back to article Eurofighter at last able to drop bombs, but only 'austerely'

Some of the Royal Air Force's new Eurofighter Typhoon jets have today been announced as capable of delivering weapons against ground targets, in addition to their initial role of air-to-air combat. This has been reported as meaning that the already horrifyingly expensive, long-delayed planes are "fully combat ready". However, …

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  1. Ash

    Eurofighter...

    The Windows Vista Ultimate of the air.

    It looks pretty enough, but it's bloated, crippled, and doesn't work properly. At anything.

  2. Ian McNee
    Stop

    Hmmm....£25+bn....

    ....wtf are we spending all that money on these flying phallic extensions for? With all that money we could buy enough friends around the world to avoid having any stupid wars and still have change left over for a teaching hospital in every large city, more pies than Prescott can regurgitate in a year and a taxi ride home.

    Oh...forget the taxi home...bloody price of fuel...*mutter*....stupid invading large oil-producing country...*grumble*...damned medieval Saudis we've been backing for decades...*whinge*...

  3. Mark

    SEAD

    Isn't that still adequately covered by Tornadoes?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Ian

    >With all that money we could buy enough friends around the world to avoid having any stupid wars and still have change left over for a teaching hospital in every large city

    No we really couldn't. Defence are not the most efficient users of cash but the NHS make them look positively frugal. The health service munches it's way through considerably more cash than defence.

  5. Hate2Register

    Replace passenger jets with Stealth Planes.. Cooool!

    Any Eurofighters not used by the RAF can be sold to Saudi Arabia or Greece or Japan or Austria or any other country which would like some aerial backbone. Once this spending period is out of the way, some more helis for the boys in Afghanistan would be welcome.

    I know you think an indiginous Euro-Fighter is not really required, since we could buy American. I disagree with that analysis, nor should a supercruise high-altitude bat like the Typhoon be compared to a Stealth Bomber. An American General (apparently the only guy to have flown both a F22 and a Typhoon) said that it's like comparing a Nascar to an Formula 1. Not a useful comparison.

    Although anyone living in the hills in Scotlands will attest to being occasionally annoyed by the RAF's low-level training (stealth would be .. quieter maybe). At least the RAF will be flying a plane partly designed by them, with their needs in mind. That should count for something.

    And the Eurofighter is popular with pilots. It can beat any plane flying (some even outnumbered 3:1), and will save a lot of arses on the ground, if the ground combat role is sorted as promised. So pipe down and get with the program. If you're so worried about helicopters, have an office whip-round. Otherwise wait for the funds like everyone else. Sheesh..

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    £25bn well spent

    Presumably we'll see it popping up on Top Gear again at some stage.

    What a joke.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Ash

    It doesn't even look pretty, no aircraft ever looks right with canards, they're the training wheels of the sky.

  8. Craig Graham

    Shortsighted?

    I for one would rather not be entirely dependent on a foreign power for protection. My view is Europe needs to retain sufficient capability that it costs a foreign power to attack us or something of ours. That foreign power could be the US or China or someone else- who knows what the political situation will be 5,10 years down the line, especially if there are shortages biting in energy, food and water, and if climate change is causing mass migration of people- refugees- to a bunch of countries who each would like to have to take in as few as possible and would like the other countries to do as much as possible.

    A good design is long lived and has lots of room for enhancement. The Harrier, for instance, lasted years and went through loads of revisions yet I don't recall any derisive comments of them "not getting it right yet". This article is presented as an aircraft that has not yet met its design spec- yet it seems the aircraft talked about is already in version 2 (if that's what Tranche 2 means). So version 1 is done and in use and they're finding things to make better- why is that seen as such a bad thing? I was noseying around one of the aircraft a year or so ago and an example of one of the future upgrades that's been deliberately left open in the design is vectored thrust, which in conjunction with more engine power will allow the aircraft to do tail slides, like the SU-27. That kind of maneuverability seems very useful in combat, and though it wasn't asked for at the time it's at least one way in which a future revision will be better than the present. Will that be presented in the same light- they've "finally" got it working? Even though it wasn't something originally specced and can only be done because of foresight?

    People here should be well aware that when you're engineering with new kit, things go wrong and take longer than expected. There's always snags, and salespeople and financiers- because of the way our system works- will always underplay the length of time needed and the risk of overrun. Certainly there's *cough chinook* cockups and mismanagement, but not every missed milestone and budget overrun is an indication of that.

    Gawd, I could go on for ages now about how perceptions here towards engineering and technology have changed and how it's letting the far east get into a position to leave us really screwed but I need to stop somewhere.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Shiny

    But Chinooks and Tornado's aren't pretty and shiny any more. Isn't that enough reason for the RAF and MoD to spend their money elsewhere?

    I went to an air display evening at the Shuttleworth collection last year. Their 1911 ('ish) Bleriot still flies. They just don't build them like that any more...

  10. John Browne

    Did I miss something or was this supposed to be a Fighter jet

    Is it just me or does this all seem rather silly.

    Why would you buy a super agile top of the range air to air FIGHTER and then decide that it's not really what you want and you then go back and bolt really heavy air to ground bombs on it. Of course the plane is designed to be light and agile so now to carry these bombs you need to take the engine out and put an engine in that can lift the load.

    It seems about as silly as buying a sports car and then complaining about the load space, only to come up with the solution of putting a tow bar on it and permanently attaching a trailer to it, taking out the engine and putting a tractor engine in it.

    If they wanted a fighter/bomber why didn't they just buy one in teh first place

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just don't understand it !

    It's for all the world as if defence procurement is conducted with political goals in mind rather than the efficient equipping of the armed forces.

    No, I must have that wrong somewhere....

  12. Paul Hatch

    Even the Tornado wasnt this late.

    While the article implies the RAF are wanting changes/updates, that is about par for the course.

    The plane was designed in the 80s is overr 20 years in the making and only now going into service.

    Usually a military jet in an ideal world has a lifespan of 20-25 years and usually has a midlife update either half way through that lifespan, or after a war where they are reminded how out of date the aircraft's systems are.

    With the sort of lead times being acheived, It seems no surprise if the RAF are already asking for changes.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another oxymoron: Military Budgets

    It seems to me that if one could just get their hands on the "waste" that is in the budgets, a pretty good armed forces could be had.

    I guess that is what some countries actually do, rely on others for security. Cf: Costa Rico.

