back to article Eurofighter Tranche 3: Oh please, God, no

So the fix is in. The Treasury's attempt during recent weeks to kill off the final UK tranche of cripplingly expensive Eurofighter combat jets will be quashed, on the personal orders of Gordon Brown. Money will be taken from taxpayers, and lives will be lost among British troops, to buy aircraft which won't be any use - some may …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. John
    Alert

    Good Article!

    Completely agree with the sentiment, BAE have too much power over the Government. But: "But the Treasury people know: if they thought it would cost more to cancel than it would to carry on, they'd never have tried to cancel."

    You have obviously never come across the commercial people within MoD. They probably have only just read the cancellation clause!

    The basic problem is that the Treasury approved procurement "process" used in MoD (CADMID) has been in operation for many years and simply doesn't work! It has taken a team of nearly 200 people (nearly half are consultants) 8 years to run the precurment process for DII, and they achieve nothing! Complete waste of money!

    Eurofighter's team is only 40 people, but still useless!

  2. Prag Fest
    Thumb Up

    Cheers

    Another great article, thanks Lewis.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yawn.....

    I was suprised to see a comment about the conservative from you Lewis. Still no mention about the conservatives cancelling the carriers if they ever get in.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Wrong Lewis!

    "who are often enough housed like pigs when they're at home"

    There are laws against keeping animals in the conditions which the MoD consider suitable for service personnel.

    I really _REALLY_ wish that some of the MPs who vote on the forces budgets could have stayed (I won't say lived) in 5G7 mess on the old Ark for a deployment. If they had been forced to live in those conditions then, maybe, things might have started changing.

    Sorry, I realise that my pervious statement was just a pipedream. Our political 'masters' would improve _their_ lot, not anyone elses. Silly me.

  5. SuperTim
    Black Helicopters

    Interesting, insightful, articulate, but in the dark

    There is an awful lot of assumption with this article.

    Having some inside knowledge of the whole Eurofighter project, i can say that the project was out of date by the mid nineties. The aircraft was designed as a replacement for the tornado and jaguar with multirole capabilities, supercruise and all that is needed to fight russian made weaponry (not the reds themselves). We found out quickly that we dont necessarily need anything as clever as the Typhoon, and that good ol' fashioned gumption still kicks ass.

    Good money has followed bad, penalties have been charged and threatened and partners have fallen by the wayside. The whole thing was a white elephant over 10 years ago. Then there was the whole "tranche" thing. This was never on the cards early on, but changed to that when they realised how beaurocrats can severly screw over a project.

    Comedic proportioned then ensued, with specs changing all over the show. The gun was replaced by a lump of concrete, due to the cost to run being outside of RAF ability. Then it was back in, but disabled (For the same reason). It couldnt be removed completely because the flight computers were modelled on the original design and we cant change that now can we?

    Anyway, as all this went on, it became apparent that we no longer design a plane round a task, we design a plane, change the task, botch the design and then cost it all at several time the far-too-low original budget.

    If you want to talk about money, it may well be worth the while cancelling. If you do, then say bye bye to the last shreds of the UK aerospace industry. This will knock on far beyond the eurofighter.

    It is a shame because in every simulation, calculation and test, the plane was possibly the most capable on the planet per unit cost. Our boys regularly flew rings around the Yanks even in inferior equipment, and the Eurofighter would have been able to handle even F22s (no matter what the yanks claim).

    Sadly it has all ended like up like the UK car industry. We could have produced the Aston Martin of the sky, but instead we produced the Austin Allegro.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now you know

    why the French pulled out of the whole sorry affair. The Rafale, that was started, if I remember well, more or less at the same time as Eurofighter, is now in service. OK it's not stealth and bloody expensive, and no one wants to buy it, but it's French tech (i.e. no NSA rootkit in it, maybe just a few old camemberts) and available now.

    Blame the UK gov that seems to think they're a subsidiary of the US dept of defense.

  7. lIsRT

    @ Lewis Page

    I've read several of your articles over the past couple of years, and the criticisms of the British defence industry are familiar. Although I don't know enough about the industry to say whether they are true, they do sound plausible.

    The question is *why*; why are Boeing, Lockheed (or even MiG and Sukhoi perhaps?) capable of what BAE are not?

    Is it something as simple as manufacturing volume?

    (an article explaining this would be appreciated...)

  8. Mike Street

    Interesting, Lewis

    Thanks for that polemic, Lewis. I agree with most of it, especially the need to support troops who are actually in harms way (leaving aside the moral case for them being there, for which they are in no way responsible).

    But I fear you do not justify Trident, perhaps because it is unjustifiable. The only potential enemies for which we require a MAD strategy are Russia & China. No-one else (and maybe not China) could be reasonably sure of knocking out all air and ground launched nukes to ensure no retaliation. Iran, Pakistan, North Korea will not be close to that capability in the lifetime of Trident, so we don't need sub launched nukes to deter them.

    Are you saying we need Trident to deter Russia? Despite the posturing on both sides, it hardly seems high on the list of likely conflicts.

  9. vishal vashisht
    Flame

    Its fucking disgusting!!

    Forget the whole Defense companies are baby killers argument, we are paying something like £30,000 PER YEAR PER PERSON for everyone person who works in the defense industry in tax subsidies and hand outs to BAE. Can you imagine the kind of car industry we would have if the Government handed out the £900 million a year it does to the defense industry?

    Its some sort of nostalgic bollocks to have a defense industry in this country. If BAe want to leave the country, let them, just dont pay them to do it! There is no rational economic argument to pay any sort of subsidy to the defense industry. The fact that they are all a bunch of murdering bastards is just icing on the cake.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My calculator says

    My calculator says that £20bn for 16000 jobs is more than a million pounds a job.

    Are there not more cost-effective ways of preserving ordinary decent working peoples' incomes?

    Eg let the Eurofighter Tranche 3 die, and use that £20bn (or whatever) to put 16000 cheques in the post direct from treasury to former Eurofighter employees, say £30K per person per year for 30 years? That would still cost less than Eurofighter and the 16000 people involved might actually be able to do something useful with their time instead.

    The government could even hold some money back from the £20bn for use by the military in supporting Our Troops out at the sharp end.

  11. George

    A rare occasion...I agree with Lewis Page

    Not totally though.

    Having come from the dark side and worked for a our American but British named friends I believed we were doing the right things for the guys on the front line and we were at office foot soldier level, heck I was proud of what I did. But I have to say my view has been changed since the real problems have come to light and I agree 100% this should have been delayed or cancelled.

    As long as we have enough to replace the current aging Tornado and Harrier strike force then Tranche should be developed into a more sophisticated fighter-bomber. With said jamming or bombing or even something more advanced, it will never be a marine carrier fighter though.

    Or better still cancel them as said and develop some focused UAVs which the man on the ground can control and cut out the risk of injury. I know that we have several promising ones in the pipeline as long as our wonderful friends at MoD and BAE don't make it cost the earth, and they are as guilty as each other for delays etc.

  12. Frank Kerrigan

    US Tech no thanks

    Fact is Europe does not want to depend on the US for mil tech.

  13. Graham Jordan

    So Sad

    There's no doubt at all you know a dam sight more than I ever will about the current state of the MOD or the rest of the worlds Military for that matter.

    But it's so difficult to accept what you have to say as Gospel when I can't remember ever reading a single positive story about anything Blighty gets its hands on.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    There is a need for "work experience" here..

    I'd like to see those wonderful decision makers actually where it counts. Half a year at Defense Procurement in any nation may actually enlighten them as to just how much money is thrown away thought the entertaining "change control" process where the game is basically to be the cheapest in procurement, because via change control you get it back multiple times. Oh, and by shifting those responsible every 4 years without the ability to come back to them for what they have done before.

    The supplier process is simple: join with a couple of buddies to undercut the more honest vendors (if any are left) so the politicians and people involved can claim huge savings, then suck the blood from underneath the taxpayer through change control because the original contracts "accidentally" left out critical details (if MoD would contract for a car the original specs would leave out wheels, engine, brakes and the steering wheel, but make huge publicity about a new revolutionary upholstery). The aim of the game is to string MoD along long enough to make it impossible to back out without making headlines about wasting money. Oh, and watch where people go after they "retire". Look back over the last 10 years what they have done and it all starts to become very interesting..

