back to article Slower US F-35A purchases piles $27bn onto total fighter jet bill

Slower purchases of the F-35 fighter jet have piled $27bn on top of the cost of buying the ridiculously expensive aircraft, according to reports. The Defense News website reports that the “estimated total acquisition cost of the F-35 program” increased by seven per cent in one year, from $379bn to $406.5bn. This figure covers …

  1. alain williams Silver badge

    How many hospitals is that ?

    If we spent 1/2 of that money on the NHS instead how many more lives would we save ?

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: How many hospitals is that ?

      None. We would have every vulture removing that money in minutes before it could do anything. And as a one off bump of money it would be squandered on nothing and more demanded. I would be shocked if it would be used to replace a single piece of out of date equipment, buy any drugs or even be but a moments blip on the accounting.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How many hospitals is that ?

        '.. I would be shocked if it would be used to replace a single piece of out of date equipment, buy any drugs or even be but a moments blip on the accounting.'

        Oh, you cynic!

        Of course the money would be spent on these things!, well, some of it, after all, there's the administration of such a windfall to be considered, the best financial 'acumen' doesn't come cheap you know, as we do so have to have those management chappies from the city, only the best for our NHS! and headhunting them can be just a wee bit expensive (and their private health plans don't come cheap, either..)

      2. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: How many hospitals is that ?

        Why would it have to be a "one-off bump of money"? Couldn't it be placed in a reserve fund and used judiciously in cases of serious need?

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: How many hospitals is that ?

          'Why would it have to be a "one-off bump of money"? Couldn't it be placed in a reserve fund and used judiciously in cases of serious need?'

          Because the Treasury, you'd have to get them to completely change their accounting rules to allow for a reserve fund to be held over multiple financial years. Also it's not a one off amount to start with so the amount in any one year isn't that big, in government terms, I mean I'd be set for life.

          It's also worth remembering they're still trying not to borrow ~£50 Billion a year so any savings from cancelling any government programme are probably going to go towards making that number smaller.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: How many hospitals is that ?

      I perfectly agree with your sentiment. I feel it is high time we Western countries stop telling other countries how to live because our model isn't exactly a panacea either.

      I would pull out of everywhere and leave other countries to progress at their own rhythm. It may be despicable to see the Taliban reign on Afghanistan, but until its own people understand how wrong it is, we cannot expect them to understand simply because we tell them.

      The unfortunate truth is that simply pulling out and leaving them to their devices will most likely cause way more mayhem than keeping up a presence would. Counted in tens of thousands of lives, if not hundreds of thousands. What do you think is keeping Putin from outright invading Ukraine ? Morals ? His rating on Twitter ? No. It's NATO and, specifically, the US forces that are part of NATO.

      This is the icky situation our interventionism has got us in : we can't retreat even if we wanted to. Cue ever-spiraling military budgets because the US is actually preparing to fight Russia, not the Chinese and especially not Somalian pirates.

      1. Joe User

        An imperfect solution for an imperfect world

        And now for the flip side of that coin. The nutballs running those countries have an intense dislike of more enlightened countries, i.e. France, Germany, the U.K., the U.S.A., etc. They either a) slip some of their nutballs into those countries to cause murder and mayhem; b) encourage local nutballs to join their cause; c) buy/develop potent weapons to attack those countries; or d) all of the above.

        What are you going to do then? Keep saying "Stay out of my country!" until the nutballs chose to listen? This "turn the other cheek" mentality gets old fast when a bully keeps hitting you because you refuse to defend yourself (especially when you are very capable of defending yourself). Or do you develop a bunker mentality and watch as your country becomes increasingly paranoid and eliminates personal freedoms in the name of security?

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: An imperfect solution for an imperfect world

          Depends on why you think Putin wants to invade Ukraine. Does he wants to reconstitute the old USSR? Or does he want Russia to have a buffer against NATO, and only got interested in invading Ukraine because the west wants to bring them into NATO?

          I can't read Putin's mind so I don't know, but there's at the very least a decent chance that had we not been so interested in expanding NATO right up to Russia's border, that we wouldn't have to worry about conflict over Ukraine.

          No doubt some of the conflict in the Middle East would have happened anyway, but would Syria be in the mess it is in today if the west had stayed out and not even provided arms support to the rebels? Are the people of Iraq really better off today now that we've "liberated" them, compared to how things were under Saddam? There were people suffering and being murdered then, there are people suffering and being murdered now - just different sets of people.

