back to article Blighty will have a whopping 24 F-35B jets by 2023 – MoD minister

The UK is “on target” for its new F-35B fighters to reach initial operating capability by 2018 – and will own a whopping 24 of the state-of-the-art jets by the year 2023, junior defence minister Philip Dunne told a briefing at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) this morning. Dunne was speaking to a morning briefing at …

  1. James 51

    My math might by a little off but it seems that by 2023 there will be 1,000 people working directly or indirectly on each plane. No wonder they are expensive.

    1. Danny 14

      Whereas they could have bought shitloads of f18s thay would be cheaper, have more spares and actually work. The carrieres were a waste of time and should have been nuclear. Pity that BAE couldnt do that so the pork barrel went with a shite design. Oh and the the fact BAE have a vested interest in F35s also meant that conveniently the carriers couldnt be converted cheaply to EMAL

      1. Mark 65

        @DAnny 14: +1 for the F18s, the fact they should have been nuclear powered, and fitted with catapults so we didn't need the shithouse version of the F35 if we eventually went that way. One of those carriers full of F18s would be good enough. I'd even go as far as to say we could have bought French carrier fighters or Russian ones but there's no US pork in those deals.

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Danny 14

        "....and should have been nuclear...." Yeah, but the design contract started under Labour, and they have far too many CND luvvies in their ranks to allow a nuke design.

        "....Pity that BAE (sic) couldn't do that....." BAe Systems not only bought the Vickers subsidiary that made the nuke Vanguard class Trident subs, they have managed all the work on their Rolls-Royce PWR2 reactors, and are involved in the PWR3 design for the next-gen class that will replace the Vanguards. So I'd say the new carriers not being nuke-powered has nothing to do with BAe's capabilities.

        /Yeeaaarrrggggghh, obviously.

      3. Catweazle666

        A supersonic Harrier...

        Just think, if we'd continued with the P1154 Mach 2 Hawker Harrier that was scrapped in 1964 despite work being in progress on the prototype's wings and fuselage and six engines constructed, we could have had an equally capable VSTOL aircraft half a century ago. Don't you just love politicians...

        http://www.harrier.org.uk/history/history_p1154.htm

    2. Crazy Operations Guy

      Given some of the testing going on, you'd need a thousand people to operate the thing: One to sit in the cockpit and 999 to pick the thing up and carry it to the target.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        carry it to the target.

        FedEx with its guaranteed overnight delivery is looking pretty good about now.

        "It's a bomb. No signature required, just leave it on the doorstep."

    3. Ian Michael Gumby

      @James 51

      Sorry, costs are relative.

      I guess you're just jealous that you don't have any F-22s albeit they are not for ship use.

      1. asdf

        Re: @James 51

        >I guess you're just jealous that you don't have any F-22s albeit they are not for ship use.

        Even as a Yank wake me when they have the drone version that doesn't have to limit its G forces due to having to carry a meat sack.

        1. Vic

          Re: @James 51

          wake me when they have the drone version that doesn't have to limit its G forces due to having to carry a meat sack.

          Until recently, the G limits were nothing to do with the meat sack; the airframe was only rated to 4.5G.

          That's a training aeroplane - the 1974 PA28 I started in does that, with Cessna 172s only slightly lower at 4.4G.

          They are now beyond that - but we can only wonder at how an allegedly fast jet can end up so late into trials with such pathetic handling...

          Vic.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: @James 51

            "Until recently, the G limits were nothing to do with the meat sack; the airframe was only rated to 4.5G."

            Yes, when manouvering in a 172 I was warned not to be overenthusiastic or I might pull the wings off....

        2. Ian Michael Gumby
          Black Helicopters

          Re ASDF Re: @James 51

          Sorry, but I like having a man in the loop.

          With drones, you don't always have that in that there is going to be a delay. Drone's flying recon or as a missile platform... ok. Drones trying to fly combat? The pilot has to be close and of course the drone has to be able to see the target.

          Sure the drone can withstand more Gs... however... it too has some weakness...

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: IMG Re: @James 51

        ".....I guess you're just jealous that you don't have any F-22s....." LOL! The one time RAF Typhoons were allowed to mock dogfight Raptors at China Lake, they not only trounced the F-22s* but also got radar locks on them at ranges the USAF said the stealth F-22s should have been "invisible". This upset the Yanks so much they banned further fights and scrapped the planned Typhoon vs F-22 long-range radar tests!

        There the story might have ended, but the USAF then went to war games in Alaska and it was the turn of the German Typhoons to give the Raptors a kicking. Whilst the USAF made some excuses about the Typhoon pilots having helmet-mounted sights, what is all the more worrying (for USAF pilots) is that the Eurofighter Typhoon is claimed to be able to get a lock with the PIRATE long-range IRST system, making the F-22's radar stealth largely irrellevant. Whilst the US has been heavily committed to radar stealth development, the Russians have been developing long-range IR detectors for many years** and their developments are thought to be at least competitive (if not ahead) of PIRATE. The later Typhoon was designed with IR stealth in mind, making it less vulnerable to the new Russian jets, but the F-22 was not....

        And, seeing as the Eurofighter Typhoon is a lot cheaper than the Raptor, and there's already a nasalised version which was proposed for India, maybe your USAF (and your taxpayers) are the real jealous ones?

        *Embarrassingly for the USAF, their "super jet" has a history of being beaten by fighters the USAF claim the F-22 should own - there's a two-seat "Growler" (USMC EW version of the F/A-18) flying around with an F-22 "kill" painted on its nose after one such mock dogfight, much to the delight of the Marines.

        **The Soviets started looking at IRST for tracking cruise missiles flying below the levels that look-down radar could detect them. Their development got added impetus after the CIA allegedly got access to the latest Russian radar designs from Adolf Tolkachev in the '80s, leaving the Ruskis seriously worried that their latest fighters would be "blind" against US stealth designs specifically tailored to beat their radar. Their use of advanced IR detectors brings into question the whole value proposition of radar stealth and whether it is giving US pilots a false sense of security.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby
          Boffin

          Re: IMG @James 51

          https://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/cleaning-up-red-flag-alaska-f-22-vs-typhoon-debate-2/

          1. Carl W

            Re: IMG @James 51

            LOL, and even that report fails to mention the original report's basic maths error:

            "The AMRAAM, despite its critics’ smears about its accuracy, has a kill probability of 0.59, 1 representing certainty of kill, so two AMRAAMs are enough to guarantee the shootdown of any enemy (0.59×2 = 1.18)"

        2. Mark 85 Silver badge

          @Matt Bryant -- Re: IMG @James 51

          Their use of advanced IR detectors brings into question the whole value proposition of radar stealth and whether it is giving US pilots a false sense of security.

          It's not about the pilots having a false sense of security but about the politicians and the DoD procurement folks. I'm sure the pilots know they're sitting ducks.

      3. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: @James 51

        > I guess you're just jealous that you don't have any F-22s albeit they are not for ship use.

        That's OK, the ships aren't ready for aeroplane use either.

    4. David 164

      Actually as I understand it BAE is building or assembling components for all F-35s in the world, not just the UKs.

    5. JasonLaw

      WHERE THE FUCK IS LEWIS PAGE!?

      something, something, Lewis Page.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Good deal that it'll still take a really long time

      Less chance that the war mongers in GB and Nato will be able to pester, goad and provoke Russia into any kind of armed response.

      But I feel for Citizens who's tax money is being wasted.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Annonymous Comrade Re: Good deal that it'll still take a really long time

        ".....war mongers in GB and Nato....." COUGH * Crimea * COUGH * Ukraine * COUGH

  2. Steve Crook
    Flame

    Space to spare

    > It is important to note that the Queen Elizabeth is capable of carrying up to 36 F-35s in her hangars

    I have several boxes of paperbacks I'd like to store somewhere secure. If the MOD/Navy want, I could store them in a corner of all that unused hangar space. I could probably probably afford to pay around £10 a month...

