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The UK F4 scenario

zen

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Can we envision an F4 scenario?


Afterall if the RAF conclude they want the F4D in '64, and IF the whole V/STOL requirement is dropped one can see the F4 having some attractions here.


That is 175 F4D succeeding the Lightning.
Some 150 for the MRI role that did come to the F4K after the P1154 although only about 70 performed that.
And some uncertain number for the FAA. uncertain because it depends on the type and the costs and the timing.


If the scale of the numbers is over 300 or more, does this change the nature of the deal gaining this machine? Do we see a license build like the Germans?
 

JFC Fuller

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I am dubious about the F4 as an out and out Lightning replacement in the 60s for the simple reason that the only reference I have for a planned out-of-service date suggests the late 70s. However, I do get a sense that the Lightning was not well loved and we know it never got the complete avionics package that was planned for it.


As I have said elsewhere, the Phantom as the Hunter FGA.9/FR.10 replacement was outstanding one could even suggest that in that role the spey actually improved it. The combined RN/RAF Phantom requirement was over 290 from the outset anyway (may have been higher, there is a 200 number for the RAF floating around) so it was already a large order and large parts of it were made in the UK. Ferranti did the nab-attack system and licence produced the radar whilst RR made the spey. For the aircrafts "Britishness" see the link below.


http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/written_answers/1967/apr/14/phantom-aircraft-cost#S5CV0744P0_19670414_CWA_149
 

zen

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It wouldn't surprise me, it (lightning) was said to be a maintenance nightmare. Though that said the RAF started out with some naive expectations of it being no worse than a Hunter.


There is an argument the Spey did improve the F4 for the low level role, and its clear to me it makes a far more viable machine for operations from something like Ark Royal.
However that came at some cost.


However this avoids the central issue of what happens if the UK decides to focus on the F4 instead of P1154, AFGV (as a fighter) and Jaguar. There is clearly an economy of scale and a saving possible if they had.


There is the counter argument of course that the F4 is a slower climber for rapid 'inspection' type interceptions, and its already felt theres a need for an improved missile to go with it in the fighter role even if domestic industry isn't upto to providing one at the time.
It also imposes more demands on the carriers as we've discussed previously.


Then there is sheer running costs for the MRI mission, in which even if the RAF was running many more such machines overall the induvidual cost may not come down enough and they'd still feel the need for something cheaper to run, enter the Jaguar or something like it.
However good it was, the 70 or so where replaced by the Jaguar, and roughly double the number.


Then theres the rather complex matter of its perceived viability into the future. Supposedly more potent machines are on the way, both from the US, and from the enemy in the USSR.
 

JFC Fuller

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zen said:
It wouldn't surprise me, it (lightning) was said to be a maintenance nightmare. Though that said the RAF started out with some naive expectations of it being no worse than a Hunter.
I was referring to capability.

However this avoids the central issue of what happens if the UK decides to focus on the F4 instead of P1154, AFGV (as a fighter) and Jaguar. There is clearly an economy of scale and a saving possible if they had.
Tangling capabilities and timelines there. If a Lightning replacement survives Jaguar remains a trainer.

Then there is sheer running costs for the MRI mission, in which even if the RAF was running many more such machines overall the induvidual cost may not come down enough and they'd still feel the need for something cheaper to run, enter the Jaguar or something like it.
However good it was, the 70 or so where replaced by the Jaguar, and roughly double the number.
Disingenuous, the Phantom was procured as a virtual one-for-one replacement for the P.1154, the only reason only 70 undertook that role and for only a brief period, was because of the decision to use them as a Lightning replacement instead, just a year after they had been ordered. In reality the Jaguar equipped as many squadrons as the full RAF Phantom order would have equipped, 8. It is indisputable that the Phantom was expensive, a lightning (1964) was said to cost about £500,000, a Phantom (1967) £1,250,000; capability costs. For some context, TSR-2 was referenced variously between £3 and £9 million (depending on numbers ordered and how the maths was done) and no final unit price was ever agreed; we should treat all unit prices with extreme care. The cost of R&D programme (1968) to develop the spey variant for the Phantom and adapt the aircraft to it was said to have been £75 million.
 

zen

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I was referring to capability.
Can you provide a reference for this "not well loved" lack of capability, and what it was being compared with?