          Switzerland isn't fighting a bunch of terrorist incidents. Is that because their security is so much better than other countries, or because they haven't ruined lives and turned a small segment into suicidal maniacs like the US, UK, France and other NATO countries have done?

          1. Joe User

            Re: An imperfect solution for an imperfect world

            @DougS -- I think that Putin is displaying two classic Russia traits: greed and paranoia. Greed because a bigger country is a more "manly" country. And paranoia because he has some twisted idea that NATO wants to invade Russia, when the truth is just the opposite. NATO was created to resist Russian expansionism (see the first part about "greed"). Russia has a not-so-friendly China on its southern border, but you don't see Putin trying to annex Mongolia, do you?

            And if you're going to talk about "the west" supplying arms to the rebels in Syria, please expound on the Russians supplying arms to the Syrian government/dictatorship. If you want to play the blame game, then there's plenty to go around.

            1. Chris G Silver badge

              Re: An imperfect solution for an imperfect world

              Well Joe you clearly know feck all about Russians, Russia is already bigger than the US by a factor of nearly two, it still has vast amounts of untapped resources and produces a high percentage of the world's gold and diamonds. That's in addition to reserves of natural gas, oil, timber, rare earths etc etc. Not a lot of need for greed there.

              As for paranoia, there was a tacit agreement between the NATO forces and Russian after Perestroika that NATO would not put bases in the former Soviet states and sattelites which the US immediately ignored. The US and NATO have steadily surrounded Russia with bases some massive and allegedly equipped with nukes in a couple.

              If I was Putin that would piss me off but the last thing Putin needs is to invade Ukraine, aside from anything else it would just be a money drain at a time when he is still trying to build the Russian economy in spite of Western sanctions. It would also stretch the military trying to contain a people who really would become enemies if that happened.

              Ukrainians are regarded as brothers by most Russians, they don't understand why there should be so much antipathy between the two countries, 8% of Ukrainians are Russian ethnic anyway.

              My opinions are based on the fact that my wife is Russian, has a large family in Russia and I have friends and workmates who are Russian and Ukranian (who get along fine).

              1. Richard 12 Silver badge

                Re: An imperfect solution for an imperfect world

                Invading and annexing part of the Ukraine might have somerhing to do with it.

                That's only the part Putin admits to.

                It seems very likely that Putin's Russia also funded and supplied the rebels/terrorists who (among other things) shot down a passenger jet with a Russian-built anti-aircraft battery.

                The Ukraine has a lot to be worried about.

                1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                  Re: An imperfect solution for an imperfect world

                  The Ukraine has a lot to be worried about.

                  To be fair - Russia has the only bit of Ukraine that they care about (ie a warm-water port with access to the Med) already.

                  Why would they want the rest? No significant resources (compared to what Russia already has) and a huge nightmare in terms of financial drain to hold onto something that they don't really need.

                  It's far cheaper to play proxy wars by funding separatists within Ukraine - it keeps them nicely off-balance and provides a nice playground of Russian proto-crackers to develop their skills in a nice easy newbie zone..

              2. Potemkine! Silver badge

                Re: An imperfect solution for an imperfect world

                the last thing Putin needs is to invade Ukraine

                ROTFL! He _already_ has invaded Ukraine. Crimea was seized by Russia, and Russian troops are fighting in eastern Ukraine.

                Since Putin became the new Vodj, he invaded Chechnya, Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia), Ukraine (Crimea and Eastern Ukraine), maintained military occupation of Moldova (Transnistria).

                His goal is clearly to rebuild a Russian Empire on the lands which were parts of former USSR. One would be fool to trust Russia, moreover if one's country has a common border with Russia.

                1. Archtech Silver badge

                  Re: An imperfect solution for an imperfect world

                  "His goal is clearly to rebuild a Russian Empire on the lands which were parts of former USSR".

                  I certainly hope that the method of Proof By Repeated Assertion does not work with the Reg's readers - wildly successful as it always is with the population at large.

                  Proof? Facts? I think you'll find there are absolutely none. On the contrary, Russia under Mr Putin has been astonishingly self-controlled and peaceful considering its potentially huge strength.

                  I say again: Russia has not "invaded" anyone since 1991, and has no plans to do so. Why would it want to, when it already has twice the land area of China or the USA and vast amounts of untapped resources? Russia is virtually the only industrialised nation to be actually underpopulated, on a realistic assessment of sustainable population.

                  The UK, in contrast, has a maximum permanently sustainable population of 16 million or less.

