abc123 wrote:About Spear 3, are they integrated on F-35B? Because they are on that picture, in front of the F-35B. Same thing with Meteor, not integrated, because they will use AIM-120D.
Not yet. They will be in block 4. But...until then UK F-35B will only be external cannon (EDIT - As per Gabi none have been procured yet, looks like they will be left until Block 4 if at all..
), legacy Asraam (NOT Asraam CSP), Amraam C-5 and D and Paveway IV.
I can't find out if the Amraam D purchase is in place of the Amraam C-5 re-life which needs to happen if they are to stay in service past 2020ish. If it is....then we have issues as it means we have a grand total of 120 medium/long range missiles across our entire fast jet fleet (plus whatever Meteor are built in the next few years, but they're only for T3 Typhoon, 260 have been mentioned as the total)....Personally, I'd re-life the C-5's and buy the D's and minimise the Meteor buy for the next few years. Why? Leave the C-5's with Tranche 1 & 2 Typhoons, Meteor to Tranche 3 Typhoon and all of the Amraam D to F-35B. Ramp the buy of Meteor up when the GaN AESA seeker from the JNAAM collaboration is ready (which could tie in with F-35B integration) then go all in on Meteor, moving the Amraam D over to the Tranche 2 Typhoons, whilst the C-5's retire with Tranche 1 Typhoon.
In reality UK F-35B won't be 'fully' operational until c2025/26 (which is also the timescale for full CEPP) when it has Meteor, Asraam CSP and SPEAR integrated and deployed and possibly the gun pod (in addition to PWIV and Amraam D). The air to air weapons for Typhoon at present are the best in the world (Typhoon T3 right now) or will be for F-35B when integration and deployment takes place. But our air to ground munitions are lacking, particularly in variety. At present the RAF will field Brimstone 2, SPEAR, Storm Shadow, EPWIII and Paveway IV (admittedly in a couple of models inc. penetrator and hopefully moving target with Brimstone seeker, although that one has gone quiet...) and thats it, and not all available from all platforms. Which when you have only 2 fast jet types is ludicrous. We're clearly missing some capabilities, off the top of my head...with suggestions..
- A glide kit for Paveway IV to extend range - MBDA does the Diamondback wing kit which could be adapted, we also need to adapt this to allow Stingray carriage and operation from P-8.
- A cheap small GPS guided glide bomb a la JDAM/SDB1 - MBDA is developing the SmartGlider family. These are essentially SBD1 competitors, with the same shape as SPEAR. SmartGlider Light fits the bill. Integration should be easy as a result with F-35B and Typhoon. Smaller warheads than PWIV, a lot cheaper than SPEAR. Same launcher and footprint though.
- Cheap, Heavier than 500lb munition - With the retirement of PWII and EPWIII being rather more expensive, a cheap 1,000 or 2,000lb munition is needed. The MBDA Smartglider family also has a 1,300kg Heavy variant. Sometimes more bang is necessary. Not sure of the form factor on this though. Could be UK made and will have longer range than EPWIII.
- Anti Radiation Missile - I'm conflicted on this as SPEAR could fulfil the role for DEAD with F-35B (and with Typhoon if its EW fitout gets improved). The only option at present is the AARGM which is hugely expensive. But...MBDA showed a concept of a CAMM with Brimstone seeker, which would be a brilliant solution, high speed, easily integrated with Typhoon and F-35B. Would also make an easy Brimstone like capability for F-35B (with admittedly only 2 carried on the outer pylon) let alone the implications for the Army and Navy, there is also an E/O variant...
- Anti-Ship/Medium/Heavy Cruise missile - Until (or if) FCASW arrives the only practical solution for this is JSM. There is a smart move the UK could make on this that would address the obsolescence of Harpoon 1C on surface ships, plus arm Typhoon, P-8 and F-35, whilst also providing a sub-surface ASM for SSN's and ASM for T31 after 2030 but I doubt we'll make it.
- Novel stores - The F-35 and Typhoon need a standard weapon shape for novel stores (think the E-bomb or graphite filament bombs). The SmartGlider Heavy form if adopted as the 'heavy' bomb should be adapted as a 'container' for other stores. The UK has historically, and to date, done a lot of research on these but has no method of delivery. A standard, decent sized, GPS guided gliding container would allow lots of different payloads to be incorporated/developed.