly better deployment, ironically when their tech improved their ability to deploy was reduced through incompetence eventually leading to their downfall.

        Numbers don't always mean victory as they will proved to start with, Christ, even back then the RAF and Navy were a each others necks, kinda makes you wonder who pissed of who first! :)

        1. Ottman001

          Re: £57million

          @Dazza. So you're generally agreeing with me?

          "and more importantly better deployment" = "And you're screwed if you don't know how to use the kit you have."

          "when their tech improved their ability to deploy was reduced" = "history teaches us that quantity is AS IMPORTANT as quality"

          £57m per plane is a strong indication that the F-35 will be too advanced to permit the in-the-field running repairs called for in full on combat situations. It is notable that there hasn't been a full on high tech air-vs-air war in so long that the last 40 years of development could be in completely the wrong direction. We'll probably just put a few drones in action abroad while the F-35 guard Brize Norton and Portsmouth Docks from members of the ramblers association. Drones allow us to eliminate protect ourselves from AK47s and RPGs in legally dubious wars for far less.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: too advanced to permit the in-the-field running repairs

            1mm tolerance over the entire aircraft apparently. I know sod all about advanced warplanes but I think that means you can't fix it with a hammer. I do think we are advancing our technology to the point where sufficient cheap crap will win over small amounts of advanced stuff. Sort of an IED-in-the-sky scenario.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: £57million

            oh I agree to a point, but competence far outweighs them both,

            someone who knows their stuff can win with better tech or better numbers, provided its used in the best manor possible.

            You take the most advanced plane there is and put it in the hands of idiots then they will force the bloody thing to land on an airfield and have the pilots jump out and try take the bad guys out.

            Like wise if you have better numbers at the hand of an idiot you may end up with them all flying in single file one after the other in to a never failing wall of lead.

            So it doesn't matter really, so long as idiots are in charge your screwed in either case...

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: £57million German War Kit

        Best kit

        Hmm I'd put Spitfire, Mosquito and Lancaster as better than anything the Germans had.

        I do know that there was an arms race between Me/Bf109/FW190 and the various marks of Spitfire.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £57million

      Why waste munitions shooting them down? Given the dismal safety record of VTOL aircraft (primarily the Harrier, but including the Yak 38, arguably the V22 and other largely development types) they won't need to shoot them down, merely wait for them to drop out the sky. If the Harrier hadn't been invented in Britain, our papers would have queued up to christen it "the flying coffin" or something similar.

      Before anybody reaches for the downvote button, have a look at this link below and question why our idiot government is proposing to buy a kite that combines the most expensive, complex attack aircraft ever developed with VTOL, given the Harrier experience:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Harrier_Jump_Jet_family_losses

      Now you can downvote me!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: £57million

        One could say that hitting a bird isn't really the fault of the plane and

        "crashed after being hit by 35mm cannon shells "

        "crashed after being hit by a Blowpipe missile"

        "crashed into the sea after running out of fuel"

        all are a bit unfortunate but not really the fault of the plane

        Many of the others where down to poor weather or flying conditions, particularly on carriers. Speaking of which, all the aircraft were operated way beyond their operational limits in the war so you'd expect a few more issues there. Speaking of which again...why did we abandon the FSR1s??? in favour of an all out RAF GR x

        Ok so im nit picking here, there does seem to be a lot of issues, all be it many of which didn't appear to be down to the aircraft its self, but you have to admit that as the revisions of the plane moved on, it did get more reliable, according to that list :)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: £57million

        Harrier loses are double other aircraft type, largely due to the single engine. Nothing compared to helicopter loses however which are 16 more deadly.

        The Harrier is flown by the USA, Spain, Italy and India. they don;t hate it either.

  23. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Over the horizon

    The key to understanding this decision (or any government decision, come to that) is that by the time this carrier comes into service and it's shiny new aircraft arrive - either horizontally or vertically - there will have been an election. No government has the ability or will to look further ahead than the next ballot, as they'll either be out of power or have new and more interesting problems to screw up solve. By that time, or even further ahead when/if an enemy emerges that needs the might of an aircraft carrier's planes to defeat it, nobody will remember who decided what (and those who did decide will all be on the boards of various defence companies, anyway) and how to bring them to book.

    I expect this decision was not driven by strategic thinking, but by expediency: JFDI or CYA or both. As it is, the chances of a government official being able to outwit a company that's dedicated its existence to squeezing as much money as possible out of it is slight. Even if such a brainiac politician was in the right place at the right time, the defence suppliers only have to wait until the next election for that person to be reshuffled and replaced by someone more "amenable".

  24. Fading Silver badge
    Stop

    F18 -seriously?

    Damn thing's almost as old as I am. I'd rather invest in UK aerodynamic engineering than some other countries old tech (the export versions will probably be crippled in some way - about as useful as those bloody awacs we were saddled with - if nimrod was given the amount of time those were it would have been a world beater). Defence budget should always be spent at home unless there is a bloody good reason not to.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: F18 -seriously?

      But it's a known quantity and works bloody well against bearded people on donkeyback.

      Or you can buy Russian... a little Su-33, comrade? That would be a show.

    2. IanPotter
      Headmaster

      Re: F18 -seriously?

      The modern F-18E/F Super Hornet first flew in 1995 which is actually quite recent by modern standards.These are not updated early airframes either, the E/F (F being the twin seat version, with the back seat being fully mission capable not just a trainer) but new built with a larger wing, longer fuselage, more powerful engines and modernised avionics.

      It replaced a whole slew of other types in the US Navy (including the F14 Tomcat and A6 Intruder) saving them bucket loads in operating costs. Hell they even use them for inflight refueling using buddy packs and the G version adds electronic warfare capabilities.

      Useful piece of kit really.

      Rafael would also be useful as we could cross train and qualify with the French. What happened to the idea of sharing the carriers with them anyway, they're not going to buy the F35 so no cats kills that idea stone dead.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

        Re: F18 -seriously? (IanPotter)

        What is funny about the Rafale is that IIRC it spawned from the splitting of the pan-european project (the other side giving birth to the Eurofighter). Again IIRC 2 of the main problems that led to the split was that the Rosbifs wanted longer range and the Frogs wanted multirole.

        Both resulting projects started at the same time, with the Rafales reaching operation before, costing much less, and, quite ironically, being all over Syria while the Eurofighters lacked range to do anything useful... oh, and addition of proper air-to-ground capability to the latter will be added at a huge cost some time in the future, at which point the Eurofighter will be as capable as the Rafale has been for quite some time now. But hugely more expensive. Design by committee really is a funny thing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: F18 -seriously? (IanPotter)

          You cannot launch a fully loaded Rafael off their carrier, though. Not enough steam power.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

            Re: F18 -seriously? (IanPotter)

            > You cannot launch a fully loaded Rafael off their carrier, though. Not enough steam power.

            That's hardly a problem with the plane. Besides, you cannot launch an Eurofighter, fully loaded or otherwise, from any carrier in the world.

            The Rafale really is quite a good aircraft. See:

            http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/flight-test-dassault-rafale-rampant-rafale-334383/

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: F18 -seriously? (IanPotter)

              "Besides, you cannot launch an Eurofighter, fully loaded or otherwise, from any carrier in the world."

              Probably not true. If you have enough power to weight any ski-jump aircraft would do. Such as the new Indian carrier, it has a ski-jump and Mig-29's. No cat.

              The EF could launch off that. And our new carriers for that matter.

          3. IanPotter

            Re: F18 -seriously? (IanPotter)

            "Again IIRC 2 of the main problems that led to the split was that the Rosbifs wanted longer range and the Frogs wanted multirole."

            Well that and they needed a carrier capable design as well. Good sense as it turned out...

    3. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: F18 -seriously?

