The Ministry of Defence has confirmed plans to replace an F-35B that crashed on take off from HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The Ministry of Defence ‘annual report and accounts 2021 to 2022’ consists of a Performance Report, an Accountability Report and the Annual Accounts, providing detail on Defence activity undertaken during financial year 2021 to 2022. Essentially, it sums up procurement plans.

The report says

“48 F-35B Lightning aircraft are on contract. We have made provision to buy additional
aircraft, and our planning assumption is that we will purchase additional F-35B Lightning
aircraft, but this remains subject to negotiation. One of these is a replacement of the one lost during CSG 21. The approvals for the advanced electronically scanned array radar programme are complete and will see a prototype radar, ready for integration and flight trials on Typhoon, in 2023.”

What happened?

In November last year, a British F-35 from HMS Queen Elizabeth crashed into the Mediterranean Sea; the pilot ejected safely. The Ministry of Defence said at the time:

“A British F35 pilot from HMS Queen Elizabeth ejected during routine flying operations in the Mediterranean this morning. The pilot has been safely returned to the ship and an investigation has begun, so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

In December, the Ministry of Defence found the location of the F-35B. National Security Adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove told the Commons Defence Committee in December:

“The pilot was recovered safely and is still undergoing medical checks. We are hopefully that he will be absolutely fine. It would be premature of me to comment on the reasons for the accident. The recovery of the flight data recorder and the wreckage are really vital for an accurate investigation to determine the causes of the crash. Clearly the swift recovery of the aircraft is what we would like to do and we are working closely with allies on the mechanics of that.”

Britain and America then engaged in operations to salvage the F-35B, which ditched into the ocean after taking off from HMS Queen Elizabeth. The salvage was successful.

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Terence Patrick Hewett
Terence Patrick Hewett
13 days ago

Will the replacement be fitted with water wings?

Steve
Steve
13 days ago

It will be fitted for but not with arm bands.

David A
David A
12 days ago
Reply to  Steve

I heard arm bands, but due to financial cost cutting they are delaying filling them with air until 2030.

Liam
Liam
13 days ago

On the subject of the F-35B, did anyone read the Telegraph article about the “hobbling” of the QE class? It seemed very damning to me. Not so much the over reliance on the F-35B but the inability to operate any other fixed wing aircraft at all. Leaving aside the merits of the F-35B, it does seem incredibly silly for the Navy to have a carrier that can only operate one fixed wing aircraft, so no chance of operating planes like Greyhounds, Hawkeyes and perhaps larger drones and the like. It seems to me a no brainer that we have flexibility… Read more »

Last edited 13 days ago by Liam
Jacko
Jacko
13 days ago
Reply to  Liam
Liam
Liam
13 days ago
Reply to  Jacko

Thanks. I shall read with interest.

Pacman27
Pacman27
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Should also be noted that the invincible class also operated VTOL Fighters (harriers) so it isn’t as bad as it first seems.

the key is that there was too much political interference by Gordon brown and others that added at least £1.2bn to the cost without any change to the spec. This is money that could have added capability.

Meirion X
Meirion X
12 days ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Yes agreed. And we could have developed other types of VSTOL
aircraft to operate, for AAR, AEW etc,
with that wasted cash.

Last edited 12 days ago by Meirion X
TonyB
TonyB
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

This article from Navy Lookout back in 2019, looking at the selection of VSTOL over cats and traps, is also very interesting; https://www.navylookout.com/cats-traps-and-claptrap-why-the-royal-navys-new-aircraft-carriers-operate-vstol-aircraft/

Liam
Liam
12 days ago
Reply to  TonyB

Thanks.

Whlgrubber
Whlgrubber
12 days ago
Reply to  TonyB

Wow that’s a mind blowing career destroying article. DT defence correspondents must be turning in their graves.

Sean
Sean
12 days ago
Reply to  Jacko

Oh the article was by Lewis Page, enough said, he’s an idiot.

Graham b
Graham b
12 days ago
Reply to  Sean

Unfortunately the Telegraph preference is for idiot reporters who know little about defence!

Last edited 12 days ago by Graham b
Graham b
Graham b
12 days ago
Reply to  Jacko

I agworee that the report from the Telegraph was garbage which unfortunately is normal. The carriers can operate STOVL and short run way aircraft invluding Helicopters. However it would be foolish to justify the cost of catapults on the remote possibility of operating aircraft that we have no intent or desire to buy. The most important aircraft we have is the Eurofighter. And that is not designed for catapults. However, the blog is also pretty dodgy it assumes a level of joined up government and defence planning that is entirely absent. Every decision is fought to the teath by the… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
13 days ago
Reply to  Liam

As has been noted before on here, cats and traps carriers are very expensive to operate wrt the fixed wing air group. Pilot training and qualification is relentless to hone the skills needed to be effective. Anything less is just for show; that’s why the US is so good at it. Will be interesting to see how China gets on. Famous saying that it is much easier to stop and land then it is to land and stop. For me the QEC class design was the right way to go. There are rotary wing options and new drone technology that… Read more »

Last edited 13 days ago by JohnM
Liam
Liam
13 days ago
Reply to  JohnM

I hope you are right. On the training issue alone: couldn’t we have ameliorated some of that on pilot exchanges?

Angus
Angus
13 days ago
Reply to  Liam

The RN had and has many of its fast jet jocky’s (large double numbers) actually with the USN and French and carrier qualified (so they can still be current in flying real fast jets) but we just don’t have the assets to go that way. Note also that with a Ski jump you can fly when other flat tops can’t as proven in the Falklands, Shars always up when a true flat top would have to cancelled many sorties. We also only flew one type of fixed wing for many many years with success. Should still be operating the Harriers… Read more »

Liam
Liam
13 days ago
Reply to  Angus

I think that’s a more honest assessment. We have to work within our means and that there are some advantages with the QE class that suit us. However, it does seem to me we have a big carrier that would fit in more with the US Marine Corps rather than the US Navy.

Sean
Sean
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

The US Marine Corps has more ships (gator navy) and aircraft than most nations. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere the decision was made for the U.K.s priority was to be more interoperable with them as they are expeditionary in nature – as our forces tend to be.

Liam
Liam
12 days ago
Reply to  Sean

That does beg the question that I posed somewhere in this huge thread: why not go for something more like USS Wasp? Cheaper, small, less capable, but perhaps more suited to our actual needs.

Sean
Sean
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Because:
(a) they the Wasps were designed for operating Harriers not F35Bs (clue, F35Bs bigger)
(b) the Wasp class carriers can call in a USN carrier for fighter cover, our carriers have to fulfil that role too

Liam
Liam
12 days ago
Reply to  Sean

The Wasp carries the F-35. I meant more in terms of size and overall capability.

Sean
Sean
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Doh because it’s what they have in service so they make do 🤦🏻‍♂️
It was designed to accommodate Harriers not F35s.

Because the gator navy has the USN to call on, we don’t. So the QE class has to fulfil both roles. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Liam
Liam
12 days ago
Reply to  Sean

Jesus, I did not mean buy a Wasp. I meant more like the Wasp in terms of capability. That is a smaller carrier with a smaller air wing to meet our budget constraints, similar to the Italian approach. Our current approach seems to be: we have a small budget so let’s build a big carrier and do it on the cheap.

Sean
Sean
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Because a WASP sized vessel limits the number of aircraft and this sorties you can operate. It’s fine for an amphibious assault ship like a WASP where the aircraft are there primarily to prove air-cover for the marines. Our carrier also provides air-cover for all the ships in the strike group. No point having an air-wing too small to be effective. The question is why the Italians didn’t build a bigger carrier, their ship is only 100ft shorter and yet can only carry a fraction of the aircraft. The answer is simple, Italy is bankrupt. Fact is, steel and air… Read more »

grizzler
grizzler
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Not only that but we built two so it was half as cheap or maybe twice as cheap…. Im not sure! I too found it somewhat perplexing and the arguments/rationale offered do sometimes appear circular and/or contradictory.

Daniel
Daniel
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Adding to the whole “steel is cheap and air is free” thing, the wasp class costs almost 2/3 the price of a QE anyway, arguably not delivering 2/3 of the capability. It also has a crew requirement of over 1000, something the RN could not really absorb. Overall, if any nation wishes to build their own carriers, then it makes the most financial sense for them to build the largest carriers that they can physically build and support.

