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Recent RN F35-B loss

  • 29-11-2021 7:04pm
    Registered Users Posts: 16,568 ✭✭✭✭

    The below tweet is circulating on Twitter. It's IMO a serious breach of RN's OpSec and I'd presume someone is going to face a court martial when found out.

    Now onto the meat of my post. The RN led the world in carrier aviation, developed the steam catapult and the angled flight deck both to increase combat effectiveness and to improve overall safety. Now don't get me wrong, the angled deck is an innovation that is more associated with landing. Even the US still have 2 cats aimed over their bows 😉

    But, building your country's largest ever class of warship and hobbling it before it's even sailed, seems almost Irish in its stupid use of resources.

    The Aircraft never reached a decent roll let alone take off speed, even with the lift engine engaged. The when the Ejector seat triggered the pilot appears to have ended up dangling from the bow when they returned to earth!

    The benefits of Catobar, and the ability to cross deck between French and US carriers, lost in the pursuit of short termism with the F35B. Had the UK stayed with Illustrious class sized carrier? Then yes the B was their only option. Instead they build a near supercarrier and hobble it with restricted airframe and payload capabilities, no IFR capability and rumours are circulating that the crows nest AEW/AWACS platform is poor.

    The UK appear to have spent a vast amount of money on a poor platform that only really has interoperability with the USMC?

    The cause of the crash is speculated to be a rain cover left in place. Which is poor enough in itself. It raises questions re: training and safety checks up to Pilot level. It should have been caught on walk around, even if flight deck missed it. Accidents happen, and luckily apart from an airframe loss this wasn't more serious. It does raise serious issues with regard training and given the leak of the video, discipline in the RN tho IMO.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,535 ✭✭✭Topgear on Dave

    Leaking the video is just wild stuff and I'm sure heads will roll over it.

    I'm no expert on their carrier capabilities though.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,891 ✭✭✭sparky42

    The decision to go with the B variant and the restrictions that places on the QE class has been debated long and hard. The combined issues that the UK puts forward to justify it are, a) the costs of setting up and sustaining aircrews/facilities for CATOBAR operations, the fact that the QE design had narrowed down on VSTOL and changing it for either EMAL (which isn't there yet), or trying to fit a Steam system so late in the design would be "expensive" and lastly (but totally not counted honestly), is the industry share for BAE in the B variant.

    Yes for the size of the hulls they are more limited than they should be, in particular losing the capabilities of the E-2 AWACs and instead having to go with the Merlin based Crowsnest system which is always going to be more limited than a fixed wing option.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,326 ✭✭✭Dohvolle

    Thing is, the Carrier was originally designed for CATOBAR, then they decided the E/M cat was the future, but after costing it, decided to go STOL, then realised they could still operate a steam cat without Nuc Power or steam boilers, went back to CATOBAR, by which time the UK aircraft industry had committed its energy to STOL. Then there was talk of fitting one with Cat, and one without to allow cross decking with France, even sharing with france...

    The fact the ships were built at all, let alone manage to operate aircraft is a miracle.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,568 ✭✭✭✭banie01

    Yep, they had a very long and painful gestation. The early Catobar design was almost adopted by the French as their Dr Gaulle replacement as the PA2 programme.

    The current UK carriers are the result of awful decision management processes IMO. The UK history with carriers is a very curious one tbh. Given their massive innovation in their development and deployment. The actual faith placed by government in allowing the RN to get what they want must be infuriating for the brass.

    The RN developed mirror landing system, angled flight deck and steam catapult and were hugely innovative with jet ops too. Then onto operating aircraft like the Buccaneer and Phantom from relatively tiny carriers.

    From the fleet drawdown post WW2, the cancellation of CVA-01 and the UKs effort at Fleet carriers in the 60's.

    To the disposal of the entire carrier force that politicians sought. The illustrious class were a sleight of hand by the RN to get funding for "through deck cruisers" and only for that and delay in disposing of Hms Hermes the Falklands would have been a very different outcome, although to be honest if the Argentines had a halfway competent plan for their Airforce it wouldn't have mattered much unless Hermes could have managed to launch the already retired RN phantoms 😉

    Post edited by banie01 on

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,866 ✭✭✭✭Larbre34

    A rain cover, on an air intake?

