back to article Blighty's super-duper F-35B fighter jets are due to arrive in a few weeks

Britain's first permanently based F-35B fighter jets are due to arrive in our green and pleasant land in June. The news nugget was delivered by defence secretary Gavin Williamson, who informed world+dog that the supersonic stealth jets will arrive at RAF Marham in Norfolk in a few weeks. The announcement was timed for the …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    If they're so stealthy perhaps we could claim we have a couple of full squadrons already operational but nobody can actually see them.

    There was supposed to have been a fly-over of the Derwent dams in commemoration of the anniversary but it didn't happen because of unfavourable wind conditions. However I think they must have had the Tornado flypast; one appeared close to us yesterday afternoon.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Yeah but they told everyone it wasn't going to happen so people started going home, only to see it belt past as they were leaving.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Crowds annoyed at RAF Derwent Dambusters flypast mix-up

    2. Alister

      PA474 flew over Ladybower today instead, I don't know if there was anybody there to watch.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "PA474 flew over Ladybower today instead, I don't know if there was anybody there to watch."

        They flew one of the two surviving members of the original op. over, sitting in his usual seat. The bomb-aimer's seat. They reckoned that even if there was nobody there to watch they owed it to him.

  2. fandom

    "It was ingenious but miles from being high-tech"

    And it was perfect for the job, the standard all tech should be measured againts.

    1. PerlyKing
      Thumb Up

      Wooden bombsights

      There was yet another documentary about the dams raid on BBC4 last night, part of which involved trying replica bombsights on the Derwent dam. The wooden one was found to be extremely hard to use due to instability, although the light twin they were using probably bounced around more than a Lancaster. But apparently some bombardiers just used a piece of string fixed to two points in the nose: pull the middle out to get your eye in the right place, and it's much more stable than handholding a piece of wood.

      They also demonstrated some of the low flying (with special permission from the CAA and their Dutch equivalent). It looked exciting in daylight; manhandling a fully loaded Lancaster in the dark must have been something else.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "It was ingenious but miles from being high-tech"

      "It was ingenious but miles from being high-tech"

      High-tech is relative. I actually took a "management of technology" course as part of my MBA. The first day, the instructor wrote on the whiteboard "Name a technology you see here." We went through about four minutes of discussion before he pointed out the answer he wanted was "a whiteboard"

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: "It was ingenious but miles from being high-tech"

        he pointed out the answer he wanted was "a whiteboard"

        Many years ago, in a city far, far away (OK, Leicester) a roomful of wannabe IT specialists (HND in IT) were horrified when their first lecture in Systems Analysis started with the words "Sometimes, a computer is not the best option"..

        There were only really two good lecturers on that course - the said Systems Analysis tutor and the Telecoms Tutor.

        And it's no coincidence that both of them had extensive industrial experience. Most of the rest of the tutors were PhD students (or people that had just got their PhD) and who were deeply uninterested in teaching a lowly HND class. I suspect that the only reason that most of them were there was because it got them easy access to all the female Art students..

        (Our Art campus had the highest VD rate of any Polytechnic campus apparently.. we technical students were stuck in the middle of the city while the arts students got to be in the nicer bits of the outskirts)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "It was ingenious but miles from being high-tech"

      "And it was perfect for the job, the standard all tech should be measured againts."

      Indeed. You only have to look at most engineered systems these days to see maybe not engineering, but certainly software overkill, whether its from trains that won't open their doors because they can't get a GPS signal (why does a train need GPS, they know where the track goes and the stations don't move!) to cars whose brakes can be hacked via their wifi enabled entertainment systems to (an example from my office) lifts that stop working the minute the computer detects the slightest minor non safety related issue.

      Unfortunately designers forget that because software is easy to add to a system it doesn't mean that adding ever more and more is always good idea. IIRC the computers controlling the space shuttle had something like 16K of memory. The software for the cockpit heater in the F35 probably uses up more memory space than that.

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: "It was ingenious but miles from being high-tech"

      I'm completely disagree that the bouncing bomb wasn't high tech. Didn't particularly like the snearing tone anyway, given that the Lancaster was high tech, or at least had high tech bits. Such as all the nice navigation/direction finding stuff that us and the Germans competed over during the bombing campaigns of the war. For example the Luftwaffe had radio "beams" to guide their night bombers, which we then managed to bend to screw up their navigation, which they then countered etc. The RAF did similar things in the campaign over Germany, I think ending up with a navigation device that used radar to match known terrain to keep them on the right flightpath.

      But back to the bouncing bomb. Surely a novel idea, that requires serious scientific testing including model work and high speed cameras counts as high tech?

  3. lee harvey osmond

    "Starved of hydro-electric power


    It was about crippling the steelmaking industry.

    Without water they couldn't make steel, without steel there would be no weapons, and without weapons there would be no war.

    "Thousands of German personnel were promptly redeployed to sit around the dams manning flak guns"

    more importantly, 20000 man years of construction effort got committed to rebuilding the dams, which might otherwise have been spent building Atlantic Wall defences, which might explain why on and after D-Day Allied troops overran locations they expected bunkers but found only surveyors pegs.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: "Starved of hydro-electric power

      There was a very good programme on the BBC World Service about this last night.

      The raid was intended to impact industry geared towards manufacture of war materiel, but it was also intended to damage numerous power stations. As noted by other commentards, the knock-on effect of diverting German military manpower was highly significant.

      The good bits:

      - It generally achieved these goals

      - A big propaganda win for the British

      The bad bits

      - The impact on power supply wasn't particularly major. In some cases power supply was restored in around 48 hours, in other cases a couple of weeks or so.

      - Loss of life for crews involved in the rate was staggeringly high in the context of the number of planes involved in the raid.

      - German industry used a lot of slave labour, and many hundreds of Ukrainians were killed as well.

      - Significant number (small number of thousands) German civilians were killed as well...although in a few weeks' time the allies would be firebombing German cities, leading to civilian death toll an order of magnitude greater than that off the dams raid.

      The programme also talked a bit about the incredible flying skill of the RAF pilots involved in the raid...taking huge Lancasters (no terrain-following radar or any of the other mod cons) at pretty much zero altitude across Europe and back.

      1. Steve 114

        Re: "Starved of hydro-electric power

        Really does sound like a 'BBC' programme.

    2. macjules

      Re: "Starved of hydro-electric power



      Conventional bombs were unable to reliably stay in contact with the wall before exploding.

      No - the reason for the bouncing bomb was because the Germans has submersed torpedo nets in the reservoirs. Otherwise they could have sent Fairey Barracudas armed with torpedos, with considerably less loss of life than poor 617 squadron.

      Also, can you please stop referring to the bomb as almost exclusively invented by Sir Barnes Wallis. Sir William Glanville, Dr. G. Charlesworth, Dr. A.R. Collins and others of the Road Research Laboratory were equally involved in its development; Dr Collins more than most: he was the one who tested the bomb's ability to destroy a dam when he exploded it with a reduced charge, and completely destroyed, a dam in Wales. A fact omitted in The Dambusters movie which shows Wallis supervising the test.

      1. ChrisC Silver badge

        Re: "Starved of hydro-electric power

        "and others of the Road Research Laboratory were equally involved in its development"

        Indeed, the RRL were heavily involved in much of the fundamental concept of how effective a bomb would be against a structure if detonated in water next to/up against said structure. One of my former employers was based on the BRE site in Watford, and my jaw quite literally dropped the day I discovered the Moehne dam model nestling in the wooded area next to our building... the footpath running along side it became a regular part of my lunchtime walking route from then on!

        I guess the reason Barnes Wallis gets so much of the attention is that, ultimately, he was the person in the right place at the right time to have that initial spark of an idea, combined with the ability (and the assistance of a sizeable team of other equally talented people) to see it through to a finished product. So whilst he wasn't solely responsible for *developing* the bomb, it's not entirely unreasonable to refer to it as having been his *invention*.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Starved of hydro-electric power

          Your Moehne model mentioned here;

          1. Ima Ballsy
            Thumb Up

            Re: "Starved of hydro-electric power


    3. wmpattison

      Re: "Starved of hydro-electric power

      Not to mention all, the concrete, which slowed up Rommel as he built his Atlantic Wall.

    4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: "Starved of hydro-electric power

      20000 man years of construction effort got committed to rebuilding the dams

      Most of which was slave labour - people taken from France, Poland and the various conquered bits of the Soviet Union and then worked to death.