      That would be the Nimrod that was over 10 years and some billions of pounds over budget when it was cancelled, I don't think you could conceivably have given more time to it, ditto the AEW version that was another clusterfuck through trying to do things on the cheap rather than using a suitable airframe for the job.

      I'm also not sure why all the knockers are tied up on the age of the F-18, the Super Hornet is only about 10-15 ears old and to be honest aerodynamics hasn't advanced that much in the intervening years, hell the F-35 is in some ways inferior due to the stealth aspect.

      As it is we're now tied to a specific aircraft for the future carriers, if they fail we've got two large helicopter carriers. No one's making Harriers any more and they're antiques now anyway in terms of systems and sensors

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: F18 -seriously?

      It fulfills Lewis personal agenda and most of the posters have bought it hook, line and sinker.

      The rest of the military have looked at the F-35b and seem convinced its the best thing to buy, a UK pilot on PPRUNE who has flown both in simulators is pro-F-35b for a whole host of reasons. The range and payload in practice are not that much different and the flexibility and training saving it offers is massive. The conversion cost was $5billion for both ships, seems like bullshit to me but apparently the US government insisted the UK go through US contractors which added to the cost.

      If any version is going to be cancelled due to lack of interest its the C model. The F-35b offers unquiet capabilities and cost savings whereas the C avergage.

    5. do the work

      Re: F18 -seriously?

      Disappointing, ill-thought through and frankly ignorant comment. Have you never heard of comparative advantage http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_advantage ?

      Of course in the ideal world - which doesn't, never has or will exist - what you say would be true. But in the real world of finite resources, saving money by buying foreign kit like F-18 Super Hornet off an existing production line gives us more money to buy more kit to do more things and/or to better pay our service people.

      Viewed rationally, as a slow-growing nation in continued economic decline, we don't actually have the luxury of choice - if, that is, you accept our military effectiveness is still important and a force for good.

  25. fLaMePrOoF
    Black Helicopters

    I'm reminded of the following quote by Sir Sydney Camm re the demise of the TSR-2 in 1965...

    "All modern aircraft have four dimensions: span, length, height and politics. TSR-2 simply got the first three right."

    BAE have the fourth dimension pretty much wrapped up where UK defence is concerned :o(

  26. jason 7
    Mushroom

    So annoyed I've written to my MP

    I've asked why is it that the MOD and it's partner in crime BAE is allowed to waste so much money in blatantly obvious scams and bluff calling without any criminal or civil proceedings against them.

    Maybe a few more folks should ask a similar question to their MP?

  27. Eduard Coli
    Childcatcher

    No surprises

    This must be that "Industrial Military Complex" that Eisenhower (and I'm sure others) have talked about.

    1. Yag

      Re: No surprises

      This is even worse actually : An Industrial Military Complex Monopoly.

      The classic Industrial Military Complex will only petition for more spending, but the competition would keep the prices a bit less ludicrous (heck, we're talking about military procurement!)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    juggling costs

    its ok , any budget overrun can be balanced by supplying ground troops armour made of egg cartons.

  29. Mike Richards

    Anyone have a clue what an American carrier costs these days? Would it be cheaper to ask for them to add another to the production line than buy this megafiasco?

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Flame

      about

      $9 billion each, but the first one of the new US carriers will cost 16 billion to cover development costs

      Given the size of the ship is 100 000 tons and our will be 60 000, they get 40% more ship for about the same price.

      But I'm more concerned with BAE systems.

      If the Emal launcher is priced at about £200 million by the manufacturer to fit out our ships with, why is BAE charging £2 billion?

      Maybe its time to write to your MP, but dont expect a decent answer since BAE offer such well paid directorships to retired politicians.

      Alledgedly.

      Anyways... us underwater people used to call those ships 'oggle goggle boxes'.... a couple of decent fish in the side and 'oggle goggle oggle goggle oggle goggle'

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: about

        Ford class is $16billion at the moment. Which probably means $24bn once its finished.

        Per tonne its more expensive, the $9bn is pure speculation

      2. Ron1
        Joke

        Re: about

        Ahem, UK gets 40% LESS ship, US on the other hand gets 66.7% MORE ship...

        Damn those complicated percentage calculations :-)

      3. N2 Silver badge

        Re: about

        <quote>Anyways... us underwater people used to call those ships 'oggle goggle boxes'</quote>

        just what is wrong with "Targets"?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  30. Dave Bell

    Meanwhile, in a sensible world down the other leg of the trousers of time...

    I write some alternative history fiction about a country which doesn't make dumb procurement mistakes. The AEW is carried by a Zeppelin. The 'planes have great big radial piston engines. The only thing that stops the planned carriers being sunk by that outfit would be the Type 45 destroyer. (And there were carriers at Midway which launched more aircraft than a Type 45 has missiles.)

    This is so obviously wrong that even the bad guys in my stories wouldn't be this dumb. (If they were that dumb, the story would be boring.)

    At least the RAF still flies Spitfires.

  31. Bradley Hardleigh-Hadderchance
    Mushroom

    oldredlion and fLaMePrOoF

    I do remember the Saudi Corruption scandal that never (or almost never) was.

    And Blair - corruption and the worse kind of criminality at the highest levels.

    Neatly tucked under the carpet - nothing to see here - move on.

    And the TSR-2. Ah yes, the TSR-2.

    Look what happened to that.

    Then again, take a good look what happened to Concorde...

    'nuff said. nudge nudge wink wink........

  32. Seanmon
    Stop

    Look

    The UK armed forces are a job-creation scheme that can fight a bit, if necessary. Get over it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Look (job creation scheme)

      You mean the jobs that are subsidised by the tune of £13,000 a year each by the tax payer?

      1. Seanmon
        Flame

        Re: Look (job creation scheme)

        Yep. Hey, I didn't say I liked it.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    so how many Billions of £££ for 3 HMS OCEAN's ???

    why the F##k piss 6 billion + on CRAP helocopter carriers ???

    personnaly i'd tell the yanks to piss off and come back in 30 years when the F35 is actually airworthy and safe to fly, unlike the F22 currently and the alpha version of the F35 as it currently stands.

    It took them 40 years to get the OSPREY flying properly (its still liable to scorch the foundations of the helipad and fall out of the sky on occasion, much like the flybywire Chinooks (how much was wasted on that stupid sci-fi upgrade)))

    Sake the lot of them.

    the next government will undoubtedly be Labour, as 'none on the above' wont be added to the election forms till after 2020...

    maybe when the get in they might junk the idiotik decisions that were pushed on the condemned by the yanks, looking to offload all the over the top sprialing costs that they are facing with all these blue sky projects (which will all be scrapped when the USA goes bancrupt)

    oh and for the cost they could have just bought 3 Nimitz Class super carriers right off the shelf...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: so how many Billions of £££ for 3 HMS OCEAN's ???

      HMS OCEAN cost something less that £400million, its a cheap, short lifetime, slow stop gap.

      1. LPF

        Re: so how many Billions of £££ for 3 HMS OCEAN's ???

        Is a good thing you posted AC, HMS Ocean is a perfect helicopter carrier without the usual defence mark up, yes it may have a shorter lifespan, but even building another will cost less thn having the defence filth getting their fingers in!

    2. KLein

      Re: so how many Billions of £££ for 3 HMS OCEAN's ???

      Well if you think our stuff is shit, tell your MoD to buy Chinese.

  34. Bradley Hardleigh-Hadderchance
    Thumb Up

    Lewis got the hook

    Excellent interview Lewis. A bit brief. A bit candid.

    If you had been on the Benny Hill show there would have been a hook incoming from stage right that would have caused you to grimace in a trying-not-to-look-embarrassed fashion, legs a waddling in a shuffle style, until you were not so subtly disposed of.

    How to make Evan gibber in under 3 minutes or whatever it was.

    Not sure if that is a world record but I laughed out loud. I really did.