    Oh dear, oh dear.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,891 ✭✭✭sparky42

    The RNs history of carriers is "complicated", the delay in building Ark Royal and the questionable choices in the AFD hulls, then post war having the Light Fleet Carriers around as well to complicate things, the disaster of the Victorious refit and then going with the the Eagle and Ark Royal instead of the 1952 clean sheet design, hell if they had just gone with refitting Eagle instead of Ark Royal they could have got to the 80s with her, everyone knew she was the better of the two in terms of her material state. The CVA however was a disaster of a design that even the Admirals were happy got canned before it was built. The Invincible and the Harriers worked however I'm sure the RN would have preferred even Hermes operational than Invincible (though I seem to remember one of the first options looked at during the birth of the CVF was actually a cut and shut for the Invincibles.

    And of course not helped by the RAF sticking their finger on the scales, from screwing over the FAA pre-war to moving Australia to try and win the budget battles.

    At the end of the day however the UK has itself to blame with the list of some of its programs and the money spent on them when either a) they couldn't afford them, or b) couldn't sustain them. How much of the surface fleet had to be given up for the funds for the CVFs? How much else will suffer as the SSBN spend ramps up?

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 90,908 Mod ✭✭✭✭Capt'n Midnight

    Not quite as bad as loosing a B-2 to moisture on the sensors. Brits also invented optical landing system with the lights and mirror. The Taranto raid was before Pearl Harbour. And was carried out at night. Years later the Americans and Japanese were still limited to daylight operations.

    Oddly enough the RAF limiting the FAA pre war meant that the Bismark's anti aircraft directors weren't able to cope with the slow flying Swordfishes. And would make a welcome addition to the new carriers seeing as how it doesn't need catapults, was rated to carry every munition going back in the day, in addition to torpedoes it could also dive bomb and carry radar.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,891 ✭✭✭sparky42

    In actual fact the Taranto Raid was originally created and trained for during the Abyssinia Crisis when the RN feared a war breaking out between the British Empire and Italy. Had the RN not suffered such early losses of the major carriers (one to utter stupidity, the other in part from our refusal of the Treaty Ports), the raid would have been heavier. Though even then the RN suffered with massive supply issues for the FAA. Course the other issue is that the Air Ministry screwed up the FAA in terms of moving forward in designs, with plenty of "questionable" choices made for them during WW2.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,568 ✭✭✭✭banie01

    Another F35 lost at sea on Monday, this time it was an F35-C catobor variant. Lost overboard as a result of a landing accident in the South China Sea. This will likely result in the Chinese at least making a token effort to recover the wreck IMO.

    I don't think there's an issue with the aircraft design. In the context that that the F35 entered service as one of the most tested airframes in military history the fact that since service entry? There are since 2018, 7 crash incidents, various causes and no immediate cause for concern regarding a single root cause. At 1st glance its surely concerning that in 3yrs of ops that 1% of entire fleet is current @ rate. However for a military combat airframe its well within the usual peacetime attrition rate and even moreso for a "new" model. (That said? Imagine the panic if 1% of Boeing or Airliner flight crased within 3yrs)

    UK has projected an F35 loss rate of 1 airframe per 30000 flight hours. Which likely extrapolates to an even lower loss rate for the A and C variants given the more reliable nature of their engine tech and the added reliability inherent in non VTOL ops.

    Current loss rate of 7 airframes actually trends below 50% of expected losses. The UK estimate would project a flight hour total of 210000hrs for the extant losses versus the actual current total of over 400000hrs.

    The airframe losses are grabbing headlines, and lets be honest at the cost of each airframe? Its a big financial hit but, the costs of peacetime attrition are built into the acquisition and lifecycle costs of an equipment acquisition programme. In the world of combat aircraft the current peacetime attrition rate of the F35 is far below expected and is given the novel technology quite unexpected.

