Number 12(Bomber) Squadron has ceased to fly after over a quarter of a century of Tornado operations, the squadron will soon be flying Typhoon.

Between subsequent Operation Herrick deployments during 2011, No. 12 Squadron was deployed in support of Operation Ellamy, the UK’s participation in the military intervention in Libya under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. This saw ten aircrew deploy to Gioia del Colle in southern Italy to bolster the Tornado component during the peak of operations.

The remainder of the squadron was held at readiness to move to RAF Marham to launch Storm Shadow raids on hardened Libyan targets. These missions required three air-to-air refuelling brackets on the outward journey and one further on return to Gioia Del Colle.

Wing Commander Nikki Thomas said:

“It was very poignant for us to deliver the Squadron’s final flight as an operational mission because, since it’s reformation at RAF Marham in January 2015, 12 Squadron has been at the very forefront of UK operations to defeat Daesh.”

On the 14th of December 2017 it was announced by the Ministry of Defence that No. 12 Squadron will operate the Eurofighter Typhoon. The squadron will move to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire and will temporarily integrate Qatari air and ground crews in order to provide training and support as part of the Qatari purchase of 24 Typhoons.


  1. Note.

    Existing Typhoon aircraft, in service or on order and still to be delivered.

    So unless F35 is purchased in sufficient numbers, as it is also replacing Harrier, then again we have a loss of numbers which will be spun into an increase.

    I’m all for maintaining squadron numbers but this needs to be seen in context for what it is. Keeping fast jet squadron numbers at 8 minimum until F35 fully on stream.

    Reminder. 20 plus in 1998. Down to 12 by 2010. 8 at present. This is front line not OCU or other reserve units.

    • I won’t hold my breath but I cannot see why we do not order more Typhoons to stand up more squadrons.

      – invests in UK manufacturing
      – the money is used to fund UK workers
      – shows confidence in the aircraft which would be good for winning more export orders
      – protects the UK and our interests

      It just seems a no brainer, assuming we can get to 2.5% of GDP of course.

      • With the events of the last few weeks everything now points to defense expansion. Not holding my breath but there is reason for optimism.

          • i think we’re saying more of the general public now realise Russia threatens us….its on our TVs, in our town centers…it may cause a change of thinking….deficit has peaked and now diminishing…more money for public sector promised

          • I agree Levi, nothing concrete yet, but it’s interesting that the entire defence front bench are publicly calling for increased funding as well as defence committee – perhaps therefore promising.

          • I agree, all the right political noises are being made, but we have nothing concrete at the moment so I’m not going to get my hopes up. Is 2.5% an arbitrary figure or has that been the gist from the MoD?

          • I think the uptick of public interest, the increased interest in Parliament and the very bold statements from the defense front bench, plus the fact we now know the upcoming defense review will not be cost neutral all give reasons for optimism.

            As I say though, won’t be holding my breath until we see something concrete.

        • i also wouldn’t mind betting we see a sharp increase of more aggressive Russian incursions in and around UK airspace…QRA could be very busy

      • I think the recently announced ‘combat air strategy’ is pointing in this direction. I took note of the reference to ‘co-operation with industry’.
        All the support infrastructure for Typhoon is in place. BAE have put a lot of work into reducing maintenance costs and increasing availability. The aircraft is now pretty much there with Meteor, Storm Shadow and Brimstone. There is more potential with conformal fuel tanks and Captor-E. I would bet more Typhoons are on the way.

      • Typhoon order supports German workers, Italian and Spanish workers. We are not funding the EU, Brexit is real. Better to fund the Americans.

    • The harriers were removed to allow us to afford keeping Tornado in service. Tornado is now been replaced with the F35. Harrier is never getting replaced, it is gone, deleted, and so are its aircraft numbers.

      • Tornado is being replaced by both Typhoon and F-35. The capability which Harrier provided will also be administered by F-35s.

        • My point is, we are mainly replacing the Tornado air frames, we are only replacing about 10-20 of the harrier air frames with the F35, the rest are loss. So our overall aircraft numbers decrease.

