back to article UK's first transatlantic F-35 delivery flight delayed by weather

Britain’s first permanently UK-based F-35 fighter jets are not arriving in Norfolk today as expected due to RAF concerns about bad weather. The open secret of the aircraft’s arrival date is being widely discussed on social media, following defence secretary Gavin Williamson’s announcement that the supersonic stealth jets will …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Alternatives

    If you could construct some sort of large ship with a big flat deck then you could lift the planes onto it with a crane, sail across the ocean and then lift them off at the other side.

    There was some idea of perhaps having planes take off and land from such a ship - but this involves apparently insurmountable technical challenges solved in the 1950s

    1. Ben1892

      Re: Alternatives

      I came here to post the exact same comment :)

      1. David Webb

        Re: Alternatives

        Same, they do say great minds think alike. Now if only we had spent a few billion on building these ships and had them on the Ocean right now........

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alternatives

      by jove man, you've got it. They just need to put it into practice without faffing it up.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Alternatives

        They just need to put it into practice without faffing it up

        "The difficult we do straight away. Miracles take longer".

        In this case, sometime after the heat-death of the universe.

        (That's entropy, man!)

      2. Sanguma

        Re: Alternatives

        without faffing it up.

        And where's the fun in that?!? Recreational Impossibilities!!! I ask you!!!

    3. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Alternatives

      If it's the F35-B (VTOL) then they don't even need a crane as long (as the deck can take the hot exhaust downwash......)

    4. AS1
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Alternatives

      Probably carrier.landing.usswasp.lib is the only package available at the moment, and carrier.landing.hmsqe.lib won't be released until a block 5 of the software. This will, of course, be completely different from carrier.landing.hmspow.lib scheduled for release in block 6, and the two versions will be incompatible, requiring each B to land and be reprogrammed - a six week turnaround - if it takes off from QE and wants to land on POW. Thus ensuring we keep the maintenance contract going for block 7 that adds compatibility for multi-ship missions.

      Because even Paris has a better record when ordering aircraft.

      1. macjules Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Alternatives

        Paris has a better record at crossing the Atlantic and lowering her undercarriage than an F-35

    5. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Alternatives

      Or this is just an excuse to delay shipping a flying turd.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Alternatives

        One F35 fighter jet, delivery mileage only. About 6000 miles on the clock already and about 14 hours on the engine.

    6. Zwuramunga

      Re: Alternatives

      FedEx. They have freight rates you know.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alternatives

      1910.

      That was when the technical difficulties of operating an aircraft off a ship were solved. We got good enough at it by the 40s that 3 nations between them operated over 200 of the things during a brief period of time known as WW2 (US and UK operated over 90 each, Japan over 20).

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alternatives

      They could have also chosen a shorter route: Alcock and Brown did it 1960 miles, the R34 did it in ~3000 and Lindbergh got to Paris in 3600 miles.

      1. Hero Protagonist

        Re: Alternatives

        “They could have also chosen a shorter route: Alcock and Brown did it 1960 miles, the R34 did it in ~3000 and Lindbergh got to Paris in 3600 miles.”

        Ok, sure, but how did they do on the Kessel run?

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. MAF

          Re: Alternatives

          "It ain't like dusting crops Boy!"

    9. JustWondering
      Thumb Up

      Re: Alternatives

      LOL!! Take any prize from the second shelf.

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alternatives

      The US have built such ships, as have the French.

      The British don't need them at the moment as they are only useful for projecting power long distances to support allies and defend colonies, neither of which they have. Don't worry, they'll be sailing post-Brexit to establish Empire 2.0.

      Both the ships and the Brexit being UK Government projects can be expected to experience roughly equal levels of delay, confusion and incompetence so should arrive together.

    11. Wolfclaw

      Re: Alternatives

      1917 HMS Fearless, oh how naval aviation has progressed until the F35s

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: Alternatives

        Does Yet Another Anonymous Coward who created this thread get the award for most thumbs-up ever? Can't remember anyone close ...

    12. siluri

      Re: Alternatives

      Isn't the Queen Elizabeth visiting the States later this year lol

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clouds are no joke - never have been ...

    Did anyone see the "Time Team" (can't recall if it was a regular or special) where they went to France and recovered a Spitfire that crashed shortly after takeoff ?

    The exact cause of the downing was a mystery, until they extracted the wreckage (pilot was recovered and buried at the time). The found the guns unfired (so unlikely to be in combat) and the propellers feathered - indicating a stall and restart procedure.

    They surmised the plane hit something while trying top restart after emerging from clouds.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Clouds are no joke - never have been ...

      That's why we don't fight wars against countries that are cloudy anymore.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Clouds are no joke - never have been ...

        Doesn't this make Britain invincible?

        Russia has its General Winter, we have Field Marshal Drizzle

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Clouds are no joke - never have been ...

          Doesn't this make Britain invincible?

          Only if you can persuade Johnnie foreigner to also buy planes that only work in deserts

          The navy of course bought boats that only work in the cold - far more sensible

        2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: Clouds are no joke - never have been ...

          Field Marshal Drizzle

          Didn't he add delays to the UK Apache pilot training programme over here in Blighty - One of the factors being the schedule being drawn up for conditions in places like Arizona rather than the conditions at home.

    2. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Clouds are no joke - never have been ...

      "They surmised the plane hit something while trying top restart after emerging from clouds."

      The earlier merlin engines couldn't handle negative G and would suffer fuel starvation and conk out**. Could possibly have been the cause of him having to restart.

      ** Proving that even in the "good old days", the UK armed forces weren't free of almighty design cockups.

  3. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Carriers??

    With the HMS Queen Elizabeth currently sitting in Portsmouth wouldn't it make sense to just treat the delivery as an extended sea trial to a friendly port?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Carriers??

      a friendly port?

      Anywhere but Portsmouth then ?

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Carriers??

        Anywhere but Portsmouth then ?

        I hear certain parts of Plymouth are *very* friendly to the Navy. Especially to swabbies with plenty of loose cash..

        But preferrably not in the same place as the squaddies with lots of loose cash. 'Interesting' things happen and the MP's actually have to do something other than march around and shout at people..

    2. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Carriers??

      You could but that would tie the programmes even closer together than they are. i.e. the aircraft coming over as part of 617 Sqn are working up to initial operating capability (IOC) in the land role and won't really have anything to do with the carrier for a few years yet. The aircraft conducting the carrier trials later in the year are part of the Joint Test Squadron and won't have anything to do with achieving land IOC.

      So using the carrier to ferry them across would delay the land IOC by ~6 months and add nothing to the carrier trials.

      Alternatively you could just put them on any old cargo ship to cross the Atlantic, but that means stripping them down and giving them some sort of environmental protection, which again would delay things.

      Worth remembering most (all?) the UK's Phantoms were flown across the Atlantic before joining the old, old, Ark Royal, so this isn't exactly a new phenomena.

      1. ida71u

        Re: Carriers??

        Yeah but Phantoms have two engines & two guys, someone to make the tea see ! Or hold the stick whilst the pilot took a wee, no not like that ! Although these days it could just as likely be a couple of ladies talking about how bone domes ruin their hair do or some such, but still a spare bod to hold the stick & make the tea :)

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Carriers??

      Also the carrier deck crew may not yet be certified for fixed-wing aviation. I don't know what stage the commissioning is at yet, but the plan was sea trials for the carrier, then work-ups with helicopters with plane operations only after that. And I presume they'll start with just a few planes, then work up to a squadron etc.

