back to article UK.gov: Psst. Belgium. Buy these Typhoon fighter jets from us, will you?

Great Britain, which is buying the US-made F-35 fighter jet, is urging European neighbour Belgium not to buy the US-made F-35 fighter jet. Instead the British government is lobbying Belgium to buy 34 British-built Eurofighter Typhoons. Belgium is in the middle of a major revamp of its air force and is planning to replace the …

  1. wolfetone Silver badge

    ""Our world-class Typhoon has led the way in combat air power and this demonstrates the continued confidence in the capability the Typhoon has to offer. With more than 20,000 flying hours on global operations to date, the Typhoon offers unparalleled reliability and proven interoperability with our allies.""

    So why are the UK buying F-35's then?

    1. Steve 53

      We're buying F35Bs, which are STOVL for carriers. Eurofighter was never designed for carrier use, but that's hardly a concern for Belgium when they have no carriers.

      1. Toilet Duk

        The RAF is also buying F35-As.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          The RAF is also buying F35-As.

          Toilet Duk,

          Are you sure? We need at least 60-odd F35Cs for the airgroup of one carrier. 48 + spares and training.

          Now we won't always have two carriers, but in the case of an emergency both can be sortied, if one isn't in long-term maintenance. At which point it would be silly not to have more planes.

          We're only committed to 150 odd total so far. Would it really be worth buying 30 F35As and 120 F35Bs?

          I know the MoD have never ruled it out. But for the savings in purchase price it would complicate the supply chain and training - so I can't see it happening, unless we choose to increase the strength of the RAF and buy more.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
            Facepalm

            Bugger! For F35C (cats'n'traps carrier), I meant F35B VSTOL. Sorry. At least I got it right later in the post.

            I blame the chaps with moustaches...

        2. x 7 Silver badge

          "The RAF is also buying F35-As."

          not at the moment its not

        3. Mine's a Large One

          Not at this point we're not - whilst a split of F-35B/F-35A has been proposed in some quarters, at the moment we're still going -B only.

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      @ wolfetone

      The UK bought the eurofighter for the obvious reason of showing our love for the EU by buying an air fighter at daft expense to then bring it here to modify it for air to ground. I assume the reason for the F-35 is its ability to move on an aircraft carrier which I dont think the eurofighter does or at least with issues of our short aircraft carriers without the required short jump/arrester wires.

      The Eurofighter being one of those moments we were shamelessly on our knees pleasing the EU

      1. MajDom

        Re: @ wolfetone

        Be proud, lad. It's the UK's first aviationary contribution since Thatcher decided it should concentrate on services. Which primarily consisted of enabling Russian billionaires to speculate on EU governments and stabbing their EU partners in the back.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: @ wolfetone

        The Eurofighter being one of those moments we were shamelessly on our knees pleasing the EU

        The eurofighter is a vital first line of defence against the East German airforce's Migs

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: @ wolfetone

          The eurofighter is a vital first line of defence against the East German airforce's Migs

          Not only.

          The Eurofighter had two roles and establishing air superiority over Germany and Eastern Europe was probably the secondary one. It is first and foremost an interceptor, whose job was to meet the USSR Backfires and Bears when they come out remove the North American NATO fleet group out of the equation.

          While in theory a fleet group should stand on its own, elementary math shows that even the largest fleet NATO could assemble would be on the bottom of the ocean if USSR was to throw all of its maritime aviation against it (even without adding in the rocket cruisers). There were just too many of them. Similarly there are just too many of them today.

          This is why it has the range and the speed. You really do not need a nearly 4k km range and 2.5km/h speed for a dogfight above the BlackForest. You do, if you are to use it to support the F18s and F14s (in those days) of the carrier group above the North Atlantic.

          It is also a job which the F35 in any modification can never do. It is neither fast enough, nor has the range. So as long as there are 67 or so operational Tu-23Ms sitting on Russian airfields the Eurofighter still has a job.

          1. Mark 110 Silver badge

            Re: @ wolfetone

            Lets face it if ever theres a proper shooting war then all these carriers, and the planes still on the deck, will be on the bottom of the sea within about an hour.

            Carriers are just for bullying people that can't shoot back.

            1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

              Re: @ wolfetone

              Agreed. Don't believe a bunch of incoming hypersonic missiles can be stopped very reliably.

              1. Danny 14 Silver badge

                Re: @ wolfetone

                the not fully tested to be working zircon will possibly be stopped by the not fully tested to be working f35 launched from our not fully tested to be working aircraft carriers.

            2. fishman

              Re: @ wolfetone

              "Lets face it if ever theres a proper shooting war then all these carriers, and the planes still on the deck, will be on the bottom of the sea within about an hour."

              If it gets to that point the airfields will be smoldering holes in the ground and the cities will be ashes. And few will be alive to care what happened to the carriers.

              1. Zolko

                Re: @ wolfetone

                "Lets face it if ever theres a proper shooting war then all these carriers, and the planes still on the deck, will be on the bottom of the sea within about an hour."

                "If it gets to that point the airfields will be smoldering holes in the ground and the cities will be ashes"

                well, no, think of tactical nukes: they can take out an aircraft carrier, even a big one, and infest everything in a radius of 100km around it, but if it's on open see no land will be harmed. So yes, indeed, in case of a true war, the aircraft carriers are going to be the first targets of (Russian) U-boats (*). Therefore, it's easy to conclude that aircraft carriers are only there to bully countries that can't shoot back.

                (*) EDIT: and there's nothing to do about it.