Tangling capabilities and timelines there. If AFVG/F-111K survives Jaguar remains a trainer.
Well the AFVG as a 'fighter' is tangled up in this, even if it fades away quite quickly.
Jaguar 'the supersonic trainer' is a vogue of the times, costs would likely kill it off in service, unless..... perhaps a higher cost for training is acceptable from the savings made by the wider use of F4s.


However I must make the point cost to buy is not the same as cost to run and thats the issue that struck me over the difference between a Jaguar and a F4. Not their purchase costs.


What was the Jaguar system NAVWASS? could we have seen a variant of the F4 fitted with that for the MRI mission, assuming it can integrate with the radar. Or would they have stuck with the NavAttack system you mention?
 

JFC Fuller

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zen said:
Can you provide a reference for this "not well loved" lack of capability, and what it was being compared with?

As I said, it is a sense, based largely on how quickly the aircraft ceased being a major part of the RAF and shrunk to just to squadrons.

Well the AFVG as a 'fighter' is tangled up in this, even if it fades away quite quickly.
Jaguar 'the supersonic trainer' is a vogue of the times, costs would likely kill it off in service, unless..... perhaps a higher cost for training is acceptable from the savings made by the wider use of F4s.

It is all tangled up in this, however Jaguar only becomes a strike aircraft for the RAF to replace the Phantom when it becomes the Lightning replacement when AFVG becomes a Vulcan replacement in theatre bomber role.


However I must make the point cost to buy is not the same as cost to run and thats the issue that struck me over the difference between a Jaguar and a F4. Not their purchase costs.

Do you have some specific sources? All I have at the moment is the following; in 1990 the annual running cost of a Buccaneer Squadron was stated to be £33.74 million whilst a Jaguar squadron was £30.63 million. In 1968 the Buccaneer was £2 million and the Phantom £2.3 million. Whilst more expensive to operate than a Jaguar squadron the difference does not necessarily look to have been that substantial.

What was the Jaguar system NAVWASS? could we have seen a variant of the F4 fitted with that for the MRI mission, assuming it can integrate with the radar. Or would they have stuck with the NavAttack system you mention?


I don't see why, the INAS in the Phantom was (according to one source) developed for the P.1154 and it was also used in the Harrier that actually entered service (in which it was interfaced with the Laser Ranger and Marked Target Seeker rather than the AWG-12 radar it was interfaced with in the Phantom). NAVWASS may have been easier to maintain but to all intents and purposes the two systems did largely the same thing. NAVWASS was an Elliots product whilst INAS was Ferranti, the former seems to have been more highly regarded from a maintenance perspective. This is part of my reason for heavily praising the Phantom as a tactical fighter for RAFG- it was truly multirole combining a good nav-attack system with a heavy payload and excellent A2A capability. Even the Spey improved the type at lower altitudes.
 

alertken

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new CAS Elworthy took office 1/9/63 with the British Expeditionary Force facing blitzkrieg armour with Fairey Battle.

Well, seemed like. Canberra. Ludicrous. Much money tussling, with Ministers and with CDS Mountbatten, whose notions were of carrier nuclear Strike Force. During 1964 FAA escape the nonsense of P.1154(RN) and get F-4K, fixed (basic-US-standard) price, added to a production programe being ramped up by McNamara as USN/USMC/USAF/Ally-common - it reached 75 p.month. Ministers commit RAF to an equipment programme that was objectively incapable of achievement. He tells his Minister to chop TSR.2 and take F-111A. Minister says I'll pass until the Election...which his lot lose.

New lot go to see LBJ, 7/12/64. We're broke, they say. Please stay East of Suez says LBJ. Help us to do so says Wilson. McNamara offers anyKit you want on credit. Elworthy says dump P.1154 - a technological impossibility said his Chief Scientific Adviser - and give me 175 F-4D, as is, straight USAF, delivered next Wednedsday.