  35. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Remember there is *price* and *cost*

    What will an EM catapult cost?

    A hell of a lot less than what BAe will soak HMG for.

    Despite something like 18000 staff in MoD procurement (a whole office blocks worth outside Bristol IIRC) it seems *none* of them could make even a BOTE cost estimate on this.

    And let's not forget that nice piece of change BAe will be expecting from its subsidiary Dettica when the UK net snoop plan starts rolling.

  36. arrbee
    Meh

    I expect the Americans are pleased to have us tilt the balance on the viability of their F-35B project - they know our government, of whichever stripe, wont switch to something else even if they deliver 5 years late and 50% over-budget.

    I wonder if any of the senior folk involved with the F-35B over there will find some way of thanking those who achieved this result.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The crucial parts of the F-35B design are British (Rolls Royce and BAE etc). So if there delays the Uk is just as responsible.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BAE =

    BAE = Billions Above Estimate

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: BAE =

      This is for you :)

      <-----

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many elections to go before these carriers are built and equipped?, somehow I doubt if they will ever be operational with or without catapults before someone scraps them?

    1. Jason Hindle

      Frightening isn't it

      The design hasn't fundamentally altered from the end of WWII but it takes twenty years to build one, if it's being built in Britain.

      1. jason 7
        FAIL

        Re: Frightening isn't it

        Imagine if the UK had to go into a WW2/conventional war type scenario now and ramp up its armaments to cope.

        20 years to bring a carrier online?? Back in the 40's they could draw an aircraft or warship up on paper and have it in the air or water within 2 years.

        Whats gone seriously wrong since? I dont think you can say technology cos the Spitfire was cutting edge for them and many of the modern avionic systems can be off the shelf.

        Oh hang on BAE would say you had to reconfigure all the off the shelf systems from scratch.

        So off the shelf avionics - £5 million - BAE reconfig - £195 million - BAE refitting excercise - £234 million - BAE modification/refresh due to 10 year delay - £500 milion........and so on

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Frightening isn't it

          "Imagine if the UK had to go into a WW2/conventional war type scenario now and ramp up its armaments to cope."

          The plan would be to convert container vessels into carriers. They did this in the Falklands with three ships in weeks. By using certain designs (Maersk commercial container ships,with sufficient flat top area and the bridge at the back) you get a workable solution. The US is perusing this concept which stem from the Falklands (Afloat Forward Staging Bases)

          http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=14390.0

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Frightening isn't it

          its actually quite simple

          Greed

          any other business that operates on a bidding program usually operates like this.

          Customer - I want this, how much will it cost

          Manufactures - I bid this much

          Customer - your the best deal, get on with it

          Manufacture - well thanks but that's now going to cost twice as much and run 3 years late

          Customer - go fuck yourself and every day your late im changing you £10,000

          Manufacture, (A, pulls out and gets fined for wasting our time or B, takes the hit themselves for being frigging idiots.)

          yes politicians have a habit of changing what they want, but the point still stands, WTF are we doing getting people to bid for something then letting them get away with ramping up the costs because they placed a bid that was too low and late because they placed a bid that was too soon...

        3. The Baron

          Re: Frightening isn't it

          Back in the 40's they could draw an aircraft or warship up on paper and have it in the air or water within 2 years.

          Hard to think of a ship of even vaguely comparable complexity, but perhaps we could take the magnificent HMS Vanguard, the last British battleship, as a reasonable theoretical example?

          The basics of Vanguard's design came from the Lion class in 1939. The ship was ordered in 1941. It was launched for initial trials in 1944 but did not enter service until 1946. This despite the fact that its main armament was not built from scratch as originally planned but taken from spares left over from the conversion of other battleships to aircraft carriers.

          So that's seven years from design to commission despite being based on an existing design, taking its primary armament components off-the-shelf, and being given "A1" top priority for wartime production by the government.

          Alas, I think your two years from drawing board to dock may be wishful thinking.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lot to agree with in this article

    However, I don't think the B variant is necessarily a bad choice. A worse/less effective choice? Most definitely but I suspect the aircraft itself could still be very effective in the roles required of it. There is a real issue that affects all aircraft carriers though and that is anti ship ballistic missiles made by bad governments and sold to other friendly bad governments. Unless effective ways of dealing with these are found, I think the modern, large aIrcraft carrier will join the battleship.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: A lot to agree with in this article

      As opposed to airfields which are really good at hiding from ballistic missiles...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A lot to agree with in this article

        One ballistic missile won't destroy an airfield, but it will destroy an aircraft carrier

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: A lot to agree with in this article

          Depends how many warheads you put on it and where it hits, the middle of the runway is usually a good place to start, you'd be surprised how many airbases only have the one.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A lot to agree with in this article

            if its anything like the RAF and the Vulcan ( I do happen to love this plane by the way!) it doesn't matter what you hit, you just pretend you did a lot of damage and make up the reasons for the success after they become apparent.

        2. do the work

          Re: A lot to agree with in this article

          Eh, accept you don't know where the aircraft carrier is - but you can pick out an airfield on google earth !

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A lot to agree with in this article

      A big plus of the F-35b is flexibility. The ability to convert container ships as auxiliary Aircraft carriers as we did in the Falklands with the Atlantic Convener and two others, plus the forward operating base where harriers operated within two days of the initial landing.

      Current US plans are to build containerized ships, everything in standard ISO shipping containers in a large container carrier. They will be reconfigurable with F-35b's, helicopters, hospitals, bunks or simply cargo. When the ships wear out, remove the containers to a new ship and reconfigure as needed.

      When war comes you could convert a existing contain ship into an auxiliary aircraft carrier in a week or two. Lets have 10 and all RAF pilots will be qualified to operate from them using the F-35B.

  40. Fatman Silver badge
    FAIL

    RE: `the facts have changed`

    I wonder if a large wad of ca$h had anything to do with it???

    Uk bureaucrats are no different from those in other parts of the world, they just need the 'proper incentives'.

  41. Beelzeebub
    Flame

    Bah

    Oh zis government are mental innit?

    Vee must fight to bring proper government back, to make ze right decisions to help out beloved Britain.

    But it's alright ve are governed by a German Qveen anyavys:-) Party on Britain lolz!

  42. Endymion
    FAIL

    Can someone explain the technical reason why you couldn't power a pneumatic catapult from a bank of compressed air accumulators?.

    Fine, use steam on nuclear or conventional propulsion plant where you have it available, but a big f. O. gas turbine generator and electrical compressor would do the job?.

    Surely you incur a huge cost by limiting yourself to choosing from a single vstol aircraft, as well as not benefiting from the operational flexibility of being to operate with other nations naval air arms AND not being locked into the rapacious and cynical BAE as sole supplier?.

    Oh wait... Did I just answer my question as to why we aren't doing this?

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re your first point, that's what was used before steam catapults, people don't use steam because they haven't thought of something else, it's because it works. The amount of energy released is quite impressive, you're accelerating 20+ tonnes of aircraft to >120 knots in under two seconds.

      Your second point yes, if the F-35B fails then we've just built two rather large under armed ships...

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Invicible class was restricted as well

      To one single VSTOL aircraft but were comparitavely cheap and effective.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: Invicible class was restricted as well

        But, the Invincible class weren't designed as strike carriers, they were designed as ASW carriers to carry helicopters, the Sea Harrier was a late addition to the air group (I mean in planning terms not in the life of the ships themselves). It was more a happy coincidence that we made an aircraft that could operate from the Invincible class than an actual plan.

        The QE Class are designed as strike carriers something they'll now only achieve if the F-35B works, in the case of Invincible the Harrier already existed.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A stealth aircraft?

    presumably to defend us from the hyper-stealthy Afghan army, navy and airforce?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A stealth aircraft?

      err, nope, more likely from portable Infrared or RADAR guided surface to air missiles sold 10 a penny from Russia and China

  44. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Facepalm

    So Britain is building a couple VTOL carriers who's new planes are not yet ready?