              3. Archtech Silver badge

                Re: An imperfect solution for an imperfect world

                https://straightlinelogic.com/2017/07/11/how-many-russians-do-you-hate/

            2. DougS Silver badge

              @Joe User

              Yes, Russia supplies arms to Syria, but that's a long standing relationship as they've been allies forever, sort of like the US with Israel and Saudi Arabia. It isn't like they stuck their noses in suddenly like we did.

              If the Palestinians got together a more organized resistance against Israel, and Russia suddenly started supplying them arms to help, I think you'd find a lot of people in Israel and the US would be quite upset about that. That's pretty much what happened when we started supplying arms to the rebels in Syria when we had never got involved in their internal affairs previously.

          2. strum Silver badge

            Re: An imperfect solution for an imperfect world

            >expanding NATO right up to Russia's border

            Here's the thing. Everything behind that border is his business. Everything on this side isn't.

            NATO didn't wrest the Baltic states, unwillingly, from its Soviet masters; they were only too happy to be able to make their own decisions - one of which was to join NATO.

      2. Triggerfish

        Re: How many hospitals is that ?

        I would pull out of everywhere and leave other countries to progress at their own rhythm. It may be despicable to see the Taliban reign on Afghanistan, but until its own people understand how wrong it is, we cannot expect them to understand simply because we tell them.

        I think half the problem is telling, why couldn't we talk instead? I wonder where Afghanistan would be now if we had spent more time trading with it, and helping with its development and less time using it as a piece in the great game, or bombing the crap out of it. By we I mean not just us in the West, Afghanistan has been getting variously fucked up for years one way or another.

    3. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: How many hospitals is that ?

      'If we spent 1/2 of that money on the NHS instead how many more lives would we save ?'

      I'd guess f**k all. It bears repeating, the NHS budget is 3 times the defence budget, they get through around £500M a week, not buying 138 aircraft over ~20 years is going to make bugger all difference as you're looking at about a weeks extra spending a year. Which assumes having combat aircraft won't save lives in that time period, which might be true if our politicians weren't going to try and carry out any military operations over the next 50 years.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: How many hospitals is that ?

        I believe that the NHS gets through far more than £500m a week. That amount would probably keep it going from now until Saturday night.

        1. briesmith

          Re: How many hospitals is that ?

          You are right, it's about £2Bn a week. Latest government figures put public spending on the NHS at £108Bn annually. Add in the £20Bn or so that's private medical spending and we're up to £3Bn a week.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How many hospitals is that ?

      How about how many footballers? Manchester Utd could have bought an F-35 instead of Lukaku. It would have more pace, but perhaps would be injured more.

  2. John 110
    Joke

    and yet...

    ...when sales of Surface flagged, Microsoft cut the price. I don't understand business...

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: and yet...

      Defence conglomerates will always find a way to make money, don't you fret.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "Defence conglomerates will always find a way to make money, don't you fret."

        Indeed.

        Fat cats never stray far from the cream for long.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: "Defence conglomerates will always find a way to make money, don't you fret."

          Fat cats never stray far from the cream for long.

          Our fat cat doesn't like cream - it makes her sick.

          The souls of the smaller, more agile cats? Those she'll take any day..

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: and yet...

      Think of it like ordering from web sites with quantity discounts. If you want to buy 10 widgets you pay $20/ea, but if you're willing to buy 500 you can get them for $17 and if you are willing to buy 10,001 you can pay $12. The price per F35 is increasing because we're moving down in the quantity discount category.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: and yet...

      When it's military aircraft you're selling, you plan on making back your astronomically huge development costs within - well, guaranteed orders of aircraft, I suppose. If the number of aircraft you're going to sell for sure drops, you have to put the price up. I wouldn't be surprised if the price has been put up by more than is strictly required to cover "development costs + reasonable profit" but I don't suppose we'll ever know for sure.

      Selling stuff like MS's Surface tablet is a different kind of business - development costs are less of an issue, because kit like that is 1) much cheaper to develop 2) sold in hugely greater numbers.

      MS might calculate it's worth flogging 'em cheap for a bit to gain some market share to make them more popular in the long run - potentially turning a product from something which flopped due to lack of interest (rather than inherent defects) into a major success.

      I expect there are other angles too - but those are some obvious points which came to mind.

    4. John 110

      Re: and yet...

      Thanks for the lucid explanations of how business works, guys.

      (did I forget the :joke alert: icon...)

  3. fobobob

    Where did all the money go?