    Otherwise, without a steady income it might look like the whole exercise with these carriers and their aircraft has been a complete fucking waste of money.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Space to spare

      Piffle. They just SAY that it's a procurement balls up, make it LOOK like they're matching the 2030 figures with the space in the carriers, but REALLY the other 2/3 of the hangar space is filled with our top secret totally invisible stealth jets, like the one Wonder Woman flies.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Space to spare

        "REALLY the other 2/3 of the hangar space is filled with our top secret totally invisible stealth jets, like the one Wonder Woman flies."

        They're bringing back the Swordfish, it will look good in the black and white war films that's all we will be making by 2023.

        1. Danny 14

          Re: Space to spare

          No swordfish. BAE didnt spec the carriers for them. That will be another 500mil.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Space to spare

            "No swordfish. BAE didnt spec the carriers for them. That will be another 500mil."

            OK, you got me. How about bringing back Catalinas? No carrier mods needed.

          2. riverman

            Re: Space to spare

            Tigerfish dammit, Tigerfish.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Space to spare

        "like the one Wonder Woman flies."

        Theresa or Andrea?

    2. graeme leggett

      Re: Space to spare

      if they've 36 on board how many helicopters can they fit in at the same time?

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Space to spare

        "how many helicopters"

        Hopefully they don't intend to keep using Sea Kings as AWACS craft. A converted V22 would (at face value) seem to be more sensible.

    3. TheVogon

      Re: Space to spare

      "a complete fucking waste of money."

      Gordon Brown subsidising "Greece without the sun" ...

    4. Crazy Operations Guy

      Re: Space to spare

      That hanger space won't be unused, it'll just be needed to carry all the spare parts those 12 jets will need...

      1. Grumble
        FAIL

        Re: Space to spare

        Apparently, spares won't be needed as we have to ship the things back to America to be repaired, or so I've heard. If that's true, what bright spark in the MOD thought that was a good idea?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Space to spare

      >Otherwise, without a steady income it might look like the whole exercise with these carriers and their aircraft has been a complete fucking waste of money.

      Defense (doublespeak there) for the most part these days is nothing but a jobs program for white collar aholes that don't mind making their living inventing new ways to kill brown people.

    6. Chairo

      Re: Space to spare

      Otherwise, without a steady income it might look like the whole exercise with these carriers and their aircraft has been a complete fucking waste of money.

      Best thing that can happen with military equipment. If you start to really need it, something went seriously wrong, IMHO.

    7. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Space to spare

      "I have several boxes of paperbacks I'd like to store somewhere secure. If the MOD/Navy want, I could store them in a corner of all that unused hangar space."

      This is about the only sensible use of the things.

      Carriers need a "carrier group" escort. The UK doesn't have enough ships to make up ONE carrier support group, let alone two.

      Without a carrier support group, these are HMS Sitting Duck and HMS White Elephant.

      Even with them, given the huge amount of bunker fuel onboard and the existence of anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM), the names are probably appropriate.

    8. N2 Silver badge

      Re: Space to spare

      "it might look like the whole exercise with these carriers and their aircraft has been a complete fucking waste of money."

      All part of Gordon Browns scorced earth exit policy & to be honest the capability is stunted without cat & trap on a carrier.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No wonder they are expensive crap that will be outdated by the time they are finally delivered. By 2030 we will all be dead anyway, the ai controlled attack drones will have wiped us out by then.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No wonder they are expensive crap that will be outdated by the time they are finally delivered.

      That's what military procurement is all about. By the time the kit is delivered, the original purpose is lost in the mists of time, and then people stand around scratching their heads wondering how to fight the next war with kit designed to fight the last one. That's why the RAF are having to sellotape bombs to the Typhoon, but there's a million and one examples all round the world.

      When you look at the Chilcot report's findings, and reflect that nobody (with an army, at any rate) wants to invade the UK, I can't help thinking that not having any standing military force might be a really good thing. Build some sub-launched nuclear armed cruise missiles, and then you don't need a vastly more expensive ballistic deterrent, have the cruise-armed subs on rotating patrol, so you don't need a home defence force other than a few dockyard and weapons storage guards. No need for the Army, RAF or most of the Navy.

      Would mean that RIAT would be a fairly quiet affair, but if that stopped idiot politicians making the world a worse place I could live with that.

      1. Ben Bonsall

        'No need for the Army, RAF or most of the Navy.'

        Give it a couple of years, and the killer bees, grown huge and souped up on sugar from all the unpicked fruit, will be a tricky target for a nuclear tipped cruise...

        Ideal targets for an agile air superiority fighter like the typhoon.

      2. Sir Sham Cad

        Re: sub-launched nuclear armed cruise missiles

        Would be useless as a deterrant. Cruise are way too easy to defend against, they'd carry no viable threat.

        When Russia are investing in next gen ballistic missiles that have countermeasures just to ensure the threat of the weapons is continued, downgrading to Cruise would be like scrapping the Naval surface fleet in favour of some slightly pissed off rubber ducks. Or scrapping a Harrier/Carrier Fleet on the promise of some non existant planes twenty years down the line which would never happen, obvs.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: sub-launched nuclear armed cruise missiles

          "Build some sub-launched nuclear armed cruise missiles"

          Except that the existing cruise missiles aren't designed to carry nuclear warheads, and the warheads that we have built for Trident which are designed to get tossed into low orbit and fall back from orbit like a thunderbolt from hell aren't going to fit on a cruise missile.

          So we would need to:-

          1) Design and build new cruise missiles.

          2) Design and build new nuclear warheads for the cruise missiles.

          This is somehow going to be a quick and cheap option...?

          Also:-

          3) We would have to accept that everybody is going to freak out anytime that anybody fires cruise missiles near them because nobody knows who's firing and suddenly and cruise missile might be nuclear armed, massively increasing the probability of somebody panicking and starting a nuclear war as an accident.

          4) Accept that cruise missiles are only marginally faster and more difficult to shoot down than a V1 missile in WW2. They aren't going to get through any air defence network, and everybody is going to know that which is going to massively reduce the deterence effect.

          5) Accept that pretty much all British vessels aren't going to be able to dock anywhere ever, because we won't want to say that they aren't carrying nuclear weapons even if they aren't as by exception it would show which ships had nuclear weapons deployed onboard.

          6) Accept that due to the above nuclear weapons are only going to be deployed when there is a crisis...

          7) Leading to news stories such as "amongst deteriorating relations with %country% nuclear weapons were equipped on %warship%. This is of course going to either cause relations to go further downhill or encourage somebody to nuke our ports first to prevent our weapons being sent to sea. :/

          I'd like to note that The Guardian produces good material on many subjects, but when it comes to military matters the standard of their reporting falls far below the standard you'd expect in either the Daily Mail or The Sun.

          1. Danny 14

            Re: sub-launched nuclear armed cruise missiles

            Not to mention that firing ICBMs with conventional warheads will still make the red telephones ring very quickly. Try convincing russia and china that they arent nukes.....

          2. Mike Richards Silver badge

            Re: sub-launched nuclear armed cruise missiles

            Couldn't we just ask Israel for a quick look at the nuclear-tipped cruise missiles they almost certainly (don't) have?

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: sub-launched nuclear armed cruise missiles

            "4) Accept that cruise missiles are only marginally faster and more difficult to shoot down than a V1 missile in WW2."

            Not true; V1's were ~100 kts slower than current subsonic cruise missiles and couldn't employ indirect routing and very low altitude terrain-following (the V1 was only a 'cruise' missile in the sense that it 'cruised' under continuous power; it was essentially just an unguided missile that could hold a heading and used a timer to bring it down on to its target)

            But in any case, new supersonic and hypersonic (and in some examples, stealthy) cruise missiles are currently being developed/tested.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: sub-launched nuclear armed cruise missiles

            So we would need to:-

            1) Design and build new cruise missiles.

            2) Design and build new nuclear warheads for the cruise missiles.

            This is somehow going to be a quick and cheap option...?

            It would be a whole lot cheaper than buying and maintaining a replacement for Trident. Given the overkill principles that necessarily underlie ballistic defences, the same thing can be applied to a cruise system - that you don't have to hit any precise target, you simply have to have the ability to make a material fraction of the aggressor country's territory unliveable. That's rather hard to defend against.

            Detente and deterrence are powerful and (so far) effective concepts, but they don't have to rely on high cost state, state of the art ballistic systems and MRVs.