          2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: @ wolfetone

            2.5km/h

            Grrr... meant 2.5k km/h. Bad software engineer habits to use ks instead of zeroes.

        2. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: @ wolfetone

          @ Yet Another Anonymous coward

          "The eurofighter is a vital first line of defence against the East German airforce's Migs"

          Wonderful but what does that have to do with the UK? The UK air requirements is air to ground, which would be why after we bought lots of EU expensive candy which didnt do what we wanted, the UK modified them to do air to ground at our expense.

          I believe the F-35 is more useful. Previous versions of aircraft are currently available and do the job. The UK while selling out to the EU pumped them more money for an aircraft that didnt do what we wanted. If we bought the Eurofighter without it doing what we need then why did we buy it? Why did we agree to it as we had a PM who wanted to be president of the EU?

          The argument over US aircraft is BAE ripping us off to install cat and trap on the carriers forcing us to buy the expensive and more complex aircraft. The Eurofighter was if it had any use to us and the expense of making it any use.

          1. Lars Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: @ wolfetone

            "The Eurofighter was if it had any use to us and the expense of making it any use.".

            I think you need one to explain that sentence, unless it's me who needs one.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: @ wolfetone

              @ Lars

              "I think you need one to explain that sentence, unless it's me who needs one."

              Np, sorry if I wasnt clear. We bought the Eurofighter, brought them back here for 'upgrades' to add air to ground capability (if I remember that right) at additional expense. It didnt do what we wanted but we bought it anyway and then fudge a fix to make it work. I am not arguing in favour of the F-35 particularly and not the B variant which while cool seems to be more complicated than an aircraft needs to be.

              We do just seem to have bought the Eurofighter to please the EU.

              @ Mine's a Large One

              "We need an air defence aircraft to intercept Russian aircraft heading for our airspace."

              I agree. And of the air to ground aircraft available we bought the Eurofighter for political reasons and had to make conversions to it here to make it useful. I might be tempted to go grab lewis's book and reread the problems with the Eurofighter. Been a while since this has come up.

              1. EvilDrSmith

                Re: @ wolfetone

                >Sigh<

                No.

                The Eurofighter / Typhoon was designed to meet a number of requirements, including replacing the Jaguar ground attack aircraft in RAF service.

                As I and others have said before it was always designed to have an air-to-ground capability.

                It was not an expensive 'fudge' upgrade; it was a sequential development of planned capability, which is still on-going.

                In fact, the UK were arguably the drivers for the current capabilities of Typhoon - the Germans in particular were reluctant to continue with the development of the aircraft as agreed, after 1990, and for a while pushed hard for a less capable (=cheaper) option.

                1. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: @ wolfetone

                  @ EvilDrSmith

                  "The Eurofighter / Typhoon was designed to meet a number of requirements"

                  I suggest you read some of lewis page's writings on this. If you can grab a copy of his book 'lions donkeys and dinosaurs' it is a fun read. A quick search brought up this-

                  http://www.theregister.co.uk/Print/2011/03/03/eurofighter_nao_analysis/

                  1. EvilDrSmith

                    Re: @ wolfetone

                    Indeed...Lewis has never much liked Eurofighter / Typhoon, and at no point have I ever claimed that the programme was necessarily well managed.

                    However, that doesn't change the fact that the Typhoon was conceived and designed to replace Phantom FGR2 in RAF service in the air defence role, and Jaguar in the ground attack roll.

                    The RAF considered replacement of the Phantom (and stopgap Tornado F3) as more urgent than the replacement of the Jaguar, so development of the Typhoon gave priority to the air-to-air capability (I think the Luftwaffe and Italian air forces shared that view, since they both were also proud possessors of relatively new Tornado strike aircraft).

                    While I am always happy to read Lewis' articles (invariably entertaining), I prefer not to base my opinion on a subject purely on his views; if I were at home, I could add a fairly long list of book and magazine references on the Eurofighter /Typhoon dating back to the 1990's, which provide a somewhat less biased record of the development history than Mr Page.

                    1. codejunky Silver badge

                      Re: @ wolfetone

                      @ EvilDrSmith

                      He does have a huge bias against them. I just dont know many from the forces (personally) who particularly disagreed. But at the time it seemed very much another way of pleasing the EU. Maybe I am just a bit cynical but at the time labour were selling us hook line and sinker as Blair wanted to be EU president.

                      1. EvilDrSmith

                        Re: @ wolfetone

                        Cynical is good....

          2. Mine's a Large One

            Re: @ wolfetone

            "Wonderful but what does that have to do with the UK? "

            We need an air defence aircraft to intercept Russian aircraft heading for our airspace. The only thing we have to do that role since we retired the Tornado F3 is Typhoon, and it does it very well.

            "The UK while selling out to the EU pumped them more money for an aircraft that didnt do what we wanted"

            We were a partner in the Typhoon program, we knew what we were building, we had the same requirement and we knew we'd need to add additional capabilities. We did the same with the Tornado - the requirement was for a strike aircraft, but we modified the design to produce the F2/F3 interceptor which the other nations (apaprt from Italy) didn't need.

            "I believe the F-35 is more useful."

            At what? The original claims were for a low cost multirole aircraft that could replace most other types in most other customers' arsenal. At the moment, it costs more than double its original price, the performance figures have been chopped, the final version of the hardware/software still isn't ready, there are issues with the logistics system... You'll constantly hear statements from pilots saying "oh the situational awareness and sensor fusion is fantastic...", but situational awareness and sensor fusion at the moment are only useful for knowing which direction to run the f*#k away because it isn't able to fight and win.