      Not a nice time or place.

  4. GruntyMcPugh

    Glad you researched, but be careful of the source,....

    .... I got the Wikipedia entry for RAF Scampton changed some time ago, someone had made a couple of spurious claims about the Lancaster Gate Guardian, and the bomb, at the entrance, not only claiming it was a live bomb, but had it detonated it would have demolised Lincoln Cathedral.

    First the claim it was a live bomb was based on a claim it was 'heavier than expected', but training rounds were the same weight, so they follow the same path when they were dropped.

    Second, that the bomb would knock down a building five miles away. Er, why go to the lengths of precision bombing dams if we had a bomb that powerful?

    (I use to live on the base in the mid 70s)

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Glad you researched, but be careful of the source,....

      I did the guided tour* of Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at Conningsby a few years ago. I'm sure the guide there related a story about a "dummy" bomb that had been lying around an RAF base for years (it might even have been Conningsby) which was eventually identified as real when someone tried to move it. That wasn't a dams bomb though - it was either a Tall Boy or Grand Slam - both also Barnes Wallis creations and very powerful, but also not likely to demolish a building miles away.

      * Very good, and highly recommended.

      1. GruntyMcPugh

        Re: Glad you researched, but be careful of the source,....

        @Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese

        It was allegedly the 'Grand Slam' at Scampton, although I wouldn't be surprised if this story was circualting on a different air base, as these memes are often recited as being handed down by someone close to the source, so if you were at Conningsby, the story would be linked to there.

        The line from the Scampton WIki still reads: "the Grand Slam bomb had to be moved. Efforts to lift it with a small crane proved futile, as it was much heavier than expected. Upon closer examination, it was found to be still filled with live explosives. It was carefully removed on an RAF low loader and detonated on a test range."

        Seems that has crept back into the article, like I said, training rounds would be the same weight, and the gate guardian, being at the front of the base, was right where the playground of the Infants school was in my day, so I really, really doubt it was live ordnance. I'm guessing it was detonated just to be on the safe side.

        On demolishing Lincoln Cathedral, it's five miles from Scampton to Lincoln, a megaton range nuke would do it, but not a single conventional bomb.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Glad you researched, but be careful of the source,....

      had it detonated it would have demolised Lincoln Cathedral.

      Second, that the bomb would knock down a building five miles away. Er, why go to the lengths of precision bombing dams if we had a bomb that powerful?

      Perhaps they meant it would destroy Lincoln Cathedral if detonated within said cathedral?

      Because yes, destroying buildings five miles away means you're chucking tactical nukes around.

      1. eldakka

        Re: Glad you researched, but be careful of the source,....

        > Because yes, destroying buildings five miles away means you're chucking tactical strategic nukes around.

        Tactical nukes are small nukes designed to be used on the battlefield to take out concentrations of enemy troops - rallying areas - or to initiate breakthroughs or to stop an attack, or as demolition-type charges to take out hardened battlefield targets. Therefore they have to be small enough to be used in proximity (i.e. tens of miles to a few miles depending on the size) of friendly troops.

        Tactical nukes are usually single or double-digit kiloton yields.

        Destroying something within a 5 mile blast radius is firmly in the strategic arena.

  5. sitta_europea Silver badge

    Perfect for the job?

    If it had been perfect for the job they'd have been able reliably to find and hit their targets and we probably wouldn't have lost more than 200 of them in the last full month of the war in Europe.

    Some of that makes an order for 135 aircraft over twenty years look a bit silly, especially when you factor in the number that won't be serviceable at any particular time because the bean-counters have decided to run down the stocks of spares to save a few bob and the RAF's latest modification broke something that nobody thought of.

    Oh, the Tornado at Lady Bower was a Typhoon.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Perfect for the job?

      On a kind of related note about cutting corners affecting availability. Earlier this month, the Luftwaffe admitted of the 128 Eurofighters in service, the total number that were combat-ready was - 4; it is meant to be more than 80.–-spiegel.html

      The German navy's latest surface ships have been returned to the builder as they are currently not fit for service and Germany currently has no working submarines - it looks like the MoD has found a worthy rival.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Perfect for the job?

        Earlier this month, the Luftwaffe admitted of the 128 Eurofighters in service, the total number that were combat-ready was - 4;

        This is always the case in peacetime. Absent any immediate threat to the home country, the government bean counters cut the budgets for maintenance, consumables, parts and personnel. As with all very complex machinery, there's a steady state of breakdowns, and the unserviceable list grows and grows.

        My father was squadron engineer with 29 Sqn flying Gloster Javelins in the 1960s, and recalls a similar audit of a summer Sunday and similar findings, even in those Cold War days. IIRC (and if he recalls correctly) this inspection found only seven fighter aircraft were ready to go, out of around 150-200, depending on whether you included the OCUs. I'd guess that the seven were the QRA ships, with everything else sitting around missing parts, people, or awaiting inspection and service. The availability of crew was about the same as the aircraft, since the poor serviceability meant that everybody had drifted towards an "office hours" air force. Apparently there was one hell of a stink when the top brass found out.

      2. eldakka

        Re: Perfect for the job?

        > The German navy's latest surface ships have been returned to the builder as they are currently not fit for service and Germany currently has no working submarines - it looks like the MoD has found a worthy rival.

        No, I think this does actually mark the Germans as superior to the MoD.

        At least the Germans had the strength of character to turn down an unfit-for-purpose warship and send it back to its builders until they make it fit for purpose.

        The MoD would have accepted it, commissioned it, and put it on active deployment, all while touting how good it was.

        1. briesmith

          Re: Perfect for the job?

          No, they would have agreed to pay a figure - probably twice the original construction cost - to fix it. Apparently this is what happened when we found out we didn't have a warm water capable destroyer.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Perfect for the job?

          I hear the MOD did accept, commission and deploy a fleet of frigates that were not fit for purpose.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Perfect for the job?

        Imagine the Battle of Jutland being fought today would look like two men in rowing boats throwing rocks at each other.

    2. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Perfect for the job?

      "Perfect for the job?"

      I think too many people confuse perfection with adequacy. The Americans had the B17 in Europe, which carried under a third of the bomb load when going to Berlin, and had such a horrific casualty rate that it's quite possible that the americans landed more tonnage of shot down B17's on the targets than bombs. The Lanc was probably about as good as it was possible to get at the time.

      Possibly excluding the mosquito, but if the RAF had of based it's bombing force around doing low altitude strikes with the famous Timber Terror then you'd probably end up with the Germans building lots of rapid fire low level AAA guns to counter those, and people would now be going on about how much safer bombing from high heights was instead of the reverse.

      And yes, we have nowhere near the number of fighters, tanks or even rifles required for a serious war. Hopefully we won't need them, especially since the production times of most modern equipment so long that it's certain that we won't actually be able to build many in WW1/WW2 timescales. A far sighted person would come to the conclusion that we'd be better off buying up a lot of long lead items and sticking them in a shed "just in case" and run a smaller military to afford to do this, but that would require planning which is sadly absent these days.

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: Perfect for the job?

        "since the production times of most modern equipment so long that it's certain that we won't actually be able to build many"

        I'm reassured by this, maybe we've made war so complex that it's become impossible.

      2. GrumpyKiwi

        Re: Perfect for the job?

        That's what's known as a load of cobblers.

        The B17 was a very strong aircraft - which was one of the primary reasons why it carried a smaller payload than the Lancaster. In exchange for which it had lower combat losses than the Lancaster. The US lost around 3100 B17s in operations over NW Europe from 12,000 made. The RAF lost almost 4200 Lancaster's from 7400 made (albeit only about half of each set were 'combat' losses).

        As for the Mosquito, there is a myth around that "if only we'd built more of them and fewer Lancasters/Halifaxs/etc." that the RAF's bombing war would have been better/faster/more effective. It flounders on the fact that pretty much everyone in the UK with the necessary skills to make Mosquitos were already doing so. There was no spare capacity to make more of them even if fewer Halifax's were made or what-have-you.

      3. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: Perfect for the job?


