Go Back   DefenceTalk Forum - Military & Defense Forums > Global Defense & Military > Air Force & Aviation

Defense News
Land, Air & Naval Forces






Military Photos
Latest Military Pictures
Defense Reports
Aerospace & Defence


Royal Air Force [RAF] discussions and updates

This is a discussion on Royal Air Force [RAF] discussions and updates within the Air Force & Aviation forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; The Tornado GR4 was originally to be replaced by a project known as the FOAC, which AFAIK was cancelled in ...


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Rating: Thread Rating: 2 votes, 3.00 average.
Old November 12th, 2007   #31
Junior Member
Private First Class
No Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 73
Threads:
Tornado GR4 Replacement

The Tornado GR4 was originally to be replaced by a project known as the FOAC, which AFAIK was cancelled in 2005 and is now known as FCAC.

Numerous options are being examined as a replacement to the GR4, including:

-UCAVs
-Upgraded models of current aircraft (JSF, Typhoon etc)
-A completely new design of aircraft (Perhaps a heavy bomber)
-Adapting non-specialised aircraft (A400M etc) to carry cruise missles.

I thought I'd start this thread as nowadays you don't hear much about it.

A "Force-mix" proposal which incorporated a combination of the above, has for most of the time been seen as favorite.

I assumed that this would largely be based around later models of Typhoons and JSFs but current and projected UK orders for JSF and Typhoon do not suggest this.

A BAE Systems project known as Taranis will see a UCAV demonstrator and this seems quite serious but there is no indication of how large a part this will play in the FCAC "Force-mix".

In my opinion, the best solution would have been a heavy bomber. It is a shame that the UK will have no heavy bomber in the foreseeable future. Iraq and Afghanistan have shown the importance of having heavy bombers with high indurance being able to loiter in the air, waiting for a call. The benefits in range would also allow the UK to reach its enemy without having to rely on local basing.

I very much doubt a heavy bomber will be developed as there is not the time, nor the money for the UK to develop a new bomber on their own. The idea of modifying non-specialised aircraft is an interesting idea which would be a cost-effective way of acquiring some of the benefits of the heavy bomber's range and endurance. If this were to be carried out though, I think it would be better to see a new cruise missile (perhaps co-operating with America on a Hypersonic missile) to be developed, rather than just using Storm Shadows.

Storm Shadows brings me onto another point. One of the requirements of the FOAC (as it was then known) was the internal carriage of two 2000lbs Bombs/Storm Shadows. I am confident that the JSF/Typhoon/Taranis will all be incapable of achieving this: JSFs bays are too small, the Typhoon cannot carry internally, and the Taranis will be of similar size to a Hawk trainer.

I wonder if the orders of 232 Typhoons and 138 JSFs are essentially replacements of the Tornado (along with the F3, GR3A, Harrier and Sea Harrier) without directly replacing it, by effectively creating a smaller, yet more multi-role frontline force of fast jets, which will be supplemented by a new UCAV (Taranis).

Thoughts?
Pingu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 12th, 2007   #32
Super Moderator
General
swerve's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Reading, Berkshire
Posts: 6,674
Threads:
AFAIK, GR4 is expected to be replaced by F-35 & UCAVs.

There should be new weapons available by the time Taranis, or whatever is derived from it, enters service, which may fit in the bays of an F-35B. I wonder if the the FOAS Storm Shadow internal carriage requirement has been dropped in the hope of something new turning up?
swerve is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 13th, 2007   #33
Junior Member
Private First Class
neil's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Posts: 91
Threads:
the raf currently operates a little more than 300 combat aircraft. i cannot see in this era of shrinking frontlines and budgets.. a future force larger than the current one..

therefore i beleive there is little chance that 232 typhoons and 138 F35B will enter service.. the only question is.. how many planes can be cut within the F35B order and still have enough to fill out a carrier air group? ..and how many typhoons can be cut within tranche 3 without incurring too many penalties..