    With the sunk costs on this burd (bird + turd, hyuk!), I feel like we could've/should've come up with a superlative aircraft, not something that is just okay. I must apologize on behalf of America for somehow bamboozling your government into adopting the thing. I know that this article is regarding the A model, but still. Hopefully that sensor integration business comes through as a real game changer, as I certainly wouldn't want to be stuck in this thing (as-is) in a combat situation.

    1. twiss97

      Re: Where did all the money go?

      Absolutely no problem! We here on the other side of the Atlantic have the 'World's Reserve Currency". We can print-up Billions at the touch of a button...An illusion of prosperity for all of the world. Happy Days!! Just hope you don't live too long to suffer the inevitable....

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Where did all the money go?

        'We here on the other side of the Atlantic have the 'World's Reserve Currency"'.

        For the time being. It's high time you began considering what will happen when that situation ceases to exist.

  4. M. Poolman

    Why 'so-called "escort" warships' ?

    They are escort ships, pure and simple. This isn't ISIS we're talking about !

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Why 'so-called "escort" ships' ?

      Why?

      The US Military will come up with some meaningless 10 word name that means SFA to anyone else to describe them. Then they'll ignore any referece to Escort Ships and sing 'La-la-la-la-la- can't hear you'.

      The name automatically adds 500% to the price hence the $500 hammer.

  5. Daedalus Silver badge

    How much for one?

    Years ago, somebody noticed that the curve of ever-increasing cost of one (1) new generation military jet and the flattening curve of the US defence budget were going to converge sometime early in the 21st century. The joke was that the Air Force and Navy would have it 3 days a week each, and the Marines would have it on Sunday.

    1. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: How much for one?

      With the price levels and delays being reached by this white elephant I would not be surprised to see them superseded by drones before ever going into mass service. Greater G-force can be encountered, less worries about an expensive to train meatsack.

  6. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Russian subs?

    No problem. Just put a small notice in the Times to the effect that the Navy will be doing live-firing exercises with depth charges in the area for the next few months. Enter at own risk...

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Russian subs?

      Which is pretty much what the 200NM exclusion zone around the Falklands was all about. Outside that we'd check what we were dropping depth charges on, inside that not so much.

      Apparently comparing Argentine submarine movements and RN submarine detection reveals at least one rather interesting anomaly.

  7. yet_another_wumpus

    "That acoustic data can be used to precisely locate the “Big Lizzy” while she is at sea and ultimately be used to launch torpedoes at her. "

    What part of "targets" don't you understand? Perhaps "zielen"?

  8. Steve Todd

    Has no-one done the math?

    If the US is only buying 60 per year then they are committed to buying the F35 for the next 30 years, at which point it's not going to be anything like leading edge.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Has no-one done the math?

      They're still building F-16s over 40 years after its first flight, so I'm not sure that's a problem. If you were always going for cutting edge you'd never actually buy anything.

  9. Stoke the atom furnaces

    Sea Gripen

    A navalised version of the Saab Gripen would offer much better value for money than the buggy and eye-wateringly expensive F35B.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sea Gripen

      We can't do that, the backhanders wouldn't be bug enough.

    2. graeme leggett

      Re: Sea Gripen

      No Rolls Royce parts in the Gripen programme.

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        Re: Sea Gripen

        Wonder how much 4 dozen MIG-29K would be?

      2. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: Sea Gripen

        'No Rolls Royce parts in the Gripen programme.'

        No but BAE make the wings. I mean you'd have to pay development costs for a carrier version but I'm sure that wouldn't cost loads and take forever...

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          "you'd have to pay development costs..but I'm sure that wouldn't cost loads and take forever..."

          How familiar are you with how BAe does business?

          Never wondered why some people call them "Billions Above Estimate?"

          1. Triggerfish

            Re: "you'd have to pay development costs..but I'm sure that wouldn't cost loads and take forever..."

            The way he worded it I assumed he was very familiar with that. :)

    3. Robert Sneddon

      Re: Sea Gripen

      Is there a short-takeoff version of the Gripen that can get off a short strip under its own power (zero to wheels-up in fifty metres or so fully loaded in adverse sea conditions?) If not then it's not gonna fly off the QE carriers since they don't have catapults of any kind.

      The QE carriers don't have classic steam catapults because they don't have big steam boilers like the previous generation of carriers, they use gas turbine generating plants and electric motor drive because that's how modern non-nuclear warships work these days. Adding a steam catapult system would necessitate building steam boilers and desalination systems into a hull that's already full of planes, power plant, fuel stores, weapons stores etc. Each steam catapult "shot" takes half a tonne of fresh water or so, to give you an idea of what's needed.

