UK MOD in a muddle over F-35C

Program progress, politics, orders, and speculation
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spazsinbad

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Unread post11 Nov 2020, 20:15

US Marine Corps reports successful integration exercise onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth
11 Nov 2020 SaveTheRoyalNavy

"...Achieving genuine interoperability is far more complex than it may appear. A common language and operating the same aircraft is just the starting point. Officially the Pentagon describes interoperability as the ability to act together coherently, effectively, and efficiently to achieve tactical, operational, and strategic objectives, requiring the ability to exchange information through electronic communication. Even more importantly at the human level commanders need to understand each other’s doctrine and tactics if they are to be able to go into combat together.

To some extent, this interoperability is a perishable skill that requires continual exercising together, communication, liaison and planning. Britain is fortunate to have such a committed partner and the regeneration of UK Carrier Enabled Power Projection would have been almost impossible without assistance from the US. There is also a significant political dimension to embarking USMC onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth. Potential adversaries are put on notice that the US would be directly in the fight if the carrier group was attacked. This significantly raises the stakes beyond what it would be if it were an entirely British force.

It is also interesting to note that the benefit of the integration of the two forces was in serious jeopardy when in 2010 the UK reversed its decision to buy the F-35B and go for CATOBAR carriers and F-35C. This decision put the USMC in a difficult position and for a short period, the Pentagon began to doubt the whole viability of the B variant. Fortunately for the USMC, the UK reverted back to the STOVL carriers / B variant in 2012 and the rest is history."

Source: https://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/us-mar ... elizabeth/
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Unread post20 Nov 2020, 17:36

Reports in the press yesterday that the UK will be reducing its F-35 order to 69 aircraft from 138. That's a total F-35 fleet smaller than the carrying capacity of the two carriers.

It is part of an injection of funds into items such as a new Space Command in return for cuts elsewhere. Also expected is a 15% reduction in the army and mothballing of the entire fleet of Challenger II tanks.

Also announced yesterday was orders for 8 Type 26 and 5 Type 31 frigates plus research into a follow on Type 32.
Andy Evans Aviation Photography
www.evansaviography.co.uk
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Unread post20 Nov 2020, 18:22

boff180 wrote:Reports in the press yesterday that the UK will be reducing its F-35 order to 69 aircraft from 138. That's a total F-35 fleet smaller than the carrying capacity of the two carriers.

It is part of an injection of funds into items such as a new Space Command in return for cuts elsewhere. Also expected is a 15% reduction in the army and mothballing of the entire fleet of Challenger II tanks.

Also announced yesterday was orders for 8 Type 26 and 5 Type 31 frigates plus research into a follow on Type 32.


Yeah, in ‘The Sun’...

I’ll wait til I hear what the RAF / RN has to say about it...
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Unread post26 Nov 2020, 12:46

Cruise Britannia [SIX page PDF of article attached below]
Dec 2020 Alan Warnes

"The Royal Navy is back, with a few VIP friends. Alan Warnes reports on the debut of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group as it gets ready for its first operational cruise in 2021....

..."You need to go back more than three decades to find the UK operating anything on this scale. The era of big deck, fast jet carrier operations is back" Royal Navy Commander Mark Sparrow, 617 Squadron..."

Embarked F-35B tail numbers
VMFA-211 Squadron

(All coded CF-)169620/00, 169621/0, 169587/02, 169588/03, 169589/04, 169607/06, 169608/07, 169610/08, 169614/09, 169414/25
617 Squadron
ZM146/012, ZM150/016, ZM151/017, ZM152/018


Source: AIR International Dec 2020 Vol 99 No 6
Attachments
F-35B Cruise Queen Air International Dec 2020 pp6.pdf
(1.41 MiB) Downloaded 105 times
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Unread post26 Nov 2020, 15:48

boff180 wrote:Reports in the press yesterday that the UK will be reducing its F-35 order to 69 aircraft from 138. That's a total F-35 fleet smaller than the carrying capacity of the two carriers.

It is part of an injection of funds into items such as a new Space Command in return for cuts elsewhere. Also expected is a 15% reduction in the army and mothballing of the entire fleet of Challenger II tanks.