i believe that the above mentioned two aircraft types will indeed be the major part of the GR4 replacement.. remeber now that the current GR4 out of service date is somewhere in the early 2020's.. by that time all the typhoons will have long been delivered and the last F35's just about.. so i believe its going to be a matter of phasing in the new types as you phase out the old.. and with still new rumours of more cuts to the raf frontline following the comprehensive spending review by the uk government.. specificly cuts to the GR4 force..(as reported by janes).. i cannot see a new combat jet being taken into service other than taranis.. F35B.. or typhoon..

if successful(wich is nowhere near guaranteed).. i believe taranis will defenitely pick up some of the slack left by the tornado GR4.. UCAVs seems to be the way to go these days..

plus with senior raf officers (and u.s. officers) singing the praises of the nimrod in the overland recon role.. it might not be too far fetched to see a nimrod MRA4 with integrated storm shadow or even paveway IV operating in the war on terror..

with taranis being a real and funded project.. and with arming nimrod not costing too much.. i think that might be what we'll see..

p.s. doesnt anyone think this thread should be merged with the general 'RAF news and discussions thread'?
neil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 13th, 2007   #34
Super Moderator
General
swerve's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Reading, Berkshire
Posts: 6,674
Threads:
Quote:
Originally Posted by neil View Post
the raf currently operates a little more than 300 combat aircraft. i cannot see in this era of shrinking frontlines and budgets.. a future force larger than the current one..

therefore i beleive there is little chance that 232 typhoons and 138 F35B will enter service.. ...

p.s. doesnt anyone think this thread should be merged with the general 'RAF news and discussions thread'?
1) There's a big difference between "operates" and "owns", & one has to allow for time. 370 combat aircraft purchased over a 20 year time span does not give a larger force than we now have, but a smaller one. The oldest Typhoons will be over 20 years old by the time the last F-35 enters service. In that time, there will have been attrition, and some aircraft will be in reserve, as now. I doubt if the operational force will reach 250, even if we buy the full number.

2) Yes. I'll do it.
swerve is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 13th, 2007   #35
Junior Member
Private First Class
No Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 73
Threads:
Quote:
Originally Posted by swerve View Post
AFAIK, GR4 is expected to be replaced by F-35 & UCAVs.
Do you expect this to be covered with additional F-35s to the 138 already ordered? If not then this would suggest that it has been blended in with the JCA program, which is what I suspect is the case.


Quote:
Originally Posted by swerve View Post
There should be new weapons available by the time Taranis, or whatever is derived from it, enters service, which may fit in the bays of an F-35B. I wonder if the the FOAS Storm Shadow internal carriage requirement has been dropped in the hope of something new turning up?
I agree. I imagine that the Storm Shadow requirement has been dropped. I believe the storm shadow in its current form would be rather out-dated by the 2020 timeframe anyway and I thought that this requirement was a rather unusual one all along. In another thread, I mentioned my concern about internal cruise missiles for aircraft such as the F-35 and somebody suggested that a missile from Norway is being considered (I can't remember exactly, but it may have been swerve who mentioned, and the country may not be Norway).

I believe that MBDA should start to look more seriously at growth of the Storm Shadow. Versions such as an internal carriage version, a sea-launched version as a potential Tomahawk replacment, as well as improved range and various warhead variations.

I still see Dual 2000lbs carriage as important though. Although smaller smart weapons are being developed, it would be handy to be able to carry more of them (to take advantage of long-indurance) and there are still missions which require a larger weapon such as the penetrating PW3 (hence the RAF have not decided to phase PW3 out upon receiving PW4). I wonder whether there are any bomb requirements beyond PW4 which will arm the FCAC. I have always believed that the UK should consider the SDB but I don't know how happy the US is to export it.