        My father flew in Mosquito bombers towards the end of the War. They could, and did, bomb from high altitudes; the aircraft was very fast and generally could avoid fighters without having to “hedge hop”. Relative performances were roughly Lancaster: Bomb load ~6-7 tons (modified 10 tons for Grand Slam weapon), typical operational height 12,000-20,000 ft with a maximum loaded height of a bit higher, cruise speed ~200 mph, maximum speed 280-310 mph with a crew of 7; B17 Flying Fortress: Bomb load ~2 tons (~3.5 tons short range), operational height typically ~25,000 ft, service ceiling ~35,000 ft, cruise speed ~180 mph, maximum speed~290mph, crew of 10; Mosquito: Bomb load up to 1.8 tons, service ceiling: 37,000 ft, Cruising speed >280mph, maximum speed at altitude 380-415 mph, with a crew of 2.

        Before the Mosquito he flew in American derived Medium/Attack bombers like the Martin Baltimore: Bomb load <1 ton, 305 mph at 11,600 ft, cruise speed: 224 mph with a crew of 4; and the Douglas Boston: Bomb load 1.8 tons, cruise speed: 256 mph, maximum speed 317 mph at 10,700 ft, service ceiling: 23,700 ft, with a crew of 3.

        All of these aircraft could perform low level raids, but it was obviously much less common with the bigger bombers. The heavy bomber/Mosquito comparison has been based on the higher speed and relative simplicity of the Mosquito allowing the aircraft to perform a mission into Germany, return and be refuelled/rearmed and then carry out another missions and return in about the same time as the (4-engined) Lancaster. If the aircraft was shot down the loss was 2 crew instead of 7, and a much less expensive 2-engined aeroplane.

    3. Citizen99

      Re: Perfect for the job?

      " Perfect for the job?

      If it had been perfect for the job they'd have been able reliably to find and hit their targets and we probably wouldn't have lost more than 200 of them in the last full month of the war in Europe."

      Eh ?

      The 'Perfect for the job' item under discussion was the special improvised bomb-sight for the dams raid.

      Nothing to do with finding other targets.

  6. joeldillon

    Not 'all-American', actually, the flight control software for example comes from BAE. F-35s, whether the ones used by the US or those we're using ourselves, are about 15% British -

    1. jason 7

      Aren't BAE basically 99.9999% US run?

      Probably also explains the huge delays if BAE are involved.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      F-35s, whether the ones used by the US or those we're using ourselves, are about 15% British -

      That's a deliberate fiction for the simple minded. Look at the detail of what's is "allegedly" British made, and you'll be lucky to see anything that could possibly represent 15% of the total value. All the money is in the engines, the airframe, wings and flight control, weapons and sensors and communication systems.

      Now look at the names of who's making it, and you'll see that "British" content is anything where the parent group has some British connection. In some cases that does mean UK made - although not much of any value - but the bulk of the "British" value appears to be made by US subsidiaries of British holding companies. So the UK will see at best the net after tax corporate margin, which will be around 5-10% of the cost, so 5-10% of the 15%, . I'd guess the British value share of F35 is around 3% tops, and probably less.

      And (yet again) finally, who on earth is dim enough to believe that the US would allow any significant value share or technology share of the F35 to be built by foreigners? This is the most advanced aircraft they've ever built. And therefore, no matter how crap, expensive and pointless the machine is, it is the current symbol of American military and technical supremacy. There's no way they'd be letting Johnny Britisher be having a handle on 15% of that.

      And for anybody who believes that, the F35 web site says that Italian companies with orders of about $0.7bn will get 3-4% of the production value, Israel has similar value of contracts declared, so that's another 3-4%, Denmark can claim around 1%, Australia around 2%, Canada the same. If you look through the numbers and claims, then the easily convinced would find that around 30% of the total production programme value was international. And that's simply not believable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Isn't the lift fan in the F-35B version made by Rolls-Royce? Not that it is likely to account for a huge part of the overall cost, of course.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Isn't the lift fan in the F-35B version made by Rolls-Royce?

          There's a list in the article joeldillon links to above, and there's several bits that aren't cheap, and won't be low tech, including fans, ducts and nozzles, and the ejector seat.

          But as a proportion of total value they'll be minimal, and you can smell that they're desperate to talk it up when the list of British content includes such high value items as "Stick and throttle for Trainers", and "Throttle quadrant", "Helmet shell", "Weapons bay door drive" Not to mention that they list famous British companies like GE Aerospace, UTC Aerospace, and Honeywell Aerospace - there will be some British link, but not much.

      2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Some of that's a legal fiction. So BAE became an American company to satisfy US procurement rules, ie making sure DoD pork went to the right Congresscritter's district. Then once contracts or work packages are won, the rest is satisfying national security requirements, especially anything NOFORN that the US doesn't want to share. Otherwise with a bit of vetting and airgapping, work can get done by suitable non-US nationals outside the US. But then there's the political aspect, ie making claims around national workshares and their value. Which are probably complicated further by accountants for tax reasons. Which may upset politicians because due to the F-35's costs, there's bound to be scope for very large and tax efficient write-offs.

        Meanwhile, the Dambusters get a new bomber that can carry less than the Lancaster.. Especially as the F-35's payload seems to shrink every time a snag's found, and more weight's needed to fix it. And for modern combat against enemies that don't have aircraft or much in the way of air defences, a Lancaster would be a cheaper and more effective bomb truck today.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    F35B is not an all-American design either.

    While F35A and C are indeed predominantly-American, the F35B is derived from both American work and Lockheed licensing Yak-142. So actually there is Russian tech in it and Russian patents (probably expired by now though).

    Though let's face it, even mentioning it would probably cause our best beloved Ex-Fireplace Salesman to choke on his own bile.

    It is also the complete and utter opposite of the Lanc. The Lanc was relatively cheap for a strategic bomber of that age, easy to manufacture and possible to build in quantity. I do not think any of that applies to F35B. In fact - just the opposite.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: F35B is not an all-American design either.

      Not Yak-142, 141.

      Need more coffee... It is a Yak anyway.

      1. SkippyBing

        Re: F35B is not an all-American design either.

        The Yak line is a bit of a red herring. At the time of the original competition the world leaders in STOVL design were in a team with McDonnell Douglas and Northrop Grumman, leveraging their experience with the Harrier and the P.1214 and P.1216 design concepts. These featured a tail exhaust much like the F-35/Yak-141 i.e. two bearings to allow it to rotate through ~90 degrees. Lockheed Martin were essentially flirting with Yak to try and get access to BAe System's knowledge base. Once BAe's original team lost they re-partnered with LM as part of the whole UK work-share agreement.

        A lot of the control system tech for the F-35B was demoed in the VAAC Harrier proving the concepts that had originally been developed on the P.1216 design study. This has also made its way on to the F-35C to make it easier to land on the carrier, the so called Magic Carpet mode.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    paying over the odds for early-stage machines.

    but I thought this is the age of customer-tested beta releases?! ;)

    anyway, to stop paying the odds for early-stage machines we'd need to wait, I dunno, another 5 - 10 years...

    1. tfewster

      Re: paying over the odds for early-stage machines.

      If I'm beta-testing something, I expect a big discount and a free upgrade to the finished product as compensation for my time and help

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: paying over the odds for early-stage machines.

        "If I'm beta-testing something, I expect a big discount and a free upgrade to the finished product as compensation for my time and help"

        I think your expectations are out of date. Whatever you buy you're probably a beta-tester with added data-slurpage.

  9. detritus

    Anyone from Reg or any beknowledged commentards have anything to add to this story, which is doing the rounds..?

    "The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has so far bought 48 aircraft at a cost of £9.1 billion but is now reconsidering its pledge to buy a further 90 F-35s.

    Instead, the Telegraph understands it is looking at purchasing Eurofighter jets, made by a European consortium that includes the UK. The European manufactured jets are currently, on best estimates, about half the price of an F-35"


    I don't think Blighty needs a lot of over-specced stealth-ish craft and as much as the Typhoon might too be a bit overwrought (given the flavour of 'adversaries' we put these things up against these days), this would be a bit of a welcome break. I'd've assumed though that we were contractually obliged to buy at least a significant share of the 138 F-35s we've promised to? Obviously we need enough to make our bloody catapult-free carriers 'useful'... .

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Instead, the Telegraph understands it is looking at purchasing Eurofighter jets, made by a European consortium that includes the UK. The European manufactured jets are currently, on best estimates, about half the price of an F-35"

      Much as I loathe the misbegotten F35, replacing it with Typhoons doesn't help much. What the RAF needs is a strike platform for launching bombs and missiles. The Typhoon has its origins in a Cold War requirement for a fast interceptor, intended to get airborne fast and deny the sky to Russian bombers. Like the original English Electric Lightning. As such it wasn't designed to launch large, heavy, high drag items like the serious end of air to surface or air to sea missiles, and it didn't have the control systems for those weapons or missions, it isn't a large weapons platform for stand off work, nor a strong low level mud-plugger (like the Harrier or Buccaneer).. And Typhoon is a single seater design, when F35 aside the majority of modern strike aircraft accept that the strike mission requires both a pilot and a weapons specialist aka navigator. If you want a jack of all trades or a fighter you'll cope with a crew of one, but it isn't something that seems optimal given the complexity of modern weapons and sensors.