          5. Tom Samplonius

            Re: sub-launched nuclear armed cruise missiles

            "1) Design and build new cruise missiles.

            2) Design and build new nuclear warheads for the cruise missiles."

            No comment on the sanity of nuclear cruise missiles, but...

            The Royal Navy bought Tomahawk missiles in 1995, and all Navy subs are Tomahawk capable. And the Tomahawk could carry a nuclear warhead, though the US retired all nuclear Tomahawks in 2013 or earlier.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomahawk_(missile)

          6. CRConrad

            Typical military-procurement thinking

            Peter2 writes: "So we would need to:-

            1) Design and build new cruise missiles.

            2) Design and build new nuclear warheads for the cruise missiles.

            This is somehow going to be a quick and cheap option...?"

            Oh, fer fuxxake!

            Since 1945, there have been hundreds of different nuclear bombs and warheads developed. They're basicaly just half-globes of uranium kept a little distance apart, until a little TNT whacks them together. OK, that's pretty damn simplified, but the principle is correct. Not only first-world countries but places like Pakistan and North Korea have them, and Ira[n|q] [a|we]re pretty close. It's not roc-- or rather, it's probably about on a par with rocket science, but rocket science isn't actually all that difficult. The point is, there are lots of designs to use as-is, or to modify. Likewise with missiles, although there probably aren't as many "off-the-shelf" _cruise_ missiles, specifically, to use or cannibalise. But there are probably enough.

            Just look for: 1) The smallest nuke you think sufficient, and then find the smallest missile that is still big enough to fit the nuke into; or 2) The biggest missile you can fit in a sub, and then find the biggest nuke that is still small enough to fit into the missile. There will probably be several workable combinations; if not, adapt something.

            The point is, the idea (as I understood it) was precisely to _not_ fall into the trap of making everything as frigging over-complicated as the "military-industrial complex"(*) has been making them (out to be) for many decades now. That's not the only way to do it; it's only the way it's done pretty much everywhere nowadays because it's the best way to screw as much money as possible out of the world's governments and, through them, the world's taxpayers. Please try not to fall into that trap again.

            ----

            (*): Know who coined (or at least popularised) that expression? Dwight D. "Ike" frigging Eisenhower, that's who! American general, WW2 commander, later president. It's not as if he would have been inherently anti-military, with that CV, now is it? What he would probably have been, though, is pretty knowledgeable about matters military. This was well over half a century ago, but it's not as if the armaments industry has stopped selling ever more complex and expensive stuff. It's time the world finally heeded Ike's warning.

            1. Vic

              Re: Typical military-procurement thinking

              They're basicaly just half-globes of uranium kept a little distance apart, until a little TNT whacks them together.

              Only in James Bond films. That sort of design is extremely low-yield.

              Vic.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Typical military-procurement thinking

                "That sort of design is extremely low-yield."

                Nonetheless, it's easy enough to do, which is why it's done. You don't need to have precise detonation timings on your implosion sphere.

                Slightly more complex arrangements along the same lines include a cylindrical block with a an annulus blasted around it along a pipe pf the same OD as the core cylinder to make up the critical mass. The advantage of this one is that it's easier to stop the two parts flying apart before the reaction is initiated

                Still low yield, but less low yield...

                1. Vic

                  Re: Typical military-procurement thinking

                  Nonetheless, it's easy enough to do, which is why it's done.

                  No, it isn't. The yield is so low as to be fairly useless as a weapon, whilst tending to spread unused fissile material over a large area. It is the proverbial "dirty bomb", which is of no use to a conventional army.

                  Designs that actually work are not much more complex, which is why they have been used.

                  Vic.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Typical military-procurement thinking

                "Only in James Bond films. That sort of design is extremely low-yield."

                The sort of design is from the fantasy novel Queen Victoria's Bomb, except that the mad scientist in that did actually take serious precautions against exactly the kind of accident that would be waiting to happen.

                One obvious factor with such a bomb would be the neutron emission while not in use. To make a bomb you need a lot more than mere criticality, which just gets you a reactor. There are many, many challenges with making a simple bomb, one of which is keeping the mass down enough to be deployed without killing the handlers.

                Unless this is elaborate disinformation and someone in MI5 thinks that somebody in the UK has laid their hands on two near-critical hemispheres of enriched uranium, and is hoping to mislead them into killing themselves without killing too many other people in the process.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Typical military-procurement thinking

              They're basicaly just half-globes of uranium kept a little distance apart, until a little TNT whacks them together...but rocket science isn't actually all that difficult.

              Do you work for the MoD by any chance? Because when it came to need to know, I think they decided not to bother you with anything too demanding.

              1. CRConrad
          7. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: sub-launched nuclear armed cruise missiles

            "Except that the existing cruise missiles aren't designed to carry nuclear warheads"

            That's funny, considering that cruise missles were originally intended for EXACTLY that operation.

            Fitting conventional warheads was only done at the first Gulf War to give a shedload of ones about to hit "use by" date something to do.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: sub-launched nuclear armed cruise missiles

          "When Russia are investing in next gen ballistic missiles"

          The entire russian economy is smaller than a 5th rate western country. At the rate they're buying into new weapon systems they'll go bankrupt in less time than it took Ronnie Raygun to scare them into weapons-buying bankruptcy last time.

          1. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: sub-launched nuclear armed cruise missiles

            "The entire russian economy is smaller than a 5th rate western country".

            Au contraire. According to the CIA World Factbook, the UK was ranked 7th in the world in 2014 with a GDP of $2.44 trillion; Russia was 9th with a GDP of $2.01 trillion. How many 5th rate Western countries do you think there are in the world's top eight by GDP? (And are you including the UK as one?)

            Adjusted for purchasing power parity, Russia moves to 7th with a GDP of $2.49 trillion, and the UK is 8th with a GDP of $2.31 trillion. There are some other interesting figures. In terms of budget income, the UK ranks 6th ($986.1 billion) and Russia 12th ($416.8 billion). So the Russian government spends less than half as much as the UK government, although their effective GDPs are about the same. (Possibly the flat income tax rate of 13% has something to do with it). Is that good? Hmmm. The UK surges far ahead when it comes to its budget deficit of 8.2%, almost exactly 82 times Russia's (which is negligible). Russia's exports, at 582 billion, are 12% greater than the UK's. 12.7% of Russians are below the poverty line, compared to 14% in the UK. The unemployment rate is 5.5% compared to the UK's 8%, and public debt is 7.7% of GDP compared to the UK's 88.7%.

            Focussing more narrowly on the topic under discussion, the Russian Su-37, today's "gold standard" in jet fighters, costs approximately $40-65 million each compared to well over $100 million for the F-35 (the cheaper alternative to the F-22). Although apparently you will soon be able to get the basic F-35A version for a bargain basement $98 million - if you don't need any optional extras such as engines.

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

              Re: Archtech Re: sub-launched nuclear armed cruise missiles

              ".....12.7% of Russians are below the poverty line, compared to 14% in the UK....." Your comparison has a few issues. Firstly, the poverty line in a country is a nominal figure based on average food prices and family income. Therefore, as a country develops, the poverty line moves up. The poverty line is thus a much lower in Russia as the average UK monthly income is seven times that of Russia (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_European_countries_by_average_wage). The UK's "poverty" line is roughly four times the average wage in Russia!

              You also compare overall economic figures without looking at per capita figures. Russia's population is roughly three times that of the UK. And when talking about deficits, you really should have discussed the ability to borrow - the UK can borrow well as we have a good economic history and are trusted by international banks, whereas Russia's ability to borrow is hampered by historical defaults and economic sanctions.

              "....Russian Su-37, today's "gold standard" in jet fighters....." LOL! The Su-37 was a technology demonstrator development of the old Su-27, which used thrust-vectoring tech (copied from the West), and never entered production. Your claim of per-unit figures is therefore most obviously pulled from your backside! Sukhoi haven't had much luck selling a next gen "gold standard", their latest attempt being the forward-swept Su-47 (again, tech copied from the West), also which never went into production. Did you mean the Su-35, which is just an update of the Su-27 from the '80s? IIRC, when subjected to open competition in the Brazillian fighter selection trials, the Su-35 didn't even make it through to the final three shootout. Despite the Russians offering to buy 100 Embraer airliners if the Brazillians bought Sukhois, the Brazillian Air Force's first choice was the F/A-18 (much to socialist Presdent Rousseff's annoyance). The eventual winner was the SAAB Gripen, not your supposed "gold standard" Sukhoi.

