back to article F-35 'incomparable' to Harrier jump jet, top test pilot tells El Reg

What's it like to fly an F-35 fighter jet? We interviewed the chief British test pilot about a uniquely British flying technique – and then had a play with a full cockpit simulator to find out for ourselves. Squadron Leader Andy Edgell is the Royal Air Force's top test pilot for the F-35 flight trials programme. A former …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

    Unfortunately I still think the F35B is a pile of expensive and unproven crap, and should be cancelled. If the best thing that they can come up with is that "F35B is easier to fly than an aircraft whose development started in 1957", it would seem that they are clutching at straws.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

      Unfortunately I still think the F35B is a pile of expensive and unproven crap

      It's ironic that the US "won" the cold war partly by forcing the USSR way beyond its economic means to keep up technologically and is now well on the way to doing the same with its "allies".

      Meanwhile on real battlefields my money would be on guerillas soon having drones that are "good enough" to be a real PIA even against such technological superiority.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

        my money would be on guerillas soon having drones that are "good enough" to be a real PIA

        The drones might be good but those guerrillas are going to lose all their drone operators pretty fast, unless they can also afford satellites. Being able to control drones from a base well away from the theatre of operations is a huge advantage. The best guerrillas will be able to do is hide in a city, very close to a target that their enemy can't risk hitting with their overkill precision weapon.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

          "The best guerrillas will be able to do is hide in a city, very close to a target that their enemy can't risk hitting with their overkill precision weapon."

          As routine and prolonged use of suicide bombers shows, the extremists are more than happy to sacrifice their own troops, and there appears no shortage of willing cannon fodder. That said, I would have thought that the ingenuity of their best weapons makers would extend to making repeaters to form a home made mesh network to control remote controlled vehicles. And there several countries willing to offer state support for proxy wars in creating such technologies. Iran in particular I would expect to have examined remote control swarm attacks and built functioning prototype systems years ago.

          And there were recent reports of a swarm drone attack on Russian forces in Syria, although IIRC that came from Russia Today, and could be a simple and blatant lie.

        2. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

          those guerrillas are going to lose all their drone operators pretty fast,

          That operator will pre-plan the flight and set the drone up to get on with the job by itself. They won't need super accuracy to attack a target like Camp Bastion. Not even GPS, just rough dead-reckoned guidance.

          1. ChrisC

            Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

            "That operator will pre-plan the flight and set the drone up to get on with the job by itself."

            In that case, can I suggest the MoD invest in a fleet of tower cranes - simply sprinkle those at random around the base areas and et voila, instant defence against pre-planned drone flightpaths...

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

              MoD invest in a fleet of tower cranes - simply sprinkle those at random

              What's wrong with using good old-fashioned barrage balloons? Extra points for putting short-range radar-controlled guns on to knock rogue drones out of the sky..

              1. YetAnotherLocksmith

                Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

                You realise you can fly a drone 5 feet off the ground, right?

                1. Muscleguy Silver badge

                  Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

                  "You realise you can fly a drone 5 feet off the ground, right?"

                  I noted the joke icon but there are a lot of things on the ground to hit at an elevation of 5 feet. Not advisable on a pre-programmed flight path.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

            "That operator will pre-plan the flight and set the drone up to get on with the job by itself."

            Furthermore, a test showed that a Raspberry Pi can outfly/outfight an experienced combat pilot in a combat simulator with identical aircraft.

            Given that a drone can be smaller, lighter, and much more maneuverable (a flesh pilot can only take about 12 G, with major physiological issues), and you can probably build 20 of them for the cost of one F35. The survival duration of manned aircraft - particularly one like the F35, with an enormous infrared signature, high wing loading, and limited weapons load due to the need for internal stowage to maintain the limited stealth that it has - is likely to be very short, particularly if you don't mind trading a drone or two for the F35.

          3. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

            They won't need super accuracy to attack a target like Camp Bastion.

            True enough, but a target like that will have its own air defences.

            The original proposition was about readily-available drones becoming better dogfighters than hugely-expensive F35s. By the time we reach that state of affairs, I think it very likely no more F35s will be being built or even being flown -- except perhaps by some very lucky well-heeled hobbyists.

            Someone suggested that guerrilla drone operators (assuming they were of the jihadist kind) we would be willing to sacrifice themselves for the chance to take down an F35. I think good drone operators would be a valuable resource that their leadership wanted to protect, not throw away. So, it occurred to me that if the Blue forces wanted to take out an Orange drone operator hidden in a building in a city, then rather than use an overkill precision weapon they would have another option: target the comms gear on the roof by flying in low and slow, and drop a couple of hand grenades out of the cockpit of a Sopwith Camel...

        3. wheelbearing

          Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

          In ten years time I bet they will have satellites.

      2. JLV Silver badge

        Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

        >It's ironic that the US "won" the cold war partly by forcing the USSR way beyond its economic means to keep up technologically and China is now well on the way to doing the same with its "allies" to the US.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

          It's easy to advance quickly when you're appropriating much of your tech from others, as the Chinese did over the last half century. It's not nice but I can't really blame them under the circumstances.

          It's a different game tho, when they achieve parity with the West, as they have now done. Time to do their own innovations. Riding coattails is no longer an option. Sure, they may outshine us in future, but that remains to be seen.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

            "It's easy to advance quickly when you're appropriating much of your tech from others, as the Chinese did over the last half century. It's not nice but I can't really blame them under the circumstances."

            As per usual, just copying others. The US lead by example in it's early days by ignoring copyright and patents from outside the US for many years.

            1. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

              Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

              "As per usual, just copying others. The US lead by example in it's early days by ignoring copyright and patents from outside the US for many years."

              Not forgetting the tech they stole from Germany after WW2 and the immigrant scientists who worked on it.

              If you dig into the slightly more sane of the conspiracy theories surrounding American NSA bases on foreign soil you find somewhat credible claims of state sponsored commercial espionage as well.

              1. jgarbo

                Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

                "How come the Ruskies got a man into space before you Yanks, mate?"

                "Their Germans were better than our Germans."

                Apparently true story.

                1. McAllister

                  Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

                  Because Soviets valued human life less than Americans, their safety margins were much slimmer. The death toll on comsmonauts was consequently much higher, which is why the Apollo 11 crew left memorials to Vladimir Komarov and Yuri Gagarin on the moon.

            2. Jaybus

              Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

              And also as per usual, they will be running into the same domestic issues that the US, and others before them, ran into, such as demand for higher wages, better working conditions, banning child labor, and etc. Companies, including their own, will be looking to cheap labor in less developed nations creating the same double-whammy that stymied manufacturing in the West.

          2. JLV Silver badge

            Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

            >Sure, they may outshine us in future, but that remains to be seen.

            An interesting point. Those of us old enough may remember the great Japan scare of the 80s and 90s when it seemed Japan Uber Alles was coming. But, at least in computers, Japanese superiority never quite crystallized - anyone remember the Fifth Generation Computer Systems initiative?

            I think China is a different kettle of fish. It's 4x the size of the US, not 1/3, for one. For another, I believe lack of individualism, excessive consensus-ivess, is a major Japanese weakness. A lot of innovation is due to maverick behavior and if that's missing in your culture you suffer. The Chinese seem to be a lot more cutthroat and individualistic, i.e. "not nice" (to each other), than the Japanese. Their system is theoretically Communist, certainly totalitarian, but they worship money and success and will take it over consensus and being nice (even to each other). In practice, it's a chaotic free market, unlike Japan's government-led industrial system.

