The Ministry of Defence have confirmed that there are “no plans” for British F-35B jets to be fitted with a gun pod.

The MoD was asked in a Freedom of Information request (the request was not submitted by the UK Defence Journal, by the way):

“Now that the UK has bought the F35b I was wondering if the MOD would be procuring the Gun pod for these aircraft?”

They responded:

“Although the UK’s F-35B Lightning fleet is capable of being fitted with a gun pod, there are currently no plans for the UK to do so.”

The F-35B and F-35C have no internal gun and instead can use a Terma A/S multi-mission pod carrying the GAU-22/A and 220 rounds. Lockheed Martin say that the pod is mounted on the centerline of the aircraft and shaped to reduce its radar cross-section.

In lieu of the gun, the pod can also be used for different equipment and purposes, such as electronic warfare, aerial reconnaissance, or rear-facing tactical radar say the manufacturers.

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Peter Crisp
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Peter Crisp

Are guns used that often on fast jets?
I’d assume any mission where pinpoint gunfire is required would be better handled by Apache’s and it’s not like there’s been loads of airborne dogfights in the last 25 years.

Rfn_Weston
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Rfn_Weston

CAS gun runs would be the obvious role. F35A with its internal gun is touted as the preferred (by top brass) replacement of the A-10 in the US inventory.

Lacks in ammo count though seemingly vs. the A-10.

You’re probably right that AH64 would fulfil this role within UK doctrine however they’re only ever going to operate in permissive/semi-permissive air environments. F35B gun pod would offer a viable alternate for first day amphib ops CAS in contested air space.

Obviously we’re not going to utilise that viable option because of £££.

Bill
Guest
Bill

Fitted for, but not with. Not in this case obviously but classic MOD mantra we are used to. A gun would be very useful providing an option where other weaponry is simply not appropriate for the relevant threat.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

The F35A is inaccurate for CAS and has problems with cracking, the pod mounted variant is accurate and to date has performed well in testing.

In reality, it only needs to de added for the purpose of CAS due to the potential loss of stealth when added to the B where Meteor and Short Range Air to Air Missile ASRAAM “reported to have a range up to 50km” can be employed all be it externally.

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

There are many other reports that confirm this. “While the Navy and Marine Corps versions of the F-35 may have more availability problems than the relatively less-complex Air Force F-35A, they can do at least one thing better: hit what they’re shooting at. The F-35B and F-35C have externally mounted guns, while the Air Force’s 25-millimeter cannon is mounted internally. Problems with the alignment of the gun’s mount, and the fact that the mount occasionally cracks after the gun has fired, have made the accuracy of the gun “unacceptable,” according to test officials, and have made the Air Force restrict… Read more »

Brion Johnson
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Brion Johnson

But external mounted missiles compromise stealth,too.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Hence the reason for my comment!

Missile ASRAAM “reported to have a range up to 50km” can be employed all be it externally.

Matt C
Guest
Matt C

Wrong. F35 with its ability to penetrate IADS-guarded airspace and drop precision guided weapons is the preferred replacement. A10 gun runs are loud, flashy, sexy, and of little use in the modern threat environment. A10s also are only ever going to gun run in permissive air environments, and F35B gun pods would not be viable for first day CAS in near-peer contested airspace; that’s a job for Paveway IV.

Rfn_Weston
Guest
Rfn_Weston

Read my post again. I literally say that F35 is the preferred equipment choice by top brass, so I haven’t a clue what the ‘Wrong’ comment relates to. My comment regarding CAS is on day 1 on Amphib Op’s. That’s not necessarily on Day 1 of the war. F35B would be used to penetrate IADS to soften up target ready for troop assault by amphib landings. When the enemy is softened up and some level of air superiority over the landing area is obtained (or at least the element of surprise lost) – then yes, the gun pod would be… Read more »

Matt C
Guest
Matt C

“I haven’t a clue what the ‘Wrong’ comment relates to.” The F35 is valued over the A10 for different purposes and fulfills its mission in a different way. “When the enemy is softened up and some level of air superiority over the landing area is obtained (or at least the element of surprise lost) – then yes, the gun pod would be a useful CAS addition” Of course it would, but how much extra value add would it really provide in such a scenario? Right now testimonials to the A10’s effectiveness are entirely sourced from an extremely permissive operating environment.… Read more »

