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F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Contains threads on Joint Service equipment of the past, present and future.

How do you feel about the F-35B for the RN and RAF? (2 votes per member)

GOOD choice for the Royal Navy
126
44%
BAD choice for the Royal Navy
11
4%
Uncertain (RN)
14
5%
GOOD choice for the Royal Air Force
54
19%
BAD choice for the Royal Air Force
39
14%
Uncertain (RAF)
42
15%
 
Total votes: 286

Tempest414
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Tempest414 » 17 Apr 2020, 17:04

topman wrote:Thanks for the bit more detail. When they are back at Marham for 6 months would they be doing any more detachments in the year


If 20 jets and there crews return from a 6 or 9 month carrier deployment there would be leave and maintenance to be carried out so unless 2 Sqn's are sharing jets it would be unlikely the jets would deploy again outside training needs

topman wrote:When you say land based training what do you mean?
I'm just trying to get an idea of what and why people come up with these sorts of numbers. Some ideas seem vague, the what but not the why or some sort of detail.


I know you are more clued up than you are making out however I will play along.

Land based strike is aircraft operating from land bases. Carrier based strike is aircraft operating from ships at sea. At this time the US , France , China , Russia when operating strike operation from there carriers do so with 20 to 40 jets so when a UK carrier is carrying out the same type of operation it will need to carry between 20 and 36 jets to generate sortie rates

topman
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby topman » 17 Apr 2020, 18:22

Tempest414 wrote:
topman wrote:Thanks for the bit more detail. When they are back at Marham for 6 months would they be doing any more detachments in the year


If 20 jets and there crews return from a 6 or 9 month carrier deployment there would be leave and maintenance to be carried out so unless 2 Sqn's are sharing jets it would be unlikely the jets would deploy again outside training needs

topman wrote:When you say land based training what do you mean?
I'm just trying to get an idea of what and why people come up with these sorts of numbers. Some ideas seem vague, the what but not the why or some sort of detail.


I know you are more clued up than you are making out however I will play along.

Land based strike is aircraft operating from land bases. Carrier based strike is aircraft operating from ships at sea. At this time the US , France , China , Russia when operating strike operation from there carriers do so with 20 to 40 jets so when a UK carrier is carrying out the same type of operation it will need to carry between 20 and 36 jets to generate sortie rates


I'm not pretending anything, I'm interested in how people peering in think this works.
I can't quite follow people's thoughts as to how they get to the conclusions, so I ask questions. Honestly it's nothing more than that.

Tempest414
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Tempest414 » 18 Apr 2020, 09:38

topman wrote:I'm not pretending anything, I'm interested in how people peering in think this works.
I can't quite follow people's thoughts as to how they get to the conclusions, so I ask questions. Honestly it's nothing more than that.


OK I am interested to know how you see 48 F-35b working

topman
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby topman » 18 Apr 2020, 11:23

Tempest414 wrote:
topman wrote:I'm not pretending anything, I'm interested in how people peering in think this works.
I can't quite follow people's thoughts as to how they get to the conclusions, so I ask questions. Honestly it's nothing more than that.


OK I am interested to know how you see 48 F-35b working


I guess this one has been done several times before but for me similar to how other fleets have been grown and are operated.
There's lots of things that are behind the scenes that drive detachments, by that I mean A1/4/6 which is people, logs&eng and IT. We (I mean the Mod have never been great at spending money in these areas but however boring and unsexy they may seem they are absolutely key. So much so that quite often its these that limited how much we can do, in this example the amount we can do being the amount of a/c that can be deployed.
I understand that a lot of this stuff isn't really covered online so it's really easy to overlook and to an extent its not something the MoD ever make available or cover at all so it's entirely understandable.
This leads to people throwing numbers about that, from my experience aren't realistic, for example doubling numbers from 10 to 20 as what they think *should* be deployed, without realising what a doubling is asking of those working in that particular fleet. Its merely an example but the workload is huge. A/C take large amounts of prep to get them ready to go on a long detachment, it can often start weeks beforehand at the same time as flying more, planning more etc.

