Author Topic: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)  (Read 441641 times)

Online adrianwyard

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #640 on: 09/04/2015 04:59 PM »
How about this bit of fiction:

+ In 2018 progress on the SABRE test-bed has been sufficiently encouraging to draw more investors.
+ The UK government signs a multi-billion pound contract with a REL company to provide launch services for UK satellites for the years x to y. This represents a saving of z over projected launch costs for those years when you factor in the overall value to the UK economy.
+ The launch contract is structured principally on fee per launch, so technical problems and financing difficulties would not cost the taxpayer, but could theoretically derail the program. However, the UK gov has a vested interest in the venture succeeding so would help smooth out issues.
+ With that backing and stability in place, other investors join the program, enabling its development.

And finally, because of the above...
+ Indonesia (to use SteveKelsey's example) buys a Skylon, confident the program will continue, along with servicing contracts.

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #641 on: 09/04/2015 05:07 PM »
And any defence supplier could do the same with precisely the same result, the loss of their customer base . Who would buy from them in the future.

I agree 100%. The difference is Airbus/Boeing/Lockheed-Martin are massive companies with long-term government contracts/subsidies so you can guarantee they'll be around for a few years and will want to keep their customers happy. REL on the other hand could fold comparatively quickly, and would not be bailed out if the financials didn't look compelling.

You are going to have to unpack your logic for me. Large or small if you want to keep in business you keep your customers happy. You and others have proposed the potential for REL to hold customers to ransom. REL have never suggested this, not would they unless they wanted to destroy their credibility from the get go.

 My point was that no contractor of any scale or designation could afford to do this as they would never be trusted and no one would buy from them.

I don't see how this illogical hypothetical could be linked to any projection of Skylon's success.

Purely as an aside, and not part of the Skyline debate, the only supplier who might be tempted to play fast and loose with their customers on meeting expected ( and presumably contracted)  support services would be a monopoly supplier, not a start-up.
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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #642 on: 09/04/2015 05:09 PM »
How about this bit of fiction:

+ In 2018 progress on the SABRE test-bed has been sufficiently encouraging to draw more investors.
+ The UK government signs a multi-billion pound contract with a REL company to provide launch services for UK satellites for the years x to y. This represents a saving of z over projected launch costs for those years when you factor in the overall value to the UK economy.
+ The launch contract is structured principally on fee per launch, so technical problems and financing difficulties would not cost the taxpayer, but could theoretically derail the program. However, the UK gov has a vested interest in the venture succeeding so would help smooth out issues.
+ With that backing and stability in place, other investors join the program, enabling its development.

And finally, because of the above...
+ Indonesia (to use SteveKelsey's example) buys a Skylon, confident the program will continue, along with servicing contracts.

Please don't link me to your fantasy
2001 is running a little late, but we are getting there.

Offline tl6973

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #643 on: 09/04/2015 05:13 PM »
REL have repeatedly stated that they are not interested in building Skylon.

They want to be the engine manufacturer and have said that Skylon would most likely be built by a consortium of established and experienced (I.e. Credible) airframers.

Online adrianwyard

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #644 on: 09/04/2015 05:28 PM »
How about this bit of fiction:

+ In 2018 progress on the SABRE test-bed has been sufficiently encouraging to draw more investors.
+ The UK government signs a multi-billion pound contract with a REL company to provide launch services for UK satellites for the years x to y. This represents a saving of z over projected launch costs for those years when you factor in the overall value to the UK economy.
+ The launch contract is structured principally on fee per launch, so technical problems and financing difficulties would not cost the taxpayer, but could theoretically derail the program. However, the UK gov has a vested interest in the venture succeeding so would help smooth out issues.
+ With that backing and stability in place, other investors join the program, enabling its development.

And finally, because of the above...
+ Indonesia (to use SteveKelsey's example) buys a Skylon, confident the program will continue, along with servicing contracts.

Please don't link me to your fantasy

I was trying to build up a scenario that made your claim (Indonesia buys Skylon with confidence) more credible.

And on the word 'ransom': I didn't mean to imply REL (or another company) would actually hold owners to ransom, merely that a purchaser would know that are dependent upon someone else for servicing. And if the servicer is a small company without major contracts or government support, there's a risk they could go bankrupt.