It was the industry sponsor Minister, Jenkins, that got any UK workshare into F-4M and imposed P.1127(RAF), despite its dearth of payload-range. Wilson instructed Healey to find workshare for France, as part of his wish to re-apply to overcome CDG's non-to-UK-in-EC. Thus Jaguar+AFVG, displacing RAFG Strike F-4Ms to become Lightning replacements. In the year of delivery F-4K/M were free: the credit instalments began after 10 years.
 

zen

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So to get back to the premise of this thread.


175 F4D for Fighter missions
155 F4M? MRI
130 F4K for the RN


Or about 460.


Now do we assume no P1127 in this scenario, or does the attractions of rough field operations close to the frontline continue to exert its pull?


Interesting to know if that actually saves money overall, but does it imply the F111 or does that still get canceled and Buccaneers serve in the interim until some new machine?


As for running costs and comparisons, no I don't have the answers, but I do have the questions.


Curious thought, what was the 'real' price of the F4? All well and good that it was'nt payed for until the 1970s and my figure for the F4K is supposed to be roughly 3 million per plane.
But what is the actual price paid during the period when it was paid for?
Did it account for inflation, interest rates or movements of the Pound against the Dollar?


More curious thoughts, was the Lightning really that cheap? If it was, why wasn't Attack variants of it taken more seriously?
 

alertken

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I doubt you will find that exact data. Wilson's Memoirs have: P78: “This well-meant decision (to add UK work-share) proved extremely costly to the taxpayer” and Gunston,Plane Speaking, P177 compares £3Mn. for 1xF-4M vs. 2xF-4D. The £ content was paid upfront and was risky, in that any delay in delivering Brit bits to St.Louis would disrupt the cascading line, laying bills on UK. Jenkins did it for very good reasons: Ferranti IN (and licenced AWG-12) sustained a firm that eventually did Tornado LRMTR and IN; BAC/Preston intake/rear fuselage kept Salmesbury going pending Jaguar, then Tornado; (the Ulster special case, Short outer wings, was simply substitute for dole for our employees, like RAF VC10 fuselages). He need not have standardised F-4M on F-4K power, but by so doing he caused RR to be able to take over BSEL, bereft after B.Ol.320/BS.100 chop. I suppose the alternative would have been UK-licenced J79: no doubt quite as costly as Spey. Politically impossible to buy US-built J79 while shutting whole plants at RR and BSEL. Put all of that together and I suggest criticism of Spey/Phantom is petty. It was the best kit FAA ever flew.
 

JFC Fuller

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alertken said:
I doubt you will find that exact data. Wilson's Memoirs have: P78: “This well-meant decision (to add UK work-share) proved extremely costly to the taxpayer” and Gunston,Plane Speaking, P177 compares £3Mn. for 1xF-4M vs. 2xF-4D. The £ content was paid upfront and was risky, in that any delay in delivering Brit bits to St.Louis would disrupt the cascading line, laying bills on UK. Jenkins did it for very good reasons: Ferranti IN (and licenced AWG-12) sustained a firm that eventually did Tornado LRMTR and IN; BAC/Preston intake/rear fuselage kept Salmesbury going pending Jaguar, then Tornado; (the Ulster special case, Short outer wings, was simply substitute for dole for our employees, like RAF VC10 fuselages). He need not have standardised F-4M on F-4K power, but by so doing he caused RR to be able to take over BSEL, bereft after B.Ol.320/BS.100 chop. I suppose the alternative would have been UK-licenced J79: no doubt quite as costly as Spey. Politically impossible to buy US-built J79 while shutting whole plants at RR and BSEL. Put all of that together and I suggest criticism of Spey/Phantom is petty. It was the best kit FAA ever flew.

And there is the crux of the issue, a happy marriage between a very capable end product (compare F-4K to the atrocious Sea Vixen and I would suggest that F-4M was the best RAF aircraft of the Cold War with the possible exception of Tornado) with UK industrial factors.
 

zen

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Costs are not a simple matter, for every Pound spent in the UK, a portion would return to the Treasury, and in the changing of hands, induce further financial flows in the economy.
Would be very hard to estimate the 'real' costs of buying anything in the UK, whereas changing Pounds to Dollars and buying in from the US guarantees the none of the money returning via tax, and no induction of domestic (UK) financial flow. So if anything its a much simpler measurement.