      This is not something you rush, unless there's urgent reason to. Bit like ferrying planes across the Atlantic really. In wartime they'd fly anyway, in peacetime, they won't.

    4. Smooth Newt
      Facepalm

      Re: Carriers??

      This is not the case with a single-seat, single-engined fighter jet, which, aside from having no creature comforts except for a seat and an air supply, is a lot riskier (from the planning point of view) to fly over the sea for long periods of time.

      But don't carrier-based aircraft have to spend a lot of time flying over the sea?

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Carriers??

        Yes. But they tend to fly near to this floating airbase full of helicopters. And they tend to come at least in pairs, so there's someone with them who knows where they are to vector in the search-and-rescue boys.

        Sea Harrier was also single engine.

        I believe the US have been more picky about this in the past, until selecting the F35C. However this may be because modern engines are a lot more reliable.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Carriers??

          However this may be because modern engines are a lot more reliable.

          I'll wager that the scientific advances in some areas of design and manufacture are greatly offset by the incremental complexity of the F35B.

          Whilst complex, the F22 is simpler than F35, but even after an "improvement programme" only achieved 70% mission availability, so I'm guessing that in service the F35B will be around 60% even after similar improvement. So in rough numbers, each F35B will be available just over half of the time.

          Which doesn't bode well for in flight....

          1. GrumpyKiwi

            Re: Carriers??

            "Whilst complex, the F22 is simpler than F35, but even after an "improvement programme" only achieved 70% mission availability"

            Mission availability ratings are generally regarded as a bullshit easily manipulated measurement. A squadron that does no flying can have a 100% availability - yet would be of no use at all.

            I'd no more regard such a rating as an accurate assessment than I would a "glorious peoples five year tractor factory plan" production report.

          2. defiler Silver badge

            Re: Carriers??

            So in rough numbers, each F35B will be available just over half of the time.

            Do we get to choose which half? I choose "landing".

        2. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Carriers??

          'I believe the US have been more picky about this in the past, until selecting the F35C.'

          The USN seem to go in phases with this, ignoring anything before '45 when it was all single engine they had a lot of single engine jets in the '60s and '70 such as the F-8 Crusader, A-4 Skyhawk, and A-8 Corsair. Then in the late 70s/80s they went all twin jet for some reason.

          1. ArrZarr Silver badge

            Re: Carriers??

            'I believe the US have been more picky about this in the past, until selecting the F35C.'

            You shouldn't ignore stuff before 1945 as the dual engine long range requirement was the driving force behind the creation of the original Lighting (Lockheed P-38) as they needed a figher that would be safe(er) for pilots on long pacific missions.

            1. lglethal Silver badge
              Go

              Re: Carriers??

              Also just a comment on availabilities - "Peace Time availability" and "War Time availability" are two very different things. Also dont confuse "War Time availability" with "Dropping bombs on a far off country in support of (not your country's) ground troops availability".

              In a proper war where your forces are defending your own land or its ground troops, the aircraft will fly with any number of things that would prevent it flying in peace time. In peace time, the loss of an aircraft for any reason will see generals brought before government inquiries, hard questions, cuts in funding, etc, etc. The loss of an aircraft whilst dropping bombs on a far away land to anything except enemy SAM fire would also be unacceptable in the main.

              But in an actual war, those aircraft go up. It doesnt matter if its due mainetance on some bit of equipment, that maintenance will be deferred until after the next attack. No questions asked.

            2. bitten

              Re: Carriers??

              The F35 is the new Starfighter, by now only on paper but the specs show a promising future.

              1. Sanguma

                Re: Carriers?? The F35 is the new Starfighter

                It's actually Lockheed-Whatever's new Gullibility Unit Test Framework. It's calibrated in Suction Per Square Inch, and seems to have succeeded in sucking in most of NATO.

                As such it represents the future of speculative accountancy and as such, is dear to the hearts of (and minds, such as they are) of politicians everywhere.

            3. stiine Silver badge

              Re: Carriers??

              Actually, the Lockheed P-38 was designed with twin engines because it wouldn't have been able to meet the required mission specs as a single-engined aircraft. Also, if you want to read a good account of the engineering, errors, and pilotry (not sure if thats really a word) of the P-38, I'd suggest Fork-Tailed Devil by Martin Caidin.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "Then in the late 70s/80s they went all twin jet for some reason"

            Single engine jets are smaller and lighter. USN started to use dual engine planes since the FH Phantom and the Banshee, but smaller carrier couldn't operate with larger, powerful aircrafts like the Phantom II or the Tomcat - which being designed for a large payload and great operational range were inevitably larger and required more power and survivability.

            The Midway class was the smallest carrier that could operate the Phantom II, while the Tomcat required the larger Forrestal and later designs.

        3. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Carriers??

          I believe the US have been more picky about this in the past, until selecting the F35C. However this may be because modern engines are a lot more reliable.

          Might be that but part of the original reasoning was combat damage.

        4. Ken 16 Silver badge

          F-18

          I never saw the point of it as the F-16 did everything better, until I read why the Canadians had selected it; too many pilots dead in the ice because their Starfighters had flamed out.

        5. Mine's a Large One

          Re: Carriers??

          "However this may be because modern engines are a lot more reliable."

          I don't think they've fully resolved the issues where the engine casing flexed under manoeuvering causing the fan blades to rub (they did implement a workaround and added *some* stiffening to the casing).

          They've also had a couple of engine fires...

    5. MrXavia

      Re: Carriers??

      "With the HMS Queen Elizabeth currently sitting in Portsmouth wouldn't it make sense to just treat the delivery as an extended sea trial to a friendly port?"

      My thoughts exactly!

      Even the shakedown crew should be able to handle landing one fighter....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How would a downed pilot be picked up quickly? Beyond a certain distance from land obviously not by ship or boat. Are there flying boats or helicopters with the right range - even if the route is staged via Greenland etc?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. PerlyKing Bronze badge

      Re: How would a downed pilot be picked up quickly?

      When we had Nimrods they were able to drop life rafts to ditched crews, I think by chucking them out of the back door. For the chosen air-to-air refuelling option do the tankers accompany the tankees? Could they drop life rafts if required? I should think that life expectancy increases dramatically if you can get out of the water.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. SkippyBing Silver badge

      I believe there may be a transport aircraft with an air drop-able life raft as an alternative to the one man raft that comes with the ejector seat. Other than that careful routing to take the shortest distance while remaining in cover of air sea rescue. This isn't a major disadvantage as the route should also allow aircraft to divert to a suitable airfield in the event of a problem with the air-to-air refuelling which will often coincide with an air sea rescue base.

      My understanding is that they generally plan on no aircraft going below ~50% fuel to give a decent diversion range and a bit spare for a contingency. This does mean they have to refuel more often than you'd expect if you just used the basic range figure. Obviously having a thunderstorm in the way makes it a lot harder to guarantee you'll manage that.

      1. Mr Humbug

        > My understanding is that they generally plan on no aircraft going below ~50%

        > fuel to give a decent diversion range and a bit spare for a contingency.

        On the Black Buck raids, when we last needed to fly military aircraft a long way across the Atlantic, the Vulcans refueled seven times on the way there but only once on the way back.

        I guess the F35s would want their tanks topping off four or five times on the way over so they have enough fuel to divert to somewhere dry in the event of a problem.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Honestly we fly aircraft across the Atlantic all the time, there were Typhoons at a Red Flag exercise in Nevada only last year. The difference with Black Buck is that there were a lot less diversion options!