    After that it's simply a matter of managing the press coverage. Next tranche received: huge headlines about successful continuation "as planned". Political problems? Huge headlines about the potentially wasted money (and this is about Billions, not millions).

    Meanwhile, people are sent to war zones without adequate equipment (remember the bulletproof vests fiasco?) because the money that was available to protect them is mostly exported to other countries. So, that's where the next half year "political base camp" should be: at the front. Make the compulsory for everyone involved and the focus would suddenly change. Supplier meetings? No problem - tent near Basra. Contract negotiations? Get some capable people involved. Heck, get some people back at a decent pay - if you take the price of a consultant that's a decent salary for someone, and the knowledge stays inside for a change.

    And next time a guy stops a round instead of his kevlar, get the man/woman in charge to tell his relatives that he'll be coming back in a box, and see how that family is going to cope.

    Because that is the direct consequence of these games. You cannot blame a soldier for doing his duty, but you sure as hell can blame those in charge for then ignoring the fact that these people need protection to survive. Sure, nothing new here, but to me we're simply talking about a wilful, indirect version of blue on blue.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Isn't it obvious

    That war is a load of shite that does nobody any good?

    Why is the government wasting our money on stuff they shouldn't be using in the first place? We don't have an empire to defend any more.

    The rest of the world see us as a bit of a joke (except the people we're fighting). Our military is huge and let's face it, we don't really need it. Who's going to attack us? The French?

    Problem is that other countries look up to us and think "Oooh, the UK have got fancy new guns/planes/whatever. We need to buy some from them so we can be as cool as they are". Which is a pretty fucking retared attitude when a significant percentage of your population are living in squalor.

    We need to set a better example!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Theres Editorial comment

    And then theres using it as your own personal soap box.

    If your going to do this please keep the "brave forces defending our realm" out of this. That works when you have conscripts fighting an enemy at the door, not when you have troops who chose to do that job, on the other side of the world, fighting someone elses war. They are doing the job they were paid to do, same as everyone else.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Go on Lewis...

    ...Don't hold back, tell us what you REALLY think.

  19. Candy
    Thumb Down

    How very nice.

    I realise that this article is tagged as "Comment". No really, I do. But it's not comment, really, is it?

    Where's the analysis? The balanced arguments? This sort of unchecked, soapbox ranting seems to be becoming more and more prevalent on El Reg and it does not reflect well. If correspondents want to shamelessly promote their views (rather than reporting/commenting on the news) we might all be better served if they just wrote a letter to The Times.

    Unless... Could it be... Was this a wrongly attributed Otto Z. Stern missive?

  20. Frank Bough
    Thumb Down

    Predictable, on so many levels

    Lewis, you're ranting. Let's face it, this isn't really journalism anymore. And would it be too much to ask you to substantiate exactly what American kit the Eurofighter is 'full' of?

  21. Ash
    Pirate

    I know what I'm voting for

    G'ingTFO of here.

    This place is messed up.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Quite a rant...

    ... but he is 100% correct. And this from someome who does work for that certain (less than) British Aerospace company.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Same old...

    Afraid it is not as black and white as presented here. Buying American is not always cheaper, look at the F35 today where the costs are going upwards or to the F111 in the 60's. I agree the UK should never have committed to the A400M but then again the C130J is also pretty worthless, the automated cargo system doesn't work, you can't drop paratroops out of them (due to the risk they end up wrapped around the tail) and the range increase sold by Lockheed isn't there in reality because the aircraft don't fly high enough. What the RAF personnel would really like to see is some new build C130Ks that actually do what is says on the tin but it will never happen.

    Yes there have been some pretty disasterous purchases (Tornado F3, SA80) but then there has been with other countries as well. It does not mean that everything produced by UK manufacturer's is crap. A good example of this would be the Littoral Combat Ship (US Navy project) where the costs are eye watering.

    No other country is so determined to get rid of a) its defence industry b) its manufacturing base. Can you imagine the French agreeing to buy foreign defence equipment?

    Reality is that the defence budget should be bigger to properly accommodate current operations (supporting troops in the field) as well as normal acquisitions (long term purchases that mean the armed forces continue to be capable of defending UK interests).

    The UK defence budget has barely increased in real terms since 1997. It represents 5-6% of all government spending (twice as much is spent on benefits), covers the first and most important part of government (defence of the realm) and yet it is always the first to be culled. Indeed, the interest charge on government debt will be bigger than the defence budget from next year!

  24. Matthew Smith

    We need the fighters

    The role of bombers is being take by drones and cruise missiles. Taking a feisty jet like this and strapping iron bombs to it will be very wasteful.

  25. S Larti
    Thumb Up

    Keep up the good work Lewis...

    Although you may be a lone voice in the wilderness. If only the Torygraph had as much concern for this waste of taxpayers money as it does for MP's expenses maybe somebody would care, but the mainstream media just go "Ooooh, nice shiny fast plane" & swallow the guff about British jobs & so forth...

    Having worked for GEC at the time of Nimrod AEW I would at least accept that Eurofighter is a plane that can do the job is was built to do, it's just that the job no longer exists. As for needing a third tranche when the RAF can't even use what they already have. Idiocy!

    Not so sure about the Trident argument though Lewis - why not sub-launched cruise? Good enough to take out anyone bar a superpower with 21st century air defences, and I doubt we could use Trident against the USA.

  26. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    ok, so where ...

    .... is that nr 10 petition ?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Lewis is an idiot

    The contract for Eurofighter is designed so that cancelling Tranches costs more than actually buying them.

    You're actually suggesting we should have paid more and ended up with no extra aircraft?

  28. Pavlovs well trained dog
    Unhappy

    what a strangely depressing article.

    Why is politics so fucked up

  29. Andrew Mulholland
    Thumb Down

    What the ....

    This article is so written with such an unbelievable slant/bias I can scarcely believe it.

    Is it a joke?

    When Eurofighter was developed BAE were a british company. The other partners on the plane are fellow europeans, not americans.

    The plane is urgently needed to replace aging, and outclassed Tornadoes.

    The Saudis are taking Tranche2 planes, which will be taken from the original RAF allocation... so whilst the RAF originally ordered 89 Tranche2, they'll actually get less than that, with the balance coming through the Tranche3 order.

    Regarding the other areas lacking in the ministry of defence, yes I agree that is dreadful, and needs to be resolved urgently.

    Also as you failed to mention, cancelling Tranche3 would have resulted in penalty payments to other european countries of almost as much as fufilling the order itself... not to mention the political fall out of such a move.

    However I doubt it will happen under this Government.... they're printing hundreds of billions of pounds to cover the financial crisis... which was caused by Mr Brown's ridiculous deregulation and statements that "boom and bust" was a thing of the past.

    So why not focus your attention and anger to that?

  30. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Hard polemic to argue with

    Thanks Lewis for a great piece of angry informed polemic.

    A much quicker way to put an end to the maiming and killing of soldiers would be to get out of Afghanistan. Remind me, someone, why we're trying nationbuilding in a country that's famous above all over past three hundred years for having eaten occupying forces whole, and burped up the crunchy bits? Going in post-9/11 to get bin Laden made sense. Knocking over the Taliban regime made sense as a means to accomplish the first objective. Whilst it's a nice thought that we're fighting for democracy and human rights, it's undeniable that we would never have tried to do it on it's own merits without the psychosocial need to "get" bin Laden. (We'd have moved on to Somalia, Zimbabwe, Burma/Myanmar and so on if that was the goal.)

    None of that affects Lewis' points about the relative utility of relatively cheap choppers, body armour and other such kit vs. Eurofighters, but it's the sad little convoys of Wootton Bassett that make it such a bad time to make the wrong call in a defence spending review. Given that politicians will always be prone to stupid or wrong decisions, not being shot at in the first place is the best way to mitigate the consequences of their dumbness.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @vishal vashist

    "Can you imagine the kind of car industry we would have if the Government handed out the £900 million a year it does to the defense industry?"

    You don't have to imagine it - it's already been done in the 1970s and it was called British Leyland.

    I think this is one of Lewis' points - massive government subsidies don't work because they don't incentivise the companies that receive them to produce what the market actually wants.

