UK MOD in a muddle over F-35C

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quicksilver

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Unread post11 May 2012, 00:08

From CRS Report to the Congress last month --

"Seven of the CVN 78 program’s 13 current critical technologies have not been tested in a
realistic, at-sea environment, including two technologies—EMALS and the dual-band
radar—which continue to pose risks. According to program officials, EMALS has
successfully launched F/A-18E, T-45C, C-2A, and E-2D aircraft during testing; however, the
system has not demonstrated the required level of reliability because of the slow correction
of problems discovered earlier in testing. In addition, according to officials, EMALS motor
generators have only been tested in a group of 4, rather than the group of 12 that will make
up the system. A test of the complete system will not take place until it is aboard the ship..."

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/RS20643.pdf
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Unread post11 May 2012, 01:28

Be the EMALS uncertainties as they may - IMHO the lack of money has forced the UK to return to STOVL Expeditionary Ops with F-35B. And they will be excellent at it.
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Unread post11 May 2012, 01:41

When did 'Expeditionary Ops' return to the UK fast-jet capability set?
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Unread post11 May 2012, 01:45

And if you tell me Bagram or Kandahar, I'm going to point you to these links --

http://googlesightseeing.com/maps?p=404 ... &t=k&hl=en

http://www.marines.mil/unit/mcascherryp ... 6xfBhz6F9t
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Unread post11 May 2012, 01:47

When pigs were flying? I'm just using an old term used when the two CVFs before SDSR in 2010 were going to use F-35Bs off a ski jump. I recall that another term was starting to be used but I cannot be bothered to go find it [in the meantime Google is your friend as you are want to say - and what about the engine sea/corrosion proofing?]. If I find it in my reading I will amend this post.

ADDITION: 'Carrier Enabled Power Projection' (CEPP) was the new term being bandied about. (see below)

In the meantime here is a ten point Dewline post:

Explaining the UK's F-35 variant switch: a Top 10 guide By Craig Hoyle on May 10, 2012

http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-d ... arian.html

"...The DEW Line's friends might like to get the extra detail that I had to leave out. So in no particular order, here are my Top 10 questions about the decision:..."

So go read it.
________________

F-35: Lemon or lemonade? May 10, 2012

http://blogs.star-telegram.com/sky_talk ... onade.html

LOOKs Like an SLDinfo DataFusion Illustration to me! :D

And when youse only have lemons youse make lemonade: http://blogs.star-telegram.com/.a/6a00d ... 970c-popup
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Unread post11 May 2012, 02:07

In the context of 'BACK to the FUTURE' this is what BEEDALL has to say about original UK requirements:

http://navy-matters.beedall.com/cvf3-1.htm (c.2003)

"...CVF Role
The Invincible class of carriers were designed for Cold War anti-submarine warfare operations, with an airgroup of mainly ASW helicopters plus a limited air defence capability provided by a small number of embarked Sea Harriers. This essentially defensive role is no longer appropriate and the emphasis with he Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) is now on increased offensive air power and an ability to operate a wider range of aircraft in a variety of roles.

The CVF mission statement has been officially defined: "The statement of mission need for CVF declares: "The CVF is to be a joint defence asset with the primary purpose of providing the UK with an expeditionary offensive air capability that has the flexibility to operate the largest possible range of aircraft in the widest possible range of roles."

Nine top-level Key User Requirements (KURs) for CVF have been laid out, as follows:

KUR 1 Interoperability: CVF shall be able to contribute to joint/combined operations;

KUR 2 Integration: CVF shall be able to integrate with the joint battlespace to the extent required to support air group operations, command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) functions and survivability;

KUR 3 Availability: CVF shall be able to provide one operational and available platform at all times;

KUR 4 Deployability: CVF shall be able to deploy for operations worldwide;

KUR 5 Sustainability: CVF shall be able to sustain operations;

KUR 6 Aircraft operation: CVF shall be able to deploy offensive air power to the sortie-generation profile specified without host-nation support;

KUR 7 Survivability: CVF shall be able to achieve a high probability of survival;

KUR 8 Flexibility: CVF shall be able to operate the largest possible range of aircraft; and [I guess helos included?]

KUR 9 Versatility: CVF shall be able to operate in the widest range of roles.