    Without boring the arse off people with statistical reports, the usual trend for airframe losses when introducing new combat aircraft is initially high airframe losses as instructors and pilots grapple with new flight characteristics and tech. It would be a peacetime graph of initially high losses on the left and that peak declining over time as experience is gained. That predicted loss pattern has been a relatively constant expectation for all airframes up to the introduction of the 5th Gen, the F22 and the rise of digital design, prototyping and testing, the rise of digital testing and simulation has undoubtedly saved airframes, lives and money versus the old system of design-physical test - report - redesign - retest.

    The use of expanded simulator training and the operational safety to date of the F35 is a testament to improved engineering, testing and training. It really does a service to the advance of engineering, safety testing and Human Machine interface design.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,326 ✭✭✭Dohvolle

    Carrier deck mishaps used to be a far more common occurrence when other CATOBAR types were in service. Put this one down to a learning experience and move on.

    The RN one seems to have been based on human factors, rather than a flaw with the aircraft itself.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 40,275 ✭✭✭✭ohnonotgmail

    Any update on the crash in the OP? is it still down as a failing of ground crew?

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,568 ✭✭✭✭banie01

    Very true, crowded flight decks and high tempo ops tend to lead to high (er) attrition rates. The catobar C has only 6 months of at sea under its belt to date and operational attrition is to be expected. My point is that operational attrition is remarkably low, despite the sensational headlines.

    No update I've seen as yet and I'm keeping an eye out for the accident reporting on UK defence journal. It does look from the video very much like human error. The deck crew and the pilot could have questions to answer.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,891 ✭✭✭sparky42

    There was photo's of the recovered aircraft on social media in the last week I think.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,568 ✭✭✭✭banie01

    Yep, The RN F35B lost over the bow in the Med has been recovered, still awaiting the accident report though. Will make for interesting reading IMO.

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,291 ✭✭✭✭Gatling

    Great condition considering what happened was half expecting it would have broke up to some degree ,I'd say the top side is smashed

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,326 ✭✭✭Dohvolle

    It more or less went nose first into the water, and once pilot was out, would have sunk like an actual arrow after that. It would be left in the condition it sat on the bottom, as part of the accident investigation, lest attempts to right it caused the loss of any evidence.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,891 ✭✭✭sparky42

    I'm not sure of the wisdom of being so free with the posting of photos of the crashes:

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,326 ✭✭✭Dohvolle

    Easier to control the narrative if you provide the story first. They may have learn't from the RN, where smartphone footage of ships CCTV of their incident was posted on social media.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,112 ✭✭✭Psychlops

    They reckon it glided under water a bit as they had an issue locating it at the start.

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,291 ✭✭✭✭Gatling

    I remember when it happened ,I thought they would have recovered it fairly quickly , but any type of sea salvage tends to be more difficult than it sounds

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  • Registered Users Posts: 40,275 ✭✭✭✭ohnonotgmail

    Race underway between the US and China to find the crashed F35C

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,568 ✭✭✭✭banie01

    😁I'm an analyst now!😮

    Called it in the post I wrote on the loss that this was likely, at least as a token effort by the Chinese.

    On a serious note, it's going to be an interesting race!

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,891 ✭✭✭sparky42

    And the think is this is going to keep happening, I mean apart from the USN/USMC you have the UK, the Italians, the Spanish, and the Japanese all using Carrier based aircraft (or going to be), how long do they think they can keep the tech out of hostile hands?

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,275 ✭✭✭✭ohnonotgmail

    how token the effort is depends on whether they already have the plans for the plane. I suspect they already do. still though, always nice to have a fully worked up example to copy from.

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,291 ✭✭✭✭Gatling

    They already (china) already have an F35 clone operating in their air force the J31

    I'd love to see one internally but externally it's an F35

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,291 ✭✭✭✭Gatling

    Apparently it clipped the CWIS on approach there's a video on YouTube showing the F35 approach the carrier and and it's over it ,the pilot clipped the CWIS.