Royal Australian Air Force [RAAF] News, Discussions and Updates

Redlands18

Well-Known Member
A mystery many of us would like answered.

Just a note, we ordered 75 classic hornets back in the day for three front line Squadrons. Spain acquired about 79.
Are 72 F35's enough?

100 Aircraft for 4 frontline Squadrons plus extra for training / deep maintenance and attrition so yes these numbers look about right.
28 extra or maybe more! Hmmmmmmmm.

Or do we soldier on with the Super / Growler combo for many years.

The mystery.

Maybe the evolution of other technology and systems provides the answer.

I still do however see a regionally unique advantage in having some aircraft land vertically !!!!!!!

Regards S
Classic Hornet numbers have been at about 71 since the mid 90s, we lost 4 I believe in the early days and none since. Incredible safety record only one Fast Jet lost in the last nearly 3 decades and no crew lost.
 

John Newman

The Bunker Group
A mystery many of us would like answered.

Just a note, we ordered 75 classic hornets back in the day for three front line Squadrons. Spain acquired about 79.
Are 72 F35's enough?

100 Aircraft for 4 frontline Squadrons plus extra for training / deep maintenance and attrition so yes these numbers look about right.
28 extra or maybe more! Hmmmmmmmm.

Or do we soldier on with the Super / Growler combo for many years.

The mystery.

Maybe the evolution of other technology and systems provides the answer.

I still do however see a regionally unique advantage in having some aircraft land vertically !!!!!!!

Regards S
I don’t know that comparing what Spain did, or has done, has any real bearing on what Australia has done in regard to aircraft numbers.

It might be better to look back at the last three generations of RAAF fighter aircraft.

The RAAF procured 116 Mirage III (100 single seat and 16 dual seat trainers), by the time the fleet retired well more than 40 aircraft had been lost, a high attrition rate.

They were replaced by 75 Hornets (57 single seat and 18 dual seat operational trainers), only four have been lost, attrition lower than originally expected.

The Hornets have been replaced by 72 single seat F-35A, identical aircraft regardless of being in one of the three operational squadrons or the single OCU squadron.

Today far less time is required in the jets for training, technology has seen to that.

I would argue that ‘today’ the RAAF has a far more capable ‘frontline’ capability with 72 single seat F-35A than with the two previous generations of fighter aircraft.

Again, technology has seen to that, apart from less burden on the fleet for training, technology has seen much more reliability and safety, especially for engines.

What happens next?

My understanding is that once all 72 aircraft have been delivered, late 2023 and FOC has been achieved, in the following year or two, around 2025, the Government will look at procuring that last batch or not.

If the Government sticks with the Super Hornet fleet (eg, doesn't retire and replace them by 2030 with that additional F-35A squadron), we may still see the procurement of a number of ‘attrition’ F-35A.

So to answer your question is 72 F-35A enough? Possibly, if attrition continues to stay low, but maybe a small top up of about eight attrition airframes.

Anyway, regardless the RAAF is in a pretty strong position, 72 F-35A, 24 F/A-18F and 12 EA-18G, plus future Loyal Wingman too.

Cheers,
 

ddxx

Member
Interesting article, the F-35C also offers more range and load capability compared to the B. For island hopping, it would be nice to have both but with limited finances, the C version for this role has merit.
The C variant offers little interoperability with any ally other than the US - It’s designed for and was only really produced for, carrier operations with the USN.
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
The C variant offers little interoperability with any ally other than the US - It’s designed for and was only really produced for, carrier operations with the USN.
Same engine as the A, same systems except for the deck landing systems, the wings are larger than the A, the gun is in a pod. There is still a fair amount of commonality. That's just the aircraft. Then there's the fact that the USN and USMC will be operating the C in the region. That's commonality with a close ally.
 

ADMk2

Just a bloke
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
"The replacement of the Growler makes me think the SH and Growlers are not going anywhere."
Suggest your correct, these aircraft will probably be flying well into the 30's

Will they be upgraded?
Will they compliment an additional purchase of F 35 's ?
or
will they be worked hard pending some future decisions ?

