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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
118
44%
BAD choice for the Royal Navy
10
4%
Uncertain (RN)
14
5%
GOOD choice for the Royal Air Force
48
18%
BAD choice for the Royal Air Force
36
14%
Uncertain (RAF)
40
15%
 
Total votes: 266

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

Postby SKB » 17 Jan 2019, 16:46

The F-35 in that aerobatic video. is it an A, B or C model? And can a B do that?

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

Postby bobp » 17 Jan 2019, 17:06

SKB wrote:The F-35 in that aerobatic video. is it an A, B or C model? And can a B do that?


Hi its an A model. Its part of a US Aerobatic team and they are practising for a forthcoming display. Our B model is different aerodynamically in that it has the lift fan and other changes. Remember the B can Hover which the A cannot do.

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

Postby Ron5 » 17 Jan 2019, 17:13

I'd rather the UK F-35's kept out of situations where a gun would be useful. Too precious.

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

Postby SKB » 17 Jan 2019, 17:16

Too precious?! So keep the UK F-35B's in their original boxes then?! ;)

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

Postby abc123 » 17 Jan 2019, 18:04

SKB wrote:The F-35 in that aerobatic video. is it an A, B or C model? And can a B do that?



B should be even better...
Fortune favors brave sir, said Carrot cheerfully.
What's her position about heavily armed, well prepared and overmanned armies?
Oh, noone's ever heard of Fortune favoring them, sir.
According to General Tacticus, it's because they favor themselves…

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

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 17 Jan 2019, 22:47

downsizer wrote:Wasn’t cancelled for weight reasons.


Perhaps I, too, will try this discussion style: always say no (and never contribute anything in the way of information) :wave:
- or may be not; what would this forum be for then :wave:

Anyway, the 30 mm installation had its own problems with discarded shells (noting that this is a F-35 thread, so no more about that). But " the 25" even without the quoted weight problems was worse:
"The Aden 25mm was also test fired at the Dunsfold Butts; and proved problematic to say the least, very unreliable and tended to fire its own innards more often than shells. The only time a 25mm Aden was fired in the air – by a Harrier – was Dunsfold’s Development GR5, ZD319, at the West Freugh test range in Scotland.

Concerns soon mounted as the links holding the rounds together were hitting the aft fuselage, and people were rather worried about them hitting the composite horizontal stabilisers."

We may, or may not get the F-35 gun pods... one day :?:

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

Postby Lord Jim » 18 Jan 2019, 04:54

Thanks for the info on the Aden25 pod, I knew there were problems but didn't realise they were that bad. Maybe we should have adopted the pod used by the USMC, the one with the Gatling in one and the ammo in the other. Anyway it is better we wait to see how things go over the pond with the F-35 Gun Pod and wait until any issues are ironed out.

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

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 18 Jan 2019, 08:41

Lord Jim wrote:the info on the Aden25 pod, I knew there were problems but didn't realise they were that bad.

I did not, either. After dealing with all the problems with just the ejected cartridges that the earlier (30 mm) installations brought - up to engine flash outs on Hunters - at least there were trays to collect the sharper link pieces
- so learning nothing, also these were spewed out with the 25 mm pod (then stopped at the experimental stage; may be the weight problem was quoted just as a 'fig leaf'... don't know, wasn't there :D )

The whole development was misdirected from start: to get to use the higher velocity round, more suitable for A2A engagements than the slower 30mm, which originated as having more bang against less manoeuvrable, but more damage-tolerant planes (= large bombers)
- combined with the higher rate of fire, to make full use of the split second engagement window
... could have been that this factor made collecting anything infeasible; the US showed that it actually wasn't

Or, may be they just wanted to get out of producing a bespoke round, in declining use (we can see parallels to Ch2's rifled gun here?) and be able to rely on US high-volume (=cheaper?) supply