Rfn_weston
Guest
Rfn_weston

In fairness you base your ‘evidence’ of the F35 from claimed performance as actual theatre evaluation is yet to be observed. If F35 is operating in the area with the gun pod attached, it offers options. That’s my entire point and it’s a valid one. I’d rather have 4 seconds of ‘Bert’ than nothing at all – and frankly I’d rather have it than a single PGM when trying to manoeuvre against ground forces – that cannon is Effexor as an area weapon. PGM’s not so much. Great for collapsing buildings etc… not so great against troops in irrigation ditches… Read more »

Jon
Guest
Jon

What’s the A10 got to do with anything, we don’t have any.

Rfn_Weston
Guest
Rfn_Weston

Read the first post. I referenced the US top brass preference of the F35 to replace the A-10 and the use of the F35 guns to fill the hole left with A-10 retirement – before it went off on a tangent. It was in response to the question of what use may the gun pod have for the UK. As the US seem to favour F35 & the internal gin on the F35A – My point was in a UK role – it would offer a similar option.

Ron
Guest
Ron

The purpose of the F35 is not to provide CAS for ground troops, to do so would put at risk the most expensive single seat aircraft the RAF have purchased. It’s stealth abilities would hardly provide cover against man pads and small to medium calibration rounds would it.

Rfn_Weston
Guest
Rfn_Weston

Neither was Typhoon. Look at it now. With limited assets you generally end up with multi-role platforms over time.

AlexS
Guest
AlexS

Ridiculous using a 70M$ aircraft to drop 25mm rounds in some place at 1km from the target. Really asking for manpad or AT missile

JohnHartley
Guest
JohnHartley

Its the 9/11 question. Do you want to blow a wayward airliner out of the sky with a missile, without firing some warning shots first?

BB85
Guest
BB85

I wonder what the current rules of engagement actually are these days for hijacking. I don’t think firing a warning shot would make a difference to most terrorists. If the plain does not respond to change course once requested I’d guess the rules are to shoot it down once safest to do so.

Paul42
Guest
Paul42

Current rules of engagement require warning shots being fired. If we don’t buy the Gun pods (and were going to order them at one point) then we cannot ask our pilots to provide CAS. Indeed, it brings into question the whole point of having carriers if they are unable to fulfil a key role?

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

Harrier GR7/9 wasn’t fitted with a gun, and operated over Afghanistan and many other theatres very nicely.

Paul42
Guest
Paul42

The only reason the GR7/9 didn’t have guns was because of another UK screw up. We were going to replace the Aden cannons with a new gun that was then cancelled during development – due to costing. The GR7/9 then flew with empty pods initially to assist with the aircraft stability ( it was designed with the pods as part of its integral flight profile). On numerous occasions the Harriers needed their guns for ground attack, but had to back off while we called up the Americans.

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

In Afghanistan they fired a single CVR7 rocket, as a warning shot, if the show of force also failed, after that, the paveway 4 came into its own.

David
Guest
David

Sounds like Typhoon whereby the top brass tried to eliminate only to backtrack…..

John Clark
Guest
John Clark

I believe, we actually had 84 cannon (a 25mm Aden I think?) delivered and straight to store, never to be seen again.

I think gas ingestion from the cannon caused engine surging that was never resolved and the gun was subsequently cancelled.

JohnHartley
Guest
JohnHartley

I believe the 25mm Aden was bought by a small specialist company who solved the problem. However, the political/official elite had moved on, so they (MoD/RAF) never went back to it.

John Clark
Guest
John Clark

We seem to keep discussing great British managerial cock ups John! As a parallel development, MC Douglas was developing the cannon for the Marine corps AV8B. We should have just used that instead of waisting huge sums of money on a warehouse full of cannons that were never used, or fitted to aircraft, other than a single factory proof test, they were never fired. I remember seeing pictures of the 25mm cannon pod mock up years ago. The barrels longer than the old 30mm Aden, potential gas ingestion issues were patently bloody obvious, even to casual observers of the GR5… Read more »

Rudeboy
Guest
Rudeboy

There were about 100 ADEN 25mm built. None were ever issued. Lots of problems, casings and links hitting the rear fuselage, arguments over electrical or mechanical firing and feed issues due to the angle the rounds were forced to negotiate to the gun. It was tested at Dunsfold then never carried operationally (how 100 were built before trials were concluded I’ll never know). However…pods for them were used for a while containing ECM gear, these were later replaced with the lift enhancement strakes. AEI now own the design and do maintenance for the worldwide fleet of ADEN 30mm, DEFA and… Read more »

John Clark
Guest
John Clark

We replied at the same time Rudeboy, 100 cannons you say, I plucked 48 from memory, was it 100 contracted for and 48 delivered prior to the usual governmental cock up, ‘stick them in the back of a warehouse, nothing to see here, move along please’ perhaps??

