Tornado versus F-111

uk 75

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I apologise to some of you who may be groaning at yet another UK 75 thread. But it does arise from some of the other threads.

The RAF F-111K never materialised, but ironically the USAF deployed a better version of the F-111 in greater numbers to Upper Heyford and later to Lakenheath in the 70s. The RAF soldiered on with its remaining Vulcans until the Tornado arrived in the 80s.

Would a decent sized RAF F-111 force (perhaps combined with the Australian purchase) have been a better option in the 70s and 80s.

Tornado was shorter legged and less capable perhaps than the RAF wanted, but it was built in decent numbers and could be exported to Saudi Arabia. It provided many jobs and much know how. Looked at from 2012 the Fin was a remarkable achievement, arising as it did out of the chaos years of the late 60s. The jump from Vulcans and Bucs to Tornados came at the right time for the RAF.
 

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Aerospace is the section for the real world and its history, it says so pretty much.
Military is another section, where one could engage in history.


This is the alternative history and future speculation section.


So IF you are really asking the question of which was the better option for the UK, Tornado or F111, then that correctly belongs here.
But IF you are wanting to discuss history as it happened, I would suggest you are posting in the wrong section.


So which is it?
 

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Zen

You are quite right. I got carried away as like Sealord I am belatedly quite a fan of Tornado, not
so much when I was younger though.


F-111K (or whatever a joint version with Australia might have become) would have been a valuable replacement for the ageing Vulcans in the 70s. I think the Aussies got theirs sorted out in the early 70s. By freezing our purchase until then we could have squeezed financial concessions out of the US and saved money on the AFVG and MRCA projects.

UKVG always seems to me the version of Tornado that the UK really wanted ( I have just purchased a model of it in 617 sqn colours from my usual Asiatic sources and very nice it looks, though it has not reached me yet!). If we did not dilute the requirement with the Germans etc it would of course be difficult to achieve. However, let me try this timeline.

In 1980 the RAF operates 50 F111 CKs (or those that remain!) plus Jaguars in Germany and the UK. The Buccaneers from the RN operate with Martels in the SS role but no additional aircraft were purchased. The new Thatcher administration is keen to save money and the Jaguar replacement is merged with the Phantom replacement to become Typhoon. However, the deployment of SS20s has made SACEUR keen to add to and improve his operational theatre forces in Europe. British Aerospace has been refining the UKVG programme and Australia has also shown interest in replacing its F111 force in the late 80s. Even the USAF, with Boeing as partner to BAe,
is studying UKVG?
 

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The problem with this, is what performs the bomber destroyer mission of the ADV? F4? But that did and ultimately was replaced.
That is what the UK actually spent money on through the late 70's and early 80's.


So an argument for the F111, may (and I stress may) be an argument for a ADV variant, shades of the F111B there. Problem with that is the UK didn't feel able to fund the expense of the radar missile combination, regardless of platform. Instead it spent money on the AI.24 and Skyflash.


What succeeds the F111 is an interesting question in this scenario, but I suspect it would not be called the UKVG, and while it might possess VG wings, its hard to see what else from the 60's concept it would retain.


Considering the JSF of later years, I'd suspect one of the various VG LO designs from the US (NATF, AF/X etc....), with some UK content in a partnership, and the F111 would soldier on into the 2000's, much as it did with the RAAF.
 

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Zen

Some interesting questions of course?

First of all, I cheated a bit with UKVG, but its no more far fetched than right wing Tories
spreading rumours that TSR2 was going to be resurrected. But you are right, by 1980 a swing
wing strike bomber was probably old hat.

I think as you say if we had got F-111s they would have soldiered on until at least 1991, like
their US cousins. I suspect after 1991 they would have been toast!

The Tornado ADV requirement has never really fascinated me. The answer to the problem was some version of F14 or F15 but we could not afford it. Shoving a long range radar and Skyflash
on the Tornado was probably the best one could do, though the long range UKVG (or Strike Bomber 85) would have been able to heft these as well.

Probably exhausted this one then...
 

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