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

Postby sunstersun » 18 Jan 2019, 09:08


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

Postby Timmymagic » 18 Jan 2019, 15:33

The Singapore purchase/trial seems a little odd. There are some reports that they're considering the B version for the ability to disperse their forces. A perfectly valid idea in the constricted environment of Singapore. But I would have thought that they would have been able to make that assessment without having to purchase first, after all they're very close to other F-35 users such as the USAF, USMC and RAAF. Will they be purchasing a couple of F-35A and F-35B? Then choosing? It's a little odd to say the least. It's the sort of thing that happened in years gone by when purchasing a couple of aircraft to trial was perfectly normal. Haven't heard of such an arrangement with high combat aircraft in recent years.

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

Postby Lord Jim » 18 Jan 2019, 20:11

ArmChairCivvy wrote:
Lord Jim wrote:the info on the Aden25 pod, I knew there were problems but didn't realise they were that bad.

I did not, either. After dealing with all the problems with just the ejected cartridges that the earlier (30 mm) installations brought - up to engine flash outs on Hunters - at least there were trays to collect the sharper link pieces
- so learning nothing, also these were spewed out with the 25 mm pod (then stopped at the experimental stage; may be the weight problem was quoted just as a 'fig leaf'... don't know, wasn't there :D )

The whole development was misdirected from start: to get to use the higher velocity round, more suitable for A2A engagements than the slower 30mm, which originated as having more bang against less manoeuvrable, but more damage-tolerant planes (= large bombers)
- combined with the higher rate of fire, to make full use of the split second engagement window
... could have been that this factor made collecting anything infeasible; the US showed that it actually wasn't

Or, may be they just wanted to get out of producing a bespoke round, in declining use (we can see parallels to Ch2's rifled gun here?) and be able to rely on US high-volume (=cheaper?) supply


Going slightly off topic, but the other jet that was a big user of a gun pod was the then West German Alpha Jet, used as a light attack platform, It had a pod with a Mauser 27mm, did it have similar problems? I have not mentioned the hawk as I assume the problems were similar to the Harrier.

I do hope we do purchase the Gun Pod for the F-35B eventually as it provides additional low tech and cheap alternatives to the alternatives that are the opposite being complicated and costly. Also with a pod if it goes U/S you can quickly swap it out without having to pull an aircraft from a mission, whereas an internal gun malfunction would probably do so.

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

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 19 Jan 2019, 03:53

Lord Jim wrote:I do hope we do purchase the Gun Pod for the F-35B eventually as it provides additional low tech and cheap alternatives to the alternatives that are the opposite being complicated and costly.


That's the bottom line, and it would alleviate us being overly dependent on another platform for CAS: the Apache
- goes to see (survival measures that were put in ad hoc after/ during Libya will be built in)
- is handy as it can quickly become land-based, making space on the carrier(s) for the fixed wing... err, airwing
- but its survivability in any other scenarios than we have discussed on the carriers and amphibiosity threads, too, might not be up to scratch for going in against a peer foe with an IADS
... and that's where the F-35 would need to go in first , to do SEAD/ DEAD (and with a gun on it, could do a little bit of CAS, on the side, too)

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

Postby seaspear » 19 Jan 2019, 05:17

A cheap alternative to shooting down a drone to using a missile

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

Postby topman » 19 Jan 2019, 07:54

Lord Jim wrote:I do hope we do purchase the Gun Pod for the F-35B eventually as it provides additional low tech and cheap alternatives to the alternatives that are the opposite being complicated and costly. Also with a pod if it goes U/S you can quickly swap it out without having to pull an aircraft from a mission, whereas an internal gun malfunction would probably do so.


It'll be bottom of the list I would imagine. There's plenty of other things needed to spend the money on first. Go have a look how often guns are used vs pw4 and brimstone.

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

Postby Lord Jim » 19 Jan 2019, 09:00

I agree thee are many things on the list that need to be sorted first, but also mission type affects what weapon system is needed.