John Clark
Guest
John Clark

without knocking this F35 too far off track, its interesting to mote the advanced parallel design work carried out at Dunsfold on the big wing, for retro fit to the GR3 and the Sea Harrier. Delays meant this was cancelled and we joined the AV8B project (re importing our own bloody tech again!). This was a conventionally constructed, 6 hard point wing, with tip sidewinder launches and designed to fit straight on to the first gen Harrier. Apparently (materials aside), it was a superior wing design to the Mac Douglas composite example used on the 8B It would have turned… Read more »

Matt C
Guest
Matt C

Firstly you’re confusing CAS with CAP; secondly youre confusing ROE with Rules of war; thirdly there is absolutely nothing that says you need to fire a warning with shot with nothing but cannon before taking lethal action; fourthly lack of a gun does not obviate peacetime CAP; fifthly lack of a gun does not obviate wartime CAP; lastly, lack of a gun absolutely does not at all “bring into question” the ability of the F-35s or the carriers to deter, by means of the threat of high explosive delivered at high speed, bad guys from doing bad things.

Rfn_Weston
Guest
Rfn_Weston

I’m not sure I get your point on ROE. ROE are issued by the Country/Alliance to their troops based on the theatre and threat environment. Be that all out war, peacekeeping, training a foreign military abroad, or protecting domestic assets/infrastructure or a foreign embassy. I assume you’re referring to LOAC when you refer to ‘rules of war’ which is ultimately governed by the Geneva Convention. ROE are issued to aid soldiers in ensuring that their actions are compatible with LOAC and their actions are justifiable under the Geneva Convention. So it’s difficult to see how they can be confused with… Read more »

Matt C
Guest
Matt C

“They are one in the same”

No they are not. ROE puts soldiers’ actions within BOTH the LOAC and what is politically-acceptable, e.g. a certain degree of care in avoiding collateral damage. ROEs have ample room to change while still staying within the ambit of LOAC. E.g. the ROE for CAP intercepts in an all-out war is going to be quite different from ROE during peacetime.

JohnHartley
Guest
JohnHartley

It doesn’t matter if it makes a difference to terrorists, it does matter in the court of World opinion.

Steve
Guest
Steve

You would think that the MOD has at least thought this through, which means either there are other options than firing warning shots or they plan to rely on US jets to do it.

Pacman27
Guest
Pacman27

they issue a warning, and instruct the pilot they will attack if instructions are not followed

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-29823148

professional but chilling… you have to applaud the ability to threaten calmly…

MJ
Guest
MJ

Typically fighters performing an interception where a show of force is required will roll away from the target aircraft to expose the belly showing off all of the missiles being carried. Usually this is accompanied by dropping flares. I would assume the reason that gunfire is not used is because it cannot be determined where the spent projectiles will land….

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

This seems obvious doesn’t it. A plane with loads of missiles is clear enough.

The point of F35 us to see the enemy miles away without them seeing us. It’s not going to be difficult to fit one if we want.

Steve R
Guest
Steve R

Though in that situation it’ll be the Typhoons sent up to intercept such a plane, as both our QRA squadrons are Typoons, and they do have a gun.

