In reply to:
Original comment in ""
"Someone further up was asking about the Tornado F3. So, the reason the F3 is so badly derided is because it was designed for intercepting Soviet fast bombers."
It was not really 'designed' but rather hacked together. And it should not be derided, overall the F3 served its function. People seem not really to understand its operations.
"The supersonic bombers that threatened the northern flank of NATO are a huge threat, and the F3 was designed to just be a very fast interceptor. Also, the dual use airframe was first designed as the ground attack variant, which it is far better at really. Basically the F3 has the turning circle of a cruise liner. Now, in the last few years of the F3 I saw it do very well against the US aircraft simply because the avionics had been so massively improved - especially things like JTIDS. These days, turning and burning is much less important than top notch avionics. In most "dogfights" in this day and age you expect to engage way before the turn and burn stage."
It was in principle meant to be a stand off platform, with a fall back to close in fighting with sidewinders. One has to remember, the all aspect sidewinders in the era reached a stage where they mattered rather more than the agility of the plane carrying them. As part of the air defences of the UK, a mish-mash was built, including the Hawk being used as a point defense platform. The F14 Tomkat was in some ways similar to the F3, it was not a great close in fighter, and its stand off design worked. If you get the Missiles right on such platforms, and in both cases I believe that was roughly correct, the platform works, and works well most of the time.
"Now I come onto Lewis' article. Unfortunately, I have to disagree with his sentiment that things like Eurofighter and Raptor are useless."
Indeed. They are fine aircraft. I believe Lewis is arguing about what the can be used for rather than purely attacking their existence. His attacks are of some value, however, he does not really account for the large picture that exists. The UK's largest failings are political in nature. Not funding enough, and badly thought out and considered strategies where everything you want to do relies on third parties. Afganistan is showing how frail such planning can be. Europe has 3000 + choppers, yet hardly any lift cap is available in a NATO op. In the meantime, the UK gov continues to play off and meddle in EU/NATO affairs, instead of telling the EU to go get stuffed. The EU military nonsense is screwing with NATO, and making a mess of any defense planning, and that's bad enough as it is with the mess NATO is today.
The Largest problem we have is a patch piece quilt defence idea, where an assumed coverage is provided by third parties. This leads to serious reduction in capability and capacity, industrially, politically, actual, and real. Someone else will provide the ships. Someone else will provide the men. Someone else will provide the tanks. Someone else will provide the fighters. Someone else will provide the bombers. Someone else will provide the helicopters. And this nonsense, because that's what it is, is squarely why we are losing in Afganistan. And it runs deeper, because this is even why as someone said, you go to a supplier, and they can't give you some Chinooks (example). They are either fully booked on capacity, or have stopped making the gear. For YEARS in the UK, we followed this. So in Afganistan we have not enough air, not enough choppers, and still drive round in snatch Landrovers. We built tiny production runs of top line gear, because *everyone* will pitch in. Only they don't. And our price per unit costs the earth. And as with Chinooks and other equipment, because the whole NATO thing is like this, its very hard to rustle up equipment to order. Its years rather than weeks, and the whole thing is a shambolic mess.
You can bet your bottom dollar, that in we were to follow Lewis's theory of purchase, the time you would go to the US needing a number of something, they would actually be flat out producing it for their own force, probably first.
It is not like Lewis's ideas have not been used previously. Its how the RAF and Government wrecked TSR2, and went off to buy cheaper 'F111' bombers.
Personally, if I were going to bitch about something it would be the F35. I'd have never started that damn thing, and would have continued developing the Harrier program, and Harrier joint strike force. The Harrier has some flaws, but its a seriously proven battlefield design and simply works. I frankly dread to think what a mess the F35 may end up being.
"The reality of it is, we have gone up against major air forces in recent times. The Argentineans had an extremely capable air force during the Falklands, and Saddam had a top air force during the first Gulf War."
I have to take issue with this. The Argentines were poorly trained, but brave. And their equipment of Skyhawks, Mirages, Super Etendards, and a mixture of other stuff paid a really heavy price in a situation where in most cases they had a strategic and tactical advantage. And anyone doing serious evaluation would question the idea that they could class as major, or capable.
Saddam's 'air force' had fancy aircraft, and little else.
"Fortunately, in the latter case he decided not to use it, but we did expect significant losses had he flown his air force anywhere except Iran. Now, the key part which will win any future air superiority battle in the future is better avionics than the opposition. The old fighters (like the F3) are an absolute nightmare to retrofit avionics into, usually requiring very expensive projects to do so. And in many cases there just isn't space in the airframe for the new avionics (try retrofitting a new radar for example). What the Typhoon and F22 both provide is a highly capable avionics platform. The turning and burning is an aside, and in reality is only a small part of the development cost."
Air warfare will always, always have variables that have to be considered. Avionics are for sure, one key area. So are weapons systems, platforms, service availability, and performance in all flight envelopes, and pilot training. The US went to Vietnam and despite having a technical advantage on paper, it came out the other side having to reshape its *entire* training system. It had bet the farm on missiles and got it all wrong.
"In my opinion there is a good chance that the Typhoon or F22 will see real operational service in their lifetimes. Of course, getting rid of the maintenance burden that the F3 has become will be great, and it will be nice having a quick jet like Typhoon on QRA both in the UK and down on the Falklands."
In *any* theatre apart from bottom end ones like Afganistan, you will need air capability. Period. Its an absolute requirement. So I think you are right, it will see action, and we'll need the capability.