    4. GrumpyOldBloke

      Another F35 could hover over him and keep him warm.

    5. werdsmith Silver badge

      Thousands and thousands of single engine light aircraft have crossed the Atlantic on ferry flights via such exotic locations as Narsarsuaq. The pilots take along a ferry-tank which fits on the the spare seats, an inflatable raft,immersion suit and ELT beacon. None of the aircraft are as valuable a loss as an F35 would be though.

  5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Remember the war

    USA -> Greenland. Land. Tea. Remember the Land Lease pilots.

    Greenland->Iceland. Land. Tea. Remember the Land Lease pilots.

    Iceland->Faroe Islands. Land. Tea. Remember the Land Lease pilots.

    Faroe Islands >Norfolk. Land. Tea. Remember the Land Lease pilots.

    Someone just made something that was done several thousand times in the past unnecessarily complicated by trying to add the abomination bastard offspring of a private financing deal called RAF Voyager into the picture. Without real need to do so.

    That is on internal fuel with no drop tanks by the way. With drop tanks it should be able to skip the Faroe and maybe Greenland with a stop just in Iceland on the way. By the way its range on internal/external is nearly identical to the P51 Mustang out of which 4K+ flew down this route with the exact same stops in WW2.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Remember the war

      Unfortunately Greenland just imposed a 25% tariff on temporarily imported US jet fighters and Iceland lost the in-transit-refueling contract to Argentina so the route now gets a bit more complicated.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Remember the war

      Lend Lease

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: Remember the war

        Land lease ( land lease, land lease )

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Remember the war

        You're never getting those airbases back

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Remember the war

          Also remembering the war, D-Day was postponed 24 hours due to the weather and that was only across the Channel, presumably you think that was a national embarrassment as well?

    3. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Remember the war

      They also lost a lot of aircraft following that route, now at the time there was a war of national survival going on so it was a risk worth taking, these days not so much.

      Not to mention we've been doing non-stop crossings of the Atlantic for decades now with and without Voyager, it's a lot quicker than landing and taking off several times on the journey and reduces the likelihood of something not working after you've turned the plane off.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Remember the war

        Not to mention we've been doing non-stop crossings of the Atlantic for decades now with and without Voyager, it's a lot quicker than landing and taking off several times on the journey and reduces the likelihood of something not working after you've turned the plane off.

        There is a minor "reality" check here.

        Range of 1000 miles without drop tanks or refuel.

        So it either has to suck from the Private Financing Initiative Bastard or do one or more landings along the classic Lend-Lease route.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Remember the war

          'There is a minor "reality" check here.

          Range of 1000 miles without drop tanks or refuel.

          So it either has to suck from the Private Financing Initiative Bastard or do one or more landings along the classic Lend-Lease route.'

          Which is also true for Typhoon when it goes across the Atlantic, or Tornado*, it's literally why we have the tankers. So your criticism is that tactical jets don't have trans-Atlantic range**, which is true but that's mainly because carrying them much fuel would stop them being tactical jets.

          *Tornado might just make it with all the overloads and good weather, but I've seen plenty of pictures of them tanking it.

          **Buccaneer is the only exception I can think off but that had freakishly long range.

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Remember the war

        I suspect that some of this is flag-waving and PR for the aircraft company. There's been a bit </sarc> of bad press about this airplane and it's problems. If one goes down, the bad press gets a bit worse. If they all make it, win-win. For the pilot's sake, I hope they all make it across and land safely.

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Remember the war

      Voland's right hand,

      Your question can be answered in one word. Training.

      We have Voyager tankers for a reason. To allow our aircraft to be based a long way from where we want to use them. This capability can only be used if the pilots train for it. Regularly. I'm sure the paperwork to fly the long way round is incredibly easy to do. But these aircraft will need to do long ferry flights, so they'll train for it. The reason they'll need to do this is that they're going to mostly live with the RAF, with only 2 squadrons on a carrier. Until they need more, at which point I'm sure they'll fly them out from Blighty. Hence this is training for that kind of long deployment which is a vital operational requirement mandated by us buying a joint pool of F35B for both RAF and Navy.

  6. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    Does anybody know the route they will take over Britain when they get here?

  7. vtcodger Silver badge

    It has been the dream of the common soldier and sailor since time immemorial to only work in nice weather. It appears that the F35 makes one small step toward realizing that vision.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      It has been the dream of civilization for 2 millennia that both sides would beat their swords into plowshares. The F35 with it's "ability to shoot guns might be achieved in the 2020 software update" would seem to be a step toward that vision.

  8. Milton Silver badge

    "It won't"

    As I mentioned here t'other day, some Canadian political halfwit, challenged over F-35 performance and reliability as part of enquiries into that nation's scandalously mishandled acquisition process, when asked what would happen when the single engine failed somewhere over the Far North, notoriously said "It won't".

    But of course, it will: because π doesn't equal 3.00, cryptographic back doors will always be compromised and mathematics will always leave stupid little politicians naked.

    Even worse, our planes are the wretched F-35B, sacrificing over a third of fuel capacity to the Heath-Robinson lift fan, so you have a lot of refuelling for a plane whose operational range was already pitiful (on internal fuel an F-35 has even shorter range, believe it or not, than the old BAC Lightning F6, a lovable but notoriously short-endurance beast). Plus the lift fan, with its kludge of gearbox and transmission, places unprecedented stress on the one and only engine as well as representing useless dead weight.

    So the RAF is right to be paranoidally cautious about ferrying the F-35Bs to Blighty, because it's a long way, there's a hell of a lot to go wrong, and the embarrassment will be crushing if one is lost.

    Looking on the bright side, however, the SAR effort for the pilot need not be hasty: the ejector seat, combined with the weight of the fanastically expensive AR helmet which doesn't work, will have broken the poor bugger's neck anyway.

    Heaven help anyone who will ever have to seriously rely on the F-35 in a real war. By Week Two, the desert-graveyard will be full of ANG reservists wiping Cosmoline off a bunch of teen-series planes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "It won't"

      Well said sir!.

      I wish I could give you a thousand upvotes.

      The F-35 is nothing more than a FOLLY of the biggest magnitude. BAE should on the quiet start building a few Sea Harriers for the time when the F-35 fails miserably (as it surely will) and we have to flat tops with nothing to fly from them.

      Then BAE can come to the rescue with an updated harrier. Very few mission scenarios need supersonic anyway.

      I'd bet the USMC would order a few hundred as well.

      {Proud to have worked on the Harrier at Dunsfold in a different life}

      1. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: "It won't"

        with updated engine and flight management software it would probably be very good, but why not simpler yet? Get BAe "Hawker" to combine the Goshawk naval trainer with the Hawk 200 and get a carrier capable aircraft light enough for those electro catapults to fling and small enough to pack 3 squadrons on each floaty thing.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sorry, but the Sea Harrier was no better than the F-35

        It was slower and far more vulnerable with engines in that position. Good for CAS when air superiority has been already achieved by other planes, or when there's no serious air opposition, but a dangerous plane if air superiority has to be achieved - and in this case speed, armament and electronics matter a lot.

        That said, the F-35 is still a "compromise" airplane born from the usual requirement "a single plane for every mission" which usually don't deliver good planes, especially if they have to be "cheap".

