Rafale/Typhoon pre-history, 1977-1981: a whatif.


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6 June 2006
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SCENARIO 1 - an earlier divergence, in 1977.

I've just discovered that in 1977 Dassault pitched a twin engine Mirage 2000 to GB and Germany.
The Mirage 3000 had either RB199 or SNECMA M69... the later ancestor of the M88 !!!

What's more the TKF-90 was just as big as the 4000.

So what if ECA or ECF started in 1977, 2 years in advance ? Dassault pitch Germany a Mirage 3000 with rb.199, and both realize TKF-90 and 4000 are pretty similar.

So now they have two proposals with two sizes.

AviationsMilitaires.net — MBB TKF-90
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D’autres pays européens étudient également le remplacement à moyen terme de leurs flottes aériennes et, au début du mois de novembre 1977, les gouvernements français, britannique et allemand de l’ouest demandent une solution technique commune concernant un nouvel avion de combat européen.

Le 26 avril 1978, MBB présente son projet d’avion monoplace, qui est également dévoilé au public durant le salon aéronautique d’ILA 78 à Hanovre.
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  • Masse à vide : 7 710 kg (16 998 lbs)
  • Surface alaire : 54 m² (581 sq. ft)
  • Hauteur : 4,9 m (16,076 ft)
  • Envergure : 11,36 m (37,27 ft)
  • Longueur : 14,9 m (48,885 ft)
  • Mach maximal BA : Mach 1,2
  • Mach maximal HA : Mach 2
  • Rapport poussée/masse, à vide, avec PC : 2
  • Charge alaire, à vide : 142,778 kg/m² (29,243 lbs/sq. ft)
  • Équipage : 1
  • 2 réacteurs Turbo-Union RB.199D
  • Puissance unitaire : 7 700 kgp (76 kN, 16 976 lbf) avec post-combustion
  • Carburant (masse) : 4 150 kg (9 149 lbs)

Mirage 4000

MoteurSnecma M53-P2
Typeturboréacteur avec postcombustion
Poussée unitaire83 kN avec PC
Envergure12 m
Longueur18,7 m
Hauteur5,80 m
Surface alaire73 m2
À vide13 400 kg
Avec armement16 100 kg
Maximale32 000 kg
Vitesse maximale2 445 km/h (Mach 2,2)
Plafond20 000 m
Vitesse ascensionnelle18 300 m/min
Rayon d'action2 000 km
Charge alaire220 kg/m2
Rapport poussée/poidssupérieur à 1
Interne2 canons de 30 mm
Externe8 000 kg de charges externe comme Magic II + GBU + réservoir + radar de suivi de terrain en pod
Radar Thomson-CSF RDM
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from all this - the starting point might be a Mirage 3000 prposal by Dassault to Germany in July 1977. This collides head on with TKF-90 and starts a different ECA with France not GB and 18 months earlier than OTL.

By this point the Mirage 4000 has not flown yet (09 march 1979 OTL) so it might be a different bird: smaller and with RB.199 although SNECMA will cringe their teeth. Yet they can't complain since the AdA is committed to 315 Mirage 2000s all with the M53.

Dassault accepts to shrink the 4000 by 15% to make it less expensive, closer from TKF-90 and more adapted to the RB.199. By early 1978 France and Germany have an agreement to fly the prototype in July 1979 - a little later than OTL 4000.

Then GB is forced to jump into the bandwagon. To get RR and SNECMA under peaceful terms the french request access to RB.199 technology - and the XG-20 / 40 and later EJ200 derivatives.
Fearing to be left alone by the franco-german headstart GB accept and join the partnership mid-78. Phantoms are old and Tornado ADV is specialized. Another "agile fighter" is needed and spun out of AST.403 into AST.414 and this is british part in the new project.

Meanwhile within the next 18 months the french governement play a special wildcard: they scrap both Mirage IVP and Mirage 2000N ASMP carrier options and endorse the new aircraft as a nuclear bomber to replace the old Mirage IVA.
They know that the Force de Frappe is their one and only hope to get a twin jet while the 2000 enters service in the 80's.
ok so I picked scenario 1 and deleted the other.