Andrew
Andrew
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Why would you want a smaller carrier, smaller air wing, much less capability? I think that argument/discussion was had 15 years ago…

James
James
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

How have the QE been built ‘on the cheap’? They are very advanced ships in a number of ways for what they are meant to do.

I have not read the article you mentioned as the initial question answered the quality of the content however I doubt it mentioned we built 2 carriers so that 1 is available at all times. We are not planning on having 2 fully equipped at sea carriers it was not the idea.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
12 days ago
Reply to  James

Agree the QE class are without any doubt the most efficient and cost effective full sized carrier ever designed and built. The programme would have come in 1.35 billion cheaper if it wasnt for political meddling via Brown and then Cameron/ Osbourne which added cost and delayed programme. If both ships had been left aline they would have come in at £5.67 billion for both. That is ridiculously good value for 2 72,000 ton vessels.

Darren hall
Darren hall
12 days ago
Reply to  Sean

I see where your coming from, a ‘Wasp’ type vessel, but not necessarily an actual ‘Wasp’… IMHO, Regardless of cost , crew, hangar space comparisons etc.. Perhaps the thing that type of vessel could not do, is operate independently, as the QE class vessels are expected to do.
We have a vessel class that can (Hopefully) stand on their own.
Foe example, POW has already done so as flag ship of a standing NATO force.

Sean
Sean
11 days ago
Reply to  Darren hall

Yes a WASP size vessel wouldn’t be able to maintain a CAP and fulfil its primary role of providing air-cover for the marines during their amphibious landings and advance. In such an operation the USN would have a Nimitz class carrier providing CAP and generally supporting amphibious assault ships like Wasp.

With the RN, the QE class has to fulfil both roles, which is why it needs a larger air-wing than a Wasp and hence larger in size.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Because the wasp class is a LPHD not a carrier. Its airwing is very limited in numbers compared to a full sized carrier. 13 max load out F35Bs on Wasp class in full “Lightning carrier mode” vs QE class upto 36 F35Bs + Helos + UAVs is a much more capable and self sustaining and self defending airwing. Wasp class is a different tupe of ship intended to land marines ashore from over the horizon with a limited CAP and air defence/ close air support capability from its attached harriers/ f35Bs and apache / cobra attack helicopters. The numbers of… Read more »

AA
AA
1 day ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Because the wasp class is a LPHD

Wasp is a LHD. No such class as “LPHD”.

AA
AA
1 day ago
Reply to  Sean

The US Marine Corps has more ships (gator navy)

The Marine Corps doesn’t have any ships. Those all belong to the Navy.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
13 days ago
Reply to  Liam

What Lewis knows about the carriers , F35 aircraft and the inner workings of staff posts in the MOD you could write on the back of a postage stamp with a 2 inch paint brush.
He has previous for this sort of article , normally when pushing a book sale!
Sir H debunked it in his own inimitable style , linked below by Jacko

Liam
Liam
13 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

I have read the rebuttal. It seems to me that, aside from the needless ad hominem attacks, is that we’ve cut our cloth accordingly, and met our needs within a constrained budget.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
13 days ago
Reply to  Liam

It’s his usual bias. It didn’t move me much.

Liam
Liam
13 days ago

I must admit, it did seem to me to rely on knowledge of the processes, rather than the main argument. Nobody has yet been able to explain to me why a carrier that can only operate one particular fixed wing aircraft is a good idea. If it’s down to money then fine. I think it was on either here or Navy Lookout that all kinds of calculations were being made about how one might (emphasis on might) land a Protector on the QE class. Certainly no chance of using anything like an MQ-25 or Loyal Wingman drone.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

There is always a balance between capability and costs given that we are not the US with a 600 billion dollar budget, so on those grounds I think the flexibility we have given the carriers size, ability to generate sorties in sea states, and fielding the Bs without the need to constantly train for carrier qualification makes them a good fit for us.

The MoD is looking into fitting cats there was an article here.

Regards money, I prioritise the FSS and more Merlin over F35C over B.

lee1
lee1
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

We will (and are) designing drones specifically for use from the carriers… Having cats and traps would have added a huge cost and would have removed the ability to have a ski jump and so we would have had to go with the F35C. Operating the F35B means we can sustain a far higher mission rate than the US carriers can. As has been said before, it also means we can operate in far worse sea conditions than the US large carriers can. We learned from the Falklands how crucial that capability is. Now there are some benefits of having… Read more »

BobA
BobA
12 days ago
Reply to  lee1

I think you’ll find that the Ford has a sustained sortie rate of 160/day vs QEC at 120/Day. However, it also costs 3 x as much and has over 4000 crew. So we’re basically getting 3/4 of the capability (if you take the prime metric as sortie generation) for a lot less money / cost of operation. That’s probably horribly overly simplistic!

TypewriterMonkey
TypewriterMonkey
13 days ago
Reply to  Liam

EMALS and Hawkeyes are very expensive pieces of kit. US EMALS sold to France for $1.3 billion for their new aircraft carrier, and a package of 3 Hawkeyes for $2 billion.

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
13 days ago
Reply to  Liam

One of the worst articles ever seen, by one of the worst journalists…. There are no Greyhounds….they’ve been replaced by CMV-22…which could be operated from QE perfectly well… Right now there are 4 aircraft in production capable of operating from a catobar carrier….3 of them do the same job (Rafale, F/A-18E/F/G and F-35C). F-35B is superior to 2 of those and equal to F-35C. So it all comes down to E-2D….buying enough E-2D for 2 carriers, additional build costs, EMALS and AAG, increased manning and spares etc….would have added over $10bn cost to the carrier programme…That is doubling the total… Read more »

Liam
Liam
13 days ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

If it’s all down to cost rather than capability that’s fine. I certainly don’t think the F-35B is equal to the F-35C on any reasonable view. As for the E-2D, let’s hope Crowsnest can keep up with what the Chinese and Russians might be lobbing at the QEs from great distances and at great speed.

Angus
Angus
13 days ago
Reply to  Liam

The B will fly when you can get the C off the deck so there is a big advantage the onboard whizz kit is the same too so how is not close?. If we could get a couple dozen MV22’s with the right fit out then even better. Have you ever been at sea on a flat top?

Liam
Liam
13 days ago
Reply to  Angus

Oh here we go, have you been at sea. No, but neither have the politicians who make the decisions ultimately. Also we can read and listen to experts in the field and come to decisions. For example, Ward Carroll had a very interesting discussion on his YouTube channel about Stephen Walsh’s article that the multi role nature of the FA-18 was a serious problem in terms of time management and left carriers vulnerable. I can read and listen like anyone. I am now an expert on taxation, can I tell you not to have a view on tax policy or… Read more »

Angus
Angus
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Life’s not perfect and you never have all you want but have to deal with what the Gov will allow (bean counters). The RN has always done more with less and we had a multi role fighter for many years. It’s more about how you use what you have and sorry to say the Yanks are not the greatest as often they had major issues in their operations. At least I served with our jets and saw the results first hand. Have a view its still a free world. Enjoy it.

Liam
Liam
12 days ago
Reply to  Angus

That’s a fair point. I read extensively as it interests me. So I don’t think expressing concerns as an interested observer should be discounted. I’ve read widely and things like Jerry Pook’s “RAF Ground Attack – Falklands”, particularly his “afterthoughts” give me pause for thought about how shambolic we can be at times.

Andrew
Andrew
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Liam, the politicians ultimately made the decision re the carriers, but they were strongly guided/influenced by the MOD/navy… If memory serves me right, the original two ships were to be in the 40,000 tonnes range…. Effective arguments over the increased size, flexibility, capability and mission rate by the navy chiefs has given us the two 65k tonne ships we have today…

BobA
BobA
13 days ago
Reply to  Liam

I think when considering defence against hypersonic anti-ship weapons (what I think you’re alluding to) we should consider defending against the kill chain, not the missile. In order to successfully target anything moving, you first need to be able to see it. Then you need to be able to provide real time targeting data to the weapon system throughout it’s transit to the target assuming it has the manoeuvrability to dynamically attack a ship underway. I’m no expert, but if you destroy or even disrupt any part of the kill chain, you effectively defeat the threat – -Hypersonics must have… Read more »

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
12 days ago
Reply to  BobA

Exactly. All these fancy sounding weapons need a kill chain. Find, track, engage. And it’s not easy.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

F35B has identical capability to the F35C except how it can land and takeoff. F35C does carry more fuel. And can carry larger weapons internally (not more weapons). But none of them are weapons that are being integrated anyway on British F35’s. We don’t use 2000lb or 1000lb class weapons anymore. 👍

Liam
Liam
12 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

900 v 1200 miles range is not identical.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

If you look at my comment again I said the F35C carrys more fuel.