I agree with swerve that the aircraft numbers won't become that low. There is argument over whether 138 F-35s and 144 Typhoons (if third tranche were cut) is a sufficient enough number to replace Jags, Harriers, Sea Harriers and the F3s. This excludes the need to replace 140 or so GR4s. To cut the Typhoon and F-35 orders without having a seperate replacement for the GR4 would be crazy. I think that if the current orders were intended as GR4 replacements as well as the rest of the fast-jet force, then they would have to be no further cuts to the numbers and if anything, more would need to be added.

As for the Nimrod MRA4, I have thought for a while that to modify it for ground attack would be a great idea and would be better than weaponising an A400M. However, the MRA4 force has already been cut and I wonder whether they will ever become available for ground attack given that they are likely to be stuggling enough with their primary role of maritime defense, considering low aircraft numbers.

If this were the case, then I see the A400M option as a good idea. I think a good amount of money should be invested in the A400M as the weaponised versions could be used for transport when required. Aerial refueling versions should also be considered for helicopters. The Merlin HC3 has the ability to refuel and so far, it is useless if we have nothing to refuel it with. The FRC-H (Future Rotorcraft Capability-Heavy) is likely to have a refueling ability too, as well as a special forces helicopter (If one is to be procured in the absence of the Chinook HC3). I think the europeans have turned out quite lucky with the A400M given that programs such as FCS and FRES have failed to fit into C-130s and the C-17 is likely to close.

The Taranis does seem like an excellent choice to replace the GR4 but I feel it would have to be part of a very good C4I network which I worry the UK wont be able to achieve. It is easier to encorporate stealth features and extra fuel with the UCAVs due to the absense of the cockpit. I think that a large weapons carriage is a must though.
Pingu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 13th, 2007   #36
Super Moderator
General
swerve's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Reading, Berkshire
Posts: 6,674
Threads:
Pingu,

I think it was me who mentioned the Norwegian missile - called the NSM. Fits in the bay of an F-35A or C, but I don't know about the F-35B. The NSM is smaller and shorter-range than Storm Shadow, & primarily intended as an anti-ship missile, AFAIK, though also with a land-attack role.

Agree about Storm Shadow growth & variants. There is, of course, Scalp Naval already under development, but I think other variants could be worthwhile. The proposed Taurus variants give an indication of what's possible.

http://www.taurus-systems.de/html/missilesystem.html
http://defence-data.com/paris2005/pagep175.htm

BTW, I think the weaponised A400M proposal doesn't require permanent modification. The missiles would be palletised, & the other necessary equipment would be plug-in.

Last edited by swerve; November 13th, 2007 at 02:17 PM.
swerve is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 14th, 2007   #37
Junior Member
Private First Class
neil's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Posts: 91
Threads:
i stand corrected.. a force of 370 new aircraft purchased would indeed mean a smaller operational force than the one the RAF has now..

if memory serves me correctly i believe the RAF is planning on an operational fleet of 140 typhoons over the aircraft lifespan.. with 232 bought..

it stands to reason then that if 138 F35B are bought.. there should be about 80 operational airframes.. giving a total of 220 - 250 fighters..
nothing is this simple however and there are many variables.. so it is,essentially, a guessing game..

i stand by my other point however that either typhoon tranche 3.. or the F35B purchase(or both).. might be reduced..

i agree that it makes no sense to do so.. but this is the world we live in.. plus other european countries seem to be following the same route.. and the americans too(they are looking at a 25% reduction in their fighter fleet in the medium to long term)

i mean look at other uk platforms..

hawk - down from 70 odd to 34
AAC lynx - down from 100 to 40
tankers - down from 22 odd to 14
nimrod - down from 22 to 12

big fleet reductions is nothing new..

however it isnt all gloom and doom.. as was mentioned above the new fighter fleet will be fully multi role and more versatile than ever..
neil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 14th, 2007   #38
Junior Member
Private First Class
No Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 73
Threads:
Quote:
Originally Posted by swerve View Post
Pingu,

