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4thwatch

The P1127 first flew 1961. Its direct successor, the Sea Harrier first engaged in combat 1982. Naval aircraft derivatives take time to come to fruition.

Trailblazer

The 1127 was designed to prove the concept of VTOL, it was never prototype of a production aircraft.
The P1154 which never passed the design stage was to be the production VTOL aircraft of it’s age.
The F35 was designed to be a production aircraft from the get go a very different concept from the P1127 in other words the comparison has no resemblance.
By the time, if ever, the F35 becomes operational some twenty years will have passed and with it twenty years of progressive technology.
In other words the F35 will be obsolete before it becomes operational.
The sad thing about many modern weapons systems is that the production costs include a huge amount of promotional advertising trying to promote weapons , that if used, would destroy humanity as we know it.
Yes we need to ‘defend’ ourselves but outdated aircraft carriers and first strike aircraft such s the F35 will do nothing to help.

Todor

How expensive would replacing the current ramp on the QEC Carriers with Cats and Traps be?
Also, are F-35Bs able to be directly converted into the C variant or would one have to purchase a whole new batch?

Business Cat

The web has many varying estimates, anything from £400m to up to £2bn (just for the Prince of Wales).

There is a lot differing between the B’s & C’s…. different wing, different engine, differeing landing gear, different sized weapons bay & fuel tanks….. .

If one was of a mind do, just buying new ‘C’s would probably be best.

Random

Not only is it a case of different wing, engine etc, it’s also a case of a completely different body.comment image
The F-35C is longer and wider than a B, so it’s not even like you can strip out the internals of a B and replace them with a C’s internals.

Michael Lewis

It would be all but impossible to refit QE with cats and traps now. She is basically finished, except her interior fitting out.
The PW could probably be converted, but it would require a complete redisign, and would be considered a new class of ship. The cost would be prohibitive. This means of course, that the RN is committed to the F-35 B.

Tony Rosier

Sad to say that is the issue, the F35 and the new carrier’s are linked at the hip. If F35 fails those carrier’s are gonna be scrapped and its gonna be anot her nail in the Navy’s coffin. If they had been built with cats and traps at least their would be other options.

UKExpat

Regretfully, as of Feb 2018, the USN’s new tech. Cats & Taps, as installed on their Ford class carrier, has still to be finally signed of as fit for purpose. Their ” CONCURRENCY” Programming disaster still has a nasty sting in it’s tail.

Business Cat

It is the right choice but will be constrained by its more limited range.

Lightnings cannot ‘buddy-refuel’….. The UK should consider purchasing some V-22 Ospreys to perform tanker duties.

(Or perhaps the MOD are hedging that these vessels will be primarily a strike platform used in conjunction with the US so they can bring along their Ospreys?)

Lord Curzon

Ospreys are pretty high up the RN procurement wish-list. We will get some in the 2020s I am confident; even though they are expensive they have only been in service since 2008 and are really useful.

Ryan Morrison

They should use the V22 not only for refuel but potentially as AEW – the crowsnest whilst being an adequate AEW has severe range and height limitations

Don

To reach its full potential inflight refuelling is a must and a real force multiplier . Hopefully the RN can somehow rustle up a few Ospreys for this .

Some of their presentations have Ospreys included so they must be subtlety or not so subtlety pushing their case for them.

Bloke down the pub

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the USN could be persuaded to replace the F35c with a combination of F35bs and F18s. The B’s limited range would obviously be an issue, but they already have re-fueling capability which they are looking to improve with the introduction of UAVs for the purpose.

Grubbie

One of the worst things that can in foreign policy is having a capital ship sunk,especially if you have only effectively got one.

4thwatch

I think the QE Class could still be equipped with the Traps part of the equation. The logic behind this you see in the Indian, Chinese and Russian carriers. Fitting Cats was always going to be a lot more problematic.
In the case of the RN it would allow that huge flight deck to receive carrier aircraft from USN and French navy in extremis and also future RN naval drones of varying types.
In the not so distant future it is reasonable to assume swarms of drones may accompany F35’s on various missions; hence the requirement for operating these aircraft. (They may need less powerful or no Cats due to light weight.)
I agree that the F35b’s is the only and best option and since like the Harrier it can operate from numerous suitably equipped naval ships or shore locations it has a special place for a medium sized power like the UK.

Tony Rosier

I agree with most of what you say and I know people are gonna say my god but it surely makes sense to build a 3rd carrier a new class fitted with cats and traps. It’s always been true that 2 ships of any class is not enough as it doesn’t allow for maintenance and losses. In the event of nessesity then the carrier’s could then operate in fleet pairs with the cat and trap operating ship providing refueling and Away cover etc. I know lots of armchair sailor’s have a opinion but that’s because we have the Navy in our heart and we want the best Navy in the world even if we can’t afford the biggest. I just feel it’s better to spend the extra for another carrier and have something that we can rely on rather than waste everything and have half a Navy.

