The 12th F-35B for the United Kingdom has taken to the air.

It is expected that all 138 F-35 aircraft will have been delivered by the 2030s. Around 2023, the Ministry of Defence have indicated that the UK will have 42 F-35 aircraft with 24 available as ‘front-line fighters’ and the remaining 18 will be used for training (at least 5 on the OCU), be in reserve or in maintenance.

The 12th example, ZM146, recently left her Fort Worth factory. Images will be provided as soon as we get them.

Numbers right now are exactly where they’re expected to be and inline with the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

2 F-35B in LRIP run 3, 1 F-35B in LRIP run 4, 1 F-35B in LRIP run 7, 4 F-35B in LRIP run 8, 6 F-35B in LRIP run 9, 3 F-35B in LRIP run 10, 2 F-35B in LRIP run 11, 2 F-35B in LRIP run 12
6 F-35B in LRIP run 13, 8 F-35B in LRIP run 14 and 7 F-35B in LRIP run 15. This brings us to 42 in 2023.

The next year and next run brings us to the total of the first batch of aircraft, 48.

The initial operating capability for carrier strike, which is scheduled for December 2020, will consist of one carrier, one squadron of Lightnings and Crowsnest airborne early warning and control helicopters.

Earl Howe, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords said during a debate in the House of Lords:

“My Lords, the initial operating capability for carrier strike, which is scheduled for no later than December 2020, will consist of one carrier, one squadron of Lightnings and Crowsnest.”

Captain Jerry Kyd, commander of HMS Queen Elizabeth, commented last year on the initial deployment and the gradual increase in air wing numbers:

“We’re constrained by the F-35 buy-rate even though that was accelerated in SDSR in 2015, so initial operating capability numbers in 2020 are going to be very modest indeed. We will flesh it out with helicopters, and a lot depends on how many USMC F-35s come on our first deployment in 2021.

But by 2023, we are committed to 24 UK jets onboard, and after that it’s too far away to say.”

Recently, the Ministry of Defence confirmed plans for the deployment of American F-35 aircraft alongside British jets aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth. The addition of US Marine Corps aircraft will see HMS Queen Elizabeth sail with 24 or so F-35Bs in addition to around 14 or so helicopters for her maiden deployment. It is understood that the US aircraft will augment British on the carriers first deployment.

According to the Ministry of Defence:

“We are fully committed to both the F-35 and the Queen Elizabeth Carrier programmes -both of which are on track to enter initial maritime operating capability in December 2020 as planned.

We expect Queen Elizabeth carrier to commence sea trials in 2017, and have been clear that UK F-35 aircraft will begin flying from Queen Elizabeth in 2018.”

The aircraft, which are currently in the United States being piloted by British crews for training and development tasks, will begin to conduct flight trials off of HMS Queen Elizabeth next year when the vessel heads to the US after the carrier finishes sea trials and enters service, marking a major milestone in the programme.

The term now used for the carriers embarked squadrons is ‘Carrier Air Wing’ (CVW). The vessels are capable of deploying a variety of aircraft in large numbers, up to a maximum in the upper fifties in surge conditions although this is unlikely to happen short of a major conflict.


    • Just two carriers, half a dozen assault ships, twenty plus escorts and OPV’s, the mine hunter force, ten or eleven nukes, about a hundred aircraft and the RFA.

      • Royal Navy a ‘laughing stock’ with three quarters of its warships out of action and ‘struggling to protect British citizens’

        Currently 13 of the Navy’s 19-strong fleet of Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers are unable to go to sea due to a lack of manpower, fuel and supplies, senior military sources have revealed.

        The cuts to defence spending have also severely hampered Britain’s response to Hurricane Irma.

        HMS Ocean, the amphibious assault ship that currently serves as the Royal Navy’s flagship, was sent to provide support to the British overseas territories in the Caribbean but suffered engine problems and has now been delayed by a week.

        • Alan your sole contribution for the last two weeks is to copy and paste the same stuff about the Royal Navy, we know we have problems but things are looking up.

          Can I ask, you’re son is serving in the navy on a type 23 yes, so what is your aim of these cut and paste jobs? What’s your rational? What do you want doing about it?

          • Good news, cannot wait to see Queen Elizabeth sail for the first time with 24 of these bad boys on her deck, I mean say what you want about performance but no one can say they don’t look mean and muscly as f**k

            so I take it there was no truth in that times article that we were talking about last week about reduced F 35 buys, take it that was media nonsense again.

          • Except the RN is including the Gibralter and Archer P2000 class patrol boats in their figures. Mind you, at 54 tones they are one hell of a warship!