  14. goggyturk
    Thumb Up

    The Typhoon kicks ass

    The whole point of the Typhoon is that it can wipe the floor with any other fighter in existence (except maybe the F-22). One of these babies was bounced by a pair of F-15s during combat trials and took both of them down, so it has enough capability to deal with anything any other air force can throw at them. I, for one, feel a bit better that we and our NATO allies have equipment that good. The 'enemy' won't always be insurgents with rifles in the future..

    As for the old chestnut of buying 'cheaper' or 'ready made', in other words buying from the US, the British defence establishment have usually ballsed that up too - cases in point, cancelling TSR2 to buy the F-111K and then buying Buccaneers because the F-111 was way overbudget, not building the supersonic V/STOL (Super Harrier) development P.1154 (that would have kicked the 'Forger Mark II' F-35's ass) and instead buying converted Phantoms using British engines that ended up being delayed and overpriced too... remember the Chinook is a off the shelf US design that the MoD managed somehow to turn into a crippled wreck.

    I'd rather that more of the tax payer's money stayed in this country on European designs like Tornado and Typhoon.

  15. IR

    Does the writer know anything about air warfare?

    What does Iran having nukes got to do with Eurofighter? And it has always had air-to-ground capabilities, the RAF just didn't take the option before.

    Given the trouble with the US controlling their military technology (such as not letting UK engineers do their contracted work on JSF), buying everything off them, which would include maintenance, would be a ridiculously stupid idea.

    With China on the rise, and Russia getting back up to strength, air-air combat might happen a lot more regularly than previously though.

    I thought I managed to get away from all the completely untrue "Eurofighter doesn't work and costs too much" by not reading the Mail, but it looks like the Reg and some of their readers actually believe them.

  16. gareth

    Ground attack aircraft.

    We train our pilots in Tucanos and Hawks. Both of these aeroplanes are relatively small, relatively cheap and can do the job of ground attack perfectly well, yet we don't use them for it! Cheaper operating costs and less temperamental then the cutting edge stuff. Both crewed by a pilot and a navigator to share the workload, and both support British jobs (Hawks built by BAE and the Tucanos built under licence by Shorts).*

    I believe we use Harriers in Afghanistan for ground attack roles. A good plane really, but like many of the aircraft we operate there is one thing missing - a bloody great big gun. The US Marines have one that can be fixed to the underneath of their Harriers in place of bombs. We ought to at least have that as an option.

    Part of me thinks the Eurofighter is great. Late, complicated, expensive to buy and expensive to operate. But great. Yet I suspect we won't employ it as much as we could. Perhaps if they fitted it with drop tanks and either big guns or lots of little bombs it could loiter and do the ground attack stuff more effectively.

    * I have sometimes wondered if a Tucano would have made for a decent enough UAV platform. Replacing the pilot gubbins with computer gubbins and have longer wings for a longer range.

  17. Mark Allen
    Flame

    @AC: £25bn well spent - Top Gear

    The Eurofighter has already been on Top Gear. Last season.

    I am confused about the "convert a fighter to the ground attack role". Isn't this what happened in Germany with the F-104G Starfighter? Otherwise known as the Flying Coffin due to it not being up for the job. Hope this "cut 'n' shut" is better engineered.

  18. donc
    Boffin

    Hang on...

    So the complaint here is doing something that has been done to every other combat aircraft since the first world war? The F16 when first introduced was meant to be nothing more than a cheap fighter for use during the day to combat the hordes of ruskies over the other side of the iron curtain. 40 years later it is an all weather capable fighter with far more capabilities than when it was first launched. And todays F16 is probably far more capable than the original F15As that were the bees-knees at the time. What the RAF want to do is no different to any other aircraft in any air force in the world. And like every other programme it will have to be prioritised over the 30+ year life of the aircraft. Or should the RAF be flying exactly the same aircraft in 30 years time?

    Even if the UK could get hold of some F22s (US law bans their export!) their air-ground capability is more limited than the Typhoon's.

    Said it before and will say it again, the Government can't fight two wars on a peacetime whilst simultaneously having to spend serious money upgrading all sorts of defense kit in the Navy, Army and Air Force that desperately needs replacing. The UK has the sixth largest economy in the world, we shouldn't need to act like a pauper when it comes to defence, science and engineering funding. Yes, the army needs more helicopters, the RAF needs more transports, etc. but robbing one part of the budget to cover a shortfall elsewhere is just short sighted. Yes we are currently fighting one type of warfare but who knows what will happen in five, ten, fifteen years?

    The cost of oil is going up, drinking water is getting scarcer, the potential for countries going to war over resources will only get bigger.

    The Armed Forces are ultimately an insurance policy only, when the brown stuff hits the fan, you don't want to discover that previous goverments only paid for third party coverage.

  19. Tim
    Black Helicopters

    TIALD training

    The RAF bought TIALD Simulators for the Eurofighter back in the late nineties....Cheap at £25k a pop, but seeing as they were made from recycled computer games (ironically from the EF2000 PC game) they were still pricey due to the silly price of genuine controls. The plan was to buy one for every air station that housed the fighters but i dont think they completed more than a couple. Wonder if that had anything to do with the failure of performance in 2003.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Hawk 200

    Question for the experts / opinionated: At £20M each (ish), why don't we simply get a load of Hawks (flown by RAF pilots in training anyway) and send them out to Afghan with some weapons? Excellent Ground Attack, and far cheaper / more resilient than Typhoon / Harriers. Also, the Taleban don't seem to have the stomach of old for air defence a la 1980's vs Soviets....

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    oh dear...

    Eurofighter is a Swing role aircraft - it can do ground attack and air attack on one mission with avionics that switch depending on what the pilot is doing. The reason it doesn't have a navigator is because the pilot doesn't need one - he doesn't have dozens of dials and buttons to operate, with the next upgrade being tested he'll be able to do everything other than launch a missile by looking towards the target and speaking.

    The reason we spend billions designing and building stuff like this is so we can design and build stuff like this - we can't mine our own coal, or build our own cars, or build our own nuclear powerstations anymore - if you're happy we have to buy weapons from another country as well then great - you pay the unemployment benefit for the couple of hundred thousand people employed by the defence industry and good luck buying a jet from the americans if we fall out with them - even the french can build their own fighter jets

  22. David Webb

    Typhoon is a fantastic fighter!

    The US had one of their fighter party type things last year or so, with their new fangled super stealth fighter that is apparently "the best in the universe, ever". The Typhoon obtained lock BVR on whatever that super US fighter is. After that the US decided to stop the trials because they didn't want the embarrasment of the Typhoon winning.

    Yes we can buy American, but do we really want our military to have to rely on the Americans to give them the information they need? Computer problem with the on board software? Can we fix it? Nope!