Liam
Liam
12 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

So to my point the B is hobbled in comparison to the C. Range is critically important given the threats a carrier faces. Particularly since, we can’t at the moment get anything off the QE class to refuel the B. Which gets back to my original point about the limitations of operating more than one type of fixed wing aircraft from the QE class.

Sean
Sean
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

And the B is not hobbled like the C by needing cats and traps – which can be unavailable due to bad weather or breakdown.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Carrier A2A refueling is often used to top up after takeoff, or to refuel if a pilot is having a hard time getting back on deck. They dont offer the same type of extra endurance that say a Voyager can offer And much of the F35C’s extra fuel capacity will be taken up with bring back fuel. That means having enough fuel to do X number of circuits to land back on deck if the weather is bad or the pilot is just having a bad day. VSTOL fighters land first time, every time. Another advantage often overlooked. But a… Read more »

John Hartley
John Hartley
12 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

F-35 A & C weapons bays are identical. Lots of weapons are going on F-35A, so they are also available for C. Things like B61-12, AARGM-ER, JSM, JSOW-C, JASSM-ER, bunker buster bombs. The UK may not be buying these now, but the Ukraine war has been showing the need for such things. None of those weapons fit in the tiny B bay.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
12 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

But ours will carry 8 SPEAR CAP 3’s internally. Paveway 4, and the new bunker buster Paveway 4. And SPEAR EW, plus ASRAAM, AMRAAM and later Meteor. All those weapons are cracking bit’s of kit. The F35B’s internal bay’s are a bit shorter, that’s all. They are not tiny.

John Hartley
John Hartley
12 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

It would have to be a thin bunker to be at risk from a 500lb Paveway IV.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
12 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Not with very clever fusing options. Enhanced Paveway 4 is the RAF’S primary weapon, and has replaced EPW 2 & 3. StormShadow is for more strategic long range targets.

Louis
Louis
12 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

In fairness it will limit the anti ship missiles F35B can carry internally as the internal bay is shorter

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
12 days ago
Reply to  Louis

That is true. SPEAR CAP 3 will have anti ship capability. 8 can be carried internally. Other potential options would have to go under the wings. 👍

expat
expat
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

There may be a solution in the pipe for the B’s range from either Lockheed or Israel. But Crowsnest we need to be constantly be reviewing as electronics get smaller, unmanned platforms improve and possibilities of distributing the processing emerge. We don’t necessarily need catapults for fixed wing AEW imo.

Julian
Julian
12 days ago
Reply to  expat

I seem to remember reading a while ago that Israel was considering developing conformal fuel tanks for its F35s that would still maintain the stealth characteristics. Is that what you were talking about when you mentioned Israel? If yes then how much weight margin is available for an F-35B taking off from a QEC carrier? Is the weight margin at the moment sufficient for a fully fuelled and armed F-35B to take off and if so is there spare margin that would allow it to take off if it also had full conformal fuel tanks? I’m not intending to be… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago
Reply to  Julian

The QE was designed to be able to operate the F35B at it’s maximum take off weight. Conformal fuel tanks do not change that.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
12 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

I don’t see why normal drop tanks couldn’t be used. I mean if a real life strike mission needed extra range. Fly off with them, use the drop tank fuel then drop them before being in enemy detection range. The are “drop” tanks after all.

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Yeah ok. Of course. You need to get in touch with Radakin i’m sure he’d be speechless. In a good way.

DaveyB
DaveyB
12 days ago
Reply to  Julian

Israel only have the F35A. The requirement for the additional fuel tanks, is to carry out an unrefuelled strike on Iran. However, because Iran has forces operating in Syria and Militias in Iraq, plus have been stirring up trouble in Jordan. Both Jordan and Iraq are likely going to turn a blind eye to any over flights from Israel. So its likely Israel will also send a tanker or two as support for such a strike so the conformal tanks won’t be needed. The jointly researched conformal fuel tanks are said to add between 10 to 15,000lbs of fuel to… Read more »

Expat
Expat
12 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Lockheed started researching underwing tanks on 2019. I think they’ve been tested on the F22 with the technology to be extended to the F35. I didn’t think Isreal had developed conformal tanks but drop tanks?

DaveyB
DaveyB
12 days ago
Reply to  Expat

Lockheed have developed the underwing drop tanks. They have given them a stealthy shape and aerodynamic shape. They have been designed primarily for long distance transits. Such as from the US to Guam. It’s supposed to cut down on the number of tankers required. They aren’t as stealthy as the conformal tank design. But they can be discarded during flight if needed.

The F35B’s inboard wing hard points are plumbed for drop tanks. Various types of tanks have been fitted during ground trials. But I don’t think the aircraft has flown with them fitted.

AA
AA
1 day ago
Reply to  Expat

The F-22 has been able to carry drops since IOC.

https://theaviationist.com/2014/08/08/f-22-fuel-tanks-jettison/

Julian
Julian
12 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Even at 15,000lbs that’s a heck of an increase assuming that the Wikipedia quoted spec for the F-35B as carrying 13,500lbs of internal fuel is correct. That’s comfortably more than doubling the overall fuel capacity. Yes, the fatter front fuselage profile of the F-35B vs the A was something I wondered about too. Wasn’t it you DaveyB that a long time (a few years?) ago spoke about the drop tank option for F35 and that, even though the tanks could be made stealthy, even after dropping them there would likely be some reduction in stealth vs a baseline “clean” F35… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
12 days ago
Reply to  Julian

Hi Julian, well remembered. The key driver for Israel, is the ability of the F35 to carry a full internal load to Iran, using probably a deep earth penetrator version of the 2000lbs bomb. As they have threatened to take out the nuclear labs which are underground. Then recover towards Jordan where they can be tanked. Which gives it the best chance of evading Iran’s radars and air defence systems. From the initial drawings that were released a few years back, the conformal tanks like the F16’s go down the full length of the upper fuselage. Hence the large volume… Read more »

Julian
Julian
12 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Hi DaveyB, Thanks for the comprehensive reply, and nice to see that my memory is still working at least on this occasion! Yes, the MQ-25 looks very interesting. I couldn’t see much about its take off and landing characteristics. Are the design goals such that it could take off from a QEC at maximum take off weight using only the ski jump for assist? For landing is it likely to need an arrestor wire/net/whatever or could it brake/reverse-thrust within the safe deck length available? Then again (testing my memory again!) didn’t the MoD put out some sort of request for… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
11 days ago
Reply to  Julian

The Boeing MQ-25 is only capable of CATOBAR take off and recovery from a carrier. It’s single Rolls Royce engine does not have the power margin for a short take off run using the ramp. Yes, last year the MoD produced a request for information (RFI) for a catapult and arrested recovery system that could be fitted to the carrier within 5 years. The specifications were for a EMALs type catapult that had a maximum launch weight of 24,948kg (55,000lbs) and an arrested recovery system that can recover aircraft weighing 21,319kg (47,000lbs). These are quite large for a unmanned aircraft,… Read more »

Julian
Julian
11 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Thanks yet again for the really detailed reply DaveyB, you never fail to deliver. As a lay person with an interest but no first hand knowledge of all this defence stuff (although I do have comp sci and physics degrees) I really appreciate it when people like you take the time to educate us outsiders.

DaveyB
DaveyB
10 days ago
Reply to  Julian

Your more than welcome. It’s a good distraction.

Expat
Expat
12 days ago
Reply to  Julian

Remember in full stealth mod the f35 will only carry internal load so there would be margin for more fuel. The B main issue has been landing with load hence why SBRVL was developed.