      Although MoD have sellotaped bombs to Typhoons for somewhile now, taking that and using more sellotape doesn't make the aircraft any good in that role. If MoD cancel F35, they'll have to deal with the fallout of a petulant US, possibly pay exit penalties, and they'll find that the costs of making the Typhoon into a strike aircraft turn out much higher than expected. And it still won't be a match for the larger, strike-purposed aircraft that they should have started development of around 2005 to replace Tornado GR4.

      MoD and successive governments have lost no opportunity to ensure failure in defence procurement at every level - in long term requirements, in forward planning, in specification, in pricing, in contracting. The RN have been left with no option other than F35, the RAF have apparently a Hobsons choice between a handful of high tech, high cost, inflexible assets, or (in due course) a handful of mid-tech, high cost, unsuitable assets. Both services will end up with fewer, more expensive, sub-optimal equipment, and even today, MoD have learned nothing, and don't have a clue what they should have in development now for deployment in 2030.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "even today, MoD have learned nothing, and don't have a clue what they should have in development now for deployment in 2030."

        What they'll probably end up with is a catapult. No, not those. A Y-shaped piece of wood, an elastic band and a pile of stones.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Replacement proposal

        I propose the "Kamikaze drone" guided by AI which will be cheap enough to deliver in quantity. It's sole purpose being to crash into opposing aircraft and missiles.

    2. Baldrickk

      re: anything to add

      The Typhoon is (primarily) a fighter with bombing capability

      The F-35 is a fighter bomber.

      They are designed to fulfil different roles, in the same way that the F-15 and F16 followed the same pattern and so both were in service alongside each other.

      It may have something to do with changing ideas about what the priority will be for the Air-Force in the future.

      Then again it could be a cost thing, something to do with trying to keep European relationships tight post-brexit, putting some distance between ourselves and the US following recent Foreign policy decisions that are not in our interest (the nuclear deals being dropped, the whole embassy thing in Jerusalem etc) or something else entirely.

      Most likely all of these things are factors into decisions like this.

      1. detritus

        Re: re: anything to add

        Thanks Baldrickk and Ledswinger for your responses.

        I'm thinking perhaps I'd forgotten over the years what the intended specified role for the Eurofighter was, having read of it trialling Brimstone lobbing, etc, so perhaps had gotten used to the idea it could be a shoe-in for non-naval roles that the F-35 is laterally intended for.

        Oh, to have a stealthified, modern tech update of the Buccaneer... *swoon*

        1. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

          Re: re: anything to add

          Not again...

          As I and others have pointed out on more than one occasion, the UK intended the Eurofighter (Typhoon) to be a replacement for the RAFs Jaguars (amongst others).

          The Jaguar is a ground attack aircraft.

          Typhoon was designed to replace a ground attack aircraft.

          Typhoon was designed to be a ground attack aircraft.

          The actual implementation of that capability was delayed because it wasn't a priority, and the Cold War ended (apparently), and defence budgets amongst the partner nations were slashed, leaving not a great deal of funds for defence spending relative to what the people in charge wanted to spend money on.

          However, Typhoon is and always has been capable of fulfilling the ground attack role.

          1. CliveS

            Re: re: anything to add

            The Typhoon's origins go back to AST 403 in 1972, which was an Air Staff requirement for an air superiority fighter. This was a revision of AST 396 which was for a STOVL replacement for the Harrier and Jaguar, a requirement that 46 years later is being fulfilled by the F-35. AST 396 was superceded by AST 409 which gave us the Harrier GR5. The AST 403 requirement had the P.96 proposed fighter, then the Anglo-German TKF-90 fighter concept. This became the ECF (European Combat Fighter), then the ECA (European Combat Aircraft) for which Dassault, BAe and MBB all put forward various designs. Then the French took their bat and ball home, Aeritalia joined MBB and BAe to push forward with a concept for the ACA (Agile Combat Aircraft) which lead to the EAP (Experimental Aircraft Programme). Spain got interested and the French wandered back, the year was 1983 and they all sat around a table singing kumbaya and discussing the Future European Fighter Aircraft. Prior to this BAe had been working on the P.110 as another approach. The French take their toys home again and in 1986 Eurofighter Gmbh is established. In 2002 the name "Typhoon" is adopted, initially only for export.

            tldr; Typhoon was always intended to be a multi-role aircraft covering the interception, air superiority and ground attack roles. The ground attack upgrades (initially P1E and P1Eb) were required before the Jaguar replacement role could begin to be fulfilled. I think this is where the misconception that the Typhoon was originally to be a fighter only comes from; the project being called the Eurofighter and the ground attack functionality coming as an upgrade. The original Tranche 1 Block 2 aircraft were air-to-air only, but the T1 Block 5 introduced the air-to-ground functionality. The RAF operates F2s (fighters) and FGR4 (fighter/ground attack/recon).

            A navalised Typhoon was pitched to the Indians, using unassisted ski-jump and arrestor gear for STOBAR, but I think this added too much weight to the aircraft. Might still be an option for the Queen Elizabeth, though whether or not it would be any cheaper given BAe's meddling is another matter. Then there's talk that a naval Grippen could do the job.

            The biggest concern still has to be the reliance on the Merlin/Crowsnest combo for AEW. The E-2 Hawkeye has been tested in STOBAR mode off lower angle ski-jumps, so perhaps a better solution would be to replace the 15degree ski-jump with something lower.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: re: anything to add

              Surely the Osprey is the answer to the AEW question? I admit the cost will hurt a bit, but it's a damned site easier than re-designing the carrier.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: re: anything to add

        Most likely all of these things are factors into decisions like this.

        It would be nice to think that, but given how we got here, I can't see that the powers that be have woken up and started to make sensible, fact based decisions taking account of all the circumstances. So I doubt that any proper consideration is given to those at all.

        The Typhoon-as-F35-alternative idea is being publicly flagged to see what the reaction it gets from Europe and the US, and is driven purely by the vast gap between the MoD's procurement plans and their actual budget. Williamson has been embarrassed by the recent Public Accounts Committee mauling, and has sent the bungling civil servants away with a demand to find £20bn down the back of the Whitehall sofas.

        If the cost difference is around £80m per aircraft which currently seems feasible, then buying 90 Typhoons instead of 90 F35's is a single decision that finds £7.2bn of those cost savings, and giving the higher maintenance costs of F35, that might round up to about £10bn over the programme life, so halving the gap. I suspect that the decision is also tied into what Germany might do, not for any political reasons whatsoever, but because they need to replace their Tornados as well, and if both the UK and Germany do it, there's double the production run, and the opportunity to share any enhancement costs.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Gavin Williamsons Weapon

          "Bring the money or Cronus will meet you."

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge


      The idea won't fly. If you'll pardon the pun.

      The whole idea of having a bunch of F35s with STOVL was that we could have a joint force between the RAF and Navy. That way we could use both our carriers in an emergency (with a common pool of aircraft), while most of the time the RAF were using those aircraft. That simply can't be done with Cats-n-traps carriers, because you'd kill half your pilots. Or waste half their training time keeping them current on carrier ops, which they'd almost never do.

      I believe that the standard carrier air group is going to be 24 planes / two squadrons, ish. But the full wartime complement could be 48. That's a requirement for 90 planes, if you ever fully load out both carriers (assuming one isn't in long-term maintenance when the balloon goes up). Bearing in mind you need trainers, spare aircraft for maintenance and some will fall off the side of the carrier (or otherwise crash), there's no way that 48 F35s is enough to maintain even one carrier air group. Even if we re-designate that as 24 planes in wartime it'd be tight. Certainly once a few years have passed.

      Maybe we could cut the order down to 100ish? Which gives one and a half air groups and change - and saves some cash. But then that doesn't leave many of the things for the RAF to use when they're not on carrier duty.