    We need solutions which do not require intervention from other nations, we have the capability to build world class aircraft, and in the Typhoon we have arguably the best jet fighter in the world.

    What we don't really need is another lecture from a pro-american-buy-anything-with-star-spangled-banner "journalist" about why the US has cheaper/better/etc items

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Niiiiiice

    So presumably the only use for this thing will be bombing unfortunate Third World and/or Middle-Eastern sods when the Americans tell us to do so.

    (oh, and for racing Richard Hammond down a runway)

    Paris, because she's expensive too.

  24. hammarbtyp
    Black Helicopters

    TIALD

    I actually worked on TIALD. I was visiting Edinburgh to work on it the day it was announced that a nice American arm dealer had run off with most of Ferranti's money. From there on in the development was undertaken by GEC who needed the cash after the Nimrod AEW debacle.

    Anyhow I digress. As far as i remember it was a bit of a mongrel in the firstplace. The laser was from a blindfire rapier system, the computer from somewhere else, etc. But we are talking about a system being developed in the 80's, so its not surprising the Israeli system is better. We are talking 30 years of electronics progress here. Also it was rushed into service in the gulf war so again its not surprising that it wasn't an instant hit(no pun intended).

    On the other hand what can be said is that the RAF were very slow to get into precision munitions, which is why the TIALD as an add on pod was required instead of ground attack aircraft like the Tornado having them as part of the airframe.

    Finally I wiil take one of Mr Page's article seriously when he shows some balance. Not all things American are cheaper, better or more capable nor are there always benefits in foreign. For one thing, the RAF is as capable of attacking targets in Syria or Iran(and lets hope it never comes to that) as Israel and probably for the same reason. We have the capability of setting our own defence agenda's and not relying on other nations for our defence tech.

  25. Graeme

    Tiald mk2 vs Litening

    essentialy the UK couldn't decide between the 2 for typhoon at which point the other partner nations decided they were buying litening regardless of what we did

    as we needed a Pod asap we decided to go with the group tiald was good in its day but that was 15+ years ago

    re harrier the US gun needs both of the same pylons we put the Laser pod on, so it cant carry both

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well...

    Still cheaper than the NHS database, and probably work a bit better too!

  27. Mad Mike

    Craig Graham

    ' I was noseying around one of the aircraft a year or so ago and an example of one of the future upgrades that's been deliberately left open in the design is vectored thrust, which in conjunction with more engine power will allow the aircraft to do tail slides, like the SU-27.'

    Interesting analysis. The SU-27 does not have thrust vectoring and a tail slide does not require it. Additionally, the Typhoon has a thrust to weight ratio in excess of unity and therefore more engine power is not required. Indeed, the only thing required for a tail slide is auto-ignitors on the engines. Air rushing up your tailpipes has a tendency to cause the engines to flame out. Rather bad news when you're effectively hovering (or moving very slowly) in the air like that.

    Also, a tail slide is absolutely worthless in todays world. Indeed, anyone trying it would make a huge target of themselves without any ability to get out the way. A strictly airshow act only.

    The only problem with the Typhoon is that like everything else in this country, it always goes massively over budget and takes forever.

  28. Andy Bright

    What about..

    "Modern smartbombs such as the RAF's Enhanced Paveways can be dropped using only their onboard satnav guidance, but this reduces their accuracy and it is preferable to shine a laser dot on the target for them to home in on."

    Perhaps we could replace them with cargo planes and just chuck the bombs out the back door. We'd probably still hit less friendly targets and do less collateral damage than the Americans.

  29. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  30. Maliciously Crafted Packet

    Why can't we upgrade Tornado?

    The GR4 seems to make a pretty good bomber, some say the best in its class. And given all the mothballed airframes lying around there shouldn't be a shortage of spare parts.

    Living in Norfolk we get kind of attached to the Tonkas from Marham. But sentiment aside wouldn't a Tornado "GR5" make for a more suitable and cost effective solution? Better than trying to retrofit a ground attack capability to what is essentially a thoroughbred fighter.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    $25 billion is a lot of money

    to spend on making sure we have something to do a fly past above the Royal family every June on the Queen's official birthday.

    That Lancaster is looking a bit long in the tooth, although I believe it was employed in Helmund province earlier this year...

    Black helicopter, because they are obviously cheaper than the Typhoon.

  32. Bruce Sinton
    Happy

    Bombs on a Fighter

    From 12,000 miles away, it appears to me that they want to make a fighter carry bombs.

    A short time ago a fellow named Adolf , asked if a fighter(ME262) could be made to carry bombs. When the answer was yes, he told them to start on modifying it.

    Caused an unfortunate delay in getting it into production a a fighter. With unfortunate results (for Adolf)

    This time you may not be in such a desperate situation - thankfully

    Peace and Joy to you all.

    PS -Don't let them put Microsoft systems on it.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    If you want a ground attack aircraft buy one

    There's some perfectly reasonable used A10 Warthogs that would do the job nicely. Cheap easy to fly and protect Biggles really well. Carry Hellfires and a REALLY big gun. Sorted!

    Paris - because she knows what to do with a really big gun.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too expensive

    Tornado £20 milllion.

    Typhoon £60 million.

    That's a hell of a difference in price.

    The airframe was finished many years ago and the engines came along not too longer after that - aircraft and it's flight control system had been tested (although with RB199 engines of the tornado). It was the avionics software which was then being worked on, has it really taken this long and that amount of money to put that last part of the package together?

    I'm not covinced any more that this aircraft is such a great solution - not at that price.

  35. Stuart Van Onselen

    Dunno why I bother...

    ...reading comments on Lewis's stories. It's always the same thing:

    "He doesn't know what he's talking about!"

    i.e. "I've read two whole pages of a Bill Gunston book, whereas Lewis has only served in the armed forces longer than I've been living in my mom's basement!"

    "Lewis is a Yank-ophile who just wants to throw money over the Atlantic!"

    i.e. I'd rather enrich British crooks like Quinetic than American crooks like Northrup.

    "It's better to have British/European designs 'cos we don't want to be dependant on the Yanks."

    i.e. I don't want to admit that these designs are woefully inferior and cost more, because national prestige is more important than actually doing the job.

    And no-one mentions the poor troops who have to yomp from one end of Afghanistan to the other, on a salary of three packs of fags a month. I guess jobless workers are more important than armless/legless/dead troopers.

  36. Old Painless
    Stop

    What does a trough-muncher have to do to get fired?

    Seriously, how shit at their jobs do they have to be before they get taken out and shot?