Julian
Julian
12 days ago
Reply to  Expat

Understood. The comment in my closing paragraph – “Even if there wasn’t currently unused weight margin I could still see significant benefit even if carrying conformal fuel tanks meant not carrying external weapons since in many cases that would be the case anyway in order to preserve stealth” – was intending to address exactly that point. On landing dumping any excess fuel prior to landing if a mission is aborted, although annoying, is presumably far far less troublesome and costly than dumping unused munitions.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
12 days ago
Reply to  Julian

What is interesting is the lack of effort for drop tanks. I can’t think of a pre stealth aircraft that didn’t have tanks early in development. Could it be with the range offered tanks just aren’t seen as needed? Is it Lockheed hold the rights to tanks and want a big cheque to build them? I don’t have the answer

DaveyB
DaveyB
10 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Lockheed Martin are the aircraft design organisation. So if we tried to get the large 2250L Tornado drop tank qualified for flight on the F35. It would cost a shed load. as we would have to stump up the integration costs, which would include the risk analysis, probably changes to the flight control software and any trials that followed. Lockheed will be producing their specific drop tank for the F35, which is being paid for by the USAF. So it’s likely that our F35Bs will in the near future will also get these tanks. They will still need to be… Read more »

AA
AA
1 day ago
Reply to  Julian

Reports are that the Israelis have developed and deployed drop tanks on their F-35s.

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/israel-has-extended-the-range-of-its-f-35s-report

Sean
Sean
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

The RN are already looking at replacing Crowsnest with a drone based system.

Daniel
Daniel
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Personally the F-35B vs F-35C comparison doesn’t worry me. The C variant is marginally superior in range and payload but the B variant also offers a variety of advantages from flexibility of operating locations, to reduced training overheads, to improved all-weather capabilities (with a ski jump) to a larger number of planned purchases from a wider variety of allies. The situation with organic AEW does concern me more, however. At least from an outside perspective, Crowsnest seems like a woefully suboptimal solution. I can only hope that this capability is seriously addressed in the future by some kind of UAS,… Read more »

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
12 days ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

Thanks for the info didn’t realise they were so eye wateringly expensive, do wish people would exercise their brains before writing metoo nonsense.

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
12 days ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

E-2D are c$250m per aircraft (the Japanese paid that). Each carrier would need 5 to provide 24-7 coverage. But you need enough for 2 and spares/attrition. So you’d need 12. The French have ordered 3…they never have more than 2 onboard. Clearly a reduced capability as the USN has 5 onboard each carrier… But then you need EMALS and AAG, which is around $700m per carrier, you need a spare set and a land based one for training… You’d also need some T-45 Goshawk for CATOBAR training, only they’re not being built anymore… More crew on the ship to operate… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
12 days ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

A very good summary. Some people can’t see past TopGun images of carrier operations, and not the reality. Especially cost and the training burden.

grizzler
grizzler
12 days ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

in what way is F35B equal (or going to be equal) to the F35C?

AA
AA
1 day ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

“There are no Greyhounds….they’ve been replaced by CMV-22…”

Incorrect. C-2s are still operating with VRC-30 and this past week transported JMSDF VADM Tatsuya Fukuda and members of his staff to USS Ronald Reagan.

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/7355944/uss-ronald-reagan-cvn-76-hosts-jmsdf-staff

Steve
Steve
13 days ago
Reply to  Liam

If money wasn’t an object then clearly you wouldn’t be silly /short sighted and put all your eggs in one basket, especially as at the time of signing the contrac the F35 was still in the design phase and we would have been stuck if the US had pulled out. Luckily the gamble paid off and the F35 appears to be a very capable jet, but still needs combat testing. Not being able to fly supplies to the carrier’s or switch personal easily at sea etc is a weakness, but during the Falklands we found a way around the problem.… Read more »

Liam
Liam
13 days ago
Reply to  Steve

I think that’s a very fair assessment. Although it does make me wonder why we didn’t go for something more like the USS Wasp or the Italian Cavour.

Steve
Steve
13 days ago
Reply to  Liam

We expected to buy more f35 than we are going to. Neither the wasp or the Cavour can carry as many jets or operate them at the level of sortie rate.

Whether the reduced buy rate makes that decision void is another question but that’s with hindsight as the vessels are already built.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
12 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Wasp or Cavour cannot generate any kind of sustained sortie rate with F35B.

If you have ever been on an Invincible you would know what a pain it was in the hangar.

If you pack too much on a small platform then you spend all your time juggling airframes around in a giant and labour intense game of Tetris.

JohnM
JohnM
13 days ago
Reply to  Liam

As Steve mentions the QEC design was created to provide a sustainable daily sortie rate on operations that the US would deem acceptable, so that a UK carrier group could realistically relieve a US one if necessary. The requirement was 100 sorties and in pure carrier strike mode the designers determined this would need 36 combat jets and 4 AEW assets. The options you mention aren’t big enough to carry that size of air wing and weapons etc.

Last edited 13 days ago by JohnM
John Hartley
John Hartley
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

The new Trieste is a fine ship.

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
12 days ago
Reply to  Steve

People on this site keep harping on about the UKs “tight budget”, by any metric we have one of the biggest military budgets in the world. Only 2 countries in the world appear to have “unlimited” budgets, the USA and China, and the Americans would dispute that.

Steve
Steve
12 days ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

Its near on impossible to compare miltiary budgets as every nation includes different things and have very different buying power/costs. For example cost of a solider is significantly higher in say UK Vs India.

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
12 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Not really, NATO have standard reporting format and there is a Swedish NGO that reports on these matters. Also one should take into account that most developing nations have huge standing army (job creation schemes) which take up far more of their budgets than ours. So although it is nice to keep thinking that the UK is in poverty, unfortunately reality differs quite a bit.

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

No one on here is listening. I’m being unfair. 90% aren’t listening.

Last edited 12 days ago by David Steeper
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
12 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Count me out of that, I find OKRs comments sensible and state reality.

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago

👍

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
12 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

I’m listening, but as for reading and taking that in before letting my brain fart all over the keyboard, no 😂😂😂

Andrew
Andrew
12 days ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

I’m listening…. And your 100% correct

Bringer of Facts
Bringer of Facts
13 days ago
Reply to  Liam

The invincible class had no CTOL aircraft either and they functioned quite well. The F-35B is a massive step up from the sea harrier, so I don’t why the author of that article is so cynical.

John Hartley
John Hartley
12 days ago

Sea Harrier had Sea Eagle. No anti ship missile for F-35B.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Liam., I’ve been going on about this and the lack of aircraft for the last two years. The whole thing has been a cock up. I wish you luck on here though as you have a lot of people, not all, who seem to think everything is fine.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

The enduring problem is getting Block IV to fruition. There is almost zero point in ordering loads of planes that need to be very expensively upgraded or otherwise will be unable to take the UK weapons fit of Block IV. Reading between the lines Block IV is far more than just a software upgrade it is quite a fundamental rework of the planes sensors and computer systems. Don’t get me wrong: I would love us to have 60-72 with the RAF now. As I am sure they would given the increased tensions. But you cannot build things as complicated as… Read more »

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago

And this is why I keep questioning the wisdom of what we are doing. I fully accept that there may not be anything we can do but just to accept the status quo somewhat pointless. Three problems and I will repeat… 1)Block 4 has now been delayed twice with a new date of as late as 2030 plus (2) The U.S. are almost certainly going to re engine the A and C versions and possibly make changes to the systems hardware, the engine changes at least will not fit the B version.(3) my old argument about too few aircraft to… Read more »

Liam
Liam
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

We are back in the 80s it seems to me, Carriers are going to be targeted by Backfires or their equivalents. We’re going to need different aircraft doing different jobs. Having a 900 mile range multirole aircraft doing everything, save for a hobbled Crowsnest is asking for trouble.

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Block IV is delivered in packages, not one great big bang. They’ll be delivered incrementally. For example the new TR3 processor has completed flight trials and will be cut into new production from 2023. The production standard the UK is likely to aim for is the same as the USMC. Which is Lot 17 standard. This is Block IV upgradeable by software and has enhanced EW capability. For the majority of our fleet this is an upgrade at a reasonably cheap cost.Only 1 UK aircraft, BK-03, is in the very expensive category of $25m to upgrade to full Block IV… Read more »

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

BUT and it’s a big one , as I have said over and over again, the US are upgrading the F35A first and THEIR date for first delivery is 2027/28 followed by the B and C versions around two years later, that’s eight years before we get another aircraft, unless we accept the current version for 2025/26 which almost everybody presumably don’t want because they’re not block 4.

