back to article Ex-Rolls-Royce engineer nicked on suspicion of giving F-35 info to China

A former Rolls-Royce engineer has reportedly been arrested on suspicion of breaching the Official Secrets Act by allegedly handing British F-35 engine secrets to China. Rolls-Royce's one-time chief combustion technologist Bryn Jones, 73, was arrested at his Derbyshire, UK, home by the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Stupid... Just stupid...

    We should MAKE them copy it.

    It will take them decades and tens of Billions to make it work. If not more.

    The best possible economical subversion and these fools spoiled it.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

      My reaction -->

      If we were allowed two icons you'd get a virtual pint too

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

      We should MAKE them copy it.

      There was a good documentary about the Space Shuttle on the haunted fishtank a few nights ago. It mentioned the Soviet Buran, which was basically built from plans, etc. stolen from NASA, but the NASA people that were interviewed acknowledged that in the copying process, the Soviets had actually done some things better than the Americans.

      1. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

        I like the apocryphal story that French intelligence were aware the KGB was sniffing around Michelin at the time the tyres for Concorde were being designed. Because a very heavy plane landed at very high speed it needed special synthetic rubber - something Michelin had cracked, but the Soviets had not.

        Rather than round up the spies, the story goes that the French instructed Michelin to come up with something the consistency of bubble gum and let the spies get their hands on that formula.

        I've never seen an authoritative source, but I rather like the image of a TU-144 stuck to the runway whilst a lot of men in fur hats stand around wondering if their next trip is to Siberia.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

          something Michelin had cracked, but the Soviets had not.

          That is multiply apocryphal:

          1. Concorde had 10-15% higher take off and landing speed compared to Tu144 because of the canards on the latter. 350 vs 400km/h take off and 270km/h vs 295km/h. I know, this violates the sacred legend that Tu-144 was copied from the Concord, but tough, the specs say different and so does a trivial comparison of pictures of the "face" on take off and landing. Proper analysis of aerodynamics shows more differences, like more advanced positioning of the engines on the Tu-144 to use shock wave reflections - similar to B1, Tu-160, etc. As an overall result, regardless of what the stupid "patriotic legend" says, Tu-144 was significantly better behaved at lower speeds - approach and take off. Not surprising - it is aerodynamically more advanced.

          2. The take off and landing speeds of Tu-144 and Concorde are not out of the ordinary for an older generation fixed wing large supersonic aircraft. Sure, nearly all of them were smaller in size, but the speeds were in the same range.

          The non-apocryphal bit which USSR had an issue with for the Tu-144 were not the tires. It was the brakes. The biggest tech difference between the Tu-144 and the Concorde was the Tu-144 ridiculous breaking distances. It even had a fully blown military style drogue shute emergency braking system - something the Concorde had no need of.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

        And those smarty-pants Soviets really made good use of that engineering brilliance, huh? That Buran shuttling astronauts to and fro from the ISS has really been an impressive spectacle to behold.

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

          It was more a victim of bad timing, coming just before the collapse of the USSR.

          However, it was capable of autolanding, something the Shuttle couldn't do.

          1. Justin S.

            Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

            The Space Shuttle-- at least near the end of the program, if not from the inception-- had the capability of automatic landings, but it was never used due to the culture at NASA that a human should always be in control of the craft. That culture originated with the early space program, when the recruited pilots objected to being mere passengers.

            www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=10518

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

              "The Space Shuttle--...-- had the capability of automatic landings, "

              Except for the step of lowering the landing gear.

              Yes, really.

          2. Def Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

            However, it was capable of autolanding...

            The shuttle auto landed quite a few times. Just not in one piece.

            1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

              There is also the story about the $$$ spent by NASA/Americans to design a pen that could be used in the weightlessness of space. And the Soviets just using pencils.

              Which is why I keep a couple of pencils in the car - they always work/never dry when you want a writing implement in a hurry.

              1. Def Silver badge

                Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

                There is also the story about the $$$ spent by NASA/Americans to design a pen that could be used in the weightlessness of space. And the Soviets just using pencils.