The whole mess with the Typhoons gun is a case in point, trying to say pennies by not installing it, then finding out it was more costly not to install it. So reluctantly it was retained but only for use in A2G and the story still goes on.

Pilots like having a gun, whether it is A2G or A2A. With the F-35B it is a no risk capability upgrade once any problems with the pod are sorted. It is just like any other piece of ordonnance, bolt it on and you are good to go. With current avionics etc. it should be very accurate and effective in both A2G and A2A.

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

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 19 Jan 2019, 10:05

Thru the 'intro' with Hunters and Brit/ US Harrier gun pods we've now reached 'today', here in 39 seconds

hi-velocity & high ROF
runs out of rounds in 4 seconds
so clearly a fallback

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

Postby SW1 » 19 Jan 2019, 11:17

Lord Jim wrote:I agree thee are many things on the list that need to be sorted first, but also mission type affects what weapon system is needed.

The whole mess with the Typhoons gun is a case in point, trying to say pennies by not installing it, then finding out it was more costly not to install it. So reluctantly it was retained but only for use in A2G and the story still goes on.

Pilots like having a gun, whether it is A2G or A2A. With the F-35B it is a no risk capability upgrade once any problems with the pod are sorted. It is just like any other piece of ordonnance, bolt it on and you are good to go. With current avionics etc. it should be very accurate and effective in both A2G and A2A.


I would say it’s all the symptoms of the same underlying condition. We attempt to cram to many projects into a budget that simply cannot cope, so bit are trimmed round the edges in an attempt to avoid making the hard decisions.

At the time. It wasn’t only the gun on typhoon that was intended to be scaled back but also delivers diverted to Saudi and force growth stopped to save money. All since reinstated but caused issues across the board.

You could interpret recent statements from MoD about f35 being too expensive for use in certain conflicts as a means to reducing the size, requirements and capabilities of the fleet.

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

Postby topman » 19 Jan 2019, 11:42

Lord Jim wrote:I agree thee are many things on the list that need to be sorted first, but also mission type affects what weapon system is needed.

The whole mess with the Typhoons gun is a case in point, trying to say pennies by not installing it, then finding out it was more costly not to install it. So reluctantly it was retained but only for use in A2G and the story still goes on.

Pilots like having a gun, whether it is A2G or A2A. With the F-35B it is a no risk capability upgrade once any problems with the pod are sorted. It is just like any other piece of ordonnance, bolt it on and you are good to go. With current avionics etc. it should be very accurate and effective in both A2G and A2A.


what missions are we going to be doing in the future that needs a gun that we aren't doing now?


Different situation with typhoon to what we are talking about now.

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

Postby ArmChairCivvy » 19 Jan 2019, 12:07

SW1 wrote:You could interpret recent statements from MoD about f35 being too expensive for use in certain conflicts as a means to reducing the size, requirements and capabilities of the fleet.


Yes "for now". Then coming to a full stop between 2024 and 2030 will not look so ridiculous... and will make the bizcase for the £2bn Apaches. Small change, compared to what the next batch of F-35s will take (albeit they will be ;) cheaper by then).

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

Postby S M H » 19 Jan 2019, 12:15

topman wrote:what missions are we going to be doing in the future that needs a gun that we aren't doing now?
I remember conversation about the loss of guns to aircraft on upgrades causing concern. The gun pod on the Lightning once fully operational is option that can procured and integrated without major problems. Admittedly there would have a new support and maintenance train to support if we need the gun. Then we had the missile only before with the Phantom and look how effective it became once it acquired its gun pod. I suspect we will do without until the mid to late 20s unless there is a urgent operational requirement.

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

Postby Scimitar54 » 19 Jan 2019, 16:22

Got to have the gun to deter Spanish incursions into Gibraltar's territorial waters, where the use of a missile would clearly be inappropriate. :twisted:

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

Postby jimthelad » 19 Jan 2019, 17:52

That is what Trident is for :lol:

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

Postby Scimitar54 » 19 Jan 2019, 23:55

Guardia Civil Patrol Boat would make a lively target for gunnery practice, but would be overwhelmed by the subsurface launch of a trident missile. Just imagine, it might be deflected out of the vertical and land on something that it was not intended to. Racdioactive Paella anyone?

