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 Post subject: Burning our money
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 12:39 pm 
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We will probably never know quite the degree of wheeler dealing went on, but the much unloved and hideously expensive Eurofighter has met its match – called financial reality. According to The Times, a final deal has been done on the Tranche 3 purchase, with the RAF set to lose more than 70 of the planned fleet, the total order cut back from the original 232 to a mere 160.

View full article here

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 Post subject: Re: Burning our money
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 1:19 pm 

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This is perhaps just as well. In answer to a recent written question from Nick Harvey, procurement minister Quentin Davies revealed that the operating cost per hour of a Eurofighter is £90,000 per hour, compared with the air defence version of the Tornado, the F3, at a "modest" £45,000 per hour.

I thought it was meant to be cheaper than the aircraft it replaces? The Eurofighters that will be reaching the end of their lives - they'll undergo an expensive life extension programme I would expect.

If the cost includes "the cost of capital charge and depreciation" the Tornados have already crapped away some of their value while the Eurofighters are crapping it away now. It makes a fair comparison difficult. Why don't they exclude this from the costing?(Or perhaps, why aren't the questions asking for it to be excluded.)


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 Post subject: Re: Burning our money
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:00 pm 
Richard

How does that compare with the operating costs of the F35, the F15, the MiG29 and the Harrier to take some slightly less than random examples?

Are we in the position to cancel the F35 and large (to the UK) aircraft carrier program? If an incoming Tory government scraps the carriers, but we have to take the F35s, what can we do with them?


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 Post subject: Re: Burning our money
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:10 pm 
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Budgie wrote:
Richard

How does that compare with the operating costs of the F35, the F15, the MiG29 and the Harrier to take some slightly less than random examples?

Are we in the position to cancel the F35 and large (to the UK) aircraft carrier program? If an incoming Tory government scraps the carriers, but we have to take the F35s, what can we do with them?


Harrier, I do know ... at £35,000 per hour. The Tornado GR versions cost £28,000 per hour. Difficult to get US and Russian operating costs as they work on a different accountancy basis. Between the Harrier and F-15 though,, we do know that the Harrier requires four times the maintenance effort. The killer with British military equipment is the huge capital cost and then the enormous administrative overhead. In truth, that overhead is understated. If you had to carry the top brass and the MoD support overhead, you would be adding several thousands more per hour. Then you have to add things like a component of the air-refuelling fleet, and so on. Military aviation is a very expensive business. Perhaps if we leased it out to Easy-Jet and just bought hours, it might be cheaper.

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 Post subject: Re: Burning our money
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:27 pm 
£90,000 per hour is actually only £25 per second, similar in cost to the Hubble Space Telescope.


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 Post subject: Re: Burning our money
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 3:06 pm 
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Squawky7 wrote:
£90,000 per hour is actually only £25 per second, similar in cost to the Hubble Space Telescope.



Arghhh ... silent edit, silent edit, silent edit ....

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 Post subject: Re: Burning our money
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 3:39 pm 

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Slightly unloved but unfortunately required I am afraid. When people talk about operating costs they become politicians and start pontificating about how much an F-15 costs per hour, how much an SU-27 costs per hour etc. It is not about cost it is about need.
Do we need an interceptor? Yes we do. Defence mission 1, defence of the United Kingdom. Will Typhoon fulfil that role? Yes it will.
People are now starting to talk about Tornado F3 and how cheap per hour it is to operate etc how good it is. I am guessing these are the same people that are saying that the F3 has had its day; it is not fit for purpose etc.

Just some facts on the F3. It was not the RAF's choice but a political choice fostered upon it by the then Conservative government. Tornado was designed as a low level Interdiction strike aircraft and therefore had terrain following radar, swing wings and low bypass turbofans. When the RAF were asked which aircraft it would like to replace the Phantom/Lightning they opted for what the US Navy opted for, the F-14 with its big engines and its very long range Phoenix Missiles.

However as we do not build those in the UK politically it became a no go. Therefore BAE made the Tornado GR.1 slightly longer gave it another gun and put an air defence radar in the nose. When the F2 went into service in 1983 the radar was made of concrete and it could only carry 6 missiles.

It wasn't until the F3 came into service in 1985 did we actually have something that we could use. I mentioned above the low bypass engine - RB199, designed for use at low level. Interceptors however work at high level (above 30,000ft) they can see more etc. However low bypass engines are not very efficient at those levels and as we saw in Gulf War 1 the Tornado F3 was left to provide 2nd tier air defence whilst the top end F-15's provided the majority of the air defence because they could not keep up with the aircraft they operated with.