                *sigh*

                Not again...

                https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/the-write-stuff/

                1. Joe Harrison Silver badge

                  Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

                  Not denying the truth of Snopes' treatment of the pencil story, but I find the positioning of Snopes as an authoritative reference point for the elimination of fake news to be somewhat disturbing. As I understand it Snopes is actually operated by just a couple of people with colourful personal lives. Don't understand why I should accept their "fakeness" verdicts unquestioned.

                  1. imanidiot Silver badge

                    Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

                    @Joe Harrison,

                    Snopes gives it's sources for making a true/false claim, so if you don't trust their conclusion it's easy to look at their sources and form your own opinion.

                  2. j2f8j8j2fj

                    Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

                    "Not denying the truth of Snopes' treatment of the pencil story, but I find the positioning of Snopes as an authoritative reference point for the elimination of fake news to be somewhat disturbing. As I understand it Snopes is actually operated by just a couple of people with colourful personal lives. Don't understand why I should accept their "fakeness" verdicts unquestioned."

                    The pencil story is easy enough to figure out with critical thinking - flying debris is extremely dangerous in space, especially when it's conductive.

                    1. Zolko

                      Re: the pencil

                      pencils do write by leaving tiny graphite particles on the paper. And in 0g these particles don't settle, they float around. And graphite is carbon, and carbon is electrically conductive. Thus, according to Murphy, they will go into the worst possible places, short-circuiting whatever is most critical.

                  3. Alistair Silver badge
                    Coat

                    Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

                    @ Joe H.:

                    And at the moment there's some issues betwixt the couple involved in snopes....... But the data remains (for now)

              2. Mike Ozanne

                Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

                "There is also the story about the $$$ spent by NASA/Americans to design a pen that could be used in the weightlessness of space. And the Soviets just using pencils."

                And that story is dingoes kidneys from start to finish... look it up on Snopes...

        2. Denarius Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

          AC, Buran worked just fine, like the merkin shuttles. The worst possible solution that would actually work I think someone labeled space shuttles. However the Russians were not welded to the 90 ton reusable "spaceplane" concept as it was inefficient. Buran was built to confirm NASA were crazy. Its one flight proved the costs of running it were as predicted so the Soviets remained with the same stuff they still sell to anyone, 30 years later.

          As for F35, the Chinese J21 and friends main shortcoming is propulsion. Any information that improved Chinese engines narrows the gap. The interesting question for me is the data fusion so the pilot has good situational awareness. Has that been copied ? Probably,due to an outsourcing decision.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

          "And those smarty-pants Soviets really made good use of that engineering brilliance, huh?"

          Actually, they did. The decided the design was so utterly dangerous that they refused to man-rate it.

    3. Kernel

      Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

      "It will take them decades and tens of Billions to make it work. If not more."

      Either that or they will be available on Alibaba next year at one million each for order quantities in excess of 1000.

    4. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: We should MAKE them copy it.

      Well, why not? If anyone can make the bloody thing work (and it's clear the septics can't), it's the Chinese. And they'll probably be cheaper, with good deals for bulk purchase.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really?

    A lift fan that rotates its thrust through 90 degrees? Based on Pegasus technology? I think the author's talking about the wrong engine.

    I'm not convinced that details of the engine design would help with working out anything about the airctraft's radar or infrared signatures, either. Maybe if the guy was involved in intake design, but he wasn't.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      I was thinking that, the whole F-35 connection seems a bit tenuous at best. He's a combustion specialist who left RR in '03. At that point he may have had some knowledge of the alternate F-136 engine for the F-35 that was cancelled in 2011 and probably nothing useful about the big fan.

      That's not to say he couldn't have given useful information to China about gas turbine design as that's an area they have to date lagged the West in. They're still using licence built Speys in some of their newer aircraft as I understand it, e.g. the Xian JH-7 which only left production last year.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Really?

        >>licence built Speys<<

        Military aircraft only need solid reliable motors, if it has the right dimensions & power why not? and it'll be cheap as chips to build compared to the latest designs.

        As an airliner engine where pennies per mile matter is it obviously well past it.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: Really?

          'Military aircraft only need solid reliable motors, if it has the right dimensions & power why not?'