Also announced yesterday was orders for 8 Type 26 and 5 Type 31 frigates plus research into a follow on Type 32.


Like most have said the data from the MoD is not saying that, this is 'spin' from newspapers.

But getting 69 F-35B, which in reality is 66 when you exclude the 3 non-combt capable test aircraft, is better than it could have been. Just the initial 48 (of which 35 are actually contracted or delivered at present) was the lower end of most peoples estimates, with c70 being ok, with 90 as great....138 was seen as a fantasy figure that avoided the MoD having to do a U-turn.
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Unread post27 Nov 2020, 20:39

SRVL into Gander just recently. Love the vortex from the lift fan.
https://youtu.be/jQr6DCV3i6E

https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/gandernl
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Unread post27 Nov 2020, 21:03

I''m not a FACElooker so I cannot see that info. Please remember that the S in SRVL stands for SHIPBORNE. So we see the F-35Bs carrying out RVLs Rolling Vertical Landings either for practice/demo or because of the runway landing conditions.
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Unread post01 Dec 2020, 04:01

Have a GANDER at this: F35B CYQX Nov30 2020 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTUJXlFh_d8

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Unread post01 Dec 2020, 15:26

UK progresses F-35B deliveries
01 Dec 2020 Gareth Jennings

"...The arrival [30 Nov 2020 RAF Marham] of aircraft ZM153, ZM154, and ZM155 brings to 21 the number of F-35Bs that the UK has received out of an order so far of 48. Of these, 18 are being flown operationally by 617 Squadron and for training by 207 Sqn Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) at RAF Marham, with three for test and evaluation purposes by 17 Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The RAF’s 617 Sqn is set to be joined by the Royal Navy’s (RN’s) 809 ‘Immortals’ Naval Air Squadron (NAS) in 2023. Despite their separate RAF and RN identities, both 617 Sqn and 809 NAS will be operated as a combined Lightning Force, with a mix of service personnel and pilots (indeed, the newly installed chief of 617 Sqn, Commander Mark Sparrow, is an RN officer)...."

Source: https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news ... deliveries
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Unread post02 Dec 2020, 19:11

Past news. What are they hiding? 8) (I'm curious about.)
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news ... 72658.html
Critics ‘would be quietened’ if they knew of fighter plane’s capabilities
UK News | Published: Oct 30, 2017
RAF Squadron Leader Andy Edgell, the UK’s lead test pilot, has been putting the F-35 Lightning II through its paces.
Critics of Britain’s new multimillion-pound stealth fighter jets would be “quietened very quickly” if they knew what they are capable of, the UK’s lead test pilot has said.
Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Andy Edgell, a self-confessed “test pilot geek”, has been putting the cutting-edge warplane with a top speed of 1,200mph through its paces.
When pressed on what he would say to the critics of the jets and those who question their price tag, the 37-year-old said he would ask them what their alternative option is.
“It would be utterly nonsensical to not purchase and design and develop the F-35 and have it as our core staple ingredient forming our air power,” he told the Press Association.
“It is an incredibly, incredibly powerful aircraft and I am not talking about thrust, the capabilities it brings to the battle space – it is incredibly powerful.
“The disappointing thing is I can’t share all the details… I do think a lot of the critics would be quietened very quickly.”

“Some people like to talk about all the problems of the F-35.
“But the F-35 is going through developmental tests, it is a developing jet, it is not developed,” Sqn Ldr Edgell added.
He said during the 2015 trials they realised the “models weren’t quite finessed” enough, and following a change to the software for this year’s testing it “worked an absolute dream”.
The former Harrier Jump Jet pilot said flying the plane is a “pleasure” and that it is “incredibly simple” with an “enormous amount of thrust”.
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Unread post02 Dec 2020, 19:13