            The other aspect is the US nearing 2020 is a very different country than in the 80s. The amount of partisan, unscientific and just plain foolish behavior across the political spectrum is staggering. The amount of STEM grads is low and you are doing your best to block skilled immigrants to make it up. Whereas the US could face off against the USSR and Japan 30 years ago, its government is ill-suited to take on China. Not least in how much global goodwill Republican administrations since 2000 have squandered.

            Used to be the USA were loathed or loved, but at least respected. This is becoming less and less true and will make it harder going forward to build alliances containing China.

            Currently reading "Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap? ", highly recommended, though my above ramblings are not from it.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

              > I think China is a different kettle of fish.

              So do I.

              For a start, I'm no longer surprised when I head over to a project's GitHub and find out that the docs, bug tracker, etc., are all, literally, in Chinese. *And* the buggers are making great quality software too.

            2. eldakka Silver badge

              Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

              > An interesting point. Those of us old enough may remember the great Japan scare of the 80s and 90s when it seemed Japan Uber Alles was coming. But, at least in computers, Japanese superiority never quite crystallized - anyone remember the Fifth Generation Computer Systems initiative?

              Well, just wait until they feel the need to use their secret Space Battleship Yamoto, then you'll change your tune!

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

                On the one hand, China with its population of billions will be able to produce a proportional number of brilliant minds. On the other hand, the USA with its opportunities, cash and sunny weather can recruit most of its brilliant minds from the entire world - including China. We know that the USA has its faults but it can still offer an attractive way of life for the well heeled, certainly more attractive than (we are led to believe) the lifestyle in China.

                It's interesting though, how some nations will take technology from the rest of the world and lead at actually manufacturing and monetising it. I'm thinking South Korea and display panels. Much of hte fundamental research that goes into enabling those things to work actually comes out of Western universities.

                1. jgarbo

                  Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

                  Ah, yes, the "Sunshine factor" in inventive genius. Good point, sir.

              2. Muscleguy Silver badge

                Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

                The naval ship Yamato wasn't much use in the end. It was too valuable to be put in harm's way until the end when it was sent on a suicide mission to try and interdict the landings on Mindanao. It was sunk by US divebombers and torpedo planes.

                There is still debate over whether it was capable of firing a full broadside with those 18" main guns without turning turtle.

                Japanese capital ships were less vulnerable to air attack than British ones but much more vulnerable than US ships especially the later ones which had vast numbers of small machine cannon able to put a hail of lead in the air.

            3. Aitor 1 Silver badge

              Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

              The main tool against japan was the yen. The US managed to make it very expensive.. and all their exports became uncompetitive.

              Now, the yuan is also being pushed up..and it is not the chinese government.

            4. not.known@this.address

              Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

              "The amount of STEM grads is low and you are doing your best to block skilled immigrants to make it up."

              When the education system switches to valuing nonsense degrees called something like "David Beckham Studies" or "Using Social Media Is Better Than Fixing Computers" then of course STEM courses will be ignored - why do a degree where you actually need to learn and remember stuff when you can 'earn' the same level of qualification for watching football or "analysing trends" on Farcebook and Twatter? And don't forget that the political parties who seem to do most to encourage these types of courses are also the ones who claim to care most for the 'working man'...

              And bringing people in from overseas because your own students are either too lazy or too short-sighted to do something 'technical' is a really bad idea - what happens if those people came over so we paid them while they got free training then they 'went home' and took their jobs with them (or is that not what "off-shoring" really means?). Not exactly solving the skills shortage unless you can persuade them to stay... And guess what, the same political parties that seem to think you can keep a car running because you can quote how many views Kim Kardashian has had or fix a network outage by quoting the latest ill-advised Tweet from the White house are the same ones who put more effort into paying for training foreigners than trying to increase the local skills base...

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

            > It's easy to advance quickly when you're appropriating much of your tech from others, as the Chinese did over the last half century

            Damn right! You slit-eyed bastards, give us back all our rocket scienti...

            ...err, hang on

          4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

            It's easy to advance quickly when you're appropriating much of your tech from others

            Much like the US did in the 19th and early 20th centuries to the UK? It's pretty easy to find evidence how the US pirated technology wholesale during the first century or so of it's existence - mostly from the UK.

            Now don't get me wrong - I don't blame the US at all. I just think it's slightly hypocritical of the US to be so rabid about IP protection when the base that they built their technology from was mostly stolen.

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

            1.4 billion people can support a lot of engineers, programmers, and scientists, particularly if they don't waste human resources by churning out a zillion lawyers, sociologists, and poli sci types.

      3. Kabukiwookie Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

        The US does not have any allies, it has, at best 'competitors'.

        Remember this:

        http://money.cnn.com/2015/04/30/news/airbus-germany-nsa-spying/index.html

        Or this:

        https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/07/eu-demands-explanations-for-us-spying-threatens-data-pacts-and-trade-deal.html

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

          'I say that it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow...'

          Lord Palmerston, Prime Minister 1855-1858, 1856-1865

      4. Brent Beach

        Suicide Drones

        Small drones pulled into jet engines can do serious damage.

        A drone with software that can detect the air intake of the F35 jets and position itself to be sucked in to the engine would be relatively inexpensive and be programmed easily in the near future. No radar needed, just a cheap camera and software. No bomb, the drone itself is enough to cripple the engine. No operator intervention required. The F35 pilot won't even see the drone before it cripples his single engine.

        The comparable cost - $1,000 to $70,000,000 or 70,000 to 1.

      5. jgarbo
        Devil

        Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

        The US has no "allies", only servants, of which the UK is one.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

          >>>>The US has no "allies", only servants, of which the UK is one.

          I believe the correct term is, "vassal state"

      6. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

        The thing with drones is that you really need a flock of drones. A single drone is too easy to down but 100+ drones like a flock of starlings with stored google maps is another matter.

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

      > development started in 1957

      Also missing (quite understandably) is the combat perfs. The gap would have been easy to cover but that's what you get for bailing out of the Rafale program - the reasons for this being, again, quite understandable, but directly in contradiction with the latter decision to switch to the American program. Politics is almost entirely about doing the exact opposite of what the previous administration did, just to prove how wrong they were. With the same result on costs and effectiveness, again and again. *SIGH*

      (surely that vertical thing is mostly a gimmick, given how even the F35 program almost gave up on it in favor of the "short landing" option when it became evident that fans can't possibly compete with wings in terms of lift; feel very free to prove me wrong)

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

        'The gap would have been easy to cover but that's what you get for bailing out of the Rafale program'

        I'm fairly sure the French bailed out of the Typhoon programme to develop the Rafale when it became apparent they weren't going to get to lead it. Certainly the UK never moved from the Rafale programme to the F-35.

        '(surely that vertical thing is mostly a gimmick, given how even the F35 program almost gave up on it in favor of the "short landing" option when it became evident that fans can't possibly compete with wings in terms of lift; feel very free to prove me wrong)'

        The USMC will always land vertically on their ships, there's videos of it on youtube. The SRVL is uniquely British and was developed when the UK decided to investigate if it was possible to maintain the bring back weight* could be maintained in the challenging conditions of the North Arabian Gulf. Where due to the heat and humidity you'd normally be planning on recovering with minimum fuel and stores to give yourself a fighting chance of not becoming a submarine. The US are less concerned as they're more willing to dump expensive munitions in the water.

        *What you can land back on the ship with

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The perception of a fighter is proportional to the number of video games named after it.

          The US are less concerned as they're more willing to dump expensive munitions in the water

          Couldn't they dump the munitions onto a raft or retractable net to save money? D'oh stupid question - piling more debt on the taxpayer is the objective.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The perception of a fighter is proportional to the number of video games named after it.