    Thank God you guys still have all those Harrie.....wait a second!!

    1. Silverburn

      Re: So Britain is building a couple VTOL carriers who's new planes are not yet ready?

      Strictly speaking we still have (most) of them; we didn't sell them all the US, so the rest are sitting in warehouses in 'storage' config.

      We can still break them out in an emergency...the snag being that emergencies require a response *now", and it takes considerably longer than that to break out a harrier from storage...

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: So Britain is building a couple VTOL carriers who's new planes are not yet ready?

        I think you'll found we sold most of the fully upgraded in use ones to the US.

        Breaking out any remaining ones in an emergency will be much less of a snag than getting any pilots up to speed on operating them. It's a skill that's subject to a lot of fade and I'm not talking about the take-off, land, fly about bit.

        1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
          Go

          Re: So Britain is building a couple VTOL carriers who's new planes are not yet ready?

          If I remember, wasn't it Harriers (I guess they were really "AV-8Bs" if you want to be pedantic about it) that the cavemen broke out of a thousand years of storage at the end of "Battlefield Earth" and then learned in the space of a few weeks to take on the alien air force?

          That being the case, and because we all know that movies never lie about the robustness of complex machinery stored underground for 1000s of year, then let me revise my previously implied opinion and say that the security of British airspace and the future of Limey power projection is in good hands! If a bunch of cavemen can do that, then I guess the question is whether your average collection of chavs from the streets of Manchester or Ludon will only take two weeks to master flying high-performance aircraft in combat!

  45. Jean-Luc Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose

    Same thing here in Canada, also F35(A). Cost overruns, unclear procurement, politics.

    The second lot to pay for this fiasco, 'sides the taxpayers, will be the soldiers, either when their F35s suck. Or, more likely, other soldiers, when the cheapo kit they get after the DoD kitty is left empty lets them down.

    I also defy anyone to predict how well unmanned fighter craft will perform in the 2030+ timeframe, when those flying boondoggles are entering early middle age (or, possibly, even service). I know that's what I would considering, were I a PLA strategic planner.

  46. CaptSmegHead
    Facepalm

    Worrying

    This is terrible news. How in the name of sanity is this possible. The RN should be screaming bloody murder from the rooftops.

    We are seeing the beginnings of some major power shifts in the world and we are likely to get caught with our trousers down. Disputes surrounding the spratly islands might turn ugly and draw in a whole load of countries and kick of WW3

    BTW has australia got any aircraft carriers?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Worrying

      No, Australia does not have any aircraft carriers. We do however have Super Hornets, and a few extremely expensive noisy submarines that we built, some of which are occasionally able to leave harbour.

    2. peter wegrzyn

      Re: Worrying

      "This is terrible news. How in the name of sanity is this possible. The RN should be screaming bloody murder from the rooftops."

      Its not, becuase its getting an aircraft and system that will probably provide a better fighting machine than the F-35C.

      First, the F-35B with very long deck and ski jump will easily be able to launch FULLY loaded with drop tanks if required and as much ordinance as the Maximum Take-Off Weight off range will allow, better than the F-35A, almost the same as a F-35C.

      Due to the fact that the F-35B is much lighter than the F-35C it will perform better as a fighter.

      Not having a catapult removes all the expense of buddy refueling for landing problems. Few tankers=much less wasted effort

      Vertical or Ship Board Vertical landing is much easier than conventional landing so a back up landing site or deck will probably never be required, even if it is there are three times as many decks in the alis forces available. The UK will have FIVE landing platforms with the Auxiliary ships its building/has.

      Weather will not be a problem for operations.

      Only a small group of aircraft will have to be at sea (six?). When needed the RAF can fly from its land based and operate from the decks. This is a massive cost saver.

      The only issue will be AEW and there are STOL aircraft as possible candidates who will be able to operate off the very long decks with relative ease.

      1. HarryR

        Re: Worrying

        Can a tiltrotor AEW plane take off in the high wind experienced by naval ships at sea?

        I'm a know nothing about naval matters but don't comprehend how a hugely expensive carrier that has taken years ( to become decades?) to design and build and make fit for service, packed with hugely expensive planes and spares and consumables and fuel, plus hundreds of highly trained personnel, be ordered to sea on a mission of national importance expecting to fight - and not have AEW cover to provide at least the seconds of warning an incoming flock of multi mach speed anti ship missiles might allow?

        An fixed wing AEW would cost $80m to protect a £10bn+ carrier? Sounds like a good investment.

        The AEW fixed wing plane needs a £2bn catapult to launch?

        Even if that price is remotely sustainable ( the carriers' design was originally sold as catapult capable. Nothing was said about it costing 50% of the price of a carrier to do it) it still sounds worthwhile given the other benefits.

        Jump jets could still use the carrier, but so could friendly planes and new planes the UK could then have the option of buying. So could future super-capable drones.

        What about AEW drones launched by missile?

        What about an AEW blimp/airship? To shadow the carrier and provide permanent cover. Could vary height to ride the most suitable wind. Could even be resupplied and rotate crew by helicopter.

        Can the F-35B operate away from the ship? It's much heavier than the Harrier and the downdraft is much harder & hotter. I've read that the US have had to harden or cool the landing sites. Can't see an F-35B deploying to forest clearings and roads like the Harrier, or even to standard airstrips or unprepared friendly carriers without causing damage to the airstrip and the plane itself from the debris thrown up.

        Doesn't the attachment of drop tanks and external weaponry remove one of the core benefits of the JSF, i.e. stealth? At least until the drop tanks are dropped and the external weapons launched. Even that assumes that there will be no radar reflecting connections/brackets still attached.

        IIRC I read somewhere that JSF stealth profile is best from the front, i.e. during the attack phase, and less so from the back, when it's trying to get away after the attack. If so, the drop tanks and external weapons contradict a basic design premise of how the plane is to be used.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Worrying

          "An fixed wing AEW would cost $80m to protect a £10bn+ carrier? Sounds like a good investment."

          Nope, $240million each and we will need at least four.

          It now seems certain Crowsnest will be based on Merlin helicopters, using either LM radar or Aearchwater radar. They can see out to at least 150miles and will do a good enough job.

  47. This post has been deleted by its author

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flip-flop-flip

    Different governments coming to different conclusions is no big surprise. A government changing its mind in the event of cost overruns and delays is equally understandable, responsible even. After all, do we really want to be the guinea pigs for America's latest expensive toy?

    Less understandable is the approach taken by a certain "defence correspondent". When the original decision was made in favour of F-35Bs, Page was criticial. When the decisions was changed in favour of F-35Cs, Page was critical. Now there has been a second about turn on the part of HMG, and it is no surprise that Page is criticising that too - all these positions are viewable today on El Reg if you search back though the archives.

    It's clear then that Page's position has nothing to do with the merits of one plane over the other and everything to do with that chip on his shoulder.

    1. Brutus

      Re: Flip-flop-flip

      Not sure I understand your point.

      If Lewis thought the f-35B was shit, and he thought the f-35C was shit, why would he not still think the f-35B is still shit when the govenment u-turned?

      It's all about the merits of one plane over another; not, as you seem to be implying, the merits of one variant over another.

  49. Mahou Saru

    Plan B...

    Use the carriers as floating tax free havens or casinos

  50. Ungawunga
    Happy

    F35B Unique role.

    Best not get too worked up about the cost though, in the end it is just state financed job creation.

    The F35B is a beast of a development that will take years to straighten out but eventually it will work and fulfill a unique role (unlike the A and C versions).

    It might also operate from HMS Ocean at a push!

    1. do the work

      Re: F35B Unique role.