      • That is incorrect Ben,the F35b is a direct replacement initially for the Harriers (Joint Force Harrier as it was when they were axed).The Tornado is obviously not a Carrier capable Aircraft,its ultimate replacement that can be chosen from a variety of options as far as I know has not been revealed yet.My guess as I have stated on here before would be an adjustment of any future buy of F35 to include the F35a.Agreed that further purchases of the Typhoon are very unlikely,it just depends on what is felt is needed to sustain 7 operational Suadrons into the 2030’s.(Again said here before might be prudent to make the Austrian Government an offer to take their 15 at an attractive price when they change to something more suitable).

  2. Agree with all comments. If politicians see the public care they may take more of an interest.

    As it Is, I feel they see defence as a nuisance rather than their first responsibility.

  3. If we are going to stand up to Russia we must have more strength and depth in particular, our QRA force, submarines and anti sub fleet.
    What sort of an uplift in numbers would we get from 0.5%? I take it we would get around £10 billion extra a year?

    • If Russia decided to ‘surge’ for say a 5 day period its ‘strategic patrols’ – say multiple and persistent sorties of Bear, Backfire etc covering all areas – N Sea, Western Approaches, Eastern Atlantic, to what point could QRA North and South hold up? I can see it happening – to what extent could the ready squadrons have heightened readiness and increased QRA resilience?

      • They have a much better readiness than the German Airforce. One of the problems the Germans and the Italians have is they will not cannibalise aircraft to make another serviceable when there’s no spares. We have a long tradition of carrying out this process as its seen as a short term fix waiting for the spares to come through the system.

        Without giving too much away if there was a surge of Russian aircraft over the North Sea/Atlantic there is capacity to deal with it.

        • Hi DaveyB

          If I read you right, there would be enough aircraft made available but do we have enough trained aircrew for them?

          • We do have enough aircrew, actually a surplus. However, the Tornado pilots/navigators will need to go through a conversion program to get to grips with the Typhoon.

    • A 0.5% increase will not result in a large uplift in numbers. Best we could hope for is a couple more Type 31s for the navy, additional F35s for the air force and new vehicles for the army. Most of it will be sunk on filling current gaps and increasing manpower.

  4. I think £10bn pa is the minimum required to fund the capability our government requires.

    25k more personnel across cyber, navy, airforce and the support functions, a properly funded new equipment plan that sees our air, sea and land fleets modernised and replaced every 25 years and supports not just a national shipbuilding strategy but a post bexit defence procurement strategy. Lastly we need to stick to this commitment and place fixed priced orders going forward (as the US does).

    It may seem a lot of money, but the government will receive a lot of this back in taxes, so in my mind its money well spent.

  5. Just to pour water on everyone’s fire.

    Never mind increases in this or that.

    Just an end to cuts, money to clear the black hole in the budget, and a effort to recruit more people, with better conditions and wages, would be more than enough to start.

    Followed by someone, anyone, sorting out the incompetence in MoD and managing our budget properly.

    • There is going to be some form of cuts no matter what. Best we can hope for is small ones in certain areas, and an increase in funding in others.

    • Couldn’t agree more Daniele – but its good to be optimistic for however short a period we find ourselves in.

  6. I am assuming the 12 Squadron Typhoons will come qualified with Storm Shadow, Meteor and Brimstone in addition to current Paveway and Asraam?

    • No. The two new typhoon squadrons are going to use purely tranche 1 aircraft. These will be used purely in the air defence role. Current squadrons operating tranche 2 and 3 will be performing the swing role.

        • There is going to be one new t1 squadron at both RAF Coningsby and RAF Lossiemouth. A Squadron for each to perform North and South QRF. That then frees up the 5 swingrole squadrons to conduct other missions.

          • Logically that’s sound, one south and one north. Makes it a bit more expensive logistically though as spares for the T2 and T3 aren’t usable (mostly) on the T1. Yes, I lost track of where or even how many of the original 53 T1s would go where.

  7. We have 2 new carriers, more typhoons would now be the wrong decision. If there was any extra budget for more numbers, it must go into more f35b’s. Unless we buy enough f35’s we will not be able to maximize the huge investment that has been made in the carriers. Having 12 or so jets onboard is clearly not maximising the investment.