It is expected that CVF will be tasked:
As an early coercive presence that can promote conflict prevention through deterrence;

As a flexible and rapidly deployable offshore base during expeditionary operations when airfields may be unavailable or denied, or when facilities ashore are still being established; and

Contributing to the support of peacekeeping forces, and, when necessary, initiating offensive military action...."
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Unread post11 May 2012, 02:11

Challenging the STOVL Myth

http://www.defpro.com/daily/details/397/

"...The STOVL rationale now being put forward by air force circles in both Britain and Italy is of a completely different nature, and hinges on the concept’s supposed advantages and benefits in an expeditionary scenario. While these advantages remain based on STOVL aircraft not being tied to traditional runways and airfield, this capability is now perceived in terms of operational flexibility rather than survivability. STOVL aircraft are described as being the ideal solution for expeditionary operations, thanks to their supposed ability to be brought quickly in theatre as well as being inherently suitable for operating from forward/austere bases that would not accept CTOL types. Forward basing of tactical aircraft by definition reduces the distance to the battlefield, which translates into improved response times to urgent calls for air support, increased aircraft surge rates, and higher combat load or/and longer times on station for the same fuel fraction.

Does this make sense? It certainly does. Indeed, the concept has already been demonstrated in real combat operations, including most notably the RN’s SEA HARRIER being moved on an improvised strip ashore during the Falklands conflict, the forward basing of USMC HARRIERs during “Desert Storm”, and more recently in Afghanistan. During “Desert Storm”, the twelve USMC aircraft based at an ARAMCO helicopter field at Tanajib in Saudi Arabia, south of the Kuwaiti border were within 65km and five minutes flying time from the battle, whereas CTOL combat aircraft flying from bases in southern Saudi Arabia and the coastal Gulf states as well as from aircraft carriers had to cover at least 250km to reach the nearest targets in Kuwait. By the same token, during the earlier phases of Operation “Enduring Freedom” the six GR7A HARRIERs of No 3 (Fighter) Squadron, based at Kandahar airfield while the single runway there was being slowly rebuilt were the only combat aircraft able to operate from the south of the country, and the sole local fighter asset readily available to support allied troops. And even at a later date, the STOVL performance of British GR7/GR9s and USMC AV-8Bs based at Kandahar were of pivotal importance in enabling simultaneous combat, logistic support and civil operations all using a single runway. Further, the very nature of combat operations in Afghanistan has highlighted the fundamental importance of nearly immediate, “on call” air support....
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Unread post11 May 2012, 02:17

Complete I assume verbatim text of statement by Minister here:

PDF here now: 'oral_statement_on_carrier_strike_capability.pdf'
http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/2DFCE705 ... bility.pdf (18Kb)

The F35 Decision Think Defence | May 10, 2012

http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2012/05/the-f35-decision/

"...And fourthly, further work with our allies on the best approach to collaborative operation has satisfied us that joint maritime task groups involving our carriers, with co-ordinated scheduling of maintenance and refit periods, and an emphasis on carrier availability, rather than cross-deck operations, is the more appropriate route to optimising alliance capabilities....

...We have discussed this decision with the French Government and with the United States. The French confirm that they are satisfied with our commitment to jointly planned carrier operations to enhance European-NATO capability.

The United States, on whose support we would rely in regenerating either type of carrier capability, has been highly supportive throughout this review and I would like to record my personal thanks to the Secretary of Defense, the Pentagon, the Navy and the Marine Corps for their high level of engagement with us. I spoke to Secretary Panetta last night and he confirmed the US willingness to support our decision and its view that UK carrier strike availability and our commitment to the JSF programme are the key factors.

The Chief of the Defence Staff and his fellow Chiefs of Staff – all of them – endorse this decision as the quickest and most assured way now to deliver carrier strike as part of an overall affordable equipment programme that will support Future Force 2020...."

COMMENT by ThinkDefence: "...The MoD has to live within its means; I am not sure why so many people have difficulty understanding this fundamental principle...."
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Unread post11 May 2012, 02:43

Carrier Enabled Power Projection (CEPP) was the new term being bandied about [and wot I could not remember - lordie lordie]. Google it. Which I did of course. And here is but one example:

Carrier costs could hit other projects 12 July 2011 [PRESCIENT!?]

http://www.defencemanagement.com/news_s ... p?id=16864

"Future defence equipment programmes could face the axe if Britain's Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers go over budget, senior MoD figures have said.