            "Couldn't they dump the munitions onto a raft or retractable net to save money?"

            Would you want to trust your life to a very complex missile that's been dropped onto a raft 300 times?

            1. fobobob

              Re: The perception of a fighter is proportional to the number of video games named after it.

              Perhaps something like a drop into a giant inflatable airbag?

          2. Aseries

            Re: The perception of a fighter is proportional to the number of video games named after it.

            It's not the $$$. There are only so many weapons stocked on an aircraft carrier and resupply is not always convenient when things get hot.

        2. Potemkine! Silver badge

          Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

          I'm fairly sure the French bailed out of the Typhoon programme to develop the Rafale when it became apparent they weren't going to get to lead it.

          Nope. It was bailed out because the Typhoon was neither a multirole combat aircraft nor was envisaged a naval version. Looking at independent reviews , France got it right.

        3. casinowilhelm

          Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

          yes that's pretty much what the article said, but thanks anyway.

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

      +1

      £100m-ish price tag

      The price tag is now well over £175m per aircraft. This is not a national defence, this is "done up like a kipper mate" Arthur Daley stuff. So for £2.5Bn, how many Rafale or F-18's can we buy - I bet its a lot more than 14 F35b's

      1. Spooner8989

        Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

        How many Harrier jump jets could we beef up and the same techy stuff, and at the same time create more jobs for the UK. Costing a lot less than £150m plus per aircraft. Shades of scrapping the TSR2 a/c to buy American Phantom jets.Cost us the tax payer a lot of money!!!!! + JOBS.

    4. Smooth Newt
      Meh

      Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

      Despite what the article says, in Royal Navy service there is no difference between the two types. The Royal Navy will get the same overall effect by deploying its non-existent, and stupidly sold off, Harriers as it would by deploying its non-existent F-35's. i.e. no effect whatsoever.

      You can easily identify naval aircraft operators by the colour of their aircraft. US Navy aircraft are silver, Russian Navy aircraft are green and Royal Navy aircraft are invisible.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

        "You can easily identify naval aircraft operators by the colour of their aircraft. US Navy aircraft are silver, Russian Navy aircraft are green and Royal Navy aircraft are invisible."

        So, basically you are saying that only the RN have true stealth aircraft?

        The cloak of invisibility ------->

    5. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

      I'd rather hope it was 'better' than the Harrier considering its design is about 50 years ahead of the Harriers and its mind boggling cost. (To put the gap in perspective, compare a Harrier to a pre-WW1 plane).

      There seems to be an urgent need to convince the public that the F35 is a valuable asset, worth every dollar spent on it. Realistically I fear it will never be anything more than an overpriced, unreliable PoS.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hearts & minds propaganda, courtesy of MoD

        There seems to be an urgent need to convince the public that the F35 is a valuable asset,

        And to a small extent, it is working. The balance of up/downvotes on my original post condemning this article as MoD propaganda for a programme that should be cancelled, has been a remarkably consistent ratio of 3:1. If I make the reasonable assumption that the upvoters agree, the downvoters disagree, what we can infer is that even amongst a group of unusually bright and well informed readers, 25% have taken the bait, and have been persuaded by the storyline of "what a great aircraft the F35 is".

        From the point of view of MoD, that'll be seen as a really good outcome - its cost them next to nothing, and a fair proportion of the readers appear to have been convinced. Now, not convincing 75% of readers might be seen as a bad outcome, but lets face it, MoD are the people who think it is acceptable to spend £1.3bn on a simple recruitment system that doesn't even work, buy aircraft carriers when there's no aircraft, nor sufficient surface vessels to create a convincing carrier battlegroup. And even believe there's a need for carriers when we have coped without a carrier capability for over a decade already, and by the time the QE is aircraft-equipped, we'll have managed without a carrier for fifteen years.

        Expect the "success" of this article to be followed up in the mainstream press, with a programme of "jollies for journalists" to get them to write gushing articles about the F35. The one thing they can't yet do is take them up for a joyride, because there isn't a two seater version (as there was with the Harrier, and many other fast jets), but I wouldn't be surprised if the MoD propaganda budget stretched to taking selected journos out to the US training facility in Florida.

        No matter how obvious it is that the F35 programme is stupid, over-complicated, unaffordable, poor concieved, the MoD and the morons of the British government are not going to admit they've screwed it all up, and come up with a better plan. The last chance was when they balked at the cost of redesigning the QE mid-construction to take cats and traps, but realistically, the multi-billion cost of that would probably still have been lower than the UK's share of the F35 cost-overruns.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VAAC 35 knot relative speed ?

    "It's a 35-knot overtaking speed at a seven-degree angle relative to the boat"

    In the video, I could not see any speed, relative to the boat ?

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: VAAC 35 knot relative speed ?

      Just guessing - could it be a 35kt air-speed - i.e. allowing for wind etc? Prolly totally wrong.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: VAAC 35 knot relative speed ?

        "could it be a 35kt air-speed - i.e. allowing for wind etc"

        Nope - he explicitly states "overtaking speed".

    2. x 7

      Re: VAAC 35 knot relative speed ?

      the video has no relationship to the landing technique being discussed, except that a lot of the avionics package for the F-35 is derived from the trials carried out on the VAAC Harrier. What the videos shows is an automatic vertical landing: nothing to do with the rolling vertical landing

    3. nematoad Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: VAAC 35 knot relative speed ?

      "...a seven-degree angle relative to the boat," Andy said"

      I didn't realise that the F35 could land on a submarine.

      You can tell that he is in the RAF not the Navy.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: VAAC 35 knot relative speed ?

        @nematoad

        I didn't realise that the F35 could land on a submarine.

        Which is why our correspondent...

        "entered submarine mode"

      2. SundogUK

        Re: VAAC 35 knot relative speed ?

        Naval air groups all call the carrier a boat. The US as well as the UK.

  4. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    SRVL ...

    ISTR stories from the 80s that the Yanks kept smashing the front wheel ... I suspect they either weren't told about SRVL, or couldn't learnt it ?

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: SRVL ...

      Given the Harrier was flown by jarheads, I would put my money too stupid to learn the techinque. Go Army.

  5. AMBxx Silver badge
    Joke

    Italian Airforce?

    Can the F35 fly backwards too?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Italian Airforce?

      Nah, they just don't bother with the fuel tank.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Italian Airforce?

      The ventral airbrake has a white flag concealed in it, just in case it's needed.

  6. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    VIFing?

    Can the F35 - A or B - stop in flight and go upwards? Vectoring In Flight? Useful when a fast jet is on your tail - a quick VIF and you're on its tail.

    And can an F35 land in a clearing in the woods? That's a controlled landing...

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: VIFing?

      IIRC, that's the sort of thing that gave the Harriers a significant edge over Argie planes the Falklands conflict. The Mirages might have outperformed the Harrier on paper, but in practice the Harriers' superior maneuverability helped it win the day.

      There are those, however, who would argue that the days of plane-on-plane dog-fighting are over, so such a capability is redundant today.

      1. x 7

        Re: VIFing?

        VIFFing was never used during the Falklands: the Argie aircraft were at too far a range to get involved in air-to-air combat. If a Harrier appeared they ran: if they had stopped to fight they would have run out of fuel. The Falklands really were at the maximum endurance range of their aircraft

        PS - VIFF = Vectoring In Forward Flight

        And the US Marines invented it during a demo flight "just to see what happened if you tried it"

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: VIFing?

          "VIFFing was never used during the Falklands:"

          I guess the BBC used non-existent CGI to show that on the 6 o'clock News, then?