    He's certainly not making the case to apply the pork barrel principle across other industries.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Easy Maths..

    so it costs

    100% to go ahead

    80% to cancel

    and can recover 40% by selling on at a knock down...

    whats the best option for the Tax Payer????

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Lewis

    Again it appears you are completely incapable of putting forward a balanced, reasonable argument on anything related to UK defense without ranting, raving and trying to solve everything by buying American (yet strangely enough criticising the Eurofighter for using US tech...)

    Some rational thoughts here:

    70,000 per job per annum is rather misleading don't you agree, in hindsight? Surely you need to take into consideration the actual costs of making the planes, such as materials, manufacturing processes, overheads as well. Or do you thing Eurofighters are just magicked up out of thin air?

    Although we may not need an air superiority fighter at the moment (OK, don't need) we may later on. And if we don't have one we are royally screwed.

    All the other references I have seen at least strongly suggest that cancelling tranche 3 would cost at least as much as buying it. We may not nee them, maybe not ever but how fucking stupid would you have to be to pay more for not receiving something you can sell on than receiving it for less and then making money selling the ones you don't need?

    If we just bought American we would be entirely dependant on the US for everything defence related. We might as well then just join up as the 51st state. You might want that but many of us are happy as we are.

    There are developmental offshoots of the whole defence industry. New engine technology developed for faster / more efficient / longer lasting / more compact jets gets used in civilian engines, so benefiting us all, and the same for composite materials, electronics etc. etc. etc.

    And regarding the line:

    "Did I hear that right? £20bn for Eurofighters is value for money, but £20bn for Trident isn't?"

    You are really having a giraffe, right? Please tell us you are not serious?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Need Trident to take on the yanks

    There is another MAD target - the USA.

    When we are all being flooded by sea-level rises because Americans refuse to give up gas-guzzling cars and air conditioning, we may need to take out the planet polluters with nuclear missiles, aimed at places like Florida and Midland, Texas.

  35. graeme leggett

    Passionate but all too probably right

    Spending priorities do seem to be out of kilter. While the forces need money across all areas to cover for improvements and future possibilties certain areas are falling behind.

    Certain PPI attempts haven't helped - contracting out training?

    And I read a good one yesterday, in Private Eye, privatising recruitment into the forces!

  36. Fredly
    Thumb Down

    Government is wasteful - end of

    I'm sick of the military getting flamed for buying expensive kit.

    The facts are you can't predict what you are going to need in 10-15years, the procurement cycle of a technologically advanced piece of kit. You design it to meet the current threat with guesses about what you are actually going to need in the future. When the future gets here the goalposts have moved - it has always been thus since the Industrial Revolution.

    Development and ironing out of design flaws are the biggest problems - but the kit is needed NOW so they have to be overcome whilst the kit is in use. Operational evaluation is the best evaluation.

    Instead of moaning about it pay the extra money and get the new kit that will keep these planes / ships / tanks etc awesome. Those of you who slate our kit, have obviously never seen any of it in the field. We have created some excellent and effective systems independantly and with our allies but all you hear about are the failures as it's a more interesting read.

  37. David Hicks
    Black Helicopters

    So you're saying...

    ... we could afford a world class defence force AND a nucleur deterrant if we canned the olympics and ID cards and a few other domestic funding black holes?

    Because frankly I find the 20-odd billion spent on those two things to be far more offensive.

  38. harry

    drones

    The argument that we should concentrate on spending kit on things we actually need seems largely redundant due to the fact that troops need to call in fast air. we are completely dependent on the USA to provide fast air cover in order for are troops to operate in Afghanistan. the fact is that the most verstile way to provide air support is with a fast jet, and so we need the euro fighter. drones and helicopters might be able to plug the gap in Afghanistan while the enemy have virtually no anti aircraft capabilities, but against a country with even old soviet antiaircraft equipment they would be useless. look at how badly the Russian helicopters fared against shoulder launched anti aircraft missiles.

    its sems preety stupid to say we dont need an aircraft while at the same time rellying entirely on the Americans version of that aircraft to conduct our combat operations. couple that with the fact that we wouldn't be able to create another fighter quickly enought to meet any demand we might face in the next 20 years, it seems pretty stupid to turn our entire armed forces into essentially a special forces battalion capable of doing nothing other than supporting American conventional forces. if after Vietnam the Americans had desided it was a waste of money to develope the m1a1 abrams becuase it cant be used in the jungles of south east asia then they could not have defended saudi arabi in the first gulf war.

    If the critics of the euro fighter had there way any country with a squadron of sukois would be superior to our entire armed forces

  39. SmokeyMcPotHead

    Reading between the lines...

    Reading between the lines of SuperTims comments near the top here it sounds like the Eurofighter has the curse of the TSR2 upon it. If you don't know what the TSR2 was, just google it.

  40. SuperTim

    @SmokeyMcPotHead

    I wish it was as good as TSR2 was back then, but British defense spending has always been pulled just as success was around the corner. Chuck Yeager would never have broken the sound barrier if it wasnt for us developing a supersonic aircraft that DIDNT spiral out of control near Mach1. That project was shelved too early.

    At least we are getting our Eurofighters now, even if they are only 80% of their intended outcome.

  41. SmokeyMcPotHead

    One further comment from me...

    I think it would be true to say that throughout more recent history military aircraft have taken so long to develop that by the time they hit the shelves so to speak they are either outdated or not suited to the job they need to perform at the time they hit those shelves. It would also seem that these days this country, like many others, no longer has the ability (or perhaps skill set) to stand on it's own two feet and develop it's own defence equipment. During the early days of the Cold War we made some cracking aircraft, they may not have all been perfect, and true enough some weren't as good as others, but they were ours, and they pretty much did what they said on the tin. We have now reached an age where technology rules the roost, and developments take 10s of years rather than maybe 5, and therefore the associated costs are huge, and do we ever really get what we want during thes elong development times.

    Is there an answer to the multitude of problems discussed in the article and amongst these comments? Well if there is it will surely lie in sorting out the mess behind the scenes, cleaning up the procurement process, actually reading contracts before they're signed and coming up with proper forward looking specifications for equipment before any development orders are issued. As someone quite rightly said here one of the things that does the most damage in terms of cost is the change of specification part way through. It's like ordering a Mini and then deciding you need a Mondeo!

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From an American, Brits need their own defense capabilities

    Being an American, I would say that you Brits, need some of your own defense infrastructure. Tax payer money should be spent on its own soil, having alies have their own capabilities provides for a more dispersed capability. Different countries have different needs, their are many capable Engineers over their (where do you think early US population came from ).

    What you do need as we do is to rain in the cost of the defense programs(better oversight). Cooperation is fine but when you really need something you need to be able to do it yourself. As far as I am concerned a strong Britain is a plus to us. When it comes down to it looking at the recent past the only real Alies we have both had have been each other. Go forth and develop.

  43. Mike Street
    Stop

    More Spending?

    The idea we should just spend more doesn't wash I'm afraid. We spend more than anyone else in the world, except the USA, China and France. We spend nearly 50% more than the Russian Federation, for goodness sake.

    Inevitably, a good deal of that is either wasted, or directed to the wrong shiny new toys.

    It's not as if our service personnel get most of it spent on them, is it?

  44. Matt Eagles

    That rant again?

    Boy I'm I bored of this article getting reprinted. Any chance of something interesting or insightful?

    I know Lewis believes that the US military do everything better than everyone else so here's an idea for his next article:

    We all know what Lewis thinks of the Nimord replacement aircraft, MRA4. Perhaps rather than rehashing this old tripe again he can compare and contrast the US project to replace their P3 aircraft with a new Naval patrol aircraft?

    I'd be interested to see if we can get insight and information rather than a polemic peppered with numbers from press releases.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Re: Reading between the lines...

    "Reading between the lines of SuperTims comments near the top here it sounds like the Eurofighter has the curse of the TSR2 upon it. If you don't know what the TSR2 was, just google it."

    Hello? The Eurofighter is a production aircraft; it's already out there. Ask the Russians: their penis-waving bomber tours d'Europe have been intercepted by Eurofighters, you know, not by RAF pilots astride some kind of giant ostrich, Joust-style.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Oh Come On Lewis..

