UK MOD in a muddle over F-35C

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delvo

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Unread post31 May 2012, 00:05

Every time I see another "decision reversed" article, I think at first that they've gone back to C (at least for one carrier if not for the other). And it keeps turning out that they're still re-reporting the same old story.

When they switched from C to B, did they not consider other types of airplane that having a catapult-equipped ship would have allowed them to use? I don't see it mentioned.
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Unread post31 May 2012, 00:09

'delvo' the reason for CVF to NOT use EMALS and AAG equipment is that it was discovered that the COST to convert even one CVF was too great. The decision to use a version of the F-35 has been decided for some time. If no cat/traps on CVF - then only one option: F-35B.

The previous late 2010 decision to change from F-35B to F-35C was made on a 'wing and a prayer' with no real idea of the cost to convert CVF. Please read the thread for all those details. Once the cost was known then decision reversed. MUDDLE is a good word to describe the whole fiasco so far. On the bright side there is no doubt about the F-35B now - on perhaps TWO CVFs - which is a good thing. And the RN FAA can get on with their simulation and actual testing of the F-35B at NAS Patuxent River and Wharton UK etc for the actual time of testing on CVF at some future point. Three LRIP RN F-35Bs will be used.
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Unread post31 May 2012, 00:38

A LibDem Politician in UK Guvmnt explains: [Nick Harvey: "After the 2010 general election, as part of the Liberal Democrat - Conservative coalition, he was made Minister for the Armed Forces." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Harvey ]

Nick Harvey MP writes on Carrier strike capability By Nick Harvey MP | 30th May 2012

http://www.libdemvoice.org/nick-harvey- ... 28760.html

"Earlier this month the Defence Secretary announced that the MoD’s budget was in balance, for the first time in a generation. A number of tough but necessary decisions meant that the £38bn black hole inherited from the last Labour government had finally been eliminated – a major part of which was the decision to deliver Carrier Strike capability using a different type of Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) jet because of unacceptable cost growth and project delays. In particular, the Government has decided to change the type of jet which will fly off the Navy’s two new aircraft carriers – from the Carrier Variant (CV) JSF to the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant.

As we set out in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, Carrier Strike will be a key capability our Armed Forces must maintain, but the equipment plan we inherited was deeply unsustainable. At the time of the SDSR, the idea was that one of the two new carriers would be converted with catapults and arrester gear (‘cats and traps’) so it could operate the carrier variant of the JSF. A decision on the future use or disposal of the second carrier would be taken at the next SDSR in 2015. This was then followed by a detailed programme of work to look at the costs, risks and technical feasibility of this proposal.

It rapidly became clear that a number of the underlying facts on which the SDSR’s decision was based were changing. Firstly, it emerged that the Carrier Strike capability using ‘cats and traps’ would not be delivered until 2023 at the earliest – three years later than the original envisaged date of around 2020. Partly as a result of the delayed timetable, the estimated cost of fitting this equipment to the HMS Prince of Wales carrier had more than doubled within the past 17 months, rising from £950 million to £2 billion. Additionally, at the time of the last SDSR, consideration of the STOVL variant was ruled out on account of the fact that there was judged to be a very significant technical risk around it. However in the last year there have been vast improvements to the ‘risk profile’ of the aircraft, and US Marine Corps flight trials have now taken place...."
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Unread post31 May 2012, 02:55

If the UK reversed their decision one more time, this time keeping HMS Illustrious and HMS Ocean both in service and taking money saved from not launching either the PoW or the QE, would they lose all that much capability? This would require them to make the F-35B work on the shorter deck of the HMS Illustrious. Seems like they are sticking all their eggs in one basket, going for the CVF, and risk far bigger strategic issues. They would have been better served IMHO going for dispersed capability using smaller vessels rather than opting for a small fleet of perhaps one big capital ship and a few escorts.
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Unread post31 May 2012, 03:14

madrat wrote:If the UK reversed their decision one more time, this time keeping HMS Illustrious and HMS Ocean both in service and taking money saved from not launching either the PoW or the QE, would they lose all that much capability? This would require them to make the F-35B work on the shorter deck of the HMS Illustrious. Seems like they are sticking all their eggs in one basket, going for the CVF, and risk far bigger strategic issues. They would have been better served IMHO going for dispersed capability using smaller vessels rather than opting for a small fleet of perhaps one big capital ship and a few escorts.