Scythl

I think a lot of people would wholeheartedly agree with you, however, unfortunately there isn’t the money – and i don’t mean there is the money but they don’t want to spend it, I mean there literally isn’t the money for it at all. I think significantly more should be spent on the Navy but I just have no Idea where we would get/take that money from.

Chaffers

Unfortunately the article falls into the trap of labelling any critic of the program as a hater or ignoramus, which puzzles me.

Why would someone hate an aircraft? All are defined by performance and cost, it isn’t irrational to expect a fantastically expensive aircraft to have excellent performance however both in program and aircraft terms the F-35 does fall short. Also a RAND study recently fairly categorically stated that designing individual aircraft would have been cheaper than the one F-35 to fulfill multiple roles. Hence I’m not sure what the source for $3 trillion is.

LM doesn’t help itself with it’s publicity. Sensor fusion and the information quarterback might be good PR, except that the latest report shows they don’t work. Along with many other trumpeted technologies such as EOTS which it appears is sub par compared to legacy targeting pods.

I’d also question whether it is going to be a supersonic capable aircraft, or rather whether it will ever be able to carry Amraams at even transonic speeds as the vibration within the weapons bays is extreme enough to damage them above 550 knots. This would likely need a redesign to correct. Also the transonic performance is likely to be limited as currently airframes often exceed their G limits in unpredictable ways.

The F-35B in particular is already overweight with more weight needing to be added which does raise questions about it’s bringback capability. Particularly in bad weather or once the engines have lost a few horses.

Some of the problems are correctable, some likely are not. As the report in the house of commons library noted we don’t know the final price or capability of the F-35. The latest testing report though does make grim reading. A mission ready rate of 21% ( and has been as low as 14% for the F-35B) is unacceptable, the report even goes as far as to almost explicitly state that it will fail operational test and evaluation and that at least 14 contractual performance characteristics will not be met.

For an aircraft that first flew over a decade ago and with 200 examples flying this doesn’t breed confidence. It is also considered red, or unacceptable, in all of it’s mission roles currently, some of these deficiencies are not due to software glitches or relatively easily correctable fixes.

It certainly polarises opinion, personally I could argue both sides and often do though I’m not convinced that a one eyed acceptance of sales brochures and LM PR really helps matters. All weapons systems should be dispassionately analysed for cost and capability.

With BAEs involvement and the design of the QEs there is no other choice but that shouldn’t blind us to the aircraft’s shortcomings.

Tony Rosier

What are we gonna do with these carrier’s if F35 is cancelled by Trump ? Will they be scrapped or just turned into giant commando carrier’s?

Michael Lewis

The F-35 B is not going away. The USMC already has thier first squadron forward deployed in Japan. More squadrons are starting the transition right now. The RN is training with the USN , and have been for quite a while. Fear not the B model is going nowhere.

Scythl

It wont happen, but theoretically if it did, people talk about scrapping them like its something worth considering…. I really don’t understand this, we really need aircraft carriers, they would convert them to CATOBAR or the EM version and use a different aircraft type (possible the F18 super hornets). While this would be expensive and time consuming, it would be faaaaaar cheaper and quicker than building new aircraft carriers for absolutely no reason.

johnf

Considering that even the USA is re considering the building of the VSTOL F35 due to huge extra complexity and cost where does that leave the RN?
What a bloody farce!

David Stephen

For all its problems the F-35 (even the B), will not be canceled. The USMC has its entire aviation future tied up in the programe. If they dont get the B, they would again be reliant apon the USAF to provide almost all their air support. They will eat their own feet before they let that happen again. Also retrofitting cats & traps to the America class would be hugley expensive, eating almost any savings the marine core could gain from canceling the B. They only have a few squadrons of Hornets which fly from carriers so they need a STOVL replacment for the Harrier and the B is the only game in town. It does have some big issues to overcome but by the time CVF is deploying most or even all of these should be corrected. When we get the bugger to work properly , it will be a game changer. The danger as far as I can see, to the UK at least is will we actually send our aircraft back to have all the upgrades required due to concurent development fitted or decide its to costly and end up with aircraft that are lacking critical capabilities and software upgrades.

Tony Rosier

I can see that in the end someone is going to cancel the whole thing sadly too many eggs have been put in one basket and the basket is about to be dropped.

Cal

It’s the only choice because the Royal Navy made design decisions for the Queen Elizabeth class FORCING it to be the only choice. Excluding cats and traps from the design in a myopic attempt to reduce short-term costs at the expense of long-term capability has locked in the F-35B is as the only fighter they’re CAPABLE of fielding.

UKExpat

Surely one of the main advantages of the F35B to the RN carriers, not mentioned, was it’s ability to carry out both Short take offs and Rolling Landings i.e. STVRL with VSTOL being virtually relogated to stand by status. This being one of the main reasons that the QE flight decks are so large (4 acreas) so as enable/facilitate air wing strike missions with fast sortie rates. In other words both the F35B and the QE class carriers were actually designed and built for each other from the start.