      I don't know - I doubt the HMS Ocean Lift could carry a fully-laden F-35B

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: F35B Unique role.

        I find it unlikely anyone would fuel and arm a aircraft below deck or move one below deck.

  51. Emj

    Buying foreign goods may be cheaper but less of the money spent stays in the UK economy. Spending larger amounts of money, even with a company like BAE considering the work share of the projects, means that more of the money spent stays in the UK economy and thus ultimately ends up back in the Government pockets in the way of taxes. Well... at least that sounds plausible!

    1. jason 7

      BAE is a funnel of tax payers money out of the UK.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      EMj

      False logic there my friend

      The government doesn't have any money, it takes ours or borrows more, which is effectively taking a bit more of ours over the years, just less obvious.

      So, the government "pays" BAE for something, BAE then keep our people in jobs and pays them. we then tax those people to get some more money to pay for the shit we ask BAE to build. Do you see a problem with this? your recycling the same money, yes you are giving jobs to those people but your taking their money to pay for their own jobs, its not sustainable in the long run, you need to make shit and sell it off outside the country to "make" money and generate actual growth, the government buying our own stuff to make "growth" is only possible by them taking more money or borrowing more in the first place, both of which is either bad or unnecessary

      The real question is what ever happened to our country being at the forefront of building planes and ships, when we used to make stuff and sell it, I mean damn, even the Americans brought our gear or used our experience, Mach 1? yes we gave up due to costs and the country being bankrupt but who got you over that slight problem of you suddenly losing all elevator control?

      you kind of have to wonder if it wasn't bloody health and safety and greed that didn't push these people away to places that were welcoming them with open arms....

      1. jason 7
        Meh

        The problem with the concept that BAE keep jobs in the UK...

        ...so we can tax them.

        Is that each of those BAE jobs is subsidised by the tax payer to the tune of tens of millions each.

        It seems the Govt never remembers that.

        The UK would be better off financially if we didn't have those jobs in the UK and probably didn't have as much to do with BAE.

        Spread the love to other defence contractors and create some jobs that actually generate tax income rather than just throwing it down the drain.

  52. SJRulez

    Why do we even bother having carriers? Oh of course its so we can send our army, navy and air force half way round the world to interfere in other peoples affairs....

    Scrap the carriers complete, that also means we can get rid of the need for expensive VTOL\catapult launched planes and stick to land based.

    Lets face it anyone who wanted to start a war with us would probably use the same tactics as immigrants instead, hide in a truck or walk the through the channel tunnel and the UK border agency wont spot you to raise the alarm.

    1. do the work

      Because carriers are a conventional deterrent and can prevent wars by showing a presence - exactly what we weren't able to do immediately prior to the Falklands War during which we had to make to with helicopter carriers operating beyond full stretch and were very lucky not to be defeated.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        We had two carriers (small but they were carriers, one even used to fly Phantoms) and another within weeks of entering service. It didn't deter the Argies becuase they thought the UK wouldn't care.

      2. SJRulez

        Hmm, valid point they are a deterrent but who exactly are we trying to deter....... I doubt the french, germans or any other europeans are going to attack us. The only people we need to deter are counties in the Middle east which in general dont have the range to attack us anyway.

  53. John Robson Silver badge
    WTF?

    Hang on a moment....

    Why are politicians making these decision anyway - surely they get a budget request from the armed forces, and say "yay" or "nay" to it. Then the armed forces sign some cheques to whomever they see fit (saving some for wages, and some for war - when they suddenly need to buy alot more fuel and ammunition than normal)

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Hang on a moment....

      Not as such. What happens is

      1. The democratically elected government decide what they'd like the armed forces to be able to do.

      2. The armed forces explain how much this will cost.

      3. The government give them less than this but still want their original requirement fulfilled.

      4. To get round this changes are continually made to programs in a counter productive attempt to save money.

      Ideally at point 3 the government should just sign the cheques as it would ultimately be cheaper than all the intervening dicking about. E.g. with the Albion class landing ships they managed to remove the hangar deck (along with medical centre) to save a few million in steel while costing several million in redesign costs, it's hard to think of any MoD program where this hasn't happened unless it's an Urgent Operational Requirement where things are so desperate people are allowed to just go and buy things.

  54. localzuk

    All kinda irrelevant...

    If you use the Nimitz class ship as a model for manning the carriers, you realise that we'd need around 30% of our Navy's personnel to crew the 2 carriers.

    Maybe more, as we're slashing the budget and laying off personnel.

    I don't think we'll have the staff to run one of them let alone the jets to fly off them!

    1. do the work

      Re: All kinda irrelevant...

      No not really. The US Navy has got used to cheap labour and manned ships accordingly. One of the redeeming features of the QE class carriers was the high degree of automation which required a much smaller crew - compounded over up to 50 years, that's a huge cost-saving.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All kinda irrelevant...

        How well will that reduced crew work when the ship starts taking battle damage?

        On thing I always thought about a vast crew is lots of warm bodies to put out fires etc.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Costs...

    It's funny this line:

    "It's well known that the F-35B will cost a lot more to buy and more to run than the F-35C catapult version: and it's also well known that the main cost of aircraft carriers is not the ships but the planes. So, right out of the gate, we can see that this is a foolish decision."

    As it implies that it's foolish to give tax payers money to large organisations. That is the MO of the capitalist system. If you think this is foolish, then you're the fool. It happens all the time. It's not about value for money, it's about profit for large companies.

    How many times do you have to see this evidence to know the truth? Do the research and waken up folks. And anyway, less killing machines, in my opinion, can't be a bad thing.

    Peace, as a goal and a method.

  56. Ian 45
    FAIL

    2bn?

    How can it possibly cost 2bn to put a catapult on it? Whats it made of, solid gold? Sounds like someone changed their mind and the only way to get the politicians to fall for it was to make up a massive number. All this so some Scottish union members can keep their jobs.....

  57. The FunkeyGibbon
    WTF?

    I'm confused...

    Can somebody explain who we are supposed to be fighting with these carriers and planes? Back in the Cold War days I could see how fear and political ideologues made the case for a floating air-force. These days I can't see it's worth, if the Middle East collapses the F35 won't be the answer. The F18, the Tornado and are more than a match for what most of those countries can muster.

    The UK has to remember we are not a big powerful country any more, trying to have a military like we are is crippling and pointless. We need a better strategy that focuses on skills not huge numbers.

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Re: I'm confused...

      > who we are supposed to be fighting with these carriers and planes?

      Ans: nobody. They're like nuclear weapons (i.e. terribly expensive, bought from the americans as we can't make our own and never intended to be used). The point about having an offensive capability is status, not security. There's no possibility that these weapons of war will ever be used to repel an invader. However the threat that we could bring them to bear against some other poor schmuk in a faraway country affords us a place at the table, in the Security Council. The fact that we don't, demonstrates our restraint and maturity (or possibly the secret, kept, that they don't actually work).

      These weapons allow the politicians to swagger about, pretending to be statesmen (or women) and to show magnanimity by deploying them to help "friendly" (i.e. oil-rich) countries/peoples with the implied debt to be paid by them selling their resources to us, instead of to other countries that can't bomb the crap out of people they don't like.

      In political terms, they help preserve our influence in the world. In footballing terms: attack is the best form of defence. In the animal kingdom, so long as you look big and threatening others will leave you alone. Sadly we've got ourselves into the situation where none of these aphorisms work for us any more - or we've been sussed. Even more sadly, the defence companies keep persuading the politicians that they still hold true.

      1. do the work

        Re: I'm confused...

        Eh, I wouldn't say you are confused, just not conversant with the full range of facts. And that's why you just don't get it.

