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Old 08-01-2010, 12:00 PM   #1
eddie
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Default UK considers F/A-18F for RN instead of F-35B

Just about to go out, but this caught my eye, so here you are:



From the Sunday Times.

Edit: Updated with full article.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunday Times

THE Royal Navy is set to save £10bn from the defence budget by dropping plans to buy the most expensive fighter aircraft ever built to fly off its new aircraft carriers.

It is set to swap the £13.8bn Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) project for an improved stealthier version of the Boeing F/A18 Super Hornet which currently flies off US Navy carriers.

The potential move was discussed at a meeting between Liam Fox and defence chiefs last weekend to discuss cuts to be made in the ongoing Strategic Defence and Security Review.

“JSF is an unbelievably expensive programme,” a senior defence source said. “It makes no sense at all in the current climate and even if we continued with it, we cannot afford the aircraft we said we would buy.”

The Joint Strike Fighter, produced by Boeing’s main US rival Lockheed Martin, would have been the most expensive single project in the defence budget with costs already put at £13.8bn and rising.

The 138 aircraft Britain planned to buy to replace the Harrier jump jets flown by the RAF and Royal Navy were originally supposed to cost a total of £7bn.

But they are currently expected to cost £100m each, making them effectively unaffordable given the dire state of both the defence budget and the nation’s finances.

The JSF programme was originally designed to be enough for both new aircraft carriers and four RAF squadrons.

Buying the more stealthy Super Hornet – known as the Silent Hornet - and cutting numbers to no more than 50 so there are only enough aircraft to fly off the carriers, will cut costs to less than £4bn.

That would save £2bn in development costs over the next parliament and a total of around £10bn over the next ten years.

The £10bn saving would be enough on its own to remove a substantial portion of the long-term cash shortages in the defence budget.

The MoD has already received confirmation from Boeing that it could make the improvements to the Super Hornet that the navy needs to produce the Silent Hornet.

The Silent Hornet will have a new internal weapons bay to reduce the radar signature of the aircraft and improved fuel tanks that would give it a longer range than JSF.

The aircraft is already able to carry more bombs and missiles than JSF and could be produced in time for the first of the two new aircraft carriers which is due to come into service in 2015.

The JSF programme has been beset by difficulties, with Lockheed announcing further delays last week and the British aircraft not expected to be delivered in time for the first carrier in 2015.

Switching to the Silent Hornet would reverse 30 years of flying short take-off and vertical landing aircraft from the Royal Navy’s carriers.

The version of JSF Britain planned to buy is a short take-off and vertical landing aircraft like the Harrier it was to replace. But the Silent Hornet is a conventional take-off and landing aircraft.

The new aircraft carriers are being built to take either type of aircraft, so while it will require the fitting of catapults and arrester hooks, it is not a major problem or cost to switch from one to the other.

A number of Royal Navy pilots are already trained to fly the Super Hornet off carriers having spent time on exchange with the US Navy.

The move will be bad news for the RAF, which offered to axe its entire fleet of Tornado aircraft in the hope that this would mean it would continue to get the JSF.

Now it is set to lose both its Tornados and its Harriers and not get the JSF, leaving it with a single attack aircraft, the Eurofighter, now known as the Typhoon.

This would in itself provide significant cost savings in that a single attack aircraft fleet is much cheaper to maintain and run than a number of different aircraft.

The JSF programme has been beset with difficulties. Britain initially joined it as a development partner and has already put £2bn into the programme.

This was originally expected to cost £7bn with a further £7bn for maintenance and upgrading during the life of the aircraft.

But Congress has reneged on repeated promises by US President George W Bush that Britain would receive full details of the technology on the aircraft.

This will mean that some elements of the aircraft can only be maintained by US technicians increasing costs still further.

The MoD refused to comment on any changes planned as part of the defence review but reiterated that Fox “has made clear that tough decisions will need to be made”.
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Last edited by eddie; 08-03-2010 at 12:03 PM..
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Old 08-01-2010, 12:11 PM   #2
Masaq
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Default Re: UK considers F/A-18F for RN instead of F-35B

Well, they'd be able to buy two complete air wings instead of going with one and using a full-sized carrier as a frakking helipad...


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Old 08-01-2010, 12:14 PM   #3
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Default Re: UK considers F/A-18F for RN instead of F-35B

^ HMS ocean does a good job in that role...and I suspect helicopters are more usefull in the more common scenarios that a carrier is involved in atm, dropping off troops, relief anti piracy etc.

wouldnt it be cheaper to just go with the harrier atm?