          Because you could get the same power from a modern engine that was smaller and burnt less fuel, which gives you more payload/range. Or a more powerful engine the same size burning the same amount of fuel letting you carry more. For military aircraft you virtually never have enough power.

          1. Wellyboot Silver badge

            Re: Really?

            I'll agree with that, but are the Chinese just staying with the old soviet 'good enough', now build far more than the opposition can point at us.

            i'd think a generation or two behind in engines is far less of an impediment than being behind with the avionics or airframe design.

            1. SkippyBing Silver badge

              Re: Really?

              'but are the Chinese just staying with the old soviet 'good enough', now build far more than the opposition can point at us.'

              They appear to be in a transition phase, a lot of the aircraft they're looking to introduce in the near future appear to be much more complex than in the past. i.e. at least semi-stealth, modern avionics etc. etc. a side effect of that is you also need more electrical generation capability which again ties into the engines.

              Of course a problem with trying to outnumber your opponent is that you have to train a lot more pilots, engineers, ATC, etc. As China's economy grows that becomes harder as the wage bill increases and starts to dwarf what you can spend on new shiny.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Really?

              "i'd think a generation or two behind in engines..."

              The Spey has actually aged quite well; it still has good low-altitude economy, low maintenance costs and a very good safety record. The more modern Tay is pretty much a Spey, but with a larger fan and higher bypass ratio.

              It was an advanced two-spool design when introduced and a lot of the performance improvements since then have been due more to advances in materials science (to allow the engines to run hotter) than fundamental design development.

            3. Wolfclaw Silver badge

              Re: Really?

              Agree, USSR and USA proved it during WW2, T-34 and M4 Sherman was no match to a Tiger or Panther head to head, but get enough of them around it and it was toast. Quantity over quality !

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Really?

                Yes, but was taught quality and quantity about Korea ...

                Where the only worry was running out of bullets ... never mind the extremely harsh weather

          2. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Really?

            For military aircraft you virtually never have enough power.

            Very true. The only exception I can think of was the F-15. Intentionally overpowered for intercept duties. Airshow favorite with the ability to take off and before hit the end of the runway, point it's nose up and climb vertically. True, no missiles or bombs for that bit it with missiles for intercept it was quite speedy to get into the air and to altitude.

            1. Wellyboot Silver badge

              Re: Really?

              @ Mark 85 - overpowered aircraft.

              English Electric Lightning, 20 years before the F-15 with a similar party trick.

              1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

                Re: English Electric Lightning Party Trick .... Giving it the Wellyboot:-)

                For those who never witnessed it personally ..... An amazing sight to behold in the day [and even today methinks if the machines are able]

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Really?

            "Because you could get the same power from a modern engine that was smaller and burnt less fuel, which gives you more payload/range. "

            Modern us military engines are pretty much "remove and service every other flight" - so I'm not sure about "reliable".

            The "build lots of cheap ones" approach has a lot going for it, when you consider that even the best high-tech aircraft only has so many weapons stations to hang missles on.

            Arthur C Clarke covered this in "Superiority" 60+ years ago.

            1. SkippyBing Silver badge

              Re: Really?

              'Modern us military engines are pretty much "remove and service every other flight" - so I'm not sure about "reliable".'

              The modern US military engines on the aircraft parked outside my office hardly ever need removing, they'll only take one spare for an eight month cruise. So I'm not sure which ones you're using.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      F-35B - Lift fan at the front, vectored thrust in the rear...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZD-J1KksHUQ

    3. Fr. Ted Crilly

      Re: Really?

      Besides.

      The Peg engine was a Bristol design

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Really?

        "The Peg engine was a Bristol [Siddeley] design"

        Indeed, cobbled together from bits of the Orpheus & Olympus engines.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      "A lift fan that rotates its thrust through 90 degrees? "

      There's a gearbox on it which does that....

  3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Counter-terrorism police?

    And precisely which aspect of the alleged activities involves terrorism?

    Soon littering will get you shot by 'counter-terrorism police'.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Counter-terrorism police?

      I suspect it's the case that where industrial espionage starts to transcend national borders that it becomes international espionage. Which is, of course, slightly different to terrorism even if the same agencies are involved.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Counter-terrorism police?