    Think of the poor politicians, their expenses are likely to be [DEL]obfusticated[DEL] subject to reduction and tranparent scrutiny and now you're asking them to give up their pension plans too.

    For shame.

    Seriously, Defense spending is the perfect place for corruption, profiteering and abuse of public funds because of the huge amount of money involved and the quality excuses available for hiding dodgy dealing behind;

    safeguarding jobs, national security, commercial confidentiality and national pride being the prime examples.

    As someone above mentioned it will be interesting to see which politicians and civil service official that were involved with this debarcle end up with cushy positions within the beneficiary organisations further down the line (and I'd bet my left nut that there are some already in those cushy positions, will be interesting to see how many entties in the list of MP's outside interests are redacted when the list finally gets forced out).

    We need sanity, transparency, honesty, integrity and accountability returned to all aspects of UK politics in order to save this country but I am not holding my breath because it is never in the interests of those in power to ensure that power is used fairly, honestly and wisely..

  47. IR

    Yawn

    "Blah blah blah, Typhoon is awful, blah blah, BAE Systems are evil, blah, blah, blah"

    Page, change the record, or at least get a little more informed/unbiased about what you write in your articles. Inaccuracies litter it all over the place. I notice the article is listed as a "Comment" because it doesn't contain any actual news and is mostly opinion, while the facts are misleading and incomplete. It's worse than the Daily Mail. Yet again.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Fredly "Government is wasteful - end of"

    Oh, I like this one..

    "We have created some excellent and effective systems independently and with our allies"

    One word. Bowman.

    I'll get back to you when I've stopped laughing. May be a while.

  49. George
    Boffin

    Iron bombs

    I think people are getting carried away with the whole multi-role thing.

    Just because you fly in bomber config (if there is such a thing, sounds computer gamey to me!) doesn't mean you strap some huge bomb on, take off and just drop it! It was more like adding technology on the flight systems to allow different weapons to be used.

    I know because I worked in a place where they tested the concept not the matey up top who wanted to be important. Nobody builds planes based "on old fashioned gumption" anymore, and if anything the Eurofighter comes closest witha great performance envelope only really rivalled by some exotic American kit which I am not mentioning because eveyone will say should have bought that!

    The fact is that all these specialised planes we had in the cold war are just relics and nobody wants a hugely expensive plane that does just one job (the yanks thought they did but just cancelled a load of them!). I think we just accept what we got until we get a decent UAV fleet...doesn't make the past right but lets face it we can't change the past!

  50. IronHorse
    Stop

    Cancellation Clauses

    What the hell are the MOD doing signing a contract where it costs as much to cancel as to proceed?

    Good article Lewis.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @AC 15:44

    To be fair, Bowman was only ever intended as a stop gap until the desired end project was completed.

    As for the article, what a load of Crap.

    We don't need the capabilities of the EuroFighter right now, but we may do in the future. And if we don't then we recover some of the cost by selling them on.

    Yes the features of Tranche 3 are somewhat less than hoped, and as someone already mentioned the idea of Tranches did not exist during project planning. Defence needs better funding, regardless of your beliefs regarding justification of wars, we have to protect the lives of the guys on the front line.

    For the commentor who stated that Soldiers are in a job that they chose, and they're being paid for it. Your right, but kind of missing the point. When a lot of these guys joined up, there was no Iraq war, or Afghan war. Yes they knew they might go to war, but didn't know why or where. You can't quit the services overnight you know.

    You also clearly have not seen the good that is done out there, perhaps preferring to only absorb the tripe that Murdochs media friends spout. Try thinking for yourself, get all the facts and check them from different sources, and just perhaps, you will see the full picture!

  52. Elrond Hubbard
    Thumb Up

    [there was a directive while processing this error]

    Maybe I'm missing something but wasn't Eurofighter conceived in the 80s to neutralise the threat from the Su27 and its variants and developments? Something that it does quite well, considering that simulations have it fighting to 0.82 versus the far more expensive and stealthy F-22's 0.91. In contrast, the Rafale fights to 0.5, but that's an apples-with-bananas comparison as the frogs required the Rafale to have folding wings for carrier operation.

    It's easy and obvious to knock the lack of sophisticated air-to-ground capability, but wasn't this what the EF2000 programme was aimed at? And that was slimmed down to the EFA on cost grounds. You can't eat your cake and have it. Besides which, much of the Eurofighter's stealthiness (and it has lots, despite how it appears) would go out of the window if you then hung a lot of ordnance beneath it. Much better to accomplish this mission with a drone chugging up to 100,000 feet and well out of range of all but the most exotic SAMs.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Out With The Old, In With The... Less Functional??

    BAE. I should have known. Lockheed. I should have known. You poor Brits might as well become the 51st state as it seems our DoD and your MoD are run by the same bunch of slobbering retards. After reading the articles on the vaunted Eurofighter here on El Reg, and several about the F-22A and F-35, I got curious and started looking up the specs on the Eurofighter, F-22A, F-35 (A, B, and C variants), F-16, F/A-18 and Su34 and the Su35. Although there is a small problem directly comparing a, let's say, Mandarin Orange versus a Tangerine, but compare some of the KEY specs of all the aircraft and it is pretty clear we here across the pond and you on the Island are getting a red-hot metal shaft stuck up our (arse is how you say it there?). For exampler, and F-16E all weather/day/night multirole fighter with a 2+ mach speed at altitude costs a mere roughly 20 million. Accoringly the Austrian AF (What the hell does Austria need with a freaking air force anyway for god's sake!) bought 18 Eurotrash fighters for a cool 1.969 BILLION, with all the support costs added up. That's 109.3 MILLION EURO per copy for an aircraft with less all around ability than a $20 MILLION DOLLAR F-16. Same result can be arrived at when you compare the F/A-18E/F to the F-35, whose production cost overruns and delays will send the cost per unit of that aircraft into the stratospheric realm over $300 MILLION DOLLARS!! That plane can't even fly into the stratosphere. For $300 MILLION a copy, it should be able to fly into space and back using anti-gravity engines! I didnt find the current cost of just a unit of an F-18E/F (Super Hornet) but (all this is according ro Wikipedia) Australia bought 24 of them for a 10 YEAR COST of about $192 MILLION per copy. The $300 Mil for the F-35 is just for the stinking plane itself! The production of the F/A-18 is when the procurement process went from smelling like rotten fish in the distance to crawling through a sewer pipe like it stinks now, as anyone who has followed the development of the F/A-18 has probably heard. Hence the Super Hornet as the original went on carriers as an inadequate replacement to the F-14 Tomcat. Does anyone want to shoot themselves in the face yet? The planes are just the beginning. The U.S. spends roughly $1 TRILLION a year when ALL the DoD costs are added up and a (bloke you say overthere?) can't even get patched up in the emergency room without getting billed for $500 WITH INSURANCE! Something is getting terribly wrong with these so called Democracies!

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    @Matt Eagles

    " We all know what Lewis thinks of the Nimord replacement aircraft, MRA4. Perhaps rather than rehashing this old tripe again he can compare and contrast the US project to replace their P3 aircraft with a new Naval patrol aircraft?

    I'd be interested to see if we can get insight and information rather than a polemic peppered with numbers from press releases."

    Not being Lewis its probably taking a liberty but if its OK I'll have a stab at answering your question.

    The replacement for the P3, intended as the-then counterpart to the Nimrod, tentatively named the P7 was cancelled in the early 1990s as a) there was a cost overrun of $300m on the test examples and b) it was considered to be completely irrelevant following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Lewis has mentioned that on at least one occasion. I'd merely note that the Americans are willing to cancel something if its not working - that saves them a lot of money.

    The new one the P8, ordered in 2004, made its first test flight in 2009, with operational service due (and expected) in 2013, around 9 years in total, costing around $2-400m per airframe (about $20-45bn for 100+ aircraft; the US Navy wants at least 100 of them).

    The upgraded Nimrod, ordered in 1992 and originally called Nimord 2000 in a fit of wild optimism, has cost at least £3.5bn so far for 12 planes (it was mean to be 21 planes, but we can't afford 21 as each one has increased in cost), which have not all entered active service yet, but we're optimistic for getting the last plane in 2010, a mere eighteen years. Or maybe its not 2010 and a lot more than £300m per plane. Its British Defence procurement who really knows?

