RAF pilots test Typhoons ready for combat

#1
RAF prepares to use Typhoon in Combat

I read this article with interest and it brought two questions to mind:

1. Why would you replace the Harrier, an aircraft optimised for the air-to-ground role and recently upgraded to state-of-the-art GR 9 standard, with a supersonic aircraft optimised for the air-to-air role, that has only just had a rudimentary air-to-ground capability retrofitted in an attempt to make it relevant to the contemporary operating environment?

2. Isn't using the Typhoon for combat going to be rather to the detriment of its primary role of display flying?
 
#3
As SparkySteve says, but also, if you read the whole thread, you'll notice that an A-G role was always planned, it is not rudimentary. It is being retrofitted only because the initial tranche was planned to first have an A-A role, which it has, but is now required to have the A-G role sooner than thought.
 
#4
vaeviso said:
RAF prepares to use Typhoon in Combat

that has only just had a rudimentary air-to-ground capability retrofitted
In what way is it rudimentary? How do you know that Harrier is better A2G? The Hunter was optimised for A2G, would an upgraded version of that be better than Typhoon?

The F15E Strike Eagle is a development of and air superiority fighter, yet is superb A2G; perhaps Typhoon might be in a similar mould...or would that not sit well with your prejudices?

Maybe a parallel Land environment example might help. CR2 is optimised for Large Scale armoured manoeuvre warfare. Why on earth would you use it for COIN work when you could use an upgraded Snatch Land Rover?
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#5
Mach 2 at 100ft?!?!?!? Cor, look what he's done to his pants!

Despite the nay-sayers, I'm in wholehearted support of the Typhoon project. Yes, it's incredibly expensive, but by all accounts, it's also incredibly capable, and as already noted, it has been designed with A2G capability in mind too, it just requires refitting for the role.

Eventually, there will be both A2G and A2A dedicated aircraft, it's just that they are spending the money on A2A role aircraft first due to budgetary constraints AT THIS TIME. However, it looks like the RAF are pushing for the A2G aircraft as a higher priority due to current commitments, which makes sense. The retro-fit has just been bumped up on the schedule, that's all.
 
#6
The A to G role has always been part of our plan for Typhoon. As I understand it, however, it is more a successor to Jaguar and Tornado GR4 in the GR role rather than Harrier. It will be more capable than GR4, but I suspect its CAS ability will be limited compared to Harrier - it certainly won't be using rockets, rather relying on Paveway and JDAM from medium level.

As for the comment about 'flying at mach 2 at 100ft above the ground through narrow valleys' - that proves how in touch The Telegraph is with defence matters. Typhoon's top speed is in excess of mach 2, but you'd have to be stupid to attempt anywhere near that at low level.
 
#7
Just to reinforce my rather bold opening gambit...

"Typhoon has always been planned to be a swing role tactical fighter with robust air-to-ground capabilities. However the RAF's urgent air-to-ground requirement has driven the integration of an "austere" air to ground capability, based on the Rafael/Ultra Electronics Litening III laser designator and the Enhanced Paveway II G/LGB, earlier than was originally planned. A more comprehensive air-to-ground attack capability will be achieved for all partner nations later in the decade. The RAF's capability will now be available in the Block 5 aircraft delivered at the end of Tranche 1 and, by retrofit, on all RAF Tranche 1 jets...By addressing the aircraft's lack of air-to-ground capability, Eurofighter GmbH hopes to increase the Typhoon's appeal to other potential export customers and to make the aircraft more useful to partner air forces." (wikipedia - accept the limitations of the source but it is a well referenced piece)

"From the perspective of airframe optimisations, the Typhoon is without doubt optimised for its two primary design objectives, which are supersonic BVR interception and close in combat at transonic speeds, with no obvious concessions made to the secondary objective of strike." (www.ausairpower.net)
 
#8
It's got a lovely cannon, just lacks ammo at present.

Paveway3/Johnnypaveway (one of the two) has commented on his experience of this aircraft in training and was very postive, and he is a FAC/OC TACP, so he probably has a good idea of what is required.
 
