WI: No Harrier-series aircraft?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Jukra, Jan 12, 2019.

  1. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    Say, the P.1127 project is mismanaged and runs into various glitches and delays. Or it's just cancelled by the 1964 Labour government. Anyway, by mid 1960's, the initial VTOL craze is over and the project is quietly shelved.

    Now, what happens to RAF, RN and USMC?

    For RAF I'd imagine the replacement would be more traditional aircraft perhaps with focus on Swedish (adopted by the Finnish AF too) style of distributed operations. Versions of Jaquar?

    For RN, would Invincible-class become RN Kirov's or Vittorio Veneto's instead? Would there be need to have a longer range Sea Dart?

    For USMC?

    And, finally, what we all are waiting for, the Falkands might be still winnable or loseable for RN even if there were no Sea Harriers or any Harriers at all.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
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  2. kio Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. In short, I think that the cancelation of the harrier would result in little to no active VTOL aircraft in military inventory today, due to the important part the harrier played in the inspiration of other VTOL aircraft. I also think that foreign aircraft like the YAK-38 wouldn't exist, due to it being developed as an aircraft similar to the harrier (pretty sure on that one). I think that the RN and RAF would instead invest in helicopter support aircraft as an alternative, and we might see helicopters more so resembling the AH-56 today, due to possible Air Force involvement.
     
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  3. Pangur The Cat Donor

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    There other question worth asking is that if the P.1127 project is mismanaged and fails what would the impact be on British military aircraft or indeed helicopter development, could it be a fatal wound and the UK then goes further down joint European development road?
     
  4. Riain Well-Known Member

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    The RAF Harrier was a fallback from the P1154-RAF which was to replace the Hunter, which was replaced by 170 Phantom and 60 Harrier GR1, with the Phantom being moved into the Air Defence role in the mid 70s as the Jaguar entered service. If the Harrier was cancelled I'd suggest the RAF would take up the option for 21 Phantoms it did not exercise IOTL and maybe even the 7 RN Phantom options as well. This would leave quite a bit of money left over from Harrier development and the production of the initial 60 GR1s.

    The RN was looking at the Command Cruiser before the Harrier entered service, and didn't order the Sea Harrier until 1975, so would likely go ahead with the Invincible class without Sea Harriers and the Falklands would be lost.

    The USMC would likely spend its AV8A money and requirement on maybe replacing the A4 with the A7, fitting the stores management system to the F14 and buying that and or developing the King Cobra development of the AH1 Hueycobra.
     
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  5. Nick P Well-Known Member

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    Without Harriers the Royal Navy either makes a good case for a pair or trio of conventional carriers to replace Eagle and Ark Royal by 1975 or they go down the black hole of helicopter carrier only. It's all about cost at this time.

    I think we would either lose the Falklands or not have that battle at all. HMS Eagle and Ark Royal were taken out of service at the same time that the Invincible class were being laid down. The military said these were to be Anti-Submarine helicopter carriers (through deck cruisers!:D) but they clearly had an eye for future Harrier operations when these were being talked of in the late 60s and early 1970s.
    Think also of the knock on effect for NATO - no Harrier for Spain, Italy or the US Marines. Thailand and India also lose out. More conventional carriers or better helicopters?

    The RAF would look for rough field capability on more of their aircraft - the Jaguar showed this during the trials - but at the same time the Jaguar was landed on a motorway. West Germany either gets several very long and very firm smooth fields with forests nearby or more autobahns have widened areas with no central barrier for a few kilometers.
    TSR.2 was designed for rough fields too. With no Harrier project to take money away would the 1965 Defence Review support the TSR.2 ?

    Lastly, don't forget the other VTOL ideas of the 1960s. Germany had the EWR VJ 101C, France had the Dassault Balzac V. The US makers had their own ideas too.
     
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  6. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    Within the USMC was a debate over expeditionary air support requirements. Light turbo prop attack AC. we're favored by the operation commanders. Higher up it was more complicated.
     
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  7. AdA Well-Known Member

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    Th Yak38 would still happen. A US built VTOL Jet for the Marines would likely still happen as a purely US venture. The US aircraft would allow VTOL carriers for Italy and Spain (The Spanish carrier was an adaptation of a US design)
    The RN would have to go the French way and build CATOBAR carriers.
     
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  8. Zen9 Well-Known Member

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    So several elements need consideration and they are contradictory.
    The desire for VTOL later V/STOL was driven by a sound understanding of the vulnerability if runways. The ideal was VTOL but the ability to use fields was something lost with the arrival of jet aircraft after WWII.

    Firstly P1127 was the Kestrel, but to avoid any issues with how the US part funded the tripartite research squadron. When the uk canceled the P1154 to be called the Harrier, it ported over as much of the avionics and the name to the P1127. Claiming this was so changed the uk owed nothing to the US.
    The Harrier as we know it was born.

