Harrier in place of Super Etendard: 1973

Archibald

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This is a rough TL sketch.

POD is October 20, 1971. http://www.ffaa.net/projects/jaguar/jaguar_fr.htm

That day, off Marseille, the Foch is flight testing Jaguar M05, that is: the navalized fifth prototype. As the aircraft is returned to the hangar for maintenance, one mechanic raise alarm. There are two cracks on the Adour engine berths ! This time enough is enough, the test campaign is over and so is the Jaguar M (OTL it agonized for 18 more month, until Super Etendard buried it in January 1973).

The next month (coincidence ?) Dassault has Mirage F1-04 making approaches (but not touch and go or landings) on Foch. The same month a Harrier lands on board the Jeanne d'Arc helicopter cruiser - more tests are planned on Foch, they happened OTL on November 14, 1973: too late.

The Harrier test on Jeanne d'Arc is tipping point. Thinking about the coming PH75 (nuclear or not) it would be interesting to have Harriers as the Foch and Clemenceau attack wing. Because they could use both ship !
The British are also complaining about the 100 less Jaguar M rising cost of the land based variant(s).
To placate them, Harriers could be bought - and so they will.

Despite Dassault complaint and activism, in January 1973 defense minister Michel Debré confirm the decision to buy 100 Harriers. For the Aéronavale it is also a way of securing PH75, tying its fate with the larger Clems.

Three years later...
 
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Archibald

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... Dassault has been placated by an order for Mirage 2000s, plus the lone 4000 as a private venture and prototype.

Meanwhile the British and USMC have dropped the P.1184/1185, better known as AV-16. Instead the British are thinking about the so-called Big Wing Harrier, for both RN SHARs and RAF Mk.1 / Mk.3 extended life. The French who still mourns the S.E, enthusiastically jump onboard as they really need the performance gain if only to lug Exocets and even ASMP later on.

So the British, instead of handling MDD the future AV-8B on a silver plate down the road, move forward. With Franco dead and buried and the Gibraltar crisis cooling down gradually, the Spanish jump onboard, bringing an unexpected guess beside USMC: the Sea Control Ship blueprints.
The Marine Corps is tapping into USN decommissioning of Essex and the first Midway (FDR, 1977) and also Congress and Zumwalt trying to ram smaller carriers into them - SCS, VSS, CVV.

USMC reasoning: if the USN staunchly refuses CVV for good reason, I could step on, tap into Congress frustration at them, and ask for the 30 000 tons VSS: Vertical Support Ship, or the 12 000 tons SCS again - or some kind of 20 000 tons intermediate ship. And then I could try dragging European navies along.

With President Giscard a penny pincher and GB facing more and more economic hardships, a convergence is searched between PH75, Invincibles, and SCS - Asturias. And now the italians are interested too - provided they can dump that old law forbidding their navy to field fixed wing assets.

The British note they have not dropped P.1154 nor P.1185 "supersonic Harriers with PCB" despite persisting issues of the rear fuselage being wrecked by PCB heat and vibrations. In a few words: they are quietly on their way toward the P.1216 radical design.

Meanwhile a resentful Dassault by 1977 proposes Germany a subscale Mirage 4000 with Tornado engines (Mirage 3000), but the British are busy enough with Harriers derivatives so they let is pass (unlike OTL ECA / ECF drama).

At the same time AST-396 is bursting at the seams and will soon be split into more manageable requirements.
 

uk 75

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I have to admit I find the history of the Harrier confusing.
Early artwork of the Invincible class showed standard RAF Harrier GR1 operating off the ship.
Sea Harrier seems only to get impetus when Labour win the 1974 election.
The US Marines become the main supporters of the Harrier
The RAF focusses on MRCA Tornado and has little money left over for Harrier improvements until the 80s when Tornado is in service.
In 1971 Harrier was still either the GR1 or AV8 basic ground attack.
Franco gets AV8 as UK will not supply GR1.
Spain and Italy never buy Sea Harrier.
Loads of obstacles to a French Harrier purchase.

The key to changing this is to get Sea Harrier built earlier.

Labour nearly won the 1970 General Election. So lets put rhem in with a reasonable majority.

The Ark Royal is not saved and its 1972 out of service date is maintained. The RAF get much needed F4 and Bucs.

The Command Cruiser is ordered earlier than in our timeline and Sea Harrier is announced at the same time.

A prototype Sea Harrier is flying by 1971.

Wilson is keen join the EEC and develops a good relationship with President Pompidou.

Dassault still smarting from the loss of its VG and VSTOL programmes sees an opportunity in the UK fighter replacement programme and in West German disenchantment with MRCA (Tornado).

Hawker.Siddeley have no love for MRCA as it is BAC's baby like Jaguar. They see a partnership with Dassaulr on Sea Harrier in return for production of France's new ACF (sorry.I dont have the right Mirage version).

In 1972 the UK Defence White Paper announces a reduction in MRCA numbers because of delays in the programme.
At the same time the UK will join France to build a new interceptor aircraft (Mirage 400?) and the French Navy will order the new Sea Harrier with first deliveries in 1974.
 