          "And the US Marines invented it during a demo flight "just to see what happened if you tried it"

          [citation needed]

          1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

            Re: VIFing?

            "VIFFing was never used during the Falklands:"

            I read Max Hastings & Simon Jenkins "Battle for the Falklands" last year - an excellent account of the conflict (as well as the political shennannigans in the run-up an during) and I'm sure I remember something about how the Harriers unique capabilities (i.e. vectoring) were used to their advantage in combat with Argentinian aircraft

            1. x 7

              Re: VIFing?

              If you read books about war flying by people who weren't there, and weren't pilots then the old maxim applies: rubbish in, rubbish out.

              If you want to know what happened during the Falklands air campaign, read

              Sea Harrier Over The Falklands by Sharkey Ward

              Ward was the boss of 801 Squadron. Controversial, but accurate

          2. x 7

            Re: VIFing?

            "I guess the BBC used non-existent CGI to show that on the 6 o'clock News, then?"

            You may have seen film of the VIFF technique, but not during the Falklands War

            ""And the US Marines invented it during a demo flight "just to see what happened if you tried it"

            [citation needed]"

            Here you go: http://www.airvectors.net/avav8_2.html#m3

            "* The USMC's provision for Sidewinder missiles on the AV-8A led the service to devise an interesting new dogfighting tactic, named, somewhat stiffly, "vectoring in forward flight (VIFF)". Experiments performed by the USMC with VIFF demonstrated that it had some extraordinary qualities. The Marine pilot who performed the first evaluations on VIFF in 1970, Captain Harry Blot, fully reversed the nozzles while flying at high speed on his first test flight. He reported that he "decelerated rapidly" -- but he couldn't determine just how rapidly, since he was wrapped around the stick with his nose stuck on the gunsight."

      2. John Jennings

        Re: VIFing?

        Nah - having AIM missiles is what won it for the harriers.....

        The argintinian missiles (AIM 9B) had to lock from behind, and less than 3KM range..... designed in the late 50s....

        The AIM J the aim could acquire lock at 5KM, all aspect locking. designed late 1970's

        Regan gave the RN those -on the way to the falklands - they were not even issue to us front line squadrons at the time.

        21 of 75 argintinian aircraft destroyed (inc helicopters, ground attack, anti ship fighter-bombers and unarmed) were destroyed by harriers....

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: VIFing?

        Look at how capable pilots - i.e. Israeli Air Force ones - could fight on Mirages. Being agile could help you a couple of times, but when you're truly outperformed, you won't last longer in a dogfight.

        1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
          Gimp

          Re: VIFing?

          Fact of life: an experienced operator with good knowledge of his (/her) tool will almost always outperform a less experienced operator using a "superior" tool. Knowledge of the opponent's weaknesses (when applicable) also greatly helps. That's an universal truth. I see you point and raise a "Biplan vs Jet for night frightening operations" card on the eastern front during WW2. There is one well documented case of a direct victory for a biplan over a "modern" jet airplane (left as an exercise for the reader, yadda yadda yadda). Ultimately the performance problem is almost never with your tool but almost always with how you use it. (sizequeens notwithstanding).

          1. JLV Silver badge

            Re: VIFing?

            I also seem to recall a platoon of upgunned (105s) Israeli Shermans trumping a bigger herd of buttoned-up Egyptian(/Syrian?) T-55s in the 67 war.

            Skill and courage doesn't always win (Polish cavalry vs German AFVs), but it's worth keeping in mind when evaluating the merits of this or that piece of equipment from historical outcomes.

            I suspect the skill advantage of the English pilots had a lot to do with Harrier performance over the Falklands.

            1. Mark 85 Silver badge

              Re: VIFing?

              I also seem to recall a platoon of upgunned (105s) Israeli Shermans trumping a bigger herd of buttoned-up Egyptian(/Syrian?) T-55s in the 67 war.

              I recall that also. There's also the "case" where a Marine CH-53 helicopter shot down an attacking North Vietnamese MIG.

          2. eldakka Silver badge

            Re: VIFing?

            > Fact of life: an experienced operator with good knowledge of his (/her) tool will almost always outperform a less experienced operator using a "superior" tool.

            I don't know, I get the feeling the ladies say that to me to save my feelings, not because they believe it...

      4. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: VIFing?

        There are those, however, who would argue that the days of plane-on-plane dog-fighting are over, so such a capability is redundant today.

        Bull.... they've been saying that since the late 50's. Then combat starts and "oops... where's the guns?". Vietnam and the F4 pointed that out very well.

      5. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: VIFing?

        IIRC, that's the sort of thing that gave the Harriers a significant edge over Argie planes the Falklands conflict

        Their edge was that they were up against A4 Skyhawks which were good at delivering bombs but hopelessly vulnerable. It was incredibly brave of those Argentine pilots to go ahead with those missions in those circumstances, not to mention flying donkeys like the Pucara and the Aermacchi 339 which is just a trainer.

        I think they lost only two Mirage, one to their own anti-aircraft defences. After that they changed tactics and fire Exocets from a long stand off position.

      6. Apdsmith

        Re: VIFing?

        Partly that, but also the fact that the Argentine Air Force Mirages were so far into their maximum range that they couldn't throttle up to the kinds of speeds they were built to fight at. Forced to throw away a key advantage, it's unsurprising they suffered against FAA Harriers.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: VIFing?

          Also the had to get into the Harriers domain and not theirs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: VIFing?

      And can an F35 land in a clearing in the woods?

      No. Neither could a Harrier, unless somebody had already laid a hard standing able to take a 7 tonne weight being dropped onto the area of three A4 sheets of paper. They did experiment with a sprayable compound to harden the ground, carried in pods under the wings, but that wasn't realistically practicable for military operations (you can imagine the comical mess when spraying araldite from a hovering Harrier).

      All the pics of Harriers in the woods tended to be on specially hardened roads around RAF Gutersloh or similar.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: VIFing?

      > Can the F35 - A or B - stop in flight and go upwards?

      You mean the Cobra manoeuvre¹? That's a Russian thing though.

      ¹ First time ever I spell that² right at first attempt

      ² Manoeuvre, not Cobra

      1. PerlyKing Bronze badge

        VIFF vs. Cobra

        >> Can the F35 - A or B - stop in flight and go upwards?

        >You mean the Cobra manoeuvre¹? That's a Russian thing though.

        No, VIFF can only be performed by aircraft with moveable jet nozzles, such as the Harrier.

        Pugachev's Cobra demonstrates being able to take an aircraft beyond 90 degrees angle of attack and back again while retaining control.

        Both manoeuvres leave the aircraft at low speed, which is counter to general dogfighting principles.

    4. macjules Silver badge

      Re: VIF[F]ing?

      It was never employed in the Falklands or indeed any other OP UK Harriers have been involved in simply because its use immediately bleeds all energy and leaves the aircraft wallowing and vulnerable to missile (the defeat of which is largely predicated upon speed combined with defensive aids) or even a guns kill. ‘

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: VIF[F]ing?

        However the F35 won't be usable in a future Falklands conflict.

        The US company with the contract for the onboard avionics will have a significant share holding from the Argentinian teachers pension fund and so will cancel the runtime license and then Turkey will be negotiating a deal with Argentina for a new pipeline and so will refuse to do any servicing, and Boeing will be in court about bribes to Argentine officials and doesn't want any bad press...

        We may have created the solution for perpetual peace

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It takes very little to be better than tha Harrier...

