BBC News: US F35 fighters to deploy from Royal Navy aircraft carrier

US F35 fighters to deploy from Royal Navy aircraft carrier – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38336101

US and Royal Navy F35B to operate together from HMS Queen Elizabeth? Well, no surprises there then.

 To be fair, RN personnel have been embedded with the US Navy for some time in the States, and have operated on board US Carriers with some success. It’s a good job then because when the new carriers cone into service, the R N will have to hit the floor running. When the F35B is released to service in 2018, it will have been 8 years since the RN operated fixed wing combat aircraft since the demise of the Harrier. So we could assume at least a year to work up both man and machine to become a lean, mean fighting machine. One of the problems though is recruitment, since the Navy is most affected by lack of new recruits, and the UK services generally are being cut back by successive governments. It makes one wonder if, when the HMS QE and the F35B are fully integrated whether her majesties government will increase the defence budget or as is likely it will stay the same or decrease, making it even more difficult to recruit new service personnel? The hoo-ha and trumpeting by various defence ministers are good sound bites, but they don’t bring about a call to arms.Then there is the Trump effect, how much is he for the military? He doesn’t like the last three Presidents have any military background, so is he going to be gung ho to rid Syria of IS with our or others help? The juries still out.

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Show of strength?

Video of F35 taking off and landing on a US aircraft carrier:

F35 Carrier Testing

So, the US Navy placed 12 F35Bs on a carrier and flew them off to show and test themselves how they would work within the context of carrier borne operations.  Good for them, it looked successful and the aircraft seemed to perform to expectations.

One thing I don’t get though, watching the take offs, is what are the long term stresses which are placed on that forward intake door during take off? That panel is an accident waiting to happen. It’s too late now but the Harrier design had everything being used during all phases of flight, yet the F35 carries over a ton of dead hovering weight during forward flight. What possible design concept thought that this would be a good thing to do? We’re stuck with it now.All power to the USAF for getting this trial going. But I still wonder about that front intake door.

No dogfight competition then?

With thanks to business insider UK

Why the F-35 could ‘never in a million years’ out dogfight the RAF Typhoon or the Russian Su-35

Alex Lockie

In a recent interview with Business Insider, Justin Bronk, a research fellow specializing in combat airpower at the Royal United Services Institute, dropped a bombshell about the US’s $1 trillion F-35 program:

“The F-35 cannot out dogfight a Typhoon (or a Su-35), never in a million years.”

In earlier stages of the F-35’s development, some bad reports came out claiming it lost in simulated dogfights to the F-16, a legacy platform the F-35 intends to replace.

Lately, the news coming out about the F-35’s dogfighting ability has taken a visible turn to the positive, but dogfighting was never the main purpose or strong suit of the Joint Strike Fighter.

For that reason, older fighters, like the Eurofighter Typhoon or the Sukhoi Su-35, could likely outmaneuver and kill an F-35 in a close range confrontation.

While every credible report indicates that the F-35 will dominate in stealthiness, situational awareness, and beyond visual range confrontations, dogfights, or up close fights with opposing fighter pilots jockeying for position and a clean shot, depend on a different set of characteristics.

The Eurofighter Typhoon was made to dogfight, the F-35 was not. AP

Thrust-to-weight ratio and wing loading, or the loaded weight of the aircraft divided by the area of the wings, comprise some of the chiefly important factors in dogfighting.

“Typhoon and Su-35 both have positive thrust-to-weight ratios at combat loadings, meaning that they can accelerate vertically and generally both maintain and regain energy in a turn much more successfully than the F-35 (particularly the heavier B and C models),” explained Bronk.

The F-35 does have a positive thrust-to-weight ratio, but when loaded up with fuel and ordinance for combat, it’s unclear if that will remain.

Ultimately, having small wings and a design more geared toward stealth than kinematics hurts the F-35’s dogfighting prospects.

“A low wing loading means that Typhoon and Su-35 can sustain much tighter turns than the F-35 whilst also creating less induced drag and losing less energy,” said Bronk.