MJ
Guest
MJ

Steve R. Although for the UK mainland you are correct. There are a few exceptions that could call the F35 into QRA duties such as a whole typhoon fleet grounding scenario. However when deployed on the carrier they would be providing the fleet interceptor role. As many have pointed out the Americans found the F4 favoured poorly in Nam due to no gun, however a lack of dissimilar tactics were also to blame. Something the harrier pilots excelled at in the Falklands. I think there is an argument for and against a gun. It a shame the B’s can’t carry… Read more »

Rob
Guest
Rob

Peter correct. What is the point of having a very expensive stealth fighter if you are going to close to visual range? The thing to do is to blow the target away from distance before they even know you are there. Now I know that people who are for fitting the gun pod say that this was the idea in the 60s but that guns were needed because the missiles were unreliable. Things have moved on since then though.

reaper
Guest
reaper

Absolutely critical to supporting troops in contact in uncontested air space. Fast air can get on station quickly. We had to use the USAF and US Marines constantly for CAS and they did gun runs 90% of the time. There was always an asset available. Never once saw a UK jet do anything remotely war-y. AAC and their apaches also were life savers but they were spread thin and everyone needed them in 5 places at once, quickly. Even the lynx would have a go occasionally although it was a bit futile on their part. The Americans, now they saved… Read more »

Rob
Guest
Rob

Reaper. I get your experience in these matters but employing an F35 for a gun run is stupid, it loses all its technological edge. A better way of providing direct support would be to purchase light aircraft designed for strafing attacks be it a turboprop or an adapted trainer like the Hawk (the Hawk 200 is an adapted light support aircraft but the RAF don’t have them). The same effect could be generated from a WW2 era fighter like a Corsair. Just really stupid to send a £100 million stealth fighter to do low level ground attack.

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

I agree. I suggest reaper is talking prejudicial nonsense. I am annoyed with it.

Matt C
Guest
Matt C

To have at least 4 cabs ready for ops or committed in one place at any time you would need to stand up one squadron of counter-insurgency CAS jets, and to get the manpower for that you would need to stand down one fast jet squadron. Which Typhoon squadron do you nominate for that?

Rfn_Weston
Guest
Rfn_Weston

How ever cheap your turboprop solution is – it ain’t cheaper than adding the gun pod to the existing F35 that we will be operating, as opposed to deploying multiple assets – if it’s needed – great. If not, then it remains unused – much like the entirety of the Navy’s firepower 99% of the time. I agree with Reaper I’m afraid, AAC did a cracking job over us in Afghan but with just too few AH64 air frames to be a regular occurrence in my personal experience. US air assets got us, and me personally out of the shit… Read more »

Rob
Guest
Rob

I’d buy 24 A29 super Tucanos. These aircraft can strafe targets with 50 cal, deliver bombs and Maverick missiles. They cost $15million, $85 million less than the F35. Most of our wars are fought against an enemy who has no air force or air defence beyond triple A. Forward deploy 12 and have 12 in the UK for training. Where does the money and staff come from; simple, yes we would have to form 2 new Sqns but also save money on the airframes of our most advanced jets. Furthermore are we really going to buy all 138 F35Bs? Of… Read more »

Matt C
Guest
Matt C

Currently, to do this and “save money on the airframes of our most advanced jets” you would have to stand down at least one fast-jet squadron, maybe two if you want two operational squadrons. The $4.2 billion you cite is purely notional at this point since it hasn’t been funded yet. One issue with Super Tucano for even counter-insurgency CAS is its relatively very low speed once fully bombed-up; fast jets save travel time.

Rob
Guest
Rob

Wouldn’t need to stand down any Sqns. Just employ & train more people with the money saved on procurement. Still make a profit. Oh BTW a turboprop can loiter longer so the speed thing doesn’t matter.

Agree to disagree.

Steve R
Guest
Steve R

Agreed. For CAS the Harrier was perfect! We got rid of those so now our best be would to get 20 or so more Reapers/Protectors. Cheap to buy, cheap to run, and if we lose one in contested airspace at least we haven’t lost a pilot. One option in using an F35 for CAS is in future if we get some sort of loyal wingman drones like the proposed LANCA. The F35 could then direct those to provide CAS. The problem we have now with so few planes, and also reduced to only airframe types, is that our choices are… Read more »

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

So you think the Tornado GR4’s that served in Afghanistan from 2009 onwards did no good work at all, armed with 27mm cannon, paveway 4, and Brimstone and completed over 5000 paired sorties, including over 600 shows of force, and 33,000 flight hours logged in theatre. I’ve heard this bs RAF bashing many times before.