      As someone else said, the MOD have had an equipment order book that's been massively bigger than their kit-buying budget since early last decade. That was one of the reasons the coalition scrapped Harrier and the carriers early, because it's been clear since before Blair quit that we needed to either up the defence budget by 10%, or admit we can't afford some of the kit we've planned to order.

      Which leads to things like ordering 12 Type 45s, the reducing that order to 6, which has less hulls in the fleet but also means that the development costs get shared over fewer purchases, so you don't even save that much money. Plus having fewer units, you have to work them harder, so the crew start quitting because they never get to see their families.

      Sadly for enhancing the Typhoon, Germany need to replace Tornado as well. But they've just admitted that their defence budget will be going down again by 2020, and they won't meet the 2% of GDP by 2024 deadline that they agreed to a couple of years ago (as well as in about 2002 but didn't), and can't achieve 2% of GDP by 2030 - which basically means won't. So they probably won't help with the development costs.

      So my bet is they'll just quietly cut 20 off their F35 order. There was talk last year of buying some F35As, as they're cheaper just for the RAF. But that also fails, as the who point was to save money by having a joint pool of aircraft, as we'll probably only want a full complement on the carriers once or twice a decade.

  10. Hairy Spod
    Paris Hilton

    why didnt they..

    I know there will be good reason for it, but why didnt they just hit the dam from the dry side of the wall with a conventional bombs.

    If dropped from a similarly low altitude wouldnt momentum have enusured they slammed into the wall?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: why didnt they..

      I don't know for sure, but one possible reason might be the tamping effect of the water directing more of the explosive force against the dam wall.

      (In a previous career I used to sometimes blow things up for Her Majesty - indirectly via chains of command and whatnot - and the effect of tamping was quite spectacular the first time it was demonstrated).

    2. Ochib

      Re: why didnt they..

      Because you would have needed a 22,000 lb,bomb rather than a 9,250 pound bomb as water has a much higher density than air, which makes water harder to move (higher inertia). It is also relatively hard to compress (increase density) when under pressure. These two together make water an excellent conductor of shock waves from an explosion.

    3. CliveS

      Re: why didnt they..

      Dropping against the dry side results in most of the blast being wasted as it is directed away from the dam. By attacking the wet side and placing the bomb against the dam takes advantage of the bubble pulse from underwater detonations. As a consequence a smaller bomb can be used. Backspin was applied to Upkeep to improve both stability and bounce, and to help the bomb stick to the dam wall as it sank.

      Attacking the dry side would have required a massive bomb similar to a Grand Slam, but that required dropping from height and would have required more accuracy than was possible at the time. Additionally while Tallboy was available in 1944 and Grand Slam in 1945, neither was around in 1943 when Chastise took place.

    4. ChrisC Silver badge

      Re: why didnt they..

      IIRC from the Paul Brickhill book where the reasons for designing the bomb the way it was were covered in some detail, much of the destructive capability of the Upkeep bomb was due to it exploding whilst in direct contact against the dam wall and also surrounded by water - this caused most of the energy from the explosion to be directed towards the dam, rather than spreading out in all directions, allowing it to be considerably smaller and lighter than would have needed to be the case if you wanted to achieve the same results by dropping a bomb onto the landside of the dam wall.

      1. SkippyBing

        Re: why didnt they..

        Just to add the alternative idea was torpedoes, however rather unsportingly the Germans had put netting in place to stop that very thing.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: why didnt they..

          Why not torpedoes with scissors?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: why didnt they..

      I worked where some of the early R&D of the bouncing-bomb's development was carried out (Highball and Upkeep). One reason for using an underwater bomb (technically it was classified as a mine) is the hydrostatic effect as noted, but another important reason is the Torpex explosive filling, developed initially for torpedoes, which is roughly 1.5 times more powerful than TNT. Torpex was made from a mixture of RDX, TNT and Aluminium powder. The RDX is more powerful than TNT - It has a very rapid rate of detonation giving a powerful shock wave but more sensitive to detonation by impact and was expensive. The high explosive TNT is less sensitive to impact and melts at a low enough temperature that it can be safely cast as a liquid/slurry (the weapon can be easily filled). The aluminium powder is superheated by the explosion and reacts with the explosive product gases (and also surrounding water) giving a powerful expanded push effect over a longer time period.

      Torpex was also used successfully in Barnes Wallis's more conventional Tall Boy and Grand Slam weapons where the bomb penetrated the ground where the push effect was very effective in shaking the foundations of buildings and bridges. These were some of the largest aerial bombs ever used in warfare.

  11. Milton

    Perhaps they deserve each other

    And you thought it was already embarrassing enough that our country's Foreign Secretary is a ridiculous, lying, man-child buffoon ....

    But there may be a certain irony in the fireplace salesman—so far out of his depth as Defence Secretary that it is positively hilarious—talking rubbish about the F-35 which is, after all, a howling dog's breakfast of a procurement. It's not often a weapons platform is so lousy that you'd be better off starting a war before it's allowed into service. The Chinese, for one, have every incentive to delay hostilities over Taiwan until the US is crippled by dependence on the F-35 and has depleted itself of the "teen" generation of aircraft that were actually good at what they did.

    And Williamson ... he's another of those conspicuously vacuous Westminster slimes whose ambition comfortably exceeds his abiltiies: a poorly informed, not very bright, mouthy plonker whose current mission is to stress-test the deadpan self-control of senior military officers. Because having to respectfully tolerate the imbecility of politicians and listen to their shyte without laughing is a steep price to pay for promotion. If I were an OF-6 at MoD I think I'd keep the old Webley handy, with a single bullet in the cylinder, as an antidote to Williamson's blethering. For myself.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Those lights....

    ...were actually mounted on the fuselage of the modified Lancasters, not the wings.

    As you were...

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Sorry to you optimists who believe in progress over time...

    Avro Lancaster = dam buster

    F35-B = damned budget buster

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry to you optimists who believe in progress over time...

      >Avro Lancaster = dam buster

      Avro Lancaster = dam absent. Derwent, I was there.

  14. smudge

    Silvermere Lake

    Wallis devised the bouncing principle by watching children skim stones off the surface of a pond.

    And for those of you who play golf in Surrey, he tested models fired by catapult on the lake at what is now Silvermere GC.

    One story I heard was that he got the idea for the bouncing bomb when he saw someone hit their tee-shot thin at the par 3 17th, and watched it skim across the water. Unfortunately for the story, the course didn't open until 1976...

    I also heard that he was rowed out into the lake by his secretary, who was an Olympic rower. I've never checked up on that.

  15. SuperHoopMango


    Just a quickie....

    Please can we at least get the spelling right?

    It's R.A.F. Coningsby, not Conningsby! I flew flight simulators up there on a 2 day detachment from R.A.F Neatishead when I was a dopey-scopie!!

  16. Potemkine! Silver badge


    Lancasters were also used to bomb the city of Le Havre on September 5th and 6th, 1944. Ordered by general Crocker, the same who refused to allow evacuation of civilians by the Germans, these bombings targeted the town center and killed over 2,000 civilians with no german casualties.

    After the refusal from the Germans to capitulate, bombings continued the next days targeting this time german defenses. The town was taken in 48 hours by british troops with less than 500 casualties.

    5,000 civilians were killed in the process.

    Lancasters may be a good souvenir in the UK, it is not necessary the same elsewhere

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lancasters

      Lancasters may be a good souvenir in the UK, it is not necessary the same elsewhere

      I'd imagine that they aren't too popular in Hamburg, Dresden either. In the same way that Heinkels wouldn't be too popular in Guernica, London, Coventry, or Rotterdam. But that's tough, and a reminder to all concerned that fighting wars is not a good idea. Arguably BBMF should try and get themselves a Heinkel 111, a Ju 88 and a Stuka, return them to airworthiness and the whole lot could go on trips across Europe as a visual reminder. They might want to add a few examples of post war aircraft to remind the world of the folly of intervening in remote countries and other people's wars.

      WW2 bombing was for the most part indiscriminate due to the technologies of the day, added to which both sides concluded that carpet bombing had military value. That was how war was conducted then. And arguably intentionally targeting civilians and civil infrastructure is still normal military practice in many parts of the world.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: indiscriminate due to the technologies of the day?

        No. Nothing to do with inadequate technology!

        Churchill DELIBERATELY targeted civilian areas of German cities as part of the strategy to distract Luftwaffe from bombing UK airbases in Battle of Britain. Perhaps he remembered the Zeppelin raid on London in WWI. Hitler then ordered development of the V weapons, which ironically killed x10 as many workers (mostly slaves) as targeted civilians. Putting the resources into subs and aircraft would have been more effective.