              Finally, and most tellingly, it is common to find Russians that have moved to the West for the greater economic opportunities. Chelsea is packed out with Russian oligarchs! The chances of finding any UK entrepreneur or millionaire that has done the reverse is on parity with snowballs in Hell.

        3. AdamG57

          Re: sub-launched nuclear armed cruise missiles

          Why did I read that as a Harman/Corbyn Fleet?

      3. johnnymotel

        Been saying that too, save a lot of money. Put the army on infrastructure duties, fixing our roads, building railways, bridges, communities. Downsize the UK, we are NOT an empire any more!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Put the army on infrastructure duties,

          Why use disciplined, well trained squaddies?

          Despite the fact that half of eastern europe managed to relocate and find a job here, there's 1.7 million largely native Brit f***ers claiming that they're unemployed, can't find a job and need to be supported by the sate. Idle b@stards.

          I'd happily pay them the dole, so long as THEY are fixing roads,railways, bridges etc.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            "I'd happily pay them the dole, so long as THEY are fixing roads,railways, bridges etc."

            It was bad enough when badly trained, unmotivated workers were building cars. Can you imagine what a British Leyland bridge would look like?

            Then again the level of crap workmanship seen on UK roads is so bad that it probably wouldn't make much difference.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Downsize the UK, we are NOT an empire any more!

          The downside with that plan is you might end up being part of someone's else empire.

          It's always good to have some teeth to bare...

          (Autocorrect likes "someone's else", so I'll go along)

          1. kain preacher

            Re: Downsize the UK, we are NOT an empire any more!

            Don't worry. We Yanks will protect you. Now were did I put that leash at ?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Downsize the UK, we are NOT an empire any more!

              @Kain

              I seem to recall someone suggesting we declare war on the USA, immediately surrender unconditionally and they'll then pay off all our debts and rebuild our industry for us...

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Downsize the UK, we are NOT an empire any more!

                We've already had a "mouse that roared" scenario play out in Brexit. Do you want to compound it?

              2. Archtech Silver badge

                Re: Downsize the UK, we are NOT an empire any more!

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mouse_That_Roared

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Devil

            Re: Downsize the UK, we are NOT an empire any more!

            part of the American empire, as some Brexit people woud love

      4. Vic

        That's why the RAF are having to sellotape bombs to the Typhoon

        Sellotape? Sellotape???

        Sir clearly does not understand Military Procurement.

        That is top-class single-sided adhesive-coated polymer banding. The part number alone makes it worth £5K a roll...

        Vic.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Devil

          See Defence Standard 81-145

  4. poohbear

    Do the Brits have enough big boys for this?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3430571/From-ejector-seats-kill-computer-pilots-t-log-Pentagon-F-35-fighter-jet-report-reveals-massive-problems-facing-expensive-weapon-history.html

    1. Esme

      I'm gobsmacked that anyone thinks the things will still be worth having in 15 years time. Sounds like another case of preparing perfectly for the last war and ignoring developments that have happened since.

      1. ISP

        "I'm gobsmacked that anyone thinks the things will still be worth having in 15 years time."

        Really? Then you don't realise how long aircraft types take to develop and how long they remain in service for.

        For example, the US air force still operates the F-15 which first flew in 1972 and is expected to remain in service until 2025.

        1. Danny 14

          The US operate anything that they want to sell. The F15 might be in service but the F22 isnt.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          For example, the US air force still operates the F-15

          Still flying B52s also.

          My Dad flew those and he left the AF in 1962.

        3. Vic

          For example, the US air force still operates the F-15 which first flew in 1972 and is expected to remain in service until 2025.

          ...Which is very much faster[1] than F-35, has a very much higher[2] service ceiling, and still pulls 9g.

          And it's a plane four and a half decades older...

          Vic.

          [1] F-15C is rated to Mach 2.5. F-35 does Mach 1.6.

          [2] F-15C has a service ceiling of 65,000ft. F-35 just 50,000ft.

          1. ISP

            "F-15C has a service ceiling of 65,000ft. F-35 just 50,000ft."

            Well if we're playing Top Trumps :)

            While the 1959 English Electric Lightning's service ceiling was kept secret it was shown capable of intercepting the U2 at heights of >65,000ft. It's even reported to have reached ~88,000ft in a ballistic arc.

            Personally I think we should have made the carriers nuclear, we have the tech but there may have been some political will required. Gone with Super Hornet or Rafael plus some Hawkeyes, shit I'm starting to channel Lewis aren't I?

            Wonder how easy it would be to navalise the Grippen. Ha, Wikipedia says they're working on it in a British development centre.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              "Personally I think we should have made the carriers nuclear"

              No shit. EMALS pretty much requires it (as does a decent steam catapault) and the amount of bunker fuel you need to keep something this big fed is that much less Jet fuel for the important part of the ship.

              1. ISP

                I know the French had some teething issues with the CDG (propellers?) but they seem to be getting those sorted, and even more than an airframe you should be expecting to get decades out of a carrier

            2. Crazy Operations Guy

              "Personally I think we should have made the carriers nuclear"

              Also not building them as straight-deck carriers would have also helped. Although it probably would have been so much cheaper and easier just to get the US to build a pair of Nimitz-class boats or purchase and refurbish the Enterprise, now that the Ford has replaced her, and/or the Nimitz since she is getting replaced by the Kennedy in the next few years (so weird how we name ships after men, yet refer to them with feminine pronouns...).

              1. Crazy Operations Guy

                Also, the Gerald Ford-class carriers are not only cheaper ($4.5 billion USD / £2.9bn vs. $4.78 billion USD / £3.1bn GBP), but they can operate for 25-50 years between refuelings (so even more savings in fuel), come equipped with electromagnetic catapults and more advanced arrestor cables, and several other improvements to ship-board systems. The Ford also comes with a much larger hangar (90 aircraft vs. a theoretical max of 50), much larger magazines for the aircraft's weapons, and much larger tanks for aviation fuel; all of which mean that the carrier can run 4-5 times as many missions without replenishment.

                1. ISP

                  Couple of problems with a reconditioned Nimitz or a Ford class for the RN. Firstly it would cause a political shitstorm of epic proportions not to build in UK shipyards. It would take real stones in the political leadership for that to happen. I've not seen much evidence of that in any party.

                  Secondly I'm not sure we have big enough dock facilities to care for them.

                  1. ISP

                    Also, the QE class requires a quarter of the crew of either Nimitz or Ford, not needing much more than the Invincibles. That's actually quite impressive.

                    Also QE stacks up quite well against the Marine Corps latest toy:

                    http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/navy-builds-ship-for-f-35-ship-needs-months-of-upgrade-1697523492

              2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                Boffin

                Re: Crazy Operations Guy

                "....straight-deck carriers...." Angled decks came into being with the advent of fast jet catapult launches, when the biggest launch danger was falling into the sea and being then run over by your own carrier. They add considerably to the weight of the ship. Since the new carriers were never intended to launch conventional fast jets the removal of an angled deck was both practical, logical and a big cost-saving.

                Buying existing US carrier designs would have been a smart option except for the fact they don't provide any UK jobs and therefore don't buy votes - sorry, I meant to say "not preserve essential UK skills". The non-nuke-powering does have two rarely mentioned advantages - firstly, it means the carriers can use normal docks in the UK; secondly, it means we are welcome at some harbours in the rest of the World (such as in New Zealand) that will not allow the nuke-powered USN carriers to dock.

        4. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "For example, the US air force still operates the F-15 which first flew in 1972 and is expected to remain in service until 2025."

          It's ironic that you bring that one up, as the F15 and F14 were "smaller, cheaper" aircraft rapidly brought into service when the F-111B procurement turned into an expensive clusterfuck.

          The primarly lesson learned from the F111 debacle was how to ensure the program couldn't be cancelled.