In the case of the Russian Su-35, an adversary infinitely more likely to face the F-35 than the Typhoon, the F-35 overcoming the Su-35’s supermaneuverability while dogfighting seems an insurmountable task.

“Su-35 also has thrust-vectoring engines, meaning that it can maintain control and continue to point its nose where the pilot wants even after the wings have stalled (called supermaneuverability) which is a potentially large advantage within visual range and at low speeds.”

Not only does stealth limit the F-35’s mobility, it also limits its capacity for ordinance.

The Su-35 sacrifices stealth to carry more missiles under the wings. The F-35 carries missiles in an internal bay to preserve stealth. Sukhoi

“Typhoon and Su-35 also carry larger missile loadouts than F-35 in normal combat configurations meaning that at close range they have twice as many infra-red seeking missiles to fire at their opponents,” Bronk said.

As Business Insider previously explored, infra-red tracking is key to finding and fighting advanced stealth aircraft like the F-35.

But none of this would be news to the US Air Force, who have intentionally sacrificed dogfighting abilities for stealth and situational awareness. The whole point of the F-35 is to see enemy jets from far beyond visual range and engage them with advanced missiles.

According to Bronk, neither an Su-35 or a Typhoon would see the F-35 until it is very close, at which point the legacy jets are completely at the mercy of the more advanced fifth-gens who can “avoid them, engage them, or position themselves for an engagement entirely on their terms.”

So while an F-35 most likely cannot win a dogfight against a Typhoon or an Su-35, it’s game-changing capabilities at long range all but guarantee it will never have to.

NOW WATCH: This is how pilots train to fly America’s most expensive fighter jets

Early deployment beckons…?

F-35 Marks New Era For Stealth

With thanks to Aviation Week & Space Technology

U.S. Air Force F-35s could deploy in 18 months

Ready for War

It took the Air Force almost a decade to send the F-22 Raptor to a combat zone after declaring the stealth fighter ready for war. But after giving the green light to the first operational F-35A squadron in late July, the Air Force is signaling the fledgling fleet will deploy to fight Islamic State group terrorists in the very near future.

The Air Force’s eagerness to send its shiny new fighter into battle is a marked shift from years past, when deploying the radar-avoiding F-22 to the Middle East was viewed as provocative. But as the U.S. and its allies face a resurgent Russia and the proliferation of advanced weapons that can easily track and shoot down many legacy fighters, the service seems to be casting aside the Pentagon’s historically more cautious use of stealth aircraft.

USAF declared its F-35A ready for war right on schedule Aug. 2

Senior leaders signal the JSF will soon deploy to Europe, the Pacific, and the Middle East

Despite the Air Force’s confidence, the F-35 will not reach full warfighting capability until 2018, at earliest

Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, the chief of Air Combat Command, says he hopes in the next 18 months to send the Joint Strike Fighter to Europe and the Pacific, suggesting that such a move would send a message in response to increasing Russian and Chinese military activity. And if U.S. Central Command asks for the F-35 in the Middle East, Carlisle says he would comply in a heartbeat.

“From my perspective, it sends a good signal,” Carlisle says. “I think it reassures friends and allies and is a deterrent to potential adversaries, so I don’t think it’s a provocative move at all.”

In rolling out the F-35, the Air Force may be taking lessons learned from the Raptor to heart. Although the F-22 entered service in 2005, the jet did not see its first combat deployment until the U.S.-led intervention in Syria in 2014. The F-22’s deployments to the Middle East to fight Islamic State insurgents and to Europe to counter Russian aggression did wonders for its public image. The Raptor is now so popular, Congress has inquired about what it would take to resurrect the production line.

Now as the F-35 comes online, our partners and allies are eager to see the jet in action, Carlisle says.


The current configuration of F-35A aircraft can carry the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, the GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition and the laser- guided Paveway missile. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Madelyn Brown

When F-35s deploy to the European and Pacific theater, this will give our allies and partners confidence in the airframe, Carlisle says. “It will also give them a chance to see it in operation and in interoperability, working with their fourth-generation airplanes,” he adds.