    The Harrier was a nice plane, its VSTOL capabilities a first, but it could never be a great fighter or attack plane in a difficult environment exactly because its VSTOL capabilities made it a slower, more vulnerable plane. Good for CAS, if you already had air superiority - but it couldn't obtain it alone against a capable opponent.

    As a VSTOL plane, and Harrier replacement, the F-35 can be somewhat better, if they can tame and fix its many teething issues.

    Just, as an all-around plane - one that should take the roles that were covered by F-14, F-16, A-6, the F-35 is just a so-so plane, and will have troubles against more capable ones.

    In fact, USAF didn't want to renounce to its F-15 and F-22. Just, everybody else has to get the F-35.

    1. Steve Evans

      Re: It takes very little to be better than tha Harrier...

      but it could never be a great fighter or attack plane in a difficult environment

      The Argentinian airforce would beg to differ.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The Argentinian airforce would beg to differ"

        The Argentinian Air Force wasn't a very capable opponent and had to operate very afar from its land air bases. Still they could sink Brirish ships which didn't have a CAP keeping attack planes away, and clear the area from enemy recce planes.

        That's also why escortless Vulcans could bomb Port Stanley without being intercepted.

    2. JLV Silver badge

      Re: It takes very little to be better than tha Harrier...

      IIRC the Harrier has also been pretty deadly to its pilots in accidents.

      https://www.pprune.org/archive/index.php/t-77618.html but it's hardly the only such entry.

      F35 sucks, true, but let's remain factual about what Harrier did and did not do well.

    3. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: It takes very little to be better than tha Harrier...

      Just, as an all-around plane - one that should take the roles that were covered by F-14, F-16, A-6, the F-35 is just a so-so plane, and will have troubles against more capable ones.

      An aicraft covering most of these bases have been deployed in operations around the globe for quite some time now, with reported superiority on both airspace control and ground strike over USA-built alternatives. The problem is, it's French.

    4. JimC Silver badge

      Re: It takes very little to be better than tha Harrier...

      Well, the Harrier, at least in its pre prototype development version as the P1127, went into service 50 years before the F35. Go back 50 years before that and the new fighters going into service were the Sopwith Pup and Sopwith Triplane.

  8. Gary Heard

    Flying experience

    The Grob? Your readers experience was in the Chipmunk, doing aerobatics near the Severn Bridge having flown out of Filton, back in the late 60's and early 70's.

    As for Gliding, the Kirby T31 was what I went solo on -- flew like a brick outhouse (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slingsby_Tandem_Tutor).

    But I was also lucky enough to get so much height off a winch launch in a T21 Seburgh (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slingsby_T.21) the pilot did a loop and a Chandelle (stick Back hard and as she starts to stall push the stick hard left and forward with plenty of left rudder -- glider ends up with wings vertical and then you use the stick and rudder to level out as you dive -- basically drop sideways on with the ailerons and rudder turning you to a recoverable position a you gain speed) in a Glider with no canopy That was FUN.

    With Flight Sim, back in the day... I flew Munich to Milan in the sailplane in real time 6.25 hours I was sat there.....

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Flying experience

      I flew the Grob Tutor, aka the Grob 115e from 5AEF at RAF Wyton while in the cadets. It was a nice plane, much better than the BAE Bulldog because of the faster climbing speed and lower operating costs, letting people fly more often*. Even if the Bulldog unit at Cambridge was more conveniently located for us.

      * Fortunately I was in the ATC when the Tutor had just been introduced, and was in before the problems with the propellers detaching from the rest of the aircraft came up, although it's quite arguable that 5G+ stall turns and other exceptionally violent aerobatics we did might have made some contribution towards causing these problems a few years later on...

      One wonders if Grob had any idea what sort of use these planes would be exposed to when they agreed to maintain them on a fixed price contract, the poor sods probably throught they'd be used like any other flying school.

    2. Joe Werner Silver badge

      Re: Flying experience

      Hmpf... FNCs (fuel to noise converters) ;p

      Went solo in an ASK13, first solo "distance" flight in a K8 (even after I was allowed on modern stuff, like LS4). Later I was one of the early production "test" pilots of the LS8-18, good times! Alas, it's a bloody time intensive hobby... still miss it at times though.

      (still sad Rolladen Schneider went bankrupt, like... 15 years or so ago)

    3. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Flying experience

      "Chandelle (stick Back hard and as she starts to stall push the stick hard left and forward with plenty of left rudder"

      In the interests of public safety, please don't take aerobatic (OK, technically not aerobatic) flight instruction from Internet posters. Particularly not this bit, which is closer to a description of how to spin into the ground than information on how to perform a Chandelle.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Flying experience

        ah the chipmonk. climb to 3500, push until 130 and pull back nice and smoothly throughout the loop.

        easy plane to fly but a pig to land. grobs were being introduced and were a joy to fly.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Flying experience

        > Particularly not this bit, which is closer to a description of how to spin into the ground

        Indeed, it is a textbook description of a spin entry.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think it was well known....

    ...that the Harrier was an utter bugger to control. The question is, could a "new" Harrier done a better job with modern avionics and technology, for far less money, rather than complete redesign, creating a whole new set of issues?

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: I think it was well known....

      I've thought that a few times. I'm inclined to think that the airframe would be up to snuff - the difference would be that the control commands would be coming from a computer rather than a human.

    2. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: I think it was well known....

      'The question is, could a "new" Harrier done a better job with modern avionics and technology, for far less money, rather than complete redesign, creating a whole new set of issues?'

      You'd make the flying easier, but the F-35 can carry ~twice the weapons load ~twice as far ~twice as fast, and has the space for more avionics than the Harrier. I think they're were pretty much at the limits of what you could do with the Pegasus engine as well which would make improvements in thrust challenging.

      1. x 7

        Re: I think it was well known....

        " I think they're were pretty much at the limits of what you could do with the Pegasus engine as well which would make improvements in thrust challenging"

        But they were thinking on the lines of a grown-up Pegasus with either a Spey or Olympus core, which would have massively increased thrust. Would have required a new larger airframe, and the MOD weren't interested.

        1. Sanguma

          Re: I think it was well known....

          Wasn't there a book published some time in the late 90s - early 2000s about BAE experimental aircraft and projects that hadn't got off the ground?

          IIRC, there was a Harrier Next Generation design that had twin tail-booms allowing the engine to have a more realistic afterburner with similar or same thrust vectoring from the bypass fans.

          Anyone remember the name of the book? I've forgotten it completely.

          1. Adam 1 Silver badge

            Re: I think it was well known....

            > about BAE experimental aircraft and projects that hadn't got off the ground?

            Shirley it is only the ones that they got off the ground that are worth considering?

            /Coat please

    3. Tannin

      Re: I think it was well known....

      "The question is, could a "new" Harrier done a better job with modern avionics and technology, for far less money?"

      Not a snowball's chance in hell. Could a hypothetical New Super Harrier do all that it required? Sure it could, if you spent enough money - i.e., something an order of magnitute greater on a per-seat basis than the F-35. (Or anything else for that matter.) Most of the cost in producing an aircraft is in the design and development process. To get the cost per unit down to something sensible, you need to produce hundreds, if possibly thousands, of units.

      Same with any high-tech product.

      Q: How much does it cost to produce one modern CPU chip? Ans: Hundreds of millions.

      Q: Having made the first one, how much does it cost to produce the second one? Ans: small change.

      Now, if you could sign a customer up to pre-order, say, 450 New Super Harriers and pay cash up front ....

  10. JaitcH
    FAIL

    F35 - Too Late and Over Budget

    The F35 has been on the drawing board so long that parts of it are now ancient technology.

    It's the latest American military project failure and they are foisting it on other nations to recoup some development costs.

