Monday, 16 May 2011

Constituency mailbag: A well argued case for MoD change on the JSF and new Aircraft carriers

Dear Graham,

It would now seem that with the possibility of India deciding between the Typhoon and the French Rafale, fighters for a contract for 126 aircraft worth £7-£10 billion for the Indian military, the short sightedness of the last government and the military “experts” in not developing the Typhoon with an arrestor hook capability could cost us dear. There is now talk of offering the Indian government a maritime version of the Typhoon with an arrestor that could be designed in conjunction with them, this would be good for the country but not all that beneficial for the work force at Samlesbury and Warton as the planes would be built in India, although Britain would benefit in the supply chain.

As for Peter Luifs assessment of the programme, in his letter to you of the 9"’ October and 21 November 2010. He goes on to say that I am unclear of the Joint StrikeFighter that we require for the now “Phantom Carriers” that may not t for a decade. This statement may be correct but it also goes to show that the government and perhaps Some; military personnel are not quite sure themselves what the military capabilities are for the next decade or so.

The original concept of the JSF was for vertical take off and landing capability now seems pie in the sky as I believe that we are now possible going for the third and cheaper option of JSF that will not require vertical take off and landing capability but for the more conventional take off and landing capability. Peter Luif says that “we retain a flexible carrier design that could be converted if required etc.” This is why the cost ofthe carriers will go from £5.2 billion to £6 billion as we redesign the carriers for the steam catapult system and arrester hook retrieval. This price could also escalate by a further £1 billion if we fit an electro magnetic propulsion system in conjunction with the Americans for launching aircraft. But Liam Fox has stated that he will put the brakes on such an escalation in costs. Again this talk is just pie in the sky, and shows that they haven’t got a clear or positive vision of what is required.

Should not the original carrier designs have been for both possibilities? Peter Luff again states, “We will continue to study ways to enhance Typhoon’s multi role capability to meet dynamic mission requirements.” According to the Times newspaper on the 23" April military chiefs sent an unsuitable jet on Libya missions for political purposes. The Typhoon could not target enemy vehicles and was using an older less capable bomb that carried a higher risk of causing collateral damage. A Tornado GR4 ground attack aircraft fitted with a Lightening 2 targeting pod was forced to fly alongside.

To provide the tageting for the Typhoon. This adding to the cost of each mission according to figures released by me RAF me Tornado costs £33,912 per flying hour as opposed to £85,895 per flying hour for a Typhoon. Does this not go to show that the govemment made a grave error in cancelling and scrapping the Harriers that were ideally suited for such operational roles?

Even with the Typhoons possible short comings I hope that you will in some way support the Typhoon deal with India that will be benecial not only to the country but the people of Lancashire. But in my heart of hearts I believe that the Indians may well go for the Rafale, as it is proven carrier capable and especially as they have carriers already under construction. Again this just goes to show the short sightedness of our govemment both past and present.