Even though Carlisle lauded the F-35’s performance, the stealthy fighter jet is still immature and has limited capability to actually fight on today’s battlefield. Two U.S. F-35 variants—the Marine Corps’ F-35B and now the Air Force’s F-35A—have been declared ready for combat, but the jet will not be fully operational until it has completed a vigorous testing period that will not begin until August 2018, at the earliest. The initial aircraft will not have its full suite of electronic warfare, data fusion, automated maintenance capability or weapons capacity until the final warfighting software, Block 3F, is fielded in 2018.

For now, the F-35A in its 3i configuration can carry the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition and laser-guided Paveway missile. Block 3F will add the short-range AIM-9X Sidewinder missile, Small-Diameter Bomb and main gun system—the 25-mm, four-barrel GAU-22/A.

The gun is key to one of the F-35’s primary missions: protecting soldiers on the ground, also called close-air support. Though a 2,000-lb. bomb is effective in destroying a target, a huge blast is not ideal when enemy and friendly ground forces are engaged in close combat.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester cautions that while it is the Air Force’s decision when to declare the F-35 ready for war, the Block 3i software is limited, and its deficiencies will impact mission effectiveness.

“While the USAF has determined that the F-35A with Block 3i mission systems software provides ‘basic’ capabilities for IOC [initial operating
capability], the limitations and deficiencies in performance for the F-35A with Block 3i discussed in the 2015 DOT&E [Director, Operational Test and Evaluation] Annual Report largely remain and will affect mission effectiveness and suitability in combat,” says Pentagon spokesman Maj. Roger Cabiness.

Still, Carlisle says, the F-35 is equipped to carry out many missions U.S. forces are flying today in the Middle East, including pre-planned airstrikes, interdiction, and defensive and offensive counter air. airstrikes, interdiction, and defensive and offensive counter air. Even without its full potential, the Air Force would have no qualms about sending it into battle.

 Rocket Testsairstrikes, interdiction, and defensive and offensive counter air. Even without its full potential, the Air Force would have no qualms about sending it into battle.

Marine Fighter Attack Sqdn. (VMFA) 121, the “Green Knights” based out of MCAS Yuma, Arizona, will be the first to deploy overseas; in January the squadron flies to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. Meanwhile, RAF Lakenheath in the U.K. is set to receive its first of 24 jets in 2021. 

“The F-35A brings an unprecedented combination of lethality, survivability and adaptability to joint and combined operations and is ready to deploy and strike well-defended targets anywhere on Earth,” says newly minted Air Force Chief of Staff.

Ed’s note: this all presupposes that those F35 aircraft to be deployed to European airfirces: UK, Austria, Italy et al, will be based in their own countries as well as the USA aircraft. So which Force will have precedence? The US DoD obviously thinks they can do the job better than their European counterparts if they are already announcing deployment from 2018. Surely the home countries defence departments will have greater knowledge of the requirement than the good ‘ole US if A. After all their track record in similar circumstances has not always been good. Comments?

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Buying Spree?

At the RIAT air show, the outgoing prime minister signed off £4bn for the purchase of 8 Poseidon P-8A maritime patrol aircraft.

This pales into insignificance the £18bn purchase, potentially of 138 Lightening II F35B from Lockheed, including possibly the delivery of the F35A variant which us basically a Typhoon rival, and seems a bit pointless to me. This was after the flip-flop from the ‘cats and traps” version, the F35C, which can’t be used on the new aircraft carriers HMSs Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles without considerable, costly upgrades; and the final purchase the F35B. So why are we buying the F35A (quantity unkniwn)? Who knows, someone may provide an answer. Perhaps the 10 year contract to support the Typhoon may have something to do with it.

The F35Bs flown over from the USA have wowed crowds at the Farnborough air show and are now safely back at Lockheed presumably. The media were impressed with them, but that’s not usually difficult at a market stall like Farnborough. Let’s hope that the promised world wide sales make the F35 a success, it needs it.

Appearing at an air show near you.

So, they’re here at last. The Lockheed F35B, named Lightning II by the UK, flew over from the United States to appear at at least two air shows here during the summer. Flown by RAF crews and in-flight refuelled, the F35s fulfilled a promise to come to the UK, after a failure to appear in 2014, due to engine problems and an on board fire.