    Will Britain still have to send these dogs to Italy for engine maintenance?

    1. x 7

      Re: F35 - Too Late and Over Budget

      The engines will be repaired in Turkey, not Italy

      Not much use in a hot war against Russia

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: F35 - Too Late and Over Budget

        Major overhaul will take place in Turkey. Day to day maintenance will be done by RN and RAF techies.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: F35 - Too Late and Over Budget

          "Day to day maintenance will be done by RN and RAF techies."

          More likely outsourced to Crapita, Babcock, Serco or the like.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: F35 - Too Late and Over Budget

        "The engines will be repaired in Turkey, not Italy"

        Yup the same Turkey Trump is currently pissing of by creating the likes of the Kurdish Border Force.

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith

          Re: F35 - Too Late and Over Budget

          No-one mention the European Union, ok? You know - fast Erdoğan the dictator is trying to get into, while we are (hopefully failing to) getting out.

          What a total pooch screw - it won't even be possible to get the engines from the UK to Turkey without going the long way around.

  11. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    "both of the UK's previous aircraft carriers"

    There were 3 ships in the Invincible class, not to mention the several classes prior.

    1. x 7

      Re: "both of the UK's previous aircraft carriers"

      And besides the Invincibles, Hermes also flew Sea Harriers

  12. DCFusor Silver badge

    They hate the infantry

    They're trying as hard as possible to get rid of the close air support mission. This time they're using a trick my ex used - be so bad at it that no one wants you to try anymore.

    With a fraction of the money, they could have re-tooled for the A10 or some improved variant that can hang around long enough to get the bad guys and ID the good guys to avoid friendly fire. But they don't want that mission (Except for the dedicated A10 pilots who I hear rarely have to buy their own drinks if ground pounders are around).

    This beyond visual range stuff is great when it works, and it's been pushed since long before it ever worked - some people, like Spey think it's a bunch of bull even if it works sometimes, because sometimes it doesn't and whether it's doctrine or not - dogfights are gonna happen and it pays to be good at that - ask Israel.

    This looks like one of the usual failing software projects - overpromise, underdeliver, be late, and claim they can patch whatever is wrong and anticipate all the edge cases. Yeah, right - but when your service falls over in the normal world, it's just a crash. In this case it's a CRASH and people die and stuff.

    It's one thing when the BVR missiles went nuts in 'Nam. Now we can have whole planes do that?

    War is about money. As another commenter mentioned, in asymmetric warfare, likely the only kind to be fought unless we have Einstein's WW3 after which there's nothing but sticks and stones - a cheap drone (not an remote controlled F-35,22,15,16, but something actually cheap) are gonna win that sphere of operations totally.

    But we'll be ready for the last (imaginary in this case) war, you betcha.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: They hate the infantry

      I don't think the A10 would be much use to the Navy.

      I'm sure you could make it land on deck easily, it's tough enough, but it's not designed for air defence of the carrier and it's not got that long a range. There might be an argument for the RAF to have something like the A10 - but in most cases that kind of warfare is now being covered by drones. And give the job description is flying low and slow over the enemy, that's a great place to use drones too.

      It is probably true that it's not really a saving to have one type of aircraft rather than 2. Sure you save on spare parts, training and the supply train, but you do end up paying much more for multi-role.

      But this isn't so true with carrier aviation, as you've got to have air superiority and strike capability on a carrier - but you've only got one small group of maintenance people. If you need more close air support capability, you can fly Apache off the carrier as well as F35.

      The MOD then made a decision to buy 140 planes to have one joint pool between the RAF and the RN. It may be that this was the wrong decision, or that it was part of the negotiations in order to get the B version built at all (with BAe getting work as a subbie). Hard to know the specifics of that negotiation.

      If we'd gone Cats-and-traps we'd have lost that joint pool option, as it's much easier to do VSTOL landings than arrested ones, so you can have RAF part-time carrier pilots, only used for short periods on the carriers. Which wouldn't be safe otherwise. That would have probably resulted in having to buy many more aircraft, probably meaning you wouldn't make any savings buying cheaper ones.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: They hate the infantry

        they should have bought f18s instead. much cheaper, plenty of parts and experience.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: They hate the infantry

          F18s need cats 'n' traps. The carriers weren't designed for that. A mistake I think.

          However planes you use that way don't last as long as VSTOL. The airframes get knackered much earlier. So you may get cheaper ones, but have to buy them twice.

          I don't agree with the MOD's decisions. But they aren't actually stupid. Thought has gone into them.

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            Re: They hate the infantry

            The MoD's decisions may have been not stupid and well thought out; but they also seem to show that the UK can't afford to keep up both a modern navy and a modern air force any longer.

  13. Jeroen Braamhaar
    Joke

    of course the F-35 is incomparable to the Harrier

    ...because the Harrier actually worked and flew.

  14. CN Hill

    "while the pilot pores over his screens"

    Subs!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's correct. What would you suggest - "pour" or "paw" ;)

      1. David Roberts Silver badge
        Trollface

        Pour or paw?

        Both applicable if the main display is running porn?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But is it better than a Harrier

    and a fleet of drones for the same or lower cost.

  16. steelpillow Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    ROTFL I mean SRVL

    Back in the day, this was known as STOL - Short Take Off and Landing. You don't need vectored thrust, just leading-edge slats and trailing-edge flaps.

    The F-35 may be unjustifiably expensive and our Reg hacks lack historical knowledge, but it is undeniably a cool piece of kit.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: ROTFL I mean SRVL

      If you can get a 20 tonne fighter to fly at 35 knots just using slats and flaps you crack on.

      1. steelpillow Silver badge

        Re: ROTFL I mean SRVL

        "If you can get a 20 tonne fighter to fly at 35 knots just using slats and flaps you crack on."

        Easy. Just make the wings a bit bigger. The induced drag saving from abandoning the weight of all that lifting-fan gubbins will more than compensate for the higher form drag, not to mention maintenance downtime - compare notes with any F-35A operator.

        But don't change the subject. You can't update the principles of aeronautical engineering just by changing what you call it, and slagging off people with long memories. The F-35C is still a ridiculously expensive way to deliver the same STOL capability available from the F-35B.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: ROTFL I mean SRVL

          'Easy. Just make the wings a bit bigger. The induced drag saving from abandoning the weight of all that lifting-fan gubbins will more than compensate for the higher form drag, not to mention maintenance downtime - compare notes with any F-35A operator.'

          So easy that I'm unaware of anyone who's ever tried doing that, hence the lack of modern fighters lifting off the ground at 35kts. Certainly not the F-35A.

          1. steelpillow Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: ROTFL I mean SRVL

            Oh, look, I got my B and C the wrong way round. Sorry about that. However, somebody else getting their A and B (or is that C) readings of my comment the wrong way round doesn't help either. May I suggest an honourable, er - solution?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "The F-35C is still a ridiculously expensive way to deliver the same STOL"

          The F-35C is simply the "navalised" version - it's not expressly designed for being STOL, although it has larger wings to increase payload and range, and allow for better low-speed control for carrier landings. The landing hook will take care of short landings, and catapults of short takeoffs.

          Most planes that were not exclusively designed for the Navy had a specific "navalised" version to ensure they can cope with carrier operations. That usually means features that are useless (more complex, heavier, and/or more expensive) on land-only version, like sturdier landing gears and tail hooks, foldable wings, etc.

          Also the US Navy uses a different air refueling system than USAF - the same used by most other air forces (probe and drogue ), and the C version is also designed for it.

          You can't simply get an A version and have it operate without issues from a carrier.