      They are now showing the country as the police state it has become with this and all the surveillance being undertaken in the name of 'security' We can assume the security is for those running the place NOT the citizens.

    3. Jemma Silver badge

      Re: Counter-terrorism police?

      Or if you're like my dad - digging the garden...

      We moved into a new build bungalow in '82 I think - the garage has 1981 Royal Wedding bricks in it.. Anyway Dad did the traditional Roundup & Diesel special. Then the three passes with the rotavator. Then the digging through and beating the crap out of the scaffolding pins.

      Until he got to one that wasn't going to break - so he hit it again, didn't break, so clout it a couple more times for luck right? Still resolutely disinterested.

      So dad picked up the thing and cleaned it off and was left with a metal pear shaped lump a bit bigger than a cricket ball with a funny "looks like a plastic milk bottle top" section at one end. It also had a pretty pattern of machined squares in it, like little tiles.

      Emphatically NOT a scaffolding pin - at least not one used since the Romans buggered off back to Italy (too much interbreeding with the French).

      To cut a long story short - it wasn't hard to tell this was a grenade. The Police were called and the response was "bugger that mate". The bomb squad turn up and they're not touching it either. They X-ray the thing and it's live! So it's into an armour plated lead box and off to Friday Woods for a controlled explosion..

      Bear in mind.. This thing had been through..

      Being 1ft away from heavy building works (the garage)

      Being doused in Roundup and diesel and set on fire..

      Being run over by a rotavator no less than three times

      Being manually dug up and belted a few times with a spade

      Being picked up - cleaned off and examined by dad.

      All the while live and fused.. And it didn't go off. Good old British engineering.

      But not quite as bad as the kidling on an Easter Egg Hunt who wombles proudly back to the woman running the thing with his, oddly heavy, "Easter Egg" with the pretty little pin on top...

      Slightly more on topic how about doing an "Our Man in Havana"? I'm sure you could hoodwink the Chinese with one of those "electric turbocharger" fans, a copy of MS Paint and surgically removed integrity - the probable result reminding me of the university housemate that used my plastic tray as a baking tray because it was grey and "looked like metal".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Counter-terrorism police?

        All the while live and fused.. And it didn't go off. Good old British engineering.

        You're right it was good old British engineering, the pin did it's job of preventing premature detonation.

    4. Woodnag

      Easy one

      The definition or terrorism support is deliberately vague (otherwise governments would be guilty too), and the laws have the most powers.

    5. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Counter-terrorism police?

      The description "Scotland Yard’s SO15 counter-terrorism command" comes from The Sun, where this story originated.

      SO15 is the Scotland Yard team that deals with Official Secrets Act breaches (as well as counter terrorism and a whole load of other things). So this is The Sun and The Register sexing up a story.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Counter-terrorism police?

        So this is The Sun and The Register sexing up a story.

        Surely not! Not *this* wretched hive of scum and villany?

        I'd believe anything of The Stun though.

  4. wolfetone Silver badge

    "Dear China, this plane the yanks built is bollocks. Don't build your plane like this. Sincerely, Bryn Jones"

  5. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    STOVL version

    a STOVL version of that aircraft could cause headaches for Western militaries in years to come.

    I'm confused by the use of the word "could" in this sentence. There is a STOVL version of the aircraft - it's called the F-35B and it already is causing headaches for certain western militaries.

  6. Bavaria Blu
    Pirate

    Are the Chinese really 15 years behind the West in aircraft design? More a commercial secret than a national secret, surely?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I couldn't say with any expertise, but it seems likely that the J20 fighter is somewhere around the class of the Typhoon.

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      My understanding is that they're way behind in jet engine technology - so much so that they still buy them from the Russians.

  7. Milton Silver badge

    There was something the Chinese didn't know already?

    I thought it was an open secret that the Chinese had swiped everything on the F-35 from Lockheed and subcontractors as long as a decade ago. I'm surprised they'd need any more information at this point. Maybe they're going back for more giggles.

    No doubt they will be putting the information to good use, in a how-not-to-do-it kind of way: the F-35 is arguably an even worse mistake than F-111 was (not least because it includes many of the exact same blunders, top of the list being an absurd faith in the one-tool-good-at-everything notion so completely discredited with F-111).

