If you were gonna buy a 1/48 Harrier, Which One Would it Be?

Pat Flannery wrote:


...ok - for that, you must bring us...A SHRUBBERY!!!
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- Rufus

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CCBlack wrote:

If you look at the numbers for the buy, the Navy has the fewest (really few), then the Marines, then the Air Force. I'm speculating that JSF won't make it at all for a number of reasons - mainly being the lead time it will take to field it, and the fact that there are several viable alternatives in the marketplace NOW. And then there's the growing spectrum of UCAVs...
Not to mention that the project is heavily dependent upon foreign sales/participation - it was an X program and not a Y program; Y programs are Congressionally mandated and funded, X programs are far easier to cancel if required...and that's an indicator. All it would take is for any of the foreign operators to pull out and choose to spend their money on Typhoon, Grippen, Super Hornet, Falcon, or F-15E (or Mig-29, or Su-27...) in order to meet immediate need and that would be that.

...if they build it. It's not that I'm not a fan, it could go either way, but I just can't see the where the money is going to come from in the end game. So from a purely business/cost standpoint, I'm skeptical about it.
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Rufus wrote:

The UK is already desperately trying to find ways of pulling out of the programme. Mind you, us Brits seem to make a habit of that sort of thing.
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Enzo

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Enzo Matrix wrote:

I can't blame you, and that just strengthens my point - you were the second largest portion of the buy. But as heavily invested in Typhoon as the Brits (and their EU partners) are I'd have a hard time seeing the funds available for buying JSF. It's more than likely time for the current VSTOL jet fleet to just sunset anyway, just like it was time for the Tomcat.
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Rufus wrote:

A navalised Typhoon is being touted as an alternative to the F-35, especially as the forthcoming Queen Elizabeth class carriers are said to be large enough to operate CATOBAR aircraft. Rather than having the balls to honestly say that they would prefer to give the work to BAe rather than Lockheed Martin, the mealy-mouthed MOD is kicking up a fuss about "technology transfer".
Personally, I doubt whether the QE carriers will ever be built.
As for the naval VSTOL fleet, its capability has already been badly degraded. The Harriers in use no longer have any long-range air-to-air capability as the GR7s and GR9s do not carry radar. The Sea Harrier F/A2s which were used for air defence were withdrawn and replaced by... er... well... nothing. The British fleet currently relies on shipboard SAMs and ground-attack Harriers with Sidewinders. Pathetic.
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Enzo Matrix wrote:

Yeah - the "technology transfer" argument was used to kill the F-20 on this side of the pond, re: the engine...Congress said "we'll sell you the airplane, but we won't sell you the engine". Which makes me laugh, because that F-20 engine tech is now onboard Gripen under license...

Sounds like the same old story...but with a British accent. I guess some political games are universal.

I'd been around Harrier operations and training long enough to realize a long time ago that trying to turn a Harrier into a "fighter" of any stripe is a complete waste of effort - yeah, it's one of the best close air support and/or attack aircraft of all time, but it's not a fighter and never will be...and interceptor, hmmmnnn...maybe. It's advantage is in-close, and everything in a fighter pilot's approach is NOT to get in-close...shoot 'em as quickly as possible, or make 'em turn around, but avoid having to merge.
I hadn't thought about RM and RN Fleet need...yeah, I suppose they do need something...and right now, as I've pointed out. I'd think a two-seat, navalized Gripen might make a pretty interesting sort of interceptor. I'm sort of developing the opinion that VSTOL, like stealth, is also becoming highly over-rated...
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Good thing the RN didn't follow that advise in the Falklands huh ?
Chris
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CCBlack wrote:

On the contrary... during the Falklands War, the Sea Harrier was used as a pure interceptor. Old-fashoned dogfights were specifically avoided. The Sea Harrier may well have been able to prevail against Mirages and Daggers in a turning fight, but the pilots of these aircraft avoided combat as far as possible. The Argentine A-4s were a different kettle of fish. They would no doubt have caused major problems for the Sea Harriers in a turning fight. Luckily, all the Argentine aircraft were operating at the limits of their endurance and so their pilots were concentrating on getting in, delivering their ordnance and getting the hell out.
As far as I'm aware the only non-missile engagement by a Sea Harrier was a gun kill on a C-130.
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Can you back up here Enzo. You and Rufus seem to be making the point that a VSTOL fleet concept is obsolete right ? Then Rufus states his " the Harrier in not a fighter " stuff. I point out that the Harrier kicked ass in the Falklands. And then you seem to poo poo the Harriers relevance in the Falklands war.
Am I right so far ?
Let's look at the Harriers record in the Falklands. ( following quotes from a Falklands war site )
...had the British not had aircraft with the capabilities of the Harrier (V/STOL, high reliability, and high availability) and the two small ships to operate them, it is unlikely the United Kingdom would have committed itself to hostilities in the South Atlantic. The Harrier aircraft performed a variety of missions in the South Atlantic, but the interceptor role gained the aircraft its acclaim. Accounts of the number of enemy aircraft destroyed vary between 20 and 31 but equally importantis the large number of enemy sorties broken up before they reached British forces. It is safe to say the aircraft played a significant role in reducing the Argentine air threat to the battle group.
The British had reason to be confident in their aircraft. In simulated combat, kill ratios of 2:1 had been claimed by 899 squadron against the U.S. Air Force F-5E and ratios above 1:1 over the F-15 and F-16.
The 28 Sea Harriers flew more than 1,200 sorties in 44 days and achieved an exceptionally high availability rate -- almost 90 percent. In air-to-air combat the Sea Harriers destroyed at least twenty aircraft (16 with the Sidewinder air-to-air missile), four with ADEN 30mm cannon.
Chris
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CCBlack wrote:

