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Still Waters

Britain should 'scrap F-35 stealth fighter'

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Britain's long-delayed £70 million stealth fighter may need to be cancelled because of its poor performance, according to an analysis by a senior American air force officer.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter being built for British and US forces is based on outdated ideas of air warfare, it is claimed. The aircraft could be unable to evade enemy radar and be too expensive for long campaigns.

http://www.telegraph...th-fighter.html

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Posted (edited)

I totally agree with this. Having worked on the VTOL version of the aeroengine all I can say is that it is overpriced, overhyped, not capable of meeting ANY of its performance claims and as far as being "stealthy" - don't even get me going... Long Wave radar can detect it as easily as a Lancaster (WWII) bomber!!

Waste of money, simple. 5th Generation Aircraft? That doesn't have any meaning whatsoever. The avionics are outdated, its range is pitiful, its armament carrying capability is severely compromised.

I also think that 70Mn per aircraft is not even close to the true cost... but, whatever, the UK Govt will support LM and BaeSystems (prime contractor) and give the UK an underperforming aircraft that they are stuck with for 3 decades!!

Edited by keithisco
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There's been a discussion going on here, about the merits of this thing.

What might they ever possibly need it for? Even if (say) at some hypothetical future date it might have to face the People's Liberation Army Navy/Air Force, wouldn't having useful numbers of something highly competent like say Gripen or Rafale be rather more useful than very small numbers of something not really all that very good at anything? But of course, (a) it's a Prestige project that the Government is committed to, and to cancel it now would not be Firm, and ( b ) Britain must be all its military equipment from America, otherwise they won't be our friends any more. :cry:

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Posted (edited)

They use words such as may, the F35 may be no better than current aircraft. it may not be able to do this, that and the other. why is that in every test it came out as you'd expect, obviously teething problems etc. like with such a project. how can the British pilots say its an outstanding aircraft? with us placing an order for upto 48, and Australia 58 - With nine international partners and orders being placed its far from rubbish as the journalist would have you believe. they take a report and twist it.

what i want to know, which fighter is better today? i hear things such as the payload is limited. only in "stealth" mode. once the first strikes have taken place and the full suite of electronic warfare and jamming aircraft have sanitised the area The F35 can then carry out a more conventional role and carry more than enough ordnance.

I look at it this way, we need STOVL aircraft for the new carriers. we do not have Cats n' Traps installed on the carriers. so unless we go back to the Harrier its full steam ahead for the F35B. the biggest problem with the F35 programme was not the plane itself but the espionage by the Chinese.

time will tell how good or bad it is.

Edited by stevewinn
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Posted (edited)

They use words such as may, the F35 may be no better than current aircraft. it may not be able to do this, that and the other. why is that in every test it came out as you'd expect, obviously teething problems etc. like with such a project. how can the British pilots say its an outstanding aircraft? with us placing an order for upto 48, and Australia 58 - With nine international partners and orders being placed its far from rubbish as the journalist would have you believe. they take a report and twist it.

what i want to know, which fighter is better today? i hear things such as the payload is limited. only in "stealth" mode. once the first strikes have taken place and the full suite of electronic warfare and jamming aircraft have sanitised the area The F35 can then carry out a more conventional role and carry more than enough ordnance.

I look at it this way, we need STOVL aircraft for the new carriers. we do not have Cats n' Traps installed on the carriers. so unless we go back to the Harrier its full steam ahead for the F35B. the biggest problem with the F35 programme was not the plane itself but the espionage by the Chinese.

time will tell how good or bad it is.

Good post.

Most new aircraft suffer delays, look at Eurofighter it became a joke at one part. Now it is operational it is extremely popular among pilots.

The F35 will be excellent, and instead of looking STOVL variant in negative way maybe the advantages should be capitalized on. If we were to be drawn into a long drawn conflict and the aircraft had to operate on the limits of their range from the carrier, forward airbases could be set up with relative ease.

No need to build long vunerable runways, you can simply clear some forest and off you go. The US marines picked the Harrier for this very reason and modified it so it could operate in either smaller spaces than originally designed.

If the Falklands had gone on longer it would have been entirely possible that our Harriers would have operated that way. Especially if the carrier had been damaged. With Cats 'n' Traps aircraft the airbase would have needed to be captured and repaired. An old Vulcan bomber disabled the main airbase runway and forced the Argentinian airforce to operate from mainland. If that airbase had remained operational I wouldn't mind betting our Navy would have been near enough wiped out.

