Panavia Tornado Without the UK

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Simon, Jul 5, 2019.

  1. Simon Thread Killer Extraordinaire

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    The Multi-Role Aircraft (MRA)–later Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA)–which led to the Panavia Tornado was initially an international project made up of West Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Canada to study replacements for their F-104s, with Canada and Belgium departing early on due to concerns that it was too Western Europe-centric and wooing by Dassault with the Mirage 5 respectively. The UK joined looking to replace the Vulcan and Buccaneer, and with the Air Defence Variant (ADV) the Lightning and F-4, whilst the Netherlands left due to the increasing complexity of the aircraft.

    Putting aside industrial concerns supposing that for various reasons the UK doesn't join the MRCA project would the F-15E have made a viable alternative? I know that it didn't enter service until a decade later but right from the start McDonnell Douglas were touting what would become the E variant, although the US Air Force were studiously uninterested, so the idea is they use interest from the UK as an excuse to develop the variant. The big question is would it would have the range and endurance, not always the same thing, to fill the ADV role covering the G-I-UK gap? I've come across some conflicting numbers when searching.

    Other questions are would West Germany and Italy continue with the Tornado by themselves? I think they probably would, especially since they wouldn't need to develop the ADV then. Not being too knowledgeable of the MRCA project does anyone know if it was the UK's requirements that pushed the complexity of the aircraft over the line of what the Dutch thought was acceptable or would what West Germany and Italy want from it do that anyway? If the Netherlands stay in it could have knock-on effects for their purchase of the F-16 several years later, probably in terms of numbers.
     
  2. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

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    If all the UK is interested in is an Air Defense variant, they would just buy -15Cs. Or rather, they'd buy a production license and build them in the UK the same way Japan did with their F-15s. The -15E is a strike aircraft with only a secondary air-to-air role. Whether the UK buys any, or pushes for it's development, is really up in the air.
     
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  3. MatthewB Well-Known Member

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    What about a land variant of the F-14? The AIM-54 seems ideal for distant intercepts.
     
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  4. Zen9 Well-Known Member

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    This is a good AH option but a complex one.
    Most of the countries involved wanted a Starfighter successor.
    The UK wanted a deeper strike system to succeed the Buccaneer after the failure of the TSR.2

    Complicating this is the desire to sustain domestic industry.
     
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  5. MancFrank Well-Known Member

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    The UK won't be the launch customer for an as yet unresolved & unrealised F-15E - A & later, C models would fill the A2A role nicely, as would the F-14 but cost and industry rule both out - completely. These options were considered OTL - for all of five minutes - before being dropped for thr aforementioned reasons.

    Tornado ADV F.2 / F.3 was solely a UK effort - no design or development input (or cash) whatsoever from other partner nations, but as to the broader question regarding whether the MRCA programme continues without British involvement? Not a chance. At least, not with the result bearing any resemblance to OTL's Tornado.
     
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  6. Michel Van Well-Known Member

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    Had Britain back out the Panavia Tornado project
    The Aircraft would quite different as today

    The German would get there way and Two version are build: a Single seat fighter and two seat Bomber

    Interesting was that They offer the F-14 as land base jet to German Luftwaffe but they went for F-4 Phantom Fighter/Bomber
    and yes a naval version of F-104 starfighter was build for German Luftwaffe for land based catapult launch and Landing testing
     
  7. Simon Thread Killer Extraordinaire

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    Unlikely, even with advances in electronics it was still felt that the role required a second crew member.


    The UK operated both the standard interdictor/strike (IDS) model as well as the ADV variant, any aircraft they buy in place of the Tornado has to be able to do both strike and air defence roles.


    Well the possible F-15E change isn't happening in a vacuum, there are other changes as well, hence the 'Putting aside industrial concerns' bit.


    Would they? As I replied to SsgtC the RAF took the view that a second crew member was needed for operating in the G-I-UK gap which would seem to rule them out. Setting that aside would they have the range and endurance similar to the Tornado – the main question of the thread.
     
  8. Stenz Don't judge the past by the standards of today... Monthly Donor

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    “a strike aircraft with a only secondary air-to-air role” is a pretty good description of the ADV (or air display variant as we used to call it)
     
  9. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    The F-15E did not achieve IOC until 1989 with the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB so that variant as any sort of competitor for the Tornado because they multi-role or two seater is not on the table.
     