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

Postby jimthelad » 20 Jan 2019, 14:33

That would be a terrible shame. Just as someone should remind Leo Varadkar who covers his air defence reporting area, mutual defence, and who is his countries biggest market!! I voted to stay in but I am sick of poncing around a bunch of economic basket cases propping up dubious administrations in an old boys club. I dont agree with President Trump on almost anything except that (rant officially over!).

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

Postby Ron5 » 22 Jan 2019, 16:38

F-35 and Typhoon Partner As RAF’s New Backbone
Jan 15, 2019 Tony Osborne | Aviation Week & Space Technology

Britain has declared its fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and up-armed Eurofighter Typhoons ready for operations, a major milestone in the overhaul of the UK’s combat aircraft capability.

Initial operational capability (IOC), finalized in mid-December and formally announced on Jan. 10, means Britain’s short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (STOVL) F-35Bs are ready for operations anywhere in the world, says Air Chief Marshal Stephen Hillier, chief of staff of the British Royal Air Force (RAF).

The UK now has nine F-35Bs based in-country, of a fleet of 17

Project Centurion adds Storm Shadow cruise and Meteor ramjet-powered air-to-air missile to the Typhoon

Britain’s Panavia Tornado fleet to be retired at the end of March

The UK becomes the fifth operator of the F-35 to achieve the milestone; the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps and the air forces of Israel and Italy preceded them.

And the introduction of additional air-to-ground armament on the Typhoon means the UK can feel comfortable about finally giving up its long-serving, big-stick Panavia Tornado, which will be retired at the end of March after 40 years of service.

The changes place the Typhoon in the leading role in Britain’s support to the U.S.-led operation against the Islamic State group in Syria, known as Operation Shader.

But the F-35 could also play a part. Planners are considering sending the F-35 on an overseas deployment in the next 2-3 months, most likely to Cyprus, from where the missions over the Middle East are being flown.

“I won’t go into specifics about where they’re going to be deployed, [but] this is a fighting aircraft that is there to be used to keep Britain safe,” Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson told journalists.

Officials see an overseas trip for the F-35 as a way of testing the deployability of the aircraft, its associated systems and its personnel.

The British government has not indicated whether it will send additional aircraft to Cyprus to replace the Tornado when the aircraft returns to the UK in February, but with the operational tempo slowing and the U.S. withdrawing its ground forces from Syria, it seems unlikely London will commit additional assets. A formal decision is expected at the end of January.

Although the F-35s’ IOC—from land bases only—was declared on time, at least based on a timetable set 6.5 years earlier, bedding down the aircraft at the UK home base of Marham, England, has not as been straightforward as planned.

Issues partly resulting from aircraft data transfers meant that the aircraft have not been flying quite as often as initially hoped. Aviation Week reported last August of a monthlong flying break during July and August, and more recently there have been no flights in January as of Jan. 14.

Lightning Force Cmdr. Air Cmdre. David Bradshaw told the RAF’s official review, published at year-end, that there had been challenges in moving the aircraft from the U.S. to the UK.

“We also expected that with the amount of data that needed transferring from the U.S. to the UK it would take a while to get the aircraft flying, and we had some teething problems during the bedding-in process,” he said.

Officials say such minor matters are normal for the introduction of a new aircraft.

And the flying rate for British F-35s was always expected to be considerably less compared to other RAF fighter types.

Current planning calls for a 50:50 live and synthetic blend of training. British F-35 pilots are expected to log 25 flying hours per month, split equally between the simulator and the real thing.

An integrated training center constructed at RAF Marham, equipped with flight simulators and training devices for ground crews and engineers, became operational last October.

