I read that as:
"Ha, they can try, but the penalty clause will end up costing them more."
F-35 maker Lockheed Martin’s UK chief has breezily dismissed the idea of Britain cutting the number of jets it is buying from the US firm. Speaking to the Press Association, Peter Ruddock said he was “respectful” of the Ministry of Defence’s financial situation, which happens to include a whopping great big black hole to the …
Actually, it's worse than that.
If we cancelled the order then we'd lose our workshare for building them, which is currently 15% of the value of each aircraft. That money ends up in our economy and obviously gets taxed. If there are thousands built, we make serious money from it.
Basically, the production run is going to be >3100, as that's the existing order book. We build 15% of them, and UK suppliers are charged 20% VAT. At that rate, for every ~30 F35's bought anywhere in the world it pays for 1 F35 just from the VAT on the components we build unless my math is seriously off. We're buying maybe a hundred, and there are already 3,100 on the order book so the cost to the UK government of buying the aircraft is actually going to be a net negative.
Militarily the F35 is an expensive abomination of very questionable use against any serious opposition, but because the economic benefits from building it are so serious we are pretty much obliged to say "Wow, what a worldbeating wonderful aircraft! Consider buying some!" when asked about it, even though it's theoretically got about the same combat range as the WW2 Fairy Swordfish if actually armed.
I think your maths is a tad out. I work for a company that supplies bits and pieces to BAE. They claim the VAT back from HMRC cos they are a business customer and we’re both VAT registered. We also supply to the US equivalent. We don’t charge them VAT cos it’s an export. The only people who pay VAT are consumers. I doubt very much that Richard Branson is lined up to buy a pleasure F-35.
If we cancelled the order then we'd lose our workshare for building them, which is currently 15% of the value of each aircraft.
When you look at the reported components made by UK manufacturers, it's bloody difficult to see how Blighty is getting a 15% share of the programme. There's some very creative accounting to reclassify any parts made by US subsidiaries of UK companies as "UK value", and even parts made by US companies that might have now or ever had UK subsidiaries.
And there's another common sense test that the 15% claim fails, and that's the idea that the US military and government would let ANY other country build one eighth of the entire programme for the most advanced aircraft they've ever built.
The only people who could be stupid enough to believe that the UK will produce c$80bn of components for the F35 are British politicians.
"There's some very creative accounting to reclassify any parts made by US subsidiaries of UK companies as "UK value", and even parts made by US companies that might have now or ever had UK subsidiaries."
In the same way that a fire safe made in Korea and fitted with(*) shelving plus a chinese electronic lock bolted on in Liverpool is classified as "made in Britain" and even gets a union jack sticker on it.
(*) Not meaning actually installed, just added to the parts as it passes through.
theoretically got about the same combat range as the WW2 Fairy Swordfish if actually armed.
Small point of pedantry - that should be Fairey with an 'e'.
When spelled without the 'e' the word has a different meaning, as in "the idea of the F35 ever working as intended is a complete fairy story"
' even though it's theoretically got about the same combat range as the WW2 Fairey Swordfish if actually armed.'
So twice the combat range of a Harrier and carrying twice the stores? Or the same range as a Swordfish but carrying three to four times as much five times faster? Or about 160 nautical miles further than an F-16 carrying a similar payload?
I mean if you want another fatuous comparison it's got only a quarter of the range of a B-24 Liberator, but it will be carrying four times the payload. And have a radar.
Not sure about your arithmetic, Peter2, but your assessment of the aircraft is in line with most objective, knowledgeable observers: it's a ridiculously expensive POS. The vested interests—Lockheed; the Congresscritters whose pork has been purchased; and those taking orders in the military—have to pretend the plane is worthwhile, and have to lie to everyone else for money and career, but very few uncontaminated observers see much good in the F-35.
The stealth is a rapidly-obsoleting "feature", which actually severely limits the plane's ordnance loadout and performance while costing vast amounts of time and money to keep intact. The ordnance and range are pathetic. The losses of a single-engined plane are going to be bad even in peacetime, no matter which political idiots clai that there will "never" be engine failures. It is useless for close air support and too expensive to risk in low-level roles anyway, and cannot risk engagement with almost any other competent fighter because it "Can't climb, can't turn, can't run". Its supposed assets and ludicrously optimistic wargaming are all founded on the quicksand of dumb faith: that fancy stand-off technology will magically help it shoot down enemies before they even know it's there. A crummy old fourth-gen fighter flown by a dogfighter mentality needs to put just a single round of 30-mil through the F-35's only engine and it's game over. Alternatively, a bird strike can bugger up the stealth coating and put the expensive jewel in the body-and-paint shop for three solid days.