    Perhaps the Chinese wanted an update in case any extra cup-holders had been installed. Meantime, they can continue their strategy of delaying a war with the USA until the latter has decommissioned its effective teen-series planes and is nicely dependent upon the F-35 POS.

    "Don't bother shooting at the cockpit, Xiang. Just put one round into the engine. The ejector seat will kill the pilot for you."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There was something the Chinese didn't know already?

      top of the list being an absurd faith in the one-tool-good-at-everything notion so completely discredited with F-111

      And the same universal tool concept copied by Europe with the Tornado, and equally rubbish in some roles. I'm not sure why military types of each generation believe that they can combine high and low altitude performance, stealth, speed and agility, short take off, heavy weapons capability, long endurance, land & maritime capability etc all in one airframe.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There was something the Chinese didn't know already?

        The F111 went even better than making a VTOL so you don't have to fit cats.

        The navy wanted both drivers to share the big expensive radar - so they had to sit side-side (rather than fitting two screens to one radar)

        So that meant they couldn't have ejector seats - so they had to have a capsule ejection system that could throw the entire cockpit and crew clear of a carrier in case of an 'oopsy'.

        But that made it so heavy it couldn't operate from a carrier - so the navy cancelled it

        But the airforce kept the navy radar, side-side seating and escape pod - because they didn't want to waste money.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: There was something the Chinese didn't know already?

          so you don't have to fit cats.

          Eh? What? Oh - not the feline overlords..

          <Goes back to sleep^W work>

      2. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: There was something the Chinese didn't know already?

        >>I'm not sure why military types of each generation believe that they can combine high and low altitude performance, stealth, speed and agility, short take off, heavy weapons capability, long endurance, land & maritime capability etc all in one airframe.<<

        Military types generally don't, I'm sure the RAF Marshalls on cancellation of the TSR2 (nuclear bomber) then F-111 (Nuclear bomber) orders thought 'lets build a plane in the most complicated way possible for lots of different countries needs (ground attack / naval strike / interceptor)'.

        The sales team however is selling to the Politicians who have very different priorities.

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: There was something the Chinese didn't know already?

        I'm not sure why military types of each generation believe that they can combine....

        The generals who are in charge of doing the initial quotes/specs are all ex-fighter jocks. They don't even like bombers. For details, reference the fact that the brass never wanted the A10 and keep trying to kill it off. The guys on the ground love the A10 and the support it provides. Inter-service "rivalry" prevents the Army and Marines from taking it over.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: There was something the Chinese didn't know already?

          Inter-service "rivalry" prevents the Army and Marines from taking it over

          But don't both of those have air arms? I know that the Marines used to..

          "No General - that isn't an A-10. Honest. It's a just a modified crop-sprayer that we've repurposed as a surveilance aircraft. That big tube sticking out the front? That's a camera - go on, take a look down the barrel^w tube..

          No, we honestly don't know why it went off. Must be a contact fault on the trigger. And we have plenty more generals where that one came from.."

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: There was something the Chinese didn't know already?

            But don't both of those have air arms? I know that the Marines used to..

            Yes they do. Army has some (or did) some fixed wing spotters along with the choppers (which they do have still) including attack versions. The Marines still have both fixed wing fighters/bombers/attack and helicopters of all sorts as prefer (when then can) being self-sufficient.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There was something the Chinese didn't know already?

          When you need it you can never have enough firepower.

      4. Nifty

        Re: There was something the Chinese didn't know already?

        “not sure why military types of each generation believe that they can combine high and low altitude performance, stealth, speed and agility, short take off, heavy weapons capability, long endurance, land & maritime capability etc all in one airframe“

        Same mentality that resulted in the ‘sports utility vehicle’

  8. tiggity Silver badge

    Maintenance

    If a malicious actor wants info, given UK F35 maintenance is, for some deranged reason, compulsory to be done in Turkey, then plenty of scope there to get info about *current* F35 tech details (not what might have been planned 15 years ago) as lots of "anti West" feeling set in motion by Erdogan as he promotes nationalism and with the my enemies enemy is my friend logic, then bungs from China for F35 info might have a good chance of success

    1. Jemma Silver badge

      Re: Malicious Actors..