      4. Da Byw
        Facepalm

        Re: @ wolfetone

        we bought the Typhoon because we build it like the Tornado before it

      5. MJI Silver badge

        Re: @ wolfetone

        Why should we not buy the production versions of the British Aerospace EAP?

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @ wolfetone

        " ..the reason for the F-35 is its ability to move on an aircraft carrier which I dont think the eurofighter does.." - well, the French Rafale does have a variant explicitly made for carriers.

        Worse, the F-35 is plagued by innumerable delays and structural defects it's unimaginable any country would buy it for its intended purposes. It is great at stealth penetration ***as long as radar technology stays put" which is not the case, and as long as every one of its anti reflecting tiles is carefully examined and replaced (a labor intensive and expensive proposition)

        The F35 is much better as a stealth tool to provide stealth funding for black projects (if not plain corruption)

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: @ wolfetone

          "As long as radar technology stays put which is not the case, and as long as every one of its anti reflecting tiles is carefully examined and replaced "

          And as long as the avionics doesn't overheat. Opening the doors to cool things off negates the stealth.

      7. joeldillon

        Re: @ wolfetone

        Ummm we co-developed the Eurofighter. It's ours as much as anyone else's, and cross-national development of planes is neither new nor connected to the EU as such - see, for example, the Tornado or for that matter Airbus.

        International co-operation is actually a good thing, you know, no matter how much it seems to displease the sort of person who gets on their knees to please Nigel Farage.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      So why are the UK buying F-35's then?

      Once upon a time, a long time ago in a galaxy far away, there lived some people with a bit of a problem. There were some big, angy bears living nearby that kept causing trouble. So all the people eventually got together and spent vast amounts of money buying things to shoot the bears with, and training to shoot bears with them. Meanwhile the bears were also spending unfeasibly huge amounts of honey on guns to shoot the people with.

      One day they were sitting around in their brown courduroy flares and orange shirts, and worked out a design for a fantastically good aeroplane to shoot the bears with. Then that their men with moustaches would have something to fly when their Phantoms went out of date in 15 years time.

      Then they did lots of thinking about it, and seemingly little actual work, until eventually the Wicked Witch of the West got round to actually placing an order about ten years later. Along with a few friends with funny accents, who were also buying some.

      Then actual design work happened. But the bears suddenly ran out of money and started acting a bit nicer and looking a lot less threatening. And the boss bear starting drinking lots and lots of lovely vodka. But the people had already spent loads of cash on their new Typhoons, and the poor Phantoms had got so old they'd had to retire and the poor men with moustaches were reduced to flying sleds made of lead against the bears - who were no longer bothering anyway. So they had to carry on building them.

      Yet another decade later the Typhoons started to turn up. Hooray! But there were no other aeroplanes to shoot down, and the men with moustaches were now being required to drop things that go bang on people who were wearing their pyjamas and dressing gowns into combat.

      So they had to update the brand new Typhoons to do that, which meant the first ones that had been built went into storage, while the men with moustaches desperately looked for someone who'd like to buy them (so they could use their new shinier ones).

      Then a grumpy man with a funny accent took over from the slimy man with the funny shaped face. And his grumpy friends with funny accents and a liking for Haggis were thinking of voting for new friends. So he ordered some lovely big boats from them. And the new friends built him the lovely new boats, waited a few years, then voted for the new friends anyway.

      But what to do with these lovely boats with the big flat tops? Ah yes. Buy some new planes to go with the Typhoons. And so the Lightning was bought. And now the grumpy woman in charge is looking for some money to pay for the shiny new Lightnings, and decided that if people are foolish enough to put mayonnaise on their chips, they'll probably buy any old second hand aeroplane.

      Unfortunately for everyone, the bears became a bit grumpier again. Although the people mostly failing to sell the newest and shiniest guns were quite happy. So the chaps have put down their beer and horrible mayonnaisey chips to have a think and decide if they want to buy new toys for their chaps with moustaches from the grumpy lady or the really grump orange man.

      Does that help?

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Who said anything about second hand?

    4. thames

      @wolfetone: "So why are the UK buying F-35's then?"

      The UK currently flies two main fighter types - the Typhoon and Tornado. The Typhoon is optimised for air defence, but also does bombing. The Tornado is optimised for dropping bombs but also does air defence. Generally air defence planes can do ground attack very well in this era of guided weapons and smart bombs, provided they are equipped with the appropriate sensors and electronics. The earliest versions of the Typhoon left out the ground attack kit as an economy measure (since the buyers already had Tornadoes who could do that job anyway), hence the common myth that the Tornado couldn't drop bombs. Later versions included the kit for both roles by default, as do current production. However, the Tornado is still often use for those jobs because, well, they've got them so they may as well used them and get their wear out of them.

      The Typhoon is still a relatively new plane and will form the backbone of the UK's air force for many years to come, but the Tornado is at least a generation older and is getting long in the tooth and has to be replaced due to increasing age and obsolescence.

      The UK is buying the F-35 as a replacement for the Tornado. The 'B' version is being bought to also operate from carriers so it can be dual purpose. So far the UK has committed to buying 48 in total. That order could conceivably be extended to 138, but that decision awaits future approval by parliament. It is possible that the larger order may include buying some cheaper 'A' versions instead as strictly land based Tornado replacements, but that is up to the government of the day to decide in future. The F-35 is built by the equivalent of a consortium, and the UK has the second largest share in it (I think around 15%). The UK has various parts which go into it, Italy and Turkey will have final assembly lines, etc. The US of course as the biggest customer has the lion's share of the workshare.

