F35 - Money well spent.

A radar involves adding mass to an aircraft, so adding it to an aircraft not designed for add can causes issues.
This was the interesting bit about the Sea Harrier...

Due to budget limitations, the Sea Harrier FRS.1 was specified so as to carry a rather cheap and cheerful piece of kit called Blue Fox; designed to see a BEAR against a clear blue sky, but not a first-class fighter radar (i.e. good enough to locate another aircraft, but not up to any radar-guided missiles or "look down, shoot down" stuff).

When the Sea Harrier FA.2 mid-life upgrade came around, "fit a decent radar" was top of the list. Fantastic. Except you've now got to fit an extra hundred kilos or so of metalwork into an aircraft that isn't just space and weight limited, but is centre-of-gravity critical because of the vertical flight thing. And the radar needs to be at the very front. Hmmm...

So, Ferranti had a fit of enthusiasm, and broke the new Blue Vixen radar in half [1]. The antenna, transmitter, and receiver (all the bits that need you to have waveguides, etc) went into the normal pointy end of the aircraft; the processing power (all the computers, and there were a lot) went into the back of the airframe, where they'd cut-and-shut a foot and a half of extra fuselage. Congratulations, you've now balanced the weight around the centre of gravity; one story I heard at the time was that this meant twenty minutes extra flying time (because fuel goes into the weight budget, too).

Running very high data-rate cables down the length of an electrically-noisy aircraft, from just behind a multi-kilowatt microwave transmitter, isn't generally a great idea if you want a clean signal (however well shielded you make them). So the cunning plan involved doing it all with fibre-optics. Brilliant results, but in those days they were tricky to work with; put a kink in them, and they were shagged - getting connectors fitted wasn't exactly like the TOSLink in your hi-fi...

When the Americans came to create the AV-8B+, they went "ooooh, nice solution" and promptly copied it. IIRC, they'd got a pile of buckshee APG-65 that were coming out of the mid-life update to the F-18A/B (the move to F-18C/D replaced them with APG-73) and thought they could put them to good use after seeing what RN was doing with the FA.2

Anyway, budget limitations hit the FA.2 as well. It got the radar, but the engine upgrade went away, as did the various pylon improvements that would have allowed it to carry more missiles (AIUI a moot point, because without the improved engine the FA.2 was limited in what it could bring back in hot conditions)

[1] Ferranti was in collaboration with Ericsson over the radar; we each made bits of the whole, and each wrote their own software (coping with a programming manual written in English by a Swedish engineer is... interesting, but given the entire readership was the couple of dozen programmers who worked on it, we weren't going to get anything better). The Swedish assembly of the same radar components (couple of system design differences, not broken in half) was called the PS-05/A and went into the SAAB Gripen...
 
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...The Swedish assembly of the same radar components (couple of system design differences, not broken in half) was called the PS-05/A and went into the SAAB Gripen...
Blue Vixen was excellent and also formed the basis of the Typhoon's Captor.

Regards,
MM
 
Blue Vixen was excellent and also formed the basis of the Typhoon's Captor.
True, in the sense of "the same engineering team, and the same general architecture". There wasn't AFAIK a single common component or line of code between them. While the PS/05 got updated over its lifetime (a later model of the D80 radar data processor was part of the original ECR-90 bid for Typhoon) the Blue Vixen's radar processors stayed pretty much as per original issue Mk.1 - we nailed down the lid on the software in the early 90s and walked away to build another radar [1]. Modifying it afterwards was tricky as a result.

The cooperation is still there, AIUI (I left radars nearly twenty years ago); in the Gripen-E, the Swedes are now fitting a radar designed alongside the latest AESA version of CAPTOR, repositioner and all. Understandably, it's a bit lighter, but I suspect that it's a very handy beast compared to anything else in service (and I include the latest US kit in that).

[1] Note that the CAPTOR radar differs significantly between Tranche 1 and Tranche 2; while the microwave and heavy electrical package might be similar, the processing side definitely got the benefit that came from Moore's Law and nearly a decade of processor/databus speedup and memory growth. By way of example, I was writing software to run on a 12.5MHz processor in Tranche 1... which wasn't bad for milspec kit in the early 1990s.
 
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@Magic_Mushroom, I managed to get a swim in at Cranwell on the Wednesday afternoon; to my great disappointment, the diving boards are rusting and cordoned off, out of use. Very, very poor. The Army pool at Aldershot, by way of comparison, is absolutely gleaming!
The infra at many of our stations is in a dreadful state.

Regards,
MM
 
The infra at many of our stations is in a dreadful state.

Regards,
MM
An RAF OF-5 of my acquaintance said that the focus was solely on new kit without a sustainable plan for the people to crew it, maintain it, task it, sustain it, control it and protect it. Combined with really dreadful infrastructure in some cases, that was why people were leaving.
 
An RAF OF-5 of my acquaintance said that the focus was solely on new kit without a sustainable plan for the people to crew it, maintain it, task it, sustain it, control it and protect it. Combined with really dreadful infrastructure in some cases, that was why people were leaving.
The additional capabilities we got in SDSR15 (extra Typhoon and Shadow, P-8, Protector and HAPS) were meant to come with a commensurate uplift of RAF (and RN) strength transferred from the Army. As you’ll remember, the possibility of Army cutbacks was a major discussion point in the run-up to the review.