        The carriers are not about fighting wars - quite the reverse. They're about conventional deterrence. But if we ever did have to go to war with the carriers, a moveable airbase that can project power anywhere in the world. Moreover, as platforms, they have not been successfully attacked anywhere since 1945 - unlike any number of static airbases. So most independent observers would agree this is quite a good asset to have - especially as we remain a declining power - keenly observed by most foreign nations - less and less inclined to let us base the RAF as and where it suits us on our own terms.

      2. Ian 55
        Mushroom

        Re: I'm confused...

        The 'British' nuclear deterrent ensures a very strong American interest in our survival. If Moscow is vapourised (the basic British aim in using V-bombers / Polaris / Trident), you can bet that the Russians are not going to go 'Oh, those were probably British missiles, we won't launch any of ours at the Americans.' No, they're going to fire off a major strike aimed at the USA, with at least one missle for every American city you've heard of.

        So you could say that the British nuclear deterrent is aimed indirectly at Washington, because it means America has to make sure that Britain does not use it: if we start a nuclear war, the USA is going to get damaged beyond recognition.

        These carriers, on the other hand, are erm, well, expensive targets.

    2. Johan Bastiaansen
      Go

      Re: I'm confused...

      Well, you would have been able to use it in Lybia.

      Are you one of those people who are annoyed by the way the Syrian population is suffering under a brutal dictator? Do you want to do anything about it other than filing a protest the UN?

      Where are you going to fly your planes from?

      1. Jon B

        Re: I'm confused...

        er.. Greece, Turkey, Cyprus ?

        1. laird cummings

          Re: I'm confused...

          "er.. Greece, Turkey, Cyprus ?"

          Really? Have you checked the politics in those places recently? What price are you willing to pay to use one of those countries as a base of operations? A carrier offshore doesn't have to pay rent or make political compromises.

  58. moonface
    Big Brother

    Orwell - Never so apt.

    Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed. A Floating Fortress, for example, has locked up in it the labour that would build several hundred cargo-ships. Ultimately it is scrapped as obsolete, never having brought any material benefit to anybody, and with further enormous labours another Floating Fortress is built. In principle the war effort is always so planned as to eat up any surplus that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the population. In practice the needs of the population are always underestimated, with the result that there is a chronic shortage of half the necessities of life; but this is looked on as an advantage. It is deliberate policy to keep even the favoured groups somewhere near the brink of hardship, because a general state of scarcity increases the importance of small privileges and thus magnifies the distinction between one group and another.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Orwell - Never so apt.

      Trust me, the Koreans are knocking out cargo ships so cheaply no one would employ a UK shipyard to do anything but build things for the RN.

  59. SYNTAX__ERROR
    Headmaster

    "Minuscule"

    Is the correct spelling of that word. It catches me out as well.

  60. Yag
    Mushroom

    There is an additionnal diplomatic issue...

    The recent "Defence and Security Co-operation Treaty" between UK and France include a part about carrier sharing...

    I think the french will feel a bit tricked if UK carriers won't be able to accomodate the Rafale-M, but they still have to respect the agreement on the CdG...

    Maybe the fact that this decision was made so close to the french presidential elections and the change of government was not a coincidence.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is an additionnal diplomatic issue...

      The French tricked the UK into this agreement knowing their catapult could never launch a F-35C. It had to be extended to support the E2 which weights about the same but launches at half speed. The French carrier can't even launch a fully loaded Rafale.

      Whats shocking is the complete lack of investigation this shows in the original decision to switch to the C and share the French mini-carrier.

      1. Johan Bastiaansen
        FAIL

        Re: There is an additionnal diplomatic issue...

        Is this the French mini carrier you're talking about? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_aircraft_carrier_Charles_de_Gaulle_(R91)

        She's 20 m shorter than your precious Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, so that would make those mini+ or something.

        If you have to lie to make your point, that means you're wrong.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There is an additionnal diplomatic issue...

          The ski ramp effectively adds 50% to the length. The CdG doesn't have one, hence its useless.

  61. Aitor 1

    Sorry to agree with you

    But yes, you are right.

    But my impression is they know this. They do it so the F35B version can be saved.. they don't care about capabilities or money..

  62. Alistair MacRae

    Every time I see an article about BAE..

    Every time I see an article about BAE.. the cost of whatever they're making ends up costing 10 times as much and getting half the amount. Eurofighter's, Nimrods, Tornados...

  63. DufferAlert

    Bird and Fortune tell it like it is

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6h8i8wrajA

  64. do the work

    Bloody right !

    Just another victory for the Royal Air Support Service/BAE industrial complex at the expense of the national and taxpayer interest !

  65. Will 20

    1. If we have US aircraft carriers - they'll have to constantly go back to the US to be worked on. Every time a ship comes back from Sea, they do some work on it - and there isn't much in the way of UK military ports that'll take a ship the size of a US aircraft carrier.

    2. Cats and traps involve throwing a very heavy aircraft at a very high rate of acceleration (or deceleration) off a carrier. It isn't just a bit of welding, and we'll stick these on here. Since we don't have a nuclear engine to generate steam, it'll have to be EMALS to launch. EMALS is so brand spanking new, that the Yanks have just started to get it to work, and not even on a boat yet.

    3. F-18 is an inferior aircraft to both Eurofighter, & F35. Indeed, on of the strongest areas of the F-35 is its sensor package, which is really useful fighting the kind of wars we are fighting, and will be fighting.

    1. do the work

      1. How often do you call "constantly" and how "constant" would it be compared to the dock time for our home-built ships and would not a contract decide on threat of penalty decide how constant that was?

      These are metrics one ought to know before throwaway statements like that.

      2. Emals works and will be working long before F-35 - B or C. It's definitely way ahead in testing of F35.

      3. Yes, but the whole point is that it can go anywhere on an aircraft carrier now - which Eurofighter defintely can't and F-35 won't for many years. Actually, the sensor package is vastly over-specced for the kinds of wars we have been, are and will be fighting. Those sorts of sensors are best loaded on a cheap ucav not an all-singing, all-dancing fighter plane of which we will be able to afford all too few of.

  66. Johan Bastiaansen
    Angel

    Phillip Hammond is a traitor and any UK citizen is allowed to shoot him in the face and claim self defence.

    That won't stick and you will be probably be convicted. But the traitor will be dead. And his fellow traitors will be very nervous indeed.

  67. Munkstar

    Its all about the missiles really. Flying a hercules whilst chucking them out the back was muted ... still a good idea.

  68. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    VTOL long duration airbourne radar.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/12/23/lemv_cargo_potential/

    If this British designed airship has the potential '...to carry big cargoes' then it can carry airboure radar etc and the people to operate them. Or leave them in unmanned mode with targetted microwave and/or laser links back down to the carrier.

    According the article they have a 21 day flight duration so only has to "touch down" on the carrier to refuel every three weeks. The navy can refuel a flying helicopter from a support ship, so this airship doesn't even have to touch down, just lower a fuel pipe.

    Obviously, under some (most??) wind conditions, refueling while flying might not be possible, but with a 21 day flight range, just send a new one from any convenient land base.

    Not only do we still have a few years to iron out any "difficulties" before they will be needed, but with the interchangable modules, they can be re-purposed as cheap slow cargo or long duration AWACs etc as required. They could probably launch/retrieve drones too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: VTOL long duration airbourne radar.

      And then what happens when you need radar cover for fighters 400 miles from the carrier?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: VTOL long duration airbourne radar.

        The fighters have superb radar built in and its networked so all fighters can share the target info. Hard to estimate the range, but 100miles plus for non-stealth fighter sized targets.

  69. Peter Fairbrother 1

    Billion-pound electric catapults? Pah!

    I had initially thought that the F-35Bs could be dismounted from the carriers and used in another, Harrier-like, role: eg in a zero length field situation from a clearing in the jungle, or the Falklands.

    However I find they need a ski-jump to get any significant weight of bombs - F-35s are primarily light bombers - into the air from a zero length field. They would have to operate from ski-jump carriers or bases with runways, with a fairly short range and considerably lower (than eg a F-35C) bomb load from runways.