A typical fj sqn without an op would be deployed to various exercises. A lot of the deployments are driven by government needs balanced with what that particular force would like to do. So a particular unit might not always get what they want.
The idea above of every sqn doing 1x6 month deployment on a carrier and nothing else (unless there is an op on) to be unrealistic. Mainly because I doubt in the currencies and skill base of pilots it would cover them all. For example Red Flag is widely thought to be the best exercise there is, I think its very unrealistic for them to not do this. That's not to say they should only do that but you need a broad base of experiences for them.

Then if you've got things like any short term readiness commitments that'll drive down the amount you can do as you have to 'protect' them. They do this so they are able to meet that commitment.
In short it's easy to underestimate how much more effort, work and cash goes would go into the increase in numbers that people suggest.

serge750
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby serge750 » 18 Apr 2020, 13:21

Hi topman, interesting post. what I was thinking the carrier could be prioritised one year ( Global Britain, show some presence ) then the RAF land based operations be prioritised the next year as we have to share the aircraft between differing commitments ?

I admit I don't know the ins & outs of how things like deployments work, as you say there must be lots of work & commitments pulling different ways, naval aviation is one of the interests that Floats my boat as it were :lol:

Tempest414
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Tempest414 » 18 Apr 2020, 14:19

@ topman

So I am I right in saying then if the UK wants to deploy 20 F-35b's every two years on the strike carrier ( which is a base line for all other navies who operate strike carriers ) we are looking at in year one working up aircrews and ground support plus prepping jets then a period of leave followed by a deployment for up to 9 months. On return another period of leave and maintenance then in to year two working up new pilots and ground based support through home based training and overseas war games like Red Flag and so on with the whole cycle starting again in year 3

Now if the same is true of the 10 jets working on the other carrier this would mean 30 jets almost dedicated to carrier ops or am I missing something

topman
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby topman » 18 Apr 2020, 14:53

Tempest414 wrote:@ topman

So I am I right in saying then if the UK wants to deploy 20 F-35b's every two years on the strike carrier ( which is a base line for all other navies who operate strike carriers ) we are looking at in year one working up aircrews and ground support plus prepping jets then a period of leave followed by a deployment for up to 9 months. On return another period of leave and maintenance then in to year two working up new pilots and ground based support through home based training and overseas war games like Red Flag and so on with the whole cycle starting again in year 3

Now if the same is true of the 10 jets working on the other carrier this would mean 30 jets almost dedicated to carrier ops or am I missing something


I'll try to keep this post a bit shorter than the last one. It might seem quite a modest number of a/c but that's actually a very large amount only done very rarely.
Have a look back yourself to see when those numbers you suggest went on a peace time deployment? Mainly it doesn't happen for reasons I outlined above.
The first question would be what skills are they going to learn and can it be done quicker and cheaper anywhere else? That's because the Mod is always looking to cut the training budget.
Another issue is the availability of fj is pretty low, they are maintenance (preventative or otherwise) hungry they need lots and lots of time, money, manpower and spares.
Then you've other things like manning, you mentioned about new pilots in year two. They'll be arriving at a steady drum beat same as everyone else in all other branches and trades. You'll never have a point you can stop and have all trained and no one new, it's continous.
Some of these burdens can be shared out but with a small force there's very little spare capacity if any.

Short answer; it's not the sort of plan I've ever seen before.

serge750
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby serge750 » 18 Apr 2020, 15:38

If money was no object i'm sure the carriers would be full, but due to lack finances that is a valid point of if we sent 20 x F35b for a flag waving exercise, how many would be used & would they not be better utilised elsewhere, sharing is never easy !! if the crap hit the fan they could always be flown out to the carrier,

If we were like the French navy with aircraft dedicated to carrier operations rather than sharing ours between the services it may be different, perhaps we could use some of the fiberglass ones to help with numbers :lolno:

Does anybody know roughly how many F35 would be aviliable to fly at anyone time if we did stop at 48 ?

SW1
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby SW1 » 18 Apr 2020, 15:58

serge750 wrote:If money was no object i'm sure the carriers would be full, but due to lack finances that is a valid point of if we sent 20 x F35b for a flag waving exercise, how many would be used & would they not be better utilised elsewhere, sharing is never easy !! if the crap hit the fan they could always be flown out to the carrier,

If we were like the French navy with aircraft dedicated to carrier operations rather than sharing ours between the services it may be different, perhaps we could use some of the fiberglass ones to help with numbers :lolno:

Does anybody know roughly how many F35 would be aviliable to fly at anyone time if we did stop at 48 ?