          1. ISP

            "The primarly lesson learned from the F111 debacle was how to ensure the program couldn't be cancelled."

            Doubly ironic given that TSR2 was cancelled at least in part in favour of the cheaper F111, which we didn't get either because it became too expensive. Speaking of which isn't the Brexit related pound nose dive going to make the F35s even more expensive?

            1. Captain Badmouth

              Re cost

              "Speaking of which isn't the Brexit related pound nose dive going to make the F35s even more expensive?"

              £115m each as opposed to £100m allegedly.

      2. Crazy Operations Guy

        "preparing perfectly for the last war and ignoring developments that have happened since"

        Indeed, any modern conflict is now guerilla and propaganda based. The greatest threat to the West, ISIS and their ilk, cannot be defeated like you would a traditional enemy. When we go screaming into Syria and start bombing places, we may kill a few of them, but the fact that we are also killing innocents gives them far more strength than what the people we killed provided. Their entire recruitment campaign is "Look at those evil Westerners, coming in and killing innocent women and children, we must stop them before they kill your wives and children!"

        What we should be doing is to take some land, heavily defend it, and help them build a country founded on proper Western Ideals (Give them the framework for a Secular government, plan out a properly regulated capitalistic economy, provide proper laws granting equal rights to everyone). Allow anyone to join this country and help build it out so long as they support the nation's ideals, thereby ending the refugee crisis and cutting off ISIS's stream of recruits.

        Secular would end all these conflicts where one religious sect has power and starts discriminating against the other (Which is the primary cause for the Arab Spring), a properly regulated form of capitalism would end the massive wage gap that is causing so many problems in the rest of the region (like what happened / is happening in Yemen), and of course equal rights laws to reinforce the secular government. Ending religious discrimination would gain support from the Kurds and Lebanon. The vast majority of the civilian population in the region are much like us westerners: They don't care who is in charge, so long as they are able to go home to their spouse and children and enjoy a nice meal together, and mostly importantly, know that they could do the same for every day for many years to come.

        Set up a program where former ISIS soldiers (who aren't responsible for war crimes) are given enough money to bring their family for a little while and a two-bedroom apartment in exchange for whatever weapons and intelligence they can steal on their way out. Many of ISIS's soldiers joined because it was the only thing they could do so they can buy food for their families since every other employer has been ran out of town or killed.

        My girlfriend works for a relief organization that helps re-settle refugees and soldiers that have defected from the various terror groups. The thing that they really want isn't just a couple of rations, but a residence to call their own and a way of ensuring that there will be food in the fridge, many of them were willing to work in the worst jobs imaginable just for that opportunity. The vast majority of the men are skilled and ready to enter the workforce, Syria was a functioning country complete with farmers, construction workers, doctors, engineers, shopkeepers, and everything else a country would need.

        Hell, the US could solve their "illegal immigrant problem" by bringing them into the country and letting them work the jobs that "Dem ee-lee-gulls took from 'ard workin' 'muricans"

        1. Steelted

          Re: "preparing perfectly for the last war and ignoring developments that have happened since"

          Americans tried it in Iraq. It failed.

          1. MonkeyCee

            Re: "preparing perfectly for the last war and ignoring developments that have happened since"

            That's hardly fair. Iraq is firstly several groups that pretty much hate/distrust each other, and while the state departments plans where pretty good, we'll never know how good since on all the points marked "do this, to avoid consequences" where ignored by defense when they took over.

            So if you promise the armed forces a place in the new regime, and assure the ba'athists (or whatever group has most recently held the whip hand) that they too will have a place, then back track on those promises, it'll cause a massive ongoing problem.

            Not that I'd advocate nation build per sec, but if you're going to do it, at least let the people who have experience with governance have a say.

            1. P. Lee Silver badge

              Re: "preparing perfectly for the last war and ignoring developments that have happened since"

              >That's hardly fair. Iraq is firstly several groups that pretty much hate/distrust each other,

              ... and you think any other part of the world is different? Do you think the US didn't know this beforehand?

              Give them a secular government? That's pretty much what they had with Saddam until we destroyed it. Saddam had to use an awful lot of brutality to maintain it, as well, because the people don't want a secular government.

              If Blair had studied History instead of Law he might have learnt what the British concluded last time they were in Iraq, "this place is not governable by civilised means."

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: "preparing perfectly for the last war and ignoring developments that have happened since"

          "Secular would end all these conflicts where one religious sect has power and starts discriminating against the other (Which is the primary cause for the Arab Spring"

          The differences are tribal, not sect-based. When you look at the demographics of the people in power you'll find they all come from the same families/groups and they'll as happily kill opponents of the same religious sect as an "opposing" one.

          The middle east problem partially derives from french decisions to deliberately draw boundaries to split tribes between countries and at the same time put groups with a history of conflicts in charge of running the same new country. The British tended to merely draw straight lines on deserts and ignore T.E. Lawrence's advice on the matter (Yes, Lawrence of Arabia) - which included handing vast tracts of the ex-ottoman empire over to the french to administer despite them having been promised independence for siding with the Allies in WW1

          Having wars by proxy (fascists vs others pre ww2 and USA vs USSR post WW2) simply kept making it worse. There's over 100 years of clusterfucks to unpick there and it's nowhere near as simple as Faux News would like to make it appear (Pre WW1 "Syria" comprised what is now Syria, part of Turkey, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and a big chunk of Iraq (which didn't exist pre-WW1), as one example)

          The Ottomans also benefitted from keeping troublesome tribes fighting each other instead of the Ottommans - so going back further than that requires finding out who was encouraged to attack who and by whom. Arkansas hillbilly feuds have nothing on some of the emnities that have simmered for centuries....

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Future history telling speak.

    By the time these enter service, the wonks in charge will be complaining they are obsolete, and that they want the new F1000 super space plane - not even in the design stage and expected to cost £100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 each (plus spares and maintenance), and be available for test flights some time after 2100 (the year, not the time).

    Him? he's believed to be the next democratically elected president of the USA - after the 250 year reign of Nehemiah Scudder, né Trump.

    1. WonkoTheSane

      Re: Future history telling speak.

      I think you missed a few zeroes from the price.

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Future history telling speak.

        If we're lucky, that'll only be around ten times the price of a bar of chocolate.

    2. Fr. Ted Crilly
      Thumb Up

      Re: Future history telling speak.

      + 1 for the 'if this goes on' reference. something of a future history guide book, sadly.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Future history telling speak.

      "...after the 250 year reign of Nehemiah Scudder, né Trump."

      Yeah, sadly, that thought crossed my mind too.

  6. phuzz Silver badge

    Is HMS Prince of Wales still scheduled to be mothballed as soon as it's built?

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Not currently, the plan is to have both in commission to allow for at least one being available at any time. PoW has had a few modifications to the design to make it better suited for operating as an assault carrier if needed. No idea what they are mind it's big enough you'd think they could just shove some cot beds in a spare compartment for the troops...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        From what I understand, we were supposed to have three of these to enable the following typical rotation :-

        1 x at sea (combat ready), 1 x undergoing re-fit, 1 x undergoing sea trials/crew training following the refit. With the latter in a near-combat ready state.

        But the projected cost of the F35s and the exorbitant cost of the T45s (which were supposed to act as the carrier screen) meant we could only afford 2 of the QE class carriers.

        With only two carriers, you cannot guarantee full time combat readiness.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          'From what I understand, we were supposed to have three of these to enable'

          I've never seen that mentioned anywhere before, one of the planning assumptions* was that the design would learn from commercial practice where their ships don't spend comically long periods of time alongside doing basic maintenance. Consequently to guarantee availability of at least 1 hull at sea for x days per year you only needed two ships, similar to how the River class patrol boats are operated. Of course there was also an assumption it would need to be ~60000 tonnes to embark an air group big enough to carry out x sorties a day with y aircraft so I'm not saying that plan will actually work out.

          *Somewhere I have a couple of copies of the RN Engineering Review which have articles about the design process. This may well prove everything I say to be a lie based on poor recollection.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Skippy

            You might be right, but what happens if war breaks out when one is in for a major refit? You have to hope/pray that your one and only combat ready carrier doesn't get damaged or simply break down.