      The Typhoon/Eurofighter is also built by a consortium. The parts which go into the plane are built in various countries, but there are four final assembly lines, one each in the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Each of the four takes turns in leading the sales effort to countries outside of the consortium and getting the largest share of the resulting benefits from it. It appears likely that the UK is the lead country for sales to Belgium. Going by attendance at recent meetings, early indications are that the UK is also the lead country for sales to Canada (who are also shopping for new planes).

      1. x 7 Silver badge

        " The Tornado is optimised for dropping bombs but also does air defence. "

        no it doesn't

        The ADV Tornadoes (F1/F2 models) were all withdrawn from service years ago.

        The remaining fleet are bombers

      2. Sanguma
        FAIL

        f-35 - air inferiority fighter-bomber

        Face it, that's what it is.

        1. Emmeran

          Re: f-35 - air inferiority fighter-bomber

          The F-35 is a drone with a seat for an ego, we'll forgo the ego spot in future renditions.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: f-35 - air inferiority fighter-bomber

          It's very good at its mission.

          The thing is the mission is spending lots of money and making lots of profit for the people who make it and sell spare parts for it, not to fight wars.

    5. MonkeyNuts.Com

      Because we have a blue water navy and the F-35 can take of and land off our carriers? A Typhoon cannot.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    but can it drop the ..

    Its this beautiful plane certified to carry and drop the B61-12 gravity bombs ..?

    Don't forget Belgium works in tandem now with their neighbour Kingdom the Netherlands (F-16 and F-35) to protect booth kingdoms sky's and reduce the cost.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: but can it drop the ..

      I doubt it. However, I'm sure there's some nice chaps at BAe who'll sort all that out for them. At a small, reasonable, harsh but fair, barely affordable, well OK then, frankly horrific cost.

    2. Berny Stapleton

      Re: but can it drop the ..

      If they fly over the south of belgium, do they speak dutch or french?

      1. Remy Redert

        Re: but can it drop the ..

        Neither. They speak English so they can communicate with other NATO aircraft as well.

      2. bitten

        Re: but can it drop the ..

        The Belgians working with the Dutch need to also have the F35 (a Dutch idea). Or better not so they can complement crippled with something else.

  3. macjules Silver badge

    Going cheap

    "Our world-class Typhoon has led the way in combat air power and this demonstrates the continued confidence in the capability the Typhoon has to offer. With more than 20,000 flying hours on global operations to date, the Typhoon offers unparalleled reliability and proven interoperability with our allies."

    TRANSLATION: "Oi, Belgium. Look here mate, these planes have only done a few hours, barely seen any combat and some are so new that the paint isn't dry yet. Tell you what, a snip at £3Bn for the lot .. oh, ok £200m .. can you do cash please? Refund policy? No worries, tell you what I'll set a date for our refund policy to run from April 2019, is that ok?"

  4. MajDom

    Your article leads to believe the Typhoon is fully British. It's 33% BAE, 46% Airbus, and 21% Leonardo. Hence, a minority British participation.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Your post leads one to beleive that we didn't have a complete, flying aircraft before getting Europeon nations involved to increase the size of the order book.

      https://www.baesystems.com/en-uk/feature/eap

      1. MajDom

        That's a bit like the Mini Cooper, isn't it? Version 1 was fully British too. But you can't really compare it to today's version.

        1. Ledswinger Silver badge

          That's a bit like the Mini Cooper, isn't it? Version 1 was fully British too. But you can't really compare it to today's version.

          Not really. The ACA concept aircraft is clearly very similar to the Typhoon. Whereas to compare Issigonis' brilliant Mini to the revolting, lumpen, lard arse German versions of today, well...... the only relationship is the name on the badge. The Mini Countryman in particular looks like it was originally intended to be the Mini Countrypanzerkampfwagen.

          1. Chris G Silver badge

            @Ledswinger.

            I have reluctantly come to quite like the Mini Cooper but as you say the Countryman is a tad Panzerish. One could easily manage a minigun turret on top and be put to use annexing the neighbours veggy patches and calling it a 'Mini' is oxymoronic.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              I have reluctantly come to quite like the Mini Cooper

              I would agree, the BMW "Minis" are good, likeable cars. But they aren't mini, and they trample all over the heritage of the diminutive, resource light, clever original. Pulling on the name of the original, and the pastiche styling might appeal to the easily pleased, but I think it's two German fingers being raised to Issigonis. The new Countryman has an empty weight up to 1,735 kg, compared to less than 700 kg for the orginal. I'd agree the new on is more comfortable, more reliable, safer, more economical, but considering it costs over twenty grand that's no achievement. And I'll wager that the Issigonis Mini is more fun to drive.

              The BMW mini is so Germanic - almost perfect in every detail, whilst completely overlooking the big picture. Not that they will care - its been a stonking commercial success.

          2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

            Maxi

            @Ledswinger

            Mini Countrypanzerkampfwagen.

            Who owns the rights to the (Austin) Maxi name?

            1. x 7 Silver badge

              Re: Maxi

              As far as I remember Ford got the Rover name while nearly everything else remained with BMW.

              There's a grey area over the MG name with various claimants

              I believe Rover remains with Ford and not the Indians

              1. Ledswinger Silver badge

                Re: Maxi

                I believe Rover remains with Ford and not the Indians

                Tata bought JLR and their brands, I take it you mean the Chinese, who now own the remnants of MG?

                Because they couldn't buy the Rover brand, SAIC created the brand Roewe (which in Chinese speaking markets is much the same pronunciation), and they still make a variant of the Rover 75, marketed in the UK as the MG 6. Quite a smart looking car (neighbour works at the UK engineering development facility still in Longbridge, so often drives one), but sells in tiny numbers in the UK.

