F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

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

Post by SW1 »

Accident report on the loss of zm152. Highlights among other things the contributory factor of a lack of engineers that were be over tasked.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.u ... _BK-18.pdf
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by topman »

I've had a quick scim read, usually trends.

Shows how many more people you need when onboard vs when on an airbase.

Probably too long for most to read, however it paints a picture of how bad manning levels are.

Anyone who is still delusional to think in terms of deploying 20 F35s only needs to have a quick read through.

It's obvious the force is flat out doing what their doing right now.
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by downsizer »

Nothing new in a lack of engineers and being over tasked.

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

Post by SW1 »

topman wrote: 11 Aug 2023, 08:12 I've had a quick scim read, usually trends.

Shows how many more people you need when onboard vs when on an airbase.

Probably too long for most to read, however it paints a picture of how bad manning levels are.

Anyone who is still delusional to think in terms of deploying 20 F35s only needs to have a quick read through.

It's obvious the force is flat out doing what their doing right now.
I did read it mostly cause I’m interested in air accidents and their causes, but it does have some interesting things in it. Constant churn of senior engineering officers and the realisation that rather than requiring fewer engineers than legacy types f35 in fact requires more and even more when at sea.

Also how light restrictions on deck was a contributing factor and when attempting to find out why there was requirements for light restrictions no could find a reason.

I was surprised there wasn’t some equivalent form to a red gear shadow board for each aircraft to ensure all were removed especially as there had been several incidents across the user group of similar incidents. But when manpower mission generation are out of sequence things get missed.

The report should reset expectations but I doubt it will.

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

Post by topman »

Interesting that there was conflict between those in charge of the csg and the sqns.

A surge rate of flying was considered to be the norm for them rather than the exceptional.

14 people flown straight from ph2 training to an exercise. Not heard of anything like that before.

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

Post by topman »

Anyone struggling with very long official report should read this.

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1690 ... 25408.html

A shorter version highlighting various issues.
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by serge750 »

Thanks for posting, lets hope the lesson will be learned !!

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

Post by Bongodog »

I have had a look through the majority of the 148 page report, the conclusion I reach is that the RAF has far too much control/influence over carrier aviation.
Right from the start, 617 Squadron had many personnel who were not qualified to go on board resulting in a swap of personnel with 207, then there is the failure to grasp the requirement for additional personnel when operating a busy schedule at sea.

The biggest issue however is the total lack of control over the "red gear", intake and exhaust covers though numbered in sets and allocated to individual aircraft were often fitted to aircraft they were not allocated to, and when not fitted were literally thrown into a storage bin.

The part of the report dealing with the lead up to the aircraft loss describes a complete farce, despite two instances of exhaust covers rolling down the deck and the Jengo ordering the engineers up on deck to remove and forgotten covers, we still ended up with an £80m loss.

Whilst I understand that the F35's are operated by a joint force, with the 1st squadron always intended to go to sea as soon as it had sufficient aircraft it should have been Navy led.
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by Scimitar54 »

The Lightning Force and its Predecessor The Harrier Force, from its formation should always have been FAA (Navy) owned and led. :mrgreen:
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by mrclark303 »

Scimitar54 wrote: 13 Aug 2023, 21:40 The Lightning Force and its Predecessor The Harrier Force, from its formation should always have been FAA (Navy) owned and led. :mrgreen:
Absolutely, the FAA will probably get the lot when Tempest deliveries start to flow....

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

Post by SKB »

...and get moved from RAF Marham to NAS Yeovilton?

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

Post by downsizer »

The armchair quarterbacks are missing the point if they think this was cause by who "owns" the F35. Same issues exist in all three sS.

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

Post by Bring Deeps »

It is worth reading the report but I haven't finished yet. Findings are at 1.4.18 onwards. I got to 1.4.74.

In truth this was an accident waiting to happen with lots of factors involved. It is clear UK practices around the removal of 'red gear' we're not fit for purpose and there had already been several incidents involving blanks before BK18 was lost.