      I didn't know the cast of Hollyoaks was a bunch of sino-russian illegals. Although thinking about it...

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Malicious Actors..

        I didn't know the cast of Hollyoaks

        For a moment I imagined that you might have implied a shred of acting talent in that cast. Then I realised that it was a joke..

    2. stiine Bronze badge
      Angel

      Re: Maintenance

      Do you think the Chinese F-35 copies will also get maintenance in Turkey?

  9. Korev Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    In other news, Rolls-Royce announced this morning it is shedding 4,600 jobs. The company has been struggling with faults in its Trent 1000 engines, which power certain models of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

    Clicking through to the Reuters article, the RR share price has shot up after the news came out :(

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      the RR share price has shot up after the news came out

      Obviously it has lowered costs - engine sales will be far more profitable if you don't have to pay workers to build it.

    2. IWVC

      From what I've read, RR suffered from the disease that affects many companies making profits ( and nationalised / Government run entities who don't make profits...) of the ability to afford to enlarge "middle management" for various reasons (aka Empire building by senior managers). Getting rid of these layers will reduce immediate costs but more importantly allow greater financial resource to the technical problem solvers and a much simpler chain of command between the operators and designers.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Except the cuts are almost never to that engorged middle management layer.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Just look at a certain south coast University, where a known 'slasher' has been employed as VC on a salary of over £400K, he's got his ex-BP axe man and team of hatchet wielding sycophants in place removing as much 'cost' as possible, yet the costly middling middle mis-management is expanding exponentially. Still a lot of the I.T. bod's are getting their jobs up-graded, just wait until they realise being on 'academic' pay grades means unlimited unpaid overtime whenever the bosses demand...

  10. tempemeaty

    1st Gen Swarm Tech?

    It just occurred to me that the F-35 could be a thought of a first generation Swarm-Tech ™️ approach to piloted air fighter combat. They don't seem to be able to defend themselves individually. They need to operate in multiples to be effective because the technology works that way to get their (supposed) advantage.

    If caught alone in the sky, it seems a F-35 vs Su-57 could possibly resemble that of a bee vs a hornet.

    No idea if what I just said means a d@mn thing but it just came to mind so there it is fwiw...

    ¯\(・ε・)/¯

    1. IWVC

      Re: 1st Gen Swarm Tech?

      Single fighter v fighter combat was outdated in about 1916 when the German airforce realised that such fighting had to be carried out by pairs of aircraft. I think it was Boelcke that initiated it in the newly formed "Jastas" on the Western Front. The RAF didn't really learn from the opposition at the time and even after the Luftwaffe used the "schwarm" 4 aircraft and "rotte" pair successfully in Spain in the late 30s, the RAF didn't catch on until after the Battle of Britain and the large losses suffered. Since then the RAF and Fleet Air Arm has used pairs for fighter to fighter combat up to the Falklands - since then there has been no appreciable fighter to fighter combats as Bosnia, Gulf and Afghanistan did not involve fighter to fighter combats as far as I know.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: 1st Gen Swarm Tech?

        @IWVC:

        Bosnia, Gulf and Afghanistan didn't involve fighter to fighter combat, just fighter to friendly ground troops.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: 1st Gen Swarm Tech?

      This is why I think that China getting the F35 technology is a non-issue, they probably aren't going to build STOVL aircraft. They're going to do what the US should do and build cheap unmanned combat drones that will obsolete manned fighters within a decade (Iong before F35 is done)

      Without a pilot to keep alive they can be very cheap. They don't need weapons if they kill kinetically, though I suppose a 50 cal gun probably wouldn't be a terrible idea to harass ground targets. They don't need supersonic flight, just stick a solid rocket booster up their ass they can light up when they go for the kinetic kill.

      China will beat the west to drone swarms because the US Air Force is run by former pilots and they don't want to see unmanned aircraft succeed. They're like the old cavalry guys who stood in the way of tanks as long as they could. Just like they had to see enemy tanks in action to admit they were the future, so will the US need to send manned fighters into combat against a swarm of 1000 drones that cost a fraction of what a fighter group did to see the writing on the wall.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 1st Gen Swarm Tech?