Lets be thankful the Argentinians didn't have STOVL. If you look at the Dassault Mirage III performance on paper against the Harrier they should have run rings round them. In true combat it was proved very different.

Edited by skookum
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Good post.

Most new aircraft suffer delays, look at Eurofighter it became a joke at one part. Now it is operational it is extremely popular among pilots.

The F35 will be excellent, and instead of looking STOVL variant in negative way maybe the advantages should be capitalized on. If we were to be drawn into a long drawn conflict and the aircraft had to operate on the limits of their range from the carrier, forward airbases could be set up with relative ease.

No need to build long vunerable runways, you can simply clear some forest and off you go. The US marines picked the Harrier for this very reason and modified it so it could operate in either smaller spaces than originally designed.

If the Falklands had gone on longer it would have been entirely possible that our Harriers would have operated that way. Especially if the carrier had been damaged. With Cats 'n' Traps aircraft the airbase would have needed to be captured and repaired. An old Vulcan bomber disabled the main airbase runway and forced the Argentinian airforce to operate from mainland. If that airbase had remained operational I wouldn't mind betting our Navy would have been near enough wiped out.

Lets be thankful the Argentinians didn't have STOVL. If you look at the Dassault Mirage III performance on paper against the Harrier they should have run rings round them. In true combat it was proved very different.

Yes and what people also need to remember is the roll we need the F35B to fulfil. - The UK maintains the ability of an Amphibious force, the F35B's prime roll is to gain air supremacy over any Naval task force and landing forces. multi role fighter - bomber - reconnaissance and weapons platform.

Best thing about F-35 is not the stealth. It's the unsexy stuff only geeks know about, like being a digital weapon able to switch mission modes in-flight, fly all-weather and day or night, having integrated and encrypted communication, navigation and IFF through high-speed data links, capability to communicate via SMS with units on the ground, use its own sensors (EO, IR and AESA radar) - and act as a hub for the sensors of other non-line of sight platforms - to give the pilot as much information as only theatre controllers have previously had, provide terrain-mapping capability comparable to that onboard E-8 JSTARs, show that information to the pilot on a MFD bigger than the computer screen you are reading this on now, see - and automatically identify - threats to the aircraft from any angle through its distributed aperture sensor system, co-ordinate small fleets of UCAVs, guide weapons launched from other platforms, launch a wide-range of its own A2A and A2G weapons, allow off-boresight shooting of missiles, use it's own AESA radar to conduct electronic attacks, diagnose it's own component problems, automatically schedule maintenance cycles, have high-commonality with augmented reality training simulators, have common training regimes between the three variants, and benefit from a lifetime 'service desk' to take the aircraft back to the shop for upgrades and significant maintenance on any of it's three (triple-redundant) computers. Oh and it's got a bit of stealth and some of it is built in the UK. which we've already seen the benefits - with cross over projects utilising the technology which we currently see in the UCAV Taranis.

unlike the Falklands war we now have the US (TLAM) tomahawk missile. which enables us to hit targets just over a 1,000 Nautical miles away, the UK government have ordered 64 of the New Tomahawk block IV which have the ability to loiter in enemy airspace for upto two hours. so for the people who point to the F35B's short range its still impressive at a speed of mach 1.6 has a combat radius of 450 Nautical miles, overall range of 900 nautical miles. and the most important part that always gets over looked is the planes countermeasures - The F-35B is equipped with AN/APG-81 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) multi-functional radar built by Northrop Grumman. It also as AN/AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System (DAS), Barracuda AN/ASQ-239 electronic warfare system, Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) communication system and missile warning system.

Its worth noting the first Euro fighters or Typhoon Tranche 1's are starting to be retired by the RAF. some will be shocked by that - that's because they took so long to get into production and then service. currently the RAF plans to retire the tranche 1's by 2018 starting next year 2015

also two F35B's will be here in the UK after they make their first trans Atlantic crossing - ready to appear at Fairford and Farnborough air shows in July.

its all to much to take in i've got nerd overload. im off to bed.

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Good post.

Most new aircraft suffer delays, look at Eurofighter it became a joke at one part. Now it is operational it is extremely popular among pilots.

The F35 will be excellent, and instead of looking STOVL variant in negative way maybe the advantages should be capitalized on. If we were to be drawn into a long drawn conflict and the aircraft had to operate on the limits of their range from the carrier, forward airbases could be set up with relative ease.