Rfn_Weston
Guest
Rfn_Weston

I think Reaper is referring to his personal experience for ‘troops in contact’ requests for CAS. It is much the same as my own. US assets, overwhelmingly the A-10 was the medicine of choice. I won’t bash the RAF ever – The Chinook pilots were immense. I’m sure the fast jet boys were too. I didn’t hardly experience it myself though.

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

Reaper is relaying his experience mate and that’s all we can all do. I agree with him and also disagree if you read my reply to him. Without the RAF lads and lasses, and especially the Chinook guys and gals (and not forget the good old sea king navy mob) we could not have acheived fuck all and more of us on the ground would be dead!!!!! reaper is right insofar however that the yanks had the kit, quite a lot of it and were well up for using it. Cheers.

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

Hi mate, yeah I understand his feelings, I was in Kandahar 2007 with the Harrier GR9 det, and my experience was both the RAF and RN aircrews did a fantastic job, and really did everything they could to help the guys on the ground, but ultimately, lack of numbers meant they where spread pretty thin over a vast area, think we had 8 or 9 jets on our det, to cover an area the size of France.

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

Have to say I agree and disagree mate. Though you may be a bit harsh on the RAF, as while we were stuck in Inkerman ( amongst other tours and locations ) the Chinooks made some great efforts at resupply and CASEVAC. The issue with the RAF was that the CAS assets were limited and not realy equipped for the job, and while they were excellent, on time and on target with the Paveways etc, they were unable to do a gun run. I used to be disappointed when they would do a low fast noisy flyby as a first… Read more »

Stevo H
Guest
Stevo H

Indeed they are Peter………just ask veterans from Afghan who called in gun runs to get them out of the [email protected]#t…this was done quite regularly actually.

BB85
Guest
BB85

Hardly a surprise considering we never purchased any ammunition for the Typhoons and the only reason they have a Canon fitted is because it was cheaper than replacing it will ballast (or so the consortium told the government which they took at face value).

Paul42
Guest
Paul42

Yes, same old story. The Goernment believed it was cheaper not to fit the cannon, but it’s an internal fitting and affects the the fly by wire set up if not fitted. The guns are now fitted and operational on RAF Tyohoons. The US Navy made a serious mistake in Vietnam when it believed the F4 would not need a gun in the missile age, subsequently losses were high and resulted in Gun pods being fitted and the creation of Too Gun. Our F35Bs need the gun for Air to air , but it seems we need to learn the… Read more »

Steve
Guest
Steve

I keep thinking of the Vietnam challenges when thinking of the gun also, but wondering if that is a false comparison.

Vietnam was early on in the development of the missiles and things moved on a long way from there, especially the move into beyond visual range combat.

Does anyone have any stats on how often the Harriers used their guns in air-to-air combat during the Falklands. Admittedly falklands is now dated, but its probably the most up to date real air combat that we have to compare with.

JohnHartley
Guest
JohnHartley

You may be able to blow an enemy out of the sky with a long range missile, but tight rules of engagement will probably demand a visual confirmation first, short of all out war.

Steve
Guest
Steve

I can’t see us shooting jets out of the sky, without all out war anyway, so not really a major problem. The problem is if those missiles don’t hit home or if the jet runs out of missiles before it can safely return to base.

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

War is war. “confirmation” is not.

Benjamin Rule
Guest
Benjamin Rule

Sea Harrier kills in air and on the ground
Sidewinder: 18
30mm cannon: 5
Sidewinder and cannon: 1
Cluster bombs: 2
Crashed evading cannon & small arms fire: 1
From Ethel and Price (1983)

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

This isn’t the 1970’s though.

Steve
Guest
Steve

It’s not, but it was the most recent real conflict that we can compare against. The sindwinder missile was a pretty developed missile compared to anything available to Vietnam and at least give us an idea agreed not a 100% perfect one but an idea.

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

And it was the latest generation sidewinder wasn’t it? Could hit head on (?)…

Rudeboy
Guest
Rudeboy

9L was all aspect homing. But all of the sidewinder shots in the Falklands were from the rear. There’s no real evidence that 9L made a massive difference as the 9G’s and 9B’s we had would also have done as good a job. It was pretty much the perfect environment for IR missiles (rear hemisphere shots, no countermeasures, hot exhausts against cold background (land or sea) and little sun).