Deep32
Deep32
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Hi Geoff, Ref F35b deliveries, we are currently slated to get the remaining 24 aircraft (taking us to 48) between 2023-2025. The MOD has a funding line for a further 24 aircraft plus all associated equipment/spares/people, which will currently be ordered from 2026 onwards, which given a two year delivery date from purchase could well receive the majority of the Blk 4 updates that we are talking about. Believe it is the MODs intention to update as a minimum the next tranche (24) of aircraft to Blk 4 as and when it becomes available. Not sure about airframes 4-24, much… Read more »

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Thanks. Give or take a bit I have no great problem with the times but as you rightly say we may or may not get Block 4 aircraft and we may upgrade 25 to 48 but a lot of the argument here is that we should specifically wait for Block 4. Similarly, if we have 72 aircraft ( ie we don’t sidestep the first 24 ) we can achieve a lot of what we need by 2030. If it’s only 48 we’re back to square one. My other concerns you have read about?

Deep32
Deep32
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

I think that news of airframes 25-48 arriving has been somewhat lost these past few years with all things COVID, and what with the even later arrival of Blk 4 improvements, events have become blurred and possible confused in places.
Of greater concern as you have rightly pointed out is the delay in not only integrating UK weapons, but weapons in general.
Yes, I have been following your posts for a while now, and understand where you are coming from, not altogether unreasonable.

expat
expat
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Geoff its not certain US will re-engine the A and C. There’s resistance to this as it undermines the very purpose of the F35.

Why engine replacement plan would hurt F-35’s international credentials | Opinion | Flight Global

The Downside of Adaptive Engine Technology for the F-35 Fleet – The Diplomat

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago
Reply to  expat

Personally, I hope you right but according to the USAF and the US accountability office it could be two or three years before we even get a decision.

Expat
Expat
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Even GE are saying their engine won’t be ready for production installation until end of the decade. That means there’s going to be alot of F35s with the P&W engine around.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago
Reply to  Expat

Agreed.

John Hartley
John Hartley
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

News from Farnborough was that neither the GE adaptive engine or P&W upgraded engine will fit B for now, but both firms know their chances of being adopted (A&C) improve if they can adapt to B, sometime, somehow, in the future.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Cue for a song there John “somewhere over the rainbow, WAY UP HIGH” Just be thankful I’m not singing it in person😁

Jon
Jon
12 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

P&W have two offerings, their adaptive engine (XA-101) and their upgrades to the current engine, the enhanced engine package (EEP). XA-101 wouldn’t fit in the B, but I thought EEP would and could be ready fairly quickly.

DaveyB
DaveyB
12 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

With over 500 B versions either flying or on order, that is still a lucrative prize for an engine builder to supply. The USMC will have a very large say in Congress in getting support for a new engine.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

I take your point which is well reasoned and well put.

As @Rudeboy say Blk IV is not just software. I didn’t express myself very well as I had meant to say, as he has, Blk IV hardware ready (or mostly).

So given the MOD are taking 24(5) jets now quite quickly I’d say the underlying hardware was mostly in place in that timeframe.

I would understand the frustration of not being able to re-engine due to lack of control over the platform. It is kind of why Tempest is so important.

Steve
Steve
12 days ago

The whole block 4 arguement only works if we don’t have another war in the meantime. Its probably a safe assumption, as there is nothing obvious on the horizon but can’t be guaranteed. If we did have another war where the carrier’s were needed we would have an issue as we don’t have the jets.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
12 days ago
Reply to  Steve

In rough round numbers name me who we might be fighting who has more than 16 Gen 5 jets?

In fact I can’t think of anyone we might be fighting who has any genuine Gen 5 jets.

So I think the number tends towards zero…….

Steve
Steve
12 days ago

Until they are combat tested, we really don’t know how well they will compete against older generation of planes. However we do know to operate an effective carrier strike group you need a certain number of jets providing cap for the task force, before you can even think about attack runs and jets in maintance etc. You have to remember the 20 odd that were used during the Falklands were in insufficient numbers to provide both in the numbers required. The task force needed more in defensive positions and the ground forces needed more for cas, no matter how advanced… Read more »

Last edited 12 days ago by Steve
Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
12 days ago
Reply to  Steve

I totally agree re ‘82 numbers.

Hence why 36 onboard was chosen.

But also the AAW systems, apart from Wolf on T22, were not the best.

Expat
Expat
12 days ago

Hi SB I thought a rate of 100 sorties over 24 hrs could be conducted with 24 airframes? . Hence 48 gives us the required design sortie rate for 2 carriers. The carriers could surge to 36 if required.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
12 days ago
Reply to  Expat

I thought it was based around 36 frames?

4 sorties per day per frame average seems very high to me given maintenance rotations etc?

But I may be totally wrong as I was never involved in organising flight operations!

Jon
Jon
12 days ago

I’ve heard 100 to be the surge target with 72 for sustained, using 36 F-35Bs and a number of rotaries. But we won’t know until it’s tested. I hope we hear the figures from the USS Tripoli exercise this spring. They had at least 20 F-35s for surge testing, building over a number of days to try and find the optimum number. Until we do this with the Queen Elizabeth, it’s all just guesswork. Triploi will give us an interesting lower bound. I’d love to see us try to replicate Nimitz Surge 97 with the QE class once it’s FOC.… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
12 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Truthfully it would be best modelled with part of it done for real to test the data.

Things like areas of the hangar coned off as if they had cabs etc in the.

Doing it for real would blow the training budget. That is unless politicians want to send a message?

Jon
Jon
12 days ago

Modelling would show what the carrier could do if we had the replenishment, planes, aviators and maintenance crew, but it wouldn’t show we could actually do it: that we have the replenishment, planes, aviators and maintenance crew. Doing it for real would be a capstone to FOC.

Yes, it sends a message to potential adversaries as well as allies and the British public. Worth the budget in deterrence value alone, IMO.

DaveyB
DaveyB
12 days ago

Plus they didn’t have Sea King AEW until Lusty arrived down South.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
11 days ago

I can think of somebody with over 300 aircraft and that’s the Chinese Navy. Their air force has around 2000! In each case about half are modern 4th generation. We appear to be outnumbered about 19 to 1 by the. Navy and 125 to 1 by the air force. Americans first I think.

Liam
Liam
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

We have big carriers, with a relatively short range but capable jet. The unavoidable fact is that there is no capacity for any other fixed wing aircraft. That seems to me to be a legitimate concern. The only retort seems to be is that we can buy Ospreys in the future.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

All the other aircraft are less capable than F35 .So why would we want any other? Its not like the French regularly operate USN F18s from the CDG is it. And we will be able to operate USMC, Italian, Japanese F35Bs, as was proven last year if we wish too. F35B carries more fuel than a Typhoon or a Tornado. The range issue is massively over hyped. And if we had chosen a cats and traps carrier design, we would still be buying F35. So it’s a huge amount of extra money and training, just so the same capability can… Read more »

Liam
Liam
12 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

I hope you are right. I’d like to be wrong as I want the RN to have the best it can possibly have, subject to its resource limitations.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

It is a concern Liam but see my reply to Supportive Bloke.

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

‘Relatively short ranged’

Compared to what???

Relatively means ‘in comparison or proportion to something else’…

What are you comparing it with?

Liam
Liam
12 days ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

The 900 v 1200 F-35B to F35C. That’s a 25% reduction, which is considerable.

Sean
Sean
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

It’s only short range if you compare the range against the C version. 🤦🏻‍♂️

Liam
Liam
12 days ago
Reply to  Sean

That’s exactly what I am doing.

Sean
Sean
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Yes so utterly pointless.

Actually in bad weather or when the EMALs is down again, the range of the C is zero miles… so actually the B has a far better range in some circumstances.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

The reasons for the slow F35B purchase have been discussed over and over again.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Yep. your not bothered, I am.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

I am very bothered Geoff. I’m just realistic about what can be achieved with the budget available.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Robert. Do me a favour. Read the pertinent points I am trying to make and then read them again. I have stated repeatedly that we have budget constraints but if we don’t challenge things what is the point of us discussing anything.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Challenge your MP then, protest outside Downing Street. Start an online partition for increased defence spending. Ranting on here isn’t going to achieve anything. Even if we do get to 2.5% or 3% it doesn’t mean we can rapidly increase our fighter numbers. We need more people first. We can’t just magic this stuff out of thin air even with extra money. Some things can be done quickly, but others take year’s and very careful planning.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Robert. If the best thing you can come up with is that I’m ranting simply because you don’t agree will you please stop replying to me. Fair notice. I will not waste my time replying to you.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

And all you can come up with is unfunded fantasy fleet’s and have a go at some of for supposedly not caring, or we think it’s ok to wait another 10 years. Well guess what, if Liz Truss or Rushi announced a 5% defence budget next week, it would be years before we saw any real benefit from it. Look at the practicalities of deciding what equipment we need setting out the requirements, it takes time. I want more fast jets, warships, manning ect as much as the next guy, but getting it all in service and sustaining it all,… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

We don’t think it is fine my dear Geoff.