        1. RancidRodent

          Re: Sorry, but the Sea Harrier was no better than the F-35

          "Good for CAS when air superiority has been already achieved by other planes"

          The integration between Sea Harrier's Blue Vixen (a superb air to air RADAR) and AMRAAM was generally acknowledged to be amongst the best in the world - in one-to-one air-to-air combat (without AWAC support) Sea Harrier FA2 was formidable - indeed the Typhoon with the Blue Vixen based RADAR but with NO INFLIGHT DATALINK to AMRAAM (due to penny pinching) would struggle against Sea Harrier - F22 is also stuck with old (block B?) AMRAAM due to data bus bandwidth limits so would be hopeless in unaided air to air combat. The Tornados Fns the RAF would hopelessly flying around for decades wouldn't stand an earthly against FA2.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "The integration between Sea Harrier's Blue Vixen"...

            Yes, but you have to see it from an overall perspective - radar, armament, countermeasures, maneuverability, speed.

            Speed and maneuverability can still dictate the engagement - and we've seen more than once that just relying on some system specifications didn't match reality when used in combat.

            Sure, maybe the Harrier can hit the opponents with its AIM-120 before they get too close, but if they escape the Harrier would have bit troubles to escape supersonic planes.

            Vectoring may help in a dogfight, but latest planes like the Flanker line are very maneuverable as well, and cam deploy much more energy.

            During the Falklands War, Argentina's Mirages and Daggers had to combat at the extreme limit of their operational range, which meant reduced armament, and mostly runs in attempt to hit a ship and get back quickly (and if bomb fuzes had worked better, UK would have lost more ships...).

            1. RancidRodent

              Re: "The integration between Sea Harrier's Blue Vixen"...

              "Yes, but you have to see it from an overall perspective - radar, armament, countermeasures, maneuverability, speed."

              Indeed but with BVR combat you require a way of aiming your long-range missile before it's in range to actively home - you'll be surprised how many in-service fighters without this capability (in reality rather than on paper), Typhoon (waiting for METEOR) F-22 (just doesn't work) countermeasures are easy - just change direction after detecting the AMRAAAM launch! So in reality the two premier western fighters would have to get in AMRAAM homing/ASRAAM/Sidewinder range before firing, FA2 would have detected and shot you down before you got in range so the speed advantage is irrelevant. If the MOD had any sense they'd create a varient of METEOR using the ASRAAM IR Seeker and slave the tracking system to PIRATE.

              "Speed and maneuverability can still dictate the engagement - and we've seen more than once that just relying on some system specifications didn't match reality when used in combat."

              Blue Vixen/AMRAAM was one of those rare occurences where performance exceeded all expectations, there isn't another known (ie western) fighter in existance whose long range search and AMRAAM aiming systems worked so well, in NATO excecises, in "lone" fights, FA2 ruled. The US develop their fighter RADARs to be great allrounders as they never expect to fight without AWAC.

              Modern warfare of course dictates that you don't do RADAR searches anymore anyway - you try to track passively (ISRT) or at extended range from other assets.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Milton

      Well said. I find these articles interesting because a while ago (almost a year? I don't fully remember) the Netherlands got their share of F35's delivered and guess what?

      They had to cope with the exact same problems! Delivery couldn't be made in time because of bad weather. However, the given arguments were also that the plane might have problems landing. Yeah, bad weather. I'd say it would be a good war exercise but nah.

      I'm starting to get the impression that these things simply can't operate all that well in bad weather.It would even make sense, because in Holland they're replacing the F16 but are actually a lot less functional. Can carry less ammo, have a smaller action radius, they were supposed to be used to provide support for ground troops but that doesn't work very well...

      Anyway, here's my best wishes for the British! Let's hope your chaps won't have to suffer from hypoxia which was another discovered F35 flaw not too long ago.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: @Milton

        @ShelLuser

        Allow me to make a small adjustment to:

        "I'm starting to get the impression that these things simply can't operate all that well in bad weather."

        It should read:

        I'm starting to get the impression that these things simply can't operate all that well in the air.

        I'm sure in reality the aircraft is actually not that bad but the ridiculous cost, the lengthy delivery time for the full number, having them serviced in a third party (decidely dodgy) country and all of the other argy bargy surrounding them, makes it difficult to take them seriously.

        If the UK were to go to war on it's own with 15 F35s in the UK who could it beat in terms of airpower?

        1. IceC0ld Silver badge

          Re: @Milton

          If the UK were to go to war on it's own with 15 F35s in the UK who could it beat in terms of airpower?

          ====

          the Commerative Air Force - Formerly Confederate - would give us trouble :oP

          https://www.commemorativeairforce.org/

        2. GrumpyKiwi

          Re: @Milton

          "I'm starting to get the impression that these things simply can't operate all that well in the air."

          You wouldn't read it on el'Reg (because they only run F-35 articles of this nature), but the Israeli's have been using theirs in combat over Syria. Without anyone passing out from a lack of oxygen, without them having to wait for Turkey to service them and without any losses.

          el'Reg's coverage of all things defence related suffers badly from a lack of knowledge on the part of those who report on it.

          1. JLV Silver badge

            Re: @Milton

            >without them having to wait for Turkey to service them

            Good point, but probably because they don't have the same contract. Can you imagine Israel being dumb enough to have to rely on Turkey for weapon servicing? Can you imagine the hoopla if the US tried to force them to?

            Re oxygen, while I am sure those things can fly wo issues there most of the time, I also assume that that they're flying at relatively low level to carry out strikes anyway. Plus, the Israelis have a long history of fixing up iffy US equipment so if anyone can fly the pig, they can (kosher aside).

            1. GrumpyKiwi

              Re: @Milton

              Nope, high altitude. Syria's AA network is severely degraded thanks to a decade of western sponsored "totally not ISIS because these guys say they're moderate head-choppers". So the high level stuff is obsolete and/or not working at all and nothing to worry about. But 250 guys with AK47s blasting in the direction of a low flying jet or helicopter is still valid and the "golden BB" is real.

              The oxygen thing (much like the helmet thing) were totally overblown which didn't stop various members of the "defence reporting community" from lapping it up.

          2. Alistair Silver badge

            Re: @Milton

            @grumpyKiwi,

            I'm going to suggest that that was *one* F35, only, and I'm starting to get the idea that it was one pilot only as well -- and there is good reason to question *anything* coming out of the Israeli military *ever*.

            1. GrumpyKiwi

              Re: @Milton

              "I'm going to suggest that that was *one* F35, only..."

              Well you'd be wrong. On both counts.

              And just to repeat myself, el'Reg's defence coverage is rubbish. I'm starting to suspect that their journalist's knowledge on the matter is based on reading Commando comics and the Daily Mail.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Milton

          > If the UK were to go to war on it's own with 15 F35s in the UK who could it beat in terms of airpower?

          Argentina

    3. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: "It won't"

      Worth mentioning the accident rate for single engined fighter is actually lower than that for twin engined ones. Effectively you've doubled the points of failure and if the aircraft is heavily loaded the second one really just increases the area you're likely to crash in.

      No idea where you're getting the idea the Lightning F6 has better range than the F-35B from. Ferry range for the Lightning F6 is 800NM, for the F-35 is 900NM+. The F6 only has an advantage if it takes its ridiculous over wing tanks. And you can find a flying one.

      Similarly you're accusations about the helmet appear to be made up on the basis that they haven't broken lots of dummies during the seat trials.

      Also worth noting the F-35 has to date flown more hours without a fatality than any other fighter aircraft programme. And none of the engine failures have had anything to do with the vertical lift fan so you're criticism of that appears unfounded, in fact the F-35B seems to have less engine problems than the A or C according to one report. http://uk.businessinsider.com/f-35-engine-problems-2015-4

      1. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: "It won't"

        Worth mentioning the accident rate for single engined fighter is actually lower than that for twin engined ones.