What is frustrating that the USMC had a different approach to bkank safety which was more considered (and effective) than the UK's. They were operating that better procedure on the same deck. For all the talk about learning from the USMC the RN/RAF didn't put words into action.

In no particular order:

The pilot did conduct the pre-flight check but couldn't see the blank. He was not to blame.
Pilot was experienced.
If launch position had been further back he could have aborted successfully.
Arm restraints on ejector seat didn't work properly although the rest of the ES system did.
In after the event testing one of the inflators for the life preserver didn't work due to packing issues.
RAF procedures for red gear removal not clear enough.
Red gear not designed for wind experienced on flight deck which meant the were easily dislodged.
The design of the F35B air intake is unique and there is a large unobservable area from the outside where a blank can end up. You need to climb in to be sure it's clear.

As previously noted we had too few engineers on board to maintain the planes without increasing the risk of human error. Not helped by UK trying to do too much on the deployment. The manning issue had already been noted in the build up exercises so that, I my view, is pretty unforgiveable.

Overall I don't think joint ownership of the F35Bs was particularly to blame for the loss. Just lack of experience, lack of resources, a failure to heed warning signs and an inability to learn from the USMC quickly enough.

The redactions are funny - a lot of the time it is obvious what has been taken out. Even where you can't it's interesting to see what is considered secret.

Finally, on a lighter note: after the accident " The CMS data was impounded at the time of the accident but subsequently lost due to system upgrade". Eat your heart out conspiracy theorists.

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

Post by Bring Deeps »

Other points:

One significant factor was that red gear was used for both engineering and security reasons. Each had a different chain of command/instruction which contributed to a the absence of effective red gear procedures.

Crew exhaustion issues were not properly managed on board.

Only three of the 617 jets was fit for operations (Shader) when they first came on board due to maintenance backlogs.

It looks like (but can't be sure as redacted) none of the medical staff was aviation qualified which contributed to the not ideal handling of the pilot after recovery.

The Lt Commander who declined the senior engineering role did so because the route to completion/qualification was longer for RN than it was for RAF personnel and it would have impacted their career. This was an RAF requirement that the report said should be reviewed.

All in all a pretty depressing picture. As topman said we won't be deploying 20 jets anytime soon, if ever.

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

Post by SW1 »

You can sum it up that we were attempting to run when we should have been at best walking.

Very lucky no one was killed.

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

Post by Timmymagic »

SKB wrote: 14 Aug 2023, 10:01 ...and get moved from RAF Marham to NAS Yeovilton?
Not a chance. The cost to upgrade the base to F-35 operations would be ruinous. It's not going to happen, but if it did Marham would become a NAS and switch services...
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by topman »

Bring Deeps wrote: 15 Aug 2023, 07:36
we won't be deploying 20 jets anytime soon, if ever.
I think in terms of manpower, the report mentioned 12 people leaving the ship from 617 Sqn. None were replaced, that alone tells the reader how tight things are.

At US manning levels 20 a/c would need about 500 people.

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

Post by Tempest414 »

When I was at Marham in 2019 my over all view was there was a lot going on but over all effort was fragmented and teams on one part of the station really didn't know what was going on another part of the station almost like they were working on different projects. I found it every different to say the old Tornado days or the Typhoon stations

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

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Good thread:

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

Post by Timmymagic »

I've completely missed the very welcome news that there will be 27 additional F-35B ordered, not the originally announced 26, so ZM152 is getting a full replacement. This will mean a fleet size of 74 aircraft, with 71 being 'combat capable' and 3 orange wired test aircraft. No news as of yet on the pathway we are taking for upgrade to full Block IV configuration or if the entire fleet will receive the full upgrade (to a minimum of Lot 17 standard that adds additional EW capabilities, the USMC is looking to do this). That might be because the engine upgrades that provide additional electrical generation and cooling are still up in the air. We also don't know, but I think its highly likely, that the 27 and 7 a/c from Lot 17 will get the new AN/APG-85 radar. What that means for the remainder of the fleet in terms of radar is unclear. There is very little detail on the AN/APG-85, we don't even know what relationship it has to the AN/APG-81 that is in all F-35 to date. It could be an entirely new radar, personally I suspect its a deep upgrade that removes some obsolescence and a whole lot more. Likely that it has a GaN array.