F4 and associated subsystems licensed to UK firms rather smacks of a means to leverage technology into the UK.


No criticism of Spey, entirely sensible for the FAA, debatable for RAF, but important to Rolls Royce.
Loss of all UK engine providers would be politically dangerous and not much good for the market, nor is it rational to kill off alternative solutions.


Criticism of F4 is not actually criticism of F4, rather of getting to the state where its needed and of the 'costs' it imposes far beyond any purchase price.


Still advertised price was 1.2 million, final price supposedly 3 million per plane and that is questionable if its a 1968 price, when actual payments, presumably in Dollars, are being made in the mid 1970s onwards.
Really need to know terms of the contract there.
Are they paying a '65 price with '75 exchange rates?
What is 'credit' interest rate?
What is rate of repayment and what if any is the variability in actual repayment costs per installment?


Still a bit OTT, and perhaps too much of history and not enough of alternative history.
 

JFC Fuller

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zen said:
Criticism of F4 is not actually criticism of F4, rather of getting to the state where its needed and of the 'costs' it imposes far beyond any purchase price.

Costs which you have yet to quantify. And let us not forget that 46% of the cost of each Phantom was spent in the UK as was most of the R&D related to the Spey installation. I have yet to hear a truly rational argument that the F-4K/M was excessively expensive for what it provided.

As for how the type became needed- it seems fairly obvious: the UK outlined a forced of approximately 400-450 fast jet aircraft but then split them into 3 types, 3 types which were grossly over-specified and then (most notably in the case of TSR-2) badly executed the programmes to provide them, it is perhaps inevitable that the whole plan fell apart.
 

uk 75

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How about this for size?

The point of divergence from "reality" is 1963. R A Butler (RAB) takes over from Harold Macmillan
as Prime Minister. Mac leaves him a note saying "Sorry Rab, the cupboard is bare".

RAB sets to and gets all the big spending departments to justify their pet projects. It soon becomes clear that the Defence Budget is way out of control. Peter Thorneycroft, the new Chancellor, and Enoch Powell, the new Defence Secretary, set up a Cabinet Committee to get to the root of the problems.

TSR2 is top of the list for cutting. Powell comments that it is too overblown to replace the Canberra and suspects that the RAF want it to replace their V bombers.

P1154 comes in for similar scepticism. It has found no favour despite winning the NATO competition on paper. Lord Mountbatten is determined to have F4 Phantoms for the Fleet.
Powell asks the RAF to consult with Washington, Canberra, Ottawa and NATO on what options exist to replace the Hunters.

The Transport, 681, is dismissed as an "expensive toy". Powell notes that Australia, Canada and New Zealand have all ordered the C130 Hercules.

Thorneycroft is concerned at the impact of such cancellations on the Aircraft Industry and the UK's Dollar reserves. Reassurance from the US that ways can be found to offset purchases and include the Commonwealth industries in the development of the F4, as well as generous C130 production arrangements.

The clincher comes when Washington, concerned by problems with the TFX programme, throws the General Dynamics design out and backs Boeing instead. Boeing are quick to offer BAC a generous development deal. Some 50 Boeing FG111s could be in service by 1968.

The decision to have Hawker Siddeley team up with Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, Avro (HS) Canada in building Phantoms proves to be a winner. It allows the joint development of the F4K, and subsequently the F4K(VG). NATO countries are not slow to join the programme, with Netherlands, Germany and Italy all cancelling some F104 orders in favour of F4s.

Although RAB narrowly looses the 1964 Elections to Harold Wilson, the Defence Budget inherited by Denis Healey is one of the few Whitehall budgets to have been brought under control. Even this fails to save the CVA 01 programme. Powell minutes Healey privately " This is another Turkey, but I have not been able to convince Mountbatten, I wish you more luck".

For anyone wondering why Powell is such a harsh Defence Secretary, remember that he was an early monetarist and also a keen supporter of the (white) Commonwealth.
 
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