A guest post from the Mintcake Maker
Okay, just a bit of a thought exercise on my part after reading lots of the post on the NG firebird thread and I was just wondering if you guys would agree with my figures. Let’s say for the sake of argument that we want a new CAS/ carrier capable AD, and training aircraft. Let’s say 3 squadrons for the RAF to provide CAS, 3 squadrons for the FAA to provide Fleet AD but can swing role if needed, a large OCU and some spares. I’m guessing we need around 110 aircraft for that. If say building 110 of them takes 7/8 years and we started 2016, the production run would probably finish by 2024, by which point our hawk will be getting long in the tooth. So let’s and another 30 a/c to the buy. We now have a purchase of 140 aircraft (potentially), we now go and ask the Brazilians if they want in because this aircraft could replace there Skyhawks in the navy and eventually the AMX in the air force. So we do a deal whereby the first 10 are made here in the UK, they buy the building, so they can make the rest at home and we agree to support them, rights and pay a small amount into the R&D fund. We could even include maybe a few Brazilian suppliers to sweeten the deal. This means the total order is about 150 a/c to be made in the UK.
Let’s use one we already own to save costs and if need be modify. I’m gonna pick the jaguar purely because it was a good all-rounder, fairly rugged and most importantly it did undergo some carrier trials however problems with engine performance and weight were the main problems (to be fair it was a Jaguar A that they navalised).
Based on the info from wiki, with afterburners the Jaguar managed Mach 1.6/1056mph, by my rough calculations, using the non-afterburning Adour 951 engines a Jaguar 2 could reach just under Mach 1.25/939mph which given its role is probably fat enough. Likewise the cost in 1978 to build was $8m dollars if we say because of inflation it has gone up roughly 30 to 4 fold in price it brings the price in at somewhere around $48m, which if you consider how much a BAE Hawk costs and then how much it costs to turn it into a combat Hawk is probably about right.
If we assume the $48m also include profit and R&D costs and they contribute to 30% of the final aircraft cost, then that would make the cost to produce each a/c $34m or £22m (at £1 = $1.55).
But we are not building brand new Jaguars to the old design. So some new R&D cost will come into play, I come up with a few rough figures below:
-Fitting new avionics (lets use the KISS principle and just fit what the combat Hawk uses) – £100m
-Designing a slightly larger wing with bigger control surfaces and wingtip rails – £250m
- Strengthening the undercarriage/tail hook, replacing some areas with composite to save weigh and also making sure that all parts are coated/built with anti-corrosion materials – £300m
- Making minor external changes to reduce RDC maybe change the tail layout to twin-tail – £150m
- 6 pre-production models to evaluate, test and certify – £600m
- Cost to re-tool a factory – £1bn
This means the total R&D cost come in at £2.4bn, however if we ask brazil to stomp up 10% of the R&D cost and sell them a local production licence we may be able to claw back £400m (especially if we place an order or 2 with Brazilian companies for parts). This means that R&D would cost £2bn.
If we take the R&D costs and divide that by 150 planes it works out at £13.5m per a/c. Therefore this gets added to our production figure of £22m. This means to build the aircraft including R&D costs would be £35.5m per aircraft. If BAE then add roughly 15% to the price for profit, each aircraft costs £40m and BAE would make £0.75bn profit on the project.
This would mean that if HMG decided to purchase the full 140 it would cost £5.6bn, which if the production line is open for 10 years is only £540m or 14 aircraft. That’s a nice regular outflow for the MOD budget and surely won’t break the bank, its only like 3.5% of the yearly procurement budget? I don’t think that’s bad value for money. Once more it also goes hand in hand with the government wanting to build not bank our way out of debt. Think about it maybe 5,000 workers and suppliers or so kept in employment for 10 years, and think of all the money HMT would be able to claim in taxes etc, its win win.
Even better if we could find another 80 orders and I think there’s a good chance of that purely because by 2020/25 both Canada and Australia will possibly want to start looking for a Hawk replacement, we would already have this in production and it uses many of the Hawks parts. So we could probably sell 30 to each country, that’s enough for 2 squadrons and spares and the US Goshawks are supposed to start going out of service at 2030, we could sell the 20 and a then a licence to build the rest over in the states. If we did get an extra 80 orders, it would reduce the overall cost per a/c to £35m, which would mean the cost of buying 140 of them would drop to £4.9bn.
I’m also sure we could probably sell some to places like Oman, heck given our new deal with the French let’s get them onboard (they can also stump up some of the R&D costs that way) and they could replace there Alfa-jet trainers. We might even be able to get the cost down to £30m per a/c or maybe even less.
And for those of you who think that stealth is the answer to everything and we need lots of F-35’s, place wake up and smell the coffee. We don’t have the money and secondly it’s not necessary for the UK. In the next 20 years or so, we are not going to be going up against super high-tech nation. I’m not saying we should have some “stealth” aircraft, I’m just saying that we’ve got to the stage now where quality does not overcome quantity because our armed forces have been cut back so much.
I think the F-35c will cost roughly £70m to £80m, when we finally get it (any more than £80m and it’s not worth it in my opinion). If we eventually buy 70 aircraft we could have 3x 12 plane squadrons for the RAF, 1x 12 plane squadron for the FAA meaning they can have 4 planes onboard the carrier continuously and surge up to 12 for when the sh*t really does hit the fan, an OCU and spares. I’d rather spend the money from not buying another 30 to 40 planes to purchasing a British designed and built aircraft, the Jaguar 2. For the same cost as say 35 f-35’s at £80m we could buy 70 Jaguar 2’s , even more with we get export orders.
So come on Britain, we’ve done this before and WE can do it again. I suppose it’s just a question of will.
Sorry for the long ramble, hope you guys enjoy.
Below are some pics of the original Jags and a very nice schematic.
And a couple of images of the Jaguars at Cranwell painted in black (They look great!)
If you click on the link at the bottom of the page for DCAE Cosford there are some more interesting pics