    And don't give me that crap about not buying US kit " because then we would have to rely on the Americans" - the UK armed forces have been unable to fart without US help for years.

    This is all a sick joke and I just don't think I'll bother getting out of bed today : (

    STOP because -well, just make it all stop

  37. Lee Fear

    Please do some research!

    Many on here are very quick to attack Typhoon as a useless whit elephant. To say it has been mismanaged is very true and this has lead it to go over budget and with large delays. However it is now operational and is proving to be one of the finest military aircraft ever made! It can out manouver just about anything in the sky and has technology that even the americans would kill for. It has always been a multi-role aircraft but was originally designed with air to air as its primary role. The fact that the MOD have upgraded the weapons systems is a good thing as sending pilots out with a second rate targeting system would be dangerous! Buying american aircraft is not always a good solution as by building the Typhoon here we are keeping hold of the technology and skills required if for some reason in the future we fell out with the US. We are also buying a stealth aircraft to replace the Harrier but this is co-designed by Lockheed and BAe so again we have a hand in the technology. Lets stop attacking the aircraft and just complain about the poor management (in the vain hope that the Government can do better in the future) and lets celebrate the Typhoon for what it is; Currently the best multi-role attack aircraft on the planet!

  38. Ian McNee
    Flame

    To all those comments about how wonderful Typhoon, Churchill, Blighty, etc. ad nauseam are...

    ...you're missing the bleedin' point. All these extortionate willy-waggling big boys toys (like Typhoon, the Trident replacement, etc.) offer are bragging rights/junkets/backhanders for politicians and top brass while the execs and shareholders of arms companies laugh all the way to the bank. The same execs and shareholders of the 'British' arms industry are the same people who are bellyaching about paying British taxes when they already pay less pro rata that a cleaner on minimum wage.

    And if we don't have platinum plated fighters or bigger glow-in-the-dark nukes we're going to be vulnerable to the Russians and the Chinese? I'm sorry but watching a bunch of 007 movies hasn't raised your grasp of geo-politics and economics above the infantile.

    And even if we make these fabulously futile weapons ourselves do you think that the USA would allow us to use them *even* if our spineless politicians decided to stand on their own two feet and take a different line from the yanks? More likely we will just be acting out our usual role as the convenient junior arm of US foreign policy and paying through the nose for the pleasure.

    And as for all that bollocks about British jobs in the arms industry: those are some of the most expensive jobs in the British economy (with the possible exceptions of the royal family and those chaps who hand-make wallpaper for the Lord Chancellor's office) and if the money were invested in public services and manufacturing unemployment would be slashed and we might see the beginnings of a country we could be proud of.

  39. N1AK

    WTF @ 'fighter party type thing'

    "The US had one of their fighter party type things last year or so, with their new fangled super stealth fighter that is apparently "the best in the universe, ever". The Typhoon obtained lock BVR on whatever that super US fighter is. After that the US decided to stop the trials because they didn't want the embarrasment of the Typhoon winning."

    Take that Lewis, I hope the shame at finding out about what happened at that 'fighter party thing', and good old Typhoon sticking it to 'whatever that super US fighter is' (perhaps he means Chuck Norris? Although I doubt even Typhoon could take him).

    Reading the comments it certainly looks like some military plane spotter or similiar forum is linking here, and that it's members are ignoring the fact you haven't actually insulted the Eurofighter's ability to do it's original job, just queried our need for it and whether altering it for A2G is wise.

    With our current deployments, and high likehood that it will be other low capability forces we face in the near future I think questioning why we aren't spending more of the budget on areas relevant to this is important.

  40. Anton Ivanov
    Coat

    Re: The Typhoon kicks ass

    Hmm... That is a bit too early to say. As far as wiping the floor with a couple of F15-s that is something that a Su-35 has been able to do for a very long time. And it is much much cheaper as well.

    This is even without the vector thrust upgrade. With the vector thrust upgrade... This is one test that will be worthy to see. I suspect that the Typhoon will lose fair and square.

  41. spider from mars
    Thumb Up

    bring on the drones :)

    i'd far rather be sat in a nice air-conditioned bunker playing RTS with a squadron of UCAVs.

  42. Andy Farley
    Dead Vulture

    Misses the point.

    You've got to prepare for high intensity warfare regardless of current threats.

    The point is the long term security of the UK. Not having an air force capable of fighting its own fights would undermine that. Even more, having a defence industry that isn't on (or as close as possible to) the leading edge of technological development would threaten it across all forces and have further ramifications for all British industry.

    That's not to say that the way defence procurement is conducted in this country is anything better than a sick joke, with the logistic support issue above one of the more piffling examples, the actual issue isn't that we shouldn't spend less on the Eurofighter necessarily; it is the way all programs are initiated, funded & prioritised within the defence establishment and how much is given to the forces in the budget.

  43. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Heart

    Trade is the best form of defence

    As the European Coal and Steel Federation has shown to great effect. Contracted opium production in Afghanistan and fair trade with North and West Africa will give us the peace and security we need at a price we can afford.

    Now as for military spending itself: yes, it's ludicrous and never value for money. It's arguable that much of the benefits are ancillary in that much of the costs are actually R&D which the civilian economy benefits from: GPS is an obvious current example. This is why Boeing and EADS and the rest do both military and civilian products. Having some form of competition even if it's systemic (our machines have to be better than their machines) rather than market does improve the product. But basically it's expensive because it's considered a necessity and not a luxury.

    Where's the flower for this bearded and bespectacled, peace-loving, sandal-wearing hippy?

  44. Paul

    Why ask someone in the Army...

    If they want Eurofighters of new choppers? Ask someone in the RAF the same thing and they will tell you "We need these new jets. Ours are falling apart".

    As for the Idea of buying UK kit, good plan, if they will let us use it, and it dosent come with a tie in like "you will help us in every war we start".

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    @Stuart Van Onselen

    No I don't know why you bother either. Feck off unless you have something to actually say.

    The UK needs to be involved with more projects like the Euro Fighter rather than buying off the shelf from the US. That is all that needs to be said.

    <--- cos Aliens are Listerine too

  46. N Silver badge

    Meanwhile, back in the spongy land of reality...

    Our lads in Afghanistan are still getting blown up by land mines because theres not enough cash for helicopters.

    whilst the rest of Europe 'observes'

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tomahawk

    Not an option really as contrary to popular belief and media hype they are not accurate unless a target is painted by an on the ground team which in heavily defended areas is difficult and very dangerous.