        3. ChrisC

          Re: ROTFL I mean SRVL

          "Easy. Just make the wings a bit bigger. "

          A quick play around with an online lift force calculator suggests that, at typical sea level air densities and assuming a lift coefficient from a fully flapped and slatted wing of 3.3 (taken from the most optimistic looking plot of lift vs angle of attack I could find without spending much time on it), a 20 tonne aircraft travelling at 35 knots would need a wing surface area of around 300m^2 to maintain level flight.

          Wiki suggests the F35A has a wing area of 42.7m^2, and I don't think there's much difference between the A and B in this respect, so you're talking about making the wings a mere 6 times larger. Or, to put it another way, slightly bigger than the wings of a B767 airliner.

          So yes, theoretically speaking, it seems like it would be possible for a 20 tonne aircraft to fly at 35 knots just on wing-generated lift. Practically speaking OTOH...

  17. Kabukiwookie Silver badge
    Mushroom

    And while tax payers in 'The West' see their money diverted from public health care to over the top expensive military toys, its 'enemies' are mainly fighting with AK47 for $50 a pop, unless they're supplied with more advanced stuff by the same people who are selling you that F35.

    Be afraid, be very afraid; that'll be $500,000,000 please. Thanks.

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      $500 million? What, you only want 3 planes and no support contract?

  18. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Coat

    Economy of scale - F-35"D"?

    Scale up production to bring down the unit cost - but who can buy many hundreds, if not thousands of these aircraft?

    Produce a civilian variant that shares a lot of the expensive components, and market it to the likes of Amazon, DHL, UPS.

    After all, if the aircraft is a doddle to fly, no need for fast jet pilots - there are plenty of out of work commercial pilots who can now be employed as delivery pilots.

    F-35Delivery

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Economy of scale - F-35"D"?

      Re: "Scale up production to bring down the unit cost - but who can buy many hundreds, if not thousands of these aircraft?"

      Well not sure about complete aircraft, but cockpits plus a bit...

      Taking "The F-35 full cockpit simulator at the press event had been set up in London, as part of Lockheed Martin and the Ministry of Defence's efforts to tell the Great British Public that the heart-stoppingly expensive "fifth generation" aircraft really is worth its £100m-ish price tag." I suspect there might be a market in low end simulators for games arcades, and high end at places like the Fleet Air Arm Museum at RNAS Yeovilton.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Economy of scale - F-35"D"?

        "Well not sure about complete aircraft, but cockpits plus a bit..."

        Considering how incredibly precarious the positions of dedicated Flight Sim control gear makers seem to be these days (and there are likely many times more people with cash and room for a HOTAS than a full cockpit) I wouldn't rush into mass production on that idea alone...

  19. Milton Silver badge

    And the day after he's retired ...

    And the day after he's retired ...

    ... he'll follow the time-worn tradition of ex-military when speaking on politically sensitive topics.

    Suddenly he'll discover that he can speak the truth, without the varnish and gilding and eliding and constant painful awareness that his career depends upon saying whatever his senior officers, and the political imbeciles they report to, want him to say.

    It feels good, as many a retired general/admiral/chief of defence staff et al has discovered ... though it be much, much too late to make any difference to the current disaster-in-progress.

  20. Milton Silver badge

    The endless page ...

    The endless page ...

    ... looks exceptionally stupid when I can see the same story three times without scrolling.

    Yes, I have a UHD monitor.

    No, El Reg did not need to go down this particularly witless, brainless, positively f******g stupid approach to displaying its content. Leave the sh*t for the crap sites, ok? You can do better.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: The endless page ...

      For a second I thought you were referring to Lewis Page...

  21. Qwertius

    The F-35 is Awesome

    The F-35 is awesome if your a corrupt politician.

    To everyone else -- it's a flying pig & gravy train all rolled into one.

    Far as I can work out ---- its going to be outgunned and out-performed by a host of other aircraft & delivery systems.

    It's the Buffalo - Brewster Vs the Jap Zero of our times.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As Roger Waters Might have said...

    ...And his kind Uncle Sam feeds 10 trillion in change,

    Into the total entertainment combat video game.

  23. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    Straw man.

    It's not one Harrier it's four, and it's not four Harriers, but two or three F18s it needs to be better than.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Straw man.

      Precisely, the same as comparing one to many thousands of drones. Individually not a comparison, but depending on the usage options may be rather better.

  24. Anonymous Coward 99

    Stealth Landings?

    Harrier - First generation/F35 - Second generation

    VTOL was designed as a capability to allow non-airfield deployment more than anything else. But Navy harriers used the "ski jump" to allow heavier loads to be launched from what is effectively a runway. The new capability is an equivalent rolling landing.

    What I would like to know is whether autolanding is less stealth than a conventional one.

    1. x 7

      Re: Stealth Landings?

      "What I would like to know is whether autolanding is less stealth than a conventional one."

      The point of the rolling landing is to allow the aircraft to return with stores attached.

      ANY landing with external stores will not be stealthy.

      But then any aircraft flying with external stores won't be stealthy either - to some extent it destroys the argument for stealthy aircraft. The F-35 can only be stealthy if carrying a much reduced payload i.e, internal stores only. The theory is stealth is only required on day 1 or 2 of a hot war: during that time you knock out the opposition air defences using stealth: if successful then on day 3 you don't need stealth. But to make that work you need a large superiority of aircraft to carry out the knockout punch, and you also need air superiority aircraft to deliver it. We have neither (and don't intend to have). The yank F-35 fleet will be protected by air superiority fleets, and will be available in sufficient numbers.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Stealth Landings?

        x 7,

        Stealth isn't all about being invisible so you can turn up and bomb their capital city out of a blue sky. It's about minimising your radar signature. How much stealth you apply to a platform depends on what role you want it to fulfill, how much money you want to spend, and how maneuverable you want it to be.

        So if you're defending your carrier in air-to-air combat, and you can get a lock on the enemy fighters at 50 miles, and they can't lock you until you're at 40 miles - then you can have shot missiles at them and be running away before they can even get into range to return fire.

        Stealth is about giving you an advantage. Not making you invisible.

        1. x 7

          Re: Stealth Landings?

          I ain't Spartacus

          But any airframe, however stealthy, ceases to be stealthy when you hang a collection of bombs and missiles off the underside of it - which is how the F-35 is intended to work on day 2/3 of any war

          The F-35 can either be stealthy OR carry a useful payload. Not both.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Stealth Landings?

            But any airframe, however stealthy, ceases to be stealthy when you hang a collection of bombs and missiles off the underside of it

            x 7,

            Not quite. As I said above, stealth depends on the angle of the plane compared to the radar.

            For example if you're flying at low altitude to get under the SAM radars, then no radar can see the underside of the plane. So you can strap as much ordnace to it as you like. The only radars that are going to see you are above you - either on hilltops or on other planes.

            Also, the plane is far bigger than the stuff hanging off it. So it's going to give the largest radar return - so the more you can do to mitigate that, the better.

            Plus if the plane is front-on to the radar, and only has a few air-to-air missiles strapped to the wings, then they're really not adding that much to the radar cross-section.

            As I said, stealth is about mitigation - it's not magic.

            1. MJI Silver badge

              Re: Stealth Landings?

              Another form of stealth.

              Hide your Buccaneers underneath a low flying Vulcan

            2. SkippyBing Silver badge

              Re: Stealth Landings?

              'Also, the plane is far bigger than the stuff hanging off it. So it's going to give the largest radar return

              Not how RADAR works. To quote Ben Rich, or maybe Kelly Johnson*, RADAR Cross Section has nothing to do with size.