The UK has 17 STOVL versions of the F-35, but the IOC declaration currently covers the nine aircraft based with 617 Sqdn.—known as the Dambusters—located in the UK.

Since the arrival of the first four aircraft in June, the 617 Sqdn. has been slowly ramping up flight operations from Marham. Initially limited to appearances at air shows and the RAF’s centenary, the aircraft are now flying training missions, sharing data with other UK assets such as the Typhoon and Boeing E-3 Sentry airborne early warning platform. Other recent milestones include the first weapon drops on ranges in West Wales, and a multinational exercise held in November saw the F-35s operating alongside U.S. Air Force F-15s and French Air Force Dassault Rafales in a complex mission scenario.

A British F-35 flying an operational test and evaluation in the U.S. dropped five Paveway IV precision-guided bombs on five different ground targets simultaneously.

As well as the expected deployment, the next major milestone will be a third round of so-called first-of-class flight trials, which will see British F-35s embarking on the Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier this summer to support operational testing on the ship.

So far only U.S. developmental test aircraft have embarked on the Queen Elizabeth.

Officials have not yet decided how many aircraft will be embarked on the ship, but Royal Navy personnel say they hope to fly four-ship missions during the voyage. This will help pave the way for an IOC for carrier operations at the end of 2020.

Full operational capability is not anticipated until 2023, by which time the UK will have four squadrons, two front-line units and a training squadron in the UK; a test and evaluation unit will be located in the U.S.

British F-35s are currently equipped with the AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (Amraam) and shorter-range MBDA advanced short-range air-to-air missile (Asramm) and the Raytheon Paveway IV. Additional weapons are envisaged through the F-35’s Continuous Capability, Development and Delivery program.

Among them is MBDA’s Spear III networked-enabled lightweight air-to-ground weapon and the MBDA Meteor air-breathing beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile.

Up-arming the Typhoon has also been no small effort. The 47-month-long Project Centurion program that was finalized late last year has seen three new weapons integrated.

Industry had already successfully integrated the Paveway IV onto Tranche 2 and 3 versions of the Typhoon by early 2015. But with Centurion, the aircraft’s air-to-ground capability has now been expanded further to include the MBDA Storm Shadow cruise missile and Brimstone 2 low-collateral air-to-ground weapon. It has also added the MBDA Meteor air-breathing beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, which were launched on equipped Typhoons conducting Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) sorties at the end of 2018.

Once the Tornado is retired, personnel will be released to serve the Typhoon force. Retention of the earlier model Tranche 1 aircraft, which the RAF had originally planned to start retiring in 2017, means that two more front-line squadrons on top of the current five will be formed. The first of these will become active with 9 Sqdn. this May, dedicated to the QRA and red-air aggressor training mission.

Senior officers are hoping that when it is at full strength, the squadron can lift the burden of the QRA mission from the other squadrons and could also be used as a means to help retain pilots who, if frustrated with the burden of the operational tempo, may be considering leaving to pursue a career elsewhere.

The second unit, the 12 Sqdn., will be a joint unit with the Qatar Emiri Air Force, supporting the training of Qatari personnel in readiness for the delivery of Qatar’s own Typhoon fleet in time to support that country’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The first Qatari pilots are due to arrive later this year to begin their training.

The next steps for the UK Typhoon force include introduction of the Leonardo Britecloud active decoy, which will be deployed from the Saab-developed Smart Dispenser System. Another major step will be the installation of an active, electronically scanned array radar (AESA) in the form of the so-called Radar 2, a more advanced version of the e-scan radar that will equip the Typhoons being purchased by both Kuwait and Qatar. According to responses by defense officials to Parliamentary committee questions, investment approvals to install the radar on Britain’s Tranche 3 fleet of jets—around 40 aircraft—will receive investment approvals in the second half of 2019, although it is unclear when the aircraft may begin receiving the sensors. Previously, senior RAF officials have suggested the AESA radar could become operational on the Typhoon in the mid-2020s.


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