The F35B is the latest 4th generation VSTOL aircraft to be co-produced by a conglomerate of world companies, and is state of the art with advanced avionics and ‘low visibility’ but not stealth. At a cost of £100m a copy, 15% of which has been earmarked for British production they are not cheap, and various development problems over the last 8-10 years, have meant a late introduction into service in the UK. Two aircraft carriers, HMS Prince Charles and HMS Queen Elizabeth are currently in production and the F35 is scheduled to operate from them in 2018, when they are both put into service.

The manufacturers and procurement staff are obviously upbeat about the F35, which will always be compared to the Harrier, and is a direct replacement for it, albeit 8 years after the Harrier was taken out of service. The comparisons are valid: both are VSTOL, both have one engine and one pilot. But the comparisons end there. The Harrier was muted in the 50s, developed in the 60s, operated and improved through to the 2010s by the British and the USA and continues to be in service with the US Marine Corps, the Italian and Spanish Navies and has just been retired by the Indian Navy. The F35 was muted in the 21st century and has been developed and tested making it far superior to what was a 1950s design. It would be like slating the Vulcan bomber, designed in the 40s, to be superior to say the B1 bomber operated by the USAF. Make no mistake the F35 is a quantum leap in technology, materials, techniques, avionics, capability and performance. The Harrier was a perfect workforce for its era, and the fact that several air arms still operate it is a testament to its design and capability. The UK chose wrongly in my opinion and that of many observers around the world, to take the Harrier out of service at the end of 2010 by the new Conservative government. It meant that there was a huge capability gap before the introduction into service of the new carriers and the F35. Several times in the past 6 years there have been many occasions when a carrier with a Squadron of Harriers on board would have seriously defused a situation, like Libya, Syria etc. However it was done and there is no turning back. The UK is committed to buying 138 F35s at a cost of £1.38 billion and is a huge purchase. One could wonder whether we needed such fire power against the likes of IS with their pop guns, but they are getting more sophisticated weaponry and probably will have combat aircraft at some stage. For the kind of money we’re spending on the F35 we could have kept the Harrier and Tornado fleets in service with avionic upgrades for many years and still have had enough air cover for our needs. The reason the Harrier went out of service was because one of the two; Harrier or Tornado had to go. The  Harrier for whatever reason lost, and the Tornado is now coming to the end of its life, with only the Typhoon left as the gold standard air defence aircraft for this countries protection. But a bomber it ain’t although it is now officially a muti-role aircraft, probably like F35 will be.

So the F35 is here, albeit temporarily and you can see it at RIAT Fairford where they are based in the UK during their stay, and at Farnborough International. They also flew over RAF Marham accompanied by a Tornado which is where 617 Sqn, the first F35 squadron will form. I wish them every success and good PR while they are here. They return in numbers in two years to populate a dozen squadrons eventually probably and will come to represent the RAF and the Royal Navy much as the Harrier did in its day. Bon chance. 

First F35Bs land at RAF Fairford

So, the first 4 Lockheed F35Bs have flown across the pond for the summer air show season in the UK. They were escorted in by RAF Typhoons, and refuelled in the air. They are to be based at Fairford, a USAF base, for  security, and will perform a flypast at the Farnborough air show in a couple of weeks.

The pity is they won’t be landing at Farnborough to be looked at more closely. A strange decision given that the UK will be eventually buying it is believed over 100 of them. Given the gestation and criticism the F35 Lightening has attracted (especially from this blog), it may have been a PR coup to allow the great unwashed to get up close and personal to this wonderful (?) machine. The UK government are fully committed to the introduction of the F35 into RAF and Royal Navy service and maybe should have insisted on them staying on the ground at the Air show. Perhaps they’ve got other things on their minds at the moment. Or perhaps the paranoid Americans don’t want the risk, however slight, that their equipment will be in any way comprised. Given the amount of money spent on both the F35 and the massive new aircraft carriers coming into service to carry them, I’d have  thought the great British public would want to see where their hard earned money was being spent.Ho hum, roll on the next general election in a few months time.