Offline RonM

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #645 on: 09/04/2015 05:29 PM »
REL have repeatedly stated that they are not interested in building Skylon.

They want to be the engine manufacturer and have said that Skylon would most likely be built by a consortium of established and experienced (I.e. Credible) airframers.

Yes. They would probably go with one of the usual suspects for aircraft: Airbus, Boeing, or Lockheed Martin.

Either Boeing or Lockheed Martin would be good because of space experience. Airbus would be good because its European, but it would probably have to work with Arianespace for space experience.

Online SteveKelsey

Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #646 on: 09/04/2015 05:37 PM »
How about this bit of fiction:

+ In 2018 progress on the SABRE test-bed has been sufficiently encouraging to draw more investors.
+ The UK government signs a multi-billion pound contract with a REL company to provide launch services for UK satellites for the years x to y. This represents a saving of z over projected launch costs for those years when you factor in the overall value to the UK economy.
+ The launch contract is structured principally on fee per launch, so technical problems and financing difficulties would not cost the taxpayer, but could theoretically derail the program. However, the UK gov has a vested interest in the venture succeeding so would help smooth out issues.
+ With that backing and stability in place, other investors join the program, enabling its development.

And finally, because of the above...
+ Indonesia (to use SteveKelsey's example) buys a Skylon, confident the program will continue, along with servicing contracts.

Please don't link me to your fantasy

I was trying to build up a scenario that made your claim (Indonesia buys Skylon with confidence) more credible.

And on the word 'ransom': I didn't mean to imply REL (or another company) would actually hold owners to ransom, merely that a purchaser would know that are dependent upon someone else for servicing. And if the servicer is a small company without major contracts or government support, there's a risk they could go bankrupt.

Understood and thank you for the clarification. I mistook your intent so i apologise if I caused offence.

 I would like to point out it wasn't my claim, i was responding to an earlier post.

 REL's stated objective is an SSTO with aircraft like operation, which another poster was bringing into question.
2001 is running a little late, but we are getting there.

Online adrianwyard

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #647 on: 09/04/2015 05:40 PM »
Details aside, my point is a simple one: once a Skylon is sold, it's continued value is dependent on someone maintaining the airframe (e.g. Airbus), and/or the engine provider servicing the SABREs (i.e. REL or a sub).

If these servicing companies could go out of business, that's a risk that must be factored in. Once REL has major contracts, you can have confidence they'll be around to maintain your SABREs.

Offline knowles2

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #648 on: 09/04/2015 06:40 PM »
REL have repeatedly stated that they are not interested in building Skylon.

They want to be the engine manufacturer and have said that Skylon would most likely be built by a consortium of established and experienced (I.e. Credible) airframers.

Can anyone seriously imagine them in 2020s, having built workable, flyable Sabre that have hundreds of ground tests and just saying whole damn we can't get consortium together to build the airframe let abandon the whole idea.

Nope me either, if they can't build such a consortium and I'm personally of the opinion they don't have a hell in chance of building one, they will proceed to do it themselves, just like they have done everything else themselves to date.

« Last Edit: 09/04/2015 06:45 PM by knowles2 »

Offline Citizen Wolf

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #649 on: 09/04/2015 07:19 PM »
Knowles2
**Can anyone seriously imagine them in 2020s, having built workable, flyable Sabre that have hundreds of ground tests and just saying whole damn we can't get consortium together to build the airframe let abandon the whole idea.**

If, as you suggest, REL managed to produce a successful SABRE engine but couldn't convince Boeing or Airbus or whoever to come on-board and build an airframe, they might well give up on Skylon as envisioned now. I say this because REL would know that investors would be very reluctant to pour $Bns into a project which was being overseen by people with little, or at best less experience than Boeing et al in that area. REL might therefore decide to use the SABRE technology in another area of aerospace instead of Skylon.
The only thing I can be sure of is that I can't be sure of anything.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #650 on: 09/04/2015 08:36 PM »

of course it's an asset. Only a foolish would think otherwise.
To an Accountant or an Economist it's obvious. But this is radically different from all current systems, where the ELV is a ticket to ride.