So the year is 1979 and a shrunk Mirage 4000 is flying with RB.199s borrowed from TFK-90. Marrying Rafale and Typhoon into a one and only aircraft. SNECMA and RR have a cooperative agreement over the coming XG-20.
France decided to plant ASMP on that aircraft to replace the Mirage IVA.
Saudi Arabia is getting interested as they were OTL in P.110 Tornado ADV and 4000.

ain't that cool ?

The new tripartite fighter has been rebranded AST-414 and spun out of AST-403.

And now AST-409 want to do the same, in april 1979.
So will OTL British AV-8B GR.5-7-9 happens ? Nope.
Instead, BIG WING HARRIER is a go !

And then the Falklands happens... and AST.410... and the P.1216 is coming !!!

Except that ITTL by 1983 AST 409 and 414 are long out of the way - 1980 !
So there is now a highway for the P.1216

Meanwhile in the USA... DARPA ASTOVL is heating up...

Meanwhile the Spanish and Italian navies are looking for VSTOL on their future Asturias and Garibaldi...
The crisis in Belize in 1975, in which Harrier GR.3’s played an important role, started to change minds and a switch back to STOVL was likely.

AST 403 was delayed in order to harmonise with France and Germany, funding was allocated to the Experimental Aircraft Programme (EAP) that would lead to AST 414 and Typhoon.

In 1983 DARPA in the USA started the Advanced STOVL programme that eventually lead into a 1986 memorandum for a 5 year programme of study between the MoD, NASA, the Royal Aircraft Establishment and the US DoD that would explore propulsion, control and configuration of four single engine STOVL aircraft designs. These were a vectored thrust, tandem fan, ejector lift and a remote augmented lift concept, none of which, funnily enough, would make it into the F35.

The RAF had issued a requirement under Air Staff target 410 for a supersonic STOVL aircraft but this was withdrawn before the MoU

Leaving the Royal Navy with their Naval Staff Target 6464 that called for a supersonic STOVL aircraft to replace the Sea Harrier.

Both these were planned to be merged at some point but the RAF then deprioritised supersonic STOVL in favour of what would become the Typhoon and ensuring the Harrier GR.5 could enter service.

NST 6464 remained but was low key, reportedly deliberately so to keep the focus on Typhoon.

And then the US Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter...CALF...

.. become the F-35 and the rest is present OTL history.

ITTL it will be different. Very different.
By 1980 Big Wing Harrier is going smoothly. Slowly but surely it starts borrowing bits from the SHAR FRS.1 such as the bubble canopy.

And then the Falklands happens with RAF GR.3 fighting along SHARs from the Invincibles, Hermes and Conveyors.

In turns this get BWH and SHAR programs even closer.

And then come NST.6464 and AST.410... for a supersonic successor to BWH and SHAR ! United they were, they stand.
And united they will go, to DARPA ASTOVL ! No AST.409 or 414 to stop them: now they can go screwing Bevilacqua, its lift-fan, and ensure the F-35 will never happen down the CALF JSF road in the 90's.
sooo the TL so far

Mirage 4000 and 3000 go to Germany looking for RB.199 smaller than M53. They meet TKF-90 and they sleep together. The offspring is a shrunk 4000 the size of TKF and with its engines.
France and Germany click into place and ECA is born 18 month in advance.

GB enter the fray in exchange for RB199 tech transfers to SNECMA. ECA becomes ECF. AST.403 is eviscerated as a result. 414 and 409 go their own ways.

Big Wing Harrier kicks AV-8B out of AST.409. And it starts getting close from SHAR FRS.1
ECF flies in July and Italy gets interested via Panavia. France give traction to ECF giving it ASMP in place of Mirage 2000N or IVP options. In turn this amount to a committment for 70 aircraft.