      The new Ford-class US nuclear-powered carriers don't have steam plant either, they're electric motor drive too. They're using an electromagnetic catapult system to launch aircraft but they've got a lot of spare electrical generating capacity for just this reason, two 300MWe nuclear reactors (their predecessors got by with two 150MWe reactors). The QE carriers don't have a lot of surplus electrical power, just enough to run the ship and a bit over from their gas turbines (quick check, including some backup diesel generators they have a total electrical power capability of 109MWe). They can't drive an electromagnetic catapult system unless they build a lot of storage (probably spinning flywheels) into some space that's already committed for hangars etc.

      The QE-class carriers were based on the F-35B STOVL aircraft as their primary strike fighter. There's nothing else out there with its capabilities (stealthy, Mach 2, large amount of stores etc.) that can fly off the QE decks and come back to land on them again.

      1. jgarbo
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Sea Gripen

        You're forgetting Britain's masters. They say buy this overpriced crap and the Brits say how many? End of story.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Sea Gripen

          'You're forgetting Britain's masters. They say buy this overpriced crap and the Brits say how many?'

          You're aware as the only Tier 1 partner not only did we get a say in the key performance parameters, but we also make 20% of all F-35s produced. BAE make all the rear fuselages, RR make all the lift fans for the B, M-B make all the ejector seats, etc. etc. So if it's crap it's partly our own crap.

          1. JamesPond

            Re: Sea Gripen

            UK Fleet Air Arm need the F35B because there is no other viable STOL for our carriers as we stupidly decided not to fit catapults.

            But why would the RAF, with long runways, need the B, which is slower and carries less ordinance than the A?

            1. eldakka Silver badge

              Re: Sea Gripen

              @JamesPond

              But why would the RAF, with long runways, need the B, which is slower and carries less ordinance than the A?

              Commonality.

              Even tho they are based on the same airframe, it is still easier (cheaper) logistics-wise to have 138 F-35Bs than (say) 60 F-35Bs and 78 F-35As.

              It also means the carriers and land forces have a pool of 138 F-35Bs to rotate through if necessary (losses, maintenance, etc) rather than a more limited purchase of their specific sub-type.

              Also, if you buy 138 of one type of aircraft, the volume discount is greater than splitting that into 2 types of aircraft.

              Basically, the requirements of the Fleet Air Arms carriers trumped any requirements of the Air Force.

              Of course, this would have been much more sensible if either of 3 other alternatives were selected:

              1) More aircraft total, so they CAN have more, more capable role-specific aircraft of each type (e.g. enough F-35Bs to make the Air Arm happy, and enough F-35As to make the Air Force happy);

              2) Fitted the carriers with catapults so the common aircraft could be the F-35C.

              3) Choose different aircraft than the F-35.

              Or combinations of the above.

              However, with the exception of 3, those options would have cost more money, lots more.

              Edit: added a reference a quote of who I'm replying to.

      2. Milton Silver badge

        Re: Sea Gripen

        "stealthy, Mach 2, large amount of stores etc"

        FYI, the stealth is very much in question, especially when put up against the other two things you cite. F-35 (and especially the B version, because of crap blasted around by its ridiculous lift fan) will likely require lots of turn-around time to keep its stealthy qualities. Furthermore, the stealth disappears as soon as you DO load "large amount of stores" because in fact, the internal ordnance load of the F-35 is pitiful: it can only carry a decent load if the majority is loaded externally, where it immediately becomes unstealthy. The aircraft will never fly at Mach 2 because its top speed is at best M1.6, but even this would compromise its already dreadful combat radius, and (again) supersonic speeds will rapidly degrade its stealth. The stealthy fuselage coating is notoriously fickle.

        Then again, possibly none of this matters, since Russian and Chinese technology is rapidly countering so-called stealth which, in any event, really only applies to specific types and frequencies of radar, and IR observability from distinct angles. There are so many ways to detect a "stealthy" plane that I couldn't list them all here.

        The F-35B is a wretched combat aircraft, but given the wholly inadequate provision of escort ships for the QE class, this likely won't matter, since against a well-equipped, competent foe they'll have an in-theatre life expectancy of less than 24 hours. The Russians can launch an awful of vampires and torpedoes and only one needs to get through.

        Whatever the political wank-blather about force projection and national security, the truth is these ships will have a negligible (compared with the US, without whom we will never act) role in GBP$10m missions aimed at blowing up the occasional raghead's pickup $300 pickup truck out in the desert ... provided aforementioned suspect is kind enough to drive near the coast, within the F-35B's hopeless combat range, of course.

