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moo
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AFM: F-35B A "wheezy Pig"

Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:24 pm

I'm a bit uncertain about starting this thread due to the development of other F-35 related threads, but here goes...

Air Forces Monthly, May 2012, have an interesting article on the British F-35C/F-35B "will they won't they" situation currently ongoing.

Here is a direct quote from it:

Quote:

"The F-35B can be described as a 'wheezy pig'. Its performance in the vertical landing regime means it cannot safely recover with a full load of weapons in the internal bays, particularly when operating in the 35-degree centigrade average summer temperatures in the Arabian and Indian Ocean. These weapon bays, already smaller than the F-35C, are limited to two AIM-120C missiles and two 500lb (230KG) Paveway IV bombs (actually 660lb/300kg with guidance kit). In order to have enough landing performance, the aircraft an only fly with two Paveways, relying on its Low Observability (LO) to defend itself from the thread of hostile aircraft. However, the limited impact of the 500lb Paveway when compared to the 2,000lb (900kg) Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) being flown in the F-35C causes the Coalition Forces Air Component Commander (CFACC) to remove the F-35B from the master attack plan on Day 1 of the conflict when the enemy integrated air defence system is still potent."

The article also highlights that the F-35B would not be carrying out a normal vertical landing on British carriers, instead it relies on something called a "Ship Rolling Vertical Landing", where there is a considerable forward vector component to the aircraft as it lands. This both increases the risk to the aircraft (with the F-35B already being made from lower strength materials), and increases deck area required to recover an aircraft.

Without SRVL, the F-35B cannot return a decent payload to the deck, meaning that expensive ordnance would have to be jettisoned each time.

With the lower range of the F-35B (compared to the F-35C), limitations in distances from alternative landing points is highlighted.

Thoughts?

Personally, I'm against the F-35B buy for many reasons, and although the F-35C would be an acceptable alternative for the RN, I'd prefer for us to buy teh Superhornet or the Rafale at this stage - we get a proven aircraft, on time and on a set budget, with deliveries available much sooner allowing for better training and familiarisation, at a lower cost.

[Edited 2012-04-11 05:25:04]
 
jollo
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RE: AFM: F-35B A "wheezy Pig"

Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:08 pm

Quoting moo (Thread starter):
it relies on something called a "Ship Rolling Vertical Landing",

I believe the correct definition is "Shipboard Rolling Vertical Landing", as the maneuver calls for a significant landing roll aboard the ship; however, the speed is low enough to avoid the need for arrestor wires.

IIRC, the Sea Harrier had trouble landing vertically in hot weather with two AMRAAMs. Now, the F35 is said to have trouble with two AMRAAMs and two Paweways. That's what I call progress...  
Quoting moo (Thread starter):
Personally, I'm against the F-35B buy for many reasons

I agree. IMO Italy's F35B buy doesn't make sense too: in addition to the naval air wing, we're planning to buy 20 B examples for the Air Force, only meant to be operated from land bases, as AMX replacements! Where's the logic in it?

In the current fiscal climate Italy should forego naval fast air, converting the existing two STOVL carriers to helo platforms, and look for much better bang for the buck in the attack role.
 
GDB
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RE: AFM: F-35B A "wheezy Pig"

Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:25 pm

The problem is that adding the (unproven) EM catapults to a CVF looks to be more difficult and much more expensive than mooted in 2010.

That VSTOL landing method has been under development for a long time by the RN, as stated by nature VSTOL imposes some restrictions, or else every fast jet would have that ability.

One thing CVF will have is space, we should maybe stop thinking in terms of current VSTOL naval platforms, even the USN LHD's.
(Which has now done some actual F-35 sea trials, with F-35B, unlike the F-35C which seems some way off).

My own view, unchanged, is that the first CVF should proceed as originally planned, as a VSTOL platform, even if it would spend a lot of time as a large LPH. (Which could in that role still have a small flight of F-35B's if needed).
Rather than building it then, FFS, mothballing her!
With a batch of RN F-35B's, about 30-40.

Then as still planned complete the second CVF as a F-35C platform.
But with the best will in the world that would be some way behind the VSTOL carrier, just how long do we want the gap in naval fast air to last? It's corrosive enough in experience retention, people retention, morale must be poor too.
(The last time the RN did a conventional carrier operation? 1978!

Since F-35C's would also replace remaining RAF Tornado GR.4's from the end of the decade, the RAF would get first call.
Then the RN, from a total of around 60 of UK F-35C's.

To claim that the VSTOL carrier would be, as the government did in 2010, incompatible with joint operation will our allies, left out the USMC!