It will vary but if you look at when an operational Sqn deploys it’s usually 8 a/c. 48 a/c at this time allows for 2 operational Sqns.

Ron5
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Ron5 » 18 Apr 2020, 16:23

Isn't a UK F-35B deployment to a UK carrier different (and a lot easier) than deploying overseas to an airfield not equipped for the type?

Rather like sending a type from one airbase equipped for it to another base in the same country similarly equipped.

Lord Jim
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Lord Jim » 18 Apr 2020, 16:24

You do not only embark aircraft on a carrier when they are needed for operational roles, there are other important things to carry out like TRAINING. the RAF is going to have to accept that its land operations will be a lower priority that that of carrier operations.

With 48 aircraft we should have 40 on the frontline and 8 in the sustainment pool. This should mean we have at least 20 aircraft available for carrier use at all times. Being that I can never see both carriers being at sea at the same time unless we have a Falklands style UK only major operation, these 20 with the option to surge up to 10 more will be sufficient as things stand.

What we do not know is what is the current ration of Pilots and Ground Crew to aircraft in the F-35 force. WE also do not know the training and deployment cycle for the on duty Carrier. 6 month deployments are not going to be an annual event I assume though, nor will they always be on the other side of the world. This should allow members of the Airwing to be rotated during any given cruise of a duration greater then a predetermined time to allow the maximum number of personnel to remain current with the necessary skill sets.

Of the three frontline Squadrons, two at any one time should be dedicated to carrier operations, in case an unforeseen event occurs. This would not mean they should be stuck at RAF Marham waiting for the bell to ring, but that the Squadrons must be ready and able to embark on the duty carrier whenever it sails.

Regarding additional training such as Red Flag. Again this will not be an annual event for the F-35 Force but one shared with the Typhoon Force. At most they would go out every other year but most likely the gap between such deployments would be greater, possibly synchronising with preparations for a long distance/duration deployment of the Carrier Strike Group in the near future. Even then, with 20 aircraft available from the remaining Squadron and the OCU finding 4 to 6 aircraft to send whilst leaving the carrier dedicated force is more than feasible.

In the event of a major land war IF the RAF absolutely had to have a day one force because there were not sufficient platforms of that type in the coalition we were part of then again the starting point would be the aircraft from the remaining Squadron and possibly the OCU, the latter for the initial surge. If there was also a sea component then I am sure the Carriers Air Groups could be supplemented by allied aircraft if it was determined that we had to retain a land based F-35 component, but I see both these as the exception to the norm going forward.

Except for day one operation the RAF's Typhoon force should be more than capable of carrying out the necessary missions as part of a coalition air force. This is where the Powers that be must be firm with the RAF and keep its demands in check. Of course there will be some flexibility, but it MUST accept that the needs of the Carrier Force will take precedence over land based operations except in exceptional circumstances.

topman
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby topman » 18 Apr 2020, 16:33

Ron5 wrote:Isn't a UK F-35B deployment to a UK carrier different (and a lot easier) than deploying overseas to an airfield not equipped for the type?

Rather like sending a type from one airbase equipped for it to another base in the same country similarly equipped.


It depends, as usually on money, if we (as in the MoD) wish to have the carrier ready with all, for example all the equipment, spares, support right down to tools then yes its much easier.
However I think it's a reasonable assumption that we aren't flush with money nor are we likely to be any time soon.
Even in good times there weren't many places set up to go straight away with everything required as soon as they received the a/c.
Fleets are often forced to share equipment (within itself) as its shifted from one place to another to support one sqn then another.
That goes for most other things from spares packups to some times even contractors.