#10
Although the Typhoon's A2G capability may be described as 'austere', there's nothing Mickey Mouse about a Rafael Litening 3 pod. I may be wrong, but is this not more capable than the pod fitted to GR9?

As to the suitability of Typhoon for low level CAS, the one that almost took the chimeny off my house a few months back seemed to be doing all right.
 
#11
I don't doubt that it's a good aircraft, neither do I doubt that it can drop a JDAM on a sixpence (although that's the weapon system, not necessarily the carrier platform).

My nub of my question is, why replace Harrier - a great platform, huge variety of useful weapons, pilots well used to supporting the Land Component - with something that has only a fraction of the capability and is essentially unproven in the role?

Surely the aim should be success on operations, not demonstrating an austere capability?

To paraphrase Rheinstorff's rather specious example, it seems rather like taking CR2 out of large-scale armoured warfighting and replacing it with MWMIK simply because it's new and has some guns on it.
 
#12
vaeviso said:
Just to reinforce my rather bold opening gambit...

"Typhoon has always been planned to be a swing role tactical fighter with robust air-to-ground capabilities. However the RAF's urgent air-to-ground requirement has driven the integration of an "austere" air to ground capability, based on the Rafael/Ultra Electronics Litening III laser designator and the Enhanced Paveway II G/LGB, earlier than was originally planned. A more comprehensive air-to-ground attack capability will be achieved for all partner nations later in the decade. The RAF's capability will now be available in the Block 5 aircraft delivered at the end of Tranche 1 and, by retrofit, on all RAF Tranche 1 jets...By addressing the aircraft's lack of air-to-ground capability, Eurofighter GmbH hopes to increase the Typhoon's appeal to other potential export customers and to make the aircraft more useful to partner air forces." (wikipedia - accept the limitations of the source but it is a well referenced piece)

"From the perspective of airframe optimisations, the Typhoon is without doubt optimised for its two primary design objectives, which are supersonic BVR interception and close in combat at transonic speeds, with no obvious concessions made to the secondary objective of strike." (www.ausairpower.net)
My biggest concern about Typhoon has always been its ability to operate from austere airstrips. It was designed to operate from the permanent "citadel" airbases of the cold war and not only requires a huge amount of support equipment (all of which will have to be transported to Afg and maintained whilst there) but has a rather large FOD scoop underneath the nose masquerading as an air intake. It is undoubtedly very capable, but I have serious concerns about its deployability (buzz word alert).

As for converting a fighter into a bomber, it is much better doing it this way than the other way round. A good fighter will make a good bomber, a good bomber will not always make a good fighter (F3 anyone?).
 
#13
vaeviso said:
My nub of my question is, why replace Harrier - a great platform, huge variety of useful weapons, pilots well used to supporting the Land Component - with something that has only a fraction of the capability and is essentially unproven in the role?
PLEASE read the thread about the RAF needing a bomber - we are covering recently trodden ground here.

Essentially, this argument is flawed because the Harrier is now an aged aircraft, and every new piece of equipment is essentially unproven. I'm certain people were saying exactly what you're saying now when the Harrier was coming in.

And it doesn't have "a fraction" of the capability. You are rather anti this aircraft, aren't you?
 
#14
vaeviso said:
I don't doubt that it's a good aircraft, neither do I doubt that it can drop a JDAM on a sixpence (although that's the weapon system, not necessarily the carrier platform).

My nub of my question is, why replace Harrier - a great platform, huge variety of useful weapons, pilots well used to supporting the Land Component - with something that has only a fraction of the capability and is essentially unproven in the role?

Surely the aim should be success on operations, not demonstrating an austere capability?

To paraphrase Rheinstorff's rather specious example, it seems rather like taking CR2 out of large-scale armoured warfighting and replacing it with MWMIK simply because it's new and has some guns on it.
Because the Harrier pilots are sick of doing tours of AFG and are all threatening to sign off?

Because they are all broken?

Because we are committed to buying far more Typhoons than we can ever use, so we might as well use the ones we have already?