    Actually the UK-US comparison doesn't work very well - the US spends a lot more money than everyone else. A better comparison would be with the French, who sensibly bought American Hawkeye planes, or the Germans who use the P-3 Orion, as does Canada, Greece, Spain, Norway, New Zealand and a whole bunch of other nations around the world. In fact one of the justifications for the P-8 is the expectation of a couple of hundred sales of upgraded aircraft as people retire the P3 and move to the P8 .

    The Indian military have already ordered some of the American planes, the Australians have said that they will replace their P3s with P8s. No one will ever order the Nimrod as they'd have done so in, say, 1995.

    Hope that this information will help.

  55. O
    Stop

    Reason to be angry ....

    ... isn't it because we don't need more jets and don't need a bunch of nuke carrying barges? Unless Brown is planning a major invasion (in Labour's fictional 4th, 5th and 6th terms) and full-scale nuclear war, what ever they cost and what ever the alternatives may cost, they will NEVER EVER represent value!

    It's just insane that we try to cling to being a major military power. It is totally unrealistic in global political and economic terms, and completely impossible given the burning wreckage that's left of our own economy. What's more, it's a pretty dubious and, some would say, malevolent aspiration in the first place!

    As the shouting guy on Trailer Park Boys screams, "F**k off with the guns!"

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BAE are repugnant...

    ...and the world would be a better place without them, end of.

    Same can be said for all arms manufacturers/peddlers.

  57. This post has been deleted by its author

  58. Fredly

    @ AC mentioning Bowman

    I said "we have created SOME excellent and effective systems", I never said all our kit is great, just that it is easy to pick on the ones that aren't as they make a better story for idiots to sound off about. Other countries have similar problems with their procurement. But it isn't just defence, motor manufacturers regularly sell poorly manufactured cars, computer software companies send out software that needs regular patching, builders build houses that have roofs that leak etc etc

    In defence we are talking about seriously complicated pieces of equipment and systems - it is inevitable that some suffer problems, and that's without people changing their minds half way through the design process.

    More focus should be placed on other areas of government spending which are far more wasteful - health, education and benefits being better areas to pick on. Most (again not all - other peoples experiences may differ) defence contractors I have worked with have had genuine concern for the people on the front line (many of them used to be that soldier/sailor/airman) and would take umbrage at the suggestion that they deliberately try and give the boys duff kit.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Absolutely Right

    You should all continue in the European tradition of letting someone else defend your countries in the event of war. Don't waste any of your money on anything.

  60. goggyturk
    Thumb Down

    Someone call a doctor - risk of anuerism

    The idea that we'll never need Eurofighter... well, we'll probably never need Trident either, but Lewis seems to want to spend on that too. I believe we need a fighter that's capable of going toe to toe with the best the potential opposition can buy, which probably means the Su-35 (not the F-22). Just because we're fighting insurgents right now doesn't mean we won't be up against someone with a more advanced military in the near future. No threat in the NATO area? How about the Arctic land grab that's away to kick off north of Norway for the gas and oil reserves under there?

    Did anyone predict the first Gulf War or the Twin Towers attacks? I don't think so. This kind of thinking is just preparing for the last war, not the next one. Naive is the word I'd use to describe that .

    Spend the money on Eurofighter and Trident and be done with it I say. In any case it all fades into insignificance when you look at a potential 20-30 year service life for both systems - £1-2 billion per year sounds cheap for the extra security they provide.

    And, btw, I think you should quit before you burst a blood vessel Lewis.

  61. S Larti
    Thumb Up

    Brass hat on your side Lewis?

    I strongly suspect that Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the Army, would agree with what Lewis has here, he has said today that we are arming our forces to fight the cold war when what we need to do is equip our ground forces to fight the opponents we are facing now & for the foreseeable future.

    Where he says spending should focus on what was relevant, rather than on achieving "balanced" forces. he's clearly including to the folly of spending billions on RAF fighter planes when the army is struggling on with the wrong kit.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8052790.stm

  62. Matt Eagles
    Unhappy

    @AC 18:11

    I was after "insight and information" I don't think paraphrasing wikipedia counts as either does it?

    No mention of the flight limitations? Not quoting a cost for developing and using the new buoy types that these flight limitations will require? How about rapidly delivering buoys and torps from 10,000 feet? Nothing really interesting then, just the original press releases, again.

  63. Seán

    I have an idea

    Why not just drop big bags on money on the enemy forces. A bomb might kill or injure a few but a couple of hundred thousand euro would cause chaos. It would also be cheaper than all this military industrial complex wankfestology.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    title needed ?

    oh well, maybe the museum I volunteer at will benefit to the tune of 1 low mileage Eurofighter.

    On a serious note - mad as hell that such a serious decision is being ****ed up by our "honourable members" again.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shade

    Lewis is correct, mostly. And there have been number of very good comments. My take is that eurofighter is as mod thinks of it, germans bite the bullet, trident must be maintained since who else than russia has some tens of thousands of nuclear warheads targeted on us

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    @goggyturk

    "The idea that we'll never need Eurofighter... well, we'll probably never need Trident either, but Lewis seems to want to spend on that too."

    Hopefully that's true. In fact if we *need* Trident its pretty much irrelevant as the vast majority of the civilian population of the UK are going to die within then next 20-30 minutes. Lewis merely makes the point that serious, adult nuclear weapons are political tools in a way that Eurofighter isn't and can never be.

    "I believe we need a fighter that's capable of going toe to toe with the best the potential opposition can buy, which probably means the Su-35 (not the F-22). Just because we're fighting insurgents right now doesn't mean we won't be up against someone with a more advanced military in the near future. "

    A harsh fact. The number of RAF air-to-air kills since 1949? Zero. The last air to air kills that the RAF did were in 1948 against the less than stellar opposition of the Egyptian air force (208 RAF flying Spitfires against Egyptian Spitfires) Its been 60 years, so at some stage we're going to have to say that the odds are that its not going to be common, in much the same way as mass cavalry charges weren't common in 1974.

    In addition the Americans are getting something like 2,000 F35s (actually its 2,400 plus change, but I can't be bothered to get the actual number). Its going to be an exceptionally generous American fighter controller that lets a Eurofighter have a pop at a fantasy enemy, as opposed to letting an American fighter have the glory and the medal, particularly as he'll have ten times as many to play with. And that's not including the F-22 which the USAF will be gagging to show is a lot more effective - the F-22s get first pick of any air to air work, then the F35s. Eurofighter is back of the pack.

    Since 1945 the British military have been fighting insurgents every year except 1968. Sooner or later we'll have to say that this is common.

    Arming a budget-strapped military for the incredibly rare, whilst leaving the day to day to wither is like a housewife with an immaculate house but who has underwear unchanged for a year.

    "No threat in the NATO area? How about the Arctic land grab that's away to kick off north of Norway for the gas and oil reserves under there?"

    What land grab? The Russians announcing that they have interests in the Arctic Circle too? Hardly surprising, is it? Have you looked at a map of Russia? Far more to the point if we're fighting Russia Eurofighter will be completely irrelevant, they have thousands of nuclear weapons and a tiny army.

    "Did anyone predict the first Gulf War"

    Actually, yes. Quite a number of people pointed out that Iraq couldn't pay its international debts and that the Kuwaiti attempt at cross-drilling into Iraqi oil fields was more than a little foolish given that Iraq had a vast army and the Kuwaitis didn't. The Kuwaitis said that it was better not to pay the $1bn fine that Iraq demanded through OPEC. Basically Kuwait said what are you going to do about it? Oops.

    " or the Twin Towers attacks? I don't think so."

    I think the report that Bush got said: Bin Laden Plans Strike in United States.

    But this begs the question of how precisely Eurofighter will stop people taking over airliners, the attackers being armed only with Stanley knives and a few hours flight training?

    "This kind of thinking is just preparing for the last war, not the next one. Naive is the word I'd use to describe that ."

    Really? It looks to me like we're preparing for the long-dead Cold War, rather than reality.

    "Spend the money on Eurofighter and Trident and be done with it I say."

    We haven't got the money. Which British Infantry formations do we cut to pay for them?