        Or perhaps they could be sent to the Med to watch the drowning of refugees fleeing from wars we and the Americans originally started but then got a bit bored with.

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: Sea Gripen

          I'm reminded of this comment on the stealth.

          "In combat, the back end of the F35 on afterburner is something like 1600 degrees Fahrenheit. In terms of temperature, aluminium combusts at 1100. You are talking about something really, really hot. If you have got a dirty big sensor on the front of your SU35 or your PAK-FA or whatever, it lights up like Christmas lights and there is nothing you can do about it. And the plume, because of the symmetric exhaust, is all over the place. It is not shielded, it is not ducted in any useful way. So from an IRUV point of view, the advantage that the Russians, Chinese, Indians, you name it, can have is that they have a range of different seeker types on their weapons that can engage the aircraft. We are basically limited to medium range with one type of technology. Short range we have an IR missile, the Sidewinder or the ASRAAM, but at the end of the day you cannot get into a position to fire the thing before you are shot by the adversary's weapons. That was the outcome of the analysis of the exercise."

          Source Parliamentary Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

          07/02/2012

          Department of Defence annual report 2010-11

          http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;db=COMMITTEES;id=committees%2Fcommjnt%2Faef69d01-ae91-41f7-9aab-04d2781b21c8%2F0001;query=Id%3A%22committees%2Fcommjnt%2Faef69d01-ae91-41f7-9aab-04d2781b21c8%2F0000%22

  10. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Talk about the gift that keeps on giving...

  11. herman Silver badge

    Russia is not the enemy. Spain is the enemy. Russia doesn't have a Gibraltar dispute...

    1. Scroticus Canis

      Russia doesn't have a Gibraltar dispute.

      If it were as big as Crimea maybe they would have.

      For arguments sake say the Russians had Gibraltar, I bet Spain wouldn't be pissing about in its territorial waters playing stupid games. One thing torturing and killing a trapped bull another getting into a real fight. The hypocrites still have two enclaves in Morocco which they haven't give back.

  12. sawatts

    Reminds me of a lesson ignored from war games...

    Its not the quality of the planes - its who runs out of ammo last that matters. If you've still got something armed and flying when the air cover has fired all its shots, then their carrier looks vunerable.

    Now consider the development and price for drones... Can you launch something capable of taking out a carrier for $5 million.

    1. jgarbo

      Which explains the Russians equipping their fighters with cannons as well as rockets. What happens when the US jets run out of rockets?

      1. Named coward

        the F-35 has a cannon as well...

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "its who runs out of ammo last that matters."

      Indeed.

      I saw "Battle of Britain" again recently (such a weird movie). In it Sir Laurence Oliver points out that to win (the Battle of Britain) "Our young men will have to shoot down their young men at a ratio of 4 to 1."

      Which seemed impossible.

      Except they did.

      "Can you launch something capable of taking out a carrier for $5 million."

      Yes, if you can get close enough, and you're prepared to lose enough of them to get the job done.

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: "its who runs out of ammo last that matters."

        Battle of Britain hung (partly or wholly) on who would run out of pilots or planes first.

        And in that context the battlefield location was important. Every British (Polish Czech etc) pilot who baked out or came down over UK, or picked out of Channel by rescue launches (see clasic Airfix box lid) coil be back into action within days (depending on injuries of course) . Every German aircrew that came down on UK even if unharmed was out of the war for good.

        Other factors included Germans operating at limit of range. British dispersal of aircraft building and training out of reach of German bombers.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: "its who runs out of ammo last that matters."

          Battle of Britain hung (partly or wholly) on who would run out of pilots or planes first.

          Planes and/or airfields. Which Britain came perilously close to losing since the Germans were (initially) concentrating on destroying the airfields.

          And, even though at a pinch you could launch fighters from a sufficiantly flat field, all the other bits (spares, fuel etc etc) need significant secure space.

        2. sawatts

          Re: "its who runs out of ammo last that matters."

          Battle of Britain hung (partly or wholly) on who would run out of pilots or planes first.

          Advantage to the pilots who could bail out over friendly territory.

      2. lee harvey osmond

        Re: "its who runs out of ammo last that matters."

        $5m? Or less.

        A couple of very large acoustic mines with computers for fuses; listen for the right acoustic signature at amplitude.

      3. JamesPond
        FAIL

        Re: "its who runs out of ammo last that matters."