Daveyb
Guest
Daveyb

I can confirm all UK Typhoons have operation 27mm guns fitted. Those operating on QRA, the Falklands and from Cyprus are all fully armed. As John mentioned above one of the main reasons QRA aircraft are so armed is too make sure an aircraft not responding to radio or visual communications is given a final warning by flashing a load of tracer past the window. Only if you are blind will you not see it, as the load out is predominantly a 50/50 of HE and tracer. If I remember rightly when we had Tornados in Afghan they had actually… Read more »

Steve
Guest
Steve

I might be misremembering this, but wasn’t the tornado able to hold way more bullets than the gun pod?

Daveyb
Guest
Daveyb

The GR1 had two Mausers, then had one removed when in got the FLIR/laser designator as part of the GR4 mod. Each gun had about 180 rounds. Both the GR4 and F3 carried the same number of rounds.

Paul42
Guest
Paul42

This is so typical of the UK Government, indeed so predictable! Buy the basic airframe at the lowest cost possible and don’t bother with the kit it might actually need. Its disgraceful.

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

Disgraceful? hardly. I’d say ASRAAM/AMRAAM, Meteor and paveway 4, later Spear 3 is very much the kit it needs.

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

Will all the moaning minnies give this up. It’s tedious. If we need the pods we will get them. The F35 is to destroy incoming planes and to destroy enemy AAA radars to control airspace.

Gareth I.F.
Guest
Gareth I.F.

“Fitted for, but not with”. Where have we heard that before?

I have to admit, however, that I can see the logic behind this.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Any details on how the pods work in regards to being fitted / unfitted.

If they can be moved from jet to jet easily, then not buying a handful of them makes no sense, they can’t be that expensive and would give options.

Rudeboy
Guest
Rudeboy

They can be moved easily from plane to plane, fairly quickly too.

julian1
Guest
julian1

operating a cannon is a basic requirement for an aircraft that has A2A and CAS within its remit. Apache may do CAS, but if the CSG is too far off-shore then Apache wont have the range. A2A will involve maritime QRA at some point, so cannon should be a must.

As long as F35B is capable of carrying this the option is always there. “No plans now” doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future. Hopefully, it could be procured and fitted at relatively short notice.

Harry Bulpit
Guest
Harry Bulpit

Look at that history repeating itself. The US in Vietnam found at great expense that guns our still very much practical in modern air warfare. Along with the RAF who wanted to remove the gun from typhoon and stop its use in tornado. Only to use it again in Afghanistan, Libya and now in Op Shader. Given that these aren’t permanently attached to the aircraft there’s no reason why a dozen or so can’t be brought for training purposes and for issuing on ops.

Callum
Guest
Callum

“Modern air warfare” isn’t what was going on over Vietnam in the 60s and 70s. Back then, a “long range” missile had a range of around 20 miles, required you to fly towards your target to maintain lock (thus discarding the range advantage), and were appalling unreliable. That made guns the most reliable way of actually killing something. That’s simply not the case in modern warfare. Today’s primary A2A missiles have double the range, aren’t as reliant on the launch platform for guidance, and are orders of magnitude more reliable. The only way you end up in gun range now… Read more »

Steve
Guest
Steve

On the flip side defensive aids are also far more effective and the jets have far better situational awareness and so its impossible to know which wins the missile or the counter measure.

It’s possible, that the two have effectively nullified each other and that means a return to the canon and mark one eye ball, which can’t be nullified outside skill.

Unless there is another proxy war involving near current tech gear, we just won’t know.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Another question is whether stealth on stealth combat would result in jets getting way closer to each other because of detection range, than was the idea behind using beyond visual range missiles.

SoleSurvivor
Guest
SoleSurvivor

Great comment Steve I was about to mention this

People always forget this when this topic comes up, they’re under the impression that that side of air combat has stood still since the Second World War while everybody has just concentrated on a2a missiles

peter french
Guest
peter french

True to form the Mod “underguns” assets , it did with Frigates and indeed I remember that the Typhoons were originaly were not equiped with the Mauser gun although by default they were subsequently fitted,
Russian and American ships are and were totally equiped for all contingencies
Cost cutting without scruple

Simon m
Guest
Simon m

Just hope the marines don’t want CAS no gun, no brimstone, no rocket pods don’t think typhoon even uses them anymore just paveway and SPEAR 3 at some point. Even the fleet is less likely to provide NHS.