            Not to mention the reduced capacity by not being able to put two carriers to sea (or even three) at all times.

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        There's one other small problem that seems to be ignored and it's not just about the ships It's the aircraft itself. You might have your 24 F-35's by then, but how many will actually be flyable or available for active duty? Some will be needed for training by both pilots and ground crews. There's the inevitable "hanger queens" in active units that end up basically as a spare parts bird. Then there's repairs... some by wear and tear and others by misadventure. Lastly, there's overhaul and "hours checks" where the planes get thoroughly inspected and parts replaced as deemed "unfit".

        To have 24 available, I'd think you'll need at least 12 more just for the other purposes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Pretty much like the career of the real thing, then :)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Is HMS Prince of Wales still scheduled to be mothballed as soon as it's built?

      To be fair that was pretty much SOP in the days of sailing ships, and the Thames was often full of hulls waiting to be brought into service. Running ships was extremely expensive. Still is.

      Once upon a time the longest part of making a ship was waiting for the oak to grow. But now we have the MoD to keep the delay up to specification.

  7. 's water music

    Questions for a select comittee...

    When the do you want to upgrade to Windows 10 F35 pop-up appeared, did the MOD click on Ok or did they click on the red X assuming that that would cancel the upgrade. If the latter then they ought to be able to sue to recover 10k of the costs at least?

    As an industrial/employment support subsidy, how does it stack up against giving Tata all the £50 notes they need to burn to power their blast furnaces as a means of defraying their energy costs if they keep Port Talbot open?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Questions for a select comittee...

      "if they keep Port Talbot open"

      Why would they? It would require a large enough home market which means a manufacturing industry and a large enough manufacturing industry probably requires a home market bigger then just the UK.

      1. Danny 14

        Re: Questions for a select comittee...

        Tata are already walking away from sales talk. Brexit pound means exports are cheap again.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Questions for a select comittee...

          "Brexit pound means exports are cheap again."

          Brexit pound means imports necessary to make exports are expensive again.

          1. P. Lee Silver badge

            Re: Questions for a select comittee...

            >Brexit pound means imports necessary to make exports are expensive again.

            That isn't a problem - the worst case is if you aren't adding any value, so the status quo is maintained. In that case, don't expect profit.

            The more value you add (perhaps reflecting more work done in the UK) the more competitive the export.

            https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/balanceofpayments

            I'd say we actually need to do without stuff for a bit and correct our balance of payments. More expensive imports and cheaper exports are a good thing. And no, you can't blame those horrible figures on Brexit.

            Something has gone very wrong with finance. In the 1970's one man's salary typically supported five people. House prices have grown four or five times more than salaries since then. Now on average two salaries support two and a half people. Are we better off? We have more stuff, but are we actually better off of have we just borrowed to buy things we can't really afford? All that government debt... we will have to pay it off one way or another.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Confused

    to quote

    As well as mouthing the usual political platitudes about the F-35 programme sustaining “skills and jobs right across the nation”, Dunne said: “This will allow us, after the US, to be the only other nation to be able to project this capability around the world.”

    Well if he is alluding to the only nations in the world to have seaborne F-35's then I suppose its true,

    if not then the French have the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_aircraft_carrier_Charles_de_Gaulle_(R91)

    so then the statement is untrue.

    1. Dan Wilkie

      Re: Confused

      And the Chinese. And the Russians...

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shenyang_J-15

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukhoi_PAK_FA#Naval_and_other_versions

      1. Danny 14

        Re: Confused

        The indians will have their vikrant with mig29s too.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Pirate

          The last pirate expedition of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex

          Plus, what are carriers good for?

          Carriers won't go up against anyone who can rip a largish hole into their hull.

          So. They are nice for implementing Liberal Whitey's "Responsibility To Protect" against erstwhile sandland dicatorial friends who have been reinvented as enemies for domestic political reasons ... but that epoch of history is receding fast.

          They might be used to do police operations to keep the Colored Hordesdiversity-bringing people of the sun at bay, which is a new period that's indubitably coming over the horizon (while the US wants us to fight the Russians for them, thank you suckers, but that's another discussion), but for that you don't need F-35s. You need floating container structures with helopads.

    2. Vic

      Re: Confused

      Dunne said: “This will allow us, after the US, to be the only other nation to be able to project this capability around the world.”

      Well if he is alluding to the only nations in the world to have seaborne F-35's

      No, he's just being literal.

      They've only bought two projectors - the lamps are ruinously expensive - and only the US and the UK have the slides. We're expecting the target theatre of operations to provide the screen and someone to dim the lighting...

      Vic.

  9. Christoph

    Project this capability around the world

    This will allow us, after the US, to be the only other nation to be able to project this capability around the world.

    Why the hell would we want to? We are a small ex-important island off the coast of one of the remaining great powers. What are we doing interfering in the affairs of countries thousands of miles away?

  10. MatsSvensson

    Do they have immigrant-seeking missiles?

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Facepalm

      "Do they have immigrant-seeking missiles?"

      Oh sweet $deity no. SFU now.

      You start saying things like that and next week BAe will be giving a presentation to their friends in the MoD.

  11. MrXavia

    Its obvious why they are not buying more...

    Why have a fleet of expensive manned aircraft when you can have drones for a fraction of the price and not risk the lives of the pilots

    1. Danny 14

      Beacuse drones cant do the same roles?

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      'Why have a fleet of expensive manned aircraft when you can have drones for a fraction of the price and not risk the lives of the pilots'

      Translated into BAe-speak 'Why have a fleet of expensive manned aircraft when you can have drones at twice the price and not risk the lives of the lobbyists'

  12. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    This use of carrier space follows closely the Long Island Rail Road's maths when designing the Hillside Service Facility, which was touted as being able to fix all the broken crap they own but actually can only cope with 1/3 of the fleet.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How is this going to be paid for ?

    We're about to enter a recession probably the worst we've ever had, a lot of our major exporters are planning to leave the UK, the economy is in tatters and the pound is on course for parity with the dollar but we can afford these at a cost of around $159million* each

    I guess there's always money for war

    * http://nation.time.com/2013/06/03/how-much-does-an-f-35-fighter-really-cost/

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      https://www.f35.com/global/participation/united-kingdom-ip

      Due to our participation in the F35 program we get to build 15% of each jet. There are going to be quite a few built (>3000). As a country we literially make more money by buying these than not. We'd make money even if we immediately put the jets through a car crusher after taking delivery.

      Except that would put people off from buying them, and the more they produce the more money UK PLC makes so we have to say...

      It's a wonderful, reveloutionary aircraft that your military couldn't live without!

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Facepalm

        There are going to be quite a few built (>3000).

        Woah there is crystal ball rolling around here. Someone may have lost it?

        As a country we literially make more money by buying these than not. We'd make money even if we immediately put the jets through a car crusher after taking delivery.

        Complete failure of basic economic knowledge detected.

        Where will the taxpayer-sourced economic oomph come from for this EXACTLY? Don't say we will print money or go into debt (which are just other ways of saying "my children will pay for this"). What kind of economic activity will have to be NOT implemented to get this crap into the air?

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          " Someone may have lost it?"

          More like tossed it out for inaccuracy.

          If 3000 F-35s are built I'd be surprised. The numbers are decreasing with every order update - and the F35B numbers may only be a couple hundred in total.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "As a country we literially make more money by buying these than not"

        As a country we make nothing from them. BAE does - and despite the "british" in the name, it is not a british company, nor has it been for some time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Pound falls

      Remember to factor in the extra cost caused by the Brexiter's savaging of the pound.

      1. Daniel von Asmuth

        JSF falls

        The proud isle-dwellers thought they could leave the doomed Euro currency, but forgot they're still in NATO.

      2. Andrew Newstead

        Re: Pound falls

        Not necessarily, don't forget that these will sel in dollars. At the moment that means we will get good money for them. Rolls-Royce is doing well because of the fall of the pound.

  14. sikejsudjek

    I was at Fairford today and I have to say they looked very impressive.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And SOOO reliable, that they have

      1/ lied about only having one for displays (they have 2).

      2/ are so worried about BOTH breaking down that they have 2 USM piloted versions as back ups to the back up.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        I have been at the Battlestar Galactica prop hangar and these Vipers looked very impressive.