                The SAIC cars aren't fully competitive yet with the best European price equivalents, but I'd emphasise the "yet".

                1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: Maxi

                  "MG 6 ....sells in tiny numbers in the UK."

                  Sold. Past tense. It was discontinued in 2016.

                  That probably has a lot to do with memories of the absolute shit coming out of Longbridge for many years and would probably have sold better without the MG badge on it.

                  (WRT the Maxi: there's another name for them: "The Austin Landcrab", due to their tendency to drive like one)

                  China needs to learn that buying up and using "prestige european brands" is frequently counterproductive when you're actually turning out a better product.

                  1. werdsmith Silver badge

                    Re: Maxi

                    Maxi (ADO14) was never the Landcrab, that nickname belonged to the Austin 1800 (ADO14) and under other BMC marques. Though they had a similar appearance.

                    Ford grabbed the Rover marque along with JLR, and this transferred to Tata with the acquisition.

                    BMW hung on to Riley and Triumph cars, along with Mini, Maxi, Metro trademarks.

                    Austin and Morris went to SAIC via Nanjing.

                    1. x 7 Silver badge

                      Re: Maxi

                      Actually the Leyland Landcrab was the Austin/Morris 1800/2200 - the weird looking one like a Maxi with a boot, not the later Princess body

          3. Lars Silver badge
            Happy

            The "brilliant Mini"

            Should one point out that the car would not pass even one safety test today. The same goes for the really brilliant Citroen CV2, so brilliant not much is left for the Mini.

            But I can feel the nostalgia towards the Mini and still it was a rather dreadful car, as wet and cold inside as outside, absolutely lethal in snow and sleet in the night on the road among real cars.

            But there was the Cooper, Monte Carlo, and rally drivers like Timo Mäkinen and similar.

            I suppose my nostalgic feeling have more to do with that than having had to drive a not Cooper one.

            Some on memory lane with the Mini and Timo.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0RUpn8X6HM

            The new Mini, a well built and proper car, is doing quite well in both Germany and the UK.

            Finns talked about the "dog booth", was that invented elsewhere I don't know.

            1. Expat-Cat

              Re: The "brilliant Mini"

              "he Mini and still it was a rather dreadful car, as wet and cold inside as outside, absolutely lethal in snow and sleet in the night on the road among real cars."

              Really don't get this comment. In snow the mini classic is quite excellent, with good grip and feedback through the steering so you can tell what is going on. Of course deep snow can be an issue due to the small ground clearance! Screen demist in my current car leaves something to be desired, but the heating levels are great.

          4. 404 Silver badge

            Mini Countrypanzerkampfwagen

            When you put it like that, suddenly I want one...

      2. Jason Hindle

        “Your post leads one to beleive that we didn't have a complete, flying aircraft before getting Europeon nations involved to increase the size of the order book.“

        Indeed. The Eurofighter is essentially a variant of the very British Experimental Aircraft Programme (EAP) from the 80s. It was a very early (earliest?) example of an inherently unstable aircraft design using fly by wire and computers to keep it safely up. A lot of that tech also ended up in the American F22.

        1. Jimbo in Thailand

          Not quite, Jason Hindle

          IIRC "inherently unstable [military] aircraft design" requiring "fly by wire" to tame the uncontrollable beast began with the incredibly successful General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon that has been in production since the late 1970s, and is still in production.

          On an aside, the irony is so thick you can cut it with a knife. This absolutely outstanding once-revolutionary fighter design is now being manufactured by the most incompetent moronic synapse-misfiring idiots in the aviation business worldwide. Yes, you guessed it... I'm referring to the pork-barrel-loving Lockheed-Martin that has blessed us with the 'exemplary' F-22 and even larger MASSIVE FAIL F-35. I still roll my eyes that Blighty's political elite let themselves be completely hoodwinked into buying these severely overpriced marginally performing sh1te designs. [double facepalm]

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: Not quite, Jason Hindle

            And Lockheed-Martin was allowed to beat out Boeing in a bizarre exceptionally expensive competition for the next generation fighter.

        2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          I'm pretty sure the Gripen was an earlier example of an unstable fly-by-wire aircraft.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Also, if BAe are doing the sales and combining the supply-chain and training with the RAF's - then I guess that's even more lovely moolah for BAe. After all, the support costs for these complex weapons systems carry on getting paid for decades, and usually end up bigger than the purchase price.

      1. EJ

        So... fighters are the military version of printers and ink.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      at least it's not French

      Belgium would be completely mad to buy the Rafale

  5. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    F-35 or Typhoon

    We still get a large slice of the pie.

  6. batfink
    Mushroom

    Defending the continent against potential Russian aggression

    I am immensely comforted to know that the Belgians are buying fighters to defend us against those commie hordes massed on the East German German Polish border, waiting for the merest excuse to bring us under the rule of the Great Bare-Chested Not-At-All-Gay Overlord.

    Oh wait - they're already under our beds, aren't they?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Defending the continent against potential Russian aggression

      I don't know if you'd noticed, but we're in this alliance thing. It's called OTAN or NATO or something. It's got lots of countries who do feel threatened by the great bare-chested one. Including the afore-mentioned Poland and particularly the Baltic States. Where the RAF and army are currently deployed - though so far the bare-chested one has only deployed cyber warfare and a bit of propoganda.

      So there is a need for NATO countries to modernise their forces, yes. Or admit that they no longer stand behind their military guarantee.