I think it was me who mentioned the Norwegian missile - called the NSM. Fits in the bay of an F-35A or C, but I don't know about the F-35B. The NSM is smaller and shorter-range than Storm Shadow, & primarily intended as an anti-ship missile, AFAIK, though also with a land-attack role.
Do you know if the US or UK has shown any interest in this weapon. I'd prefer to see a Storm Shadow derivative but this seems to be a good option if nothing else is developed. I wonder how much it will cost to integrate certain UK weapons onto the F-35. Do you think additonal funding will be needed or is all projected weapons integration included in the contract with LM. Of particular interest is integration of PW4, the Norwegian missile you speak of and minaturised Storm Shadow and Meteor.


Quote:
Originally Posted by swerve View Post
BTW, I think the weaponised A400M proposal doesn't require permanent modification. The missiles would be palletised, & the other necessary equipment would be plug-in.
This concept seems rather simple and cheap. However, I wonder why it has never been adopted in the past. I fit can work, then I definitely think it should form part of the future force.
Pingu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 16th, 2007   #39
New Member
Private
Mercurius's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 27
Threads:
Pingu wrote: “I believe that MBDA should start to look more seriously at growth of the Storm Shadow. Versions such as an internal carriage version, a sea-launched version as a potential Tomahawk replacment, as well as improved range and various warhead variations.”

“As for the Nimrod MRA4, I have thought for a while that to modify it for ground attack would be a great idea”.


Development of a mid-life upgrade for Storm Shadow was expected to begin around 2005. Over a three-year period, MBDA planned to investigate potential improvements in areas such as guidance, propulsion efficiency and stealth. France plans a similar mid-life upgrade for the SCALP EG.

At that time MBDA envisaged a three-stage approach.

Epoch 1 – to enter service around 2010, introducing on-aircraft retargeting and battle-damage indication via a 150 km-range datalink.

Epoch 2, planned for beyond 2015, would introduce retargeting in flight and alternative warheads able to provide additional lethality.

Epoch 3 was intended for service from about 2020 onwards. It would cover future deep-strike systems including long-range weapons able to orbit over the target area for 10, 15 or even 24 hours.

Studies were planned for integration on new platforms such as Typhoon, the F-35, and large non-penetrating aircraft such as the A400. MBDA has looked at the possible use of converted civil aircraft as cruise-missile launchers but concluded that installation of weapons bays into the airframe of an airliner involves such drastic modifications as to be unaffordable.



Speaking at the Cranfield University Deep Attack Symposium hosted in the summer of 2006, the Team Leader of the UK Defence Procurement Agency's Conventionally Armed Stand-Off Missile Integrated Project Team, said a range of potential Storm Shadow improvements were being developed under two contracts awarded to prime contractor MBDA earlier in 2006, with a view to initial service introduction from 2010-11.

These upgrades include a battle-damage indication capability and the ability to retarget the missile while the parent aircraft is en-route to the missile-launch point. Also planned is an upgraded warhead using smarter fuzing and an enhanced follow-through bomb intended to achieve double the penetration of the existing BROACH warhead.

For the longer term, other improvements being studied include a new engine running on JP10 fuel rather than JP5, and an all-new warhead with five times the current target-defeat capability.


When the go-ahead UK to provide 12 Nimrod MRA.4 was announced in 2006, a UK Defence Procurement Agency official told Jane’s that the aircraft would incorporate the wiring and other hardware changes needed for the carriage of Storm Shadow or GPS-guided bombs.

Speaking at a 2003 conference in London, an MoD official stated that staging through one of six "readily accessible bases" spread out across the globe, MRA.4s fitted with Storm Shadow would be able to carry out a strike "pretty much worldwide" with just a single in-flight refuelling.

"Carrying two Storm Shadows under the wings would mean a small fatigue penalty, but we would only fly with the missiles in anger”, he stated. “We think that we can cope with the fatigue problem."