We see things would be worse if we ordered lots of planes now given the costs involved which would mean even greater expense going forward updating them and the subsequent financial hits on other things.

As it is the build up to the first 48 continues, with more to follow.

The budget is a balancing act, buying now just to bugger things up later is not ideal when we do not need to.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago

I did say “not all” but I do find it frustrating. That’ll come as a surprise to you! 🤔My worry is mostly about whether, if we do not take another look, we are once again going to end up with some long winded trip to nowhere.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

It’s good you’re concerned my friend.

You care, we all do.

Taking another look, meaming? Did you find my reply elsewhere regards Tempest costs and having F35A and more B alongside that?

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago

Yep, just replied, bit like a tennis match this.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

👍

Liam
Liam
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

I have been pointed to the Navy Lookout article. I think it’s final paragraph contains my essential point some 3 years on from the article. “…In an ideal world where defence spending was north of 3% of GDP and manpower was abundant the RN would be commissioning two CATOBAR carriers that would routinely carry 36 F-35Cs. We cannot indulge champagne tastes on a beer budget – the VSTOL Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers are still enormously powerful while more in keeping with the limited resources available. Whether we may come to regret their slightly lesser capabilities in a future conflict… Read more »

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Liam . Your post are like a breath of spring fresh air. So many people seem to think we have years to sort out getting three squadrons of aircraft shared between two services desperate for fighting warplanes. We need to review urgently what is a priority and having 15/20 aircraft for isn’t it.

Liam
Liam
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

What bothers me is we spend vast quantities of money going for the latest and greatest, when we have this “beer budget”. So we end up neither Arthur or Martha. The whole F35 program has been enormously expensive. One thing I will say about the FA-18 (yes it has poor range) is that it is a design that’s been iterated over time and is being used now. Perhaps that’s a more realistic option on our budget. If not why go for something entirely inflexible meaning that we can’t evolve as situations change. A cat can send of a fixed wing… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

The newest FA18’s cost at least as much as the F35 but is a generation behind with zero stealth. There’s a big debate in the US about that with politicians wanting new orders for F18’s built in their constituencies and the USN stating exactly what I say above. I wish as well that there was a viable cheaper option out there for our carriers but there isn’t.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

We have gone for F35 because it provides the best capability. The most options for Commanders. It is at the start of it’s development with decades of upgrades planned in. F18 is a 70’s design near the end of its development. It’s still a very good aircraft, very capable. But there is a reason F35 is winning so many overseas orders. If you want to see an aircraft carrier full of aircraft, but be relegated behind US forces in a conflict, buy F18. If you want real first day of war capability with 5th gen capabilities to dominate the battle… Read more »

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

I rather liked the F18 idea when we had the option of CATOBAR, getting the carriers up and running and then bringing on the F35C but it wasn’t to be and now it really is too late. There are still options as how we equip and operate the carriers though and this is where we concentrate.

Expat
Expat
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

As I posted earlier its EMALS that stopped us having any other airframe. It was eye wateringly expensive and would have meant only one carrier. So the reality is the B was and still is the only game in town. No one in NATO is buying F18 the F35 is winning every competition based on capability vs cost. Those making these decisions have access to all the info. The reality is our carrier program is a success we have a 5th gen carrier with the base to grow. Who else has that ither than the US. The only thing we… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
11 days ago
Reply to  Expat

Plus if you look at the USS Gerald Ford. The EMALs is still not fully cleared for F35. How long has it been on trials? Compare that with the 2 QE class carriers. The STOVL layout, meant both ships are in service quicker. Plus pilots and crews can be trained up quicker, to be sent to sea. IF the QE class had initially gone down the EMALS route. We would be moaning that we have two carriers that can’t launch any aircraft!

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

How are you getting the man power Geoff?

Gareth
Gareth
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

…inability to operate any other fixed wing aircraft at all.

The QEs can operate the Osprey

Liam
Liam
12 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

I’ve mentioned that. I suppose we’ll have to hope we can get refuelling, AEW versions etc if the need arises.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

You can’t take on a Chinese fighter jet with an Osprey.

richard
richard
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

As some one in the drone industry. IF it ends up with no capability to use drones this is really missing a trick. The Industry has for a long time known that this area is is seriously underdeveloped for military use. A key element is that so many development types rely on things to do with china yet development costs are in fact quite cheap verses capability. The Military them selves can see the benefits and have been pushing the MOD for a long time but as ever it it is like pushing water up hill with the MOD. one… Read more »

John
John
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

One thing to keep in mind is that because the QEC is neither nuclear nor coal steam powered there is no steam for steam catapults. Meaning they would have to be electromagnetic instead. A technology which at this time does not actually work. Thus the choices are really a QEC that can launch lightning as we have currently or one that can’t launch anything because it’s fecking broken.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
12 days ago
Reply to  John

a steam generator. Big kettle. Can be run off electricity, hot gases from the gas turbines etc etc.
Anyway ski jumps was the right choice. This discussion was done to death 10 years ago. Even the government joined in

DaveyB
DaveyB
12 days ago
Reply to  John

Not strictly true. As with any gas turbine/turbojet engine, you can turn it into a steam generator. Basically using the heat from the exhaust to heat a water vessel, which turns then into steam. The problem is that the ship internally, has not been designed to add in additional high pressure steam pipework, plus the additional safety measure that highly pressurized steam requires to operate. In theory it is doable to add the steam generator plus pipework, but it will cost a shed load of money and time. When it will be easier to add the EMALs that has been… Read more »

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
12 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Oh yes I agree it would require a refit and isn’t worth it. It was the statement because it not nuclear or powered by coal it can’t make steam I disagreed with.
I love a ski jump.
What I’ve wondered for a while is whether there is more uses for the lift fan tech. In drones perhaps, smaller lift fan etc, electric driven? Or is it a one trick pony

DaveyB
DaveyB
11 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Hi MS, Lift fans like that used on the F35 are being looked at for VTOL personal transport aircraft. However, rather than using one large diameter and fixed lift fan. Manufacturers are look at using multiple small ducted fans. They are also trialling putting them on a wing’s moveable trailing edge. This has the benefit of making the aircraft VTOL, by being able to move the thrust vector through 90 degrees. But it also helps generate more lift, as the “suction” of the ducted fan helps reattach the flow over the top of the wing. A good example is the… Read more »

Lillum VTOL personal aircraft.jpg
Stu
Stu
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Not read the article (paywall) but read the thinpinstripes rebuttal (skimmed the 5-6 paragraphs dedicated to demonising the Telegraph author). You’re right. We’ve limited our options for other fixed wing, not only now but into the future too. Any future system (loyal wingman, AEW, refuelling capability, UAV COD etc.) will all be limited to STOVL solutions (which naturally increases cost & complexity of both purchase and maintainance and often decreases capability). I’m sure I read somewhere QuinetiQ had an EMALS competitor in development for a while too. In my dreams, we’d have bought 24-32 Navalised Typhoons and 24-32 F35C –… Read more »

Liam
Liam
12 days ago
Reply to  Stu

That’s what got me. The rebuttal went for the man , not the ball.

Jon
Jon
12 days ago
Reply to  Stu

The Telegraph printed their own rebuttal yesterday, but that too is paywalled.

expat
expat
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Liam, the issue was the cost of EMALs, remember you need at least 2 catapults per hull, was going to be so expensive we would have to mothball one carrier or even sell it off! I don’t know about you but I prefer 2 carriers with Bs than one with Cs.

The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

The Telegraph is nothing but a pile O shite propaganda outlet nobody pays any attention to so I wouldn’t be too concerned.