  48. Stuart Van Onselen

    @AC and @N

    @AC: Try some actual arguments, 'cos bullshit doesn't become truth just 'cos you ay it is. (Ironically, *you* accuse *me* of not having anything to contribute to the discussion. ROTFLMAO!)

    @N: Good point. The rest of Europe should have joined in this pointless and (arguably) illegal war. Then the whole continent could have been stuck in a quagmire, gaining nothing but filled body-bags.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    over budget

    Any one consider that the original bid might have been nearer £65m based on more orders, more quickly and with a fixed spec....

    Nimrod MRA4 gets quoted as hugely over budget and time, but is almost bob on the original price and timescales before the sales bods and bean counters got let loose on the figures...

  50. Andy Bell

    @ Stuart Van Onselen

    No thats Iraq. Afghanistan via its then Taliban government assisted in the direct attack on a NATO member, who invoked article 5 of the NATO charter.

    Afghanistan is a NATO and UN sanctioned action, so take up your "illegal" tripe with them.

    And at Typhoon detractors. Exactly what major defense program is on time and on budget these days ? Even the F22 and JSF programs are being eyed jealously by US lawmakers looking to reduce costs and government pork. Neither is 100% safe.

    Where would we be if the JSF gets canned ? Well, not so badly off, because we have an alternative.

    Not we shouldn't have just bought the Rafale anyway, doing a good enough job for a much cheaper price. That way we could have avoided this Eurofighter and JSF boondoggle, and the French may well have bought a third carrier of the design we are using to operate them from potentially saving money there too.

    Don't know why Lewis didn't mention that, its not like he's a US shill or anything.

  51. Scott
    Alert

    Typhoon not just a fighter

    Eurofighter/Typhoon was always intended to be a multi-role (air-to-air and air-to-ground) combat aircraft. In fact, the original RAF requirement (AST.414) was for a Jaguar (ground attack) replacement - replacing the Tornado F3 fighters as well came later. For some strange reason the air-to-air role was prioritised, despite the Jaguar squadrons being disbanded ahead of schedule...

    And it's worth remembering that the Typhoon is the only RAF fast jet currently in service that wasn't originally designed in the 1960s...

  52. Jeff Rowse Silver badge

    Are you lot for real?

    Please make sure you have your facts right before commenting:

    Typhoon has to carry bombs because the MoD realised we no longer need a pure fighter at this time, and they want to be able to drop them in the right place instead of just chucking them off and hoping to get something worhtwhile.

    Apache is NOT the all-singing, all-dancing aircraft some people here seem to think. It does not carry enough chaingun ammunition for prolonged use and the rocket pod control links are vulnerable to rifle and RPG fire; they don't work if the pilot cannot fire them.

    RAF Harrier IIs DO carry "big guns" - 30mm Aden cannon in underbelly pods. We have one each side, the Yanks have one 25mm cannon with the ammunition in the pod on the other side.

    They replace flat plates as part of the "Lift Improvement Devices" hardware on the two outer fuselage stations, which are not capable of carrying bombs.

    Hawks do make decent ground-attack aircraft - just ask the East Timorese. They also make lovely targets to anyone armed with surface-to-air missiles - unlike the East Timorese (but which are something Al Queda have in large numbers).

    Canards are NOT "the training wheels of the sky"; they are more effective control surfaces than sticking them at the back of the airframe and calling them tailplanes' - because they haven't got to cope with the "dirty" air coming off the wings, they can be made smaller and lighter.

    I could go on, but me lunch is ready...

  53. fireman
    Jobs Horns

    F-22 export restrictions

    The F-22 has cost the US taxpayer is about £200 million per aircraft including development costs. Considering the reported capabilities of the F-22, this makes the Euorfighter look like a rip-off. Some one has been taking the EU taxpayers to the cleaners, there can be little doubt about that.

    Nevertheless, even though the RAF is due to buy/take delivery of the F-35 (the VSTOL version of the F-22), the RAF and anyone else for that matter can forget about buying a 'fully loaded' F-22.

    The US will NOT be exporting the full F-22 avionics suite in the near future. To note, the US aren't exporting the F-22 at all at the moment and when they do it will be an export version. The countries that do eventually buy the F-22 will be dependent on the US for maintenance and spares. A very important point.A bit like Argentina were dependent on the French for their exocet missiles in the falklands...remember that?

    My point is that we can't be buying F-22 because even if the US would let us purchase them we'd be dependent on them for the life cycle of the aircraft. I don't trust the United States. See Boeing Chinhook debacle. To be fair, I wouldn't trust Britain if I was another country.

    If we're to buy arms at all we need to be independent so that in times of conflict we can supply ourselves and not be dependent of the whims of a nation that might not like/agree with what we're doing. Otherwise we really are a 52nd state (or whatever). The French have done it without North Sea oil (see their rather independent nuclear strike capabilities). Why haven't we?

    Therefore using eurofighter as an example, although obviously far too expensive for what it is, it is still the right direction to take. Divorce from the US and anyone else frankly. Did I mention the Boeing Chinook example? Oh dear. If it wasn't for that US arms manufacturer boeing being allowed to take the UK MOD for a ride and then some, that paratrooper leader would have had his 4 chinhooks.

    Steve job because he's a complete ****

  54. cdgp

    to Craig Graham

    "My view is Europe needs to retain sufficient capability that it costs a foreign power to attack us or something of ours.....That foreign power could be the US or China or someone else"

    As nice as it is that Europe is starting to work together, and I do think the EU is a good thing, I think the chances of the U.S. attacking the U.K. (or any European nation) are far less than one European country attacking another.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Typhoon actually does have a place

    I'm an ex-RAF engineering officer, so I have some credentials here. And in my opinion Typhoon does have a place, albeit the cost overruns are painful. Firstly to deal with the cost, the US have spent a lot more per plane on previous development projects (take stealth for example). Unfortunately, when you are the first people using a new jet, and you filter in all the development costs of that jet, it seems expensive. Take a look again in 10 years when a bunch of other people have bought the jet, and the development costs have been spread around a bit more.

    Now, look at the capabilities of the jet. Eurofighter/Typhoon was always designed to be a multi-role aircraft. Although the mistakes of the Tornado (F3 not really that great) meant that they pushed hard to get a decent modern fighter. Typhoon is definitely a decent modern fighter. Right from the start, Typhoon was supposed to replace both the Tornado F3 and the Jaguar. The Jaguar was essentially used as a bomber more than anything else, so the Typhoon was always needed multi-role. The Typhoon does not replace the Tornado GR4 though, so we still have a deep penetration bomber capability. Now, many people have claimed in recent years that we don't need a modern fighter in the RAF. I have to point out that these people don't have a clue what they are talking about. In a number of the wars that Britain has fought in living memory we have needed fighters. We suffered greatly in the Falklands War because the only fighters we had were a handful flying off through-deck cruisers (rather than real fighters off an aircraft carrier). In Gulf War 1 if Saddam had actually used his air force rather than flying it all to Iran, we would have had a much harder time in the first weeks of the war. Saddam had over 500 modern aircraft that were perfectly capable of mixing it up with Allied aircraft. We were lucky there, and our luck might well run out with North Korea, Iran, or anyone else we pick a fight with in the next 10-20 years.