        Not surprisingly, there are more engine-related crashes for single engined fighters than twin engined ones.

        As one simple datum to consider, between FY1990 and FY2004, the single-engine F-16 suffered 80 Class A engine-related mishaps for a rate of 1.31 per 100,000 flight hours. The twin-engine F-15 suffered 21 engine related Class A engine-related mishaps for a rate of .64 per 100,000 flight hours.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: "It won't"

          More detail on single vs twin engine aircraft losses here:

          https://defenseissues.net/2014/08/09/single-vs-twin-engined-fighters/

          In short there's no clear cut advantage taking them as a whole, although certain single engined aircraft have a worse engine related loss rate than certain twins and vice versa.

          Re being hit in one engine, these days it's likely that will cause bits of the damaged engine to enter the other engine at high speed so you're not really any better off. Certainly the article link above gives the F-15 and F-18 higher loss rates in Gulf War 1 than the F-16 despite it only having one engine.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Effectively you've doubled the points of failure"

        That's true, but a combat plane also has to cope to inflicted damages, not only failures.

        Two engines may mean one survives a hit and let you try to escape and return home. Any unneeded load will be jettisoned in this case.

        For a very long time US Navy wanted double engine planes for this reason. That's why, for example, the F-18 was preferred to the F-16. But the Pentagon greatly diminished the importance of the carrier groups and their planes effectiveness. so the F-35 was deemed enough.

        But it is true WWII pilot had one engine only and had to cope with that - although radial air cooled engines were used because they were less prone to to total failures when hit compared to liquid-cooled engines.

        BTW: the F6 was fast, but its armament became obsolete very soon.

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: "It won't"

      Milton,

      It's a long old rant. And fair enough to have a go at Canada's procurement, since they seem to have been in and out of the F35 program as if they're doing the hokey-cokey...

      But why are you complaining about F35Bs and the lift fan? As far as I understand it, Canada were planning to buy the F35A (normal airforce version) but with a modification by borrowing the refueling system from the F35C (US carrier version). Or something. They were never involved in the VSTOL 'B' version, so far as I know.

      And now may not be involved in any version. Having bought some old Australian F18s to tide them over as their old ones slowly fail while they have another go at making the decision. So Canada may go for F35A, or something else. Who can tell?

      1. Alistair Silver badge

        Re: "It won't"

        @Milton/Spartacus:

        F35A were ordered with three mods, one being in flight refuel, one being a airframe adaptation for cold ( I do not recall OTTOMH). Personally I'm hoping that either the current liberal or the next minority liberal/NDP government decide that the chunk of Bombardier they bought should be leveraged to have a militarized, variant of the C300 created, crewed by 125 gunners equipped with recycled automatic rifles.

    5. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: "It won't"

      Even worse, our planes are the wretched F-35B, sacrificing over a third of fuel capacity to the Heath-Robinson lift fan, so you have a lot of refuelling for a plane whose operational range was already pitiful

      I don't think these are the "jump jets" for what has been called "carriers", but the land based version. No blowhard fans, a tad lighter and more maneuverable with a bit more range. And lot fewer maintenance headaches*.

      *Not saying the non-jump version doesn't have maintenance headaches... just a comparison.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Carrier Command

    Why can't they stick them on a carrier?

    1. Paul Smith

      Re: Carrier Command

      An all-weather aircraft that the RAF are afraid to fly in less the perfect weather is an embarrassment, but the sight of it failing to land on the ship explicitly designed for it would just prove that the Royal Navy can screw up an acquisition process every bit as well as the RAF.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Pirate

      Re: Carrier Command

      The carrier is busy. The carrier may also not yet be certified to operate them. It's been gettting its helicoper ops certifications of late, though they may be finished by now.

      This is a new class of plane on a new class of ship. There be paperwork to do. Yaaaarrrr!

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Carrier Command

        They could at least get some school kids to paint a mural of F35s on the new carriers

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Carrier Command

      Why can't they stick them on a carrier?

      These are RAF fighters. The cost of building a separate officers mess on the HMS Me would be prohibitive

  10. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Replaceable

    either the jet (which is easily replaced) or the pilot (who isn’t).

    For a given value of 'easily'.

    As we aren't allowed to know the full cost of each of these white Dumbos, and we assume a conservative £100,000,000, that's a tenth of a DUPbung or a magic money shrub.

    Or in real terms, about 30,000 people on £30K will have to work for an extra year to pay £100M in tax for it. So, not really 'easily'. Hands up who's willing to do some overtime.

  11. lee harvey osmond

    "the jet (which is easily replaced)"

    Since for some reason we in the UK only own 15 F-35s so far, if they are easily replaced, why don't we hide those 15 under a tarpaulin for a bit, and 'replace' them?

    I suggest that purely in cost terms, F-35 pilots are currently easier to replace than F-35s. But it wouldn't do to be caught planning anything based on that idea; it wouldn't do at all.

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: "the jet (which is easily replaced)"

      The National Audit Office says that it costs £5.7 million to train an operational fast jet pilot. Of course an F35 pilot will be more expensive on account of the rarer and more expensive aeroplane.

  12. adam payne Silver badge

    Four of the new fighters, of which the UK currently owns 15, are due to fly across the Atlantic in a marathon 6,440km (4,000 mile) journey. Such a long journey is filled with non-obvious risks, not least because the jets need air-to-air refuelling at a number of points during the journey.

    Don't want to fly all that way then why not use an aircraft carrier. Carriers are designed for this.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Carriers can't fly either... Unless Avengers Assemble was actually a documentary?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Carriers can't fly either.

        I beg to differ

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Good point. I'd forgotten about those, USS Akron and USS Macon.

          However I'm not sure if the F35 could fly slowly enough to be able to dock with them. I guess that's another argument for having kept Harrier. I saw some old test footage the other day of a pilot hovering his Harrier and letting a crane hook onto the top, then turning his engines off. I think they were doing silly experiments on whether they could launch Harriers from ships much smaller than aircraft carriers. Not sure I fancy trying to catch a moving plane with a hook on a long line from a crane on a moving ship though...

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            No need to dock.

            I understood that the problem with the HMS Oneself and HMS the kid, was the lack of catapults to launch aircraft.

            So each ship could be paired with a fleet of airships which would hoist the F35 aloft and release them to bomb Pearl Harbor and then have them land back on the ship.

            It would be cheaper than the F35B and revitalise the moribund British Imperial Airship industry

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is what happens

    This is what happens when you buy a weapons system to counter a threat that doesn't exist, and probably never will. In something like an actual shooting war for national survival like those in the first half of the 20th century arms manufacturers had plenty of incentive to produce stuff that worked. Sure, they sometimes (often) got it wrong through incompetence, but rarely as the result of intentional fraud. With the new century the West is well past that and the military-industrial complex is coming up on almost a half century of profiteering off of unrealized fears and fawning politicians.

  14. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Which is more expendable?

    From the article:- " you don’t take unnecessary risks with either the jet (which is easily replaced) or the pilot (who isn’t)."

    Wrong way around, surely? A pilot is a heck of a lot less expensive than an aircraft (both initial cost and maintenance costs), and can also be produced (trained) in far less time than an aircraft can be built.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Which is more expendable?