Saudi Arabia is baited to ECF after Israel influence cut Peace Sun to exactly 60 F-15s and not a single one more.

Falklands war brings the Harrier Mk.3, SHAR and BWH fleets even closer.
Their supersonic successor - NST.6464 and AST.410 - will be the P.1216, its path is now clear.

DARPA ASTOVL starts. US and UK get an MoU agreement loong before OTL 1986 one.
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Meanwhile the SHAR FA.2 enter service with the superlative Blue Vixen radar. We all know OTL this one led to the Typhoon CAPTOR.

This won't change ITTL except CAPTOR will go to P.1216. Including first AMRAAM capability in Europe by 1990.

The combination of Blue Vixen, P.1216 and AMRAAM is a rather outstanding one:
- a naval F-16 block 40 or MLU.
- a vstol F-18C that don't need a 50 000 tons Midway but a 15 000 tons Sea Control Ship like the Asturias.

In turn this will influence the Spanish, Italian and...USMC.

OTL they all gained AMRAAM capability by emplacing the Hornet APG-65 radar on massively updated (but still subsonic) AV-8B bomb trucks - and only late in the 90's.

ITTL the path toward AMRAAM mean Blue Vixen right from 1990 on brand new P.1216s - with supersonic performance.

Finally much like what is happening with F-35 nowadays, countries like SK Japan or Australia may consider carriers again only because of the P.1216 unique capabilities. In 1999, not 2019, of course.
An intriguing aspect of the story is the relationship between SHAR FA.2 and P.1216.

It might be tempting by 1984 to cancel the SHAR for the Osprey (nice name for P.1216 incidentally) and transfer Blue Vixen to P.1216.
But Blue Fox is very bad and the Falklands still haunting plus SHAR can be a testbed for P.1216 notably onboard the Invincibles. So IDK.

Which bring us to India and their FRS.51 SHAR flying out of good old HMS Hermes from 1987.
Switching to P.1216 will be very temptful for them...
As for USMC their situation is worth a look... OTL they have both Hornets and AV8B.
ITTL the P.1216 give them both capabilities in one aircraft, cool.
Alas...they already have bought hundreds of Hornets and what's worse... nobody bought AV-8B bar them because BWH killed it in RAF service while Italy and Spain went P.1216 !

So after assuming cost of the AV-8B alone, now they want to pick the far superior P.1216 !!
Congress bean counters not happy at all...
An Indian buy is likely to replace Jaguar and Sea Harrier much as for the UK.

Spain was problematic as they didn't want to buy from the UK. They went to the US...
But Italy is possible. Especially if France has jumped on P1216. ...Osprey?

I think it would be interesting to hear from a Swedish perspective. As it's just possible a licensing deal with SAAB could see this in their service instead of them going it alone on the Grippen. This would allow them to intagrate (intigrate spell checker failure) their EW kit.

Israel is a potential wild card if the USMC do buy into this.

I don't think Blue Vixen got to IOC until the late 80's early 90's?
Spain was problematic as they didn't want to buy from the UK. They went to the US...

freakkin' Gibraltar thing hmmm ?
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About french P.1216.
As usual - Dassault shenigans is the key.

OTL arm twisting of the Aeronavale by Dassault was completely sickening.

Late in 1988 the aeronavale dared to try to loan 15 second hand F-18s because the Crusaders would die by 1993 and Rafale-M could not happen before 1997 - actually May 2001 was the real date.
Dassault raised a huge political ruckus and tantrum, and won by K.O.
By december 1989 the F-18 case had been shot down in flames buried deep and never come back.
18 Crusaders were given a cosmetic upgrade and had to last until 1999 when the Balkan wars had Mig-29s flying air patrols...

OTL the Rafale started in 1983 from the ACX demonstrator clean sheet of paper. ACX then split between ACT and ACM - for the armee de l'air and navy, still close enough.

Then France broke with team Typhoon in 84-85 as the later grew too heavy for Foch and later CdG thus threatening the ACM, future Rafale-M.