        Until they are autonomous and fully so, they will be vulnerable to electronic jamming even with full frequency agility. Doesn't take much an interruption in a command sequence to disable a complex drone, or at least to significantly degrade its performance.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: 1st Gen Swarm Tech?

          Making fully autonomous drones in a decade is easily doable - we will almost certainly have self driving cars by then and driving on windy obstacle covered roads where you can't hit anything is a far more complex problem than flying in a wide open airspace where you're TRYING to hit stuff.

          The US just isn't putting any real money into that because the retired flyboys in the Pentagon know the day that arrives it will be the end of the fighter jock and the Air Force will be run by the computer geeks. China's government doesn't care about the egos of the pilots, so they'll get there first.

  11. Mike 16 Silver badge

    Who designs these things?

    Hint: Not engineers or Military types who have actually been in combat.

    Pretty much all military gear (and stuff like the Space Shuttle) is "designed" by Congress, under a process of maximizing campaign contributions to members of the ruling party at the time.

    This is similar to how major corporations select, e.g. a travel agency for all corporate travel based on whose brother-in-law owns it. Or a mandated car rental company based on the CEO's holdings.

    I am reminded of a U.S. Civil war repeating rifle that was basically a revolver with a longer barrel and a stock. Visualize the difference between ones grip on a rifle as opposed to a pistol. Now think about "chain fire". For some reason, a large number of these rifles were "lost crossing a river".

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Who designs these things?

      The design is done by engineers and people in combat, but then the generals get their say and have a kitchen sink full of features they want to add that they remember hearing about in some blue sky think tank briefing about future combat technologies, and then the politicians get their say and divide up the work so there's some pork in almost every one of the 435 congressional districts in the US (the pork in my district is the design of the avionics and those fancy helmets)

      That's how you stop people from worrying about how big the defense budget is, and how expensive weapons systems are - they can't speak out against the F35 or their opponent will blame them for trying to kill local jobs. In a way it would be better for the US if none of our military gear was built here - then we'd be spending money overseas and politicians will be a lot more careful about how much was spent!

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Who designs these things?

      Revolver rifles/carbines weren't just a Civil war thing, and are not necessarily a bad idea. They have their limitations, as did most carbines of their time. And yes, one has to be careful about how one of these is held, but again, that goes for many rifles of the era. There are many contemporaneous much more stupid designs to be found.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    Claytons cooperation, The cooperation you have when you don't have cooperation

    Haven't the Chinese stolen the F-35 plans from the U.S. anyway, now with the engines they'd have the lot.

    But by the above comments perhaps it maybe for the better, especially if the Brits steal back improved plans from the Chinese.

    Claytons cooperation, The cooperation you have when you don't have cooperation.

    You steal it from us and makes some improvements, we steal it back and add something else, then you grab it again and improve it some more.

  13. andyfromcambridge

    Stupid question

    If the man has been retired for a long time how did he get access to this information?

    You may get the odd invitation for coffee/gossip/lunch.

    Sensitive/current development information surely not.

    1. IceC0ld Bronze badge

      Re: Stupid question

      Jones is reportedly a visiting professor in gas turbine combustion at China's Aeronautical University of Xian.

      ========

      RED flag there if ever there was one :oP

      probably false flag but hey, 'we' got a spy, lets have a trial, keep it in camera,in case his brief asks too many questions, so we can act like we care about state securty :o(

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stupid question

        Could happen just as easily in a UK University, as so many have signed up to join the Confucius institute. One I know well has had a number of incidents of nothing obviously stolen break ins in research labs and offices.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stupid question

      He’s Jones the Spy, see?

  14. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Um.....

    "China has already put together a visual replica of the F-35A"

    The F35's shape is based on a Russian design anyway.

    Not to mention convergent evolution (and its stealth already being obsolete)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    something@gmail.com

    > Jones is reportedly a visiting professor in gas turbine combustion at China's Aeronautical University of Xian.

    If that wasn't enough of a hint...

    Having said that, considering these layoffs, China shouldn't find it too hard to hire many more,

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