    "In any case it all fades into insignificance when you look at a potential 20-30 year service life for both systems - £1-2 billion per year sounds cheap for the extra security they provide."

    Not when the budget doesn't work that way. The money is spent now in big chunky amounts, which we haven't got. Once they are in service they'll then cost a couple of billion a year to run. Most of the Eurofighters will never be used, we have only 120 fast jet pilots and 270 Eurofighters.

    And yes, Lewis is hot under the collar about this. Its important for our nation. Its just that Lewis actually understands how bad things are.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this how procurement works?

    MOD: Hi Mr aeroplane manufacturer, I would like a new aeroplane to fight the wars 20 years in the future.

    Bae: What sort of war?

    MOD: I don't know - best we go with what we know, dogfights over Europe, but we can change it as we go along. It has to have world beating flight performance though.

    Bae: Ok, it'll cost you this £x for this many but we will charge **** loads more if you want to change it's capabilities.

    MOD: Ok, sounds good, but if in a few years time we don't like it can we not pay you a penny for all the work you have put in?

    Bae: **** Off, you expect us to go for all this cost over a 20 year period and if at the last minute you don't want the planes you're going to bankrupt our company. I don't think so - guarantee you'll buy this many or pay a huge cancellation fee.

    MOD: Ok, sounds fair.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Agree with the argument - but what's the answer

    Yes EF, T3 etc has been expensive. It's 10yrs too late, doesn't do what it should and so on. However, EF is about more than just the equipment itself. EF has helped to sustain a European aerospace industry - it has sustained R&D, facilities, manufacturing, and staff - that's where the £20Bn went - and has left open the possibility that Europe could build another jet (though after A400M you wouldn't bet on it..). In 20yrs time, as the US racks up export orders for F-35s and derivatives, as well as controlling all the R&D and offset, people will be lamenting EF as the last of its kind. For all its faults, EF did keep us in the game.

  69. goggyturk

    @ AC - land grab

    Suggest you look at a map of where some of these potential oil and gas fields are before you start assuming there isn't any threat of a conflict, because there is. Resource nationalism will be the biggest trigger for conflict in the 21st century.

    And assuming that the declining power that is the US will always be interested or even capable of fighting Europe's battles for it in the future seems somewhat naive to me.

    As for the rest, I defer to your obviously superior knowledge in such matters.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re: Agree with the argument - but what's the answer

    "EF has helped to sustain a European aerospace industry - it has sustained R&D, facilities, manufacturing, and staff - that's where the £20Bn went - and has left open the possibility that Europe could build another jet (though after A400M you wouldn't bet on it..)."

    I don't disagree with the notion that by paying people to work on stuff, you keep the expertise around. However, does the arms business really deliver the best bang for the buck? (Economically speaking, of course.) It isn't as if there aren't any other worthy candidates for the cash: that hypersonic passenger jet or the SSTO stuff would yield much more interesting R&D, I'm sure.

    But then again, it's not about the actual benefits, is it? It's about a procurement process with as many opportunities as possible for kickbacks and lucrative directorships for retiring politicians.

  71. asdf
    Thumb Down

    lol "defense industry"

    I love how it is sugar coated. Yes it is defense. We are defending our mega corporations business interests by bombing brown people these days. For the record the United States is doing the exact same retarded things to some extent. The only differences is we actually have some semi competent people running our defense agency who seem to understand the reality on the ground. That and we we spend such an obscene amount of money we can get away with it to some extent in the short term (we love printing money). Of course our retarded Congress will continue to want to fund the Cold War projects as they bring more pork home even if our soldiers are dying. Killing people sure is lucrative. Got to make a million and it doesn't matter who dies.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    @Matt Eagles

    "No mention of the flight limitations? Not quoting a cost for developing and using the new buoy types that these flight limitations will require? How about rapidly delivering buoys and torps from 10,000 feet? Nothing really interesting then, just the original press releases, again."

    Well pardon me for answering the question you asked - which was on the aircraft, not anything else. It turns out that knowing a little of what you are talking about is simply no substitute for telepathy. Still it goes to show that its fatal to work on the assumption that a question is actually a genuine request for information.

    The bouys are already in place. Just as one example out of the swarms of different types and variants we're using the SSQ-963 CAMBS and have done since Nimrod 1, the latest variant CAMBS vi is intended for Nimrod 4. A full breakdown of the kit can be found starting on page 699 of this book. I was lucky enough to get my copy second hand at a University book sale.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Naval-Institute-Guide-Weapons-Systems/dp/1557502684/ref=sr_11_1/278-0393328-7424923?ie=UTF8&qid=1242549680&sr=11-1

    Bouys are incredibly cheap (much less than £500 apiece) and we order them in their thousands - some bouy types have had more than a quarter of a million produced. For the 1990s we ordered something like 15,000 bouys a year. In short worrying about them is pointless - its a cheap, understood and proven technology that does a good job for very little money. The previous British generation, SSQ-954, could be deployed at least up to 8,000 ft and up to 300 knots, well within the performance boundaries of any aircraft today. The Americans say that their modern ones can go from 30,000 feet and 370 knots. Even so the cost today is pretty much nil.

    Torpedos? Nimrod uses Sting Ray, which has been around since the 1980s. Its scheduled to remain on the books for another 20 years

    http://www.armedforces.co.uk/projects/raq3f8ea5d193b45

    Sting Ray cost, in 1979, around £1bn, roughly £2-3bn today. As with all things defence related in Britain the Americans could have done it at a fifth of the price. In 1980 we were planning to start mothballing Naval ships because we hadn't got any money. Plus ca chose, plus c'est la meme chose - American stuff is cheaper, we have a military budget crisis. All we need is the mullet to come back and its Ashes to Ashes all round...

    http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/written_answers/1980/nov/06/sting-ray-torpedo

    The Americans have their own versions of all this kit, already in the locker. In short there's no great excitement here.

    So why didn't I mention them? A) you didn't ask. B) They aren't terribly relevant having been bought many years ago so are already in place C) They've worked for a generation, so spending lots of money on them isn't on the cards.

    Lets focus on the £20bn being spent (wasted) today, not on stuff bought when Maggie Thatcher or John Major was in power.

  73. hognoxious

    Snail munchers

    @anonymous: The French didn't pull out of the Eurofighter because they magically foresaw that it would be a failure. It failed because without them the economies of scale weren't there any more.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @SuperTim - Concrete Gun

    "Comedic proportioned then ensued, with specs changing all over the show. The gun was replaced by a lump of concrete, due to the cost to run being outside of RAF ability. Then it was back in, but disabled (For the same reason). It couldnt be removed completely because the flight computers were modelled on the original design and we cant change that now can we?"

    The gun aiming is done by a separate computer from the Flight Computers, but it is a German computer. The Germans blew through their money even faster than the Brits so changing anything in the German software is impossible. The aiming calculations were written by a German jobsworth who had worked on Tornado and his stuff was writeen (deliberately?) obfuscated so his job was safe.

    Problem is that Tornado gun aiming was air to ground and Typhoon needs it for air to air. In flight trials the gun aiming software proved to be useless, so even the air-to-air Tuyphoons can't do their job properly.

  75. Ian

    Yawn

    "They wanted to convert the jet from a highly specialist air-to-air fighter (some these days with an "austere" bolt-on capability to drop smart bombs) into a multirole deep strike/electronic warfare plane, able to blast and jam its way deep into a powerful enemy air-defence network of the sort seen in Syria and (perhaps soon) Iran."

    Yes Lewis, because I mean, Syria's high tech. defence network was so hard for Israel to penetrate with just a bunch of decades old F15s and F16s wasn't it? They took out Syria's nuclear programme without so much as a locked on warning tone.

    So as we're no longer in Iraq and nor will the US be soon, as the US is pushing Afghanistan hard now, almost certainly with the same effect and as it's pushed Pakistan to start hitting the militants hard such that there's little need for British ground involvement for more than another few years there please, tell me, when the next biggest threats are Iran, North Korea, Syria, Lebanon, Venezuela or perhaps even a stand-off with Russia in the baltic then please, tell me what you expect us to do when these nations have proper airforces? Do we rely on the yanks airpower knowing full well how good it is at hitting our own troops? Do we just say "Sorry can't help, all we've got is a bunch of heavily armed men and no air support".