- Dassault by getting with TKF-90 in 1977 has directly jumped into the Typhoon bandwagon and much earlier.
- A naval ECF in 1978 is a very loooong way from OTL ACM / Rafale M.
- Crucially ECF is the son of the 2000, 3000 and 4000 which are 100% land-based Mirages. So much for a future ACM.
- with the Typhoon / Rafale split not happening and thus Europeans still on its side , Dassault don't need the French Navy (80 fast jets) to bolster a lone Armee de l'Air Rafale buyer (300 aircraft).

Basically by starting from the larger TKF-90 and 4000 birds Dassault screw ACM chances from the beginning. Plus by 1978 the Super Etendard is only entering service. And afterwards Dassault is carried into the OTL Typhoon spiral of a land based interceptor without an ACM component.
The Aeronavale for its part is pumping all fast jet money until 1983 into getting 71 Super Etendard in service.
By 1984-88 when Crusaders become veeeery old the P.1216 case is getting better. When OTL F-18 loan needs happens late in 1988 an ITTL P.1216 alternative can be imagined instead.
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Now back to USMC and AV-8B. A quick check of Flight International archive was fruitful.

Honey, I killed the AV-8B !

Let's reel back..

ITTL AST-409 has spin out of 403 in 1978 a year in advance since ECA ECF started earlier and without GB but the french courting the Germans.
Flight told me that an earlier AST-409 actually improves BWH chances against AV-8B - 1979 to 1981 was turning point in the later OTL victory.

But there is even more shocking ! Jimmy Carter hated the AV-8B and arm-twisted USMC and MDD into enlisting foreign partner GB or... lose the program entirely !

Now if GB prefers BWH and picks it fast, 78-80 then this kills the AV-8B.
Some AV-8B key dates OTL
- november 1978 two AV-8A flies with the new wing.
- 79-80: BWH is faster and more agile than AV8B plus one prototype crashes, delaying RAF decision.
- september 1981 BWH finally lose AST409 to AV8B
- november: first "true" AV-8B flies.

In passing I also learned that BW was also meant for... the SHAR ! Confirming my intuition that BWH and SHAR would work hand in hand.

By this point I'm left wondering that if BWH kills AV-8B... then just like the SHAR the USMC old AV-8As left in the cold without a successor could get the BWH treatment.

And on top of that, guess who bought second hand AV8As for its Dedalo antiquated carrier ? Spain, hombre ! geez that Gibraltar tricky thing will mean that the Matadors will get BWH wings hopefully from the USA and not GB.

The irony: OTL situation is completely reverted.

Attached is Flight crystal clear explanation of OTL AV-8B victory over BWH in 1981.


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Wikipedia has this to say...

Between 1978 and 1980, the DoD and USN repeatedly attempted to terminate the AV-8B program. There had previously been conflict between the USMC and USN over budgetary issues. At the time, the USN wanted to procure A-18s for its ground attack force and, to cut costs, pressured the USMC to adopt the similarly-designed F-18 fighter instead of the AV-8B to fulfill the role of close air support (both designs were eventually amalgamated to create the multirole F/A-18 Hornet).


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Fact is that BAe had a 50% share in possibly 200 USMC AV-8B, and 60% if the RAF bought 60 more aircraft.
This deal makes me wonder what would happen if Carter and the USN got their way and the program is axed.
Either Reagan bang his feet and says "screw Carter and GB we will do AV-8B alone" but Thatcher won't be happy.
Or Reagan simply tells USMC and MDD "turn your AV8As into BWH like the british are doing with their mk.3 and SHAR. That british metal wing is no AV-8B composite but it is good enough..."
the neat thing when killing the Harrier II for the BWH is that the english wing can be mounted on both Harriers and Sea Harriers... so the Harrier family is somewhat united through the new wing instead of being split in three - old Harrier, Sea Harrier and Harrier II.
On top of that GB stays in control instead of having SHAR fading away for Harrier II.

As for the alt, non VSTOL F-35... the lure of replacing all these Hornets and F-16s is too strong, F-22 needs a stealth low-end.