No, a country could set the price at pretty much anything they want.
And of course if that really happens as much as you seem to predict it would obviously kill all that commercial Skylon market everybody is talking about because subsidized flights at half the price... well...
Except a 1st generation Skylon has a 200 (full trajectory ) flight design life. At which point they will proved the system works very well indeed and have a scrap Skylon. However it is REL's plan that early adoptors would not be alone for long.
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I still don't see it. I still believe countries are after the development of the technological knowledge if they invest because even today there's enough competition in the world market that you will always find a flight for those one or two sats a decade you really want to launch as a government.
But that's the point. In truth the whole global market could be serviced (probably) by 2 ELVs, A big one like Atlas V and a smaller one like Soyuz If all countries agreed to pool their launches.

But they don't.

Imagine being a US researched developing a probe with any USG funding and trying to get it launched on a non US launcher.

There are also serious ICBM proliferation issues with ELV technology

But even if you develop your own in country LV what exactly do you have?

A very complex artifact that's used once and thrown away, and the ongoing standing army to build and launch more.  :(
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No, if you develop your own access it's because you want to develop a domestic industry, not just make sure you get your birds launched.
Are you aware that the UK has a substantial "domestic" space industry IE multi Bn turnover, 10s of 1000s of jobs with no launch vehicle of it's own?

All of that hardware has launched on other people's LV's (including the Shuttle).

That's a position quite a lot of countries share but a large part of that is that having "your" own ELV gives you very little lasting benefit. It's expensive to develop, expensive to operate (probably low flight rate and high standing army, including a gunnery range to launch over) and you have to keep the factory ticking over because once you've launched it, it's gone.

Unless you already have developed an ELV the question is why bother?
 
This is part of why Skylon is a step change in how space could be done.  You have a lasting asset that launches on your schedule (instead of like scheduling a plumber in the USSR in the Cold War, "4 years from next Friday."  :) ) and depending on your location may be able to deliver a payload to orbit entirely from the host countries territory.

Well, we'll see. There was another RLV that was supposed to reach that price range....
And your point....

The root causes for the failure of the Shuttle to deliver its objectives have been discussed at considerable length.

If REL could only secure the funding profile of STS (with it's ridiculous yearly constraints) I think they'd just walk away in disgust.  :(
You are right, in fact I never tought of Cubesats as a sign of strong price elasticity, but now that you pointed at it I think that you got it right. With Skylon in place, the costs could be so low that virtually any municipality could launch a dedicated news smallsat. I think that the margins are huge, although human spaceflight will remain really costly even with Skylon, on the 300.000 eur. /ticket to LEO in the case of a public-owned vector. A dramatic decrease in respect to other plans, but still far away from mass consumption; space access remains, even with Skylons in place, a million-dollar luxury that only the richest can afford.
Actually that would put it slightly above the asking price for a Virgin Galactic sub orbital flight, which it should be given the substantially higher energy costs.

Keep in mind the last advertised price for a tourist to the ISS was $20m (although I think most have claimed the price paid was lower).

That would be roughly a 100x price reduction.
« Last Edit: 09/04/2015 08:48 PM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #651 on: 09/04/2015 08:47 PM »
Countries create their own 'independent' access to space exactly because of fear of being cut off for POLITICAL reasons, no one has any doubt that commercial launch operators on the international market will always be available at a market price. 
But on the flip side countries will not releases launches to the international market for fear of having that access cut off or their indigenous supplier go out out of business.

Hence the $1Bn year "assured access" payment to ULA, maintaining the revenue of ULA to an acceptable level (for their joint owners, not the US taxpayer  :( ).

BTW you need seem to be having continuing trouble with quoting. It makes reading your comments difficult. If you want to quote use the "quote" button on the right hand side of the screen. Do not cut and paste.

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I can guaranteed you that Skylon manufacturers will be barred from selling to governments that the UK deems hostile, and the supply of parts would be subject to being pulled the moment relations turn sour, the more nations are involved in building it the more would have a veto on who can buy it,
Now that is likely.

A very good reason to keep US involvement at arms length.
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it would be as closely guarded as ICBM technology because Skylon is a fairly obvious substitute for an ICBM.
This topic has been discussed with posters from Israel.

It's a plot for a cheap straight-to-download thriller.

IRL if you've got the funding, the skills and the motivation to "weaponize" a Skylon you'd already have ways to create mass mayhem far more cheaply and with as great an impact.