    You don't kit out your armed forces for a battle that's going on right now, if not only because of the procurement time - whatever you buy will be useless by the time you get it, you keep it well kitted out in every area, just in case. That's what the Eurofighter is, it's a tool for potential future threats just like Trident.

    Seeing as we've got the second biggest military budget in the world and hence better kitted soldiers than almost anyone else other than the yanks I'm not sure what more you think we can do short of pushing ourselves to the point where half our GDP is spent on military kit?

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice, balanced "comments" from Lewis.

    Oh good, another Lewis Page "The RAF is evil and should be destroyed" rant (it must be Friday). Be honest, that's what is at the heart of this, isn't it? Eurofighter is supposed to be able to do anything that any other fighting aeroplane can do, and if the politicians and armchair warriors would let the design people get on with it, it would.

    Unfortunately we then get people like Lewis - who does know (more or less, apparently) what he is talking about - who come along and scream that the sky will fall on our heads if we go ahead with (in this case) Typhoon tranche 3, so the idiots without a clue start screaming blue murder at the Eurofighter companies again, and things get even worse.

    Maybe we should cancel Typhoon and try to buy some nice American F22s? Oh wait, isn't that a FIGHTER first and foremost, with an added-on bomb-dropping role? Surely Lewis wouldn't miss that litle fact, would he?

    Or how about some JSFs, F35s or whatever you want to call them - you know, the "new" stealthy whizzjet that is supposed to replace the Harrier. The one that isn't much faster or more powerful than the Harrier GR9, is rather late, costs much more (you think Eurofighter is late and overbudget? and is so full of American tech that the USofA doesn't even really want to let us support our own aircraft. Still, I suppose it *does* have a smaller EM signature than Harrier, so it is slightly more stealthy - one point in its favour (not that 'stealth' did that F117 over Kosovo much good, did it?).

    Or we could save the money and buy some British helicopters instead, right? Made by who, exactly? Oh no, let's not bother with our own helicopter manufacturer and buy American instead - I understand they've got a nice big twin-rotor jobbie that comes in a wonderful Special Ops version... oops. Or maybe some more (Agusta)Westland AH1 Apache Longbow... and where is the real build work (as opposed to the "bolt it all together, like after it's been airfreighted to a warzone") done again? Somewhere in England? Oops again.

    Here's a suggestion - we are fighting a war or two, how about we stop cutting the defence budget and actually spend more money instead of trying to justify another attempt by the Labour Party to make up for fscking the UK economy again - or do you really believe Brown announced his real intentions this time? He hasn't exactly kept to his word so far - and now he's got a public outcry that will allow him to say "Sorry RAF, we're cancelling Eurofighter after all. "

    So once Harrier and Tornado are phased out at end-of-life, we can rely on our good old friends across the Pond to look after our ground troops - or maybe our Navy flyboys flying off our new carriers can provide the close air support. In their American F35s.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Cancellation costs

    "if they thought it would cost more to cancel than it would to carry on, they'd never have tried to cancel"

    Really? What if they looked at the penalties and their cash flow, and thought they'd just breach the contract. After all, they *might* get away without paying, and if not then the damages and legal costs will come *years* down the line... at upwards of 200% of the cost of buying, of course, but by then it's someone else's problem.

    Unless you're a taxpayer, in which case you get shafted either way. So nothing's changed there, then!

    @"Easy Maths..": I'm led to believe that the cost is more like 130% than 80%, but that's just an out-of-context snippet from a press conference and I've no idea what the true figure is.

    AC, else the black helicopters will get me!

  78. goggyturk
    Alert

    Ho hum - other AC Saturday 16th May 2009 06:23 GMT

    I shouldn't but I can't resist...

    "serious, adult nuclear weapons are political tools in a way that Eurofighter isn't and can never be"

    Not so, unless you believe that all conventional forces are more or less worthless politically, which they clearly aren't, as history has proven time and again. This is another insurance policy against a diffferent threat, probably as likely as a nuclear threat, but it still costs the same amount of money to cover for. And Eurofighter has a lot more uses than Trident.

    Funnily enough, the biggest possibility is that a nuclear attack against Britain would be launched from the mountains of Afghanistan, in which case Trident will be completely irrelevant and any counter strike could be launched from the Vulcan they got flying again last year.

    "The number of RAF air-to-air kills since 1949? Zero"

    It's one actually, but so what? You'd be as well quoting the number of enemy ships sunk by the Navy over the same period. All it proves is the value of a good insurance policy. Deterence.

    "at some stage we're going to have to say that the odds are that its not going to be common, in much the same way as mass cavalry charges weren't common in 1974."

    Facetious. Nobody has cavalry units anymore, but most nations still have an airforce. Some of the countries that don't like us even have modern combat types.

    "it's going to be an exceptionally generous American fighter controller that lets a Eurofighter have a pop at a fantasy enemy, as opposed to letting an American fighter have the glory and the medal,"

    That assumes the US will be with us in any future conflict. The point of having a European defence industry is that Europe can look after its own needs.

    "Since 1945 the British military have been fighting insurgents every year except 1968. Sooner or later we'll have to say that this is common."

    The common thread in these conflicts is that the Army has either defeated the insurgents or a peace has been negotiated (OK Cyprus is the one exception I can think of). This tends to suggest that they're actually quite good at it and quite well equipped, in spite of the ravings of the Daily Fail and other rags.

    "Quite a number of people pointed out that Iraq couldn't pay its international debts and that the Kuwaiti attempt at cross-drilling into Iraqi oil fields was more than a little foolish given that Iraq had a vast army and the Kuwaitis didn't."

    OK, did anyone predict that the F-15 would be involved in the Gulf? When the spec was drawn up by the US, did they write it with combat against the Iraqi air force in mind? No, it was based on experience in Vietnam. That supports the point that you never know who you might be up against tomorrow. Good insurance is required.

    "I think the report that Bush got said: Bin Laden Plans Strike in United States."

    Which supports the point originally made. Nobody believed it because it was too fantastical.

    "But this begs the question of how precisely Eurofighter will stop people taking over airliners, the attackers being armed only with Stanley knives and a few hours flight training?"

    I never knew counter terrorism was written into the Eurofighter's spec.

    "Really? It looks to me like we're preparing for the long-dead Cold War, rather than reality."

    Nobody knows what the reality will be in 25 years time. That's why you buy better than any opponents you might come up against. Who predicted the end of the Cold War in 1984?

    "We haven't got the money. Which British Infantry formations do we cut to pay for them?"

    This is actually an interesting point. We would actually, after cutting Eurofighter, still have to pony up for a new fighter, so any saving has to be offset against that. The only other alternative is to buy the ruinously expensive F-35 in even greater numbers.

    It's already in service, and spending £5 billion extra to avoid buying more F-35s may save us in the long run. As for cutting infantry, I thought low recruitment levels were the main reason for shrinkage (certainly true where I come from), but maybe I'm wrong.

    "Most of the Eurofighters will never be used, we have only 120 fast jet pilots and 270 Eurofighters."

    By my calculations that would mean only 4-5 pilots per fast jet squadron in the RAF (26 or so squadrons), meaning we should already scrap 2/3 of the fleet. Are you sure? Please explain.

    "And yes, Lewis is hot under the collar about this. Its important for our nation. Its just that Lewis actually understands how bad things are."

    I've no problem with this, it's just that the many good points he makes are drowned out by the sound of soapboxes being thumped and axes being grinded, which is a damned shame. We're not tabloid readers, so stop treating us like that.

    The only other beef I have with the articles is that they aren't wide enough in scope. For instance, even our cousins across the pond are pissed off at cost overruns and delays. It seems to me that this story has been repeated in a few other countries, so let's see how shit everyone else is procurement too?

    Maybe you could pass that on to Lewis the next time you see him...

  79. xjy
    Paris Hilton

    You don't solve problems...

    ... by throwing money at them.

    That's what we're told all day every day in the public sector (you know, health, welfare, education and all that useless unproductive bollocks).