It's gobstoppingly amazing that the US didn't learn from the mistakes made with F-111, a similar one-size-fits-all fiasco; or from the F-4, sent to Vietnam without a cannon because, hey, missiles will work perfectly and dogfighting just won't happen.
It's even more shocking that British procurement was so stunningly stupid. Specifying the QE class without CATOBAR has trapped the Brits into using the F-35's worst variant of all—especially since we basically gave away the Sea Harriers well before the end of their service life ... yeah, the only V/STOL aircraft actually proven in combat. Not that it will matter in the long run, of course. Having slashed the acquisition of support ships for battlegroups that would protect the carriers, their life expectancy against any serious adversary is hours or days at most.
The QEs and their crappy planes can look forward to a dismal career lurking off flyspecked Third World coastlines flying very short attack missions using very expensive ordnance to blow up very cheap pickup trucks belonging to suspected possible maybe terrorists, or massacring the occasional tribal wedding.
" We build 15% of them"
That 15% is vastly overstated, as has been explained a few times in these forums
"and UK suppliers are charged 20% VAT."
erm. no. They get to claim it all back. VAT ends up only paid on actual consumption, not on things that are sold on or used as components of something sold on.
"no hint of the possibility of a suggestion of the potential for an opportunity of a whiff of a conflict of interests in the procurement process there then."
Of course there isn't. If there was, the SFO would be on it straight away (till they were instructed from On High to stop looking in places where they didn't oughta be looking. Or else.)
"Ha, they can try, but the penalty clause will end up costing them more."
That depends on how the "fitness for purpose" part was written and if there are provisions to allow cancellation for cost creep.
But of course being a contract drawn up by the UK government, it won't have any of these.
Depends if he realises that the mike is still on... British politicians and generals have quite the record for diving in with both feet when they think something is in private.
Then you have people like Enoch "I'm really lucky Sam Vimes isn't real" Powell - a walking argument for violent revolution.
"the A400 hasn't exactly been an unqualified success"
The A400 would have been built no matter what. Europe (and france in particular) being dependent on the USA for military cargo transports was not going to be tolerated. In the old days it would have been built to government contract with the price remaning classified.
I’ll take a wild guess at buying the entire 138 and then about half of them either going immediately into mothballs or being sold-on at a knock-down price to whoever is flavour of the month (and is on the US list of people they want to prop-up but not be seen directly doing highly preferential deals with) in the Middle East at a knock-down price...
Unlikely as the 77 Harriers sold to the US now reside - in kit form, minus some pieces - at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona.
As Rear Admiral Mark Heinrich, chief of the US Navy’s procurement, said "We’re taking advantage of all the money the Brits have spent on them. It’s like we’re buying a car with maybe 15,000 miles on it. These are very good platforms. And we’ve already got trained pilots."
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From the Internet tubes: "Lockheed Martin's compact fusion reactor would be the size of shipping container, but capable of powering an aircraft carrier."
Supposed to be applicable to aircraft too. So I'd hold out for the F-35(F) version, powered by a tiny but powerful Lockheed Martin Compact Fusion Reactor. Should be here within months.
Already been done but for the love of <insert deity here> don't put a filter balun on the power output feedback line. That's the sort of mistake you only make once in a career - at the end.
The HTRE reactors worked well - but using a filter to clean up a power sensor signal feed tricked the reactor into thinking power was crashing in basically a reverse supercritical event when actually it was increasing - because the filter attenuation clipped the signal - the automatic systems pulled all the rods to "recover" the reactor and promptly cooked it beyond repair - although due to the excellent design - no serious radioactivity was released.
PS - never clean out your reactor vessel with Borax cleaner - all you'll have afterwards is a $15m pressure cooker. A US university found that one out the hard way. So did some contract cleaners! Although on the upside - the reactor had never been more sparkly.
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If the F-35 remains our only fifth gen fighter, we'll need them all, even if some are kept as spares ( i.e. not in active service).
Carrier fighters only have a short lifespan so the QE-class carriers will need a replacement air wing or two. The only likely replacements will be more F-35's or F-35 derivatives.
"Carrier fighters only have a short lifespan so the QE-class carriers will need a replacement air wing or two. The only likely replacements will be more F-35's or F-35 derivatives."
There are several jet fighters that can operate off a ski-jump carrier without catapults. One or two of them are built in Europe.
Most are less expensive and less fragile than F-35s, and all have lower operating costs.
Most have superior aerodynamic characteristics, and integrated Infrared Search and Track, which is not affected by radar 'stealth'.
Likely all of them have better availability and maintenance time per flight hour numbers.
They are probably all fairly functional without massive computer support overheads and limitations that plague the F-35.
The same amount of money probably buys and flys, over their lifetime, two to three times as many of the other aircraft.