I won't comment on what those might be as it would only make the irrationally paranoid more paranoid and set the weaker minded to considering ways and means.  :(
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Space access is highly politically charged due to the extreme military importance of space assets and the national prestige attached to having access.  It is not like selling an AirBus to Indonesia.

Skylon is so cutting edge that only the worlds most advanced airo-space companies have a prayer or even being able to build it IF it can even be built, it makes most military air-craft look like balsa-wood gliders by comparison.  No hypothetical buyer nation outside the G7 could maintain such a vehicle on it's own, they would all be dependent on a constant stream of parts and skilled labor from the manufacturer so much so that it would be a de-facto lease.
And yet some how China, India and (IIRC) Indonesia do maintain large fleets of large aircraft.

On a serious note Skylon is big but it's also relatively simple, as its skin is separate (and separable) from it's framework. Likewise it's tanks are designed to "float" inside the body. Again (in principle) those could be extracted and certainly externally inspected (but it's a major overhaul, not a routine task) and of course the wing tip engine pods are much more accessible than those of say the SR71.

Having no provision for humans (unless someone installs a passenger module in the payload bay) keeps things a lot simpler in terms of services like galleys, toilets and aircon.

Skylons skins is designed to be riveted to the frame and in sections, because that's been how aircraft have been patched in the past. So provided the parts, training and diagnostics (and I expect on board health monitoring will be a big part of Skylon) I think most nations could find enough smart people to maintain one.


Yes. They would probably go with one of the usual suspects for aircraft: Airbus, Boeing, or Lockheed Martin.
True. Of course on the flip side no company has experience with these materials, so it's more the peripheral issues, around big vehicle design and procurement, and certification.
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Either Boeing or Lockheed Martin would be good because of space experience.
LM is  a pure government contractor and most of that is for various kinds of weapons.

That is a very poor fit for a commercially funded project that has a time to market measured in years, not decades.  :(
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Airbus would be good because its European, but it would probably have to work with Arianespace for space experience.
Airbus mfg Ariane 5. Arianspace sells launches of Ariane 5.

Arianespaces experience is in payload sales and marketing.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #652 on: 09/06/2015 04:21 AM »
BAE SYSTEMS is a British based an aircraft manufacturer. If the UK Government is paying it may be happy to build a SSTO spacecraft.

Offline knowles2

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #653 on: 09/06/2015 07:37 PM »
Knowles2
**Can anyone seriously imagine them in 2020s, having built workable, flyable Sabre that have hundreds of ground tests and just saying whole damn we can't get consortium together to build the airframe let abandon the whole idea.**

If, as you suggest, REL managed to produce a successful SABRE engine but couldn't convince Boeing or Airbus or whoever to come on-board and build an airframe, they might well give up on Skylon as envisioned now. I say this because REL would know that investors would be very reluctant to pour $Bns into a project which was being overseen by people with little, or at best less experience than Boeing et al in that area. REL might therefore decide to use the SABRE technology in another area of aerospace instead of Skylon.

An yet they have pure in billions into Space X.

I don't think there many other areas REL could be applied to. REL would be reduce to a glorified patent licence company and I don't think they would be happy with.

Offline lkm

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #654 on: 09/06/2015 10:14 PM »
BAE SYSTEMS is a British based an aircraft manufacturer. If the UK Government is paying it may be happy to build a SSTO spacecraft.
Do they even still have any capability to make large aircraft though? They sold their stake in Airbus ten years ago, do they have any facilities or experience left to enable them to be the prime airframer for Skylon?
Their Taranis UAV work is probably useful software wise but beyond that what do they have to offer?

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #655 on: 09/06/2015 10:33 PM »
BAE SYSTEMS is a British based an aircraft manufacturer. If the UK Government is paying it may be happy to build a SSTO spacecraft.
Do they even still have any capability to make large aircraft though? They sold their stake in Airbus ten years ago, do they have any facilities or experience left to enable them to be the prime airframer for Skylon?
Their Taranis UAV work is probably useful software wise but beyond that what do they have to offer?