The invincible class served the RN splendidly yet could only operate Harriers so not sure the rags nonsense argument has any relevance.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇬🇧

grizzler
grizzler
12 days ago

No one is saying the Invincible class and the harriers didnt serve the UK well – if not for them Id suggest the Falklands would not now exist. But would we have been served better if it had had cats and traps- no one would know either way. Looking back is not the excuse for not looking forwards…should we have pushed the boat out and gone for cats and traps now…I think yes others no. My main concern now is the ‘development’ of the F35B regards both engines and software availabilty- we cannot continue to say we will wait for… Read more »

The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
10 days ago
Reply to  grizzler

Aye a fair assessment however as Jon Bon Jovi said a few yrs back around the time the F35 was on the drawing board “keep the faith” the software and engines will be on point .👍🏻

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇬🇧

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
12 days ago

Total agreement there. Most papers love to print some utter trash.

Jon
Jon
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

The Osprey V22 tiltrotors (the ones replacing Greyhounds in USN service) have fixed wings as well as rotors and are certified to operate from HMS QE. We choose not to buy them. No the carrier can’t operate with Hawkeye, but even if it could, it wouldn’t. The RN had better options than Crowsnest and declined to buy them on cost grounds. And those options were cheaper than E-2D. They haven’t announced the replacement for Crowsnest; however, the expectation is that it will be a large fixed-wing drone. So there should be something by the end of the decade. It would… Read more »

fg_2403658-jni-544.jpg
Mark B
Mark B
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Liam I read that article with interest but was disappointed. The main stream media have such little knowledge and understanding of defence issues they very rarely bother to publish articles. They certainly seem to believe their readers are too dim to understand the basics or are not interested at all. Unfortuneately you have to go to the more specialist sites like this one to find out what is actually going on. The article seemed to be suggesting we follow what the US were doing 30-40 years ago. Outdated thinking to the point of being dangerous. Let’s focus on being cutting… Read more »

John Hartley
John Hartley
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Well my QE/PoW wishlist includes a few CMV-22 to keep ship to shore connected. A study on fitting AAG, as STOBAR gives you more flexibility. More kit for F-35B, such as drop tanks, a heavy stand off weapon, an anti ship missile. Of these 48 F-35B, 3 or 4 of them will be early models unsuitable for combat.

Andy Poulton
Andy Poulton
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

I read it and was amazed at how uninformed Lewis was. I’m glad that Sir Humphrey of Thin Pinstriped Line repudiated pretty much every claim.

DaveyB
DaveyB
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

I take his comments with a pinch of salt. Not having read the article, but knowing how little investigative work he has done in reports previously. The question I would ask is, did he mention anything about the MoD’s Request For Information (RFI) on cats and traps they released last year? The MoD’s RFI was for a “electronic” launcher (EMALS) and arrested recovery system, to be installed in the next 3 to 5 years. The catapult is to have a max launch weight of 24,948kg (55,000lbs) and recover aircraft weighing up to 21,319kg (47,000lbs). The exact phrase in the statement… Read more »

Jonathans
Jonathans
10 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Hi Liam when you look at all the data and views the U.K. going with VSTOL was the only way we could regenerate a carrier force within the money and resources we have. The big difference between our F3B VSTOL carrier airwing and a CATBAR carrier airwing is pilot qualification. It takes a CATBAR pilot around a month to carrier qualify for day take of and landing ( that’s around half on land and half at sea) then they need to qualify for night time and finally must constantly practice the art or they loss carrier qualification and have to… Read more »

Liam
Liam
10 days ago
Reply to  Jonathans

Thank you for such a thoughtful reply. I am going to read again.

Jonathans
Jonathans
10 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Hi Liam, the other interesting thing to look as is: 1) crew size, CATOBAR need far bigger deck crews than VSTOL with lots more technical branches and things to fix and maintain ( the Elizabeth’s are insanely low on crewing and therefore it’s not just aircrew qualification cost but ship crew costs that are really high in CATBAR. 2) reliability of CATOBAR option, if the Emals catapult goes down the whole ship stops sorties until it’s fixed ( if an Emals catapult goes down the whole set Of catapults go down, unlike older steam) at present Emals goes down every… Read more »

Last edited 10 days ago by Jonathans
Bill
Bill
13 days ago

We need every plane we can lay our hands on!

Jonno
Jonno
12 days ago
Reply to  Bill

Its going to be drones in the next 10 years for sure. That will mean cats and traps of some kind at some point albeit maybe not full power. Who knows.

Sean
Sean
12 days ago
Reply to  Jonno

The RN already has a tender out for small cats to launch drones from the carriers.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
11 days ago
Reply to  Sean

Exactly this

Tommo
Tommo
13 days ago

Seem like the Bags of rice idea didn’t totally dry out its predecessor oh well worth a try

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
12 days ago

Rolls Royce has won an $850m contract to provide depot level engine repairs for US and Kuwati KC-130’s. 60% of work to be carried out in Canada, 30% in Portugal, 5% in Texas and 5% in Indiana.

Rolls Royce awards $850 million contract for the KC-130 aircraft (navyrecognition.com)

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago

In terms of the RAF and RN the F35B should/will be at the head of the queue to benefit from the increase in defence spending. 2.5% and especially 3% will be a game changer for the F35B. 138 is perfectly achievable if it’s a priority for them.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
12 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

138 was always the through life number of frames.

If we can get 72 on the ground in RAF hands at any one time that would be massive.

In the meantime we would be better off buying 24 more T4 Typhoon to replace the T1’s being retired.

John
John
12 days ago

That’s what Germany is doing.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago

Agreed SB, and let’s get on with it. Get the RAF up to eight squadrons of Typhoons and bring in F35A to head up two squadrons. Backed up by Wingman UAV’s the RAF would be in it’s best position for years. Move the B’s to operate off the carriers.

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

F35A would mean setting up a new training and support organisation with all the additional costs in money and manpower involved.

Jonno
Jonno
12 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

No order F35C’s rather than F35A’s. We always need carrier capable planes. The only time in WW2 we needed non carrier a/c was when up against the Luftwaffe in Western Europe and missiles have changed all that. People forget the Mediterranean, Atlantic, sub-Arctic and Pacific Theatres where FAA was the lead. Not pushing inter service rivalry just stating a fact.

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago
Reply to  Jonno

The same issues would arise with the C as with the A. Plus would need QE’s converted from VSTOL presumably with EMALS which would not be cheap.

Jon
Jon
12 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

We could buy off the shelf from the Yanks and get EMALS and AAG, or we could go British. Higher risk, but possible onward sales to France or India. We could go back to EMCAT, which had an advertised capability up to 32+ tons, more than enough to meet the current MOD requirement, and almost exactly the same as the MTOW of an F-35C. Restarting stuff from 9 years ago won’t be easy, and MacTaggart Scott haven’t done arrestors for Britiain for considerably longer. The waterspay tech they use is older and better understood (in this country) than AAG, so… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Lots of ideas but too many ifs and too expensive. We have to make STOVL work.

Jon
Jon
12 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

My preference too, but I think that means tiltrotors, possibly the V-280. Lots of work to marinise, and probably only assembled in the UK.

Sean
Sean
12 days ago
Reply to  Jonno

Utterly pointless ordering F35Cs.
Extra maintenance, training and logistics.
Nothing to fly them from.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Why is a such a problem. Where is a will…. .The US are doing it but more to the point so is Italy, Japan is following. There is a distinct possibility of the Aussies joining the game.

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

What would you forgo to pay for it ?

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

AJAX😰

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Haha you can’t kill something that’s already dead. 😁

Paul T
Paul T
12 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Without advocating the ‘A’ by any means you wouldn’t need to set up a separate Logistics Train to support it ,our good friends from the USA will have that sorted down the road at RAF Lakenheath – mates rates and all that 😀

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

We could even save money on training by having them fly them, maintain them and even base them at Lakenheath. It would save a fortune. I can’t believe it’s never been thought of before. I’m just gonna assume you’re being daft. 😁

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

48Bs or more? Alongside the F35As? How many A’s would we order? Two small fleets of A and B would mean the carriers won’t ever have enough manned aircraft, never mind now, but the future too, so why not have all B to reduce logistic, training, and spares footprint. From what I understand regards money allocated to Combat Air at DES for the next decade if we get F35A on top of B it means no Tempest. Tempest already takes 9 billion of the budget. Typhoon I agree, IF the money is found. The RAF would indeed be stronger than… Read more »

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago

It’s back to what concerns me Daniele. With all the delays and potential changes I just wonder if we’re on the right track, or flightpath!. I have a scenario but obviously only one possibility. We could beef up the RAF with enough Typhoons to take them up to eight squadrons of ten plus OCU/Evaluation. Our existing F35B order goes to the RN. We could have three squadrons of eight up and running by 2024/25 and with the addition of our current order four or five squadrons by 2026/27. Since both carriers are active anyway both could embark and work up.… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Why would you buy 6 F35A’s ?