      1. batfink

        Re: Defending the continent against potential Russian aggression

        Yes I agree that the Baltics may well have a reason to be threatened, but the rest? Really? Even though the poor Poles do have a history of being invaded from the east in even centuries and from the west in odd (or was it the other way around?), what serious threat of invasion of western Europe by Russia is there today? A shooting war in Europe? To what gain?

        Yes I do agree that we need to meet our obligations under the alliance. However I do see a lot of fairly crude anti-Russian propaganda going on over the last few years. Never mind the recent reds-about-to-overwhelm-us speeches we've seen from our (UK) glorious defence minister and Mr Stoltenberg, which are probably just pleas for increased budgets); it's pretty obvious in the hysterical reactions we see whenever a Russian ship comes anywhere near the UK (say, the Channel) on its way somewhere else. It seems to me to have been building up these last few years, and I can't really understand the reasons behind the increase. Just normal political talking up of external threats maybe?

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Defending the continent against potential Russian aggression

          and I can't really understand the reasons behind the increase.

          Might it have something to do with Russia invading Georgia and then permanently stationing its troops in breakaway regions, giving them de-facto independence. Or even invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea perhaps? The first annexation in Europe since WWII.

          In both cases using the excuse of a large resident Russian minority. In the case of Georgia they had to spend a few years giving out Russian passports in order to make that minority big enough, but what the hell...

          And don't forget, after siezing Crimea they still funded and gave military support to the rebels in the Donbas - which they don't appear to want to annex so far.

          If you're a Baltic state with a 20% Russian minority, you might be nervous? So no, Russia do not have the ability to invade Western Europe. But they are a nuclear power with a reasonably high likelihood of conflict with countries to which we've given defence guaranees. If we don't deter them with conventional forces, then our deterence will have to be nuclear, or we have to break our word and abandon the guarantee. Again someting bringing back memories of WWII.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: Defending the continent against potential Russian aggression

              Hmmm Kosovo? Now, remind me? That's the new 51st state of the US, since they invaded unprovoked and seized it from Serbia right? Or is it now part of Germany?

              Because I really don't recall Kosovo being annexed by anybody.

              No, I remember now. It was the Serbs disastrous ethnic policies. After Milosevic's great successes in Bosnia and Croatia, the Kosovans got the similar treatment, and NATO intervened. And yes, I'm aware that said intervention wasn't legal. That didn't make it immoral. Russia have a UN veto, and were seemingly happy to deploy it in support of another round of Serbian genocidal policies.

              Crimea on the other hand is now supposedly a province of Russia. See the difference? It's not complicated...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Spartacus - Re: Defending the continent against potential Russian aggression

            You're rather short on memory, mate.

            Crimea would be the second invasion and half-arsed annexation after WW2. You're missing Kosovo which was handily carved out from Serbia by valiant NATO troupes.

            I know, I know, if its' the Russians it's immoral/criminal while Westerners are white knights in shiny armor.

          3. Zolko

            Re: Defending the continent against potential Russian aggression

            @Spartacus : "The first annexation in Europe since WWII."

            even before Kosovo, there was the "annexation" of East-Germany by West-Germany. Yes, I know, they call it "reunification" but the same can be said about Crimea, that was Russian until after East-Germany was separated from Germany.

            1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

              Re: Defending the continent against potential Russian aggression

              West German armies didn't roll into East Germany. Absolutely no similaritry with Crimea.

  7. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    ..it may be the case that Belgium picks the British option for political reasons.....

    These reasons would be that Britain is LEAVING the EU?

    1. MajDom

      It's not a British option. It's a European option. Eurofighter is primarily Airbus.

    2. graeme leggett

      The United Kingdom has been committed to defending Belgium since - well a long while.

      Such as Wellington plonking his Euro Army between Napoleon and Brussels delaying the Frenchman long enough for Wellington's major European partner Blucher to turn up.

      And of course UK is leaving (possibly) the EU but not NATO.

      1. MajDom

        There was no Belgium to defend when Napoleon was around.

        1. graeme leggett

          So Old Nosey was there 15 years early, Give the man some credit for forward thinking.

      2. RealBigAl

        Long, long before an independent Belgium existed Britain(ne England) had a policy of protecting the Cinque ports. Too many successfully staged invasions based out of the Dutch/Belgian coast to allow them to be controlled by an unfriendly government.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Hence Battle of Dunkirk, also known as Battle of the Dunes, in 1658. English Commonwealth forces aided French king against Spanish in Southern Netherlands to expel Spanish privateers which were preying on English merchant ships. The Spanish forces being aided by Royalists under the Duke of York (later James II) and French Frondists.

          All part of the Anglo-Spanish and Franco-Spanish wars but during a lull between two Anglo-Dutch wars

          Who said Realpolitik was easy.

    3. Peter2 Silver badge

      Or because Belgium exists because of the 1839 Treaty of London, which has UK PLC as a guarenteeor of Belgium existance. This was put to the test in the first world war when the Germans were certain that Britain wouldn't declare war on Germany because of a "scrap of paper" if they invaded Belgium. Britain disagreed, and thus Belgium still existed post WW1.

      And for that matter post WW2, since the Belgium government was dissolved and replaced with a German military dictatorship in WW2, only to be reestablished by our army passing through enroute to Germany in WW2.

      Can you see any reason why Belgium may wish to retain close political links with the UK...? Government and diplomacy runs on longer timescales than the media and twitterati does.

      1. Toilet Duk

        Many Belgians don't even care about Belgium and would rather be Dutch/French.