From TopGear. Interesting things are written. 8) About the Cost of HMD/HUD. Advantages of HMD Centralized or HUD Less, etc.
https://www.topgear.com/car-news/future ... ightning#1
https://www.topgear.com.ph/features/fea ... 0627-lfrm2
What's it like to fly an F-35 Lightning?
We speak to a pilot of one of the few objects faster than a McLaren Speedtail
Stephen Dobie25 Jun 2020
If you saw TGTV series 28, you’ll have seen the 250mph McLaren Speedtail lose a race. A race against a 1,200mph F-35 fighter jet, mind you. Very little shame in that.
Keen to know more, we headed to RAF Marham - where the UK’s first fleet of F-35 Bs is based - to chat to Station Commander Jim Beck. He’s flown F-35s more than anyone else on site, racking up 900 missions since 2014, 300 in the air and 600 on the simulator.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky,” he says. “I’ve flown F-16s, Typhoons, Tornados - the whole plethora of jets. What you see here is a revolution of them. If you’re a high jumper, this has gone up by feet, not inches.”
Feel like more of a Goose than a Maverick? Click on for Jim’s idiot’s guide to flying an F-35…

1. Don't worry, there's a LOT of autopilot...
“The jet fuses all of its data together and only presents about one per cent of it to the pilot, when a human decision is required,” says Jim. “The actual ‘flying’ is the easiest bit. You don’t even think about it anymore. You ask the jet ‘can I do something’ and the jet will do it if it’s safe to do so. There isn’t a car like that out there.
“It won’t let you fly into the ground or into another jet, it’ll just say ‘No! Now you go and do your human things you need to do’. It’s just breathtaking, it really is. The controls only move for human comfort, to help us comprehend it. They’re only really there because that’s how pilots have always been trained.”

2. ... especially when you're hovering in an F-35B
“Autopilot is a little smarter in the STOVL (short take-off, vertical landing) and hover modes. We’ve got numerous hover modes but the coolest is when the engine is just holding you up, you’ve got no lift off the wings. All 40,000 pounds of thrust is keeping you in the air. You’re fully in autopilot at that point.
“We’ve actually got modes where it’ll decelerate itself alongside the Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth carrier, by analysing what speed the ship is doing. It’ll come alongside and control its deceleration automatically. Returning to a boat is now actually quite a stress-free environment. Years ago, Harrier pilots would come back dripping in sweat thinking about STOVL or hover. We don’t do that!
“Let go of the controls and it just stabilises. When you’ve finished a manoeuvre you’ve asked the jet to do, the safest thing is to just let off the controls and it’ll right itself. It’s probably the smartest autopilot in the world right now.”

3. The F-35's greatest weapon is actually data
“The dogfight exists but in a completely different domain now. If we were to go against an adversary, I’m doing it in a dogfight, but I’m not doing it in the jet’s physical domain. It takes place on the information spectrum now. And that information is shared between a pack of F-35s.
“Ideally we never want to get anywhere near our adversary. We want the battle to be done tens and tens of miles away, far enough that I won’t even get to see him through the naked eye. We’re talking ranges where our radars never used to see the opponent. I’m going to shoot you before you can even see me.”

4. But it won't be knocked out by a cyber attack
“We’ve put so much energy into making sure it’s not vulnerable to a cyber attack. At Marham I have a huge team – the cyberspace squadron – who are doing exactly that. It’s 150 people, which is bigger than a frontline squadron. That’s how seriously we take it.
“We can power the jet without its online systems if we need to. Its brain conducts a really clever thing called a VSBIT – a vehicle systems built-in test. The pilot presses a button just before he’s going to take off and the jet looks at itself and asks ‘am I fit to fly?’
“You’re watching its panels fly everywhere, it’s doing all this funky stuff, and then it comes back and says ‘VSBIT complete’. So long as that’s done, it doesn’t matter what’s happening on the outside world, the jet is good to go.”

5. Humans still decide when to drop bombs
“The human still decides whether to fire a missile or drop a bomb,” Jim assures us. “There is a morality around warfare and some ethical decisions. At the moment no machine will ever make those. That’s why we’re still in the cockpit.
“That is fundamental to the way the RAF and Royal Navy do business. But we’ve got there by getting smarter and smarter. I’m in a great position now where my uncertainty of what’s going on is negligible. With certainty I know ‘that’s the enemy, I know he’s doing a bad thing and I’ve got to make the decision to drop the bomb’.
“People think the move into fifth-generation jets is about stealth. It isn’t. It’s about information. Whoever has the most – which is of decision quality – will win the fight. It brings an ability to look at the area around the target. When you’re dropping a bomb there’s no such thing as a pure kill, but my god, we move heaven and earth to be as precise and proportioned as possible, and we’ve got weapons now where we ‘dial down’ the effects. In simple terms we reduce explosive capacity so its effects are minimised.”