Unfortunately, on one occasion Mr C ‘mis-spoke’ when answering a question and stated that ‘there would be no reduction in troop numbers’. Although he meant overall serviceperson numbers, that was seized on by the cap-badge mafia and he couldn’t be seen to have ‘reneged on a promise.’

So both the RN and RAF got all the new kit being sought without any of the promised uplift in strength which has hampered us ever since. Meanwhile, the RAF has also inherited Islander and Defender with virtually none of the associated JPANs. Finally, don’t forget that the RAF also ‘owns’ the lowest proportion of its personnel in comparison to the other 2 services, so we’re rather hindered in our ability to veer and haul too much.

In terms of infra, DIO has been a major factor but we’re trying to divert money from the EP to address some of the issues.

Regards,
MM
 
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Back on the the F- 35, and the F-35B in particular, can LRASM be integrated for an ASuW role? If it can be fitted to the Super Hornet.....

BAE discuss LRASM sensor integration success

BAE Systems say its long-range sensor and targeting technology enables LRASM to detect and engage protected ships in all weather conditions, day or night, without relying on external intelligence and navigation data.

BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin are working closely together to further mature the LRASM technology. The companies recently signed a contract for the production of more than 50 additional sensors and are working to achieve EOC on the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in 2019.
 
Back on the the F- 35, and the F-35B in particular, can LRASM be integrated for an ASuW role?...
I see no reason why not although it would obviously be external...and expensive!

Regards,
MM
 
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Some concerns had been expressed about earlier iteration of the F-35 that might not be upgradable and therefor ‘wasted’.

It now seems that they may very well become important necessary upgrades to the ‘Aggressor’ squadrons that keep front line folk up to scratch.
Air Force to reactivate aggressor squadron for F-35 training > U.S. Air Force > Article Display

The ability of these aircraft to play the enemy will exceed any aircraft used to date. Its software able to faithfully replicate a wide range of threats, the sensors, sensor fusion, electronic warfare, and communications capabilities of a wide variety of present emerging opponents. It can also be equipped with bolt-on radar reflectors that would replicate radar signatures of 4th gen non stealthy enemy aircraft or use it’s ALE-70’s in the deception mode.
 
I see no reason why not although it would obviously be external. It’ll obviously cost though!

Regards,
MM
Will the USMC or other F-35B users want it? I am thinking of the likes of the JMSDF or ROK Navy facing the PLA Navy, as well ourselves and other NATO nations.

Funny really - post war the bulk of the offensive power of the RN fleet was meant to be carried by carrier aircraft such as the Buccaneer, then when the big carriers got canned the RN was the first customer for Exocet, which then was adapted into an airborne version, a threat you need carrier fighters and AEW to deal with.

Meanwhile ships have missiles with capabilities which mean you need long range weapons to attack them.....
 
Will the USMC or other F-35B users want it? I am thinking of the likes of the JMSDF or ROK Navy facing the PLA Navy, as well ourselves and other NATO nations...
I doubt it.

The USMC only really do CAS and the fact the USN are integrating LRASM onto the FA-18E/F means I doubt the USN will pay for it to go on F-35C let alone the B.

Meanwhile, I’d assume that Japanese (who have their own indigenous ASMs) and Korean ASuW tasks will remain with their respective air forces’ fighters and naval MPAs.

Regards,
MM
 
Israel to share F-35 operational experience with UK and US

Local media reports that Israel plans to share its experience operating the F-35 with the US and the UK in an upcoming exercise.

The operational experience acquired by the Israeli Air Force in recent months is of great interest to the United States and other countries that operate the F-35, according to local media.

Last year’s operation fighting in Syria has made the Israeli Air Force one of the most experienced operators of the jet. Local media reported that one of the primary reasons for Israeli involvement was among other things, to share operational experience related to using the aircraft in combat.

The Israeli Air Force and the Royal Air Force are holding a joint exercise soon but it’s currently unclear if this is part of this upcoming exercise in which Israeli jets will visit the UK or an exercise in which British jets will visit Israel, or something new entirely.

Earlier in the year it was confirmed that Israel will join the RAF’s Cobra Warrior exercise in September along with aircraft from Germany and Italy.


 
I doubt it.

The USMC only really do CAS and the fact the USN are integrating LRASM onto the FA-18E/F means I doubt the USN will pay for it to go on F-35C let alone the B.

Meanwhile, I’d assume that Japanese (who have their own indigenous ASMs) and Korean ASuW tasks will remain with their respective air forces’ fighters and naval MPAs.

Regards,
MM

Sorry to pester and divert your attention!

Seymour Johnson F-15s, Airmen Demonstrate New Expeditionary Concept

Is the RAF able to do something like this with the F-35 or Typhoons??
 
...Is the RAF able to do something like this with the F-35 or Typhoons??
Yes. In fact the USAF modelled some of the concept on the way we’ve deployed fast jets and even large ISTAR platforms with minimal support to austere locations.

Previously, the USAF support trades have been VERY specialised which meant they had to go everywhere mob-handed. The only thing that’s really changed is the USAF ‘multi-skilling’ some of those nominated to deploy.

Regards,
MM
 
Yes. In fact the USAF modelled some of the concept on the way we’ve deployed fast jets and even large ISTAR platforms with minimal support to austere locations.

Previously, the USAF support trades have been VERY specialised which meant they had to go everywhere mob-handed. The only thing that’s really changed is the USAF ‘multi-skilling’ some of those nominated to deploy.

Regards,
MM

Thank you!
This seems like a pretty neat concept, thanks for the input!
 

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