No need to build long vunerable runways, you can simply clear some forest and off you go. The US marines picked the Harrier for this very reason and modified it so it could operate in either smaller spaces than originally designed.

If the Falklands had gone on longer it would have been entirely possible that our Harriers would have operated that way. Especially if the carrier had been damaged. With Cats 'n' Traps aircraft the airbase would have needed to be captured and repaired. An old Vulcan bomber disabled the main airbase runway and forced the Argentinian airforce to operate from mainland. If that airbase had remained operational I wouldn't mind betting our Navy would have been near enough wiped out.

Lets be thankful the Argentinians didn't have STOVL. If you look at the Dassault Mirage III performance on paper against the Harrier they should have run rings round them. In true combat it was proved very different.

Well, exactly, so wouldn't a new version of Harrier be infinitely more useful and cost effective than an incredibly extravagant Superjet? That's the important point, not STOVL, of course that's useful, but the question is whether they're trying to incorporate everything into one package, stealth, STOVL, strike capability, air superiority, and so whether they're making something that doesn't really exel at any of them. And surely the only point behind developing something so expensive is that it is the best at everything.

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Well, exactly, so wouldn't a new version of Harrier be infinitely more useful and cost effective than an incredibly extravagant Superjet? That's the important point, not STOVL, of course that's useful, but the question is whether they're trying to incorporate everything into one package, stealth, STOVL, strike capability, air superiority, and so whether they're making something that doesn't really exel at any of them. And surely the only point behind developing something so expensive is that it is the best at everything.

A new version of the Harrier would be excellent and something Britain could export.

Problem is it would take at least a decade to develop and probably another 5 years to manufacture. Even developing a carrier version of Eurofighter was estimated at 10 years. What do we use up till then?

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Posted (edited)

The F-35 was intended to be the 'cheap' multi-role aircraft complimenting the expensive F-22 in the US's aerial warfare arsenal. It is the F-22 that requires all the expensive add-ons - such as advanced stealth capabilities - because it is the air superiority and 'first-strike' warplane that current US strategic thinking demands. The F-35 should be smaller, cheaper and more capable of multi-role operations.

But the development of the F-35 became so corrupted by the desire of Lockheed Martin to pump ever more unnecessary technology into the aircraft*, ballooning it's cost (and so, their profits), that it is now incredibly cost-ineffective compared to what it should have been.

The UK is buying a turkey with an incredibly short shelf-life. It will not be capable of air superiority against probable modern opponents, that would be the role of the Typhoon, so why do we need to spend so much on the 'second-line' aircraft? The whole idea of a multi-role aircraft is that it is a "jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none", and yet LM have tried (unsuccessfully) to make the F-35 the master-of-all-trades.

The F-35 concept, and it's uptake by the UK, is the result of putting corporate profit over cost-effective capability. I agree with the Admiral, the UK should have taken the concept of the Harrier to the next level - because that is all that was required in a multi-role and carrier-based aircraft.

*This was also partly the result of the different arms of the US military demanding different specs, and that the USMC didn't want to have to rely on the airforce and so wanted a fighter more capable than the multi-role concept could (and should) provide.

Edited by Leonardo
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With the price tag on this thing, it needs to be better than current aircraft. Or just use current aircraft, obviously. It is about stealth unfortunately because the F-35 has been compromised by it for any mission we can speak of beyond any open-panel repairs or aftermarket band aids. If it isn't about stealth then this aircraft has been a terrific waste of money. Computer electronics and weapons and sensors and radar and software, and yada yada. That's fine. Put that stuff on a good airplane.

Changing the order from 138 to 48 F-35s looks like the UK is saying no already. The article sounds like even a complete rejection is being recommended and considered. The F-35 was a lucrative test bed to see what's possible with a stealthy multi-role fighter. In actual usage it's a glorified bomb truck. Best take the lessons learned and incorporate them into wiser and more role-specific future designs.

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With the price tag on this thing, it needs to be better than current aircraft. Or just use current aircraft, obviously. It is about stealth unfortunately because the F-35 has been compromised by it for any mission we can speak of beyond any open-panel repairs or aftermarket band aids. If it isn't about stealth then this aircraft has been a terrific waste of money. Computer electronics and weapons and sensors and radar and software, and yada yada. That's fine. Put that stuff on a good airplane.

Changing the order from 138 to 48 F-35s looks like the UK is saying no already. The article sounds like even a complete rejection is being recommended and considered. The F-35 was a lucrative test bed to see what's possible with a stealthy multi-role fighter. In actual usage it's a glorified bomb truck. Best take the lessons learned and incorporate them into wiser and more role-specific future designs.