        But don't forget that the carriers will have an escort of at least 1 Type 45 destroyer that, according to wiki "is equipped with the Sea Viper (PAAMS) air-defence system .....able to track over 2,000 targets and simultaneously control and coordinate multiple missiles in the air at once"

        But unfortunately there's not much point in tracking 2000 targets as it only has a 48 tube vertical launch system.

        Although the Type45 has Phalanx CiWS, the carries don't (currently) so a very large force of drones could conceivably swamp the defences.

    3. Triggerfish

      @ sawatts

      I was sorta thinking that, there's a shit load of little islands in and around the Sea of China many uninhabited, the Chinese hypersonic ship killer is 35ft long, goes on the back of a truck and has a 1100 mile range, the ballistic one 2500 miles maybe, rock up there in an aircraft carrier.

  13. John 104

    It is feared that Russia will try and obtain sensitive acoustic data from the carrier by sneaking a submarine into the trials area. That acoustic data can be used to precisely locate the “Big Lizzy” while she is at sea and ultimately be used to launch torpedoes at her.

    Meh. Satellites would do just as good a job against surface ships.

    1. Hugh McIntyre

      Re: Satellites would do just as good a job against surface ships

      Satellites don't work with clouds.

      There's also the question of an attack sub being able to track the carrier continuously with passive sonar once it has the acoustic signature versus needing to come to radio depth to receive radio updates on location.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Satellites would do just as good a job against surface ships

        I know for a fact that the various drug enforcement agencies are able to track a yacht from the Carribean to Europe without much difficulty using sat's. So I can't see them having too much trouble with a 55.000 ton aircraft carrier.

        Subs use the accoustic signature to get lock-on, tracking with sonar only depends on currents, thermal layers, the depth of the sub relative to the target in relation to the aforementioned, and so on.

        I have acquaintances who have been boarded by Interpol et al when approaching for example Madiera after crossing the Atlantic, the boarders have then given them a full run down of where they have been and the route/s they have taken.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Satellites would do just as good a job against surface ships

          'I know for a fact that the various drug enforcement agencies are able to track a yacht from the Carribean to Europe without much difficulty using sat's.'

          I know for a fact they never bother passing that on to people trying to find the f***ers. And that you don't need a satellite to track a yacht as the couple we flew over in mid-Atlantic at 50' do too.

          Of course, it probably helps the yachts don't know the satellite movements...

          1. Hugh McIntyre

            Re: Satellites would do just as good a job against surface ships

            I should have clarified:

            Yes, I'm sure the Russians and others will use satellites in part to find surface ships. For one thing, oceans are big and you need to know where to start since sonar has limited range.

            But satellite may not work in all cases -- clouds may mean you only see heat signatures which won't be as precise, you may not know which ship you are looking at unless you can track from source port, etc. So they no doubt *also* want the sonar signature.

            Having said that, I'm sure they would get the signature eventually, so this is only a question of timing.

            1. Jan 0

              Re: Satellites would do just as good a job against surface ships

              > Having said that, I'm sure they would get the signature eventually, so this is only a question of timing.

              Errm, if I wanted to avoid this, I'd have onboard acoustic generators to disguise my "true signature". I'd generate a new signature when required to do battle and never reveal my true acoustic signature. Meanwhile, the buggers using non acoustic imaging techniques would never lose me.

              1. Robert Sneddon

                Acoustic generators

                The propulsion system for the QE carriers runs to about 50MW of electrical power. To mask the noise of the propellors with "acoustic generators" would require a similar amount of power (as well as a ginormous bill from Richer Sounds for the speakers). The two main gas turbine generators on these ships put out 70MW at full chat and there's some extra backup diesel units to add another 30MW or so. I don't know where the extra power for these "acoustic generators" is going to come from. Big wind turbines on the flight deck perhaps?

                1. lee harvey osmond
                2. SkippyBing Silver badge

                  Re: Acoustic generators

                  'To mask the noise of the propellors with "acoustic generators" would require a similar amount of power'

                  Surely that assumes the propellers are turning all the propulsive power into noise, rather than quite a lot of it being used to move the airfield forwards.

                  There is a system called Prairie Masker which basically hides the noisy bits of ship behind a curtain of air bubbles, making classification difficult. I have no idea if QNLZ has either part fitted.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Marcus Fil

        Re: Satellites would do just as good a job against surface ships

        Popular fallacies no.1 "Satellites don't work with clouds".

        Not all surveillance satellites (non air breathing collection assets) are electro-optical in nature. With the right software used by clever people even those that are can still acquire useful intelligence in cloudy conditions. No further clues.

      3. Robert Sneddon

        Satellites don't work with clouds.