Other air-to-surface missiles being considered for carriage on the MRA.4 included Harpoon II, Maverick, and ALARM, plus ASRAAM for self-protection.


Mercurius Cantabrigiensis
Mercurius is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 16th, 2007   #40
Junior Member
Private First Class
No Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 73
Threads:
Quote:
Originally Posted by neil View Post
AAC lynx - down from 100 to 40
I made that point until I considered the Apache. A force of 40 Future Lynxs and 67 Apaches will be replacing 100 or so lynx AH7/9s. The UK will have more capable helicopters, more readily available due to their better engine power and reliability.
Pingu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 18th, 2007   #41
Junior Member
Private First Class
No Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 73
Threads:
I believe re-targeting abilities are majorly important and if possible, the ability to re-target the missile during its own flight should be sought. I think this ought to be combined with a programable fuse that can be programmed from the aircraft in-flight. The BROACH warhead is very capable for hardened targets but believe that a standard non-penetrating (cheaper) warhead ought to be developed for targets which do not require penetration.

A data-link would be a great developement as it facilitate improvements in ISR and BDA and would work in synergy with a re-targeting ability.

I have never seen the importance of a loitering cruise missile. I believe it would be very expensive to develop and better ISR from other platforms could negate the need for a loitering missile.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mercurius View Post
For the longer term, other improvements being studied include a new engine running on JP10 fuel rather than JP5, and an all-new warhead with five times the current target-defeat capability.
How capable is the current BROACH warhead (e.g. compared to the brute force of the RAF's 2000lb PW3)? I wonder why a 5x increase in "target-defeat ability" is needed and what targets these improved warheads would be intended for. Will the change to JP-10 fuel have any effect on the missiles range?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mercurius View Post
Speaking at a 2003 conference in London, an MoD official stated that staging through one of six "readily accessible bases" spread out across the globe, MRA.4s fitted with Storm Shadow would be able to carry out a strike "pretty much worldwide" with just a single in-flight refuelling.

"Carrying two Storm Shadows under the wings would mean a small fatigue penalty, but we would only fly with the missiles in anger”, he stated. “We think that we can cope with the fatigue problem."

Other air-to-surface missiles being considered for carriage on the MRA.4 included Harpoon II, Maverick, and ALARM, plus ASRAAM for self-protection.
I am not sure that 12 MRA4s are enough to achieve this given that they would already be tied down with surveilance tasks and at such few aircraft, they will be extremely busy.

Could the Storm Shadows not be carried internally? If they were minaturised, this would suit the needs of both the F-35 and the MRA4. Alternatively, The NSM could replace both the Storm Shadow and the Harpoon. The NSM would provide the UK with a single weapon capable of striking both land and sea targets while being carried internally by the MRA4 and F-35.

I do not really see the need for the Maverick to be installed onto the the Nimrod as its limited range would put the large MRA4 at risk and also, the presence of Brimestone, makes the Maverick obsolete anyway.

ALARM would be worthwhile integrating, especially with its indirect loitering kill ability. However, I have heard that the ALARM is soon to be phased out and I am not sure if a replacement is being sought.

ASRAAM ought only be installed if a LOAL off-boresight ability is developed for the MRA4.
Pingu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 18th, 2007   #42
Super Moderator
General
swerve's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Reading, Berkshire
Posts: 6,674
Threads:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pingu View Post
...
Could the Storm Shadows not be carried internally? If they were minaturised, this would suit the needs of both the F-35 and the MRA4. ...
A miniaturised Storm Shadow would no longer be a Storm Shadow, but a new missile. Reduce the size very much, & you'd have to replace everything except the seeker.
swerve is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 19th, 2007   #43
Junior Member
Private First Class
No Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 73
Threads:
I guess that a Storm Shadow will never become small enough to fit internally into the bays of an F-35. I guess that the UK should definitely look at the NSM to equip both the MRA.4 and the F-35. Is the NSM a duel anti-ship/ground attack missile or is it a ground attack missile derived from an anti-ship?