The UK's orders will increase the first order is for 8 rising to 48. these are for the carriers. but rising to 128. If the plane is so bad, why would Britain, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Norway. Japan and likely South Korea. place orders?

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This aircraft is SO expensive, that it will eat into other MOD procurement programmes. The Typhoon and a Harrier upgrade would provide all of the troop support needed for the UK, and for any future combat scenarios against any possible combat theatres. A Harrier update would have led to massive overseas orders, but this Cameroon govt totally made this impossible by selling off the entire Harrier fleet to the USMC (at 1Mn dollars apiece) - leaving the UK virtually defenceless in close combat situations

Newsnight understands that the first 14 aircraft will be bought for £58m ($96m) apiece. However, once spares, maintenance and initial support are included, the price will be much higher.

'Basic weapons range'

There is concern in the MoD that observers will simply divide the approximate £2.5bn cost of this stage of the project by the 14 planes being ordered, whereas this price tag includes certain support costs for the entire, eventual UK fleet.

One Pentagon estimate last year for an aircraft plus support costs for the first few years came out at £154m ($253m) each.

In planning its own buy, Britain has shown a little more caution than the hard-charging US Marine Corps.

It's planned that the 14 aircraft will form the first operational squadron in 2018, and that by 2020 they will be able to fly from HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Justin Bronk, an analyst at the Royal United Services Institute, said that even by then, they might be capable only of "going through the motions" - taking off and landing - and not using the more advanced weapons in the RAF inventory.

LINK (courtesy BBC): http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-26124894

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The UK's orders will increase the first order is for 8 rising to 48. these are for the carriers. but rising to 128. If the plane is so bad, why would Britain, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Norway. Japan and likely South Korea. place orders?

politics, of course. All those countries are keen to be good trading and/or defense partners of Uncle Sam. Like S. Korea or Japan would have the choice to buy Swedish or french.

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politics, of course. All those countries are keen to be good trading and/or defense partners of Uncle Sam. Like S. Korea or Japan would have the choice to buy Swedish or french.

I think the only element of politics is buying into the technology and the penalty clauses for abandoning the project. but i don't think it needs abandoning. anyway the UK doesn't have an alternative to the F35B. neither does Italy who also operates VSTOL carriers - the only option available today is the Harrier which is outdated and subsonic. The F35B just like the sea Harrier im sure will show its worth.

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One of the points being overlooked about this aircraft is that it has no need to be better in dogfights. It essentially IS a computer that flies and delivers weapons at far superior distances - and is supposed to do so accurately. Difficult to turn faster and gain an advantage when you've been destroyed without ever seeing your opponent :)

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Posted (edited)

I think the only element of politics is buying into the technology and the penalty clauses for abandoning the project. but i don't think it needs abandoning. anyway the UK doesn't have an alternative to the F35B. neither does Italy who also operates VSTOL carriers - the only option available today is the Harrier which is outdated and subsonic. The F35B just like the sea Harrier im sure will show its worth.

I agree that F35B is the only option available at the moment - with proper hydraulic / pneumatic launch facilities on the new QE Class of Carriers then the UK could have chosen from a much larger supplier pool - including Typhoon. Given the upgrade costs for converting the Carriers (4 Bn UK) then the money would have been recouped very quickly - and probably before the F35b went into service (currently 2022 for full operational Combat Readiness of the F35B).

It should also be noted that the Avionics suite onboard (including 8 million lines of code) is pedestrian, and at least 10 years out of date. This behemoth will spend considerably more time in maintenance than any current aircraft. IMO

Edited by keithisco
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One of the points being overlooked about this aircraft is that it has no need to be better in dogfights. It essentially IS a computer that flies and delivers weapons at far superior distances - and is supposed to do so accurately. Difficult to turn faster and gain an advantage when you've been destroyed without ever seeing your opponent :)

Completely wrong, it has LESS capability, less range, to deliver a missile than the Typhoon or Grippen, it does NOT have stealth capabilities that makes it invisible to enemy radar

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The problem is that Harrier is a short term solution, I think it would be more money in order to upgrade the Harriers. i read recently in Airforce magazine that the F35B was having problems however, I think this was suspected, there was problems with the F-22 Rapter. The AC-10's are getting the axe i hear too

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The problem is that Harrier is a short term solution, I think it would be more money in order to upgrade the Harriers. i read recently in Airforce magazine that the F35B was having problems however, I think this was suspected, there was problems with the F-22 Rapter. The AC-10's are getting the axe i hear too

exactly there is always delays, the problems that occur are the type of problems you get when you push the envelope. the real test comes when its operational.