    Secondly HSA's Brough office (formerly Blackburn) proposed a backup aircraft using blow over the wing for STOL. Quite an attractive design.

    Thirdly in operational terms the Jaguar for Medium Range Interdiction (MRI = delivery of WE.177 nuclear weapon) was of higher importance. It was imposed on the design of the supersonic trainer but initially some 70 F4K taken by the RAF were tasked with this role.
    It's telling it was Jaguar numbers that directly parallel the earlier P1154 numbers.

    Fourthly the Sea Harrier was barely an Anti-Fleet-Shadower as it wasn't fast enough to seriously endanger Bears. It's main role was a minor offensive one toting bombs or later Sea Eagle against other ships. It would represent a minor loss to the RN's new post-CV doctrine and no alternative would be sought for their new through-deck cruisers.
     
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  9. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    Would RN build through-deck cruisers? RN was on it's way of giving up carrier capabilities, and without Harrier there would not be pressing need to have as large flight deck. Instead, deck space could be devoted to other armaments, whatever they might be. Souped-up Sea Dart to help air defense having larger reach? Vittorio Veneto RN style?

    As for CATOBAR carriers for RN, no, AFAIK, even through-deck-cruisers were political manouvering.
     
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  10. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    Would Falklands become a lost cause without Sea Harriers? With different fleet structure there might well be more Command Cruisers with better AAW capabilities to counteract lack of Sea Harriers. Or not.
     
  11. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    Didn't OV-10 already give this capability in a rudimentary form? As for low-intensity conflicts, it would be probably superior to Harriers in many respects.
     
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  12. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    OV 10 lacked the heavy bomb load desired. They were wanting something like that which could operate off short rough fields and roads. Low operating prep, or maintinance was of course desired, and of course rugged.
     
  13. Zen9 Well-Known Member

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    No the ASW CV which is what the Invincible class is, is designed with that flight deck for efficient helicopter operation. It's only the ski-ramp that was specifically for the Sea Harrier.
    Ee
    Earlier and later efforts at helicopter capable ships tended to this 'through deck' layout due to the desire to operate more than 4 Helicopters. It's just the most efficient way to do it.

    Would we win the Falklands without the Sea Harrier. .....probably not.
    And as a consequence we'd look weak to our enemies and they would try to take advantage of that.
    So the irony is that fighting and winning the Falklands probably averted WWIII.
     
  14. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    FMA IA Pucara?
     
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  15. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    But I wonder if in absence of Harrier the command cruiser would be so large, there's probably a sensible maximum of ASW helicopters to be carried in a single ship.

    Sea Harrier did not come for free and had rather high operating costs, RN would have had more budget for something else. In 1991 an FA.2 cost some 14 million GBP, or some 1/5th to 1/10th cost (lead ship) of a Type 23 frigate. As for FRS.1 cost contra warship I have no idea.

    As for WWIII, an obscure conflict did not avert or bring forward chance of WWIII anymore than rather more important wars in Afghanistan or Vietnam.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
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  16. Riain Well-Known Member

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    The Through Deck Cruiser was first planned in 1961 as a dual role Command/ASW ship, long before the Harrier was a proven concept but quietly dropped in 1962. Once CVA01 was cancelled in 1966 and the other carriers scheduled for disposal it was foreseen that the new NATO destroyer/frigate force would need command ships so the Through Deck Cruiser concept was restarted. By 1969 the design concept was pretty much finalized, at a time when it was assumed the final carrier Ark Royal would only run to 1973-74 and the GR1 just entered service with the RAF. In 1970 the new Conservative Govt pushed the Ark's service life out to 1978-79 and the Sea Harrier was ordered in 1975, however the Invincible class and future fleet structure was designed and ordered without reference to these decisions, so in the context of the Falklands the AAW inherent in the Sea Dart and Type 42 and Type 22 would not have been sufficient to retake the islands.
     
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  17. Zen9 Well-Known Member

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    No it would be a bit smaller. Though the extra money could see more Sea Wolf Systems.
     
  18. Riain Well-Known Member

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    The Invincibles were designed around a requirement that a minimum of 9 helicopters was essential and a full 12 provided a decent capability. Below is a precis of how the RN got to the Invincibles, its an interesting enough story if you ignore how it was basically the result of bad decisions.

     
  19. Riain Well-Known Member

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    Sea Wolf was to be instead of Sea Dart, rather than an addition to it, as the initial Sea Wolf system was very large.

    Sea Wolf would make the ship only 5 million pounds cheaper while leaving the fleet bereft of area AAW.
     
  20. Zen9 Well-Known Member

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    No what I'm saying is that the money spent on SHar could be spent getting more Sea Wolf Systems. I did not specify which ships might get them or when