    F-35Bs would be of almost no use if dismounted in zero length field situations, and of very little use in runway tactical/strategic situations unless the runway was unusually close to the action.

    So, on to electric catapults which cost billions - or rather, not on. But wait-a-bit, why electric catapults?

    A 30,000 kg aircraft needs to be accelerated to takeoff speed in about 1.5 seconds - say 65 m/s from the catapult and 10 m/s from the aircraft's engines, for a total of 75 m/s (or 145 knots). The aircraft accelerates at 5G maximum, the catapult path is 56m to 75m (about 250 feet) long.

    That's somewhere around 75 MJ of kinetic energy supplied by the catapult. I agree that an electric catapult of that energy and power would be expensive (although £2 billion still sounds a bit OTT), but what is really needed is a simple big spring - or rather two 30 ton contrarotating springs with a fusee, in a housing, with a total weight of around 200 tons. A 5 MW electric motor winds the springs up in 20 seconds from ship's power.

    Well-designed springs can deliver the required 1.25 MJ per ton with comparative ease - for instance, that's quite a bit less work than a car suspension spring does (when was the last time you heard of one of them breaking, in normal use?), and it would have to do it far less often than a car spring.

    The whole spring/motor assembly including mountings would weigh about 320 tons, and it would be quite dense, so it might usefully be mounted near the bottom of the ship providing some ballast, and the energy transferred to the flight deck by cables in ducts.

    Similar energy/speed fast-moving cables in ducts are used everyday in the arrestor gear of aircraft carriers. The spring assembly could of course be mounted almost anywhere in the ship, as required.

    You might want two seperate housings, one for each of two catapults, mounted in different locations, with independent cables and ducts to each catapult, for operability, combat damage etc reasons.

    In extremis, you could probably make one from old car suspension springs from the scrappy - 60 tons of springs, £70 per ton, that's £4,200. And no, I am not kidding. Lose ship's power? Put five hundred burly sailors on the windlasses, if they still have those aboard, and they'll rewind them in about 12 minutes.

    Billion-pound electric catapults? Pah!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Billion-pound electric catapults? Pah!

      While your tongue is obviously firmly in cheek, this is something that has been looked at before. The problem with springs is the force they apply is proportional to their extension, so the spring applies a maximum acceleration at the start of the launch and zero acceleration at the point of launch. This isn't something you want with aircraft catapults as it knacks your airframe, not to mention your pilot. One of the initial problems with the EMALS system was that it too struggled with applying constant (relatively) low acceleration, but as 30 seconds with youtube will inform you, the system is now fully functioning, launching everything in the USN's inventory.

      1. Peter Fairbrother 1

        Re: Billion-pound electric catapults? Pah!

        My tongue was not (entirely) in my cheek, nor even close - the purpose of the fusee (as in a watch or clock, or even some crossbows) is to get the near-constant thrust profile right. It's easy to do, and you can get any thrust profile you might want.

        From the wikipedia entry for fusee: G. Baillie stated of the fusee, "Perhaps no problem in mechanics has ever been solved so simply and so perfectly."

        1. Peter Fairbrother 1

          Re: Billion-pound electric catapults? Pah!

          Oh, and before you ask - the reason for having two springs per catapult is so you can wind one up this much, and wind the other up that much, and thereby vary the total thrust produced on the wire, to adjust for different loads and different aircraft.

          It's not as sexy as an electric catapult - but it's a whole lot cheaper, and a whole lot more reliable to boot.

          1. Yag

            Just one question...

            How do you wind your springs?

            1. Peter Fairbrother 1

              Re: Just one question...

              My first comment was a bit long, and part of it may be hidden - there's a link at the bottom left to "expand comment", and display the rest of it. The answer to your question, and more, is there.

              In the first instance, 5 MW of electric motors driven by ship's power rewind the springs in 20 seconds (the carriers have 40MW turbo-electric drives). Or you can use a lot of sailors on windlasses, or a diesel engine, or whatever you like really.

              1. Dave Bell

                Re: Just one question...

                I am just going to have to use this idea in some fiction.

                There is this thing labelled "dieselpunk", by analogy with "cyberpunk" and "steampunk". It fits in with some of the oddities of the inter-war years,

                The possible failures would be interesting...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Billion-pound electric catapults? Pah!

      "However I find they need a ski-jump to get any significant weight of bombs "

      Not so. USMC don't use ski-jumps at all. The specifications call for 2000lb bombs, full fuel and two A2A missiles requiring a 600feet run. The ski jump add to the load capabilities and the extra 300feet of deck (uk carries decks are bigger) length gives even more weight possibilities.

      So to get more load you need more runway length than the 600ft minimum. In the Falklands 250m was used (most of the material had sank with the Atlantic Conveyor unfortunately)

      The spring idea is not bad, in fact the USN tested a catapult using jet-fuel and oxidizer. Dirt cheap, about $20million twenty years ago. Google ICCALS

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Joke

        Re: Billion-pound electric catapults? Pah!

        Can't you just drive the ship very fast out from underneath the plane?

  70. Peter Fairbrother 1

    A-10s on carriers?

    I don't know whether it would be possible to launch A-10s from carriers, but that would be - something!

    Air supremacy is good, and even necessary, and light bombers and other ground attack aircraft are also useful, but for CAS there's nothing to beat the A-10 - and CAS wins battles.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A-10s on carriers?

      Everything beats the A-10 in CAS. Compared the CEP of the A-10's main gun to the CEP of a modern smartbomb, and then bear in mind a bomb can be dropped from 30,000 feet, while the GAU-8 is designed to be fired from 4,000 feet. The A-10 is a relic, designed when plinking tanks across the german plains was still the USAF's #1 priority. The only reason the USAF still deploy it is that they've got no choice; they built 700 of the things. Prior to about 2005 they didn't have any of the new fangled deelies like targeting pods, gps receivers/interfaces for jdam, data links to share targeting information and talk to drones; stuff that western nations consider fairly essential for dropping bombs and shooting at things within the vicinity of Our Lads and also Johnny Civilian. Compared to something like the F-16, the F-15E or even, yes god forbid, the F-35, its precision strike capability is limited. The only reason they were upgraded rather than binned is, again, the sheer number of the things. The USAF couldn't meet its obligations with just its multi-role planes, much as the RAF kept/is keeping planes like the Jaguar, the Harrier and the Tornado around long past the realistic end of their shelf life.

      1. Peter Fairbrother 1

        Re: A-10s on carriers?

        Lets see. The A-10's GAU-8 "CEP" from 4,000 feet is 80% in 20 feet radius. The GBU-39 (the smallest smart bomb, not widely deployed as yet) has a 50% CEP of 25 feet, with a further 100% lethal blast radius of 26 feet, and lethal shrapnel out to who knows where.

        If the A-10's pilot is reasonably good, and especially if (s)he knows where I am as a friendly, I'd much rather be 100 feet from the aim point of an A10 gun strike than 100 feet from the aim point of even a teeny tiny smart bomb.

        Agreed, only some A-10s are kitted out with the "newfangled deelies" , but it's a known upgrade. Which also includes the ability to drop smart bombs accurately, if that's what you really want to do...

        In a carrier-based role, I'd like to give the A-10 a bit better air-to-air capability, but I'd also put some air superiority fighters (and 2 or 3 Hawkeyes, and a COD) on the carrier, for local defense if nothing else. But I don't know how much it would cost to modify an A-10 to fly from a carrier.

        I also don't know why it's better to drop a bomb from 30,000 feet than a few hundred or a few thousand feet, but that's another story.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A-10s on carriers?

          The A-10 has the worst short take off performance of any US combat aircraft. Combat ready it takes 50% more distance than a F-15/F-18 etc. Not the best aircraft to have a on a carrier.