Lord Jim
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Lord Jim » 18 Apr 2020, 16:47

There is usually an amount of Ground Support Equipment, spares etc. earmarked and available to support deployments at all times. Nowadays this is part of the Contractor Support Packages and linked to the size of deployable force any given aircraft fleet is determined to have to maintain. So for the carries for example it would be easy to see that they would have an "Pack up" sufficient for one squadron always embarked and another readily available to be shipped from various locations rapidly before the ship sailed, as well as additional engines etc. to be stored on the relevant RFA(s).

topman
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby topman » 18 Apr 2020, 16:53

Lord Jim wrote:There is usually an amount of Ground Support Equipment, spares etc. earmarked and available to support deployments at all times. Nowadays this is part of the Contractor Support Packages and linked to the size of deployable force any given aircraft fleet is determined to have to maintain. So for the carries for example it would be easy to see that they would have an "Pack up" sufficient for one squadron always embarked and another readily available to be shipped from various locations rapidly before the ship sailed, as well as additional engines etc. to be stored on the relevant RFA(s).


I'll pick just one point you made, a sqn size, say for 10 a/c, spares pack up (what's called a PEP) ready at all times on a carrier even if there is no a/c on board?

Is that what you mean?

downsizer
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby downsizer » 18 Apr 2020, 18:20

That is what he means. But there is no way we are paying for that. We probably should be though....

Ron5
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Ron5 » 18 Apr 2020, 20:31

topman wrote:
Ron5 wrote:Isn't a UK F-35B deployment to a UK carrier different (and a lot easier) than deploying overseas to an airfield not equipped for the type?

Rather like sending a type from one airbase equipped for it to another base in the same country similarly equipped.


It depends, as usually on money, if we (as in the MoD) wish to have the carrier ready with all, for example all the equipment, spares, support right down to tools then yes its much easier.
However I think it's a reasonable assumption that we aren't flush with money nor are we likely to be any time soon.
Even in good times there weren't many places set up to go straight away with everything required as soon as they received the a/c.
Fleets are often forced to share equipment (within itself) as its shifted from one place to another to support one sqn then another.
That goes for most other things from spares packups to some times even contractors.


Thanks. I was wondering if duplicate sets of tools & spares would be available but given the cost, I can see why not. Those packages are not cheap. In fact, like computer printers, you'd think the manufacturers would give away the aircraft at cost to build and make their money on support as a less obvious way to make their billions. Come to think of it, I think that's what Boeing is trying to do with their T-7.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Lord Jim » 18 Apr 2020, 23:04

topman wrote:I'll pick just one point you made, a sqn size, say for 10 a/c, spares pack up (what's called a PEP) ready at all times on a carrier even if there is no a/c on board? Is that what you mean?

In all likelihood, yes, or at least there will be once the initial F-35 force is full established and the CSG is fully operational. Whilst it is still finding its feet they will be looking at exactly is needed in such a PEP. That is the price you pay for expeditionary warfare, you have to be ready to go at short notice. The PEP held ashore could of course be diverted to Brize to provide initial support for a land based deployment if needed. I am of course only talking about the duty carrier not on both all of the time. Every time the Duty carrier sails for it should have at least one Squadron of F-35s embarked, simply for training purposes for both air and ground crew, though probably not including trips up to Scotland to bomb up so to speak. From experience having to run around trying to get all the GSE needed for a deployment is a right pain especially if there are only limited supplies, which is what happened during my time. With fleet run downs we went through a period where there was plenty in the Depot so no attempt was made to repair or restock, and ten it was gone and things went to pot until we could get the drawing and tending contracts for new build either of components or full assembles, especially Engine Transportation Stands. this is why I am hoping the MoD has learnt lessons from the past and has not tried to make short term savings in this area. The cost in the grand scheme of things is not that much unless you have to single source the kit form the OEM.

Mind you this does depend on how we are actually going to use the carriers, or more specifically the duty carrier. If the RN decide to keep it in port for the majority of the time to keep costs down with only one or two short ranged training deployments a year, and do not intend to operate more than a single squadron on board unless conducting combat operations, then there maybe only one PEP held ashore.

Of course most will be contractor supplied these days under the support agreement and the Forward and Depth arrangements, and I moved on before these were fully implemented so this is a view of how I see things as they should be rather than stating how they actually are. But carrier ops are different form routine squadron or wing operations. If you have got at least one fully set maintained on board the carrier even if something is missing from the second PEP you still have one on board, as you cannot go across to another hanger on the station and grab one.

topman
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby topman » 19 Apr 2020, 06:38

Sure it's a nice idea and I'm all for having plenty of kit knocking about. However you mentioned you worked in the MoD (?) so you'll know that it's pretty unlikely that sort of investment will be made.
What should happen and what is likely to happen are often some way apart. But I'm sure all will become clear soon enough.

