UK MOD in a muddle over F-35C

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spazsinbad

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Unread post13 Aug 2011, 03:27

Vagaries Continue To Cloud U.K. F-35 Agenda
Aug 12, 2011 By Robert Wall

"After years of suffering massive program delays and cost overruns, the U.K. Defense Ministry has set out an aggressive agenda to ensure procurement decisions are grounded in fiscal reality and based on program certainty.

However, in one of its first major modernization moves—choosing to buy the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter instead of the F-35B short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (Stovl) version—London acted without firmly grasping the associated operational and cost implications. It also appears to have committed to the procurement despite lacking the means to fully fund the program, violating another principle of its reform agenda.

[...]

For instance, the move to the carrier version (CV) has caused the Defense Ministry to explore air-to-air refueling capabilities in case of a disruption on the flight deck during recovery operations. The U.K. has asked Lockheed Martin to assess the feasibility of using the F-35C in a buddy-buddy refueling mode. Under rules of the JSF program, countries must themselves fund studies into unique capabilities they want for an aircraft. Since the U.S. can rely on F/A-18E/F Super Hornets as carrier-based refuelers, the U.K. has to finance the engineering assessment on its own.

[...]

Full article: http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/ ... 352385.xml
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madrat

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Unread post13 Aug 2011, 04:38

So now they need a D-model which would be a B model that can do arrested landings and takeoff using the catapult?
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Unread post13 Aug 2011, 04:43

Huh?
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Unread post13 Aug 2011, 05:31

They keep changing their minds.
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spazsinbad

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Unread post13 Aug 2011, 07:28

OK.
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Unread post14 Aug 2011, 12:57

madrat wrote:So now they need a D-model which would be a B model that can do arrested landings and takeoff using the catapult?


No, we need F35C and that's about it. We're talking about swapping one of the 3 B models out to a C from LRIP, and keeping the other two B's already committed to for conversion and testing purposes.

We're buying F35C's for service use, which are available for production right now. This is the *only* change in order requirements in the history of the F35 order.


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shep1978

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Unread post14 Aug 2011, 13:28

From what I can gather from people who were involved in the F-35 for the new carriers the F-35C was always the one the Royal Navy wanted and the B model got pushed onto them by Geoff Hoon and his industry buddies from Rolls-Royce to help industry involvment and job creation. much like Typhoon for the RAF (RAF wanted F-15's, Hoon and friends thought otherwise) and the Wildcat for the Army (army wanted Blackhawk, ministers and ex politicians sat on company boards said otherwise).

Whats nice about the switch back to the C is that its good to see the UK armed services actaully getting what they wanted for a change!
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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 03:51

One counter argument to the 'must now explore a buddy-tanker capability in case of recovery disruptions', would be that the extended operational range / endurance (and strategic ferry range, cough) of the CV over the STOVL variant could equally warrant 'buddy tanker capabilities' of the shorter legged and more tanker-dependent STOVL.

And on a strategic ferry flight to say oh, a south Atlantic region base for training, a 6-8 pack of STOVL would require how many more Strategic Tanker refuels over the round-trip?

Yet I guess even fewer tanking refuels would be required for say, a strategic ferrying Rafale than even the CV, so that could be up for greater 'exploration' as well?
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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 04:32

geogen, naval aircraft travel abroad :twisted: aboard flat deck ships - unlike airfarce jets. OK? And shirley it is clear from all your attentive reading of this forum that STOVL aircraft do not require tankers due landing guaranteed. Seems you have not been paying attention. :evil: (cough)
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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 05:19

Switching to the F-35C was nothing more than a short-sighted accounting stunt by the MoD to gain some short-term cost-savings that they could show on their books, a poor decision by bureaucrats with little understanding of the domino effect such a change would have on the costs of their entire carrier program.

I can't wait to see what comes up next. I may be an old ground pounder, but isn't 25 kts a touch slow for CATOBAR operations with a 40-70,000 lb fighter plane? If not, then how is maintaining the speed necessary to launch/recover F-35Cs going to affect fuel consumption/range and was that factored into the original performance/cost projections?

Of course, the original concept of a conventionally-powered STOVL supercarrier was harebrained in the first place. The UK should have just kept their Invincible-class ships and upgraded them for F-35B operations.
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geogen

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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 06:15

spazsinbad wrote:geogen, naval aircraft travel abroad :twisted: aboard flat deck ships - unlike airfarce jets. OK? And shirley it is clear from all your attentive reading of this forum that STOVL aircraft do not require tankers due landing guaranteed. Seems you have not been paying attention. :evil: (cough)


LoL, thanks Spazs, too funny m8.