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Old 08-01-2010, 12:24 PM   #4
Element66

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Default Re: UK considers F/A-18F for RN instead of F-35B

Quote:
Originally Posted by eddie View Post
Just about to go out, but this caught my eye, so here you are:


From the Sunday Times.
hasn't this been considered for months now? Besides, if they do go for the f18, i assume they are going to use the EMALS (edit: EMCAT) for a catapult, thus why not consider the C version of the f35, or even the Rafale. Plus using Rafales, it would make it easier to blag the French into buying a QE carrier for themselves...

/wild speculation

various sauces
Converteam develops catapult launch system for UK carriers


EDIT: on the bright side as well as save a shed load of money, it means the carriers can use a early warning aircraft such as the hawkeye rather than something like a modified merlin or Osprey

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Last edited by Element66; 08-01-2010 at 12:35 PM..
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Old 08-01-2010, 01:57 PM   #5
CastleBravo
Default Re: UK considers F/A-18F for RN instead of F-35B

If this means the difference between them operating a ski jump on steroids CV or a real full-size CATOBAR carrier I think its a good decision. I'm curious how they plan on saving 10 billion pounds by not buying the superbugs instead though. Thats a savings of 72m per plane assuming they replace the full 138 JSFs with hornets.

I guess this proposal is part of the fallout from this? Looks like the MOD is taking the "nuclear option" to try and get them to back off on the trident sub funding
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Last edited by CastleBravo; 08-01-2010 at 02:34 PM..
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Old 08-01-2010, 02:40 PM   #6
[R-DEV]Rhino
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Default Re: UK considers F/A-18F for RN instead of F-35B

I dont see it happening. It is more likley that we will keep the Harrier GR9 and possibly upgrade it than get F/A-18Fs...

In order to to do this the design would need to be drastically changed, main new requirement would be a catapult in the aircraft carrier's design and since the carriers are not nuclear powered they dont have a steam boiler so a steam boiler would have to be fitted at grate expense of changing the design in the very late phase, may even need to remake many of the components already crated and it will take a massive amount of fuel/electricity to keep this steam boiler going drastically decreasing the effeminacy of the carriers. The only real option these carriers have of being fitted with catapults if if the Americans pull off there electromagnetic catapult which we dont know how long that's going to take to develop... Still the carrier will need to be refitted to accommodate it but it wouldn't have such a large impact on the design of the carrier and could work, if it existed... Also if we get the F/A-18 we will need to replace them all in under 20 years with a new type of jet as there air frames will just go to shit being launched off a catapult the entire time. Just thing how many aircraft the US Navy has been though in the past 40 years and then think how many aircraft the Royal Navy has been though in the last 40 years. That's right, the RN has only had the Harrier, upgraded in many different versions and the US Navy has had the F-14 and the F-18 and you could possibly also count the F-4 as well, which they have been needed to be replaced since there air frames suffer huge stresses from the catapults which lowers there life span by a huge amount. Its like buying one of thous "Value light bulbs" from the supermarket, sure its £5 cheaper than a normal light bulb but its going to brake after a few days of being plugged in where a normal, more expensive light bulb is going to last much longer and in the end, is going to be better value.

I believe this is more just one of thous many considerations that happens but I very much doubt it will pass, I belive if anything what will happen is we will just buy a much lower amount of F-35bs to start off with, with also keeping a bunch of Harrier GR9s on and then buy some more up later when we have the money and the Harriers are getting too old.

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Last edited by [R-DEV]Rhino; 08-01-2010 at 02:47 PM..
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Old 08-01-2010, 03:43 PM   #7
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Default Re: UK considers F/A-18F for RN instead of F-35B

Agree with Rhino, we will see one carrier with F35's and one with GR9's to start with. The design of the new carriers would have to radically change to use the F18's

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Old 08-01-2010, 04:29 PM   #8
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Default Re: UK considers F/A-18F for RN instead of F-35B

if UK drop the F35... then Canadian Gov' will have trouble trying to make it accepted by the people... lol

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Old 08-01-2010, 04:41 PM   #9
CastleBravo
Default Re: UK considers F/A-18F for RN instead of F-35B

The UK was getting the F-35B, Canada is buying the F-35A.
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Old 08-01-2010, 04:56 PM   #10
[R-DEV]Rhino
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Default Re: UK considers F/A-18F for RN instead of F-35B

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Originally Posted by CastleBravo View Post
The UK was getting the F-35B, Canada is buying the F-35A.
Still wont help since they share very common parts etc and it will probably also bump up the price on all the variants if we dont buy them.

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