6. Most displays are through the helmet
“The helmet is awesome. Everyone talks about that fact it costs £250,000, but what you don’t see when you go into the jet is a HUD (head-up display). Fitting a HUD in modern jets is so expensive, so complex, and it’s really heavy. And we don’t have that in the F-35. The helmet is arguably a tenth of the cost of a HUD. And I’m no longer constrained to seeing what’s in each bit of the cockpit, I’ve got all the displays wherever I look.
“The shell is built in Britain and it’s bespoke to the pilot, because the inaccuracies of the eyeball need filtering to the human. It’s the ultimate suit, it just fits. It’s very light, ridiculously comfortable and tuned to your eyes so your eyes aren’t fighting the display. We don’t have a problem with pilots coming here with motion sickness, they’ve had that beaten out of them at RAF Valley!
“As for the physical controls and displays, the team worked incredibly hard so it is incredibly intuitive. There are two sticks with 18 buttons each. It takes eight hours a day for eight weeks to learn it all to the point it’s natural.”

7. The simulator is more extreme than the real thing
“The worst thing we do is call it a ‘simulator’: we’re actually fighting the jet more in there than we do in real life. We can do things in a highly classified simulator that we don’t want other countries to see. So we keep those activities in highly classified sims and a lot of our actual flying is validating what we’ve been doing in a synthetic environment.
“We test the tolerances, push and do things we don’t want to do in the jet itself unless it’s a real emergency. We stress the pilots in the sim more than we do in the jet and they come out dripping in sweat, they really do. It’s then muscle memory once they get up there in the sky.”

8. The simulator is more extreme than the real thing
“The worst thing we do is call it a ‘simulator’: we’re actually fighting the jet more in there than we do in real life. We can do things in a highly classified simulator that we don’t want other countries to see. So we keep those activities in highly classified sims and a lot of our actual flying is validating what we’ve been doing in a synthetic environment.
“We test the tolerances, push and do things we don’t want to do in the jet itself unless it’s a real emergency. We stress the pilots in the sim more than we do in the jet and they come out dripping in sweat, they really do. It’s then muscle memory once they get up there in the sky.”

9. The older stuff is a weeny bit more involving, mind
“There is a romance about flying a Tornado,” says Jim. “I have to say I went back. I was commander of our test squadron over at Edwards Air Force Base in California where we were putting the F-35 through its paces, and I came back one Christmas and asked if I could go in the Tornado sim. You’re manually flying it and I gave that jet the hardest landing it’s ever had because it was really clunky.
“Let’s say I offered you the keys to a Sixties 911 or a brand new Tesla, and it’s a hot summer’s day and you can drive one to France. I bet by Dover you’d be wanting to hand the 911 keys back. There is a bit of romance about flying older planes, but we’re a professional force and it’s more about what the jet can do. That’s the difference between a ‘pilot’ and a ‘fighter pilot’. It’s pulling the wings off the jet, seeing what it can do, and pushing your body to its limits.
“I can talk about Tornados, where I’ve had wings stuck at night and our touchdown speed was about 230mph and I got out and I was buzzing. But then you get out and see pilots who’ve flown an F-35 in a Red Flag mission – 40 jets versus 40 jets, all fighting the highest-end virtual war possible in training – and they’ve ‘killed’ 20 jets and have utterly destroyed the environment. That’s the ultimate buzz nowadays.”