With the dramatic Submarine turn about I'm wondering what the script is.

At the end of the day nothing would surprise me.


Regards S
The Supers are constantly being upgraded. The latest thing we’ve ordered for them I’ve seen is DTP-N which is a key part of the Block 3 upgrade. RAAF has stated it wants to keep it’s Supers as common with the USN as possible and now that LRASM is coming, I see a long future ahead for the Super Hornet in RAAF roundels. I imagine we’ll see move Block III upgrades over time (and similar Growler Block 2 upgrades along with it).

 

ADMk2

Just a bloke
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
For the final batch of the program, would a squadron of F-35Bs potentially make sense from a operational flexibility and ally interoperability perspective? I’d imagine in our region, being largely defined by sea and islands, having the ability to land and take off from numerous, simplistic air fields would be a rather useful capability well worth the small trade off in range?
F-35B gives one single capability advantage when compared to F-35A and that is it’s STOVL capability. To gain this, it trades off range, payload, agility and stores flexibility with the size of the weapons bays and adds another maintenance stream we have to learn and sustain…

Edit: it also of course adds to the training burden to learn the new STOVL capability, something RAAF has never had in a fixed wing aircraft.

Compared to F-35A it is a relatively poor strike fighter. I do not think RAAF will be particularly inclined to choose something less capable than it already operates, moving forward, despite that aircraft’s capability in that one niche role.
 
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ADMk2

Just a bloke
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
Same engine as the A, same systems except for the deck landing systems, the wings are larger than the A, the gun is in a pod. There is still a fair amount of commonality. That's just the aircraft. Then there's the fact that the USN and USMC will be operating the C in the region. That's commonality with a close ally.
F-35A operates the PW F135-100 engine.

F-35C operates the PW F135-400 engine.

Marinisation features are the main difference as I understand them…
 

seaspear

Active Member
If the R.A.A.F were to consider expeditionary airfields because of the advantages of having either dispersed bases or forward bases to theatre, wouldn't though these bases be needed to be able to be assembled rapidly,I read the exercise was on a previously assembled such airfield , should such an exercise have been to have the deployments of aircraft from a newly assembled airfield to provide a timeline on what may be feasible, certainly this assembly can be seen from a satellite and if able acted upon by adversaries defeating much of the purpose
 

Geddy

Member
The C variant offers little interoperability with any ally other than the US - It’s designed for and was only really produced for, carrier operations with the USN.
The Classic and Super Hornets are both USN aircraft so I think the point is moot. I heard the recent fighter pilots‘ podcast taking to an incredibly experience F-35 pilot/flight test/development pilot and his position is that the F-35C has the wing that should have been put on the A. He’s very pro the C vs the A capability wise.
 

Stampede

Well-Known Member
I don’t know that comparing what Spain did, or has done, has any real bearing on what Australia has done in regard to aircraft numbers.

It might be better to look back at the last three generations of RAAF fighter aircraft.

The RAAF procured 116 Mirage III (100 single seat and 16 dual seat trainers), by the time the fleet retired well more than 40 aircraft had been lost, a high attrition rate.

They were replaced by 75 Hornets (57 single seat and 18 dual seat operational trainers), only four have been lost, attrition lower than originally expected.

The Hornets have been replaced by 72 single seat F-35A, identical aircraft regardless of being in one of the three operational squadrons or the single OCU squadron.

Today far less time is required in the jets for training, technology has seen to that.

I would argue that ‘today’ the RAAF has a far more capable ‘frontline’ capability with 72 single seat F-35A than with the two previous generations of fighter aircraft.

Again, technology has seen to that, apart from less burden on the fleet for training, technology has seen much more reliability and safety, especially for engines.

What happens next?

My understanding is that once all 72 aircraft have been delivered, late 2023 and FOC has been achieved, in the following year or two, around 2025, the Government will look at procuring that last batch or not.