        That's why the Russians and the Americans operate radar ocean observation satellites, looking down through the clouds and in darkness to find and track big surface ships like carriers.

        As for getting an acoustic signature from the QE carrier's propulsion system the Russians are going to get one sooner or later even with watchdog escorts, now or in three months time or when it goes operational in open waters. I expect the Russians to be flying TU-95 Bears as close as they can to give themselves some idea of the radar profile of the newest target for their KH-31 and similar air-launched ship-killer missiles too.

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "Britain’s defence budget, which has a perilously slim margin for currency fluctuations "

    Pity so much of it's bought from the US then, isn't it?

    Brexit did the UK/US exchange rate no favours either.

  15. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    QUEEN'S ENGLISH?

    "The United States Navy's new aircraft carrier has at last begun her sea trials.

    Manned by a British crew and funded by the UK taxpayer, HMS Queen Elizabeth will nonetheless provide deck and hanger space for, in the short term, up to 12 F-35B aircraft formed from a squadron made up almost entirely of US Marine Corps aircraft and personnel, with only nominal support from the RAF and Fleet Air Arm"

    ...

    'Squarebasher' in Private Eye 1448. 14 July- 27 July 2017.

    (if you want to read the rest of that story, "you can buy the magazine")

    - icon - helicopter - in recognition of UK rotary wing aircraft that will fly from the carrier

  16. tedleaf

    The UK will never buy anything like 130+

    That will be the total in Europe,if the yanks are lucky,we have our ways of wasting/spending tax money,which doesn't include pork barrel projects that even the yanks regret they ever started..

    Total waste of money/resources,the f35 will be caught out badly if it ever has to go into real combat,but thats probably ten years off,the Americans have not certificated it for combat and aren't even close to it yet..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You know that US trade agreement that May was getting so excited about...

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        You know that US trade agreement that May was getting so excited about...

        The one that looks like a giant cheque that says "We promise to pay the US the sum of [..........] on demand"

        With a carefully-left-blank space where the number should be?

  17. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Talking about aircraft carriers...

    ... they wouldn't last long in a war against somebody else than a third world country, F-35 on board or not.

    see http://exiledonline.com/the-war-nerd-this-is-how-the-carriers-will-die/all/1/

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "they wouldn't last long in a war against somebody else than a third world country,"

      Fortunately those countries with the resources to do so want carriers for themselves for the world wide willy projection capabilities they give.

      However find a group or country that wants to ensure sea access for themselves against states that operate carriers and that story could change.....

      In Europe I'd say the Dutch, the Swiss and the Scandinavian countries could have both the motivation and the skills to field an anti carrier weapon. The high tech one is the M10 ballistic missile but there are other options which are conceptually more creative, but rather cheaper and easier to implement, re-purposing parts of existing systems to do the job.

      The other problem is that without access to satellite imagery finding them is going to be difficult.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: "they wouldn't last long in a war against somebody else than a third world country,"

        The other problem is that without access to satellite imagery finding them is going to be difficult.

        I'm sure the the Americans/Russians/Chinese/Indians [delete as appropriate] will be happy to sell them the imagery for a suitable cost.

        It's called naked capitalism y'know.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: "they wouldn't last long in a war against somebody else than a third world country,"

          Hold on, are you saying military vehicles are vulnerable to attacks from the enemy?! Quick call the MoD, I'm sure they hadn't noticed...

      2. Korev Silver badge

        Re: "they wouldn't last long in a war against somebody else than a third world country,"

        In Europe I'd say the Dutch, the Swiss and the Scandinavian countries could have both the motivation and the skills to field an anti carrier weapon.

        Why the Swiss? Switzerland is 100s of KM from the nearest coast and I assume that in a war situation the Italians would object to a carrier that near to their coast too.

  18. Archtech Silver badge

    Caveat emptor

    "Taking the F-35A price rises as a guide, the price per airframe of each F-35B could now be $131.4m each".

    It has to be asked: with or without engine?

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: Caveat emptor

      With engine, but the go-faster stripes and sun roof option are extra.

    2. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: Caveat emptor

      "Taking the F-35A price rises as a guide, the price per airframe of each F-35B could now be $131.4m each".

      It has to be asked: with or without engine?

      Do you want woofers and tweeters with that sir?

  19. lee harvey osmond

    Economies of scale?

    Economies of scale, or, why dinosaurs are supposed to make cheap pets.

    Have these aircraft got so expensive yet that we won't ever risk sending them into battle because we can't afford to lose one? Are we buying unicorns to use as cavalry horses?

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