In the last couple of years the F3 has actually turned out to be a very agile platform and was used very well in the ECM role but its day is over. It is very much a 3rd generation aircraft that was a political rather than military choice.

Typhoon on the other hand although expensive, in the air defence role is second to none. Expensive yes, but you pay for the best. So when people say the role it was designed for no longer exists just have to go look at what the armed forces are there to do and actually read what mission one is.

However as ACM Torpy et al have said the 232 figure didn't come from military need it was a number that was best guessed at the time to fulfil military and political needs.

With F-35 we have the opportunity for once to find out what the need is and then put a number against it. But as long as people keep talking about costs then we will never get a true understanding of what the military actually need to fulfil the missions that are place before then. You will continue to get bottom down budgeting (here is how much you have to spend) instead of bottom up budgeting (here is how much it is going to cost to do the things that you want us to do).

The RAF would be best to give JCA to the Royal Navy and say there you go. It is an aircraft designed for expeditionary warfare and not part of what the RAF is here to do. The RAF should be able to redefine itself as the service that provides, air defence, strategic, tactical and interdiction aircraft supported by a full ISTAR, refuelling and strategic lift capability firstly in defence of the UK but secondly in defence of UK assets deployed overseas. Clear simple and precise.

On the monolith that is DE&S (the only part of the MoD that is expanding - Go and see Abbey Wood), privatise the procurement part of the organisation. Incentivise the organisation to get best value, to work better with the user and DEC. However I think pigs might fly first.


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 Post subject: Re: Burning our money
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:20 pm 
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I always felt that F-16s would have done the job.

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 Post subject: Re: Burning our money
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:26 pm 

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RAENORTH wrote:
I always felt that F-16s would have done the job.

Didn't have the legs for CAP and only has single engine. Operating over water pilots normally like at least two engines. If you notice all our combat aircraft over the last 30 years, Jaguar, Tornado, Phantom, Typhoon, Lightning etc have all had two engines. Doesn't seem to bother the Norwegians though.


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 Post subject: Re: Burning our money
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 5:40 pm 

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Lee Hannaford wrote:
Typhoon on the other hand although expensive, in the air defence role is second to none.


How does it stack up against F-35s or F-22s ?


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 Post subject: Re: Burning our money
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 5:41 pm 

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P.S. Bring back the F-14. Damn sexy bit of kit, that one.


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 Post subject: Re: Burning our money
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 5:52 pm 

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HarryR wrote:
Lee Hannaford wrote:
Typhoon on the other hand although expensive, in the air defence role is second to none.


How does it stack up against F-35s or F-22s ?


No major problem with F-35 because it was not designed as a fighter/interceptor but as a multi role (F-16 esq) type aircraft. Bloody noisy though by all accounts.
Against F-22, if it can get close enough to it shouldn't be a problem but the F-22 being stealthy and with a very good radar etc in the stand off unless it has Meteor (not due now until earliest 2012) it would have problems.
But it is recognised as the best air to air combat fighter bar the F-22. And remember F-22 costs between £120-160 Million. Even the Americans can only afford 187.

Speak to pilots and they love flying it and it can turn "on a six pence" as such.

Like I said in this case you pay for what you get. And what we are getting isn't that bad. As a mud mover though......time will tell.


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 Post subject: Re: Burning our money
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 6:42 pm 

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Thanks, Lee.


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 Post subject: Re: Burning our money
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 7:10 pm 
F22 - total program cost of $62 billion or about $339 million per aircraft.
Air superiority is essential to any campaign; we can take it for granted against the Taleban, but they are hardly the only potential enemy. Typhoon is good value for money.


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 Post subject: Re: Burning our money
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 7:33 pm 

Joined: Wed Jul 23, 2008 12:59 pm
Posts: 1862
It's a pity there is no realistic way to navalise the Eurofighter and use that on the carriers.

Bigger wings to lower the takeoff speed and more sturdy undercarriage so it could be launched by catapult. Or engineer it into a STOL aircraft that could use the ramps that are planned and catch it with arrestor cables. Tornado style thrust deflectors at the back which could double up as thrust reversers (top half deployed for takeoff, both halfs for braking, could even be employed as a form of thrust vectoring while in regular flight), or 2 of the fancy engine from the F-35B, with Harrier-esque front nozzles near the front.


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