To paraphrase Napoleon, I'd sooner have "lucky" aircraft than "good" aircraft :o)
(kim)
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CCBlack wrote:

I don't believe the VSTOL fleet concept was *ever* relevant. I have been around Harriers long enough to know that although vertical tak-poff looks good at air shows, it is absolutely useless for operations. STOVL is a different kettle of fish, however. The short take-off roll, combined with a ski-jump allows a decent payload to be carried. The STOVL concept still has a lot of relevance in a fleet role.
Sadly, the only operational aircraft that currently operate in this role - Harriers - are obsolete. In my opinion Harriers were only ever marginally suitable for operations in the first place. The Harrier is effectively a test-bed with military equipment strapped on to the outside. If anything ever goes wrong with it, some item of armament equipment (usually gun pods, centreline pylon and ehection seat) has to be removed to afford access. That's not a good design for a military aircraft.
The Harrier airframe was/is not a good fighter. It bleeds off energy far too quickly. During the 1980s, RAF tactics in Germany were to put up a four-ship package of Harrier GR3s. Three of the aircraft would carry a warload suitable for the mission. The fourth was known as the "Stinger". This jet would carry a single Winder on one outboard pylon with a Phimat chaff pod on the other. The Stinger would be placed in a random position in the formation. His job was to "protect" the others, but he was really only there as deterrence - any attacking aircraft could never be sure which jet had the Winder.
The Stinger was always flown by an experienced pilot and the intention was not for him to actually engage any threatening aircraft, but for him to put himself into a threatening posture whenever an enemy fighter approached one of his formation. This required a lot of discipline and so the job was given to the more older, more experienced jockeys. This was explained to me once by a very experienced Squadron Leader. "The Jet isn't a fighter," he said. "But you can't tell these kids that. Give 'em a Winder and strap a bang seat to their arse and they all think they're bloody Maverick. God forbid it should ever come to the real thing, 'cos they'll try mixing it with a Mig and they'll die. I wouldn't even mix it with a bloody Alpha Jet."
I asked him about VIFFing - Vectoring In Forward Flight, where the pilot vectors the nozzles to allow the jet to stand still in the skies. He said "Viffing is only good for airshows." His argument was that in air combat the way to survive is to keep your energy high. If you have low energy you should always unload the aircraft (dive at a shallow angle which reduces the load on the wings and allows speed to be regained) and disengage. He said that viffing instantly gave the aircraft *zero* energy. It may get you out of a tight spot with a single attacking fighter, but they always hunt in pairs. After the viff, you would be stationary and his wingman would waltz right in and kill you. He was of the opinion that the wingman wouldn't even need to use any weapons for the kill - a fast pass in afterburner would produce enough turbulence to knock the Harrier off its exhaust column. There was also a concern that viffing at high speed might actually tear some of the older jets apart.
The Harrier's best survival methods were low-level concealment and avoidance. This was practiced all the time. Three times a year we used to go to "Deci" in Sardinia. Once was for Armament Practice Camp (APC) which allowed extensive bombing and gunnery practice on the Capo Frasca range. The other two times were for ACMI - air combat training on the Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation range. The intention here was to let the kids loose with a Harrier that had been stripped down to its lightest configuration (no guns), fitted with a acquisition Winder and ACMI pod and put them up against F-15s. After four days of continually getting creamed by real fighters, they learned that there was no way they would ever survive such an encounter. They could then learn the real tactics of fighter avoidance. At the start of the ACMI they considered a "kill" by one of their side as a successful sortie. At the end of the detachment they considered a sortie where none of their own was killed to be successful.
As for the Harrier's relevance in the Falklands, it was simply the only aircraft that was available. The Harrier GR3s did a very good job because they were carrying out the role for which they were designed, close air support. The Sea Harriers also did a good job which was down to using correct tactics. As I've mentioned before, they were employed as interceptors, not fighters. The SHAR pilots were under strict orders *not* to get involved in dogfights. In the event the Argentine pilots weren't interested in mixing it either, as they were at the limits of their endurance. However, if a couple of the A-4 pilots *had* decided to have a go, I think that the SHAR pilots would have found themselves in trouble very quickly indeed.