Below updated delivery schedule and notes, changes or new entries in RED

Delivered to date (N.B. Dates below are order date)

LRIP 1 - April 2007 - No UK Orders, (US F-35A only)
LRIP 2 - July 2007 - No UK Orders (6 F-35B for USMC, first F-35B order)
LRIP 3 - May 2008 - 2 x UK F-35B order - Test aircraft for ITF (not combat capable)
LRIP 4 - Nov 2009 - 1 x UK F-35B order - First 'Combat Capable' aircraft - BK-03
LRIP 5 - Dec 2011 - No UK Orders
LRIP 6 - Sept 2013 - No UK Orders
LRIP 7 - Sept 2013 - 1 x UK F-35B Order - Additional Test aircraft for ITF (not combat capable)
LRIP 8 - Nov 2014 - 4 x UK F-35B Order
LRIP 9 - Nov 2015 - 6 x UK F-35B Order
LRIP 10 - 2016 - 3 x UK F-35B Order
LRIP 11 - 2017 - 1 x UK F-35B Order (ZM-152, written off in accident in the Med operating from QE in Nov 22)
LRIP 12 - Nov 2018 - 3 x UK F-35B Order
LRIP 13 - Nov 2018 - 6 x UK F-35B Order - Part order delivered in Oct 21 consisting of 3 a/c, remaining 3 a/c delivered Feb 22
LRIP 14 - Nov 2018 - 8 x UK F-35B Order - Part order delivered in Nov 22 consisting of 3 a/c, next 3 a/c delivered in June 23 (only 2 flew to Marham, 1 to Edwards AFB). 2 a/c still to be delivered (see below)

Total - 33 Delivered - Consisting of 30 'Combat Capable' F-35B and 3 F-35B ITF test aircraft. 1 a/c lost on HMS QE (ZM152)

On Order, Not delivered - (N.B. LRIP's 12, 13 and 14 were ordered simultaneously as a 'Bulk Buy', and were affected by COVID delays)

LRIP 14 - Nov 2018 - 8 x UK F-35B Order - Last 2 a/c from this order likely to be delivered in Nov 2023

Total - 2 contracted, being manufactured (likely to be flying very soon)

Next Steps
Full Rate Pricing appears to no longer be used to describe future buys. Instead they are using 'Lots', this has been used previously in relation to production, it might be that over time previous 'Lots' that have been referred to as LRIP (Low Rate Initial Production) batches get referred to as 'Lots' as well.

Lot 15 - 2024 - 2 x UK F-35B (Was originally to be delivered in 2023 but delays with TR3 have added c6 months)
Lot 16 - 2024 - 4 x UK F-35B
Lot 17 - 2025 - 7 x UK F-35B (These were all previously expected by 2024 at latest). These have the full EW suite including additional antenna.

Total - 13 Promised/Confirmed will be ordered by MoD (This is odd as no contract has ever been announced, but clearly they are under contract. It was originally planned that they would be ordered under Full Rate Pricing (FRP) which appears to have died a death).

Tranche 2 - The Promised 27...not contracted but long lead items might be on order...delivery dates are speculative

Lot 18-25? - 27 a/c. Gabi thinks this will be at a rate of 3-4 deliveries per year. I'm optimistic that there might be more with deliveries concluded in an earlier Lot than 25 as it will give space to get Block IV upgrades completed without having too much of the fleet out of action at the same time. I think they might try and get them by 2031...