      Average time to train a fast jet pilot is around 4-5 years, you could get a new plane a lot quicker than that. Most fleets are purchased with extras to accommodate losses so you could in some cases get a replacement the next week.

      Also it's quite hard to recruit people if you take a laissez faire attitude to them dying in preventable accidents.

      1. GrumpyOldBloke

        Re: Which is more expendable?

        > 4-5 years, you could get a new plane a lot quicker than that.

        Any other plane maybe.

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Which is more expendable?

        Full training may take 4-5 years, but the pilot will be good enough to do a ferry flight after a year.

  15. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Coat

    ETOPS

    Engines Turn Or Passengers Swim

  16. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Emergency Landing on a Cargo Ship

    Whilst a rookie Harrier Pilot managed that, what about these - will the software allow landing at sea on anything other than a Navy Flatdeck?

    https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a17964/a-harrier-jump-jet-once-landed-on-a-mini-van-on-cargo-ship/

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BD4oiBSXGDM

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Emergency Landing on a Cargo Ship

      The tail landed squashed a minivan - but the aircraft landed on the delivery crate for a mirror for one of the Uk's telescopes on La Palma.

      A modern 8.5m diamter telescope mirror costs around $20M so for a fraction of the price of the HMS Her Maj and Chuck we could build a fleet of telescopes and have them shipped around the world on cargo ships - providing a network of landing spots for any passing VTOL aircraft.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ah, so that's why

    the migs have 2 engines! ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ah, so that's why

      and the F-22.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So...

    So, it should be perfectly safe to invade the Islas Malvinas again...

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: So...

      So, it should be perfectly safe to invade the Islas Malvinas again...

      If XH558 was still flight certified, the MOD could requisition it. Has Martin Withers been keeping his flight hours up?

    2. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: So...

      Except for the RAF Typhoons that are now permanently stationed down there.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: So...

        Except for the RAF Typhoons that are now permanently stationed down there.

        I think the OP was suggesting that the British invade the Falklands again.

        It would be a tremendous flag waving victory, distract from Brexit and give Boris something to write a really rousing, if incomprehensible, speech about.

        On humanitarian grounds, having Eurofighters stay on the islands, and F35s stay in Portsmouth - the number of air-air casualties could be greatly reduced.

    3. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: So...

      'So, it should be perfectly safe to invade the Islas Malvinas again...

      What with?

  19. corestore

    ETOPS

    Alternatively, Engines Turning Or Passengers Swimming...

  20. JLV Silver badge

    Luckily

    Flight paths between the UK and Turkey are easier to deal with. Only 2200km or so. Warmer seas too. Just need to avoid thunderstorms, hot weather and tailwinds.

    https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a53734/f-35-thunderstorm/

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/09/25/back_end_flameout_roasts_f35_on_runway/

    https://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/the-f-35-cant-run-on-warm-gas-from-a-fuel-truck-that-sa-1668120726

    And, yes, for the cost of those puppies and their legendary reliability, they damn well should have put them on a cargo ship instead.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Luckily

      The thunderstorm issue has been resolved, essentially until they'd proven the fuel tank suppression system there was no clearance to operate near thunderstorms. That's now been certified and in fact I'm sure they'd had at least one lighting strike before it had been signed off without the aircraft exploding. Still better safe than sorry.

      Not sure about the warm fuel issue but it seemed to be something of an edge case anyway, but is due to the fuel being used as a heat sink, a la Concorde, so needs to be below a certain threshold. Most modern military aircraft have cooling issues due to trying to cram all the avionics in. Once it's in the aircraft there don't seem to be any problems.

      The tailwind issue is true for most jets, why the USAF went against decades of practice by not parking the aircraft facing into wind I've got no idea. Certainly on the old old Ark Royal if a Buccaneer was parked facing the wrong way they used to have to hold a bin lid over the exhaust to stop a tail wind affecting the start.

  21. Blake St. Claire

    > 6,440km (4,000 mile) flight, ... one would expect there to be a minimum

    > of two refuelling points on the journey from their current location on the

    > US Marine Corps airfield at Beaufort, South Carolina, to RAF Marham in

    > Norfolk.

    Srsly? They're flying non-stop from Beaufort, NC? And will fly right over Boston/Logan and Bangor Intl.

    Bangor even has an ANG base if they had some some qualms about flying military aircraft into a commercial airport. Although there's nothing wrong with that, per se, AFAIK. That would cut about 800nm off the trip and probably eliminate one aerial refueling.

    WRT the idea of crating them up and shipping them. If "A ship in port is safe. But that's not what ships are built for." then I'd claim that a fighter jet in a crate is also safe, but that's not what fighter jets are for. If you're worried about a bit of egg on your face if you splash one, better to put them in a crate. (And then have egg on your face for a different reason.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wrong town

      > Srsly? They're flying non-stop from Beaufort, NC?

      No, the other little old town in SC. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaufort,_South_Carolina

  22. Martin
    Unhappy

    ...if something went wrong that would be a catastrophe which would reduce the UK to an international laughing stock...

    Hmmm. I rather thought our Brexit negotiators and our Foreign Secretary had done that already.

    1. Martin
      Happy

      Interesting. Two down-votes. Boris and David?

  23. Stork Silver badge

    I don't see the big problem with stopping on the way

    Last I checked, Canada, Greenland (via Denmark) and Iceland were all in NATO. A flight for moving the aircraft should be as routine as you get it, from a permission point of view.

    For f*cks sake, the US had their nuclear B-52 stationed in Thule.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: I don't see the big problem with stopping on the way

      And yet air forces frequently use their tankers to do it in one go rather than risk leaving a trail of aircraft scattered across the North Atlantic when they have a fault on start. Still I'm sure they've got no idea what they're doing.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: I don't see the big problem with stopping on the way

      US had their nuclear B-52 stationed in Thule.

      A Volvo with a roofbox as the secret Scandinavian nuclear delivery system ....

  24. Sandy5252

    New better technology?

    The Blackburn Buccaneers would fly to Red Flag, across the Atlantic, without refuelling. Huge range and an effective bomber.

    What do we have now?

    A very complicated,un proven, short range, small bomb bay, non fighter and not really a bomber aircraft, relies on foreign states for spares and support ( Turkey!) an aircraft that is so expensive we cannot afford to put it in harms way?

    Why didnt we buy a batch of F-18, more Eurofighters? or even the F -16? or for naval aviation the Rafale?

    An effective airforce that we could afford and use!

    The RAF has made a big mistake.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: New better technology?

      Why didnt we buy a batch of F-18, more Eurofighters? or even the F -16? or for naval aviation the Rafale?

      Heck, we could have built a few squadrons of Mosquitos or Sopwith Camels (or Gladiators for carrier work) and got a more effective fighting force.

      1. ArrZarr Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: New better technology?

        @Pen-y-gors

        Sure, but the Mosquitos, Camels and Gladiators weren't all-weather aircraf-

        Oh. Never mind.

    2. Mine's a Large One

      Re: New better technology?

      "...or for naval aviation the Rafale?"

      As the carriers don't have catapults or arrestor gear, we may get Rafales off the carriers (they've got plenty of thrust), but we've no way of stopping them going off the front when they land...

      And before you suggest we just install cats and traps (the carriers were after all "designed for but not equipped with..."), the cost of retrofitting was about the same as building another carrier!!

      1. MrXavia

        Re: New better technology?

        "the cost of retrofitting was about the same as building another carrier!!"

        Some serious mistakes were made in the planning for that to be the case....

        But I don't get why traps would have been hard to install?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: New better technology?