          Whereas the UK has marinised the AH-64 and its extremely effective.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A-10s on carriers?

        on small point.

        a GAU-8 Round is a hell of a lot cheaper than a smart-bomb.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A-10s on carriers?

      The fashion is to go for turboprop for ground attack. The UK has plenty of them already in the shape of the Tucano as its the basic trainer for the RAF, so not much training required . Probably need strengthening to work on a carrier but its low take-off speed (69knots stall) is probably perfect for use without the catapult.

  71. shugyo

    consolidation of industry mark of central banking

    The article is certainly on target, especially as far as the centralization of the economy is concerned. It would help I think if people understood that this sort of centralization is the mark of a central-banking run economy based on fiat currency, where mercantilism is the rule, and continued centralization of control is unavoidable until the final societal collapse (usually distracted via war and/or a complete renewal of the monetary system, in the process wiping out more of the middle class).

    In a non-centralized economy, specifically where money is both not monopolized (making the economy no different from any other socialist one) and not dessociated from value, monopolies can only exist with the support of consumers; i.e., beneficial monopolies would and could exist, but not the type we currently have in the form of mercantilist entities relying on government-distributed handouts (created as debt by central banking and legally created as obligations of teh tax payers) to maintain their existence.

  72. nimx
    Meh

    Meh

    May as well just melt them down now, for all the use they will be to us. Regardless of the choice, they will spend most of their time docked, maybe venturing out once every few years, only to limp back in need of a multi billion refit (BAE will insist it isn't their fault). That's assuming the Navy can ever assemble enough iPod owning chucklefucks to man the things.

    When BAE eventually do make them seaworthy, the gov of the day will suddenly decide carriers are obsolete, proclaim the future to be land based UCAV's and hurridly sell the carriers to India, for the price of a good curry. They will tell us the carriers were junk, it'd have cost us more to scrap them... 30 years later, they will still be in active service with the Indian Navy, who will be boasting about what good value they've been. The RN, by then comprised of an inflatable that's manned 1 day a week, will insist they're as capable as ever and the gov will ask if they really need the paddles.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    E2D Hawkeye costs $210million

    At least. As the main reason to get a catapult (although they can fly without on the UK carrier) it was never going to be purchased. Even a v-22 was considered too expensive at $80million.

    I'm a fan of the AW609, less than half the price of the v-22 and pressurized up to 25k feet.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: E2D Hawkeye costs $210million

      You can't really compare the cost of a V-22 to a Hawkeye as one comes with a massive radar, data link facility and one doesn't. By the time you've added that to the V-22 I'd expect the price to be >$210 milllion assuming you can figure out where to put the radome without getting in the way of the folding wings and rotors. The radar less cargo carrying version of the E-2, the Greyhound costs around $40 million so it looks like the cost of the radar is in the order of $170 million, add that to the cost of a basic V-22 and you're talking $240 million and that's assuming the development costs are amortized over a decent production run. Which they won't be.

      The AW609 maybe cheaper still but you probably couldn't get all the systems in that, unless sir wants a bespoke option which I'm sure BAe would happily quote for and then fail to deliver a decade and several billion after the in service date...

      1. Dave Bell

        Re: E2D Hawkeye costs $210million

        Two words: Nimrod AEW

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: E2D Hawkeye costs $210million

        The Uk already has a decent radar system in Searchwater and the proposal is to upgrade it to phased array so the scanners would be flat panels on the side of the aircraft.

        http://home.janes.com/events/exhibitions/dsei2011/sections/daily/day4/searchwater-radar-aimed-a.shtml

        Lockheed Martin have a identical system.

        http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/singapore-air-show/2012-02-10/lockheed-martin-and-northrop-grumman-offer-airborne-vigilance-lower-cost

        Both systems will be cheap and easy to install as the roll in the ramp in the back of what ever aircraft you choose and clap the antenna on the side.

        Brazil has bough C1 Traders and is looking at these radars to give 250mile range. UK will probably stick to the Merlin but who know, a Twin Otter or M28 Skytruck could be a dirt cheap option ($7million) with 25k feet altitude.

        $7million +$10million tops for a Twin Otter and Searchwater with 250mile range or $230million for 450mile range with a E2. Do the maths, its not worth it.

  74. Don Jefe
    Meh

    Lease Options

    A lease is only financiable viable since you get to loan it once & sell it afterward. I didn't even know we offered that as an option.

    Secondly, how can I get in on that? Is there a link to the lease page? I can certainly afford payments on a single craft. Can I also float armaments?

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    F35B vs F35C

    If you are taking sides on whether the F35B or the F35C is the better option, then you are already on the wrong side of the arugment, whichever side you take. By the time the things come into service manned planes will already be an anachronism.

    For a fraction of the cost, you could have drones that can do the job of sitting over a war zone, waiting for days to drop a bomb in whichever insurgent / terrorist / wedding party you like, piloted by some desk jockey in Gloucestershire. If one or two get shot down, then so what? Your enemy has just given him/herself away and those drones that you built in numbers because they were so cheap will have a buddy only a few miles away to finish the job.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: F35B vs F35C

      Few problems with drones.

      They are very expensive to operate, much more so than expected.

      Their attrition rate is very high - they crash a lot. And apparently its easy to hijack them and hand over all your latest technology to you enemy

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Melted deck

    As ever a good article from Lewis.

    I remember seeing a news article about the F-35B and V-22 Osprey melting the deck on carriers and therefore reducing their operating life. Wonder if its been factored in?

    I think that catapult and hooks would have at least provided mechanism to allow other countries to reuse the carriers however a comment further up suggested that they will be using drones with a few fighter jets so the likelihood is a lot of predator-like drones, some F-35B's for missions and carrier air support and helicopters;

    To be honest, the whole MOD procurement from small items all the way up needs sorting out. Simply too expensive to procure things.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Melted deck

      "I remember seeing a news article about the F-35B and V-22 Osprey melting the deck on carriers and therefore reducing their operating life. Wonder if its been factored in?"

      Yes, definitely. You need a much bigger deck to stop crew being blown overboard, which we have. No cooling required, just some heat proof paint and a few other stuff.

      The cost to the marines light carriers is $70million each.

      If Shipboard Rolling Vertical Landing is used its less of an issue, they will be coming in at 35-40knots to land so the jet blast will be spread around.

  77. h4rm0ny

    That photo...

    What's the big plastic thing on the top of the plane in the picture? It looks like the canopy has opened, but the picture shows the plane in flight. Surely the canopy would rip off if that were done. So what is it? Genuine question.

    1. PlacidCasual

      Re: That photo...

      Thats the cover for the fan which provides lift at the front of the aircraft. It is one of the areas of the design that is proving problematic.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: That photo...

        Thanks. I couldn't work out what it was. It certainly looks problematic, though, even to me!

        1. nichomach

          Re: That photo...

          Not that bad - they've already delivered production models to the USMC .

  78. Magnus_Pym
    Thumb Up

    Cloudbase - obviously

    What we need is a huge LEMV held constantly in the upper atmosphere. with a runway on the top. No need to 'launch' the planes, just drop them off the end to gain airspeed in the fall. Only needs a trap then and as a bonus the pilot is much further away from the sea when the trap fails.

  79. Carl
    Facepalm

    BAe Lobbyst

    I once met a professional BAe lobbyist at a party.

    He was everything you would expect and much much less.

  80. cortezcortez

    Scrap the RAF

    There is a partial solution to this problem. High time the RAF was put to sleep and divided up between the Army and the Navy.

    What's it for? They haven't shot down a plane in 70 years and they couldn't even close the runway at Stanley while the FAA were busy shooting down the enemy's planes.

    Closing it will save billions, halve the amount of high-grade desk-jockey officers in MoD, and prepare our forces for the century which started over a decade ago.

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