    • I agree. We have the amount of Typhoons that we need. What we need is more F35-Bs. Buy enough F35-Bs to man both the carriers and then buy extra F35-As for the RAF.

        • f35As no use for the carriers, however would make sense there are sufficient Bs for the carriers…more typhoons only after that

          • 72-100 F35-Bs are what we need if we ever want both carriers to be able to operate at the same time in the strike role, each having 36 aircraft, with reserves and training aircraft. Any aircraft over 100 can then be the F35-A variant, which would give the RAF a much needed range and capability increase.

          • We have enough Typhoons. What we need is more F35s. Harrier and Tornado are been replaced by less F35s. Typhoon will require a different replacement in 20 years time.

      • Absolutely Ben – you read my mind. Why can’t we have a mix of F-35s for the RAF and FAA? If I recall, the F-35A is cheaper still than the F-35B making even more sense.

    • Why are lefties all Russian sympathisers Dan? I would say lefties are less likely to jump head first into a fight with them, but that doesn’t mean sympathetic. If you ‘right wingers’ see a greater level of tolerance, a will to avoid violence if possible, and a care for people in your society as a weakness and sympathetic to challenging organisations/countries, then maybe, just maybe the righties need to take a close look at themselves and their intolerant views and often ignorant, short sighted actions. Said only with mild annoyance dan, I usually appreciate your comments, knowledge and views.

    • Why are lefties all Russian sympathisers Dan? I would say lefties are less likely to jump head first into a fight with them, but that doesn’t mean sympathetic. If you ‘right wingers’ see a greater level of tolerance, a will to avoid violence if possible, and a care for people in your society as a weakness and sympathetic to challenging organisations/countries, then maybe, just maybe the righties need to take a close look at themselves and their intolerant views and often ignorant, short sighted actions. Said only with mild annoyance dan, I usually appreciate your comments, knowledge and views.

      • That’s ok Tim. I don’t think I said ALL lefties are Russian sympathisers. I meant how many are on ukdj that are both.

        I’m quite happy to accept many lefties are not.

        Sorry if i annoyed you.

  8. Evening all

    1st point, Typhoon frames are not currently being increased whilst Tornado frames are. Crews are not being reduced, the RAF is more efficiently utilising it’s fleet and getting value out of its single role legacy Typhoon platform.
    2nd point, more Typhoons are coming, the weapon system has just been paid for by the Saudi’s which allow HMG flexibility to buy more delivery systems (Typhoon) as they no longer have to pay for the weapons upgrade (Storm Shadow and Meteor).
    3rd point, accept the troll. They are not going anywhere. However they do expose themselves and are easy to identify. They exist as a simple weapon to annoy and antagonise. Let them, enjoy the fact that they have to come on to sites like this, to disrupt and agitate before disappearing.
    4th point, continue commenting. Liberal democracy is great, people listen – all types of people

    • The UK is not purchasing any additional typhoons after its original 160 aircraft order and we are actually scrapping 16 air frames to save money. The UK still has to pay for weapon upgrades, the Saudi deal does not change that at all. The Typhoon costs nearly double the amount of money to operate the same role as the Tornado. So it costs double the cost to fly and it will be been used alot more, which will degrade the airframes at a much higher rate.

      • I seem to remember £30,000 for the Tornado and £80,000 for the Typhoon, presumably lifetime cost per hour. The Treasury have been known to quote the lower hourly cost of fuel for what it cost for an actual operation 🙂

        • £35,000 for Tornado. You are rightly stating the lifetime costs per hour. Actual fuel costs per hour are £5000 for Tornado and roughly £12,000 for Typhoon.