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The UK's orders will increase the first order is for 8 rising to 48. these are for the carriers. but rising to 128. If the plane is so bad, why would Britain, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Norway. Japan and likely South Korea. place orders?

Because the sales pitches for this thing were extraordinary.

Where did you get 128 from? I see original order of 138 dropping to 48. A Canadian on the other thread said Canada is now sneezing at the F-35 altogether. The purchases are drying up; I don't know why you can't see this. Orders will continue drying up when this plane is put in the hotseat against other contemporary aircraft and it keeps proving itself inferior.

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Well, exactly, so wouldn't a new version of Harrier be infinitely more useful and cost effective than an incredibly extravagant Superjet? That's the important point, not STOVL, of course that's useful, but the question is whether they're trying to incorporate everything into one package, stealth, STOVL, strike capability, air superiority, and so whether they're making something that doesn't really exel at any of them. And surely the only point behind developing something so expensive is that it is the best at everything.

The STOVL is whats useful about the jet because it allows us to project airpower using a carrier. The stealth stops it being an air superiority fighter, if, and I say if, the enemy radar can detect it. Unfortunately most if not all first rate powers will be able to detect it. The sacrificies in manoverability and agility that arise from being stealth means its useless against them in dog fighting.

The aircraft only wins if it detects an enemy jet, shoots a missle and downs it before they realise the F-35 is there. Once dog fighting starts it hasn't got a chance.

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I get the impression that we went for this jet out of pure expediency: it was the best available at the time that could operate from our two future carriers.

I guess the MOD has an obligation to ensure there are no gaps in our defensive capabilities. Having no naval aviation for 10 years or so would obviously not be acceptable. So the F35 - whilst not the BEST aircraft on the planet - nevertheless could be delivered within the desired timeframe, and fill the gap.

Lets face it, the Harrier was a pretty awful combat aircraft even in its own time. Its success in the Falklands was as much down to the American Sidewinder missiles it carried (and the fuel limitations on the Argentinian jets) rather than the aircraft itself. Painfully slow, limited in range, and without even an air-to-air radar capable of guiding missiles etc.... the F35 has just GOT to be better than THAT ?

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I get the impression that we went for this jet out of pure expediency: it was the best available at the time that could operate from our two future carriers.

I guess the MOD has an obligation to ensure there are no gaps in our defensive capabilities. Having no naval aviation for 10 years or so would obviously not be acceptable. So the F35 - whilst not the BEST aircraft on the planet - nevertheless could be delivered within the desired timeframe, and fill the gap.

Lets face it, the Harrier was a pretty awful combat aircraft even in its own time. Its success in the Falklands was as much down to the American Sidewinder missiles it carried (and the fuel limitations on the Argentinian jets) rather than the aircraft itself. Painfully slow, limited in range, and without even an air-to-air radar capable of guiding missiles etc.... the F35 has just GOT to be better than THAT ?

The Rafale Dassault operates off carriers, are better than the F-35 and cheaper. Infact they are better than the Eurofighter too. We should buy them instead.

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Posted (edited)

Because the sales pitches for this thing were extraordinary.

Where did you get 128 from? I see original order of 138 dropping to 48. A Canadian on the other thread said Canada is now sneezing at the F-35 altogether. The purchases are drying up; I don't know why you can't see this. Orders will continue drying up when this plane is put in the hotseat against other contemporary aircraft and it keeps proving itself inferior.

I got the figure 128 from the book 'The Armed Forces of the United Kingdom 2014-2015' obviously since going to print numbers ordered by the government can change. but i feel the figures in the book which are obtained from the government are adequate for the forum. the Book actually gives an overall figure of 150 Planes. (split Navy/RAF) which is then broken down to 148 with 2 never entering service, (the first two delivered) 10 used for pilot/crew/maintenance training. giving 138 in service. - with a total of 128 available. 10 being serviced/updated/repaired.

5815.jpg

Edited by stevewinn

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The Rafale Dassault operates off carriers......

Perhaps... but presumably ONLY if the carriers have been fitted with steam catapults and retarding gear, which our carriers havn't. We are limited to STOL/VSTOL aircraft, and there aren't many of those around.

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