          Some serious mistakes were made in the planning for that to be the case....

          The company planning an aircraft carrier without the ability to fit cats was the same company desperately looking for a customer for the more expensive VTOL version of it's rather pricey new fighter.

          I think some serious smarts went into the planning for that.

      2. RancidRodent

        "the cost of retrofitting was about the same as building another carrier!!"

        The US offered to fund the fitting of EMALs/CATOBAR to our QE's in exchange for shared use of said resources, we stuck with the awful B variant of F35 to appease BAE who have a big slice of the F35B lift-fan development - the better solution would have been to join the proposed naval Gripen project - which BAE also have huge interest in. We'd could have bought at least five Gripens for the cost of one F35B. Better still, a carrier variant of Typhoon - which is too small for the RAF as a bomb truck because of original French requirements to build a carrier variant! You couldn't make it up! We could then share pilots and parts across the Navy and RAF.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: "the cost of retrofitting was about the same as building another carrier!!"

          'The US offered to fund the fitting of EMALs/CATOBAR to our QE's in exchange for shared use of said resources'

          They may have done, but it was still going to cost £2 Billion to modify the rest of the carrier, so after about 18 months of saying we were going to buy the C we went back to the B on the grounds that way we'd end up with twice as many carriers for the money.

          ' the better solution would have been to join the proposed naval Gripen project'

          Your saying the better solution would have been to go for something that doesn't exist?

          'Typhoon - which is too small for the RAF as a bomb truck because of original French requirements to build a carrier variant'

          Patently isn't based on it being able to carry more Paveways than a Tornado, and the original French requirement resulting in the Rafale which is notably smaller than the Typhoon because once they'd left the programme there was no need to stick to their requirement.

          1. RancidRodent

            Re: "the cost of retrofitting was about the same as building another carrier!!"

            "Your saying the better solution would have been to go for something that doesn't exist?"

            F35B doesn't exist until it's finished! If the right decision was made ten years ago I have no doubt Navel Gripens would be in service now - well ahead of F35B.

            "Patently isn't based on it being able to carry more Paveways than a Tornado, and the original French requirement resulting in the Rafale which is notably smaller than the Typhoon because once they'd left the programme there was no need to stick to their requirement."

            Do you think the EFA project would rip up billions of euros worth of development and start afresh just because the French left the project? Really?

            1. SkippyBing Silver badge

              Re: "the cost of retrofitting was about the same as building another carrier!!"

              'F35B doesn't exist until it's finished! '

              On that grounds no military aircraft exists until about 5 years before its withdrawn from service as they're continually being modified and updated. F-35B is in front line service with the USMC flying off ships in the Pacific, Naval Gripens aren't.

              'Do you think the EFA project would rip up billions of euros worth of development and start afresh just because the French left the project? '

              The French left the project because it didn't meet their requirements, if Typhoon was compromised by needing to operate off France's aircraft carriers, there wouldn't be any Rafales. France left the programme that became Eurofighter in 1985 before the consortium had spent more than ~£180 million* because the proposal didn't meet their requirement. Ergo it's not compromised by meeting a French requirement as it never did, hence the French developing their own aircraft.

              *Most of that was spent on the EAP demonstrator and was a mix of private and public money.

    3. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: New better technology?

      'The Blackburn Buccaneers would fly to Red Flag, across the Atlantic, without refuelling. Huge range and an effective bomber.'

      The Buccaneer could but its replacements the Tornado and the Sea Harrier couldn't, so I'm guessing you think they're complete failures as well?

      Most trans-Atlantic crossings by tactical jets require multiple air-to-air refuellings, they often slip right by a day or two to allow for the weather, you just don't hear about it.

      I can remember when people were decrying the Typhoon as an overpriced heap that was designed for the last war and should be cancelled, if we kept listening to people saying things like that we'd still be on the Sopwith Camel.

  25. Bob H

    Hang on a minute

    But... But... Airwolf did it in a few minutes without a refuel?

  26. Frenchie Lad

    A Picasso is Better Value

    Small planes are ferried, that is flown across the Atlantic on a regular basis. There are two fundamental routes allowing these small planes to handle this type of challenge: via Greenland (Great Circle route) or via the Azores. You don't even have/need inflight refuelling as the average small plane doesn't have access to flying tankers. In case you ask these small planes are often, mostly singles even the small twins aren't ETOP.

    Clearly we're buying museum pieces but at these prices I'd prefer a Picasso; its more likely to go up in value and I don't need an Erdogan for maintenance.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: A Picasso is Better Value

      And these small planes frequently wait weeks for the right weather and have the empty seats in the cabin fitted with extra fuel tanks. But sure, that's an accurate comparison.

  27. Potemkine! Silver badge

    If UK was not so much europhobic, it could have buy some Rafale, it's a twin-engine aircraft with combat-proven efficiency, and much less expensive than the F35.

    I guess the 51st state wasn't free to buy what it wants to equip its air force...

    1. Ben1892

      "If UK was not so much europhobic, it could have buy some Rafale, it's a twin-engine aircraft with combat-proven efficiency, and much less expensive than the F35.

      I guess the 51st state wasn't free to buy what it wants to equip its air force..."

      What you mean the Rafale that France developed after it dropped out of the Future European Fighter Aircraft programme - remind me, who's the europhobe?

      1. RancidRodent

        "What you mean the Rafale that France developed after it dropped out of the Future European Fighter Aircraft programme - remind me, who's the europhobe?"

        Even worse, the French dictated the (rather small) size of the Eurofighter as they had carrier operations in mind - so the Germans and Brits ended up with a plane far too small for their requirements (a replacement for Tornado as a bomber) and a carrier variant was never developed because the French made their own.

    2. Spanners Silver badge
      Linux

      @Potemkine!

      As the English so dislike the French, what about something Swedish?

  28. Wolfclaw
    FAIL

    Epic fail, all weather fighter, but only when the sun shines, unlimted visability and when we have the spare parts to keep it flying. F35, should be made in to a Dummies Guide how to sell a POS to gullable governments !

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "A ship in port is safe. But that's not what ships are built for"

    Not the motto of the Home Fleet main battle ships, which spent most of WWI and WWII safe at Scapa Flow... which the other ships safely stuck in Alexandria and Gibraltar. Only poor destroyers and some cruisers took the full burden of the war...

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: "A ship in port is safe. But that's not what ships are built for"

      Driving a couple of battleships up and down the Med on the off-chance of meeting some Italian warships would

      1) use up lots of fuel, not just the battleships but the escorting screen as well

      2) expose the ships to air attack (and not long after we taught them about Taranto)

      3) lack focus in application of effort to achieving strategic or tactical goals

      The battleships sortied from Gibraltar and Alexandria when they were needed to cover convoys headed to resupply Malta.

      And as to the Grand Fleet in WWI, and Home Fleet in WWII, you do understand what a "distant blockade" is, don't you?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "A ship in port is safe. But that's not what ships are built for"

        UK was so afraid to lose its fleet in a battle that just tried to hide it in the ports hoping the war would have been won just killing soldiers on ground.

        In both wars UK could have attempted to shorten them attacking Germany or Italy from the sea, and not only from the trenches. But commanders were too coward to attempt it and risk their precious ships (and careers). Let soldiers die, who cares. Which was the last great UK naval battle after Trafalgar, against a comparable fleet, and not in great superiority?

        It feared so much submarines and other menaces it preferred to keep the big ship safe. Especially after the Hood sank as soon as it was hit, and it took a whole fleet to sink the Bismark.