    But as soon as it's the state-subsidized ie public private sector that's in deep shit, like the banks, insurance, or the military (defence??? Har-bloody-har...), then there's no end to the money being thrown at their problems. Billions. Out of the taxpayers pocket. Leading to even more cuts in health, education and welfare (bloody bleeding-heart leeches).

    lol "defence industry" is right: "Killing people sure is lucrative. Got to make a million and it doesn't matter who dies."

    Also, burning capital in this totally unproductive way helps to delay overproduction crises (market glut) of the kind shrivelling the balls of the bailout snivellers today. Imagine if all the military money was invested in making stuff for sale on the open market! Gluts every 2 months... So destroying capital is a necessary part of the capitalist life cycle. Which is why every deep crisis (the 1890-1900s, and the 1930s) has been followed by the ultimate capital destroyer, a world war. This opens up the way for fresh new profits on a reduced capital base. And opens up the public-private market for new weapons of course (so many of the old ones destroyed or rendered obsolete during the war).

    Great prospects!

    Despite all the blinkered comments here, the enemy is at home. If all the down-trodden and dehumanized youngsters ("our boys", aka workers in uniform) being used as cannon-fodder by US, UK, French etc imperialists decided to turn their weapons on their officers (fragging), on their generals and on their commanders-in-high-places, the world would be better for everyone. And especially for the wage-slaves (aka workers) being sucked dry to maintain the unproductive and murderous life-styles and policies of the capitalists and their boot-licking political stooges.

    (Paris cos she knows that any problem can be solved by throwing money at it...)

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    @Lewis

    Lewis,

    You should argue your case here as some posters are mocking your analysis

    http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=123212/postdays=0/postorder=asc/start=0.html

    Cheers

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Defence Workers aren't seeing that money

    "That equates to average annual cost per job of nearly £70,000"

    That's not what the people in the industry get paid. Now I know that some money goes on raw materials and overheads, but the biggest proportion of what BAE spends goes on wages.

    An estimate of 80% on wages would be quite conservative, and that's still £56k per person.

    The folk on the shopfloor and in the design offices aren't earning anywhere near that.

    I do believe its senior managers are pretty well-off though.

  82. Steven Jones

    Risk theory...

    "You need proper ballistic missiles, because the other side need to be sure your counterstrike can't be stopped. "

    What a mind-numbingly, illiogical comment. Clearly Lewis doesn't know much about risk theory. All that is necessary is a deterrent that presents a realistic chance of getting through in enough numbers to cause unacceptable losses. The other side need to be pretty near damn certain they can stop your counterstrike as the consequences of failing are huge with the destructive power of nuclear weapons. Of course I'm assuming that the relevant authorities on each side are rational and can do the relevant maths.

    Now it might just be conceivable that a super power could develop something which can stop cruise missiles and the like and if you are largely surrounded by water and huge distance you might be able to keep enemy surface shipping from close enough to your shores. However, for sure that doesn't apply to the likes of Iran, which is the type of country where a realistic threat might appear from. Of course if the military are gamblers, then all bets are off.

    So, no doubt, Trident is the gold-standard of nuclear deterents, but it's by no means the only potential alternative. Probably its greatest advantage is that it is more easily managed and doesn't require as many weapons scattered all over the place with the consequent problems that involves, if only to proliferation.

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    it's like they licence to print money

    oh wait a sec

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    trident and harrier and gunships down in glory

    harrier is a bloody great piece. and trident has deterred all war (recall maggies speech sometime in 80's). Eurofighter has, no, well has support from our great european neighbours (not the french, they were in the beginning and then quit no bail).

    It would be time to step over this "BAE controls the country". USA is our main ally. UK:s defence calls we must buy all the best from anyone selling - this is about protecting our people out in the field, not about trade negotiations. US does that unless compromised, and UK should too.

  85. siamsunset

    live and prosper!

    politics, as military action, is so much..."on call"?

  86. siamsunset
    Thumb Up

    siam

    actyally seen all this commentary, lewis was right then

  87. siamsunset

    siamsunset

    Well i would like to hear your credentials on game theory. This is not childrens play. This is hard core. Trident has prevented war, you would not care. As for the future, trident and successors seen fit somewhere in the future by the MOD, will run

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trident?

    What war did Trident prevent? Oh, do you mean the fictional one the Yanks told us was on the cards in the Cold War? Once Stalin was dead there was more chance of the Care Bears attacking Western Europe.

    Trident was and is a fucking joke.

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never mind Eurocostly plane, or Nukes...

    I agree that the Eurofighter is the wrong plane for the wrong reasons, but nukes cannot hold grouns and aircraft carriers can't defend desert regions, but the right aircraft and MEN do! Helicopters are not the only answer - though the AH-1 and Chinook/Merlin do a fantastic job, they are still more vulnerable than a good and appropriate fast jet. (F16, Harrier GR3 (guns that work), A10, Saab Gripen, etc.) and can't move really big stuff about (like C130, C17). So let's hope that the Gov - whoever they may be in the near future, see sense and can the real white elephants (CV2, A400M, etc.).

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: John, Commercial People in the MoD

    "You have obviously never come across the commercial people within MoD. They probably have only just read the cancellation clause!"

    The MoD don't have commercial people! Well, they do, but they're f**ng useless.

    I worked in one MoD agency who was given the remit to go out and sell their services and try to make a profit: they failed! I was a consultant at that time but even amongst their own employees that commercial department were a standing joke.

    They have no idea how to innovate, how to market services. Creativity is virtually non existant. You have to remember they're civil servants, they can sit back on their laurels and never get fired. If the department closes down because they're unsuccessful the staff are simply moved somewhere else. There is no incentive for them to be good or successful in their jobs.

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Long development timescale

    Tornado: £20 million each

    Typhoon: £89 million eac

    I'm all for wanting higher performance fighters for the RAF but even I bauk at that huge price tag!

    Something went wrong many years ago. I remember seeing the first Typhoon at Farnborough airshow many years ago, running with Tornado RB199 engines, I think this was 1994! Sometime after that the EJ200 engine was completed and again, I saw the Typhoon display at Farnborough, possibly in 1996.

    I recall the airshow display announcer at Farnborough saying that all that was left was the development of the avionics systems, sensor fusion.

    Given that development of the software probably started before that display in 1996, has it really taken more than 12 years to develop the software? !!

    Absolutely f***ng rediculous.

  92. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Long development timescale

    "Given that development of the software probably started before that display in 1996, has it really taken more than 12 years to develop the software? !!"

    To be fair, according to Wikipedia, the aircraft was actually introduced in 2003. So, it's really seven years rather than twelve or thirteen.

  93. Steven Raith

    @RotaCyclic

    "Given that development of the software probably started before that display in 1996, has it really taken more than 12 years to develop the software? !!"

    They must have given it to the Duke Nukem Forever development team.

    Steven R

  94. Suhaib Sufi
    Boffin

    Sad saga of the Eurfighter

    Pretty Good Article Mr Lewis, some comments id like to say:

    The French pulled out of Eurofighter because they stated that the Aircraft had to be Multi Role. But Our Government of the day said nah mate its goto be just a fighter.

    So after all these years and delays we needed a Multi Role aircraft anyway. The French went ahead and made there own without partners.

    I do think it is scandalous that BAe is shifting to the US. The whole justification for the £25 billion was to keep the jobs and Skill set in the UK and Europe.

    Thats a Lot of Money and enough for those engineers to be part of say a Space program that could either reach Mars or Do Mining operations on Near Earth Asteroid for hydrocarbons - Oh cool no need to Raid the Middle East for all that Black gunky stuff. Oh wow a civilian program with a lot less loss of lives and no political shenanigans of having to invade and bring a corrupt democracies to countries. Lets face it thats all thats happened in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also all the pressure last year the 'West' put on Pakistani President Musharaf and what did it achieve - Oh a wonderfully inept and corrupt Democracy run by Gangsters - Our best only hope against the Egotistical and self serving Taliban (Pakistan's Version of the BNP)

    The MOD should at the very least bought either F18's or F16's as a stop gap and while they developed the Eurofighter properly and taken there time with it - Or kept it as a research project should the need for an super advance fighter be rapidly required and develop all the infrastructure to get it made fast.

    Another example a good nearly independent fighter program is Saab and their Grippen.

    Money saved should have been used on more Helicopters and other equipment the Armed forces need now - not in some imaginary war of the future.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020