They are supposedly still making wings for the A320, A330, and A340, large components for the B777, as well projects on a number of smaller aircraft - Hawk, F-35, Typhoon, Grippen, and ongoing BAe 125 manufacture.
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Offline lkm

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #656 on: 09/06/2015 11:04 PM »
BAE SYSTEMS is a British based an aircraft manufacturer. If the UK Government is paying it may be happy to build a SSTO spacecraft.
Do they even still have any capability to make large aircraft though? They sold their stake in Airbus ten years ago, do they have any facilities or experience left to enable them to be the prime airframer for Skylon?
Their Taranis UAV work is probably useful software wise but beyond that what do they have to offer?

They are supposedly still making wings for the A320, A330, and A340, large components for the B777, as well projects on a number of smaller aircraft - Hawk, F-35, Typhoon, Grippen, and ongoing BAe 125 manufacture.
Aren't the wings for those aircraft made being made by Airbus UK at Airbus Broughton and isn't the Bae 125 a) out of production and b) not been made by BAE since 1993 when the division was sold to Raytheon.
How much cross over in capabilities is there between making jet fighters and an aircraft the size of an A380 but constructed like an airship?

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #657 on: 09/07/2015 01:43 AM »
BAE SYSTEMS is a British based an aircraft manufacturer. If the UK Government is paying it may be happy to build a SSTO spacecraft.
Do they even still have any capability to make large aircraft though? They sold their stake in Airbus ten years ago, do they have any facilities or experience left to enable them to be the prime airframer for Skylon?
Their Taranis UAV work is probably useful software wise but beyond that what do they have to offer?

They are supposedly still making wings for the A320, A330, and A340, large components for the B777, as well projects on a number of smaller aircraft - Hawk, F-35, Typhoon, Grippen, and ongoing BAe 125 manufacture.
Aren't the wings for those aircraft made being made by Airbus UK at Airbus Broughton and isn't the Bae 125 a) out of production and b) not been made by BAE since 1993 when the division was sold to Raytheon.
How much cross over in capabilities is there between making jet fighters and an aircraft the size of an A380 but constructed like an airship?

I am only relying on what I can find on Google. :)

The answer to your last question can oly be "limited", but that would be true of everyone.  What BAe does have is experience with large aerospace projects generally, plus working with advanced materials and aerospace construction programs.

As you say Airbus UK would be another UK contender.

'You're right about the 125.
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Offline Star One

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The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #658 on: 09/07/2015 08:09 AM »
BAE SYSTEMS is a British based an aircraft manufacturer. If the UK Government is paying it may be happy to build a SSTO spacecraft.
Do they even still have any capability to make large aircraft though? They sold their stake in Airbus ten years ago, do they have any facilities or experience left to enable them to be the prime airframer for Skylon?
Their Taranis UAV work is probably useful software wise but beyond that what do they have to offer?

I should hope they do as they are going to be one of the primes on the UK's sixth generation combat aircraft/drone. Or did you miss the point of Taranis which is not just some software exercise as you seem to be characterising it but actually a way to build & test sixth generation technologies. Being as Taranis is fairly classified project I'm not sure how you expect to find out much beyond what's in the press releases online.
« Last Edit: 09/07/2015 08:12 AM by Star One »

Offline lkm

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #659 on: 09/07/2015 09:27 AM »
BAE SYSTEMS is a British based an aircraft manufacturer. If the UK Government is paying it may be happy to build a SSTO spacecraft.
Do they even still have any capability to make large aircraft though? They sold their stake in Airbus ten years ago, do they have any facilities or experience left to enable them to be the prime airframer for Skylon?
Their Taranis UAV work is probably useful software wise but beyond that what do they have to offer?

I should hope they do as they are going to be one of the primes on the UK's sixth generation combat aircraft/drone. Or did you miss the point of Taranis which is not just some software exercise as you seem to be characterising it but actually a way to build & test sixth generation technologies. Being as Taranis is fairly classified project I'm not sure how you expect to find out much beyond what's in the press releases online.
I said the software experience was useful because Taranis is an autonomous drone and that seemed relevant to building an SSTO drone, but construction wise they're obviously vastly different aircraft and an ability to be prime on a fighter jet from scratch (something they haven't really done in decades)  is presumably a very different challenge than building super large airliners which would seem likely to contain more relevant experience because even if they're being constructed in a radically different manner they have similar construction needs, i.e. very large construction halls, transport of outsized parts etc.

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