If the Government sticks with the Super Hornet fleet (eg, doesn't retire and replace them by 2030 with that additional F-35A squadron), we may still see the procurement of a number of ‘attrition’ F-35A.

So to answer your question is 72 F-35A enough? Possibly, if attrition continues to stay low, but maybe a small top up of about eight attrition airframes.

Anyway, regardless the RAAF is in a pretty strong position, 72 F-35A, 24 F/A-18F and 12 EA-18G, plus future Loyal Wingman too.

Cheers,
I'm glad both yourself and Redlands touched on the very low attrition rate for the Classic Hornets.
A reflection on both the aircraft and the professionalism of the RAAF.

Agree that regardless which way we go forward with our overall fleet, a modest number of extra F35's may be prudent.

Anyway the RAAF is generally well well placed as is.

Just wondering if you can gaffer tape a Harpoon to the wing of a F35?

Gaffer beast mode maybe!!!!!

Thanks S
 

ddxx

Member
Same engine as the A, same systems except for the deck landing systems, the wings are larger than the A, the gun is in a pod. There is still a fair amount of commonality. That's just the aircraft. Then there's the fact that the USN and USMC will be operating the C in the region. That's commonality with a close ally.
That's really interesting re the C variant - thanks for the insight!

I'm curious regarding the next phase of the program with $4.5-6.7b allocated for 'additional air combat capability' - this seems like a higher figure than needed for just one additional F-35 squadron, on face value it looks as if it could cover up to two additional squadrons based on most recent unit pricing? Noting that air teaming (e.g. loyal wingman) is budgeted separately for $7.4-11b.
 

Boagrius

Well-Known Member
Just wondering if you can gaffer tape a Harpoon to the wing of a F35?

Gaffer beast mode maybe!!!!!

Thanks S
I see your 2 x Harpoon "beast mode" and raise you a 6 x JSM beast mode:


I think you'll find that this (followed closely by LRASM) is where the F35A will begin its life as a true maritime strike platform.
 
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aussienscale

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
I see your 2 x Harpoon "beast mode" and raise you a 6 x JSM beast mode:


I think you'll find that this (followed closely by LRASM) is where the F35A will begin its life as a true maritime strike platform.
Successful test earlier this year for the JSM, will be internal bay compliant for the A & C, don't believe it will fit in the B ?

As I understand it, the LRASM does not fit internally, so only external wing carry, I think it is the JSOW-ER and AARGM-ER are the other 2 stand off weapons that fit internally on the A & C. Will be interesting to see what mix we have with the Shornets looking like being retained for some time yet. Pretty sure we are still involved in the JSM project ?

Cheers
 

Boagrius

Well-Known Member
Successful test earlier this year for the JSM, will be internal bay compliant for the A & C, don't believe it will fit in the B ?

As I understand it, the LRASM does not fit internally, so only external wing carry, I think it is the JSOW-ER and AARGM-ER are the other 2 stand off weapons that fit internally on the A & C. Will be interesting to see what mix we have with the Shornets looking like being retained for some time yet. Pretty sure we are still involved in the JSM project ?

Cheers
Correct, 2 x JSM fit inside an F35A or C, while LRASM will have to be mounted on wing pylons. I believe the USN has walked away from JSOW-ER in favour of JASSM-ER, so its future seems uncertain. AARGM-ER looks very promising and could have serious anti-ship applications. I do believe we are still involved in JSM development, most recently via the addition of passive RF seekers. As I mentioned earlier, I think it is reasonable to expect HACM/SCIFire et al. to produce a hypersonic anti-ship weapon(s) further down the track.
 
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hauritz

Well-Known Member
Even if we did go with additional F-35s I think we would probably need to hold onto at least a few of the Rhinos anyway. There might be an ongoing role for them in 2 OCU and perhaps a few might serve alongside the Growlers in 6 Squadron.
 

Boagrius

Well-Known Member
I think the key is the standoff weapon capability. Until a sufficient chunk of the F35 fleet can be equipped with JSM and/or AGM-158B/C, we will be relying on the Rhinos to provide it with LRASM. How those timelines will actually match up I'm not sure.
 