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
12 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

As I say David , if big if we went down that road we would need pilots to train up on the A. We could work with the USAF but we’ll need to start with some of our own F35 A’s sooner rather than later.

John Hartley
John Hartley
12 days ago

DM. The trouble with B is the very limited choice of weapons in comparison with what is or will be available on A&C.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
12 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

I don’t see it as a trouble considering we are almost 20 years in on this. Experts will have considered that.
Once it has AMRAAM, ASRAAM, Meteor PIV, SPEAR3 what is left bar an ASM to acquire?

They all kill people, and destroy enemy equipment. Is that not why the F35 exists, it will do that job very well with its ISTAR suite.

John Hartley
John Hartley
12 days ago

Stand off weapons DM. Even a stealth fighter can be spotted if it gets too close to a modern radar.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
11 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Typhoon/Storm Shadow then.

According to Wiki SPEAR3 has range around 80 miles out.

Within a NATO op and USAF assets doing SEAD I won’t lose much sleep on the radars John!

We seem to pick holes left right and centre in a capability seen as fantasy when we had GR9s on the Invincibles.

Not me!

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

And that plan would take another 10 years to achieve at the earliest, even with all the money and will in the world.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
11 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

No to F35A from me.

Buy more F35B to fill out the fleet: yes.

Buy more Typhoon T4 to reduce RAF F35B needs:yes.

Keep it simple.

A small F35B/A fleet is ripe for a cuts argument…….I think we have heard of those before……..reduce the size…….sustainment cost to flyable ratios…..’sad old boy but inevitable in the circumstances: nothing to be done I’m afraid, do shut the door.’

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
11 days ago

The F35 A was a thought to keep us in line with all the other air forces, Range, payload etc. but also so we could move with the new engine and weapon systems that the U.S. are talking about.

John Hartley
John Hartley
10 days ago

A Typhoon/F-35A/B is just a platform. Its what is integrated on to it that matters. A heck of a lot of Smart weapons are being integrated on to F-35A.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
10 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

I have a slight difference of opinion.

The platform matters an awful lot in terms sensors and stealth.

This rather vital if a weapon is to cued up by the aircraft using hybrid sensors say pulling in ISTAR, satellite, ELINT and planes own sensors.

So yes weapons matter but it is more about the fusion of sensors, platforms an effectors. Not just missiles……

John Hartley
John Hartley
10 days ago

Well F-35A will be stealthy, have good sensors & a large number of the latest smart weapons available for it to use.

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago

Using Typhoon as a guide if we want 72 frontline F35B’s we’d need roughly 138 in total. If you mean 72 total we’d be lucky to have 36 frontline aircraft. With an increased def budget we can afford 138 if the RAF/RN want 138.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
12 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Sorry, I didn’t mean front line.

More the problem is production slots.

If we order shortly and go hunting for more slots the F35B will be overtaken by Tempest in RAF service.

Navy can’t possibly use that number of frames as only one QEC is skated to be operational at a time.

Angus
Angus
12 days ago

Long term the RN will have one flat top at sea so as in the past we need assets to give it a full complement of aircraft, 3 – 4 frontline units and a training unit so 60 working and a dozen in reserve (80-100). But the RAF also needs more and Typhoon T4 would add a good punch and already a known quantity that others are using until Tempest comes online.

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago

No prob I misunderstood. I’m not sure Tempest is that far along that we can say for sure when it will enter service. It’s also not clear how many F35 slots will be available. Agreed though that once Tempest enters production orders for F35 should cease.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
12 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

I’d hardly call F35 progress rapid – some of the tech is a bit dated to put it politely.

This is by Block IV is so important.

The counter will be that F35B will be a mature platform with spares and trained pilots maintainers ecosystem etc.

As always a balance to be struck between moving forwards and having a fully functional capability.

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago

Can’t comment on tech on rest no disagreement.

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
12 days ago

Agree, people obsessed with quantity fail to take into account that the F35 is worth 20-1 legacy aircraft in training and probably 5-1 on the battlefield. The F35 is a game changer so fielding 100s is not necessary, especially with the ability to direct other missiles/platforms.

grizzler
grizzler
12 days ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

as long as theres one available on ‘the battlefield’ – and other combatants only field legacy aircraft…

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
10 days ago
Reply to  grizzler

So what else would they field? Borg Technology?

Liam
Liam
12 days ago

Seems I kicked offa big thread. My main point which has got lost is not the worth of the B variant but of the lack of flexibility for other fixed wing aircraft (aside from the Osprey).

Jon
Jon
12 days ago
Reply to  Liam

Aaargh. What lack of flexibility? We aren’t running anything other than the F-35Bs but we can. Even without catapults we could run Rafales and Super Hornets, but why would we want to? The only thing we realistically can’t run that we might want is the E-2D, which would cost in excess of £75m in annual operating/support costs for five planes.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
12 days ago

Hmmm…the ChiComs have scheduled live-fire exercises in a ring around Taiwan, from Thursday through Sunday, in maritime zones which infringe on generally recognized Taiwanese territorial claims. The margin of error in US v Chinese strategic interactions is decreasing. There is a possibility that a significant amount of real world performance data of varied US and Allied weapon systems could be generated near term. Kennedy stated during a period when Cuban Missle Crisis was threatening to spiral, that in terms of Command and Control, “…could count on some SOB failing to get (or read) the memo…” (may not be the verbatim… Read more »

Jon
Jon
12 days ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

And a rock solid certainty that that a significant amount of real world data of various Chinese systems will be generated. Taiwan has a sophisticated system of early warning radars — I’m sure someone will press record — and the US reconnaissance airwing will be flying high 24/7.

I’m sure you are right about the increasing frequency/intensity of grey-zone events, but I’m less sure that it will lead to combat.

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
10 days ago
Reply to  Jon

I agree this is an excellent opportunity to up our intelligence on Chinese weapons systems and I’m sure we will the Chinese are stupid to indulge in sabre rattling, look what it did for the Russians.

Rec
Rec
12 days ago

It all depends on funds, but logically having bought the aircraft carriers it would be sensible to fit them out to full capability. Ideally 3 dedicated FAA F35B squadrons of 9 would be enough to give one carrier a decent air wing. But then we also face a shortage of Merlin HM2s. Can the Lynx wildcat be modified to carry some form of sonar? If not would we be better of transferring all the Lynx to the army or sell them. And if we can’t manufacture any more Merlin either convert the Commando ones to HM2 and add the FAA… Read more »

Jon
Jon
12 days ago
Reply to  Rec

We know Wildcat can be converted for sonar because the South Koreans use them that way, but then we lose the Wildcat as an attack helicopter. The plan is to replace Crowsnest in a few years and get the Merlins back for ASW. I think that’s the right way and it should happen as soon as possible.

John Hartley
John Hartley
8 days ago
Reply to  Jon

It is a shame that Wildcat did not get the foot longer cabin of the Lynx3/Westland 606 prototypes. No reason, apart from money, why new AW101 Merlins cannot be built. If they were based on the proposed increment 2 US101, then they would have 3000hp engines & newer design rotors.

Uninformed Civvy Lurker
Uninformed Civvy Lurker
10 days ago

If these are the largest warships ever built for the RN, as the press releases keep pointing out. Then these are the largest aircraft carriers we have ever had. Now before the days of steam catapults we could build and fly piston engined aircraft off much smaller aircraft carriers and recover them. So why can’t we take a decent STOL aircraft, many of them built with heavy landing gear as they are designed for small, rough landing strips in jungles, on mountains, etc, update the engine, stick on an E7 style Wedge radar array and there you go. An STOL… Read more »

John Hartley
John Hartley
9 days ago

North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco would do what you want. I think the Yanks flew it off carriers, without using cats & traps, during the Vietnam war.