The carriers have increased in cost from £3.65bn in 2007 to the latest estimate of £6.24bn following the conversion of one carrier to use the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS). The conversion alone is costing £950m for just one of the two planned carriers....

...The Public Accounts Committee heard that costs of Carrier Enabled Power Projection (CEPP) could be subject to change in the next decade, and that planning had included 'assumptions' on the as-yet unconfirmed cost of the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighterr (sic)....

...Rear Admiral Hussain also said that in 2020 there would be six operational Joint Strike Fighters available for use on the first carrier, increasing to a full squadron of 12 as new aircraft arrived.

Several of the aircraft would be required as training platforms, Hussein said."
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Unread post11 May 2012, 03:11

My point being that the UK hasn't really exercised 'expeditionary' fast-jets in an operational context in a long time. Falklands/Malvinas was 30 years ago. DS/DS was over 20 years ago. OEF was 10 years ago. Bagram and Kandahar were not really expeditionary unless one compares them to home plate in the states or the UK; they were shore locations and the USAF was there (which tells you something). 'Expeditionary' is not really about the jets -- it's about the enablers for such ops (exped log and C3) that the UK has largely given up (along with many other things). The arguments by UK commentators are parroting the USMC rationale which the USMC supports with maintenance of the assets necessary to conduct such operations -- the MALS (and the MALSP), the MWSS and the MWCS (and detachments thereof). The UK does not.

And of course, all this was not about the aircraft -- it was/is about the ships and money. Notably however, this episode also put a stake in the heart of the Boeing whispering campaign for SHs, as well as the sideshow that suggested the UK would hobble their jets by putting them on the decks of French ships.
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Unread post11 May 2012, 03:11

This change of course on aircraft carriers is essential By David Richards [General Sir David Richards is Chief of the Defence Staff] 10 May 2012

Our new fighter jets will give Britain an outstanding military capability much sooner.

www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysecto ... ntial.html

"...Carriers are expensive – there is no way around that. But they offer a capability that few can match: an independent, flexible, sovereign base, not tied to other countries’ wishes, that can operate around the world.

By choosing the Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) model of the Joint Strike Fighter over the Carrier Variant that we had previously ordered for our two new aircraft carriers, the UK is significantly shortening the time it will take to deploy our maritime air power. For me, this is the key factor. We are getting an exceptional military tool that is capable of projecting power, deterring our enemies and supporting our friends. In an uncertain world, this is a capability that I know we all wish to have sooner rather than later....

...Switching to STOVL means we are getting an outstanding capability sooner, for less financial and technical risk. It also gives us the ability to operate two carriers if we choose, a decision that the next SDSR will review.

Managing the Carrier Strike programme is as complex and demanding as the maritime and air environments in which these ships operate. They are not just mobile flight decks, but among the most capable intelligence and targeting tools in the world. Both the Carrier Variant and the STOVL aircraft represent a generational shift from the jets that we use today. Through their computer technology, stealth and communications they are more capable than their ship- or land-based predecessors. They are cutting-edge, multi-role platforms fit for the battlespace of the 21st century. They can both carry the full range of weapons we intend to buy.

The bedrock of successful combat capabilities is Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance. This allows us to understand, track, strike and remain poised to react to the unexpected. It is this capability that ensured our success in Libya. The Joint Strike Fighter increases it immeasurably.

This fifth-generation aircraft is a weapons system unmatched by our rivals, and will be an integral part of the package we offer our friends and allies – not least the French, with whom we have developed such a close relationship, and the Americans, who have been and will continue to be essential partners in developing our new capability.

Yesterday’s decision guarantees that we will have a hard-hitting carrier capability up to five years sooner than looked likely. The advice of the Chiefs of Staff is clear: this is the right decision for the Armed Forces, and the right decision for Britain."
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Unread post11 May 2012, 03:35

Surely the terms used are looking at the future - not the past. I think it is up to the Brits to decide how they will use their assets and how many etc. The USMC is a good role model in that respect - the Brits will add to the USMC bag of tricks I'm certain. And GOOD LUCK to them all.
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Unread post11 May 2012, 04:15

The fact of the matter is that the British now can operate only 1 aircraft from their carriers. They cannot operate any AEW, airborne tanking, any new stealth drones. They cannot leverage advances in the US state of the art carrier aircraft. They cannot hedge with French fighters. The Brits will take on the entire cost of developing Helicopter AEW, no one will want to go down that sad road. The Brits have to design their own jamming suite for the F-35B and deal with the weight issues. (Need to keep it below 2000k lbs, so no HARMs or multiple pods, and only fly it in cold weather chaps) Think of it this way, no one will be building STOVL recon and strike drones. All of this talk about drones being weapons of the future? Unless the MoD wants to pay a fortune to some lucky contractor to build a STOVL stealth long range recon drone...