Though attractive an idea, some kind of interim buy/lease of either Rafales or F-18E/F's, unless it's an amazingly financially neutral deal, seems unlikely.
It's all about the money. Not just the costs of the airframes/weapons either, all the infrastructure and support too. For a hitherto unplanned and unexpected addition to the inventory.
And right now, the costs of adopting LM cats for a CVF, seems a very unwelcome, unexpected and additional burden on a strained budget. Quite apart from a different aircraft type.
A Defence Secretary, under great Treasury pressure, if he wants to keep the idea of CTOL afloat, may well want to shift the main costs of this back a few financial years.

Which is where the gap filling of the F-35B, with a ship now being built, ahead of the planned F-35C carrier, comes in.
From the UK end, the money for developing and ordering the VSTOL CVF and our part in the F-35B, has been spent.
Is a CVF with F-35B better than nothing?
I think so.

Once both are operational, F-35C is the prime strike carrier, of course. When it's unavailable the VSTOL ship can cover in the role if called upon, again, a lot better than nothing.
As well as providing a 2nd LPH platform when HMS Ocean or it's eventual replacement, if there is one in the 2020's, are unavailable.
 
ThePointblank
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RE: AFM: F-35B A "wheezy Pig"

Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:52 am

Quoting jollo (Reply 1):

IIRC, the Sea Harrier had trouble landing vertically in hot weather with two AMRAAMs. Now, the F35 is said to have trouble with two AMRAAMs and two Paweways. That's what I call progress...

Definite progress, and improves range bring back weight as well.

I've been told that Singapore has made inquires specifically about the F-35B variant as their choice if they were to choose F-35. So we might see some export sales here.

Quoting GDB (Reply 2):
The problem is that adding the (unproven) EM catapults to a CVF looks to be more difficult and much more expensive than mooted in 2010.

That VSTOL landing method has been under development for a long time by the RN, as stated by nature VSTOL imposes some restrictions, or else every fast jet would have that ability.

One thing CVF will have is space, we should maybe stop thinking in terms of current VSTOL naval platforms, even the USN LHD's.
(Which has now done some actual F-35 sea trials, with F-35B, unlike the F-35C which seems some way off).

My own view, unchanged, is that the first CVF should proceed as originally planned, as a VSTOL platform, even if it would spend a lot of time as a large LPH. (Which could in that role still have a small flight of F-35B's if needed).
Rather than building it then, FFS, mothballing her!
With a batch of RN F-35B's, about 30-40.

Then as still planned complete the second CVF as a F-35C platform.
But with the best will in the world that would be some way behind the VSTOL carrier, just how long do we want the gap in naval fast air to last? It's corrosive enough in experience retention, people retention, morale must be poor too.
(The last time the RN did a conventional carrier operation? 1978!

Since F-35C's would also replace remaining RAF Tornado GR.4's from the end of the decade, the RAF would get first call.
Then the RN, from a total of around 60 of UK F-35C's.

To claim that the VSTOL carrier would be, as the government did in 2010, incompatible with joint operation will our allies, left out the USMC!

Though attractive an idea, some kind of interim buy/lease of either Rafales or F-18E/F's, unless it's an amazingly financially neutral deal, seems unlikely.
It's all about the money. Not just the costs of the airframes/weapons either, all the infrastructure and support too. For a hitherto unplanned and unexpected addition to the inventory.
And right now, the costs of adopting LM cats for a CVF, seems a very unwelcome, unexpected and additional burden on a strained budget. Quite apart from a different aircraft type.
A Defence Secretary, under great Treasury pressure, if he wants to keep the idea of CTOL afloat, may well want to shift the main costs of this back a few financial years.

Which is where the gap filling of the F-35B, with a ship now being built, ahead of the planned F-35C carrier, comes in.
From the UK end, the money for developing and ordering the VSTOL CVF and our part in the F-35B, has been spent.
Is a CVF with F-35B better than nothing?
I think so.

Once both are operational, F-35C is the prime strike carrier, of course. When it's unavailable the VSTOL ship can cover in the role if called upon, again, a lot better than nothing.
As well as providing a 2nd LPH platform when HMS Ocean or it's eventual replacement, if there is one in the 2020's, are unavailable.

The problem was that the UK switching to the C variant was very much a political decision, not a military decision. Apparently, the military only found out about the decision when the PMO announced it in the media.

Buying the C would have been much more expensive for the UK in the long run (discussed ad nauseum elsewhere), and the UK government knew this. However, in the SDSR, converting to the C gave a convenient excuse to kick the can down the road and delay the CVFs, which suited the powers that be just fine (somebody else's problem), including the RAF, with the latter hoping that RN fixed wing would disappear altogether (one of the reasons the Harrier was retired as well) and they'd become the world's largest helicopter carriers. They didn't expect the extra costs to show up so fast and so soon.

Compounding this issue is the extremely high technical risks of EMALS; with the delays to the USN's Ford class carriers, the UK will be the first country to integrate EMALS onto a ship, with all the technical problems and costs associated with it. This may explain in part why the UK's initial estimate of £400m cost has already escalated to £1.8 billion.