10. Those 'Red Flag' missions are quite something
“It’s what I call the world cup of fighter pilots. It takes place at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada - the most iconic place in the world for fighter pilots – with 200 of the world’s best sat in an auditorium. Suddenly half of them leave and you realise they’re the ‘enemy’ that you’re about to go and physically fly against in a single environment.
“There’s every type of jet there – F-15s, F-18s, B-1s, F-35s, I’ve been on there with F-22 Raptors – and as you taxi out you’re seeing hundreds of jets and they’re getting airborne every second, all in afterburner. The sun’s going down in Las Vegas, the air smells of aviation fuel and good god, if that doesn’t excite a fighter pilot, nothing will.
“Then you go up and you fight the battle. The young kids think they’ve practiced it all, then they look at the congested air space and think ‘oh my god, I’ve got to work out who’s bad and who’s good’. Over three weeks they go from literally doing 160bpm down to about 100bpm for the 90-minute exercise. They just grow.”

11. It's quite an area to fly, full stop
“The Mojave desert is just brilliant. I was lucky enough to fly all the test missions out there. You get airborne from Edwards Air Force Base, which is where Chuck Yeager flew from. It’s where the Space Shuttle did its recovery, it’s where they did the first supersonic runs… as a pilot, that’s as good as it gets. That’s the Nou Camp of airports.
“Then you’re at 15,000 feet and up into the ranges and there’s just everything flying there. What was really cool is we were known as the Black Knights, 17 Squadron, and Virgin Galactic were doing their tests so I thought ‘I’m going to do a bit of formation flying with the White Knight’, which is what they call themselves. The air space is just immense. You turn around and go supersonic over Edwards, just because you can. So they’re in their office at Edwards and the tiles are shaking and falling down because every jet goes supersonic above it.
“I like talking about the jet, it’s my second favourite subject. What’s the first? I’m a pilot…”
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Unread post02 Dec 2020, 19:15

@byMBDA have delivered the first Meteor missiles for integration on the F-35. 8) (3 x inert Environmental Data Gathering (EDG) rounds)
https://twitter.com/NavyLookout/status/ ... 8146003968
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Unread post02 Dec 2020, 19:16

Interesting articles. 8) RAF pilots are comparing Tornado and F-35's AoA.
https://www.sciencefocus.com/future-tec ... lf-almost/
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II: The fighter jet that flies itself (almost)
With Top Gun: Maverick due to hit cinemas later this year, we went behind the scenes at RAF Marham to get up close to the new F-35, the first fighter jet that does (most of) the flying for you.
By Stephen Dobie 23rd July, 2020
“Well, a Tornado is your old push-button phone with the antenna coming out, whereas the F-35 is your iPhone.”
Jim Beck is the station commander of RAF Marham in Norfolk, UK. Clearly identifying my scrambled brain, he’s breaking down into the baldest terms just what a revolution the Royal Air Force’s new F-35 Lightning II jets – which live at his base – represent.
“This jet fuses all the data it receives together and only presents about 1 per cent of it to the pilot, when a human decision is required. The actual flying of it is the easiest bit. You don’t even think about it any more.”
For those of us with wild fighter pilot daydreams fuelled by Top Gun clichés, these advances could be rather disheartening. Just as our smartphones are seldom used for actual voice calls, the F-35 will rarely find itself in a Bruckheimer-esque dogfight.

Not your traditional fighter jet
This fifth-generation fighter jet is designed to be so much more multi-faceted than all that’s gone before it, and less likely to get itself into a confrontation in the first place.
It’s more about acquiring targets than attacking them, using its super-stealthy coating to sneak undetected into enemy territory before painting a vastly detailed picture of the battlefield for a team of people who’ll fire its weapons remotely. Or a gaggle of nimble fourth-gen fighters behind it that’ll swoop in and do the dirty work.
“The human still decides whether to fire a missile or drop a bomb,” Beck assures us. “There is a morality around warfare and some ethical decisions. At the moment no machine will ever make those. That’s why we’re still in the cockpit.
“That is fundamental to the way the RAF and Royal Navy do business. But we’ve got there by getting smarter and smarter. I’m in a great position now where my uncertainty of what’s going on is negligible. With certainty, I know ‘that’s the enemy, I know he’s doing a bad thing and I’ve got to make the decision to drop the bomb’.
“People think the move into fifth-generation jets is about stealth. It isn’t. It’s about information. Whoever has the most – which is of decision quality – will win the fight,” Beck says.

