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Conversion costs to modify carrier for the F-35C soared

The British government has changed its mind again on some of the F-35 Lightning II fighter jets that it intends to purchase. Unlike Canada, the British aren't considering delaying orders or reducing the number of jets they ordered this time around. Rather, the British government is now announcing that it will switch back to the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing version of the fighter rather than the F-35C carrier-based version.
The F-35B STOVL fighter was originally the version that the British intended to purchase, but delays and fears of the program being canceled after the U.S. put the B variant on probation led to the British deciding to use the F-35C instead. Recent improvements to the program have led to the fighter being removed from probation, and its future is looking better.
According to British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, the plan to purchase the carrier-based F-35 versions was killed due to what he calls an unacceptable cost. Delays in the plan to convert the carrier to handle the F-35C had also mounted. According to Hammond, an estimate to convert one British carrier had doubled from the original $1.6 billion to an amount roughly twice that. One British defense official blames the U.S. for that cost increase.
According to the unnamed official, the United States had insisted that the UK purchase the required Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System or EMALS directly through a government-to-government foreign military sales (FMS) deal rather than allowing the British to purchase directly from the manufacturer. That requirement allegedly added about 150M pounds or about 7% to the cost of obtaining the EMALS system.

The British government expects flight testing for the F-35B to begin in 2018 while initial operational capability will commence in 2020. 

Source: DefenseNews

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RE: navalised typhoon
By Amiga500 on 5/14/2012 9:39:03 AM , Rating: 3
If they'd any sense whatsoever, they would have had specified the carrier as CATOBAR capable from the start.

Now, they'd have the choice of:
- F-35
- F/A-18
- Rafale
- MiG-29K
- Su-33

But, due to the typical useless MoD procurement system, they have designed and are building a f**ked up carrier which is incapable of real power projection and is dependent on the successful execution of a program which so far has been abysmal - and even if it does execute perfectly from now will still produce a very average fleet air defence and air denial aircraft.

RE: navalised typhoon
By Reclaimer77 on 5/14/2012 12:57:41 PM , Rating: 2
Yeesh people slam the Pentagon and our procurement system, but the UK Ministry of Defense appears to be completely inept. To save a few dollars on carrier arrestor gear, they mandate an entirely new class of carrier that's inferior in every way, and doesn't actually save any money because there are no affordable aircraft available to use on them!

Is the situation really as bad as this author makes it sound?

RE: navalised typhoon
By Amiga500 on 5/14/2012 1:37:56 PM , Rating: 2
I would dispute some details... but yeah, more or less. BAe tell the govt to jump and they ask "how high?"

Another instance would be the blatantly criminal actions of the USAF in first taking over then canning the Joint Cargo Aircraft - thus denying the US Army (improved) replacement of its outdated tactical airlift capabilities. There should be USAF generals in jail right now over this - but not a peep.

Corruption is rife within the defense industry and not all of it is on the civilian side either.

RE: navalised typhoon
By Iaiken on 5/14/2012 2:16:44 PM , Rating: 3
Is the situation really as bad as this author makes it sound?

That basically article sums it up exactly...

Where it gets absurd is that the cost differences involved with procuring F-35B's vs F/A-18's + EMALS are mind boggling. Then it becomes patently ridiculous when you realize that the HMS Queen Elizabeth will be completed and ready in 2017 and the Prince of Wales in 2018, but neither will be fully operational until they have a compliment of strike fighters until 2022 or 2023. It just doesn't make any sense...

RE: navalised typhoon
By Mars HQ on 5/14/2012 7:14:17 PM , Rating: 2
RN in my assessment can hardly afford even the operation of 2 modern carriers (plus accompanying task group), let alone their construction. How will UK afford sustainment costs of the F-35B carrier wing?

And this Delivery in 2018 idea, with IOC in 2020 for carrier ops is a little risky. Delivery in 2018 equates to 2016 production - jets which will 'hopefully' have completed SDD phase and all necessary retrofits and design flaw fixes. And in addition, this jet will be a BLOCK III (elementary model) and not the required BLOCK IV (requiring further costly retrofit upgrades)!

Moreover, it will still be an LRIP-priced jet! FRP might not even commence until 2018 and even then the annual production rates (economies of scale) will be substantially reduced from current expectations.

Do not underestimate chances of another U-turn before this is over and done with.

RE: navalised typhoon
By Natch on 5/15/2012 8:04:20 AM , Rating: 2
Perhaps the RN should have offered to purchase the USS Enterprise, when she's retired from the USN fleet? Steam catapults should handle anything flying now, plus the requirements of the F-35C.

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