Further to the discussion about numbers of Typhoons and F-35s, I wonder if the RAF will order any F-35As in addition to the F-35Bs already ordered to satisfy the FCAC requirement. The F-35A would provide better performance, range, payload etc that would better suit the FCAC.

If more F-35Bs were ordered, this could be seen as combining the FCAC with the JCA and would have some benifits of its own. It would provide a common pool of aircraft that can be operated from many types of bases (carriers, semi-prepared runways etc).
Pingu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 20th, 2007   #44
Potstirrer
General
Todjaeger's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: not in New England anymore...
Posts: 3,844
Threads:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pingu View Post
I guess that a Storm Shadow will never become small enough to fit internally into the bays of an F-35. I guess that the UK should definitely look at the NSM to equip both the MRA.4 and the F-35. Is the NSM a duel anti-ship/ground attack missile or is it a ground attack missile derived from an anti-ship?

Further to the discussion about numbers of Typhoons and F-35s, I wonder if the RAF will order any F-35As in addition to the F-35Bs already ordered to satisfy the FCAC requirement. The F-35A would provide better performance, range, payload etc that would better suit the FCAC.

If more F-35Bs were ordered, this could be seen as combining the FCAC with the JCA and would have some benifits of its own. It would provide a common pool of aircraft that can be operated from many types of bases (carriers, semi-prepared runways etc).
Regarding the NSM, the acronym stands for Naval Strike Missile and is an anti-shipping missile. AFAIK versions of it are under development which will allow it to conduct land attack missions and the anticipated name for that missile is the JSM or Joint Strike Missile. At present it is an open quesition on whether the internal bays of the -B version would be able to take the NSM/JSM.

As for the value of carrying such a missile internally on a Nimrod... That I am unsure of. Given the value of a Nimrod as an ISR platform and what features are needed to make the best use of it (namely high loiter/persistance time) mounting weapons on it becomes less important IMV. Far better to have the Nimrod vector strike assets than to be used as a strike asset itself. Having said that, carrying some armament could make sense. The determination would then need to be made as to what level should be carried. Given a choice between Harpoon and NSM, it would depend on what is most likely to be engaged. Give that the Harpoon warhead is larger (twice the size?) and IIRC Block 2+ has something like 50% more range than the smaller NSM, if only a few are likely to be used, then external Harpoons might be just the thing.

-Cheers
________________
Beware of Mr. Grumpy...
Todjaeger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 20th, 2007   #45
Super Moderator
General
swerve's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Reading, Berkshire
Posts: 6,674
Threads:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Todjaeger View Post
...
As for the value of carrying such a missile internally on a Nimrod... That I am unsure of. Given the value of a Nimrod as an ISR platform and what features are needed to make the best use of it (namely high loiter/persistance time) mounting weapons on it becomes less important IMV. Far better to have the Nimrod vector strike assets than to be used as a strike asset itself. ...

-Cheers
Having thought a little more on it, I think the value of a Nimrod as a strike asset is in cases where nothing else can reach. We can't expect to have a carrier or a friendly airbase within Typhoon, F-35 (or until they retire) Tornado range, or an SSN within cruise missile range, of every possible target, all the time.

In this case, I'd say missile range is crucial, & while I think NSM could be useful in general, I'd rather our handful of Nimrod MRA4 kept further away from nasty people than the range of an NSM, if possible. Storm Shadow, or even better, an extended-range version, would be preferable.

There we have it: not a routine thing, but an occasional use for high value (I take it for granted we wouldn't waste such rare & expensive aircraft on low-value targets), time-critical (can't wait for an SSN or carrier to get there, or they'll be busy elsewhere until too late) targets. Not cases where there'd be any point skimping on the missile.
swerve is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:03 AM.