Interestingly, the UK has not committed to spend any money on the new EMALS system. Although it has issued an official request for the system, no contract has yet been signed. According to the Daily Telegraph, up to £40 million is said to have been spent by the programme office in the UK on initial feasibility studies. It seems, therefore that at present if the UK was to switch back to the B model it would be rather more cost-effective than buying the C variant and certainly less risky.

With the B model becoming far more mature as a platform, the UK could flip flop and switch back to the more mature B model as a more cost-effective solution accounting for the various technical issues surrounding EMALS.
 
jollo
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RE: AFM: F-35B A "wheezy Pig"

Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:49 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 3):
Definite progress, and improves range bring back weight as well.

Mmmh. In terms of absolute mass, yes, definitely. I terms of a brand new design having trouble handling it's intended payload, not much so. Hot weather operations aren't exactly a last-minute development (global warming notwithstanding). At least, Sea Harrier had the "excuse" that AIM-120 was a retrofit, unplanned for at design time.
 
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moo
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RE: AFM: F-35B A "wheezy Pig"

Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:07 am

The talk of the Sea Harrier is all very well and nice, but what about the GR.7 and GR.9? They carried a lot more back to the carrier than the weight of two AM-120s and could vertical land as well while doing it.

The F-35B isn't really an improvement in that area when you take the newer variants of the Harrier into consideration.
 
ThePointblank
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RE: AFM: F-35B A "wheezy Pig"

Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:07 am

Quoting moo (Reply 5):
The talk of the Sea Harrier is all very well and nice, but what about the GR.7 and GR.9? They carried a lot more back to the carrier than the weight of two AM-120s and could vertical land as well while doing it.

The F-35B isn't really an improvement in that area when you take the newer variants of the Harrier into consideration.

However, the F-35B will carry more further out; one of the key KPP's of the F-35B is that it with two JDAMs and two internal AIM-120s, full expendables, execute a 600 foot STO from LHA, LHD, and aircraft carriers (sea level, tropical day, 10 kts operational WOD) & with a combat radius of 450 nm (STOVL profile). The Harrier in all of its generations never had the range and payload capabilities to do just that.
 
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moo
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RE: AFM: F-35B A "wheezy Pig"

Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:26 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 6):

The problem is, according to the article the F-35B won't be carrying JDAMs, nor will it be carrying both missiles and bombs, precisely due to performance limitations...
 
tommytoyz
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RE: AFM: F-35B A "wheezy Pig"

Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:08 am

Quoting moo (Reply 7):
The problem is, according to the article the F-35B won't be carrying JDAMs, nor will it be carrying both missiles and bombs, precisely due to performance limitations...

And it'll cost how much to acquire and operate? To carry 1,200lbs of bombs 450 nm for almost $200 million? No bang for the buck, is the problem.
 
GDB
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RE: AFM: F-35B A "wheezy Pig"

Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:43 pm

To the issue of the shorter ranged F-35B, in a carrier strike role, (as opposed to a more Littoral role - which is also more likely).
I've a cunning plan.
All F-35 versions will have wing hard-points for when LO is not a mission critical requirement, (good place to hang Brimstone weapons for the UK ones in the more close support inclined role?).

So why not also hang external fuel tanks and on the outer plyon(s), in flight refuelling hose units?
Like A-4's - not a large aircraft - did in USN/UMSC and I think, Royal Australian Navy service.
Like Scimitars did in the RN, when the early Buccaneers.1's needed more frequent top ups.
Later also done by the definitive Buccaneer S-2 and DH Sea Vixen.
 
tommytoyz
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RE: AFM: F-35B A "wheezy Pig"

Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:38 am

As far as I am concerned, the defense people in the various countries should blow their country's budgets on the F-35. The world will be safer if they do.
 
Devilfish
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RE: AFM: F-35B A "wheezy Pig"

Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:15 am

The best part of it for me is the nickname --- 'Wheezy Pig'.    Wonder if it would stick?   
"Everyone is entitled to my opinion." - Garfield
 
AirRyan
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RE: AFM: F-35B A "wheezy Pig"

Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:18 pm

The F-35B, much like the V-22, has been a stubborn "wheezy pig" borne from chimerical aspirations and utter financial irresponsibility, by the US Marine Corps. How can uber expensive V-22's and F-35B's replace CH-46 and F/A-18's acquired as low cost alternatives? Does the Corps think it's piggy bank is larger now than it was back then?

You wanna replace the Harriers, buy an Apache helicopter and stop the bailouts to Bell who seems to go out of their way to shoot themselves in the foot. Bell wouldn't have survived this long had the Marines not given them handouts in the V-22 and H-1 upgrades.
 
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ptrjong
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RE: AFM: F-35B A "wheezy Pig"

Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:44 pm

Quoting Devilfish (Reply 11):

To me, it's a frog.
The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad (Salvador Dali)

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