    Now, the cry these days seems to routinely be, "Buy American." Unfortunately, this isn't such a great cost saving as it might seem. One of the most important things to remember here is that America does not sell top end avionics fits to anyone, including it's allies. Anyone who has worked with, or studied aircraft will tell you that the avionics fit in modern battle is the single most important thing. Since weapons delivery these days is usually stand-off, the avionics fit is more important than say agility in a fighter or the ability to fly undetected in a bomber. I've watched exercises where Tornado F3s have annihilated American top end aircraft simply because at the time the F3 avionics fit was better (JTIDS in particular). Despite the fact that the F3 has the turning circle of a battleship. If we went and bought American for our key air defence or bomber capabilities we would then spend vast amounts of money developing the avionics fit for them. The aircraft wouldn't look as great then would it? The avionics fit in Eurofighter is outstanding, we have paid a lot of money for it. It could be better in the air to ground role, something that I think will happen in Tranche 3. Finally, if you compare the cost of Eurofighter to the cost of buying an American jet, then developing our own avionics fit for it, the cost isn't that different.

    Now, in logistics roles (Hercules/A400M or Chinook etc.) the arguments not to buy American are far weaker. Here I would be happy if we did go out and buy the new Hercules and Chinook. It would help our troops a lot, and probably save us a little money. But again, in the long run, it wouldn't necessarily save as much as you think, since the Americans will fleece us on spares and upgrades.

  56. Jeff Rowse Silver badge

    @Fireman

    Um, we're buying the F35B which is a STOVL version of the F35A, both of which are the ugly heap known previously as the Joint Strike Fighter (in yet another game of "call it a fighter and then hang bombs on it")

    Nothing at all to do with the F22 which is a much more expensive "Stealth" aircraft, and is not being offered for sale at this time.

    Unusually for me, I actually have to defend Boing over the Chinook saga. That was another cockup on behalf of our own MoD PE (Ministry of Defence Procurement Executive) in the same vein as the Nimrod AEW and various other "Ask for one thing, order something more complex and then keep adding Newtech to the spec whilst it's being built" projects (like Tornado, Typhoon, Astute, Type 45, Harrier, Nimrod MRA4, Merlin, Future Lynx, Watchkeeper, Rapier, Future Scout, Bowman... in fact, just about every project since the mid-80s!!)...

    Boing did offer to refit the Chinooks with the same gear as the American Chinooks have but MoDPE declined...

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Meanwhile, back in the spongy land of reality...

    "whilst the rest of Europe 'observes'"

    Think before you write crap will ya. The rest of europe arent just observing some of us have been there longer than you lot. We have been in helman all the time with the biggest contribution pr GPN and Population. So sod off you tea sipping git.

    I wonder why we bother being allied with cuntries like the Brits and the US all the do is complain about oone helping them. Well either that or shooting/bombing there allies.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @N

    Chinooks have the disconcerting effect of setting off landmines due to the pressure generated by their rotors... one of the posthumous Royal Marine decorations won in Afghanistan was for some poor bastard killed during an ambush evac; he died from his wounds AFTER the fight because the Wocca could not land, having set off more mines and injuring more Bootnecks...

    More helicopters would help, but they are too vulnerable when used alone; we don't have enough cabs capable of the Escort role to protect them all, and Merlins cannot carry a decent self-protection squad, a medical squad *and* the casualties back home.

    Apache is a tank-killer; it does not fare too well in the up-close and personal ambush arena for a variety of reasons.

    We could do with more Lynx and Future Lynx but that'll never happen; Future Lynx will probably be dropped soon due to some REMF deciding we need to spend more money on shit back home (like more "anti"-discrimination propoganda, bigger payrises for MPs, more cash thrown at the NHS to make things look shiny while the medical staff get shafted again... need I go on?)

    Black helicopter, because the Army and Marines need as many helicopters as they can get.

  59. Steve Mann

    Bah!

    This "Eurofighter" is a waste of time and money! Let us return to tried and trusted, battle-proven airframes that proved thier worth time and again.

    We beat back the savage hun with the noble Spitfire, and gave them a bloody nose with the mighty Lancaster. Let the skies darken with their shapes once more as they take the Ordinance of British Democracy to our enemies!

    Chocks away!

  60. Stuart Van Onselen

    @Andy Bell

    I try to explain everything, and I write long screeds that no-one has the patience to read.

    I try to be concise, and I leave out vital info.

    Yeas, I realise that bombing Afghanistan back to the stone-age (very short trip) had UN sanction. And I realise much of the griping in Lewis's articles are about problems there, not in Iraq.

    But what I meant, was that if Blighty had not diverting so many resources to an illegal, unnecessary war resulting in hundreds of thousands of casualties, directly and indirectly, they'd be having a much better time of it in Afghanistan.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    the inside word

    I have a relative who worked on Typhoon... Even the engineers said that it'd be overpriced and outclassed long before it hit a runway - and that was said a few years ago. Typhoon is a political fighter - basically developed in order to keep EU aero design skills reasonably up to date.

    The same thing applies to many UK military projects sadly - we don't buy best performance, or even best value, just anything as long as the UK gets some investment. Anyone complaining about it should remember that the UK gov sadly sees all military personnel as essentially expendible. "They'll get what they're given". Eventually. And be grateful for that.

  62. ton

    well duh

    "Apache is NOT the all-singing, all-dancing aircraft some people here seem to think. It does not carry enough chaingun ammunition for prolonged use and the rocket pod control links are vulnerable to rifle and RPG fire; they don't work if the pilot cannot fire them.

    RAF Harrier IIs DO carry "big guns" - 30mm Aden cannon in underbelly pods. We have one each side, the Yanks have one 25mm cannon with the ammunition in the pod on the other side."