              *I can't remember if it's Ben Rich quoting Johnson in his book or just directly stating it. Ben Rich was lead on the F-117 programme so I'm guessing he knows what he's talking about.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Stealth Landings?

            @ X 7

            Stealth is not on or off, it's granular and dependant on many factors, with one of the main ones being distance.

            Yes, a stealth aircraft with external payload is less stealthy than without, but it's still going to be harder to find over distance than a conventional aircraft would, so you still have an advantage.

            It's not about not being seen, it's about not being seen for long enough to let you get the job done.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Stealth Landings?

      You can't land on an aircraft carrier stealthily, because youu're next to a giant 60,000 tonne ship that is as unstrealthy as a large building.

      As for the radar cross-section of the aircraft, I doubt it makes much difference. Although stealth depends on what angle the plane presents to the radar anyway.

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Stealth Landings?

      autolanding is less stealth than a conventional one

      Well - given that they are landing on a remarkably unstealthy[1] giant floating steel coffin I suspect that wasn't very high up the list of priorities..

      [1] Especially compared to a fighter plane..

  25. Dave Ross

    All this...

    while asphyxiating it's pilot too!

  26. Cuddles Silver badge

    What's the soundtrack?

    Being able to dock land automatically at the press of a button is all very well, but if it doesn't play The Blue Danube while it does so then I just don't see the point.

  27. Pete4000uk

    Could have been worse

    The Boeing X-32 could have won. Now THAT was ugly.

  28. Luiz Abdala
    Go

    Easier than GTA.

    Land your VTOL Hydra at the top of Arcadius Business Center, in your favorite GTA game.

    There, you can land the F35 more easily THAN THAT.

    Color me impressed.

  29. Jack_Rainbow

    The F35 is a failure. It is a war loser. It's a sitting duck. Showing some dimwit news hack a simulator is an obvious propaganda move, but it doesn't fool anyone else. Sending the F35 against latest Russian and Chinese fighters is like using a biplane against a Messerschmidt ME109

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ?

      The them vs us with aircraft is mostly about the missiles and countermeasures, not the aircraft themselves. They are just the 'cady' to get the missiles in range.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith

        As long as the carrier that carries the planes that carry the drones that carry the missiles that carry the actual warheads are all safe, they'll win any war. Eventually.

  30. Aodhhan Bronze badge

    I'm sure I'll get plenty of down votes, considering the amount of people shouting out things without using much thought or because they place their own prejudices into it.

    Terrorists using drones against modern forces is pretty much a waste. Due to the technology they use and resources required, it's actually a negative force multiplier. Primarily because their signals can be tracked and you can't just make one from garage parts. Then there is the fact, they run by line of sight and are easily jammed and shot down.

    The USA was able to become a country based on the warfare technology they were able to create along with manpower from the French. Technology wise, the USA found technology to make their small arms much more accurate, quicker to load, and much more reliable. This wasn't something they stole from the UK.

    80s and 90s Technology and Japan. Yes, Japan flourished during this time, but not with actually creating the technology but rather manufacturing it. Cheap labor was the biggest factor here.

    Technology during this time came from all over. For instance the Dutch had quite a few advancements which spawned off into other items. The USA developed magnetic research (which they didn't steal), and continued with creating most of the processors used by nearly every technology during the day. Again, it wasn't stolen. The USA also declassified a lot of technology they alone developed and didn't steal. Such as high resolution imagery/lenses, fine microwave tech, GPS, lasers, etc.

    I'm willing to bet no matter what country you live it, you've taken this technology for your own use.

    F35 is what it is. Based on early mock live competitions as well as simulator combat the F35 is far superior to the F18 hornet. Not quite as effective as the F22, but you have to look at the role differences. The F35 can do things the F18 simply cannot, and this goes beyond the VSTOL capabilities.

    It's easy to look at things from a narrowed view and repeat things others (who have their own agenda) say.

    Seeing this is a forum full of IT professionals, you have the intelligence to take a few minutes and critically think about things and be objective; so try it out. This... we are better and smarter than anybody else attitude is ridiculous; not to mention... how often has this 'attitude' gotten you anywhere?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Seeing this is a forum full of IT professionals, you have the intelligence to take a few minutes and critically think about things and be objective; so try it out. This... we are better and smarter than anybody else attitude is ridiculous; not to mention... how often has this 'attitude' gotten you anywhere?"

      "gotten us anywhere"? In what sense? are we swimming in Cristal and trashing Ferraris? Well no.

      But let's measure it another way: how many people here have done a good job? When asked to implement some software to help people, did they generally succeed? And I'll bet the answer is that mostly they have. They understand things that work, how to analyse situations and good ways to solve problems. They probably have a track record of seeing good opportunities for improvement too.

      Let's compare that to the military/government. These are the people who failed to get the intelligence right about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, who built vulnerable carriers whose cost overran, that only work with certain types of aircraft, that we don't even have, that overspend on unnecessary inventory to the tune of £500m/annum, but can't provide vehicles to the troops in Afghanistan to protect them from IED attack.

      The people in charge, PR men, lawyers, wonks and former union officials that make up most of parliament have never run anything serious. They do little to reign in the bad ideas and decisions of the civil service, most of whom have never done a good job on delivery and remain in their posts even after proving their incompetence.

  31. toffer99

    Sounds good but expensive. Each one costs one NHS hospital.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Is there a shortage of hospitals? I mean I think if there is the NHS's £150 Billion budget is the place to look rather than Defence's £40 Billion one.

  32. rtb61

    F35 Flying Pig

    F35 flying pig has only one war to fight and that is umlimited greed and profits, they know it and hence it performs really, really badly, because once you have bought it, you will need to replace it, more profits for ever.

    So it is better than the harrier because it has a computer flying for the pilot, a computer that could be post fitted to the harrier quite cheaply but hey, no unlimited profits so evil.

  33. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    F-35 'incomparable' to Harrier jump jet, top test pilot tells El Reg

    The price is pretty incomparable too.

    And when will it be delivered? My guess is that it will be delivered soon after the carrier must be scrapped.

    Nice toy, until you look at the price tag.

    If anyone wanted to cripple us, right now would be a good time to sink the carrier.

    P.S: Please try not to use double quoting in the Joey from Friends way...

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      'And when will it be delivered? My guess is that it will be delivered soon after the carrier must be scrapped.'

      So the UK has 14 in the US now split between the trials squadron and the training unit*. So that would make your guess wildly inaccurate.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Perhaps. I don't see them anywhere near the carrier though.

  34. Glenturret Single Malt

    I thought the headline meant that the newer aircraft was vastly inferior to the older one.

  35. Dom De Vitto

    Wow, are you actually saying the SIMILATOR works ? Because I was playing Elite in 1985, and it seemed about the same, maybe better.

  36. LaFin

    Wheres the madatory "infomercial" tag?

    Yawn.

    Surprised at the Reg for pumping this out without some caustic critique?

    Also, this "chap' has been in the US to long ...... "dial it down"?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a pilot who’s had a chance to fly in an f-35b for real, it's a damn impressive airplane. The only downside in my couple of flights was, as the correspondent mentioned, the relatively inadequate pitch authority of the aircraft and the relatively short range. The avaionics are amazing and the controls are super easy to use. The aircraft automatically stabilises itself and handles stuff like trim for the pilot. All around, a fun plane, despite the price being twice the original quote per airframe and many times more for the development costs.

  38. tempemeaty

    ✈️

    It sounds a lot like, in the design of the aircraft, someone confused surveillance with fighting.

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