  15. JohnMurray

    So when a carrier has a full complement of aircraft, their cost will exceed that of the ship?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "So when a carrier has a full complement of aircraft, their cost will exceed that of the ship?"

      And that is surprising because? A carrier is just a mobile runway and control tower for the expensive payload. During WW2 the Americans churned them out in large numbers while we made a few, more slowly.

      Pity about the teak decks and the Kamikaze, but if you put enough effort into designing for every possible eventuality you might still be planning when the enemy turns up on RIBs armed with Kalashnikovs.

  16. Croc O'Dial

    Cheap at half the price.

    In 2011 the MOD sold £1bn of Harrier jets and spares to the US Marine Corps for a knockdown price of £34m. The F35 is value for money. If only we had some ships to store it on for safe-keeping until the Septics ask for them back. No matter how poor countries are they always have money for armaments.

    The F35 will keep the MOD happy until something new comes along.

    1. Baldy50

      Re: Cheap at half the price.

      Never should have retired the Harrier, funding should have been spent on this and save some money on new jet fighters from the Russia's Sukhoi SU-35S and use the Russian ploy of having greater numbers than your enemy.

      1. Cpt Blue Bear

        Re: Cheap at half the price.

        Leaving aside that this goes counter to the British military policy of having an elite army, exactly who are these enemies you want to have greater numbers than?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder how large the US fleet will be?

    Oh God, please let it be at least 25.

  18. Brian Allan 1

    Hope the UK has lots of software engineers to rewrite the F-35's operating system or the planes may just be expensive paper weights!?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Actually, the F35 is covered by so many US military secrets acts that ANYTHING beyond kicking the tyres and checking the oil requires that it be shipped back to the US for repairs (see current P.E.).

    2. David 164

      BAE probably borrowed the code of the Americans and gave it to MI6 for safe keeping, after all if rumours are to be believe BAE been taking classified US technology and sharing it with the British MOD for decades.

    3. Archtech Silver badge

      No, I don't think that would be a good idea. See, for example, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/6085909/MoD-software-blunder-keeps-Chinook-helicopters-grounded.html

      The UK has plenty of very good software engineers, but rewriting the many millions of lines of system-critical real-time embedded software would probably be impossible in practice.

  19. Dave Ross

    Of those 12..

    How many will actually be able to get off the deck without suffocating the pilot or simply crashing?

    1. David 164

      Re: Of those 12..

      It was the F-22 and not the F-35 that had the suffocating pilot problem, which have since been resolved.

  20. JohnMurray

    Expensive toys for expensive boys.

    Carrier group meets cheap tactical nuclear missile/shell: carrier group 0: nuke 1

  21. Lapun Mankimasta Bronze badge

    Way back in the day

    in 1979, the Yanks were joking about being able to afford only one aircraft for all four services in 2001 - and swapping it between them on alternate days, with the US Marines getting it on weekends - if they behave.

    2016 and it looks as though dreams/jokes can come true. I can just see the pilots of the RAF/RN tossing coins to see which one's going to fly the one serviceable plane for that day.

    Oh, and immigrant-seeking missiles? Nah, the RN's going to strap politicians into bomb casings and drop them on anything that might contain a migrant or refugee ... first national level, then regional, then local, then they'll go for the party lists ...

  22. tempemeaty

    Just a thought

    I wonder how the F35 handles a bird strike...

    1. Vic

      Re: Just a thought

      I wonder how the F35 handles a bird strike...

      It's single-engined, so if the bird is big enough, I guess the answer would be "ballistically"...

      Vic.

    2. David 164

      Re: Just a thought

      considering you have to build engines to handle regular bird strikes just to get into the air, I suspect it will do just fine.

  23. CheesyTheClown

    Finally an F-35 article that represents it properly

    The F-35 program has been wildly successful to date. They have basically made the most useless plane ever. By the time it actually is in proper full production, remote contolled unmanned drones will have far surpassed their capabilities and based on recent testing, autonomous drones consistently outperform all human flown jets in dog fights. The problem with drones is that they're too easy and don't require so many people to produce and maintain. It won't be long before drones can be strategically positioned in high atmosphere on Zeppelin drones or solar powered propeller drones. When this happens, it should be possible to launch an attack and reach targets eliminating F-35 hosting carriers before even one jet has a pilot in a cockpit.

    So why is the program wildly successful? It's because as the article says, the U.K. government can employ 1000 people for each F-35 which translates to a realistic number of about 8000 jobs per jet if you include the guy working at the local 7-Eleven who is in business because the workers need coffee. The U.S. and the U.K. instead of embracing socialism openly create jobs through programs oriented on fear. The US and UK are so scared of building and supporting me private sector companies that in order to feed their citizens, they need to make up bullshit excuses related to fear and hate to feed their people. So long as the US and UK can continue to negotiate favorable terms with other nations regarding their expansion of their national deficits and forcing a devaluation of their currencies (hence why you can sell your house for more than you paid), the US and UK and spend trillions on new prisons and on new militaries and such. The people just have to be scared enough into thinking they need these services or at least can't do anything against the government forcing it on them.

    The F-35 program has nothing to do with defense. More or less every first world country can easily build drones to obsolete the F-35 completely. The program is about job creation and government sponsored economic stimulus.

    Good job author ;)

    1. TheVogon

      Re: Finally an F-35 article that represents it properly

      "The F-35 program has been wildly successful to date."

      Presumably it has been if you define success as extracting large amounts of money from governments...

      Good quotes might be "The program is the most expensive military weapons system in history" and "By 2014, the program was "$163 billion over budget seven years behind schedule", and "by 2017 the program was expected over its lifetime (until 2070) to cost $406.5 billion for acquisition of the jets and $1.1 trillion for operations and maintenance", and "A number of design deficiencies were alleged, such as carrying a small internal payload, inferior performance to the aircraft being replaced particularly the F-16, and the lack of safety in relying on a single engine, and flaws were noted such as vulnerability of the fuel tank to fire and the propensity for transonic roll-off (TRO or "wing drop")."

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Finally an F-35 article that represents it properly

        I can think of at least 2 historical entities which spent themselves into submission in the last 100 years:

        The USSR: Military expenditure in the wake of perceived "Star Wars" threats

        Nazi Germany: If they hadn't wasted so much time and effort on their superweapons they would have been a far more formidable opponent. Relying on the things to appear also weakened them considerably as did believing their communications systems were uncrackable. If the reliance on "uber technology" hadn't happened, England may well have lost everyone at Dunkirk, fallen in the BoB and WW2 is likely to have run for another 10 years.

        Longer term, other empires have done the same thing.

    2. TheVogon

      Re: Finally an F-35 article that represents it properly

      "More or less every first world country can easily build drones to obsolete the F-35 completely."

      Drones can relatively easily be jammed though. Particularly on longer range missions and by especially by superpowers that can potentially send jamming signals from satellite as well as ground / air.

  24. Arachnoid

    Cluster Drones

    Mass drone attacks is the way forward as the defender could only disable so many but will still be overpowered by weight of numbers.

  25. bollos
    FAIL

    bad move.

    ...just as drones start making these incredibly expensive wastes of money pointless.

    "A new artificial intelligence flight combat system dubbed ALPHA has taken on one of the Air Force's top tactical experts and won. Retired USAF Colonel Gene Lee — an experienced combat instructor with "considerable fighter aircraft expertise" — was repeatedly shot down during engagements with ALPHA in a high-fidelity air combat simulation. Lee called his computerized opponent "the most aggressive, responsive, dynamic and credible AI I've seen to date."

    Even when the researchers placed ALPHA at a severe disadvantage by limiting the speed, turning, and weapons and sensor capabilities of its simulated aircraft, the AI pilot was able to beat out other expert human pilots. According to UC Magazine, ALPHA's AI is fast and robust enough to actually coordinate a tactical plan in a combat situation "over 250 times faster than ALPHA's human opponents could blink." Going beyond current AI-Human combat teams, ALPHA will eventually be able to control a squad of Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles flying in support of a human pilot, constantly learning and adapting to opponents in the heat of battle."

    https://www.engadget.com/2016/06/28/combat-ai-beats-air-force-experts/

    1. Brian Miller

      Re: bad move.