Don't believe everything you read. The Harriers used in the Falklands were *not* reliable. The strange thing about a Harrier is that once you get it flying, if you keep it flying it stays serviceable. Once they put their wheels on the deck, if you get the thing airborne again within half an hour, you can keep running that cycle all day and the jet will stay serviceable. However, let the jet settle and it all goes pear shaped. The GR3s were flying two missions a day and so they suffered some immense reliability problems. After the Falklands War there was a major modification programme instituted throughout the RAF Harrier fleet. Known as "Phase 6" it was in part an attempt to address the reliability problems of the aircraft. By the time GR3s were withdrawn in the early 90s, they had become far more reliable than they had been ten years before, but they still had the highest maintenance manhour rate of any combat aircraft in the RAF.
My sources tell me that Typhoon is currently approaching similar manhour rates as the Harrier GR3 - almost 25% higher than that of the Jaguar which it replaced. So much for progress..
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Enzo

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That's really all that needed to be said on the subject Enzo. 1982 was along time ago. Maybe if the British had kept the Ark Royal and conventional fixed-wing aircraft operations, the Falklands war might have gone a bit better for them. How this all ties in with the JSF I really don't know.
Care to elaborate ?
I personally could care less if the UK buys the JSF ... or Joint Combat Aircraft as they are calling it.
Chris
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CCBlack wrote:

"Gone a bit better for them"? We won, didn't we? ;-)
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Enzo

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ohhhh yes we did....and rightly so!

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I've read four very good books about the Falklands War, Max Hasting's book is one, another the name of which escapes at the moment plus 2 of the Osprey books Air and Sea. I have a fair amount of interest in this action, it was probably the last WWII style battle we will see. I have great love and admiration for the British Bulldog and the courage and determination of all involved. I even have respect for the Argentine pilots, they performed very well under the circumstances and bravely even if thier leadership was corrupt and stupid - misjudging Thatcher and though I can't remember details just now there seems a number of military missteps that nade the Brits job easier.
It has also inspired my Falklands collection - a large box of Falklands themed models - Harriers, helos, Argentine aircraft, british ships and some ground equipment.
That said, the loss of the Atlantic Conveyor with embarked equipment and aircraft (I'd love to do a diorama of the flight deck with the containers stacked around it) was a very serious setback. It could be argued that had there been a "big deck" carrier with Phantoms providing a continuous CAP with their improved radars the Mirage would never have gotten that close. The Brits were fortunate in that the Exocet was spoofed sufficiently to not engage the carrier, that loss might been crippling, certainly worse than AC's loss, from a morale perspective.
Just my opinion, Frank

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Gray Ghost wrote:

My recall of the sea conditions around that time is that they were atrocious, certainly beyond the limits required for operations of F-4s. Standard practice for recovery of the Harriers had them alighting at the stern of the carrier. In view of the sea conditions that was changed to have them alight amidships where the deck movement was minimised. .
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kim wrote:

I don't think so. The Argentine leadership badly needed a propaganda victory to bolster their position at home. The occupation of the Falklands could have supplied just that. The Argentines were convinced that Britain didn't have the resolve to fight a war so far out of area and also thought that the US would put pressure on the UK to stop any military response.
The leadership had badly misjudged the British resolve to defend their territory and also the support of the British allies. They rightly surmised that the formation of a fleet to liberate the Falklands would have taken a lot of assets away from NATO at a time when they were badly needed, but they hadn't counted on the NATO allies to pull out all the stops to fill the places left by British forces deployed Down South. Even non-NATO allies helped. The RAF C-130s which were allocated to transport duties within the NATO area were replaced by Australian and New Zealand C-130s and crews!
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Enzo Matrix wrote:

It wouldn't have mattered Enzo. The mere existence of a fixed-wing carrier would have deterred the Argies from invading in the first place. When the Argentine carrier visited Portsmouth a few years earlier their tob brass scoffed at a flight demonstration by Harrier pilots. It was a plane they never took seriously before the war.
(kim)
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Gray Ghost wrote:

I think the lack of airborne early warning was a significant factor also. A couple of E-2s would have shown the Argentines coming farther out.
Bill Banaszak, MFE Sr.
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Mad-Modeller wrote:

So the Royal Navy simply strapped an inflatable radome onto the side of a Sea King! LOL
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Enzo

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