Since I've discovered that cute FC-31 chinese jet I can't help thinking - the uncompromised by VSTOL F-35, here it is.
Non-VSTOL JSF, means McDonnell has the inside track, or perhaps a lower cost solution in an F-16XL derivative? Does it stay as a "joint" program or does the Navy go at it alone as well?
Nope no F-16 only stealth stealth stealth and stealth.
And the end of Cold War means - budget cuts and common airframe for USAF & USN. Even if they hate that very idea.

I mentionned the FC-31 because that alt JAST JSF might be twin jet since non VSTOL allows for it. A pair of F414 might be enough... merde, Super Hornet incoming lol.

Maybe this one never happens.
Yeah that's how I seen it: a FC-31 look alike with two F414. Maybe the Superbug never exists, F-14D and F-18C fill the gap before the alt-JSF kicks in. Incidentally without VSTOL and F135 it should be far, far less expensive than the trillion dollar F-35.

No need for a hugely powerful single F135. In fact P.1216 has such an engine ITTL.
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If stealth is necesary I think McDonnell wins the JSF competition with a single F119 engined F-36? Is that enough to keep McD alive?

Do the timeline changes give the Navy enough money to move forward with the NATF (F-22N or F-23N)?
There certainly were a host of single engine designs to compliment the F22
Ah yes you are both right. Probably one F119 for my FC-31 clone. Still a very cute and sexy jet.

As for the NATF... a VG naval F-22 sounds like a huge bloated monster of a kludge. Give me instead Super F-14D Tomcats any day even if non stealth.

To me the end of Cold War mean: no big stealth platform on USN decks. No naval F-22 and no A-12: waaaay too complicated and maddening expensive.
Plus Northrop insane screwing up of the A-12 program won't change ITTL.
Cheney in 1990 or Clinton in 1994 brings the same answer : NO WAY.

Then again F-31 (lets call it this way) can probably do the stealth attack job properly... can't be worse than OTL F-35 bloated by VSTOL plus Superbug with all the drag, pylons included.
These fast strike fighters replaced A6E, A6F and A-12 dedicated long range subsonic attack platforms. Of these three I love the A6F. But maybe Super Tomcat and F-31 can handle the attack job together making A6F unnecessary. OTL Superbug and F-35 just do that.
The end of Cold War and Peace dividends really shape USN strike groups at a crucial juncture. Considering OTL I think Super Tomcat plus F-31 is really the USN best hope. A6F if they are very lucky but I doubt it.
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On the french side things happens very much like OTL Rafale: from 1990 to 2020 the entire force of combat aircraft minus a minority of Mirage 2000s switch to one and only combat type. Mirage III V 50 F1C CT CR Jaguar Mirage IV are all replaced.

Except that happens... five year earlier than OTL. Because France is not alone paying the development bill in the 90's. Also because the prototype flew in 1979 and not 1986 !

On the Mirage 2000 front the 2000N never exists since right from 1978 ASMP goes to the new aircraft, with Mirage IVP in the interim. The 2000D still happens for non nuclear strike. The 2000-5 is not necessary because the alt-Rafale is probably in advance by 5 years 1997 instead of 2002. Overall the 2000 career is trunked.

Of course the Aeronavale flies a mix of S.E and P.1216. Yet the later is so superior to the S.E the later career probably ends long before OTL 2016. Where S.E dragged on per lack of enough Rafale-M. ITTL I can see the aeronavale screwing the S.E in 2005 or so. P.1216 can handle strike and air cover altogether.
Still Foch is doomed in the long term (2004) but there is a fantastic development that has just clicked in my head right now.

P.1216s can fly from... the 3 Mistral assault ships ! oh gosh what a terrific idea. When the Charles is away the Mistrals will play. Fantastic. With Tiger strike helicopters.

Well now that's an interesting twist. Sarkozy buried CVF in 2008 as unafordable and he was right: too different from CdG making a 2 carrier fleet too complicated.