The Fleet Air Arm will not be an independent service, it will be a subsidiary of the USMC. It's upgrade schedule is hostage to the USMC. Its development cycle is hostage to the USMC. Want electronic attack? You'll have to wait til the USMC gets some. And if it doesn't work, well, you get to pick up the tab. The FAA cannot and will not do joint projects with any other navy. Why should the USN care about them any more? The Royal Navy has chosen to marginalize themselves.

And I'm not even getting into the utter ridiculousness of the idea that "expeditionary ops" are in any way suitable for a battle group. The British learned first hand that operating STOVL aircraft does not a battle group make. Look at their significant losses in San Carlos Water. Why? Because they needed to keep their carriers, operating short ranged STOVL aircraft, away from the hostile air force. That was 30 years ago, when the Argentine military had only 5 exocet missiles they could launch. Today? Hezbollah has anti-ship missiles.

This is not a choice made to create a powerful and independent expeditionary force. This choice renders the British unable to conduct independent operations against a serious opponent. The British will need to operate with the French or the Americans if they want to conduct any sort of serious military operation. Given the increase in killing power in anti-ship missiles and the corresponding rise in cheap recon options, the barrier to good anti-access abilities is falling rapidly.

Personally, I bet the British will reverse this decision. In 20 years, they'll make the monumentally expensive decision to add catapults to the warships. Why? Because those ships will be totally obsolete in 30 years.
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Unread post11 May 2012, 04:35

Oohh the RN FAA are such bad boys. And they will innovate - guaranteed - already started with SRVL if required. I can see how the money is not available and that is that. Yes you can hope for future better financial circumstances for the UK. And the USMC are an allied service [along with the French - there are treaties and co-operation agreements aplenty between them] let us not forget. Funny how the Brits are happy with the F-35B. Who'da thunk it. :D
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Unread post11 May 2012, 04:50

BBC commentator gets his Bs and Cs mixed - no wonder MOD is in a Muddle...

Why did coalition government change fighter plane plan? 11 May 2012 by Mark Urban

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18030174#

"The kindest way of describing the government's U-turn over its new F35 fighter fleet is to point out that it should never have rushed to decide on the subject back in its Strategic Defence and Security Review or SDSR of October 2010.

Today a defence source conceded, "it's taken 18 months to figure out all of the detail"....

...In the current public spending climate, it's hardly surprising that the government has ducked the decision to spend £5bn to gain this capability.

Instead, it will use the F35C (sic), which will use a ski jump type take off ramp much like the now retired Harrier, and the first operational carrier will be available, says the MoD, in 2018 rather than 2025....

...Speaking privately to those who were party to some of the decision making, one hears less kind explanations of what has happened. One senior naval figure calls it, "a hopeless shambles".

The key axis in the government's mistake of October 2010 appears to have been that between Downing Street and the RAF.

Liam Fox, the defence secretary at the time, had ordered that his review should retire one major type of combat aircraft in order to save money. Fairly soon the choice narrowed to one between the Harrier and Tornado.

Senior RAF officers saw the possible disappearance of the Tornado, which is the last vestige of the service's wartime Bomber Command, as a threat to the future existence of their service.

They argued strongly for the Harrier to get the chop instead, and succeeded creating the carrier gap, since no replacement could be ready quickly....

...'Grown up carrier'
Downing Street, it seems, wanted some positive headlines out of the SDSR, which was largely an exercise in cutbacks, so it decided to back the idea of Britain getting a "grown up" aircraft carrier, ie one launching conventional aircraft with catapults rather than a very large replacement "Harrier Carrier". It therefore stressed the ineffectiveness of the F-35C (sic)....

...But today the government has not given any commitment to deploy both vessels, and it seems quite likely that the nation's huge investment in ships and planes will produce a one carrier "force" with a less capable jet." ??????? HUH? :D
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