        The firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo were war crimes. The Tokyo conventional bombing killed more civilians than the atomic bomb. Neither atomic bomb was needed. There was no need to repeat Okinawa, just simply blockade and watch the Russians advance. The Russians had declared war only a few weeks previously and were rapidly advancing. They were moving vast amounts by rail from the European front after VE day.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: indiscriminate due to the technologies of the day?

          Churchill DELIBERATELY targeted civilian areas of German cities as part of the strategy to distract Luftwaffe from bombing UK airbases in Battle of Britain. Perhaps he remembered the Zeppelin raid on London in WWI. Hitler then ordered development of the V weapons,

          Learn some history before spouting utter nonsense. The RAF didn't even have any decent heavy bombers at the time of the Battle of Britain, nor any strength in numbers in the antiquated twin motors it had. The first 4 motor (the Short Sterling) didn't achieve operation status until mid 1941, and the Wellingtons and Hampdens that visited Berlin in 1940 were at the extreme limit of their range. The bombing of Berlin by a token force of those twin motor relics on 25 August 1940 was undertaken solely in response to the bombing of London on 24 August. The consequent transfer of attention of the Luftwaffe to bomb London more gave a respite to Fighter Command, but certainly wasn't the intention.

          As a military tactic, the "innovation" of carpet bombing of cities can certainly be pinned on the Luftwaffe in Spain and Holland.

          Hitler then ordered development of the V weapons, which ironically killed x10 as many workers (mostly slaves) as targeted civilians. Putting the resources into subs and aircraft would have been more effective.

          By the time the V weapons were being mass produced and deployed Germany was already on the backfoot. They'd run out of road with the over ambitious invasion of Russia, they'd been defeated in North Africa, sonar and better tactics and equipment were decimating the U boat fleet, and their lack of capability in both light and heavy bombers, surface ships, transport aircraft were taking a toll.

          The firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo were war crimes.

          Tough shit. And the same for Hamburg, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Treat all as the geopolitical equivalent of having to write one hundred lines: "I must not start world wars and conduct multiple atrocities and genocides without expecting to reap the whirlwind from a bloody angry, vengeful, well armed victor".

        2. GrumpyKiwi

          Re: indiscriminate due to the technologies of the day?

          I'm sure the Citizens of The Hague, Warsaw and so forth could take great comfort from the Luftwaffe only targeting "military' targets. Not to mention the vast number of refugees whom the Stuka's targeted during the Battle of France.

          The rest of your comments about the atomic bombs are equally ignorant. The Japanese leadership only just agreed to surrender even after the first atomic bomb, the Soviet declaration of war and the utter ruin of their nation. Even with all that they were divided on whether to struggle on. It took the intervention of the Emperor to make the peace stick and he specifically mentioned the atomic bombs.

        3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Re: bombing cities

          At the time, the theories by Giulio Douhet about military air power, the effects of bombing cities, etc were quite popular all over Europe.

          1. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

            Re: bombing cities

            Indeed they were - hence 'the bomber will always get through'. What the theories tended to miss was the relatively poor capability of a bomber force to 'destroy' a city with 1920's / 1930's technology. Douhet also underestimated the effectiveness of the air defences opposing the bomber - 'A bomber will always get through...but if we shoot enough of it's companions down, they'll give up bombing long before they actually destroy the city'.

            Of course, that's taking the broad view...if it's you and your family under the bomber(s) that gets through, then the city is destroyed quite enough.

            1. JLV

              Re: bombing cities

              No, what they missed was the steadfastness and courage shown by civilians of countries under attack and ability to rally. In a way, that's part and parcel with the old adage, beloved of Putin and co, that one way to stay in power at home is to create an external threat.

              The part about winning hearts and minds is however a bit misplaced wrt Nazi Germany. Not because I feel that killing German civilians was a good aim - it wasn't. But thinking that "if only we had been a bit nicer they would have thrown off bad Mr. Hitler" is wishful thinking. German civs had no choice whatsoever in their gov past '33. Also one could argue that keeping thousands of guns and aircraft off the Eastern Front was the most worthwhile contribution the Western Allies could make until D Day.

              The oft-mentioned increase in German war production throughout 43, 44 is a bit of red herring. Pre-43, Hitler was trying to run the war on guns _and_ butter and Germany did not go to a full war economy. In comes Speer and he shakes it all up. Might have increased even more wo the strategic bombings.

              But these are all valid points re. Douhet and Western morality until quite recently. I don't know when we changed, perhaps it was after Communism fell. But during the Vietnam War for example there was thought of bombing the North's dams and causing massive floods. "Killing 1 million of them, surely that'll teach them to mess with us". Ditto dirty wars in Central America.

              Now we agonize when the news shows - and I think that's a good thing - a few civilians getting killed by mistake in Raqqa.

              When we confront the modern evils of Islamic Jihad, it might be worthwhile to remember that, for all our outrage about the targeting of non-combatants, that was the Western norm in warfare until quite recently. Even more so when dealing with non-whites. Pre WW1 there wasn't heavy intentional killing of civilians in Europe. But invading armies "lived off the land".

              Fixing the Jihad problem is a matters of hearts and minds - towards the larger Muslim population (ISIS members are fair game in my book). Being more aware of our own checkered ethics history and how it can be perceived is necessary.

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Lancasters

        I'd imagine that they aren't too popular in Hamburg, Dresden either.

        Do not worry, the nation's fav war criminal Tony Bliar (with the assistance of his mate Gerhard) has taken care of it. Every trace that could be erased has been erased (and charged to an obscure tax-write-off line in the Deutche Bank London branch accounts). The memorial to the Dresden bombings has been eradicated and the round church now proudly stays in its pre-war glory. See - nothing happened. No war crimes. No civilian massacres. No bombings of cities with no industrial significance. No Slaughterhouse 5 - Vonnegut sucked it out of his finger.

        It has been taken care of. So you can sell a Lanc as a souvenir there.

      3. JLV

        Re: Lancasters

        >a reminder to all concerned that fighting wars is not a good idea

        Did you miss the part where Le Havre was in France? Or were you just confused and thinking this happened during the 7 Years War?

        Bombing your own allies/occupied ex-allies civs isn't exactly high up on the ethics ladder, is it?

        Strategic bomber carpet bombings were used a few times during the Normandy campaign and rarely to any greatly efficient result. Operation Cobra comes to mind - the overall battle outcome was brilliant, the bombers' contribution at the beginning considerably less so.

    2. SysKoll

      Re: Lancasters

      Damn right. An old chap from Le Havre once told me that the city consistently voted for a Communist mayor until the 90s. The Communist incumbents always invited the crowds to remeber the treatment the city got at the hand of the "Anglo-American capitalists" that non-Communist candidates supposedly supported.

      The civilian bombing campaigns on German-occupied countries were a textbook example of how not to win hearts and minds. Not to mention they increased enrollment in the volunteer ranks of the Wehrmacht.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lancaster Gammon Tendencies

    Deliberately drawing parallels to enhance the Great British Gammon proud of their country and empire once again?

    Next they'll be issuing pink crayons and simple instructions on how to find atlases in Waterstones for them to colour in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lancaster Gammon Tendencies

      >Great British Gammon

      Downvoted for media buzzword coat tailing, any it's nothing new as the French call us rosbifs so mr/ms gammon insult inventor isn't quite original as they thought they were.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lancaster Gammon Tendencies

        Given that Dickens is credited with the first use of the term 'gammon' as an insult (weirdly to insult a character who was pushing nationalistic BS) I think the downvote may be unwarranted but you have to admit it's rather fitting no?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lancaster Gammon Tendencies

          >Given that Dickens is credited with the first use of the term 'gammon'

          The French have been using rosbif since around Waterloo (and possibly earlier) which predates Dickens writings as he was born in 1812 and Waterloo was 1815 unless he was a child prodigy at 3 years of age.

          >I think the downvote may be unwarranted

          Yes I do because it can be construed as racist, fine call someone out for being an idiot but don't call people out for colour.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Lancaster Gammon Tendencies

            I definitely didn't use rosbif in my post and the use of the name 'rosbif' could be taken as racist as it refers to the people of a nation as a whole but Gammon is used as an insult to a particular type of person, the swivel eyed political extremist who blusters and is red in the face (coincidentally the very type who is currently trying to blame everyone who didn't vote leave for the incompetent shambles that Brexit is become) it's *not* a racist insult, unless of course you think the swivel eyed extremist political lunatics are a separate race?