How the F-35 uses data
With information the F-35’s biggest weapon, it’s something that needs sternly protecting. So Marham’s 150-strong cyber team is on the clock 24/7. All of the jet’s systems can be taken offline at any second, allowing it to function even if the cloud it usually connects to has been compromised.
The Lightning II’s intelligence stretches to predicting its own needs, so after each flight its maintenance crew will plug it into the network, where the jet will advise what – if anything – failed during the flight or needs some attention in the near future.
I’m taken on a tour of Marham and spend an hour in the classroom. This is where the maintenance crew learn their trade, on something unemotionally named the Air System Maintenance Training (ASMT) system.
In short, it’s a virtual fighter jet that you move an avatar around, with a bank of tools to drag in to help you learn every possible servicing or repair job before you’re let loose on a real-life jet. It operates a lot like virtual reality, but without the discombobulating headset.
As well as reserving any rookie errors for a mock environment, the virtual system also saves the hours it can take to laboriously remove panels to get under a real F-35’s skin. The fighter jet is so hard to get inside because the panels are often masked over so that no gaps or rivets break its sleekness.
The craft needs to be as smooth as possible so that it can evade radar and maintain its exceptionally high stealth levels. Not only is the removal of panels tricky, the resealing process once you’ve popped them back on is drawn out, too.
Next door to the ASMT room is the laboratory where students learn how to fix this ‘low observation’ surface of the craft. While this lab also has computerised processes, with its focus on fine craftsmanship it feels like more of a blast from the past.

There’s even a paper sheet on the wall to help both trainers and trainees convert from the F-35’s imperial measurements – betraying the aircraft’s US manufacturer – into the metric they most likely know.
One big question looms large, though. Is the F-35 just too clinically adept to make its pilot a hero?
“Not when you’re doing ‘doggers’, as we call them,” Beck says. “We fly a thing called angle of attack [AOA]. While a Tornado could go 19AOA, we’re going to 50AOA. We just keep going up, and the last person to stop going up will win that fight. And that’s absolutely exhilarating.
“If I tried that in a Tornado I’d be in a parachute. There is a bit of romance about flying older planes, but we’re a professional force and it’s more about what the jet can do. The dogfight takes place on the information spectrum now.

“All the controls only move for human comfort, the jet doesn’t need them to operate. They’re about making it easier for pilots to comprehend. It’s making me feel good by moving left. You ask the jet ‘can I do something’ and the jet will do it if it’s safe to do so. It won’t let you fly into the ground or into another jet, it’ll just say ‘no!’ It’s just breathtaking, it really is.”
So there’s little chance you’ll end up in the disastrous flat spin that leads to Goose’s galling demise in the original Top Gun, then.
“I like talking about the jet, it’s my second favourite subject,” concludes Beck, with a wry grin. “What’s the first? I’m a pilot…”
Maybe there’s a little bit of Maverick in him after all.
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Unread post02 Dec 2020, 19:20

Looong article. :roll: (I'll just excerpt only part I'm interested in.)
https://www.naval-technology.com/featur ... ns-add-up/
The carrier strike equation: Do the UK’s plans add up?
Harry Lye 22 September 2020
A recent National Audit Office report raises concerns about missing components in the Royal Navy’s plans for carrier strike. Harry Lye investigates the strategic decisions, partnerships and politics surrounding the programme to find out whether the UK’s carriers can achieve their full potential.
Power in numbers: why 48 F-35s are not enough
In its report, the National Audit Office (NAO) said: “The department [MOD] has not yet made funding available for enough [F-35] Lightning II jets to sustain carrier strike operations over its life. From 2015, it has intended to buy 138 Lightning II jets, which will sustain carrier strike operations to the 2060s. The department initially ordered 48 jets but has not yet committed to buying any more.”