The other aircraft have a wide range of working weapons already integrated in their control software, whereas the F-35 still hasn't got many of its planned weapons working, despite the 'for show' declaration of operational status.
Of course, such a choice would assume that the primary criteria are military, rather than political and corporate agendas.
"There are several jet fighters that can operate off a ski-jump carrier without catapults. One or two of them are built in Europe."
At least one of the potential candidates has open software, so you don't have to pay a third of a billion dollars for each update, or wait for the manufacturer and a foreign military to decide to add your chosen weapon to the menus.
"If the F-35 remains our only fifth gen fighter, we'll need them all, even if some are kept as spares ( i.e. not in active service)."
Fifth generation fighters (mostly a marketing term, really) are already obsolescent. If they'd gone operational 20 years ago, when the idea seemed useful, they would have had 20 or 30 years of useful service life.
Changes in radar technology, non-emission tracking, networked fighting platforms, infrared search and track, and high capability drones have pretty much made them obsolete, and they will be so much cannon fodder in another ten to fifteen years, when they are faced with distributed networks of combat drones.
These are the last days of manned fighters. The sixth generation fighter will be a drone controller that stays a couple of hundred kilometers back of the swarm, making executive decisions about strategy and tactics, while small, fast, inexpensive drones with maneuverability rivaling AA missiles (30 - 60 G) will do the actual fighting. No manned aircraft will survive within reach of the swarm, and any aircraft with partial stealth or a hot engine will be doomed... which perfectly describes the F-35.
It's the end of the battleship, all over again, and the old school human pilots - such as the ones running various air forces - had best understand that, or they will go the same way Repulse and Prince of Wales did, overwhelmed by a new combat paradigm.
"It's the end of the battleship, all over again"
And at the same time, the DF21D and DF24 are the end of the viability of the aircraft carrier.
You don't need (or even want) to destroy your opponent's carrier using a nuke or other chicanery. All you need to do is threaten to put a big hole in the flight desk in order to ensure they stay out of range.
We can't afford the carriers, and we can't afford the F-35s - if they ever work properly.... Best thing would probably be to get out the plasma cutters and chop off the ski-jumps on the QE and the PoW... At least we could then get other aircraft - perhaps F-18 Super Hornets - to land on them then - and other things too when on joint exercises. Otherwise, the carriers will make super gin 'n tonic dispensing venues as we sail the seven seas looking for post-Brexit trade deals.......
More to it than just cutting off the ramps I'm afraid. There's no catapults. There's room for them as designed but... no steam to power the catapults. So power plants would need replacement. Oh.... no arresting hooks on these carriers either so those would need to be added. All in all, it would be cheaper to probably scrap the new ones and build some with steam plants along with cats and traps. Seems that about 10 years is long time to have carriers without aircraft.
You might think that.
HMS Queen Elizabeth has a total electrical generation capability of 82.4MW, which provides power for moving the ship and all other electrical demands on board.
The Gerald R. Ford class which will have EMALS will have about 600MW of electrical generation, which is in addition to the steam for the turbines that move the ship (i.e. none of the electrical power is used to move the ship).
The Nimitz carriers have about 200MW of electrical generation, which is also in addition to the steam for steam turbines that moves the ships, and that is considered too little to consider fitting EMALS on the current carriers.
(All figures are from Wikipedia)
So, you still think that QE has enough spare power for an EMALS catapult?
"So, you still think that QE has enough spare power for an EMALS cataput?"
For sure. EMALS works by spinning up 4 rotor disk alternators, taking around 45 seconds to spin up to abot 6,500rpm. Each launch take about 1,500rpm out of each rotor so subsequent spin-up/recharge doesn't take as long.
A bigger concern should be the poor reliability to date, with launch failure rate of about 10%.
I am aware of the kinetic storage that is used. But you're still taking about diverting a significant amount of the available power into the catapult while you are recharging it, probably at the same time as you're trying to drive the ship forward, and maybe operating the weapon systems.
Also, the figure I quoted was the total of both gas turbine generators, and all four diesel generators. I'm not sure that you can gang all this power together, but I admit that I did get the sum wrong. The total is actually 118.8MW, not 82.4MW (I only counted one of the gas turbine generators).
What I was contrasting was the fact that HMS QE has less total power than the existing Yank carriers that are regarding as having too little electrical power to operate EMALS.
And, yes, I do understand that Nimitz and Ford class carriers have four catapults, whereas they were only considering fitting one on the QE class. But if you were intending to exclusively use non-STOL aircraft, would you really want to rely on a single aircraft launch system when aircraft are your primary defense?