  10. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    Yeah although if you talk to anybody in that community the plane is quite capable in the air fight with AESA radar, JHMCS, AIM-9X, and AIM-120C. Part of the reason its air-to-air role is "secondary" is because it has not been needed in that capacity.
     
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  11. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

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    Oh I didn't mean to imply it wasn't capable of A2A. Just that it's primary mission is precision strike. The airframe is only marginally less capable in the air superiority role than the baseline -15C
     
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  12. MancFrank Well-Known Member

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    When the F-15 was assessed, both A/B & C/D models were considered. The twin tubs, whilst considered desirable, were by no means considered essential. This is particularly true of the C/D option, with both variants approaching flight as the decision to go with Tornado was made.

    Before the selection of Tornado, there was no prima facie case for both roles to be filled by the same type, either.

    There's really no basis for a meaningful discussion if we put aside industrial concerns, as that - along with the projected costs of any flavour of F-15 - were the primary drivers for the option chosen. The RAF (ask 'em!) would have been delighted with F-15's - the treasury, less so.

    As to the 'main question', well, the UK would have ended up with either C or D variants as a function of what was 'in build' at the time of the Tornado selection - both these models are FAST pack capable. Indeed, the only F-15 unit to regularly use the FAST pack - the 57th FIS, Keflavik - did so precisely in order to operate in the G-I-UK gap, so yeah, they would indeed have the range and endurance.
     
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  13. Zen9 Well-Known Member

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    Uk went into MRCA in the aftermath of the failure of the AFVG with France. It brought with it a host of technologies and airframe work on VG.
    It's not just pork barrel that drove the UK to continue with domestic supply of anything.
    Strategic and technical developments mattered too.
    Early work on the FMICW set had proved successful. And RR had progressed on turbofans considerably. A full domestic low level flight and navigation system was a serious contender for Tornado avionics. Beaten by German insistence on a licenced (to Germany) system by Texas Instruments.

    I'd suggest that shorn of the UK, Tornado will get shorter legs and may even be a single engine powered aircraft.

    UK options would be to either develop their own aircraft or buy from the US, which would logically be the F111K. ...again.

    The ideal for the RAF in the Bomber Destroyer mission is the F14. Considering the environment where they'd operate. Commonality with the USN is quite rational.
    Short of that the justification for the F15 founders on the missile radar combination of the F14.
     
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  14. WILDGEESE WARNING: Left-handed & extremely accident prone!!!

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    An idea

    If MRCA . . Tornado isn't developed would Germany & Italy go for license built F-16's as a cheaper option and commonality with the USA, Belgium, Denmark, Holland and Norway?
     
  15. Stenz Don't judge the past by the standards of today... Monthly Donor

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    Would we actually get them this time?
     
  16. ElMarquis Well-Known Member

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    Buccaneer S.150 anyone?
     
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  17. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    If the Tornado ADV doesn't happen and the F-15 and F-14 are too expensive then is the best bet for an interceptor an upgraded Phantom with new avionics and the APG-65 radar (like the German Phantoms got)? That gets you the two crew members and a modern radar that is compatible with the latest Sparrow, Sky Flash, and AMRAAM BVR missiles plus you still get good range with external tanks and airborne tanking.
     
  18. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    For strike that is probably the best bang for your buck (or pound in this case) plus it is a domestic aircraft.
     
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  19. NOMISYRRUC He isn't the best, but he is in the top one...

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    If the British hadn't joined the MRCA project, would they have carried on with the UKVG project instead? If they had would the aircraft that entered service been the OTL Tornado GR Mk 1 in all but name?

    IIRC the UK ended up paying 48% of the R&D bill for the Tornado IDS and AIUI collaborative projects often take longer to complete and cost more than national projects. If both statements are true, would the UKVG have cost less to develop than the Tornado IDS and would the R&D cost been low enough for the UK to afford UKVG as a national project.
     
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  20. Zen9 Well-Known Member

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    Well in theory it's possible. But the prevailing political climate was international partnerships. Sharing the burden. ...mostly of blame.

    Certainly shorn of the needs to collaborate with international partners or the RN FAA. The RAF is free to specify what it wants.
    Logically that would end up larger than the Tornado we know as they'd prefer internal fuel to drop tanks.
    In theory RR had more powerful versions of the RB.199 in the offing.