Beyond the numbers: range, protection and cooperation
Since choosing the F-35B, questions have been asked about its effectiveness as a carrier strike aircraft, in part due to its limited range. However, as the US has shown, this can be extended through tanking and some countries around the world are looking to develop their own F-35B carrying vessels.
The range of the F-35B has also led to some concern that carriers would have to operate too far from shore to be effective due to anti-ship weapons. However, carrier protection through a variety of techniques, including layered defence in a multinational context, has always been part of the concept, and is used by many carrier operating nations.
“Aircraft carriers, like all weapons systems, have their vulnerabilities, but they are certainly not the sitting ducks that some suggest,” Childs said. “On the contrary, they have lots of assets, like their ability to move at speed and the escorts that they will have, that will make them extremely well protected.
“Obviously there are issues about the number of escorts that the Royal Navy deploys. However, against peer or near-peer opponents, the UK would be operating with allies, including allied aircraft carrier groups, and that would greatly increase both their strike potential and their protection.”
From a UK perspective, a vessel such as HMS Queen Elizabeth would operate as part of a group containing at least one Type 45 destroyer, one Type 23 anti-submarine warfare frigate (due to be replaced by the Type 26), an Astute-class attack submarine, a fleet solid support ship and a fleet tanker.

It ’s a crisis of reduction. :doh:
https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news ... e-concerns
UK parliament requests F-35 updates due to Carrier Strike concerns
13 NOVEMBER 2020 by Gareth Jennings
The UK parliament has requested that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) urgently provide it with programmatic cost updates on the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning procurement programme as part of wider concerns with a lack of funding for the Royal Navy’s (RN’s) Carrier Strike capability.
The request was made in a House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report titled ‘Delivering Carrier Strike: 23rd Report of Session 2019–2021’ that was published on 13 November. In the report, which addressed what it described as a failure by the MoD to provide the capabilities essential for the RN’s two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, the PAC outlined a series of concerns with regard to the number of F-35Bs that will be needed, as well as the United Kingdom’s ability to pay for them.
“The [MoD] acknowledges that it will need more than the 48 Lightning jets it has ordered so far to sustain Carrier Strike operations through to the 2050s and beyond. It originally intended to buy 138 aircraft, but its assumptions for using the carriers have changed since [the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) of] 2015 and it failed to give us a clear answer on how many more jets it now needs,” the committee said. The MoD regards Carrier Strike’s full operating capability as being two UK Lightning squadrons of up to 24 jets operating from either HMS Queen Elizabeth or HMS Prince of Wales , which it aims to achieve by the end of 2023.

https://www.ft.com/content/28c19e39-8b6 ... 1bae1f0710
MPs bemoan ‘debilitating lack of clarity’ on Royal Navy carriers
Report flags shortcomings in ships’ support vessels and number of F-35 aircraft
Helen Warrell in London NOVEMBER 13 2020
Britain’s £6.4bn aircraft carrier programme risks being undermined by a “debilitating lack of clarity” over the availability of support ships and the number of F-35 fighter jets Britain is planning to buy, MPs have warned.
The two aircraft carriers — flagship assets for the UK armed forces — will not be used to their full capacity unless the Ministry of Defence backs its ambitions for the programme with a “clear funded plan”, according to a report published on Friday by the House of Commons public accounts committee.
The warning comes just weeks after the chancellor Rishi Sunak decided to defer his multiyear public spending review owing to the economic ructions caused by coronavirus, in a move that prevents the MoD from planning its budget over the medium term.
The government’s defence and security review, which was expected to set out Britain’s future military objectives alongside the spending settlement, may also be delayed.

This debilitating lack of clarity threatens our national defences yet it’s not likely to be resolved when the . . . defence review and the . . . spending review look likely to be out of step with each other
Meg Hillier, committee chair

While the committee recognised that the aircraft carriers were delivered on time and within budget, it said the Crowsnest airborne radar system had been held up by “poor contractor performance and inadequate departmental oversight”.
The report also said the MoD lacked the support ships it needed to supply the carriers, which meant it cannot yet move people and goods to and from a carrier battlegroup.
“As things stand the UK has two world-class aircraft carriers with limited capability because the wider debate about the UK’s strategic defence capability — and funding — has been repeatedly delayed,” said Meg Hillier, committee chair.
“This debilitating lack of clarity threatens our national defences yet it’s not likely to be resolved when the . . . defence review and the . . . spending review look likely to be out of step with each other.”
The MoD, like all government departments, is only due to receive a one year budget allocation in Mr Sunak’s spending review, but is lobbying the Treasury for an exemption to commit long-term funding for particular programmes such as the Trident nuclear deterrent.
At the same time, it is battling a £13bn “black hole” in the MoD equipment plan which is already threatening day-to-day operational capabilities.
Tobias Ellwood, chair of the Commons defence committee, said the public accounts committee’s report demonstrated the urgent need for a clear strategy on defence and security, as intended in the government’s integrated review.
“More guidance is needed on where the MoD should be focused on and what assets it needs in order to achieve that,” he added.
One of the key questions raised by the public accounts committee was whether the UK will be able to afford enough F-35 Lightning II jets to sustain operations over the life of the aircraft carriers.