My understanding is that the PoW and QE contracts are so ironclad that it would actually cost more to cancel them, a prudent precaution on the vendor's part given the UK's fickleness in matters of defense spending. As for the previous class of carriers, I don't know if they could even handle the F-35 (Harriers are quite small by comparison).

That said, I think the UK bit off more than it could chew with these supercarriers. It would have been a better idea for them to build 2-3 Cavour-sized ships instead, but times were better when that decision was made.
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Unread post31 May 2012, 03:41

The UK have puzzled over these CVFs now for many years. When the TWO CVFs built for F-35Bs were started, already there had been government intervention causing delay and extra expense. Having sold off the Harriers: what to put on the two small flat decks indicated by 'madrat' - just helos? At least now the plan is back on track as envisaged for most of the time in this prolonged struggle. At the same time the size of these CVFs was thought through to allow maximum use of aircraft on deck for sortie generation. 'Going small' in deck/ship size is a backward step in that regard. Having a large deck allows SRVL (and other innovations to come) in regard to deck ops. At least now the RN/RAF can get on with figuring this out again (after a brief pause in comparison to the otherwise long gestation time for these CVFs).
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Unread post31 May 2012, 12:43

madrat wrote:If the UK reversed their decision one more time, this time keeping HMS Illustrious and HMS Ocean both in service and taking money saved from not launching either the PoW or the QE, would they lose all that much capability? This would require them to make the F-35B work on the shorter deck of the HMS Illustrious. Seems like they are sticking all their eggs in one basket, going for the CVF, and risk far bigger strategic issues. They would have been better served IMHO going for dispersed capability using smaller vessels rather than opting for a small fleet of perhaps one big capital ship and a few escorts.


The RN did a series of studies around the matter, and debated going for three 40Kt sized ships vs two larger and they went for the current config after crunching the numbers. Working F35B off the deck of a 22Kt CVS would be a nightmare - I'm not even sure the deck lifts are sized for the B model but even if they were, it'd be very very hard to recover, spot and service the aircraft as they're much larger than Harrier.

You'd need more crew for three carriers anyway and you'd have greater through life costs maintaining three ships.

Having two modern carriers on tap with decent deck space and an automated munitions handling system will be a big step forward for the RN.

Once they're in the water, the twists and turns it took to get here will be irrelevant.
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Unread post02 Jun 2012, 02:05

Perhaps we will see some SKI JUMPing soon?

Photo Release: 200th flight for the first F-35B Jun 1, 2012

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fu ... ry&id=5014

"NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – U.S. Marine Corps test pilot Lt. Col. Fred Schenk flies a mission May 10 in F-35B Joint Strike Fighter test aircraft BF-1. The mission expanded the aircraft’s flight envelope in short takeoff and vertical landing mode, and was the 200th flight for the aircraft. The F-35B is the variant of the Joint Strike Fighter for the U.S. Marine Corps, capable of short take-offs and vertical landings for use on amphibious ships or expeditionary airfields to provide air power to the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. The F-35B is undergoing test and evaluation at NAS Patuxent River prior to delivery to the fleet. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)"

BIG PIC: http://www.navair.navy.mil/img/uploads/ ... 59_001.jpg
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Unread post02 Jun 2012, 04:34

My gut instinct says that the F-35B, having much granular controls and support suite, could manage just fine on a deck like the HMS Illustrious if it was modified to use them. Let's forget the CVS, though, and ponder why a pair of 40kT carriers wasn't acceptable. Why supercarriers if they could hardly afford their past fleet of two active CVS ships? Now, instead of two task forces supported by CVS they had to pare down to one which will have to make do without any CVF most of the time. Stupid strategic decisions.
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Unread post02 Jun 2012, 05:15

Hmmm, still early days however it is likely that the TWO CVFs with F-35B capability will remain in service - rather than one being mothballed. Decision to be made in 2015 I think? As mentioned the gestation period for the 2 CVFs has been over a long period of time; where as 'stobiewan' has mentioned already the 40K ton option was ruled out. The BEEDALL website has an humungous history of the twists and turns of this very muddled but getting clearer perhaps CVF UK project.

http://navy-matters.beedall.com/cvfmain.htm
&
CVF Deck Layouts http://navy-matters.beedall.com/cvf5.htm