As to OEM/approved manufacturers only on virtually all equipment, I'm not 100% sure but from what I understand it's a yes. Although don't take that as gospel.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Tempest414 » 19 Apr 2020, 10:37

topman wrote:I'll try to keep this post a bit shorter than the last one. It might seem quite a modest number of a/c but that's actually a very large amount only done very rarely.
Have a look back yourself to see when those numbers you suggest went on a peace time deployment? Mainly it doesn't happen for reasons I outlined above.



So to put this in some sort of context in Dec 2019 Commander UK carrier strike group Commondore Utley said the 2021 deployment will be 16 jets 8 UK and 8 USMC he then went on to state that ultimately the intention is to have 24 jets embarked on the deployed carrier from 2024 now I take this to mean 12 UK jets embarked on the deployed carrier as and when they are deployed on operations plus 12 USMC jets

As a side note we talk about Red Flag but could we see the UK carrier group join RIMPAC in 2024 the largest Naval exercise

serge750
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby serge750 » 19 Apr 2020, 12:33

Well if that is the case, the deck will look busy !! which will be a good sight to see :clap: might save on salt corrosion if we only send Extra jets on deck when absolutely essential !!

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Ron5 » 19 Apr 2020, 16:05

Tempest414 wrote:
topman wrote:I'll try to keep this post a bit shorter than the last one. It might seem quite a modest number of a/c but that's actually a very large amount only done very rarely.
Have a look back yourself to see when those numbers you suggest went on a peace time deployment? Mainly it doesn't happen for reasons I outlined above.



So to put this in some sort of context in Dec 2019 Commander UK carrier strike group Commondore Utley said the 2021 deployment will be 16 jets 8 UK and 8 USMC he then went on to state that ultimately the intention is to have 24 jets embarked on the deployed carrier from 2024 now I take this to mean 12 UK jets embarked on the deployed carrier as and when they are deployed on operations plus 12 USMC jets

As a side note we talk about Red Flag but could we see the UK carrier group join RIMPAC in 2024 the largest Naval exercise


24 in 24 is the slogan.

Scimitar54
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby Scimitar54 » 19 Apr 2020, 19:14

Let us hope we don’t have to wait until 2036 to get 36! :mrgreen:

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby dmereifield » 20 Apr 2020, 00:32

Ron5 wrote:
Tempest414 wrote:
topman wrote:I'll try to keep this post a bit shorter than the last one. It might seem quite a modest number of a/c but that's actually a very large amount only done very rarely.
Have a look back yourself to see when those numbers you suggest went on a peace time deployment? Mainly it doesn't happen for reasons I outlined above.



So to put this in some sort of context in Dec 2019 Commander UK carrier strike group Commondore Utley said the 2021 deployment will be 16 jets 8 UK and 8 USMC he then went on to state that ultimately the intention is to have 24 jets embarked on the deployed carrier from 2024 now I take this to mean 12 UK jets embarked on the deployed carrier as and when they are deployed on operations plus 12 USMC jets

As a side note we talk about Red Flag but could we see the UK carrier group join RIMPAC in 2024 the largest Naval exercise


24 in 24 is the slogan.


But in reality is actually 12 in 24, its only 24 in 24 if our mates show up

serge750
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby serge750 » 20 Apr 2020, 12:39

Maybe they will "push the boat out" and do a short 24 plane uk only F35b deployment in 2024 just to say they can....fingers crossed but not holding my breath...

How about they do that when a Red flag exercise is on ? showing up in style :D

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Postby SW1 » 20 Apr 2020, 13:10

serge750 wrote:Maybe they will "push the boat out" and do a short 24 plane uk only F35b deployment in 2024 just to say they can....fingers crossed but not holding my breath...

How about they do that when a Red flag exercise is on ? showing up in style :D


I will admit if they show up on an aircraft carrier at red flag it would certainly be most impressive considering it’s in Nevada.....


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