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      You've mostly got it wrong. English policy is to be allies with Belgium against France. All this newfangled allying with France against Germany is so wrong...

      This attitude is not at all coloured by the podcast I'm currently listening to about Edward I, Edward III and Henries IV and V. So far I'm at Hundred Years War - Black Death stopped play...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        English policy is to be allies with the French against the Spanish, the Germans against the French, the Germans against the French (and Americans), the French against the Americans, the French against the Germans part II, the Americans against the French .......

        1. baldnbad

          Don't mention the war...did it once...think I got away with it...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You missed out "allied with anyone else against the Scots, Welsh, Northern Irish and Cornish".

        3. Citizen99

          'English policy is to be allies with the French against the Spanish, the Germans against the French, the Germans against the French (and Americans), the French against the Americans, the French against the Germans part II, the Americans against the French ....... '

          As Sir Humphrey explains ...

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFBgQpz_E80

      2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: I ain't Spartacus

        We hate the French! We fight wars against the French! Did all those men die in vain on the fields of Agincourt? Was the man who burned Joan of Arc just wasting good matches?

        - Edmund Blackadder (Nob & Nobility)

  8. michaeje

    European project!

    Good to see we are pushing a European project delivering an air capability that relies on integrated European supply chains, and no taxes or tariffs - just as this government is doing everything possible to destroy that integration... #stopbrexit

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: European project!

      Ironic ain't it?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: European project!

      As far as the politicians are concerned, Brexit has nothing to do with economic integration / disintegration but everything to do with establishing totalitarian rule from London.

      1. JustNiz

        Re: European project!

        Better from Londoners than from foreigners in Brussels.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: European project!

          @JustNiz

          Unfortunately, we can't say that in the UK.

          Our politicians just prove the saying: the "expletive deleted" always rises to the top.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The F-35 and Typhoon aren't exactly competing machines though, if anything they could be complementary with the F-35 providing the stealthy, long-range sensor elements and the Typhoon carrying more weapons and better in close-combat situations.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Guess it depends what Belgium want. If they want to operate their airforce alone at some point, then they want a nice flexible multi-role aircraft like the F16. So I guess they should buy something cheap as a stop-gap like the F/A18 - or something French.

      If they see themselves only operating with NATO, or with partners, then I guess they should buy what those partners haven't got - or what looks like the most useful capability to add.

      Or maybe we're back to something cheap?

      I can't see any "European army" proposals being any more successful than previous ones. Basically because most of their forces end up being joint-committed to the EU and NATO - and the EU can rarely agree on foreign policy anyway. I don't see that changing much even after Brexit.

      However the EU could maybe help with co-ordinating R&D spending - where the smaller countries' defence budgets don't stretch all that far. And the EU or NATO could clearly do more to co-ordinate on capabilities.

      Though again, that needs agreement. Say for example France had been reliant on German air-to-air refuelling, but then France decided to intervene in Libya and the Germans refused?

      I'd say that France and Britain have been far more in agreement on diplomatic/military affairs than France and Germany (much closer allies on everything else). Apart from the obvious exception of Iraq.

      But thaht still leaves joint procurment as an obvious thing that the EU could cooperate on. Although, again, there have been many joint projects that France have joined, only to leave halfway through because they couldn't get the majority of the work for their companies.

      And the further problem of arms sales. The UK have traditionally been a bit more fastidious about who we sell arms to than the French, but both of us are way more relaed than the Germans. And the Belgians even refused to sell arms to the UK during the war with Iraq in 1991! Which most of the rest of Europe were in.

      Defence policy gets awfully complex and political at this level. Even though EU procurement integration is a good idea - that doesn't necessarily mean it will actually work.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        The Belgians want something cheap to fly around so that they can claim to be upholding their Nato commitments (and keep the HQ and all the nice expenses paid in local hotels and restaurants) while not spending $$$$$ on aircraft designed to keep California a swing state , fight WWIII against russia counter the air superiority threat of ISIS

      2. EvilDrSmith

        I think the contenders now are Typhoon, Rafale and F35.

        The F16, while still a good aeroplane due to continuous updates, is obsolescent, and any nation looking to maintain a first-line airforce is looking to replace them (if it's their only tactical jet).

        F/A18 was in the running for Belgium, but was withdrawn, because of "unfairness in the bidding procedure" (i.e. they claim it was skewed in favour of F35). But the F/A 18 is also obsolescent, and it may just be Boeing realised they had no chance.

        The Gripen was also an option for a while but was withdrawn, because SAAB couldn't guarantee the support requirements (the contract is apparently to be government to government, which means government foreign policy impacts on what the supplying company can actually supply).

        The Rafale bid may not be fully compliant with the Belgium requirements (not sure of the details of this).

        So in practice, there isn't really a 'something cheap' option, if they want to keep a first line (NATO compatible) capability.

        1. Sven Coenye

          Belgian requirements have a strong tendency to morph into a form that matches the offer with the largest bag of carrots attached*. France just flew in with a Rafale carrying 20B carrots. Thats a lot of persuasion.

          Secondary is that no one in Belgium really knows what its military role is since the fall of the wall. The mission flip-flops as defense ministers come and go. One government opted for a disaster relief mission that gave the military a fully engaged role, had broad popular support and scored quite a few brownie points abroad. However, it mostly involved the C130 fleet and its crews. Then came Crembo, who thought that was unmanly, ditched it, and instead sent our F16s to kill little brown men with AK47s. Queue lots of internal discontent and the evaporation of the brownie points. Belgian F16s had homebrew avionics and AFAIK never quite got the real deal, so they only operate on the periphery.