    The aden guns carry only very limited amount of ammo which is why the yanks only put one gun in (extra ammo) that they use 25 mm is to standardize on 1 type

    the apache (dutch ones) have been quite succesful in afghanistan, needed some new tactics but these thinks are scary

    as for the eurofighter, all modern air combat is governed by one simple rule: if you see your opponent before he sees you, he is dead.That simple, eurofighter might be able to run circles around anything, most of the time the kill will be by a missile fired by a plane not even seen by the other pilot. Command & control, electronic warfare are area's the uk needs to do better in.

    as for the claim that the uk would be able to mount an attack on syria or iran, don't be daft. No land bases, not enough tankers and no e-warfare or control

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...overpriced and outclassed..."?

    Pricey, perhaps. But outclassed? Hardly. It's at least as capable in air-to-air as any current competition, by pretty much all accounts I've seen.

  64. fireman

    @Jeff Rowse

    I am mistaken on the origin of the F-35. Sorry about that and thanks for pointing it out.

    With regards to my Boeing comments, the MOD has rightly taken a roasting for it's part in the infamous Chinook cock-up but Boeing has been let off lightly and once again the disadvantages of 'out-sourcing' for kit seems to have been glossed over.

    From this issue of Private Eye (on why there are 8 mark 3 chinooks mothballed in bournemouth):

    In the original purchase of the Mark 3 Chinooks, the NAO notes: "Although Boeing met its contractual obligations, the avionics software could not be shown to meet UK standards."

    The MOD forgot to write access to the Boeing computers source code in the contract, and so could not test the avionics.

    Boeing was in no hurry to help and "resisted the department's (MOD) requests for access to the source code", the NAO then goes on to say that the MOD had no "leverage with Boeing". But Why not? Boeing is on of the worlds biggest arms firms and part of the international security establishment. In the UK its boss is Sir Roger Bone, a former private secretary to the Foreign Secretary; and it has partnering contracts worth £1bn looking after other Chinooks. none of this could persuade Boeing to help the MOD even in the middle of two wars....

    My point isn't who is to blame so much as that this is the kind of thing that can happen, and at the worst possible time, when we give such work and orders to a foreign company....even a US company. There may be some advantages to doing so, such as cost, but they must be viewed as short term gain for middle to long term loss. Like farming, it's important to try hard to keep our industries working, even if it does cost more in the short term.

    Dealing with the United States is madness. They simply do not take the UK seriously and they don't like Europe at all. The French split from America...we should have done the same some time ago. Oh, and by the way, as an aside, the Americans GAVE Germany a lot of money after the war and invested heavily. Because we voted in a labour government, they decided to delay any loans and then charged us through the teeth for them - and decided to call in the war debt as well. We've only got ourselves to blame though haven't we? I mean it was us (Europe) that shipped off all the nutters to Australia and the US in the last couple of centuries wasn't it? And now look what they're doing....but I digress.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    UK arms

    Apparently the UK is the world's #1 arms exporter, so we should be making more money from this war/death thing than anyone else (unless the bribes have got out of control) - so we should be able to afford all this stuff so we can kill even more people shouldn't we ?

    I'm sure this money could be better spent on giving our MP's unlimited expense accounts, erecting a speed camera every 3 paces, and painting our arses blue.

    </wibbble>

  66. Jeff Rowse Silver badge

    PRIVATE EYE???

    Whilst I applaud that noble rag's digs at Government and Celebrity personalities, I am not sure I trust them too far as a source of technical knowledge.

    Yes, Boing (sorry, deliberate mis-spelling - think 757 at Heathrow for partial explanation!) wouldn't give us the source code for some of the avionics, but the MoD didn't want American kit on "our" Special Forces helicopters to begin with. UK avionics companies basically couldn't come up with the goodies to keep up with the changing requirements coming out of Whitehall and the whole shebang fell apart in a rather untidy mess (one source suggests Thales kit nearly went in but MoD is keeping rather quiet on the subject).

    The source code in question was for the (digital) engine control units (FADEC, or Full-Authority DEC); 4 of the 8 Chinooks are still missing their flight instruments which is why they cannot fly. I believe the other 4 were "reverted" back to a near-HC2 standard and are trolling around quite happily...

    Oh, and for all those who seem to think that Typhoon must be bad since it's had so many upgrades since it started flying, can you think of ANY front-line military aircraft (or even second-line) that has not had upgrades and modifications performed since it entered service?

    Fact of the matter is, the upgrades for Typhoon have been developed as the things were being built, rather than having to be retrofitted years after manufacture as happens with most aircraft.

  67. Scott
    Thumb Down

    @Jeff Rowse

    RAF Harriers with guns? Doubt it. The Harrier GR.5 was intended to carry a new 25mm Aden gun, but (to summarise) it never worked properly and eventually they gave up trying to make it work... In theory the old Harrier GR.3 30mm pods or the AV-8B's GAU-12 guns could possibly be used instead but don't think there's been any attempt to do that operationally.

  68. Jeff Rowse Silver badge

    @Ton

    Dutch Apaches are kept sensibly clear of short-range engagements so are doing better than the UK and US ones; long-range attacks are what they were designed for, except they are being used against insurgents hiding in rocks rather than AFVs on the German plains (but yes, they *are* scary and I for one do not wish to get on the receiving end of one).

    American and British Apaches tend to get a lot more up close and personal with the bad guys, so are more vulnerable (the first Apache engagement in Afghanistan resulted in all the Apaches suffering severe damage due to the volume of small arms fire and RPGs encountered).

    The American Harriers don't carry much more ammo than the RAF/RN ones, and the reasons for having two seperate guns should be obvious (single point-of-failure, damage to either pod either kills the gun or the ammo - you need both pods working or your gun won't play; vulnerable cross-fuselage ammo link and so on).

    Warrior APCs have a 30mm autocannon which I believe uses the same ammunition as the Harrier's pods; I'm not sure that the 25mm gun used in the US Harrier's pod is the same as the 25mm guns used on the M2 Bradley or the Apache, or if they use the same sort of ammunition - just because it is the same diameter does not mean it is compatible (ie 9mmP used by NATO and the 9mm Marakov used by the ex-Warsaw Pact countries).

    Despite what you see on the news, not every air-to-air missile launch is a kill, and many modern aircraft have missile approach warning kit; once you know someone's launched at you, you know they are out there and you can start to do something about it. And if neither side wipes out the other before running out of missiles (always a possibility), or you close to negate the effectiveness of their missiles, then the fight will come down to who can point their gun at the opposition quickest - and the more power and agility you have available, the more likely you are to get the killshot.

    The Typhoons now rolling off the production line have the PIRATE (Passive Infra-Red Tracking Equipment) sensor fitted just in front of the cockpit so have a better chance of "seeing" the other side first.