      Yeah, and the AI was running on a Raspberry Pi, not an IBM Watson. So the next fighter aircraft will be sourced from independent private companies, and the military will just need to add ammo and warheads on the supplied missiles.

      It makes sense, really. The official defense programs will be bankrupt, and all that will be left will be private suppliers accepting cash.

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: bad move.

        >Yeah, and the AI was running on a Raspberry Pi, not an IBM Watson.

        So it can beat a human who doesn't know how the AI makes decisions. I wonder how long that will last and if the human will get an RPi to help them soon.

        As for out-of-date miltech... remember the battleships of the early 1900's? Useless by WWI. Miltech moves very quickly - you get what you can knowing it will probably be out of date before you use it. Part of the downside of drones is that they are strongly controlled from the centre. The likelihood of a pilot showing initiative is extremely low, which is probably a bad thing. The likelihood of a pilot refusing to do something unconscionable is also very low.

        The other thing is that one-sided warfare can backfire. If you put soldiers in the field and you lose and go home, that might the end of it. If you can't be touched in the field, the enemy will be forced to go looking for your house to get rid of the problem at its source. Rant against terrorism all you like, but if that's the only effective method of fighting your operations allows, that's what you will get.

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blighty will have a whopping 24 F-35B jets by 2023

    Well how else will we keep the Europeans out?

  28. JustNiz

    Why?

    I don't get what the UK think they are achieving by spending billions on this and other ridiculous things such as nuclear submarines, when that money could go to directly and significantly help the population instead.

    I mean even with 24 F35's, the entirety of the UK's military forces would be about as much of a hindrance as a speed-bump to the average invading superpower, and nobody else is going to bother to invade (at least using conventional warfare or any method that an F35 would be a useful deterrent for).

    1. CheesyTheClown

      Re: Why?

      It could go into westernizing immigrants to assimilate themselves to Western European behavior and financing the growth of a financial empire that will profit England by allowing immigrants to establish British businesses and move product through the UK (at least on paper) and strengthen ties with middle eastern and eastern companies as well as strengthen economies of Africa (which will have to become emerging at some point) and South America.

      Alternatively, they could use the money to cover the massive financial issues of trying to alienate themselves from the rest of the world via Brexit. The U.K. clearly does not understand that the rest of the world sees brexit as an elitist movement that denounces the rest of us as "less than a Brit". As a result, it drives us to avoid business with the English for fear that they will consider defaulting on our agreements as justified because they "want to screw us before we screw them".

      Norway bought 50 of these planes as a membership fee to NATO. I don't know for sure, but I believe historically we have never owned so many arial war machines as we would prefer to not be paranoid assholes. Of course, now we'll have them and we'll probably put them on display as they are so damn expensive to operate that it's just not worth keeping more than a handful in the air. So 10 to play with and 40 for spare parts.

      On the other hand, the jobs created by dumping trillions of dollars into the world economy probably is worthwhile.

  29. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

    Lemons

    Great. The Americans make wars and global insecurity and then there is a market to buy their junk against that background. Meanwhile governments complain they cannot protect health and the needy - well that is the real security of a country. We are being taken for suckers.

    The F35s are lemons.

    http://www.stopthef35.com/golden-lemon-award-winner/

  30. rtb61

    End Of Life

    End of life makes it even more fun. Not the end of people's lives but the end of the F35B life, what will they do with all those billions of dollars, why toss it in the bin of course, exactly what you should do with taxpayers dollars, after of course duly scrapping off a huge bit of cream profit and of course making sure you pay no taxes on those profits, don't want to throw your own money into the military industrial complex waste paper basket, well I suppose that waste paper basket is a little inaccurate, more like waste paper grand canyon.

    Let's celebrate less infrastructure, shittier social services, worse police, crappier public schools and charging more and more for university access but hey we are burning more money in the incinerator that is the North American Territorial Occupation farce, burn, baby burn.

    You know what I think, they should actually use cash and burn it, so we can really see where the money has gone (digitally they would write off the burn and the money would still flow into the black hole that is the US/UK military industrial complex).

  31. timjwc

    Since it appears that the MOD have messed up again and these F35 flying disasters have to be returned to the US when needing a service, I can only presume that one of our Gordon Brown carriers will have to be on permanent service taking them back and forth?

    By the time the UK may have a number of these planes delivered which can actually carry and use weapons and achieve a between services life of a month or two, they will be redundant.

    God (whichever is your choice) damn the morons running the MOD and the Forces for their stupidity in buying this feeble excuse of a warplane, just to keep Lockheed Martin profits up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      Why blame the MOD? its just carrying out politicians orders as it was always meant to do and apart from a few Service 3* that like shineys (the usual Service politics) no one actually in the MOD wanted these dinosaurs. Its politics and politics only, and profits to certain manufacturers, that has caused this (Blair to Cameron to T May).

      Still the assumption that we will never need the Services is as short-sighted and history blind as a dead donkey. It just should be armed and ready but not at the bleeding edge which we can't afford, I'm not even sure the Yanks can reallly afford it. Could we be replicating the Soviet Union error in our own small way?

  32. jbrias

    I guess you guys haven't heard

    In case no one has mentioned it, the F-35 is a lemon of a fighter jet. It was supposed to be all things to all services. Instead, it doesn't do anything particularly well and, in some cases, doesn't do them at all. So while you all cheer the fact you're getting 24 of these white elephants, the guys at Lockheed, the Pentagon and DoD will be laughing all the way to the bank. But hey, don't take my word for it. http://uk.businessinsider.com/here-are-all-the-problems-with-the-f-35-that-the-pentagon-found-in-a-2014-report-2015-3

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: jbrias Re: I guess you guys haven't heard

      ".....the F-35 is a lemon....." Well, the RAF joke about it being the Bannana Fighter because it's only really suitable for fighting Third World Bannana Republics. But, if you think about it, that was all it was really intended for.

      "....It was supposed to be all things to all services. Instead, it doesn't do anything particularly well...." Actually, no. It was always intended to operate mainly in the ground-attack role (at least in the F-35A version), with cover from real air-superiority fighters (like the F-22 and Typhoon) and under the care of NATO's AWACS umbrella. If you look back to when it was conceived, the expected US future wars were NATO/UN peacekeeping (Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.) or fighting the Russians, Chinese or Norks. For the latter two there are hard runways in Japan and Korea for F-22s to provide cover, so the F-35s will likely be bomb-trucking. Wars like Afghanistan = more bomb-trucking, but with no air opposition. Russia would probably be the sternest test, but again with cover from F-22s and Typhoons.

      The USN's F-35Cs will probably see combat doing more bomb-trucking, after several waves of sub-launched cruise missiles will have destroyed any opponents air defences. Opponents like Iran will be attacked first by land-based USAF aircraft (after lots of cruise missiles have wiped out air def radars and knocked out enemy runways).

      Even the RN's F-35Bs have limited opposition - more bomb-trucking in support of NATO/UN against guerrilla forces, as the Harriers did in Kosovo and Iraq; patrolling the Iceland Gap for sub-hunting "Badger" bombers in a war with Russia; or going down South for more bomb-trucking in a Falklands 2 scenario, because the bankrupt Argentineans don't actually have any fast fighters flying (the Air Force grounded all their Mirages, Daggers and A-4s for lack of spares, and the Navy's Super Etendards make the F-35B look good, and the four RAF Typhoons based at Stanley would probably clean up anything before it got within range of the carrier's F-35Bs anyway).

      The F-35 was never intended to be an air-superiority fighter to supplant the F-22 or Typhoon. It is and always will be a secondary interceptor at most, and the rest of the time a bomb-truck (albeit a very expensive one).

      1. Baldy50

        Re: jbrias I guess you guys haven't heard

        One very cool American and his Harrier.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PHcdn8R4d4

  33. rtb61

    The is a good chance the purchase of F35 Flying Pigs by the UK government might well be cancelled, after Boeing decided to screw with the UK government, via it's lobbyist control of the US government.

    Naughty, naughty, naughty, a lot fewer F35 Flying Pigs are going to be sold than budgeted upon.

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