          * Carrots may be for public consumption (as with the F16 purchase), or private enjoyment (Agusta A109 purchase, 1985 artillery shell purchase, ...)

  10. Lars Silver badge
    Coat

    Somebody tell the English

    The war is over*, also Napoleon, Hitler and even Hammurabi are very dead indeed by now. Playing with tin soldiers end among normal kids at around the age of eleven.

    And for those who are interested in the Eurofighter and its history try:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurofighter_Typhoon

    *might not prevent a new one, but it could be very different when looking for friends and foo.

  11. Pete4000uk

    Honesty

    'Great Britain, which is buying the US-made F-35 fighter jet, is urging European neighbour Belgium not to buy the US-made F-35 fighter jet.'

    At least we are giving good advice to our friends next door.

  12. Jove Bronze badge

    The most interesting part of the article was the offer regarding the set-up of cyber security services. That is where Belgium has it's most serious issues at the moment.

    The EU Forces agenda is just a sham; not a chance of EU states, with only two exceptions, providing enough funding to protect themselves nor maintain what they already have.

  13. Defiant

    Idiot

    Don't play silly buggers, our Navy is buying the F35 for its jump jet ability and Belgium doesn't need that option which makes the EuroFighter the better option

  14. Triumphantape

    Never mind the Typhoon, get some of those Chinese J20's.

    1. Zmodem

      the j20 would be destroyed by the typhoon, its full of MoD's classified hardware that can bring down the raptor in a dogfight, while the eurofighter is the basic plane for other government to upgrade with their own custom classified hardware if they have any

      the only thing a eurofighter has in common with a typhoon is the physic's it uses to fly with the flyby wire system

      1. My Alter Ego

        Am I missing something here, I'm sure the RAF has some different hardware inside it compared to the Luftwaffe and the Spanish AF, but surely Eurofighter and Typhoon are branding differences.

        "The Eurofighter is known as Typhoon in the United Kingdom and export markets and as EF-2000 in Germany, Italy and Spain. However all Italian aircraft carry the "Typhoon" logo on their tails."

        1. Zmodem

          the typhoon is what every other countries eurofighter could be, if they have spent a few trillion pound of classified research since the 1980s when they setup BAE Systems todo the classified research, so america could'nt steal anymore like they did with the TR-3B during the lockheed martin merger

          as far as i know, from documentaries, all the sockets and plugs on a eurofighter are bulk standard molex and PCB connections, nothing special, so everything can easily be upgraded without needing BAE Systems, otherwise the hardware would'nt be classified

          1. x 7 Silver badge

            Typhoon / Eurofighter is the same airframe

            Only differences are in country-specific fits such as different external stores fits (and so different wiring depending on which guns / bombs / missiles are used by that country), and country specific plugins such as different radar warning gear, different display kit...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I late to the party?

    I could sell them a Eurofighter equipped with the latest avionics for a fraction of the price! I bet this would meet most of their needs.

    https://youtu.be/wy0ZYlQWE0o

  16. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Just get the Gripen and be done with it.

  17. Zmodem

    the f-35 is'nt a strike and dogfighting plane, its a patrol plane for basic low risk operations

    1. Zmodem

      the absolute top speed of the typhoon is 2100mph. which is when the wings will fall off, the realistic top speed is 1800mph, super cruise speed is classified

      it has the radar cross section of a fridge

      its the worlds best strike fighter, and nothing will stand in its way if 500 came your way, even if the eurofighter is'nt a real typhoon with the MoD's rolls royce engine

      the whole of america's airforce would be wiped out in 2 or 3 days, and they will be left with only laser air defense cannons

  18. CheesyTheClown Silver badge

    Spend the money on drones

    Seriously, what’s the real benefit of wasting money on one shit plane vs. another. We should be able by now to make drones that can be manufactured far faster and deployed far easier than either fighter. What’s lost in having a pilot in the cockpit can be made up for by having 10 times as many aircraft in action.

    The F-35 for example basically places the pilot in a virtual reality environment anyway. It’s not like having eyes in the cockpit really benefits anything. Latency might be an issue, but having a nearby land based or flying control center should compensate for that.

    Just quit with the human pilot shit or human military shit as much as possible. The only good reason for human militaries is population control. The more children we send to their deaths the less babies they’ll make and the less burden they’ll place in the job market. It’s 2018 and it’s about fucking time we stop doing the war bullshit by shipping children off to die. If politicians really want to play bullshit games, let them do it with their own lives.

    Make a crap load of land, sea, sub-sea, and air drones and control them remotely. As always, he with the most gold makes the rules. Then whoever has a bunch of gold can take over whatever country they want and we can send in the construction crews after to clean up the mess.

    1. DocJames
      Mushroom

      Re: Spend the money on drones

      Unfortunately, it is likely that the move to drones will increase war.

      The logic goes: 1) drones/autonomous fighting vehicles etc will not risk our soldiers lives.

      2) Soldiers will therefore die less often

      3) Their grieving relatives will not appear on news programmes to embarrass the government

      4) There will be less political pressure to avoid war...

      Obvious icon is obvious.

  19. Mark Dowling

    Typhoon and F-35 cost the same? Hasn't MoD been campaigning to not say on the record what 35s cost? Either way that seems like a stretch and especially if you aren't including all that ground based mission support software that takes ages to upload into the aircraft.

  20. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Belgium would be dumb to buy an interceptor when a multirole combat aircraft is needed.

    The article didn't mention the possibility for Belgium to buy Rafale, by mistake IMNSHO.

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