Surely this means expensive munitions used where cheaper more appropriate & less operational flexibility. I still don’t get the storm shadow decision either surely the range launched doesn’t require stealth?

I guess they will still be able to get the job done on the plus side.
Also with USMC embarked maybe they can save our troops or we can go cap in hand?

Simon m
Guest
Simon m

*NGS

Steve
Guest
Steve

I am curious why the UK has not brought the guided rocket pods for the apache that the US is buying up in large numbers. In theory they sound like a highly cost effective way of boosting the power of the apache in urban or near urban environments.

Rugger13
Guest
Rugger13

So there is a case to buy F-35A as I’m sure that has a gun. The RAF will be pleased. The extra 30% range would also help.

Heidfirst
Guest
Heidfirst

Except that the F-35A has issues with the internal cannon – it causes damage to the skin around it & it is unacceptably inaccurate. The F-35B & C with the pod apparently are OK in terms of accuracy.

Watcherzero
Guest
Watcherzero

220 rounds is exactly 4.1 seconds of ammunition….

Rfn_Weston
Guest
Rfn_Weston

That’s an awful long time if they’re raining down on you.

Ron
Guest
Ron

It seems that the British government has learnt nothing from history. I do understand the the F35B is not meant to get into a dog fight, then again just because it is not meant to does not mean that the enemy will play by the same rules. Not only that but the F35Bs when used by the RN could and would find themselves in a dog fight situation if a enemy launches an air attack on the carrier group. In the 1960s the British government also did away with the gun, they also thought about doing away with fighter aircraft… Read more »

Watcherzero
Guest
Watcherzero

I would buy that argument on an A or C, but on a VTOL fighter where every lb counts its an extra quarter of a ton to the liftoff weight with the gun, ammunition and all the gubbins.

Helions
Guest
Helions

A SERIOUS mistake IMO… The gun is still a very viable option even in this day and age. The Phantom (as discussed here, is the poster child). Little known fact though. The F4E (The USAF version, of which the Leading Edge Slat version was the ultimate Phantom) also served with the RAAF filling the gap till the F111 was delivered.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_F-4_Phantom_II_in_Australian_service

It had a gun too…

Cheers

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

I’ll add another observation. I hope those advocating using an F35B podded gun system for CAS aren’t planning on doing so against Russia, China or any other third party with access to some of their tactical SAM solutions, which is only going to be an increasing number of countries going forward. Allied forces might and indeed have managed to get away with these types of runs in Afghanistan but I wouldn’t rate the odds of doing so elsewhere, where such a low flying aircraft might face multiple SAMs and ground fire that electronic and decoy defenses cannot address adequately. For… Read more »

Steve
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Steve

Whilst i agree with your statement, i would ask the question what combat scenario is our f35’s likely to be involved in, a peer/near peer warfare or counter insurgency. I suspect the answer is counter insurgency, and therefore we need to be taking that into account when building our gear. For sure we can’t just assume that it will be this type of warfare, but ignoring it will cost lives as happened early in Afgan/Iraq when we went in with gear that was clearly not suitable (not to mention lacking in numbers) even though a lot of lessons from the… Read more »

Steve R
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Steve R

The difference is, however, that an A10 can ONLY perform in counter-insurgency operations with a permissive air environment. It will be useless in a peer vs peer engagement. An F35 can operate in both.

Steve R
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Steve R

That said, if we had retained the Harriers I’d have said they’d be perfect for CAS. As they’re gone I think we should get either more Apaches or more Reapers/Protectors for the CAS role.

Glass Half Full
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Glass Half Full

You are overlooking the primary role of our armed forces, deterrence. If we structure for the more likely counter insurgency with less high end capability, then we fail to create adequate deterrence against peer level actors. A lack of deterrence is dangerous as it encourages adventurism. While it may sound callous, the number of military casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq were trivial compared to those likely if a peer conflict were to break out. We could see the entire allied casualty numbers from Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns in one day of a peer conflict. That doesn’t mean we ignore requirements… Read more »

Rfn_Weston
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Rfn_Weston

So a low flying F35 would be in trouble because of SAM, but an Apache wouldn’t?

