Nothing beats pulling out.
December 6, 2005 4:06 PM   Subscribe

Britain may pull out of the JSF program. Multinational defense programmes are becoming more common, and the JSF is indicative of particularly close ties between the U.K. and the U.S. Representatives Hyde and Hunter have opposed the transfer of technology to Britain. Even with the Rueda Report (pdf) concluding that the embargo against China not be lifted, eventual third-party sales to China still appear a concern.
posted by Captaintripps (16 comments total)
To quote Deep Throat, follow the money. The US is the largest arms dealer in the world — pretty much every political decision made on arms embargoes by the State Department or Defense Ministry follows a struggle between defense corporations and their puppets in various governments to push sales to some potentially lucrative market. The US wants Europe to buy from Lockheed Martin and American subcontractors; Europe wants to enrichen the military arm of Airbus (EADS) and European subcontractors.
posted by Rothko at 4:12 PM on December 6, 2005

This is pretty funny, since the JSF was fatally compromised (Harrier-like VTOL capability) to get the Brits to buy-in.

posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:22 PM on December 6, 2005

Only one variant. I'm not sure how that's "fatally compromised."
posted by Captaintripps at 7:28 PM on December 6, 2005

Captain: the variants share the same airframe. I saw this on Discovery Channel so I know it's true :)
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:13 PM on December 6, 2005

oh, reading's page on the JSF I see the plane is supposed to outfly the F16 and F18. On one engine, thanks to the requirement to be VTOL.

LOL. Like the Marines need a VTOL attack fighter now. VTOL does NOT go well with delivering munitions on target.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:21 PM on December 6, 2005

Please please please let it be true. In the hope that Australia will also cancel their involvement.
posted by wilful at 10:46 PM on December 6, 2005

So having pissed off all her enemies in the world, America turns her beady eye towards her allies.
posted by salmacis at 1:22 AM on December 7, 2005

The problem for the UK is that they NEED a carrier capable ac, and they have no domestic industry involvement in any other of the eligible planes, that is the Super Hornet and the french Rafale. There has been rumblings about a navalized Eurofighter, but such a project would be expensive, difficult, and, probably unsuccesful.
Another remote option could be some sort of modernized Harrier, building on a design that is getting pretty old.

PS, Rothko, EADS is the parent company of airbus.
posted by Catfry at 1:33 AM on December 7, 2005

Rothko: EADS is one of the two co-owners of Airbus, the other being BAe Systems.

Nor is the STOVL version of JSF a British requirement -- the new Royal Navy carriers are going to be the largest ships the RN has ever operated, and will take the same non-STOVL naval variant of JSF as the USN. It's the USMC, with its short-arse assault carriers, that wants the ski-jump takeoff/vertical landing capability.

Speaking to someone with BAe connections (unattributable), apparently (a) the next-gen RN carriers will be equipped with catapults, and (b) design studies on a navalized Typhoon II (stronger undercarriage, plus arrester hook) have been on the drawing boards since the thing was first specified. And while Typhoon II is over budget and late, it exists and is being phased into service right now, whereas JSF is still a very expensive pipe dream.

The British military is still reeling from the expenses of the Iraq invasion (its sixth military intervention overseas in five years, as of 2003) and is being asked to make cuts by the Treasury, specifically in expensive weapons system procurement projects.

So I'd have to say that a British government threat to abandon JSF is very credible.
posted by cstross at 1:52 AM on December 7, 2005

Who are they going to be fighting with these planes? The Aliens?
posted by srboisvert at 2:23 AM on December 7, 2005

srblosvert: the top three countries in the world today, when it comes to invading other nations (oops: going on peacekeeping missions/liberating them/protecting their own citizens) are, in order: the USA, the UK, and France. The UK got into six wars (oops: five military interventions, plus the Iraq thing) in Tony Blair's first six years in office.

The next-gen RN carriers are likely to be built by Thales and BAe, and while the RN will be buying two, the French navy will be buying either one or two (to supplement their existing CVN and conventional CVs).

Trust me, if those carriers get built and the aircraft installed, they'll be used. Frequently.
posted by cstross at 4:50 AM on December 7, 2005

I think cstross has outlined it. I can't find the current cost per plane yet, but the last report I say the plane was well past the 200 million per plane mark. The original specification had the estimated cost far, far lower at something like 35 million per plane.

The US is only place willing to fund such things.

srboisvert: Who are they going to be fighting with these planes? The Aliens?
No, actually the Chinese. The hawks are seeing them as a threat in the next 20 years and we have to ready. I am not taking sides as to the logic of this, but the US build up is because of them. Of course we have to be ready to pummel Venezuela at any point as well. In either case, whispers of the Chinese is being used as the new boogie-man.

Current Navy budget for the JFS - 2.2 billion. Air Force is 2.3 billion. This is development funding, not procurement.
posted by fluffycreature at 5:06 AM on December 7, 2005

You're not quite getting the point. Awesome new fighter technology isn't needed. No country ever fights an even half way credible opponent these days (thank god!). Unless aliens show up all that next gen technology is a big waste of time. More troops, more efficent supply lines, better tactics and better infantry and armour would all be far better uses because those actually get used and used heavily.

The circumstances under which advanced fighters get shot down these days will also get the next gen of fighters. The only difference is that price tag will be that much more inflated.

If we do get into real war with an equal power like China we will need to be able to repair and replace quickly. Ridiculously over top technology makes that less and likely. If the air war isn't over immediately the side that has more planes on the way will win.
posted by srboisvert at 5:09 AM on December 7, 2005

Who are they going to be fighting with these planes?

It's our secret plan to regain our colonies, starting with the ones we lost first (and I don't mean France.) Sure, we've been biding our time since 1812 - but we have looooong memories. The ability to outfly US warplanes is therefore very important...
posted by alasdair at 5:11 AM on December 7, 2005

What fluffycreature said, in spades. As I noticed at the end of the Soviet Union, an enemy is a useful thing to have.
posted by alumshubby at 5:36 AM on December 7, 2005

I love how every 4th post above mentioned aliens as the enemy. You know, if your looking up, you should really be building telescopes to find meteors, or maybe aliens. :)

Britian & Australia should just pull out, let the U.S. develop & produce it, wait till the U.S. order has run it course, and see about buying some at a discount from a coompany who can't sell anymore otherwise. Or buy them from France. Or buy older things. Or don't buy anything.

China is no millitary threat to anyone. China doesn't trust its own millitary enough to let the generals actually put nuclear warheads on top of its ICBMs! China sees *not* spending money on the millitary as an essential trick for out producing the U.S.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:30 AM on December 7, 2005

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