As to your other point.....I wouldn't bet aginst it :D .
 
#15
Ex Stab,

EAP was a UK technology demonstrator for what became Typhoon. Typhoon itself first flew in 1994 and entered service with the Operational Evaluation Unit in 2004 which is about average for a modern combat aircraft these days.

In an ideal world we'd have pursued the EAP as a Brit only project but we couldn't afford that and the German demand to restructure the project in the early 90s effectively delayed everything by about 4 years and increased costs markedly.

Quoting from www sources is always dangerous, especially Wikipedia. The Typhoon was always designed to have an A-G capability and it's certainly not a 'secondary capability'. A capability which the RAF insisted upon alone amongst the partner services from other nations as it was always meant to replace Jaguar in service.

In the same way as the Rafale and F-22, Typhoon entered service initially lacking some capabilities but is and will continue to be incrementally improved upon over the coming years. Again, such incremental ('block' or 'spiral' developments) have been standard for many years given the complexities of modern flight control and systems software.

A couple of minor corrections, Typhoon is NOT slated to replace the GR4 in the A-G role (although I suspect it will largely augment it).

Regards,
MM
 
#16
The_Goon said:
vaeviso said:
My nub of my question is, why replace Harrier - a great platform, huge variety of useful weapons, pilots well used to supporting the Land Component - with something that has only a fraction of the capability and is essentially unproven in the role?
PLEASE read the thread about the RAF needing a bomber - we are covering recently trodden ground here.

Essentially, this argument is flawed because the Harrier is now an aged aircraft, and every new piece of equipment is essentially unproven. I'm certain people were saying exactly what you're saying now when the Harrier was coming in.

And it doesn't have "a fraction" of the capability. You are rather anti this aircraft, aren't you?


Disappointingly tribal I'd say.
 
#19
CrapSpy said:
Because we are committed to buying far more Typhoons than we can ever use, so we might as well use the ones we have already?

As to your other point.....I wouldn't bet aginst it :D .
Ah, perhaps this is more the point. We're not quite committed to buying far more Typhoons than we can ever use YET. I think what we might be seeing though is an effort to ensure that we do end up so committed.

Tribal, me? I should bleedin' coco! It's why we wear different coloured uniforms you know. Doesn't mean I'm not "joint" though, just so long as success on operations is the aim and not pursuit of single service agendas (tin hat on, retires a safe distance.)
 
#20
Vaeviso,

My nub of my question is, why replace Harrier - a great platform, huge variety of useful weapons, pilots well used to supporting the Land Component - with something that has only a fraction of the capability and is essentially unproven in the role?
It's not replacing Harrier in the CAS role. Like the days of Bosnia, and Northern and Southern Iraq when GR7s, Jags and GR1s all rotated through the task, the Typhoon will merely be allowing a rotation of assets. Remember that the GR7/9 force is a small community and HERRICK is hurting both the RAF and RN sqns involved.

As far as pilots go, there are numerous Jag and Harrier pilots now flying Typhoon and they all seem mighty enthusiastic about it too. From the outset of sqn service, the RAF has posted aircrew from a variety of backgrounds but particularly Tornado F3, Harrier GR7/9 and Jaguar. Familiarity with A-G ops should not be a snag.

Finally, the Tiff certainly does not have a 'fraction' of the capability of the GR9 and in some key respects will have certain advantages.

BC,

a rather large FOD scoop underneath the nose masquerading as an air intake. It is undoubtedly very capable, but I have serious concerns about its deployability (buzz word alert).
The GR7 has a reputation for being a FOD hoover as well! However, bear in mind that the Dutch, Norwegian and Belgian F-16s have operated F-16s with an even lower 'FOD scoop' than Typhoon from several fairly austere bases in the Stans and Afghanistan itself.

By all accounts, the Typhoon is returning excellent levels of serviceability when currently deployed on trials and exercises. Like all new aircraft they'll no doubt be teething snags, but they'll be overcome.

Regards,
MM
 

Similar threads

Latest Threads

Top