The MoD has so far ordered 48, and had originally planned to buy 138 in total, but has since refused to give a revised figure for the jets, which cost $100m each. 
The committee also criticised the MoD’s failure to oversee the delivery of its Crowsnest radar system, which leaves the carriers with less protection.
As a result, a battlegroup will have only a “credible baseline [radar] capability” when the Queen Elizabeth carrier embarks on her first deployment next year.
MPs raised further concerns that the Royal Navy was relying on one “elderly” ship, RFA Fort Victoria, to provide munitions and stores to the carriers as opposed to the three new support vessels which were planned and subsequently cancelled.
Justin Bronk, a combat air power expert at the Royal United Services Institute, said the government’s failure to fund “credible” warfighting capabilities risked putting the carriers in “a difficult middle ground . . . expensive and inefficient against low-end military opposition but at high risk against forces with modern anti-ship missile and submarine capabilities”.
A defence ministry spokesperson said the carrier and aircraft programme was a “complex challenge, which relies on a mix of capabilities and platforms”. 
“We remain committed to investing in this capability,” added the spokesperson.
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Unread post02 Dec 2020, 19:24

Crisis of reduction... :doh: But...

The fate of the F-35B number bets on Boris! :crazypilot:
https://news.usni.org/2020/11/19/u-k-pr ... y-build-up
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson Pledges $32B Military Build-Up
By: Philip Ewing November 19, 2020
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday committed the British government to an expansion of defense spending that confirms London’s ambitions about improving the Royal Navy through the middle of the century.
The pledge of about £24.1 billion — or just under $32 billion — supports Johnson’s vision of what he calls a freer and more independent “global Britain” following the United Kingdom’s protracted divorce from the European Union via Brexit.
“Reviving our armed forces is one pillar of the government’s ambition to safeguard Britain’s interests and values by strengthening our global influence, and reinforcing our ability to join the United States and our other allies to defend free and open societies,” Johnson told ministers in the House of Commons.
The defense review that prompted the expansion of spending is still technically underway, but Downing Street said the government already was satisfied about the need to affirm that programs are on track, including, within the realm of shipbuilding:
    eight Type 26 frigates;
    five Type 31 frigates;
    new supply ships for the Royal Navy’s two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers;
    and a “next generation of warships,” Johnson said, including “multi-role research vessels” and a Type 32 class of frigate.
    The expansion in funding also will underwrite other programs and reforms within the British Ministry of Defence, including new integration in its cyber operations, new capabilities to deploy drone swarms and others, the Tory government said.
Ruling the waves
The Tories’ new vision for expanded British forces will extend the U.K.’s lead as the biggest spender on defense in NATO behind the United States and give London command of the most powerful naval force in Europe.
Johnson’s remarks also answer a recurring question about British naval modernization in the 21st century: How committed to it would London remain?
The Royal Navy’s force of two aircraft carriers cost more and took more time than once hoped, and they depend upon the most expensive tactical aircraft in the world today: the F-35B Lightning II. Those costs don’t cover the escorts needed to screen a carrier against hostile submarines or defend it from air attack, nor the auxiliary supply vessels needed to feed, refuel and rearm a strike group while it’s operating.
Johnson’s statement and promise of additional funding put the government’s stamp on a vision for the Royal Navy that includes these essential supporting vessels and capabilities. The concepts for the programs, especially the new frigates, have been under discussion for years, but the Tories’ declaration of support appears to increase the odds they’ll actually be built.
London also likely hopes its moves will buy credibility in the United States.
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