            It would appear that the Daily Telegraph is correct on every count doesn’t it? Or are you that thick?

          • Alan – Oh look its internet abuse time … No sweetcheeks I was just quoting the OFFICIAL rebuttal of the Telegraph pile of crap. It was not correct on anything. I guess you never actually read that link though

        • to be fair you should get the newspaper reports on French Navy and the italian Navy. See what they say. The grass is always greener on the other side. We as a country have had to get a new ballistic subs as well as the carriers as well as new F-35B. Risky and not cheap but the intellectual capability of this country will rise as result of dealing with these issues. Now for some reason we seem to be spending money on foreign aid and its ironic that if a country really does need aid we cant provide becuase we have cut to the bone. The foreign aid should be paying for ships which can be used for humanitarian purposes but used in a military capacity as well

        • Allan, having 13 of our fleet of 19 escorts not on active deployment means we have 6 on active deployment, every navy pretty much uses the rule of three around deployment, you need three units to deploy one…… So the Navy would seem be be spot on the deployment key performance indicator for any navy…….

      • Geoffrey,

        Fair enough, I will be more granular, not much left of our escorts.

        Our carrier strike group is expected to have 2 x T-45, 2 x T23ASW, Tide, Astute & Fort Victoria.

        RN usually has about one third (6-7) of its available 17 escorts (2 long term laid up).

        With four out on strike duty there really isn’t much left of our escort fleet…

    • To be classed as a top tier navy in the future you will need the capability of putting 5th gen stealth fighters on a decent size carrier.
      The Royal Navy will be able to do this in the near future.
      Very very few navy’s will have this ability.
      In a couple of years the French carrier will look dated.

    • Why isn’t Britain making her own F35’s under Licence as they did with our Harrier? As usual the Yanks nick our technology then sell it back toi us because our government is just far too weak to stand up to anyone!

  1. 24 on maiden deployment for 9 months. That’s a great figure. Its going to be great to watch it all working at last!
    Just hope the RAF mandarins don’t get their way and starve the carriers of planes as they did with the JFH.
    The F 35b is designed for naval operations. They should be on the carriers where they belong, not collecting dust.
    Interesting to see how RAF rank creep effects carrier ops.
    Also worrying as a taxpayer to hear the RAF crews are trying to be rotated during the deployment so they don’t have to be away from home for so long.
    I hope there is no truth in that?
    If so another massive reason why all the B’s should be with the FAA and the RAF get A’s and stay away from carrier ops.
    Why join the RAF to go to sea and deploy on a warship for 9 months?

    • Ali – Did someone in the RAF upset you earlier in your life? You have just spouted total nonsense based on some anti-RAF attitude.

      The F-35B was NOT just designed for carriers at all (that is in fact the F-35C). It is a multi operation aircraft which suits our needs. Like the Harrier before it, which was actually designed for CAP in unprepared areas, it was also pretty damn good on a carrier when suitably kitted out. The SHARs and GR3s had very different functions but they were still Harriers.

      Likewise the F-35B.

      And while I am sure the RAF could find a use for the F-35A why would they when they will have the best multi- and swing-role 4.5 Gen aircraft already in the Typhoon? Why put money into a resource that cannot be used on a carrier when the version is there that can and also be extremely effective on other operations? So the FAA should have all the F-35Bs and never work with the Typhoons because ‘they only work off carriers’?

      • The only rationale for the UK buying F35B is for carrier ops, where it can be moved to the scene of action. For land ops its STOVL capability makes no sense when the A could make use of any number of nice long runways. If the RAF is serious about carrier ops, then it must be prepared to stay the course, and accept the same terms of deployment as the RN. For example, when HMS Illustrious was deployed off Sierra Leone with a mixed air group, the RAF Harriers could not fly as there was no shore ‘divert’ within range in case of trouble, leaving the RN Sea Harriers as the only option (I heard this from someone who was there!) The rules need to be brought in line with the FAA, as the carrier cannot be certain of being in range of a friendly base. Whilst this issue may have been addressed behind the scenes, training for flying at sea even in such an automated wonder as the F35, needs LOTS of dedicated practice! If these caveats cannot be guaranteed, then let the FAA have the F35B (80 aircraft buy) and the RAF can concentrate on the Typhoon, which can be gradually superseded by F35C ( no air-to-air refuelling issues) in due course.

        • I understand where you are coming from Steve, but making the RAF change all its customs and practice at the same time as it bringing a new fleets of aircraft and integrating into carrier ops is not how you do Good Quality improvement work, small changes in practice, tested rapidly by the front line to see if it works, them inbed or throw and onto the next small change. Sudden massive changes and silver bullet plans always cause a cluster F down the line.