Now ITTL I can see the Aeronavale reaction
"Hey but... those P.1216s they can fly without catapults... wait... the Mistral... they can do it ! oh crap, I've just lost a 2nd carrier... and won 3 more.
Except the S.E can't do that... plus on CDG P.1216 do the strike role far better already...oh well then screw them, sell them to Argentina and pay P.1216 mods to Mistral with the money saved in the S.E retirement..."
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Nice Idea Archibald

Since in 1977 the Cold War is still on, there is need for Mirage 3000
It will mess up the F-16 program serious, if NATO member jump on M3000 project
But in order to work, Germany want a piece of cake too, means German Aerospace industry as supplier,
or manufacture of Germans M3000 on there soil, same goes for Britain.

Who gonna buy it ? (some of numbers are from Eurofighter program)
Next France, Germany and Britain
Belgium show interest in Eurofighter in 1986 for 50 aircraft, again if there Aerospace industry supply parts
Spain could buy this plane if there Aerospace industry supply parts for M3000 project (see OTL Eurofighter)
Italy again same rule like above.
Greece wanted 60 fighters
Netherlands had F-16 it unclear if they wanted also a heavy fighter like the M3000/Eurofighter in the Arsenal

The List below show that M3000 would have great future in 1970s and 1980s

Britain regular customers
Saudi Arabia

Dassault regular customers
South Africa
United Arab Emirates

Canada would be interested in M3000 since there demands goes for Twin engines
And it is far less expensive than both F-15 and 4000. Closer from a F-18 with FBW canard and delta wing. With the delta it probably has less range problem than the Hornet that took so many shit on that matter. In turn that aircraft might be the Grippen of its time: the perfect middleground.
Superior to F16 and 2000 because twin jet
Superior in range to the Hornet same cost and twin jet.
El cheapo compared to the F-15 or 4000.
Somewhat ironically what the BAe P.110 hoped to achieve but never got a chance... Twin RB.199 plus compact delta canard = nice sweet spot.


Now I can't help thinking about an earlier, similar - very compact fighter in the 60's with a pair of M45 / RB.172.
This bring us into AFVG territory... except it was a miniature Tornado / F111 VG strike thing.
I was thinking about an European F-5 clone or Mirage but with far more thrust and fuel efficiency than the F-5E old J85s - thanks to M45 or RB.172
And guess who pitched that... P.530 Cobra to the Dutch in 70 ? Northrop. The J101 being the F404 daddy.
Imagine if either Dassault or the british had created their own P.530 with delta and two M45 or RB.172...after the AFVG debacle SNECMA was left with a M45 licence but did nothing of it bar a german airliner. The M53 was the future. Except it made the G4 G8 ACF 4000 way too expensive. A M45 twinjet by contrast... back to square one, this thread Mini-4000.
Were the RB.172 and RB.199 related ?
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The alternative to a VG wing on the P.45 was a delta wing.
Twin RB.153.

I always thought there ought to have been a Mirage F4 a scaled F2 with two Atar or Avon.
yeees I remember now the P.45 from Tony Butler. Cute little bird. There was also the Hawker P.1173.
But I 'm killing my own topic. Back on track.
I think the fighter most affected by the M3000 is the F/A-18 as both the F-16 and F-15 are in different categories. Does Northrop push the F-10 and the F-18L harder since they would be able to compete better against the M3000 than the naval F/A-18? Is the Hornet mafia weakened by less foreign sales (allowing for improved Tomcats to beat out the SH)? With the SH out of the equation does that open a door for a Northrop-Grumman NATF (YF-23 + ST-21/ASF-14 experience...)?