Archibald

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I'll have to check the Big Wing Harrier dates again. When did AV-16 died ? 1975 ? because I want the French to join BW Harrier instead of committing to the S.E.
A bit more detail. The french wants to order Harrier in 1972-75 (S.E decision was 01 1973) . Now, if the BW Harrier is not ready and AV16 doomed they could buy AV-8AS (= Spanish Matadors) and upgrade to BW later.
I want to bring together RAF RN Aeronavale USMC Spain and (later) Italy - around the BW Harrier.
Next step I'd like to unite most of them (except probably RAF USMC ) around the SCS design. Although RN is probably out as the TCD & Invincibles are already umder way by 1975. Basically
- 2*PH75
- Garibaldi
- Asturias
Four SCS ships without the British, eight if they are included (3*Invincibles plus Ocean).
 
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Archibald

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A fleet of Euro-SCS carriers with BW Harriers first, and P.1216 in the 1980's, including DARPA ASTOVL from 1983 and from there... screw the JSF JAST F-35 !
 

Archibald

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What I wonder is, could the USMC salvage either SCS or VSS without USN blowing a fuse ?
Congress to USN "we will ram CVV into your throat as you need cheaper carriers."
USN answer "how about dumping the idea to the USMC ? they could get some SCS with Harriers and tadaaaam, cheap carriers... !"
 

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As posted before I think:

SeaHarrierAeronavale-2.jpg


Maybe replaced by the following in the longer term:

Desktop_Screenshot_2017.12.20_-_19.50.19.381low.jpg
 

CV12Hornet

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It should be noted that the stock Sea Harrier was cleared to carry two Sea Eagle missiles once that weapon was made available. Now, AM39 is 90kg heavier than Sea Eagle, which may be problematic for a V/STOL fighter that really needs to watch the weight it carries, but it's probably doable to modify the Sea Harrier to carry Exocet, especially with 100 on order. And it's definitely doable with the Harrier II.

As a side note, 100 Harriers is five squadrons - two each for the carriers, and one for PH75.
 

MadRat

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If its French AND British then it makes sense to be manufactured by SEPECAT. And then it needs options for R550 Magic II and 30mm DEFA 550 for the French. That probably brings an option for overwing rockets and missiles. And it needs options for either the Cyrano IV and Super 530F for the interceptor version, or the Anemone radar for the attack version.
 

uk 75

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NATO CVS is the programme that might meet your needs.
In 1965 the US decides to begin work on a smaller CVS to replace the Essex class ships in service with the USN and the light carriers in service with Canada, France, Netherlands, and the UK.
The ships will carry S2 later S3 ASW aircraft and SH3 ASW helos as well as Skyhawks for anti snooper work.
The Royal Navy faced with the loss of its CTOL carriers after 1972 decides to join the programme to get 3 to 6 of the NATO CVS by 1978.
The design proceeds faster once the RN and USN agree to work together on designing a ship smaller than the Essex/Centaur and dropping the requirement to operate the S3 Viking which is too expensive for non-US operators.
Carrying Seakings and a new fighter based on the P1127 the ships are ordered in 1968 to 1972 by:
USN. 12
RN. 6 later 3
Canada 1
France 2
Netherlands 1
Italy 2
Spain 1
West Germany looks at the ships but is not permitted carriers by treaty.
 

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Archibald

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Okay, see those AST above ? 1969 AST-396 asked too much for a single airframe, and was dismissed as unrealistic in 1975.

1976 AST-403 was another atempt at a very broad multipurpose aircraft. In fact it tried to bring together three major requirements
- A better Harrier than the Mk.3
- A Jaguar successor
- an agile fighter, low end to the coming Tornado ADV (and present Phantoms snatched from the RN): also a successor to the aging Lightning fleet.

The three above requirements were the RAF most immediate and pressing needs for the coming decade. Still, AST-396 unhappy experience clearly showed that sooner rather than later AST-403 would have to be split in two or even three ASR.
And so it was, circa 1977.

- AST-409: The "better Harrier" issue was solved first, through the (massive and transnational) Big Wing program.
- AST-410: "Jaguar replacement, VSTOL if possible". There, Hawker proposed their P.1214 / 1216 impressive designs.
- AST-414: the "agile fighter" became ECA / ECF with the French. A scaled down Mirage 4000 with two RB.199s called the Mirage 3000

The British started some thought bargaining with the French, with the three AST above their cornerstones.

A compromise was ultimately found.

AST-409 "Big Wing Harrier" was already a massive transnational program involving RAF, RN, MN, UMSC - and later Spain and Italy.
The french for once accepted British leadership since they had no VSTOL experience since the III-V in 1966.

But they asked for something in exchange.
 
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Archibald

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And that something was leadership over AST-414: the baseline would be the Mirage 3000 with RB.199s - or a derivative.
SNECMA had just received a massive order for M53s for the Mirage 2000 and would take a licence from RR.