          • Jonathan
            Sorry, but no – RAF operational regimes are fine when flying from land, but can you imagine the scenario where enemy planes are on the carriers radar and the RAF top brass says “sorry we can’t intercept, theres no shore divert in range !” Perhaps that example IS a bit extreme, but the point remains. The air group has to be fully integrated to be effective, and this type of issue needs addressing before the ships and – more important – crews are sent in harms way. As I said, hopefully the lesson has been learned and my fears are groundless, as there are no guarantees that the QE’s will always operate in range of friendly bases.

        • The only way logically we would be getting Lightning A’s is if the order was increased from 138.

          In a critical deployment where both carriers were needed 138 doesn’t even cover both, at a push maybe 4 squadrons on each 48 lightnings, that’s 96, and that’s if that’s doable at all but we should be close to that. The remaining 42 will be in training and OCU, quite a few will never see frontline service.

          These carriers must be able to when needed in an emergency, both be able to deploy. That’s why the only option is Lightning B at a 138 aircraft, and even that’s not really enough because the Queen Elizabeth class could carry 72 jets I reckon.

          • Jonathan
            Sorry, but no – RAF operational regimes are fine when flying from land, but can you imagine the scenario where enemy planes are on the carriers radar and the RAF top brass says “sorry we can’t intercept, theres no shore divert in range !” Perhaps that example IS a bit extreme, but the point remains. The air group has to be fully integrated to be effective, and this type of issue needs addressing before the ships and – more important – crews are sent in harms way. As I said, hopefully the lesson has been learned and my fears are groundless, as there are no guarantees that the QE’s will always operate in range of friendly bases.

          • Hi Kieran
            More F35s is a great idea, but the cost… and surely in a ‘critical deployment ‘ every plane that could fly (or had a pilot!) would go, strip training and OCU and send everything. QE class can take 36 F35B comfortably, 48 at overload, so 80 ‘Bs’ would give two normal airgroups (plus a small reserve) as and when required. This would need to be a dedicated carrier force, as flying at sea is a perishable skill and requires constant training. Subsequent procurement could then switch to F35C to replace early Typhoon’s (C variant costs a bit more than A but no expensive mods required for ‘Voyager’ refuelling capability)

  2. Good news, cannot wait to see Queen Elizabeth sail for the first time with 24 of these bad boys on her deck, I mean say what you want about performance but no one can say they don’t look mean and muscly as f**k

    So I take it there was no truth in that times article that we were talking about last week about reduced F 35 buys, take it that was media nonsense again.

  3. Bit but bit … splutters .. it’s a dud aircraft carrier with no aircraft!

    Sorry about that, just taking the p out of some people I have to plow a lonely farrow against.

    • “In this age of precision missiles able to easily target runways and hangars with almost 100% accuracy, could the ultra-flexible B variant one day, be the only jet fighter that a country is able to operate from small pieces of concrete while other airbases are filled with smoking wreckage?”

      That’s one reason why I always preferred the VTOL / STOVL carrier rather than the Top Gun vanity project more suited to the Yanks and the wide-open Pacific.

      Great balanced article, thanks for the link.

      • It’s a lesson we need to take from the Second World War, but promptly forgot because because there was less threat to the UK.

        We were actually within a very short time of losing the Battle of Britain when Germany focused on our airfields, it was only a wrong move by the Luftwaffe in changing targets away from airfields and more active dispersal of aircraft that tipped the balance back towards The RAF.

        We would be even more at risk now, how many airfield could the typhoon operate from now, just a handful is my bet and because we are such a small island they are all easy targets. So just how quickly could a peer reduce the infrastructure needed to run our front line fixed wing fighters ? Considering that’s the piont any war peer on peer war is effectively over (bar the inevitable one sided bloodbath) it’s an important issue to consider. If the F35b can impact on the issue of a peer taking out your airfields it should be a really big counter to the range, payload issue, which is more about advantage when beating on some second or third world power.

        Now I know the twee augment is that there is no existential peer threat to the British Isles…..that’s fine, but it’s not nessarily the future, most people just don’t get how bleak a world we are looking at within the 20-50 year time frame and what havock that’s going to play with the global order ( it’s one reason the EU are so single minded in pursuit of a single Euro state ). When it all get hot ( literally ) we could be look at a peer knocking on our far cooler food producing door or an argument over all the lovely natural resources in the BAT could trigger a nasty tiff closer to home.