Say you have Lockheed with the F-22, McDonnell Douglas with the F-36 (JSF), and Northrop-Grumman with the F-23 (NATF), that would leave Boeing completely out of the fighter business, maybe they dedicate more effort into either BWB or the 737 replacement, and we also end up with no Boeing T-X.
lots of questions ! It is startling to think how Northrop really fired by all tubes with the F-17, F-18L, and F-20 - three superb aircraft - and yet ended screwed thrice (!!) by MDD Hornet the first two times and the F-16 then.
Pretty unbelievable to have 3 top horses out of 5 in a race yet manage to finish all three last. Dang.
Basically F-17 and F-18L ended eaten alive by MDD Hornet. And F-20 had zilch support even less than the L.

So I really don't know what would be the less dumb move for poor Northrop.

All I can think of is: stick with the F-17 and its J101s and make it a new F-5 cheap as dirt... let MDD make the heavier Hornet if they want. No F-18L screw and no F-20 either. Problem: that F-17 is going to run into the F-16, that already kicked its arse for USAF LWF. Not sure twin jet could make enough difference without ...running into the enlarged Hornet ! even with all the heavy naval stuff which by the way bothered neither spain nor finland nor australia OTL.

Oh geez...
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The JAST JSF whatever would be the F-24 and F-25 if there was a prototype competition.
The OTL odd -32 and -35 come from NASA X-plane series because VSTOL. Making the JSF lost among a flurry of... spaceplanes, 30, 33, 34, 37, 38, 40 !!

I can't see the YF-23 getting a NATF revenge against the Raptor. Although F-14 and F-15 happened at the previous generation, stealth insane cost and the end of Cold War may prevent such a redundance from happenning again.

My bet is on Super Duper Tomcat for the USN. Because big stealth suffers far more on a carrier deck while cost is already eye watering. Also applies to A-12.

I fear the USN might be told
"stealth attack ok but no bigger than a Hornet (JSF JAST).
Stealth Tomcat (NATF) or stealth A-6 (A-12) capability ? forget it."
Even today OTL NATF and A-12 remain as dead as door nails. USN stealth attack still stuck at F-35 level.
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The thing that started it all.

1977: Dassault proposes a twin RB.199 Mirage 2000 dubbed the Mirage 3000. Whether it is derived from the larger 4000, no idea - canards, bubble canopy ?

OTL Dassault proposed it to GB and nothing happened, AST-403 was frozen and Tornado ADV was pumping every funding. ECA started only 18 months later early 1979 and with Germany. Dassault was now too late, joined, and finally screwed the whole thing in 1981. First Rafale / Typhoon split, led to EFA / ACX demonstrators, before the 1982-85 brief marriage and definitive divorce.

ITTL they go to Germany instead and stumble on the TKF-90 that already existed. The brute shape needs some refining so Dassault helps by shrinking the 4000 to TKF-90 size, still with twin RB.199. The germans agree to blend the two shapes.
ECA is born then Great Britain joins and ECF is born. Dassault officially scraps the 4000 for the smaller aircraft but manages to stay on track for a summer 1979 first flight.
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How about a RB.199 powered F-20? Sold as a complement to the M3000?

I can see a road for a NATF YF-23, especially if the Navy goes with a Super Tomcat. The Tomcat will need replacement eventually, and you already have the high cost items (F119 engine and F-22/JSF avionics) available. The airframe is the cheapest component and the NATF designs where already very different than their ATF counterparts. Stealth is primarily a function of shaping, so if the Navy can live without extreme stealth (ie no RAM coatings), they can get a decently stealthy NATF without a huge cost. And since the NATF is already different than ATF why not go with the manufacturer that has Navy experience in NG instead of Lockheed, that also gets you the simpler design (no VG).
June 28, 1978 snipet from the french Senate debate. The Armée de l'air is flight testing the 2000 since March 10; the 4000 hasn't flown yet, but they want an intermediate type with two RR. RB.199. Which piss off SNECMA that start his own engine, the M69 later the M88.
What a mess !