Oh for sure I agree that there's only sufficient power to effectively operate 1 EMALS on a Queen Elizabeth, and relying exclusively on non-STOL would be risky, but the power is available. A very long way from being an effective combat solution, but the whole concept is flawed anyway. There's no angled flight deck for starters, which forces the air group down the route of operating either STOL on non-STOL anyway. A better approach would have been to include an angled flight deck and operate a mix of aircraft types. STOL unassisted using the ski-ramp over the bows, non-STOL including fixed wing AEW off the angled deck with EMALS. These vessels are obviously striving to be the greatest naval white elephants ever, from the keel up. Basically they're very large, modern, up-scaled Invincible class carriers (or through-deck cruisers as they were originally described). A variation of the CVA-01 design might have been better basis for the new Queen Elizabeth class, instead of the usual MoD bodge.
"So, you still think that QE has enough spare power for an EMALS catapult?"
Ummm.... big capacitors? Plus patience?
Switching to drones with better thrust to weight, plus a launch weight of 6 tonnes or so, armed?
All of the above?
Tricky... sometimes it's hard to fix a mistake after it's been made.
"Even if we could get things *off it* there's little chance of getting them back *on it*. Well... little chance of getting them back on it and then stop them from going off the other end..."
I'm sure a squadron of Sopwith Pups could quite easily take off and land on that flight deck, even fully loaded.
Not correct. The carriers were designed to have a magnetic catapult system similar to the system used on the new US carrier the Gerald R Ford. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_R._Ford-class_aircraft_carrier#Electromagnetic_Aircraft_Launch_System
By the time we might take up this option, the issues will have been resolved and the system will have become reliable. Some issues which have occured on the Ford class are not even applicable to QE (electricty generation capacity) as The QE uses a electric propulsion system therefore has power to spare to drive such a launch system.
... they'll keep the whole shambles grumbling along for as long as humanly possible without actually ending up with kit on the deck in the hope that something will turn up that will just make it all go away.
Project Taranis perhaps. Another money-making scheme waiting in the wings.
Yep. The people carriers may make a handy drone carrier. Assuming the RAF can get over the idea that those magnificent men will be flying machines from the comfort of the ship. Or some other convenient location.
Also curious what performance clauses there may be in our F-35 contract given the development's not been without a snag or three. Or perhaps there are ex-RAF types now at Lockheed to take care of that. On the bright side, any that end up ferried to Turkey for maintenance might get a chance to play against some new S-400s!
Thats providing they can keep them out of the sea, which appears to be an issue.
Also we built those two huge things with the option of running Type C, with Cats and Traps, which BAe made an exorbitantly expensive conversion. If we were going for steam, we'd need room for the generators (which isnt there) or if we awere going EMALS, we'd need plentiful electricty, which a reactor would be rally useful for but ....
Also the fact that anyone else running the type B is doing so from an Invincible class size ship (i.e. our old ski-jump enabled 20kt ships.) The whole F35 program was an abortion from the start, the BAe next gen harrier, origonally proposed for the FCBA, was a much better option and would have outclassed both the F35-B and the Rafale.
"But he didn’t believe the MoD would reduce its planned F-35 order, on the grounds that without the full order, Britain’s two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers would be left in a sticky situation".
Actually, if you think it through you will see that the carriers would be in a far less sticky situation without any aircraft.
They would then pose very little threat to anyone (unless used to ram, or beached as in the attack on Zeebrugge). Which would vastly reduce the chances of their being blown up by a hypersonic missile or a salvo of torpedoes from a silent diesel submarine.
that BAE was so greedy with the cats.
BAE got its pound of flesh already. Now, thanks to the RN not wanting to admit they bought helicopter carriers, i.e. hot dogs at Beluga caviar prices, Lockeed will too.
See it all works out and the taxpayers and military get fleeced once again. Drinks all around, lads.
Oh, and remind me again what high altitude and extensive loiter-capable fixed wing aircraft will do AWACS duty on these ships?
“Add that to the fact that significant money has been spent on two carriers, two very large carriers - there is a very strong commitment to having those carriers available or at least one of those carriers available at all times"
> "A whole carrier available, at all times - are you sure that's feasible for only £6.5 billion?"
"OK - maybe not a whole carrier, but at least half of one of those carriers...or a quarter...or a percentage of one of those carriers comprised between the said quarter and 0%, available at all times."
> "Ah, now that sounds more realistic!"
Does anyone believe that previous monies spent by any government for any military purpose have any bearing on any future spending? Politcos have lone enjoyed the warm glow of announcing (repeatedly sometimes) 'intent' to spend beeelllions on the current popular cause/issue/thing that must be done.
UK defence policy for the last half century has been to largely ignore professional advice and cross fingers.
its been longer than that, 1920s is when it started ... the Washington Naval Treaty and the repeal of the Naval Defence Act that lead to the breakup of the Empire and the current sad state of affairs, as no-one worked out we couldnt maintain 3 fleets with that number/tonnage of ships.
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