        • I’m not surprised by the huge costs to run Tornadoes and Typhoons,i dread to think what the costs of the F35’s are when they arrive this year will be too. Excuse a slight tangent drift but there is a solution.If I was working in the MOD/RAF id be looking at buying the JAS 39 GrIpen C/D.The reason for this is purely ‘bang for our buck’.This fighter has a lot going for it in my opinion,its relatively cheap to buy compared to Typhoon/F35,its cheap to run and maintain,it has significant UK content,is easily deployable which suits our current military plans.It also has the bonus of using most of the weapons aleady in our inventory which makes logistics much easier.Going by our most recent operational deployments – Libya/Syria/Baltics etc it would be a perfectly adequate tool to fulfil those tasks.Bit of a fantasy fleet fest I admit but what a balanced fighter force we could have in a F35b/Typhoon/Gripen High/Medium/Low mix that we could afford.

          • Reaper is the way to reduce costs dramaticslly I think. The RAF Protector version is in testing and I believe will carry Paveway and Brimstone.

    • 16 tranche one aircraft are been removed. The remainder will form two squadrons, which in the early 2030s will convert to the F35. The Tranche 2 and 3 aircraft are been extended out to 2040. So life extensions for all tranche 2 and 3, possibly for tranche 1 as well.

      • Strange person I am, I did some checking out overnight, and seems to me of the Tranche 1s there’s 4 in the Falklands 1435 Flight which is strange as I thought they were replaced by Tranche 2 from the first delivery. Then there’s 10 WFU/RTP at Coningsby, ZJ913 is WFU or active, mmm, JZ943 Shawsbury written off, ZJ938 IPA, JJ922 at Warton.

        Leaving 32, of which 10 stored at Shawbury and 1 at Coningsby. Some spread around 3(F), 11(F), 29(R) and 1 with XI(F). So two squadrons of roughly 16 aircraft, though they’d be moved around a bit I guess.

        Yeah I agree, a little obsessive 🙂

          • There’s a sticky on fightercontrol I used to start with, stuck the list in a text file and tab delimited it for import to a spreadsheet


            then I used airframes dot org (need to register free, daily max 151 requests to prevent abuse!) to check out the “registration” e.g. ZJ802 sometimes clicking the thumbnail to get more info, then I found (and I’ve lost it, mmm)


            and checked it all out against that gov dot uk 2015 flying hours pdf I gave above. I should have put the BS / BT number in, will do soon, and did a bit of logical extrapolation for the later Tranche 3 ones.

            needs double checking, there’s a couple more Typhoons in sequence at least you get as RAF which aren’t on any list but are on the airframes website, I just went for the bulk of it overnight.

            During the first Indy Ref finding the RAF were going to retire them I “bought” them all 53 of them going cheap for the Scottish Air Force but the RAF spoiled my deep-laid plans by wisely keeping them going. Must have read my postings “you’re no getting them” 🙂

          • Just realised I could give a list of the ones I think it would be for the 2 QRA squadrons, maybe one or two missing or wrong (e.g. ZJ940 seems to have been stored since delivery):

            ZJ802, ZJ803, ZJ807, ZJ810
            ZJ812, ZJ813, ZJ910, ZJ911
            ZJ912, ZJ914, ZJ916, ZJ917
            ZJ918, ZJ919, ZJ920, ZJ921
            ZJ923, ZJ924, ZJ925, ZJ927
            ZJ928, ZJ929, ZJ930, ZJ931
            ZJ932, ZJ934, ZJ935, ZJ936
            ZJ937, ZJ939, ZJ940, ZJ942

            though I found this:


            ZJ940 should be “scheduled for recovery activity that will enable their return to flight in the Forward Fleet in the next 12-24 months (dated 8/11/16)” along with ZJ945 and ZJ948, both Tranche 2.

            Key search info by the way is the registration e.g. “ZJ945”, that unlocks a lot of info. Ah yes, “sustainment fleet”, I remember now.

            Sorry to bore you, I get carried away sometimes!

            Mmm, just one last thing, I’m looking forward to the RAF doing BVR fights between the Typhoon and the F35 if they dare.

  9. Qatari personnel will be temporarily integrated on 12(B) Sqn to learn how to operate Typhoon. Given that Qatar is buying Tranche 3.aircraft, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the existing RAF sqns reverts to Tranche 1 aircraft; thus freeing up Tranche 3 frames for 12(B) Sqn to operate.


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