  69. ton

    check out last years attack on syria

    e-warfare took out the radar, i don't think the uk or for that matter eu have that kind of stuff

    for project power you need a lot more than a fighter you need a system, right now only the us can do that on a global scale, israel and russia might be able to do it regional.

    i doubt if any lets say bigger than brigade deployment would be realistic without us involvment, a larger heavier deployment mechanized division would be a no go from the start. The stupidity of having politics decide what equipment to get has resulted in the french getting carriers which have no aew planes, the uk getting euh the same and troops not getting the proven (chinook, blackhawk & hercules) they need

    as for the dutch apaches, yes they did, stupid spagettiwestern shootouts are for movies, the best way to kil your enemy is if he can't kill you back. Might not be sporting but hey.

    as for missiles yeh i know but amraam & newer sidewinders have upped the % a lot since the first phantoms

  70. Graeme

    Guns

    "RAF Harrier IIs DO carry "big guns" - 30mm Aden cannon in underbelly pods."

    No they do not, RAF harrier GR5/7/9's have NEVER carried the 30mm aden cannon

    there are quoted in some publications as having done so, that is incorrect

  71. Wayland Sothcott Bronze badge
    Flame

    So can we bomb Iran yet?

    I know that's the point of these aircraft, to attack something. If they can beat F16's then maybe we should attack the USA. Come on, skip all the nerdy part of this computer game and lets gets some action.

  72. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton

    Reminded me of another story

    Reminded me of another story of when propeller driven fighter aircraft were king of the air , when some fool suggested they should be adapted to drop bombs rather then the crude fin stabilised unguided rocket air to ground missiles munitions which had just come of the drawing boards !

    Sadly one man's blind insistence of the fact he wanted another bomber in face of reality , delayed Willy Meschersmitt's wonderful advanced gas turbine powered toy by another two years and the rest is history !

    So those that fail to learn from the pages of history are thus doomed to repeat the same mistakes endlessly in a loop !

    Thus so far , it looks like the poor Eurofighter based on the evidence as presented is doomed to be a flying coffin one chance in ten of besting the Sukhoi MKI in either naval , air defence role or ground attack role or will the doomed TSR2 or the ever versatile multi role Blackburn Buccaneer forever dog it's career trail to the bitter end of it's short frontline career role ?

    Some people just want to keep making the same past mistakes without learning why it is plain both dumb and stupid at the same time !

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    @ton; UK anti-radar capability

    BAE's ALARM - Air-Launched Anti-Radiation Missile - is cleared for carriage by Tornados for SEAD/DEAD. Even the later Vulcan raids on Stanley in '82 carried American-built AGM-45 Shrike ARMs. Tornado, Harrier and Typhoon all have on-board electronic self-defence systems from radar warning receivers to missile approach warning systems to (limited) jamming capability and chaff/flare dispensers - Typhoon also has towed radar decoys. The RAF has several types of EW pods that can be carried on the underwing stores pylons of the aircraft.

    And those who keep making comparisons between Adolf's Messerschmitt 262 "mistake" and Typhoon's bomb-carrying capability seem to be forgetting two things:

    Firstly, Typhoon has had a LIMITED combat capability for a year or two now - but it was limited to *air-to-air* use only which, funnily enough, was what EuroFIGHTER was meant for in the first place.

    Secondly, Nazi Germany was in the middle of a war where a fighter aircraft would probably have made a big difference. As far as I am aware, the UK is not currently under attack by streams of bomber aircraft dropping bombs all over the country.

    The closest anology I can think of is complaining a Ferrari isn't finished until they add a caravan tow hitch to the back...

    Dead duck cos we've got the things now, it's too late to cry over spilt jetfuel

  74. Lars Johansson
    Coat

    You could, ofcourse...

    ...buy the SAAB 39 Griffin, now partly (49%) owned by BAE. It will give you air-to-air, air-to-gound and recon capabilities (it was specifically designed to do all three from the start), all in a 4th generation fly-by-wire airframe, while keeping roughly the same amount of spending within the British economy as buying more Eurofighters would.

    It has a fixed gun, can carry drop tanks, does in-air-refueling, carries NATO-standard munitions, etc...

    But then, it's designed by those pesky Swedes... ;-)

  75. Jon G

    Buy Britsh !

    I seem to recall that Britain used to have an excellent record of developing its own planes without the endless "partnerships" with Europe or America. These joint ventures always lead to compromises, which the RAF then tries to rectify by throwing yet more money at the project. Perhaps if we just developed our own aircraft then the initial cost may be higher but they would more likely be fit-for-purpose from day one

  76. Wesley Parish Bronze badge

    some points

    One - military hardware's always going to be expensive. And it's got trade-offs connected with it - Guns and butter "Hurrah! The butter's all gone!"

    Two - you can pay someone else to do it for you, or you can do it yourself. The US has traditionally gone for "do it yourself"; they don't like their allies taking that same attitude though. A trap for young players.

    Three - if you've after the current best fighter-bomber, want to build and customize it yourselves, and so on and so forth, why not do what the PRC and India are doing, buy a production license for the Sukhoi 30, and give the US the finger? It'll probably cost less than either of the options I've seen in either this article or its comments. But we're not talking about "cost-effectiveness" are we - this is "alliance solidarity" which also means, letting the superpower-monopolist shaft us royally.

  77. ton

    i was talking about

    a complete e warfare system that includes specialized equipment much more that the alarm missile

    this includes "wild weasel" aircraft, electronics combat aircraft (like the ef111) and support aircraft (special version of hawkeye most of the time)

    alarm gives an aircraft a reactive option (at the cost of normal ordinance) the stuff i'm talking about is active and part of operational planning

  78. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    @ Lars Johansson

    Couldn't agree more. When Saab built the Viggen they were asked how they managed to build such an immesely capable aircraft for such a low price. In their typically understated Swedish style they simply said "because we don't have the luxury of building bad aircraft"

    I would be prepared to wager that the SU35 would easily be the match of the Typhoon in air to air combat. Why don't we buy them? After all, if Europe falls out with Russia, we're all screwed anyway because we won't have any oil or gas. Oh, yeah, because the Typhoon is really about creating jobs, nothing more.

  79. Graeme

    Multinational projects because

    "Perhaps if we just developed our own aircraft then the initial cost may be higher but they would more likely be fit-for-purpose from day one"

    Supersonic hunter- cancelled, supersonic harrier- cancelled, TSR2- flying......then cancelled

    from the RAF's viewpoint at least with multinational projects they actually you get an aircraft in the end

    Now if we could just build the next project without the Germans

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