But last time I checked, STOVL F-35B is indeed designed to accept and require tankers (including cost-effective buddy-tanking) for any intended operational requirement which requires range/endurance greater than which internal fuel provides (especially when substantially less than operational range of the CV), no?

And here's an interesting pic, I'm not quite sure what it is... perhaps your technical insight might better clarify it :)

http://www.militaryfactory.com/imagevie ... g%20KC-135

Also, IIRC, MoD is considering deploying F-35 in some scenarios independent of the Carrier deck? The USN do in fact deploy deploy and operate assets in this respect during war time as well. Respects.
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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 06:37

geogen, you can roam all over the planet if you wish with tanking so what are you talking about. If you talk about carrier operations then the STOVL does not need tanking if their flat deck is within combat radius for outbound & inbound to vertical landing. Ordinarily this will likely be the case so 'tanking' as such - with STOVL especially - not required for landing back on - unlike F-35C which may have deck fouling issues as you well know by now. If you want to mix up land operations or other things then be clear what you are saying. Yes all the F-35s can air refuel but this is not the same as requiring a tanker at the carrier for a foul deck, poor weather which may be the case with the F-35C.

Recall the vertical landing ability of the Harrier in the south Atlantic during the Falklands War. Many commentators have made it clear that no conventional carrier aircraft could fly from a conventional carrier most times the STOVL Harriers were flying day and night. No worries with the F-35B though it is even easier to fly as has been recounted now many times on this forum via pilot comments.

You can fantasise about using carrier aircraft ashore but they work best from a carrier flat deck. This is how they will be used. How are the USN deployed ashore today? They fly from their carrier. That is what it is all about.

Flying naval aircraft from ashore is called airfarce.
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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 06:59

The original argument being.. that MoD might further want to 'explore' buddy tanking as well for STOVL, if they assessed future operational requirements extending the combat radius of Carrier ops to the range CV could extend out to. i.e., the operational reach of STOVL might be assessed in the future to require CV-like radius capability via buddy-tanking (or accept a reduced operational capabilty in STOVL, compared to the CV). I'm just making that case. But yes, hypothetically speaking, if MoD wanted to strategically Ferry F-35 as part of an exercise or rapid reaction deployment in a 2019 scenario, the strategic Tanking requirements if tanking STOVL variant would be much more taxing than CV. That could be seen as an understated value when justifying the 'switch'... is all I'm suggesting.
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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 07:17

You can make your arguments as complicated as you wish. However when the CVF was being built for STOVL ops there was no consideration for 'tanking' AFAIK. The idea at the time was for 'expeditionary ops' or OMS Operational Maneuver from the Sea as the USMC now want to get back to doing rather than being another land army.

I think '1st503rdsgt' summarised my thinking about why the UK MoD made the change. But I guess we won't now for some years. It will not surprise me if the MoD 'discover' that changing to F-35C is just too expensive and they go back to F-35B. After all there is much more flexibility with the B model.

Changing to the C model requires thought for the 'tanker at the carrier' notwithstanding any other tanker usefulness. This latter will apply to B and C model. What is under discussion is the 'new' requirement now for some kind of tanking for the C model at the carrier.

The MoD have about one year apparently to sort out the details of the change over B to C. It just might be too expensive. Changing back to B still gives the required delay as an accounting stunt as indicated by '1st503rdsgt'.

However I must point out that I strongly disagree with his assertion that "Of course, the original concept of a conventionally-powered STOVL supercarrier was harebrained in the first place. The UK should have just kept their Invincible-class ships and upgraded them for F-35B operations."

Many years of effort produced the CVF designed for STOVL ops with many other websites explaining why the CVF is so large and whatnot (beedall is best for that). It is ludicrous to think that the 'through deck cruisers' could have been somehow modified for F-35B ops as required by the MoD.
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Unread post15 Aug 2011, 07:38

spazsinbad wrote:However I must point out that I strongly disagree with his assertion that "Of course, the original concept of a conventionally-powered STOVL supercarrier was harebrained in the first place. The UK should have just kept their Invincible-class ships and upgraded them for F-35B operations."

Many years of effort produced the CVF designed for STOVL ops with many other websites explaining why the CVF is so large and whatnot (beedall is best for that). It is ludicrous to think that the 'through deck cruisers' could have been somehow modified for F-35B ops as required by the MoD.


Hmmm, perhaps I misspoke on the Invincibles, but what could be more "ludicrous" than a 60,000+ ton supercarrier that carries mostly helicopters (yes, I've read the reasons given for that configuration)? FWIW, I actually feel that something like the new Italian carrier, Cavour, would have been a more realistic goal for the RN.
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