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Interesting note in Text (translate)

In order for a standardization of European armament [in 1978]
The Specialist of the [french] Air-army envision to build a twin engine Interceptor
equip with two jet engines RR RB.199 with 7,5 metric tons thrust
for his part SNECMA work on now version the M69 engine

In order for a standardization of European armament
they had found open ears at Germans, who after the F-104 fiasco, only wanted twin engine aircraft
This proposal would have be ideal for need of Luftwaffe
If the Germans had knew of this internal french proposal.
Wow. Mind blown. In 1973 a Harrier landed on the Jeanne d'Arc helocarrier, there is a picture of it in Flight International.
Can I see a very, very small opening for VSTOL on Foch and Clemenceau successors hmmm ?

And freakkin' hell, that 3000 is more and more real. More than a twin-jet 2000 (as it is known on the Internet since, what, 2006, Key Publishing ?), it looks more and more like a scaled down 4000.

Fair enough on the Jaguar, Dassault had taken it over by 1969 by taking Breguet and soon proceded to destroy it methodically, AdA included. GB too. Aeronavale included. Export markets. DIE, you evil non-Mirage, collaborative aerodynamic-horror bastard !
That business with PA.75 makes much more sense with a limited number of Harriers.
This would slide into P1216 and relieve the MN's AN of having to take what Dassault says or the AdlA dictates.
Leaving a go it alone effort for Dassault that much harder, but a collaborative effort with the UK or Germany much more likely.

Dassault would have fought tooth and nail to stop Harriers for the AN!

But if the UK leans towards the PA.75........there is going to be a price for that. France's political class will make that decision over the head of Dassault.

As a consequence there might be an effort to jointly develop a common nuclear reactor.....back then the UK was still a big player in nuclear technology. If I recall correctly, France was sending people to learn from the UK in this field in the 70's.
The discussion in Reply 35 is covered in Typhoon to Typhoon, and relates to a conference call between Chief of Defence Procurement, Sir Clifford Cornford, Frederick Page, Chairman of BAe and Sir Denis Spotswood, Deputy Chairman of Rolls-Royce.

Interesting stuff and wasn't the only expression of the last sentence shown in the extract above. As ever, I await accusations of being Francophobic/Little Englander (somewhat ironic if you know me)

Zen: this is more or less how Dassault saw the Jaguar, really.
- alien to his company (NIH, it was Breguet)
- an aerodynamic heresy compared to any sleek Mirage (the closest thing being the F1, high wing, undercarriage)
- a camel, pardon, a horse designed by a committee - called SEPECAT (sépécatte doesn't mean anything in french)
- with ballooning costs, again due to cooperation
- very long development time (1965-73), again due to cooperation
- air to ground only, definitively not an interceptor - export markets won't like it

In a nutshell, the Jaguar was completely alien to their standard Mirage culture. They already had the Mirage IIIE, the Mirage V, and the Mirage F1 for the same A2G role.

The basic Mirage from the 60's (F1, for example) is a 100% french crash program, multirole A2A/A2G type developed internally without outsides interferences, cheap and fast in a corner of a Dassault hangar in Saint Cloud.
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Back in 1972 when the Jaguar M proved a total underpowered dog of an aircraft the others options bar Super Etendard were
- A-4M Skyhawk
- A-7E Corsair II, Aerospatiale take a licence from Vought to build them in Toulouse (and try re-entering the combat aircraft market to piss-off Dassault, really, that was their goal. They also tried getting a F-5E licence from Northrop).
And then
- we know from Liébert that a Mirage F1 prototype made approaches on the Foch in 1971-72.
- a Harrier landed on Jeanne d'Arc and on Foch, too. I'm often wondering if the Jump Jet was considered.

I wish Le Fana could get more details about how the Super Etendard carried the day.
Because the list of contenders starts to get really interesting, you see
- Jaguar M
- A-4M Skyhawk
- A-7E Corsair II
- Harrier
- Mirage F1
- Super Etendard
- lurking in the background is the Mirage G, too.
Each one has interesting potential for alternate history.
I'm personally fond of French SLUFF (that nickname LMAO) because Vought and France love story lasted since 1939 - V-156F, F-4U in Suez, Crusaders in '64 and now A-7s...

Nous Vought aimons, chers américains !
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