N.B. - Worth noting that the production timeline appears to be c2 years from order to delivery. It now appears that the aircraft in Lot 15 are being produced even though the full contract has yet to be signed as negotiations are still underway. Presumably the purchasers have given LM some guarantees. All Lot 15, 16 and 17 a/c will still be delivered by December 2025 according to MoD (not withstanding delays due to TR-3 Processor issues). Important to note that most deliveries to the UK tend to happen at the end of the year. This should be taken into account when standing up of new Sqn's is mentioned. It's hard to see, with the re-scheduling and loss of a recent block aircraft (ZM152), that 809 NAS stand up to fully operational status will not be affected by up to a year.

Further Notes and Remarks
- UK MoD has confirmed that an additional 27 x F-35B will be ordered following on from Lot 17. This wil mean a total order of 74 aircraft for the UK. This consists of 3, non-combat capable, test aircraft operated out of Edwards AFB with 17 Sqn (TES) and 71, combat capable, aircraft operated by 207 Sqn OCU, 617 Sqn and 809 NAS (when formed) out of RAF Marham. There will be a further operational squadron in the early 2030's formed.
- UK MoD have now confirmed that an additional aircraft will be ordered as part of the 27 to replace ZM152
- RAF Marham rebuilding (Project Anvil II) is still underway but progressing well, its going to be a tight squeeze with 71 aircraft there though...no funding is available to refurbish another base however, even as a less tailored, alternate location.
- A 3rd Combat Squadron will be operational by 2033...10 years away. This ties in with deliveries and getting the fleet upgraded to a single standard. Whether this is an RAF or NAS squadron is not yet known.
- RAF Lakenheath upgrades for the USAF F-35A units are delayed.This might mean that some USAF F-35A are temporarily based at Marham or at the least require use of some of the facilities (maintenance and simulation) until theirs are fully complete.
- Lot 15 a/c onwards will have the TR3 Central Processor Upgrade. This has been delayed however, which may affect deliveries by c6 months initially
- Lot 17 a/c onwards will be the 'full fat' Block IV capable aircraft with enhanced EW capabilities (additional aerials around the aircraft amongst other changes).
- USMC is planning to upgrade all of its F-35B to Lot 17 standard to have a standard block across their combat capable fleet. As the USMC have purchased large numbers of aircraft in earlier batches this will be expensive. A decision has yet to be taken on earlier aircraft where upgrade costs will be significant. These could be retired or relegated to test/training/aggressor roles in order to save funds.
- Pathway for UK upgrades has yet to be revealed, however, given that the other main F-35B user, the USMC, is going to upgrade to Lot 17 across the board it is likely that the UK will follow this path. The USMC will effectively prove and de-risk the approach, the UK following an alternate route would increase risk massively and would be unlikely to save much money. Overall, it is likely to be good news for the UK's F-35B fleet as Lot 17 will have the greatest capabilities. As the UK's delivery profile has been far slower than the USMC's there is only 1 aircraft (ZM137, BK-03) that is potentially in the 'too expensive to upgrade' category. The UK will either bite the bullet and upgrade, retire or move it into a test/training role. Its worth noting that ZM137 is 5 years older than any of the UK's other combat capable aircraft and will be 15 years old when Block IV is complete (2027-28). RAF in particular is desperate to avoid the 'Fleets within Fleets' issue that has plagued other programmes. Huge amounts of work have been done on Typhoon to try and resolve this...
- UK MoD have also contracted a seperate upgrade of the Distributed Aperture System (DAS) for all of its F-35B. This improves capability dramatically and removes obsolescent systems. The upgrade is apparently Plug and Play and can be undertaken in normal maintenance. Its important to note that this does not include the seperate chin-mounted EOTS (Electro-Optical Targeting System, i.e. the laser designation system). It's likely that this will need an upgrade in due course (Advanced EOTS has been developed, but I'm unsure if it is ordered yet or if it is just cut into production later on, or if it is a plug and play upgrade like the new DAS). Its worth noting that some of the newer podded solutions, like Litening V, already exceed the original EOTS capabilities (which was based on the Sniper pod components) and this difference is increasing year on year. But every F-35 has EOTS and targeting pods are always a capability that is in short supply for other platforms.
- UK Weapons will continue to be Legacy Asraam, Amraam C-5 and Paveway IV. Amraam D-3 should arrive in 2023 and takeover from C-5. No gun pods will be ordered. This will remain unchanged until 2027/8 when Asraam Blk. VI (formerly called CSP), Meteor, Spear and Paveway IV Penetrator arrive. Spear-EW continues to be mentioned, but no contractual news has been heard since the demonstration contract was awarded (or any hint of results of that). Its unclear if Spear-EW will need further integration works beyond those for Spear. My guess is it will need software work to get the full benefit...there is also the potential MRUSW (likely to be a value engineered Spear).
- The Meteor derived JNAAM will be a test programme only and will not enter production
- USMC have also now got external tanks for the B variant on their roadmap. Expect the UK will jump onboard this when it arrives. Current talk is around adapting the F-22's low drag tanks for F-35, when these are jettisoned apparently the aircraft LO nature is close to normal. However, it should be noted that jettisoning external tanks is a very rare event these days.
- No news on the Kihomac internal baggage pods for the B variant yet.
- BK-31 (ZM165) did not fly over with the recently delivered BK-32 and BK-33. It is apparently at Edwards AFB, presumably helping with the test programme.
- Also worth remembering that although Block IV capability will arrive (as planned at present) in full by 2027/28 from the manufacturers, the UK's full fleet of F-35B might not be upgraded to that standard until 2030. It will take time to upgrade older aircraft and could impact operations when they are out of action for upgrade. Either way it won't be an overnight move for more than a small number of aircraft. Lot 17 will just be a quick software update, prior to Lot 15 will require the TR3 Processor upgrade, all prior to Lot 17 will require the additional EW antenna as well. Engine upgrades to gain additional electrical power and cooling may also be required.
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