  18. CheesyTheClown

    A plane so expensive it’s useless

    So, an F-16 can be had for $20 million with all the bells and whistles. A F-22 can be had for about $130 million fully loaded. A F-14 is about $22 million.

    For the price of a single F-35, an entire squadron could be equipped and while I’m sure that the F-35 is really nifty, I wonder how well it would perform against a few dozen drones and/or F-14/F-16’s flown by highly competent pilots.

    Consider that it should never be possible for an F-35 pilot to be able to log enough hours to become as skilled in the plane as he/she could have in a F-14 or F-16. The reason is simple wear and tear. With such an incredibly high operating cost, no F-35 pilot should ever be able to clock 1000+ hours in simulated conflicts in such a plane. It was expensive on old airplanes like the F-14 and Korean War era jets were used for training. Even with advanced flight simulators, this will never work on the F-35. It would probably cost a minimum investment of $500 million per trained pilot.

    As for stealth, are you seriously trying to convince me that radio and/or heat invisibility has any value in an era where we can simply target on sight instead? If I were a country posing a thread to any country with aircraft carriers, I could easily launch high resolution optics into low earth orbit to track said aircraft carriers for peanuts. I would know precisley where each carrier was and would pick up jet stream from any take offs that could then be visiually tracked.

    As for all the fancy AI features and tech. I’m sorry, unless the pilots are engineers with 20+ years experience in multiple disciplines of technology, the mass economy required for proper bug reporting can not be accomplished. Consider for example programs you currently use.

    Software which costs A LOT and is only available to a limited number of technicians is buggy as hell, see Service Now or Cisco ISE for examples. Consider Apple’s Final Cut Pro which used to cost thousands of dollars. It was a bug ridden piece of shit. Users tended to find work arounds rather than reporting bugs. The bugs they did report were generally quite aweful in how they were written.

    Software with thousands or hundreds of thousands of users produced public forums that greatly increased the number of bugs reported multiple times by multiple sources allowing them to be addressed and thereby creating proper fixes.

    The only alternative would be for the developers to actually dog food their own products in real production environments. This way, when they encounter the problems themselves, they could properly instrument their systems and build fixed far more efficiently.

    With a billion dollar aircraft, there is no chance in hell any government will allow a developer/engineer into a cockpit and afterwards let them duct tape a 3D printed diagnostics tool to it without months or years of lab testing first. Trial and error troubleshooting is completely out of the question.

    The fact is, the guy/gal capable of diagnosing and fixing the problem won’t be allowed anywhere near the driver’s seat of the vehicle to do their jobs. They probably won’t even be allowed on the carriers to observe from nearby.

    There are so many problems with a plane that costs this much from a purely common logic perspective it is sickening.

    They built a plane that costs so much that as soon as one crashes, malfunctions, etc... the cost is so high the rest will have to be grounded until an investigation committee approves further flight trials. Let’s not forget that if a plane malfunctions and a pilot bails out, no matter how awesome that pilot may be, he/she will never see the inside of a cockpit again. You simply don’t crash a billion dollar aircraft and expect governments to turn the other cheek. In fact, you probably will never find a job flying for FedEx after that.

    This might be the dumbest aircraft project in history. Right up with the Russian space shuttle project.

    For a billion dollars, a country could design, build and deploy over 10,000 long range, armored kamakazi drones. They can be controlled like video games and can fly, land and explode on 10,000 targets simultaneously. No need for nukes. No need for massive bombs and earth shattering explosions. A single automated factory can produce and deploy them as fast as you can feed them materials. If done properly, a ship could be equipped as a floating factory capable of always building the latest model as needed. It might even be possible to do it from blimps or other airships.

    It would be possibly to drop hundreds or thousands of drones from near space on a city, then active flight systems as they approach the ground, fly to precoordinated targets such as building supports and the demolish entire cities. Just pop up something like Google maps, click the positions on each building to deploy a bomb drone, drop 50% more than you need and let them all navigate to where they will be needed, stick themselves to their positions and wait for the “all clear”.

    So while all the F-35 nations are wasting their budgets on useless planes and trying to pass rules about how drones can be used in warfare, countries with cheap labor and limited financial resources are probably figuring out how to 3D print most of their parts, stockpiling materials and preparing for a new type of warfare that F-35s aren’t ready for.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A plane so expensive it’s useless

      You are on form today sir, and I tip my hat to you.

    2. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

      Re: A plane so expensive it’s useless

      While $20mil for an F16 is floating around as a number on the internet, it seems to be the lower-end figure of what the USAF pays; I doubt that it represents a realistic number for the cost-per airframe for a nation acquiring the aircraft from scratch (thus needing to set up all the support infrastructure, etc).

      That's not to say that it won't be a lot cheaper than an F35, but probably about half the cost.

      The F16 also entered service in the 1970's. It's a good aeroplane. It's also 40+ years old and obsolescent.

      An F-22 can't be had for any sum of money. The production line is closed, and the US decided that it would be unavailable to any and all foreign customers.

      No idea what the cost an F14 was - it's been out of service with the US for so long now, I couldn't even reliably guess when production ceased - some time in the 1980's at a guess. The Iranian's still use it (bought by the Shar prior to the revolution). Slightly ironically (given the constant incorrect claims made about Typhoon), the F14 was designed for air-to air only, as fleet air defence fighter, though did have a ground attack capability 'bolted-on' in later life (the Tomcat became the Bombcat).

      I suspect that rather than F14 you may have meant the F/A18 - currently in the E/F model (Super Hornet aka Super Bug). A good, sound aeroplane, the original (A/B) version of which entered service around 1983. So a 35 year old design - again, it's obsolescent.

      Regarding flight experience and costs of training - a significant issue, which the ever increasing use of ever-more-realistic simulators is addressing - if you crash the simulator, the trainee walks away and you reset the simulator, you don't need a new aeroplane and a new trainee. Simulators also tend to be cheaper to operator (no jet fuel needed).

      As for career over if you crash - I doubt it, plenty of service pilots have crashed. Sometimes it was their fault, sometime not. They don't generally get dismissed from the service or permanently grounded (there is a medic limit on flying again following multiple ejections, I think - not sure of details).

      If the plane malfunctions and the pilot bailed out, than a very expensive component of the plane (the highly and expensively trained pilot) has been saved for re-use. It's not his/her fault the plane malfunctioned.

      Less anyone mistake me from the above - I am not a great fan of the F35.

      It seems to me to have been a poor idea to create the three variants: there must have been design compromises, particularly with regard to the -B model affecting the -A and -C models.

      The maintenance system seems perfectly cost efficient for a civilian logistics operation, but unwise for a military system.

      It's taken too long and cost too much.

      But it has some very clever features that will probably prove highly effective. It does actually work, and (as regards the -B model) is easier and a safer to fly than a Harrier, so should end up killing less of its pilots (*I'm not sure how many Harrier crashes actually killed the pilot, but they were noted as being tricky to fly).

  19. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    But.. but..

    So the F-35 is meant to replace the trusty flying tank, the A-10. But the F-35 is far more.. delicate, can only loiter long enough for a couple of Michael Bay takes, and if you want a decent payload, loses it's stealth USP. Soo.. could you mount a couple of GAU-8's in/under the nose of a modernised Lancaster & make a far cheaper CAS aircraft?

    US aircraft manufacturers (from memory Lockheed) recently filed a patent for a pop-out turret that could be fitted in a load bay, so may be thinking along the same lines for potential AC-130 replacement or new bomber programmes. But current conflicts show a need for CAS that the F-35 doesn't seem able to deliver very well. Also not sure if a pop-out turret would be practical for a GAU-8 given it's got quite a kick.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: But.. but..

      Soo.. could you mount a couple of GAU-8's in/under the nose of a modernised Lancaster & make a far cheaper CAS aircraft?

      Lanc - not really. Now a Mosquito... Add some modern ECM, avionics, replace the balsa in the airframe with carbon fiber and leave everything else as is. It is actually one of the pinnacles of propeller aircraft you do not need to try to "improve it".

      That idea is not as insane as it seems.

      1. Denarius Silver badge

        Re: But.. but..