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

No. They would both be at threat from ground fire but rotary wing is capable of much lower flight and far greater manoeuvrability in order to mitigate the threat. Having a gun system that isn’t constrained to just fire along the axis of the aircraft immediately gives it options. A helicopter can use ground features to hinder target acquisition. Consider, an F35 loses all its advantages within visual range, low to the ground, stealth counts for nothing, and to effectively strafe further constrains its flight options. Frankly if we’re discounting SAM threats then we’d be better off with something like… Read more »

Matt C
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Matt C

For the many well-informed commentators here who categorically insist that guns are absolutely critical to the CAS mission, and that an absolutely unforgivable mistake has been made forgoing this absolutely essential piece of equipment

Typhoon uses cannon in combat
https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/typhoon-uses-cannon-combat/

“Raytheon Systems’ Paveway IV precision-guided bomb was the weapon of choice for the deployed Typhoon force, which released 252 during this time period, plus the notable 26 rounds from the type’s Mauser 27mm cannon.”

Steve
Guest
Steve

This resulted in heavy reliance on US with its A10s etc.

Steve
Guest
Steve

If i remember correctly the reason the harrier was better for CAS was because it could fly slower and therefore be on station longer and ability to do easier strafing runs. The Typhoon is forced rely more on its missiles more because of its speed.

I had understood the F35 could fly slower and was to be a better CAS platform.

Matt C
Guest
Matt C

Well that’s one theory. You could always ask the Harrier pilots deployed in Afghanistan whether they prefer gun-runs or Paveway IV.

The F-35 is a better CAS platform in a near-peer war, when not out plinking Toyotas equipped with ****-all anti-air capability. Question is do you want to prepare for the next war, or the last one?

Steve
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Steve

And what next war do you think is more likely, one against a near peer enemy which somehow doesn’t use its nukes or against a broken state?

Ignoring the more likely scenario of a broken state will cost lives when it happens.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Gearing to take on a peer or near peer opponent is near on impossible for the UK, as it can’t fight them alone and then it’s guess work on who we are fighting with. If it’s the US it doesn’t matter what we bring as they bring significantly more and can do it alone, if not then we have a problem

Rfn_Weston
Guest
Rfn_Weston

Hence the A-10’s prevalence and it’s adoration by ground troops.

As Steve say’s CAS = loiter time and weight of fire = A-10.

F35B can’t compete with weight of fire due to the low ammo count however that doesn’t remove it’s usefulness for a service that has no A-10 in it’s inventory.

Matt C
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Matt C

With all respect to your experience, the A-10’s and F-35’s availability to ground troops in a war anywhere near an enemy IADS would be markedly different.

Rfn_weston
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Rfn_weston

I appreciate your respect of my experience. Again my point would be to the UK we have no alternate such as A-10 which you’re right would not be near IADS – we will have F35, so why not increase options with the gun pod. It will increase the RCS yes, but is F35 really invisible enough to avoid lock ons? Who knows. If it is, does the gun Pod increase the RCS significantly enough to make a lock on possible? I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t maybe it does. Having it definitely affords an option for more permissive air environments,… Read more »

Cam
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Cam

It must be far far cheaper spraying rounds of at say an enemy jeep rather than firing an expensive missile!

Adrian
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Adrian

I know the F-35 isn’t meant to be a dogfighter – and the idea of getting close enough to use guns is antithetical to the planes design, purpose and use doctrine: But the idea of a plane without bullets makes me quite uncomfortable.

Steve
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Steve

Best laid plans and all that. The lesson learnt from the falklands was that ships needed CIWS as a safety net when the missiles failed, i suspect the same applies equally for jets.

the_marquis
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the_marquis

Would it be worth buying a couple gun pods for training purposes? So in the event we might need them, we can buy them to equip operational units as an UOR. But then maybe it’s not necessary with advancements in sim training and the possibility of training US forces…

dan
Guest
dan

Not sure why anyone would want to use a stealth aircraft for gun runs on ground targets. One hit from a AA gun and the stealth coating, ect is compromised. Nearly impossible to fix that on a carrier. Leave the CAS to the A-10s, Vipers, Typhoons and Strike Eagles.

Ron5
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Ron5

Personally I think it’s an absolute scandal that our seamen and women are not issued with cutlasses anymore. How on earth will they defend their ship in case of boarding??

Nicholas
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Nicholas

With only air to air and Paveway available these jets are very short on striking power.