        • Hi Jonathan, it’s still debated if Luftwaffe attacks on our aifields did much to affect the battle, we were readying airfields in the midlands to move our fighters north if it got too much and the only thing really the Luftwaffe changing tactics to London ment was that our fighter squadrons could return to their main bases from temporary airfields. I’m also pretty sure production, losses both aircraft and pilots did not dramatically fall during the months they targeted airfields in fact the number of pilots increased. I personally don’t think the Luftwaffe had the capability to take out the RAF, not with the Medium bombers Ju 88 and He 111 they used, as well as the Stuka that was removed from the battle later on. We got radar stations back up and running in 6 hours, their payloads were not enough by any stretch to take us out.

          Having said that it’s just opinion and different historians have different views.

          But saying if a peer enemy was attacking runways then we would be talking about a wartime economy 40% to 50% of GDP, that brings every runway in the country into play used or disused. At a time like that a disused runway could be a typhoon squadrons home in a day I imagine, probably less. And we have well over a hundred possible locations.

          In regards to Air to Air combat the lightning A variant is without doubt the most capable, lighter, faster, more manoeuvrable, bigger range, internal cannon. The B is more versatile and suits our needs better with the carriers but I would be extremely happy if our order was increased to be able to field 1 squadron of Lightning A for home defence with the typhoons and 1 lightning A squadron for expeditionary combat based in Cyprus, a mix of Typhoon and Lightening A is a potent defensive and attacking force.

          • Good point about the civilian airports. i have no problem at all with the A going forward as long as it’s not at the expense of the B,we all know what happens to small fleets of aircraft. It would be such a waste of potent if we could only ever half fill one carrrier and let’s be honest they are big old buckets to fill and even a full buy of 138 frames will only likely see a front line deployment of around 46 aircraft.

  4. No question the QE / F35B will bring new options, although it is argueable if the other options weren’t also valid.

    Having now invested so heavily in the carriers, its time we finish the job and actually place a decent order for the f35’s, so we can actually have a carrier battle group, rather than vague hope we will at some point in the future.

    • They’re getting cheaper run to run, so I guess that’s the reason for ordering in batches. It probably also puts them in different UK Gov budgets.

      • The problem is we all know until the jets are purchased there will always be a risk that the numbers will be cut. So whilst we might save a bit of money waiting, it would show commitment to the carriers to actually place the order now. The problem is longer we wait, the lower down the pecking order we are in regards to getting available manufacturing slots, so the greater the lead time.

    • The telegraph is not a reputable news source. It is a tabloid newspaper. Also that youtube video is from one of those crappy channels where they post random pictures and put random quotes on it.

  5. Kieran, Chris… I’m with you. A J is really begin to bug me. Can we not have a whip round and buy his son out or something. Alan YOU ARE WRONG. As of last night only three destroyers and frigates were listed as inactive BY THE ROYAL NAVY. Recruitment into the navy is exceeding 97 per cent of target, which is good by anybody’s standards, so when your son leaves it shouldn’t be a problem.

    • Got a source for the 97% target?

      Do you have any family or friends currently serving?

      How do you form your opinion on the current state of HM forces?

      • Yes Mike.
        First source is the Royal Navy itself. Yes. Two army, one RN and one who has just left the RAF. My own opinions: Forty years of knowledge, RUSI membership, defence conferences and all sorts of other odds and ends gathered over the years, i suppose.

        • Got a link for that source? Because that doesn’t seem to tally with what the former armed forces minister has said.

          And what do those members of HM forces currently think of the state of their respective services?

          Both of my kids have served in the army, one is currently serving.

          I respect all opinions as it’s a free country, I have served in the army, then employed by the UK MOD as a contractor working overseas and then a defence electronics company supporting the RN and other navies. I consider myself well informed and maintain links with corners colleagues and units.

  6. “A study by former armed forces minister Mark Francois says the Army, RAF and Royal Navy are “running to stand still” as they struggle to replace the numbers leaving.

    Mr Francois said in the year to April 2017 12,950 recruits joined the regular armed forces, but 14,970 service personnel left in the same period.

    The army faces the biggest challenge as it needs to recruit 10,000 people a year to maintain its strength, but only managed to attract 7,000 entrants last year.

    The report states: “The Royal Navy and the RAF are now running at around 10% short of their annual recruitment target, whilst for the Army the shortfall is over 30%.”

    That’s from forces network dated 4/9/2017, is that a reputable news source?

    HM forces have a recruitment and retention crisis, I have a son in a combat unit there current trained personnel levels are 50% understrength.

    It’s not just about numbers, it’s takes many years to build quality in those years and we’ll qualified and experienced soldiers are leaving and there is no one to replace them.

    • Interesting. I can only say that the 97 per cent figure was from the RN. As for the rest I think everybody here, at least, regrets the reduction in manpower in the services or for that matter the likes of the police force. The problem is what we can do about it. We are still clawing our way out the worst financial crisis since the war and now have Brexit to contend with as well. There is waste in social services with, in my opinion, a lot of the money not going to the genuinely needy; there are problems with overseas aid that I think most of us posters have our doubts. My wife spent forty years with the NHS and the waste is mind boggling but it is a sacred cow and not to touched.

    • Does anyone have any comparative figures for other countries, particularly European ones plus the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand? I’m wondering whether this is country-specific or farther reaching.

      If it is UK-specific then any thoughts on why it’s just us with the problem?

  7. “The Navy is still the highly capable, efficient and dedicated service that it always was, using its limited resources as creatively as it can. It is our Government which has become the laughing stock, promising, on the world stage, actions that our persistently underfunded Forces cannot deliver. The latest events only point to the current parlous size and capability of our operational fleet.”

    Lord West.

    That’s probably the most assessment of the HM forces I have heard in recent years.

    Can we have more reality in these discussions rather jingoism or defeatism.

    • Governments have been promising more than they can deliver since Napolean was the main problem but you don’t,as I keep saying, create an atmosphere of politicians listening by constantly having a go at them.

      • Geoffrey the problem for me is that government and the MOD spin out a message that the future is highly positive and their are few problems the need to be addressed.

        Based on my experience and information that is not true.

        We have many deep rooted problems and they are not being addressed and ignored.

        So we bang on about this that and other and how great our new carriers are (which they as individual platforms of a warfare) but fail to address strategic and tactical issues concerned with deploying those carriers, hence their impact on combat efficiency will not be fulfilled.

        We need less showboating and more honesty, because if we do not and we get involved in full scale conventional warfare a lot of our service personnel will not survive.

        • I fully agree with your assessment Mike. Top priority has to be recruitment and retention.

          That needs significant funding to fix, through attractive re engagement packages and good rates of pay and living conditions across the ranks. How else are we going to convince 18 year olds to join up??

          Its a shame the public don’t seem to care about our superb Armed forces as much as they do the NHS.

          Enormous amounts of money are wasted by the NHS, ( probably as much as our entire Defence budget) due to very poor management practises and its ring fenced beyond criticism status. Any attempt to modernize and improve it is stamped down on by the “left” with histerical cries of blasphemy, its like the Spanish Inquisition!

          If you ran a private Company this way, it would be flat broke and on its arse inside a year.

          I am certainly not suggesting reducing the NHS budget, but modernising it so the money goes further.

          I know several people who work for various areas of the NHS, they can all pinpoint areas of obvious very poor management and financial waste, but it will never be addressed because no one has the balls to do anything about it … No such issues with Defence, people are made redundant and kit scrapped at the strike of a pen…

          • Agree with all of that John.

            Our service people are our greatest asset.

            The UK and MOD are taking our service personnel for granted, service life is a great experience for young people but they have to be rewarded for their time and effort.

          • Sorry mate that’s just rubbish, the NHS is simply the most efficient large scale first world healthcare system in the world. We spend at least £1000 per person per year less than almost every peer nation on healthcare (we spend a massive 5-6k per year per person than the states). We just get better value for money than any other system.

            Evidence….. Review the last 15 years worth of commonwealth studies, published by the US think tank on healthcare systems.

            If you compare against an average Western European Health system, tot up how much we have would have paid that system vs the the NHS over the last 60 years you will have a difference of hundreds of BILLIONS of pounds. If we had taken the US route vs the NHS it would be costing us around 30+ BILLION Per year more than the NHS (and we actually have better health outcomes than the USA as well).

            There is a very very good reason politicians will not get rid of the NHS or political control of the health system…… Without out it we would either be bankrupt, have the same armed forces as Germany or be dead at 65 and have 3rd world infant mortality rates.

            Individuals rarely understand all activity within a complex system and perceive it as waste, your average staff nurse on a ward will not understand the impact of a manager at the Clinical Commisioning a Group, because that manager is undertaking long term capacity management functions that are way beyond remit,training or understand of the staff nurse ( as is the staff nurses role to the CCG manager) this does not make it a waste of money or time.

          • Analysis of survival rates for cancer, heart disease, etc from a variety of western countries suggest the NHS is not as good as you say.

            The question of whether the NHS system is better than the French or German systems is open to debate.

          • The cost efficiency of cancer survivor! it’s outcomes divided by cost that should be decide which healthcare system we have rather some blind adherence to one option based on political views.

          • Britain has the worst cancer survival in western Europe, according to the largest ever study of the disease.
            Research comparing 29 countries across shows survival rates in Sweden are almost one third higher than in the UK.
            The study of over 20 million cancer patients found survival in this country is worse than every country in western Europe.
            Only patients in eastern Europe and the Balkans fare worst.

          • He wasn’t talking about “the cost efficiency of cancer survivor” the conversation is about value for money, what we spend per head compared to the rest. Read what he wrote for crying out loud.

            You think them survival rates are the sole statistic to decide if a healthcare system is efficient or not. You do know there is a tad more to the NHS than treating cancer patients don’t you Mike, the NHS does face challenges regarding that but every healthcare system in the world faces challenges in different areas.

          • The NHS is not the most effective healthcare, across every major illness the NHS has the worst survival rates and the least cost efficient with regards cost of treatment and successful outcomes in western Europe.

            Every 50000 patients die in the UK because of NHS poor survival rates compared to other European nations.

            But people like you don’t care about patients getting the healthcare they deserve as long the NHS is not criticized.

            The UK has the worst healthcare system in western Europe.

          • For the amount we spend per person Mike yes it is the most affective. We spend the least amount compared to other counties such as France and Germany.

            In France you have to pay upfront, €24 to see your GP, then you get it back later.


            NHS ranked number one when looking at every aspect of a healthcare system, we are world leaders at vaccinations and screening. Taking into acccount affordability, access, patient care, we consistently come out on top. The NHS has more patients that don’t have major illnesses Mike, pregnancy, broken bones, illnesses of all kinds that are not life threatening.

            Once again it’s all about funding, if the NHS was funded the same amount per person as other countries survival rates would improve.

            No one is saying it’s perfect, but it’s not the NHS’s fault, it costs money for cancer treatments and research, we need more doctors and more early diagnosis and then affective treatment.

            You see one statistic and that’s the be all and end all for you.

          • I’m really sorry Mike but I really have to dispute what you have said. After spending 30 years working in studying and improving healthcare systems I can honestly say that the NHS is very good at what we ask it to do, which is cut price lowest possible cost western level healthcare for a population that is highly restistant to any public health message. I would love to have a continental system. The piont is we get more than what we pay for, Germany has payed around 20% more per person per year every year more than we do. From a funding piont of view that’s around 2 aircraft carriers a years worth of funding we should have paid the NHS if we were actually willing as a nation to pay for what we have got. So yes our out comes are worse than Germany’s but they are not 20% worse. Also many of the poor key indicators actually have more to do with public health and personal behaviour than healthcare delivery. Cancer is the classic ( I know a lot about this having worked as a front line haematology oncology staff nurse and later peer reviewed services as a senior leader) our two week wait system, diagnostics and treat centres are just as good as any. The issue is our very bad early detection rates, it’s simple….detect early live,detect late die. This is the biggest difference between Germany and the U.K, sadly we report symptoms late, this kills us in droves, Germans are better at reporting early and more of them live. If we could get funding for what we do we could massively focus on public health and adult social care support this would support efficency in the urgent care systems, which in turn will have a knock on effect to elective care. As is we now have so little give we spend all our time trying to stop the public dieing in droves and have nothing to work on upstream healthcare which is where the efficency savings can be made ( if I stop you getting COPD and heart disease I’ve saved the system about 11k per year on your care).

            As is most studies say we have one of the best primary care systems, most equitable system, safest ( we make far less errors than say the states ) and best value for money. as I said read the commonwealth studies, they are the most comprehensive academic comparators of healthcare systems you will find, I have inwardly digested every one and in each case overall the NHS comes first or second every time……

  8. There must be parking problems developing out in the US with all our F-35Bs cluttering up the place. Does anyone know when these bad boys are going to get their first taste of British rain and warm beer?

    I know the plan is for QE to go across to the USA next year to start tests with F-35B operations. Is it likely that she will embark all of the ones destined for the UK and bring them back then? It would certainly be cheaper than transatlantic multi-refueled flights back to the U.K.

    I assume that a few (2 or 3?) of our earliest airframes loaded up with test instruments and telemetry stuff and will be left in the US for further development and integration work but that still leaves quite a few to get across to the UK.

  9. 617 is due to transfer to the UK next year Julian, probably with around 10 airframes.

    From then on, all deliveries will be directly to RAF Marham.

    • Thanks John. I wonder if 617 will hitch a ride back to the UK with QE since presumably many of our airframes out there will be participating in the first F-35B on board QEC tests that I believe are also scheduled for 2018. It would seem to make sense and would save money. It would also give some valuable practice and experience in moving, maintaining and operating them in more open waters and possibly rougher seas (depending on time of year that any return trip to the UK might be at).

      • Certainly a good idea Julian,, and one which would put to rest the dumb idea that the QE is a “dud carrier with no aircraft”. Perhaps it will be our pleasant “surprise” for 2018. Even the usual rags would be forced to eat their humble pie.

  10. 1. We need to maintain our order for 138 as a minimum or risk losing our tier 1 partner status with the US.

    2. Realistically we need to up the order to allow an actual force of 8 squadrons of 16 aircraft with 2 squadrons per carrier as standard.

    3. Recruitment must be a priority for the UKAF and part of that is making it an employer of choice where people understand what they will get out of it.

    4. RN needs another 10k personnel to bring harmonisation into line with other services and stop the bleed of valued personnel. No one wants to spend 9-18 months away from home.

    5. Budget needs increased to ring fenced at 2.5%GDP with agreed inputs to stop abuse. This would fund all of the above.

    6. Single force structure required, with a single leadership structure and joint basing wherever possible.

  11. “It is expected that all 138 F-35 aircraft will have been delivered by the 2030s”

    By who???

    All the government has said is that they will be ordered by the end of the F-35 program which is expected to run to the 2050’s.

    Most smart people think the 138 will never be reached because the plunging exchange rate has made them so expensive and the defence budget isn’t big enough. The 178 billion that Fallon keeps quoting just isn’t there. About 30 billion of it has to come from future cuts and the rest is short by another 30 bill through over commit.

  12. Johnathan, my point is that the NHS is very inefficient, the fact that it’s less ineffective than others is nothing to write home about!

    Having had experience of the excellent standard of first line care for both myself and my family, I can’t and won’t knock the front line staff … However, its management system is archaic and extremely ineffective. Any attempt to change anything and Labour and the Unions scream foul.
    If modern practises were excersised the huge NHS budget could go a lot further.

    As someone who has always operated in the private sector and for the last 12 years has been self employed, I am always staggered at how poorly public services are run, the majority of civil service management wouldn’t last a week in the real world.

    • Hi John, I don’t agree that the NHS is inneficent, I think that’s a myth to be fair, from the amount we spend per capita there is very little waste.

      We rank 34 out of 35 OECD member countries on the amount we spend per capita, only USA spend less, France and Germany 10 and 11 respectively, no one can argue with those facts, the NHS is under funded plain and simple.

      Another efficiency myth is the amount of managers, only 4% of the NHS is management, compared with 10% in the overall economy.

      A couple of efficiency savings could be these, because of the lack of proper managers in house, we spend massive amounts on consultants every year for planning etc, that should be done in house to save money.

      And there is too much bureaucracy, too much emphasis on targets etc.

      But even with that, we can make a whole load of changes to make it more efficient but that will not cure all the main problems, only cold hard cash will.

      • John the NHS has just about the lowest management overheads you will find, it literally cannot have it any other way, NHS acute trusts are some of the most efficient you will find they have to be as we pay them less per procedure ( about a third, so we pay less than 4 k for a knee replacement, your average private hospital will charge an insurance company 11k) than the private sector charge. I personally work for a CCG, this is the organisation that undertakes (for a population) the strategic planning of health care, monitors the quality, buys the care, manages the procurement and contract management for just under 1 million people with oversight of a budget of around a billion pounds a year, we have 80 people to do this. I worked my ass off as a staff nurse I, work my ass of as a manager, if I see a cost improvement I take it, if my organisation could do its job with one less person it would, if a the private sector could come close to competing with an NHS organisation they would get the contract in a heart beat. We are not allowed to show any favour between the private and public sector, the simple truth is the only contracts that the private sector will take are cherry elective care contracts as they just can’t make emergency, primary, mental health and community care work for what we pay. So excuse me if i laugh a bit when you talk about private sector being better, it’s rubbish when it comes to healthcare…..good for making and selling widgets very bad in healthcare.

        We actually need more management in the NHS, there is great evidence about reduced oversight and runaway costs in healthcare ( look at the states…). What you forget is NHS mangers are generally walking and talking libraries of information and experiment about what has work and what does not work in a sector that is so complex it boggles the mind. They are not some bland individual in a suit, all of them have spend there lives delivering and thinking about healthcare.

  13. Hi Kieran, we will have to agree to disagree. The NHS as it currently stands is simply unsustainable in the long term.
    Money alone won’t fix it, It’s reached a turning point that can’t just be ignored and kicked into the long grass year after year.

    It needs top down reform and tough decisions need taking.

    • Or we could try paying what everyone else does……. In truth our health system not as bad as the media like to make out, it has the same fundamental issues as every other western system and needs a few tweeks in specific areas to free up the system.

      Top down reform is the very last thing it’s needs…. Healthcare systems are the most complex in systems made by human beings. You apsolutly cannot to a top down reform total reform that’s Politican crap talk. What you do is look at the areas of stress, which in our systems case are adult social care and public health. You then look at how we can fund a social care system that actually works and stops poor old people getting taken to acute hospitals because our society is to broken to take care of them properly….all the politicians keep bottling this because as per usual the British public don’t want to hear that it actually costs about a grand a week to care for a person in a nursing home. You then review and increase investment in public health as investment in upstream health care ( prevention) is the only way to make any efficency savings…. But you cannot remove funding from down stream care to do this as the savings will take decades to come through and our society will not let a commissioner of health care close a hospital full of patents to invest the money in health eduction and preventive health in the young.Therefore we need the British public to actually pay for this.

      I’m a professional who has worked in this field all my life, I’ve worked in nursing homes, hospital kitchens, as a staff nurse on a cancer wards, an A+E charge nurse, safety manager for a hospital,development manager in primary care, records manager, complaints and patient liaison manager for a mental health trust and quality and safety lead for three counties and a city…. I would happily make the NHS entirely private if I thought it would have a chance of providing a better quality care for the whole population, but all of my experience and knowledge tells me it would be the most costly mistake in lives impacted on and treasure lost this county will have ever made. Screwing our healthcare up is not a mistake we would come back from easily, the US has done this and they have no idea what to, 14-15% of your GDP on a system that’s not even able to give you average western infant mortality rates is something to worry about.

  14. Mike Saul
    you are wrong.
    France spends 21-22% of their GDP on healthcare
    we spend between 7 and 10% depending upon whether you consider social care provision or not in this number.
    pound for pound the NHS delivers the most bang for bucks of any healthcare system in the developed world.
    If you want a health care system akin to France then we need to put taxes up to fund an additional £45-50 billion per year.
    I speak with a huge wealth of experience in this area having served this country in armed forces and now NHS on the frontline of care provision for 25+ years.
    The NHS core workforce of nurses, paramedics, physios, pharmacists and medical staff work exceptionally hard. We have had below inflation pay rises for 9-10 years meaning we are 16-20% worse off in real terms to where we were in 2007. That is a damning indictment on this nation.
    Hence why now more people leaving the NHS than joining. More registered nurses left the profession in 2017 then joined. Like the armed forces pay, terms and conditions of service are the keys to resolving issues. That takes taxes, a willingness to fund world class public services. The problem is the UK has huge wealth divides, large amounts of personal wealth as we are a low tax economy. Time to get more money coming into the exchequer.

  15. Mr Bell, no one here would argue that front line NHS staff do a great job.

    The issue I have is that any talk of change and reform is simply shut down and politicised by Labour and the Unions, who use the NHS as a football for their own political ends.

    Every organisation needs to develop with the changing times, if it doesn’t, its eventually doomed to fail…

    The NHS is sadly no different, its not just money needed.

    While rates of pay in the NHS might have been below par, as a Government body you have excellent job security plus sick pay, (both very rare commodities in the private sector), in this day and age, these have a considerable value all of there own.

  16. Some interesting comments on here and I cant help but say that both the MOD and NHS still waste huge sums of money but treating the staff and recruitment for both organisations as if you are running a supermarket has had dire consequences. We have a financial crisis and we sack military personnel, freeze pay and then for the NHS we cut back on nurse training and recruitment. The Government knows how many nurses we need each year but they ignore this and then a few years later we pay a premium for agency staff.
    Most sane people recognise that the financial state of the country effects what we can afford to spend on key services and this changes as the economic cycle turns but the government should be planning for the long term and evolving these organisations and not carrying out a review such as SDR 2010 that did such long term damage.
    Until we have politicians that can do this and are prepared to explain that we have to pay our way as a nation and balance the books all our services will suffer continual crisis. For those of you who believe we should pay more tax I say we already pay around 35p in the pound so we need to grow the cake if we want to spend more. Sorry if I sound a bit like TH!

  17. Don’t panic SJb, you don’t sound like TH….

    Yep, the age old problem, how to right the economy, while protecting and improving the services. Its certainly not by screwing even more tax out of the few of us that actually pay into the pot and don’t take money out of it…


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