Meanwhile the Jaguar replacement (AST-410) was tied with AST-409 and VSTOL.
AST-409 was short term, subsonic Harrier for the many fleets air arms in varied countries plus USMC large amphibs.
AST-410 was long term: also VSTOL, but supersonic, Jaguar replacement with A2A capability to complement AST-414 including for the navies air arms of Great Britain (Invincibles) Spain, France and Italy - and also USMC.

Because it was tied with AST-409, the British also got the leadership as it was the logical successor to Big Wing Harrier at sea first, and later on the ground to replace Jaguars.
Still they had to concede to SNECMA experience with the American, G.E F101 core: snatched by the french through the CFM56 civilian turbofan in 1972. The British accepted to use that core for the P.1216 massively powerful engine, PCBs included. It was SNECMA consolation prize for having lost the Mirage 3000 / ECF / ECA engine (M69) to the RB.199 and derivatives leading to what became the EJ200, via the XJ30 and XJ40 demonstrators.

USMC for its part helped smoothing out the deal with the USN, state departement and General Electric. The latter company had just won the "battle of the engines" with their own F101 core derivative called the F110 - to complement Pratt troubled F100 on future F-15s and F-16s... next domino to fall was the Tomcat, frustrated by the successive TF30 and F401 dismal failures. Third time was the charm, and F110 made the F-14 a terrific aircraft at least. USMC reasoned that P.1216 also having a F110 core could only help logistics at sea.

In a sense, Great Britain now solidly hanged to VSTOL as its aerospace industry future, even against American and French pressure.

So by early 1980's future of Europe combat aircraft was the following trio: Big Wing Harrier, P.1216 and Mirage 3000.
 
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Archibald

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Parallel talks were hold from 1974 to try and bring together
- Britain Through Deck Cruisers (later Invincibles), and a tentative commando carrier derivative to replace Albion and Bulwark (Ocean)
- the French Navy PH75, a "swiss knife" 18 000 tons ship - successor to the Arromanches retired in 1974
- Zumwalt SCS / VSS, perhaps for the USMC rather than the USN's CVV
- Spain growing interest in SCS (Asturias)
- Italy very similar plans, if they could nil that old law preventing their navy ownership of fixed wing assets

Unfortunately the Britsh TCD / Invincibles were too far along.

Plus the Spanish staunchly refused to cooperate with them, because Gibraltar, and even with Franco safely dead. That wound still had not healed by any mean.

While USMC / USN / Congress discussions to try and salvage "smaller carriers" went nowhere.
The USN certainly did not wanted Congress or Pdt Carter to ram CVV into them in place of new Nimitz; but they equally hated the idea of USMC having small flattops (even SCS or VSS) , on top of their larger and larger amphibious ships. The latter were ultimately the answer: they would get BW Harrier - and perhaps P.1216 in the long term. ARPA was tasked with evaluating Hawker project and PCBs in a research project called ASTOVL.

The french thus took the lead of a reduced group encompassing Spain and Italy, but their plans and budgets post 1973 oil shock were evolving negatively.
Nuclear PH75 more and more looked like an unaffordable luxury, and it was morphing into a PA75 successor, not of the Arromanches but the aeging Foch and Clemenceau.
In the end it was the spanish who provided the answer by adopting SCS blueprints for what became Principe de Asturias. After some hesitations the French backed the idea by snatching two more ships, while the italian domino fell at least, resulting in a fourth ship.

With the Big Wing Harrier the French Navy attack wing could indifferently operate from both Clems and future SCS. The P.1216 would extend that flexibility to the Crusader's air superiority role; sparing precious useful life out of old BS.5 catapults.
 
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Archibald

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This is an atempt at giving the P.1216 a chance by tweaking the late 1970's AST, post 396.

More generally: the Big Wing Harrier versus AV-8B sequence of events (1976-1981) was sad for the British. They really passed the Harrier wonder plane to the Americans for peanuts - before buying it back in the shape of the GR.5.

And of course the Rafale vs Typhoon split (1978-1988) is pretty irritating.

So the bottom line is
a) keep the British edge on VSTOL, BW Harrier first, P.1216 later on
b) use that and the AST to avoid the Rafale / Typhoon split and duplication

Instead of the split, I want the British to remain a VSTOL leader and use that edge to screw both Rafale / Typhoon split and also the AV-8B & F-35 in the long term.

The PoD is the french picking the Harrier in 1972 (whatever the variant at the time) in place of the Super Etendard - after testing it on Jeanne d'Arc (November 1971, real OTL event) and Foch (November 1973, also a real OTL event).

The reason to do that is to placate the British after the loss of the 100 Jaguar M. OTL the Armée de l'Air instead got more Jaguars to fill the hole left. But why fill the hole ? because the numbers of Jaguars to be bought by both sides (just like the non-existing Concorde ESCAPE CLAUSE) was carved in stone and into the original agreement. Change that and takes huge penalties along a big political crisis.
 
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