        Italy had the same fears, and instead of attacking Malta with the fleet kept it hidden as well - especially whem Malta air defense was almost depleted.

        It is true UK carriers were so slow to deploy and refuel their few planes - that they weren't much useful in a true modern battle to enable a CAP and attack enemy ships.

        Distant blockade? Germany didn't have a real fleet - and you don't use battleship for a commercial traffic blockade - while its u-boote almost blockaded UK, being free to operate - until US brought in a lot of ship and airplanes to fight them.

        And what blockade was performed in the Mediterranean? The German took Greece, Crete, and almost the Egypt. Thank Suez... and Franco.

        1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

          Re: "A ship in port is safe. But that's not what ships are built for"

          "In both wars UK could have attempted to shorten them attacking Germany or Italy from the sea, and not only from the trenches."

          I believe that the notion of an attack on the German coast was considered and rejected in WW I, it seems to me for very good reasons. In WW II, the Normandy invasion was a tricky enough matter: the Allies wouldn't have had sufficient air control over the nearest German coast. Attacking Italy from the sea in WW I would have been unpopular, given that Italy fought on the Allied side. As for WW II, you may remember names such as Operation Husky, Salerno, and Anzio.

        2. GrumpyKiwi

          Re: "A ship in port is safe. But that's not what ships are built for"

          "In both wars UK could have attempted to shorten them attacking Germany or Italy from the sea, and not only from the trenches."

          The Imperial German staff knew exactly what they'd do if the six division strong BEF landed from the North Sea. "We'd send the police to arrest them". 160+ divisions Germany had nothing to fear from a BEF landing. Italy (as was already pointed out to you) was on the same side in WW1. The WW2 invasions of her did not do much to shorten the war - if anything.

          "Which was the last great UK naval battle after Trafalgar, against a comparable fleet, and not in great superiority?"

          Falklands (1914) Dogger Bank (1915), Jutland (1916), River Plate (1939), Cape Matapan (1941), Denmark Straight (1941), Java Sea (1941), Norway Sea (1943) all spring to mind. No doubt others can remember more.

          "Italy had the same fears, and instead of attacking Malta with the fleet kept it hidden as well - especially whem Malta air defense was almost depleted."

          See Cape Matapan. Not the actions of a navy afraid to be at sea. The Italians stopped going to sea when they ran out of fuel, not before.

          "It is true UK carriers were so slow to deploy and refuel their few planes - that they weren't much useful in a true modern battle to enable a CAP and attack enemy ships."

          HMS Victorious went to the Pacific to help out the USN in 1943 when the US was very short on carriers. She was regarded as being so good at running CAP that the other carriers ran the attack squadrons and left CAP to her.

          "Distant blockade? Germany didn't have a real fleet - and you don't use battleship for a commercial traffic blockade - while its u-boote almost blockaded UK, being free to operate - until US brought in a lot of ship and airplanes to fight them."

          WW1, the German fleet was a very real fleet and it engaged the RN in very real battles. Likewise WW2.

          "And what blockade was performed in the Mediterranean? The German took Greece, Crete, and almost the Egypt. Thank Suez... and Franco."

          The blockade that meant that the blockhead called Rommel couldn't get enough fuel/men/munitions to get into Egypt. That one. The one that sunk the convoy of barges bringing men to Crete for the invasion. That one.

          Frankly I haven't see as big a pile of dribble as what you wrote since the last time I saw a toddler with a biscuit.

    2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: "A ship in port is safe. But that's not what ships are built for"

      Only poor destroyers and some cruisers took the full burden of the war...

      The survivors of Jutland may take issue with you there.

  30. steamnut

    Putin are you reading this?

    Well, if we cannot get a single aircraft to the UK today then getting the rest of the squadron will take until 2025 at this rate. I'm sure that Putin must know how vulnerable we are now......

    When you read about how we did amazing things in WWII (Spitfires, bouncing bombs, radar, ships built at a rate of one a month...) you wonder where we went wrong as a nation.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Putin are you reading this?

      WW2 wasn't that amazing the big girls blouses had to delay invading France a day because of the weather. Or wasn't that what you meant?

  31. CheesyTheClown

    Wouldn’t it be most responsbile if....

    The F-35s are simply left grounded?

    I mean honestly... who in their right mind would fly something that expensive into a situation where they might get damaged?

    Let’s face it, if one of these planes becomes damaged in training or in a fight, the financial repercussions would be devestating. That would be massive money simply flushed down the drain.

    The pilots are something else we can’t afford to risk. To train an F-35 pilot is so amazingly expensive we can’t possibly afford to place them in harms way.

    I think it would be best to just keep the planes grounded.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Wouldn’t it be most responsbile if....

      I mean honestly... who in their right mind would fly something that expensive into a situation where they might get damaged?

      That was a quote from a US general when the first stealth bombers were being built.

      The USAF will be defeated when the hanger roof collapses on their single incredibly expensive super new aircraft

  32. tim 13

    Surely Amazon could just deliver it next day with a drone?

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Surely Amazon could just deliver it next day with a drone?

      Charter the An-225 - strap a couple of them on top - after all, it was designed for the Buran. Hasn't Beardy Branson got a 747-400 for Virgin Galactic work - borrow that/payment in kind for the East Coast mainline failure

  33. Dave Hilling

    Seriously

    The register should stay away from things they just don't know about. This is completely normal and as someone else said they will refuel probably more like 5-6 times. I worked on F-16s for 4 years and cargo planes another 16. We did the exact same thing and with 3 fuel tanks, in theory, you can fly an F-16 2000 miles with those, and we often delayed ferry flights for weather and also refueled something like 5-6 times. It's just not worth the pain vs waiting for better weather. Next this plane still has some bugs sure, but pilots love it. F-16s even though a 40 year old design still has problems being fixed or upgrades being done. It was constant on all the planes I worked on. Seriously just stay away from these kinds of stories you are spreading FUD on topics you know nothing about.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Seriously

      As it's airshow season over in the northern hemisphere, there's extra traffic crossing the pond...

      RIAT at RAF Fairford has listed a visitor from the F-35 Heritage Flight Team at Luke AFB, Arizona

      https://www.airtattoo.com/airshow/aircraft/confirmed-aircraft

      http://www.luke.af.mil/F-35-Heritage-Flt-Team/

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Seriously

        Going through what is listed for the RAF at RAIT 2018 13-15 July

        Leaving aside The Red Arrows and their Hawks, of the remaining 7 listed as flying, 4 are WWII era aircraft from the BBMF! Still, a good RAF contingent of around 40 aircraft in celebration of RAF100.

        Five more weeks to RIAT - Time enough for a last minute/surprise appearance by these F-35s???

  34. The answer is 42

    Airport?

    I can't help thinking ablout the autopilot at the end of "Airport". Problem almost solved.

  35. Anonymous Coward
  36. SuperFrog
    Go

    Houston, we have a solution.

    Since these things are built in Fort Worth Texas. It's not too much a trouble to send them to Houston. Scholes Airport is next to the water and is available for staging. If these are the B model any boat with a helicopter pad could take them onboard.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Houston, we have a solution.

      As long as you don't mind melting the helipad, sure.

  37. kburgoyne

    What a fascinating discussion of the problems of operating these overpriced beasts over water... luckily the US Navy won't be doing that. Oh wait...

  38. mildy bemused

    ETOPS

    I'd like to correct one error in the article, ETOPS stands for Engines Turn or Passengers Swim.

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