If the RAF buys attrition aircraft do they get rotated into the squadrons, perhaps when an aircraft goes into deeper maintenance, to even out the flying hours across the fleet or are they held in some sort of reserve fleet and warehoused but kept up to date.
Also, having watched too many US movies where pilots and it seems also the crew chief, have their name on the aircraft, do RAAF pilots have a specific aircraft assigned to them or do they take the next available when they need one.
 

ddxx

Member
Even if we did go with additional F-35s I think we would probably need to hold onto at least a few of the Rhinos anyway. There might be an ongoing role for them in 2 OCU and perhaps a few might serve alongside the Growlers in 6 Squadron.
Absolutely, ideally you'd keep the F/A-18F and EA-18G squadrons as well and replace them separately in the 2030s as per the US plan with the F/A-XX program.
 

Depot Dog

Active Member
I don’t know that comparing what Spain did, or has done, has any real bearing on what Australia has done in regard to aircraft numbers.

It might be better to look back at the last three generations of RAAF fighter aircraft.

The RAAF procured 116 Mirage III (100 single seat and 16 dual seat trainers), by the time the fleet retired well more than 40 aircraft had been lost, a high attrition rate.

They were replaced by 75 Hornets (57 single seat and 18 dual seat operational trainers), only four have been lost, attrition lower than originally expected.

The Hornets have been replaced by 72 single seat F-35A, identical aircraft regardless of being in one of the three operational squadrons or the single OCU squadron.

Today far less time is required in the jets for training, technology has seen to that.

I would argue that ‘today’ the RAAF has a far more capable ‘frontline’ capability with 72 single seat F-35A than with the two previous generations of fighter aircraft.

Again, technology has seen to that, apart from less burden on the fleet for training, technology has seen much more reliability and safety, especially for engines.

What happens next?

My understanding is that once all 72 aircraft have been delivered, late 2023 and FOC has been achieved, in the following year or two, around 2025, the Government will look at procuring that last batch or not.

If the Government sticks with the Super Hornet fleet (eg, doesn't retire and replace them by 2030 with that additional F-35A squadron), we may still see the procurement of a number of ‘attrition’ F-35A.

So to answer your question is 72 F-35A enough? Possibly, if attrition continues to stay low, but maybe a small top up of about eight attrition airframes.

Anyway, regardless the RAAF is in a pretty strong position, 72 F-35A, 24 F/A-18F and 12 EA-18G, plus future Loyal Wingman too.

Cheers,
The comparision between Mirage and F18 needs some clarity.

The Mirage was a French single engine delta wing aircraft. If the engine cut out it had the flight characteristics of a dart. The only choice for the pilot was to eject.

One of the reasons we chose the F18 over the F16 was two engines. As with anything you learn from mistakes and try not repeating them.

The engines accounts for a good percentage of losses. Taking the engine crashes out the attrition rate would be less. Technically you could call it a French design fault or high attrition. Please take your pick.

Regards
DD
 

John Newman

The Bunker Group
The comparision between Mirage and F18 needs some clarity.

The Mirage was a French single engine delta wing aircraft. If the engine cut out it had the flight characteristics of a dart. The only choice for the pilot was to eject.

One of the reasons we chose the F18 over the F16 was two engines. As with anything you learn from mistakes and try not repeating them.

The engines accounts for a good percentage of losses. Taking the engine crashes out the attrition rate would be less. Technically you could call it a French design fault or high attrition. Please take your pick.

Regards
DD
I don’t really see the point of specifically comparing Mirage III to Hornet, or comparing single engine to twin engine.

Don’t forget we’ve gone from single to twin and now back to single again.

The real comparison is between time and technology, an aircraft from the late 1950s (Mirage III), another from the late 1970s (Hornet) and a third from the 2000s (F-35).

It’s easy to point the finger at the single engine Mirage III having a high attrition rate vs the twin engine Hornet having a low attrition rate, but it’s not as simple as that

Again, it’s time and technology that separates them.
 
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