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Imagine how much better F-35B would be if instead of VTOL it was just SVRL and safely takeoff with heavy load in 250m/ under 500ft .

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

Post by mr.fred »

new guy wrote: 29 Aug 2023, 15:02 Imagine how much better F-35B would be if instead of VTOL it was just SVRL and safely takeoff with heavy load in 250m/ under 500ft .
F35B is V/STOL and can do shipborne rolling vertical landing (SRVL).
Going from the short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) nomenclature, do you mean something like short take off and rolling landing (STORL?)
Or are you suggesting a what-if where it had no vertical takeoff or landing capability and instead focussed on short field performance?

I don't know how you would manage the latter without the V/STOL capacity.

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

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mr.fred wrote: 29 Aug 2023, 15:52
new guy wrote: 29 Aug 2023, 15:02 Imagine how much better F-35B would be if instead of VTOL it was just SVRL and safely takeoff with heavy load in 250m/ under 500ft .
F35B is V/STOL and can do shipborne rolling vertical landing (SRVL).
Going from the short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) nomenclature, do you mean something like short take off and rolling landing (STORL?)
Or are you suggesting a what-if where it had no vertical takeoff or landing capability and instead focussed on short field performance?

I don't know how you would manage the latter without the V/STOL capacity.
STORL.

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

Post by mr.fred »

new guy wrote: 29 Aug 2023, 16:40STORL.
So, you are asking us to imagine an F35B that can do the things that an F35B can do?
Isn't that simply an F35B?

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

Post by new guy »

mr.fred wrote: 29 Aug 2023, 17:14
new guy wrote: 29 Aug 2023, 16:40STORL.
So, you are asking us to imagine an F35B that can do the things that an F35B can do?
Isn't that simply an F35B?
Yes, but without the VTOL requirement, thus reducing how powerful the liftfan had to be, maybe not having it at all, thus saving weight, increasing range. If there wasn't a need for the liftfan at all, then there might not have been a need for a B variant at all, thus reducing costs enormously. That is what I am saying.

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