"...The following "official" flight deck layout is for the BAE Systems CTOL design, it dates to late 2002 and is probably their final design prior to the down-select...."

http://navy-matters.beedall.com/cvfimag ... k2-med.jpg
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Unread post02 Jun 2012, 05:25

madrat wrote:My gut instinct says that the F-35B, having much granular controls and support suite, could manage just fine on a deck like the HMS Illustrious if it was modified to use them. Let's forget the CVS, though, and ponder why a pair of 40kT carriers wasn't acceptable. Why supercarriers if they could hardly afford their past fleet of two active CVS ships? Now, instead of two task forces supported by CVS they had to pare down to one which will have to make do without any CVF most of the time. Stupid strategic decisions.


Like I said earlier, that decision was made in better times, but Spaz is also right; you actually get more TACAIR bang for your buck with the lager ships.

That said, I think the MoD should have been more realistic about what they could actually handle. In that light, choosing the more operationally-efficient supercarriers was probably not the best decision.

There's no reason to worry too much though. Having gone back to the F-35B, the MoD no longer has to worry about having a 60,000 ton white elephant on its hands, and the extra investment in the larger hulls may pay off later in terms of operational safety an tempo. What the RN needs to do now is work out how it's going to integrate these ships into the fleet without having to keep one in mothballs, or God forbid, selling one off.
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Unread post02 Jun 2012, 12:17

1st503rdsgt wrote:
madrat wrote:My gut instinct says that the F-35B, having much granular controls and support suite, could manage just fine on a deck like the HMS Illustrious if it was modified to use them. Let's forget the CVS, though, and ponder why a pair of 40kT carriers wasn't acceptable. Why supercarriers if they could hardly afford their past fleet of two active CVS ships? Now, instead of two task forces supported by CVS they had to pare down to one which will have to make do without any CVF most of the time. Stupid strategic decisions.


Like I said earlier, that decision was made in better times, but Spaz is also right; you actually get more TACAIR bang for your buck with the lager ships.

That said, I think the MoD should have been more realistic about what they could actually handle. In that light, choosing the more operationally-efficient supercarriers was probably not the best decision.

There's no reason to worry too much though. Having gone back to the F-35B, the MoD no longer has to worry about having a 60,000 ton white elephant on its hands, and the extra investment in the larger hulls may pay off later in terms of operational safety an tempo. What the RN needs to do now is work out how it's going to integrate these ships into the fleet without having to keep one in mothballs, or God forbid, selling one off.


Yep - I wanted CATOBAR but switching to STOVL gets us the strong possibility of getting both carriers into operation, not simultaneously but certainly at a combined rate of availability approaching 100%. Assuming we ditch Ocean at some point, that's 200 crew available potentially to add to the pool of crew.

I dunno - I'm bummed about the twists and turns and the extra expense but no matter which way you stack it, going STOVL does get us a large, capable carrier on tap with the ability to easily surge up to 36 aircraft, carqals suddenly become a piece of piss to do compared to persuading the RAF to release pilots for all that scary three wire routine.

It has been an unmitigated feckup from start to present day but hey, that's traditional for a UK carrier program - it's like some sort of national characteristic, like our constantly under performing football team ;)
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Unread post02 Jun 2012, 15:18

madrat wrote:My gut instinct says that the F-35B, having much granular controls and support suite, could manage just fine on a deck like the HMS Illustrious if it was modified to use them. Let's forget the CVS, though, and ponder why a pair of 40kT carriers wasn't acceptable. Why supercarriers if they could hardly afford their past fleet of two active CVS ships? Now, instead of two task forces supported by CVS they had to pare down to one which will have to make do without any CVF most of the time. Stupid strategic decisions.


They went larger because the french were having a sub-optimal deck handling experience with CdeG and they wanted a larger ship. Plus, under Blair you didn't see the near complete dismantling of the British armed forces you have under Brown and Cameron coming.
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Unread post02 Jun 2012, 15:24

Your just making stuff up.
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Unread post02 Jun 2012, 18:50

spazsinbad wrote:Your just making stuff up.


Well, the comment on deck handling on CdG rings true - it's a cramped deck for aircraft the size they're shoving around. And no, I don't think anyone saw the scale of cuts coming that have bitten hard.

Let's not forget, that whole recession thing caught most folk by surprise.
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