        Updated mozzie ? Very dangerous if one engine failed, like most twin engined WW2 british aircraft. A Lanc pilot I knew commented that all pommie aircraft required _very_ careful throttle matching or horrible things happened, unlike yank planes where about right was good enough. No reason for this discrepancy was given.

        There was a pom twin engine fighter built just as war ended that flew even better. Its performance was amazing for time. ITIRC it could accelerate vertically on one engine. Cant find the reference magazine to name it. I believe only a wing survives of prototype.

        An acquaintance employed by some mega-death corp suggests new A10s or even latest F15K planes would be more cost effective for Oz. Perhaps a full revist of the F111 might suit Oz due to its long range. Using modern materials and engines how much better could it be ?

        For the poms though I concur that a new Buccaneer would be way to go. Great for taking out the next French invasion. Perhaps also build new Harriers in plastic like the USA marines upgraded version. At least they worked and built locally a few people might have jobs for a while.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: But.. but..

          Very dangerous if one engine failed, like most twin engined WW2 british aircraft. A Lanc pilot I knew commented that all pommie aircraft required _very_ careful throttle matching

          That is one thing which modern flight management software would have absolutely no issues in dealing with.

          At least they worked and built locally a few people might have jobs for a while. Oh jobs a plenty. For the right people transiting the revolving door.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: But.. but.. but..

            A modernised multi-engine CAS aircraft would be less dangerous than an F-35 with an engine failure on account of that only having one. And I agree that flight management systems would make coping with power loss a lot easier for the pilot. Plus compensating for the recoil of twin GAU-8's bringing the <brrrraaaap>. And I've picked that for armament because as well as being extremely effective, it's also got a strong psychological effect on anyone it's being pointed at.

            But they're also large, heavy and probably easier to fit under the cockpit of a Lancaster or similar. I approve of a super Mossie, partly as my grandfather used to build the good'ol Bostik Bomber. Making it from carbon fibre would add cost though, and as it's just compressed/heat treated wood (ish), modern composite fibre (ie wood) would probably still work. And it's inherently RAM, and easier to repair.

            And as aircraft building relies on sales, a low cost CAS aircraft that doesn't require lots of high-tech infrastructure to maintain it would make export sales a lot easier. And potentially avoid political pratfalls like US politicians wanting an export ban on F-35's to Turkey. Which would be problematic for non-US NATO customers given Turkey's meant to be doing the engine work.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: But.. but..

          Who would ever want to invade Australia?

        3. lee harvey osmond

          Re: But.. but..

          "Very dangerous if one engine failed, like most twin engined WW2 british aircraft."

          But -especially- true in the Mosquito.

          The problem is that the sudden imbalance in thrust causes the aircraft to begin a ground loop, ie make a very tight turn on the ground. In a Mosquito being accelerated down a runway by two Merlins, that'll probably tear off the undercarriage and the aircraft will be sliding along on its belly. Wooden aircraft, two tons of bombs, couple of tons of petrol, and hot engine exhausts ... not fun.

  20. Denarius Silver badge

    IP in F35

    Didn't some IP come not from Harrier but Yak41 Soviet naval VTOL ?



    if you want a intercept - buy a missile

    if you want surveillance - Buy a drone (glider and jet)

    if you want deploy special forces - buy a helicopter

    if you want to attack an enemy - buy a helicopter / drone

    if you want to deploy a submarine hunter - buy a helicopter

    complete and utter waste of money

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Nice idea, but missiles aren't much use for escorting Russian spy planes away from UK airspace, which is what the Typhoons at Lossiemouth seem to spend much of their time doing.

    2. EvilDrSmith Silver badge


      "if you want a intercept - buy a missile"

      The attitude adopted by the UK government in the 1950's that was a significant (though not sole) factor in the decline of the British aviation industry. And which was not fully thought out, then.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge


      if you want to deploy a submarine hunter - buy a helicopter

      I am not aware of a submarine hunter helicopter which has anything like 5% of the range of an Orion or Tu-142.

      if you want a intercept - buy a missile

      I suggest reading on some on the issues Russians had (and resulting incidents) from having missile only interceptors like the Iranian border incident, the first Korean jet they took down (the one over Kola peninsula), etc. You simply cannot use anything short of lethal force in that case and in 99% of the cases you want to at least try non-lethal first. In fact norms of international law oblige you to do so.

      if you want to attack an enemy - buy a helicopter / drone The attack helicopters have gone a long way in terms of lethality and survivability. In fact a Ka52 is not that different from an A10 in terms of how much deadly toys it has as standard and how many it can carry as extras. They still have one major issue though - loiter time. A key requirement for air support is to be somewhere near on hand and ready to whack the opponent. No helicopter can do it (yet).

    4. lee harvey osmond


      or, "abandon all these expensive military manned aviation programmes, and buy missiles instead" er, you are the ghost of Duncan Sandys and I claim my £5

  22. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    ...Sir Barnes Wallis, who came up with the idea to ensure that the barrel-shaped weapon would skip along the water's surface and then roll itself down the wall of the dam before exploding at the right depth. Conventional bombs were unable to reliably stay in contact with the wall before exploding.

    Wallis devised the bouncing principle by watching children skim stones off the surface of a pond. It was ingenious but miles from being high-tech....

    I see that macjules has already pipped me to the post by pointing out that conventional bombing couldn't actually deliver bombs to a precision of inches, and that torpedo nets were the reason for the skipping - and that it was sufficiently high-tech to mean that we don't have the capability to do this today, and would have to re-invent it...

    But the real high-tech was displayed in B-W's famous paper "A Note on a Method of Attacking The Axis Powers". In this he points out all the problems associated with bombing from a first principles position - in that you are trying to transfer energy from a chemical reaction to a target through air, which is a poor medium for transmitting energy.

    His answer was to transmit energy through the ground, which is a good carrier of pressure waves. You do this by making a large, fast bomb which can bury itself many feet into the ground and then detonate, passing the shockwave into the foundations of the object you are targeting. For viaducts and bunkers it's important NOT to hit the object, which will almost certainly resist a direct strike - the trick is to get underneath and shake the whole object to pieces rather than break one part of it. Or create a huge hole that the object then falls into....

    That's a lesson the Americans failed to learn while bombing Iraq, and I don't think we have any 'earthquake' weaponry even today...

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Earthquake weapons are only needed for very large targets or hardened targets. Also we now have laser-guided bombs and so can be a lot more accurate. Maybe you don't need to destroy that entire dam (and kill loads of people), perhaps you can just target the connections to the grid, transformers or generator gear.

      There are also rocket assisted bombs fused to explode undground, for runway penetration and bunker busting.

      Plus thermobaric charges and the like.

  23. HKmk23

    Have they solved the problem?

    That the F35 can take off from our new aircraft carriers fully armed but cannot land back on them unless the armaments have been dumped or fired?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have they solved the problem?

      Yes, that was a problem with the Harrier, not the F-35.

      1. Aladdin Sane

        Re: Have they solved the problem?

        Dammit, got ninja'd.

    2. Aladdin Sane

      Re: Have they solved the problem?

      That was the Harrier.

  24. Tim99 Silver badge

    Prototype bombsight

    My father was a Observer/Bombing Leader in WWII and in late 1945-1946 was training bomb-aimers at Lough Neagh. He had a photograph of the "original" bomb aiming device marked "SECRET". It was cruder than the ones used in the raid, being just a piece of plywood with the similar two nails at the front, but instead of the round hole eyepiece there were another two nails separated by ~5mm. From its fixed geometry and several extra nail-holes, he thought that it might have been used as a prototype at Ladybower.

    My father had signed up for the duration and was given an offer to stay on, but after 6 years abroad he wanted to be demobbed. After he died I gave the photograph, and other items like log books and photographs to "his" 55 Squadron at their Museum which was the time based at RAF Marham - They had an excellent display including the operational charts of their refuelling of the Vulcan bombing mission to the Falklands. The Squadron was later disbanded/transferred to RAF Brize Norton for training Vickers VC1/Lockheed TriStar crews, and then reformed at RAF Cranwell for weapons systems officers training, and now disbanded again, so I don't know what happened to the collection.

  25. GrumpyKiwi

    F-35 successfully used by Israel over Syria. El'Reg notoriously silent on this as it as the pilots apparently didn't pass out from a lack of oxygen, didn't lose their stealth from any passing moisture, didn't have to wait for Italy or Turkey to maintain them and nothing else appears to have gone wrong.

    Bring back Lewis or at the very least hire SOMEONE with an ounce of defence knowledge.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon