Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Joint Program Office have delivered the 700th production F-35 jet.

The firm say here that with more than 700 F-35s now delivered to U.S. and international operators, “the impact of the global fleet is far reaching – significantly enhancing the allied joint force”.

“The F-35 remains a premier air system of choice for three of the armed forces, seven international partners and six foreign military sales customers. It routinely demonstrates high-end capabilities at the hands of our joint and international warfighters, and it’s performing in combat operations from land and sea,” said Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby.

Today, F-35s are operating from 21 bases around the globe. More than 1,460 pilots and 11,025 maintainers have been trained and the F-35 fleet has surpassed 430,000 cumulative flight hours.

One of the most visible examples of international F-35 collaboration is the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group deployment. The United Kingdom’s HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier began its initial deployment in May 2021, with British and U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs aboard.

The UK recently two aircraft carriers at sea with F-35Bs aboard – following trials onboard of HMS Prince of Wales, Britain’s newest aircraft carrier.

Britain has two carriers at sea with F-35 jets

Lockheed Martin also say that by 2035, more than 450 F-35s will be stationed on the European continent, including 48 U.S. Air Force F-35As. NATO members with F-35 programs of record include BelgiumCanadaDenmarkItaly, the NetherlandsNorwayPoland, the United Kingdom and United States.

Switzerland recently selected the F-35 as the nation’s next fighter platform, production of the first F-35 for Poland is scheduled to begin in 2022 and the first aircraft is expected to be delivered in 2024. Preliminary talks are also underway with several potential new F-35 customers in Europe.

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OldSchool
OldSchool
13 days ago

Excellent! That’s a fair chunk of UK workshare alright.

eclipse
eclipse
13 days ago
Reply to  OldSchool

The fact that we’ve ordered less than Italy and even the UAE is immensely embarrassing though. With a 70b budget we should be able to achieve far more.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
13 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

The UAE does not have the hundreds or even thousands of other items on the MoD budget to pay for, maintain, the personnel to feed and pay a wage and other conditions. Also do they actually use them on ops around the world or are they sitting in the desert looking shiny like a Sultans car collection.

I believe we end up with 70 F35 myself.

Pete
Pete
13 days ago

Strangely, there was talk at the time the deal was done to effect that US had impossed a no overseas based operational deployments obligation on the sale agreement. Training to be ok but not Ops.

expat
expat
13 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

70b? is that dollars? 40b which is 2% of GDP.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
13 days ago
Reply to  expat

I think he means 70 aircraft…

Expat
Expat
12 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

That makes more sense 😀

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
13 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

Maybe China will buy some 😂

“According to Janes forecasts, China’s defence budget will grow by about 65% – from approximately USD258 billion to USD426 billion – between 2021 and 2030.”

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/defence/latest/airshow-china-2021

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
12 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Shame I’m getting too old to learn Mandarin…

Frank62
Frank62
12 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

The only Mandarin I know comes in little cans, usually in light syrup.

Sean
Sean
12 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

FSL said he expects final number between 60 and 80.

John Clark
John Clark
12 days ago
Reply to  Sean

I would expect between 80 and 90, that’s enough for four 12 aircraft squadrons, an operational reserve, OCU, trails and maintenance fleets…

Especially if they will be augmented by UCAV’s.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
12 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

I’d take that as a nice capable fixed wing carrier fleet.

Now all we need is a few extra helicopters, or some VTOL UAV’s for ASW ops, VERTREP etc.

Cheers CR

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
12 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

We will be buying more

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
12 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

Hi eclipse, I’m afraid our budget isn’t £70b – at least not yet. The follow quotes are from the House of Commons Library: “The Spring 2020 Spending Reivew describes the funding settlement as being ‘an increase in defence spending of £24 billion in cash terms over the next four years against the 2020/21 budget’.” However, “Ben Zaranko of the IFS, has suggested that these figures are potentially misleading. He believes that it ‘would be more accurate to say that by 2024/25, defence spending will be £7 billion higher’ in real terms compared with 2019/20.” This is because, “it appears the… Read more »

eclipse
eclipse
12 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

sorry, I’m in LA right now so I’m thinking in dollars. I believe U.K. total defence expenditure came to USD72.2 last year according to NATO. I’m optimistic about Brexit, so if the pound recovers to 1.65 ish that will represent a boost, at least in measurement. It won’t play that big of a role since most of our stuff is built in the U.K. but it might mean that we can get more stuff OTS. Like missiles, artillery, those AIP submarines I’ve been wishing for, maybe even it might play a role F-35s. However, even if the budget increases by… Read more »

simon alexander
simon alexander
12 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

lots of F35b’s going to be out there offering increased interoperability between like minded nations. cheap carriers and F35b is the future. although a nice thought we don’t need to send out a fully british carrier force and when would that be really required.

BB85
BB85
10 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

Didn’t Italy cancel almost all of theirs? The UK hasn’t cancelled any and will definitly order atleast 100 over the lifetime of the carriers as there are no plans for Tempest to take off or land from one and that capability really needs to be built in from the start.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
13 days ago

The F35 certainly is capturing allied imaginations… The up side is that it really does open up considerable opportunity for great cooperation between allies. The example of the USMC operating from HMS Queen Elizabeth could easily form the basic operating model for operations between, say the UK and Italy – something that has apparently already been suggested and form what I have read is being looked at. Japan might be another country we could collaborate with. Having said that I would not expect the level of intergration with other allies to be as close as it is with the USMC… Read more »

grizzler
grizzler
13 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I was not aware there are ‘US Eyes Only’ facilities designed into the QEC- to what extent exactly -how can that be onboard a UK sovereign ship? That implies that there has always been the desire/requirement to have USMC on board and utilising the platform in order to fulfil its capacity. This is contradictory to the rhetoric that accompanied their inital deployment onboard as ‘a stop gap until we have our own capabilty’ and ‘a way of training and capacity testing the platform’. If it is envisaged that they will be a permanent fixture I will be extremenly annoyed. It… Read more »

DRS
DRS
13 days ago
Reply to  grizzler

It has been there from design stage. There is no plan to permanently have USMC on the platform but helps a lot if they have their own planning/control room when they are on board. The advantage of having a big carrier that gives you these kinds of options.

grizzler
grizzler
12 days ago
Reply to  DRS

Thanks for clarifying that – appreciated. Hopefully in years to come those assets will be redundant.

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
12 days ago
Reply to  grizzler

It’s essentially a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) onboard for the USMC. The US (and the UK forces onboard) have to be able to receive their own comms using their own decoding and dissemination platforms.

simon alexander
simon alexander
12 days ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

very interesting. hope it would not lead to a conflict of interests for ship and aircrew. i am completely civilian so just asking are the F35’s american and british jointly under one air commander

Daniel
Daniel
11 days ago

Yes US forces onboard are under UK command

Jon
Jon
13 days ago
Reply to  grizzler

How can it be there’s an American Embassy in London? Isn’t London sovereign British territory?

grizzler
grizzler
12 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Last time i looked London wasn’t a military asset used for project of power or for unilateral purposes. However if you are going to be pedantic I believe the American embassy isnt technically part of London , as all embassys are considered an extention of the country they represent

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
12 days ago
Reply to  grizzler

Hi grizzler, Just to expand on what DRS has already said the USMC are ‘guests’ on our carriers. All be it very intergrated members of the team. The intention is that should the UK require the carriers for purely sovereign operations then the USMC would not be embarked and the UK would fill the ‘duty’ carrier with aircraft – assuming we buy enough of course! Likewise, if the US want their marines for a sovereign operation they would not be embarked on a UK carrier. The interesting part comes when the carrier is deployed on a joint mission and one… Read more »

Meirion x
Meirion x
12 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

“Likewise, if the US want their marines for a sovereign operation they would not be embarked on a UK carrier.”

The question is would the US launch an operation from a UK carrier without telling us first, especially if our politicians disagree wíth it, like what happened in Iran some time ago?

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
12 days ago
Reply to  Meirion x

Hi Meirion, That is an interesting question. However, I think there are a number of reason why it would be unlikely to happen, although perhaps not impossible. Firstly, there are the practical issues, and I don’t have all the answers here, but here are three I can think of. Firstly, the ship has to be in the right place at the right time. We share many of the same concerns as our American cousins and therefore our carriers are likely to be in areas of interest to the US. However, that isn’t the same as being in the right place… Read more »

Daniel
Daniel
11 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Didn’t I read somewhere. British B’s would fly from US ships?

Andrew D
Andrew D
13 days ago

Hope our two carriers do end up with full air groups ,just have to wait and see 👀

David Steeper
David Steeper
13 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

24 each would be very nice with another 24 in reserve or maintenance.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
12 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Highly unlikely. A full conventional air group also means Merlins, which are critically low in numbers. Since 2010 the plan has been 1 carrier operational, 1 reserve and in use for other tasks. In need the reserve carrier could be used of course and the air group split between the 2 vessels. One hope regards both would be if Vixen UAV is a success and augments the F35s, which still leaves the Merlin shortage. The RN has just two front line Merlin squadrons, 814 and 820. One of those provides small ships flights for the tailed T23s, the other for… Read more »

The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
12 days ago

Indeed it is a pity the 12 merlins we have in storage haven’t been brought up to HM2 standard and put back into service , seems a total waste. The utter lunacy of the situation whereby in 2009 the RN operated 194 helicopters compared to the 83 of today makes me believe this reduction in mass is deliberately being carried out to reduce our ability to go solo in expeditionary warfare. or am I looking at this wrong and it’s because drones are seen as the future ? I dunno but either way it’s not a good situation when every… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
12 days ago

I’ve had the same thoughts mate.

That is the conspiracy side of me.

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
12 days ago

There aren’t 12 in storage. It was at 1 point 8 airframes at Shawbury.
Some have gone to museums already (East Fortune and Denmark).

The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
12 days ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

I see , wasn’t aware of that, we had 42 HM1 didn’t realise they had disposed of some of them. I presume we still have some ? They never gave them all away to museums surely 🙈

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇬🇧

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
12 days ago

Not all given away, suspect a few are on the list for the FAA museum etc.
It’s also fair to say that they were near fully stripped down. Re-building them to HM.2 standard would have cost not far from building new.

The Big Man
The Big Man
11 days ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

According to the National Audit Office there are 30 HM2 in total of which only 20 are in service plus 25 Mk3/3a/4/4a/iMk3V with 12 in service.
Anyone know what the storage ones are potentially available for.
Such a small number of airframes available. They are being worked so hard.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
12 days ago

I’m more practical and don’t think there is that type of conspiracy in this case. The answer is simple – money. Storing aircraft in the damp UK requires air conditioned storage and is expensive, hence send the airframes to museums. It is madness to be sure but there are moves with small drones to develop ASW capabilities and there is a quad drone already being developed capable of carrying a light weight torpedo. It is small enough for an OPV to carrier more than one, so the possibility of a couple of drones with sono buoys or even a dipping… Read more »

Andrew D
Andrew D
11 days ago

How many Merlins were built ? And is there any Extra airframes what could be brought back for service ? But even if so can’t see HMG doing something what makes sense.But thanks for your post mate.

Grant
Grant
11 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

They are still being built for the Norwegians so we could just order more… you could have another squadron for the price of an entirely pointless National Flagship….

Andrew D
Andrew D
10 days ago
Reply to  Grant

If that’s the case would it not be wise to order more Marlins to make up numbers,plus this could also work for puma replacement ?

Grant
Grant
10 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

With the three engines there is a running cost difference plus thats probably redundancy you dont need for land based ops (I know RAF types always bemoan having the worlds best ASW chopper foisted on them). But it would make sense to fo a top up order as well as the Puma replacements. The same engine can be fitted in the Aw149 and Merlin so that would bring savings.

Paul T
Paul T
10 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

I thought the general consensus was that the Merlin is a bit too much in Size and Cost to be an obvious Puma replacement.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
11 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

44.

Two were written off I believe leaving 42.

There were, the HM1 not upgraded to HM 2 standard, as the posts explain above not any more.

Pleasure!

Chris
Chris
13 days ago

USAF is is planning on retiring the f-22 in favor of the F-35, If that tells you anything.

John N
John N
12 days ago
Reply to  Chris

That’s not correct.

The under development Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) aircraft will eventually replace F-22, not F-35.

Daniel
Daniel
11 days ago
Reply to  Chris

That’s not true at all. The F-22 will be replaced with NGAD. No F-35s will replace the F-22. When the NGAD aircraft come online then the F-22s will start to retire.

Hugh Jarce
Hugh Jarce
8 days ago
Reply to  Daniel

NGAD will need a missile better than AIM-120. Ideally it will have a throttleable engine like Meteor, outrange any AAM Russia and China have, have an AESA radar and have IR guidance in addition to radar.

Meteor could also do with two of these upgrades (greater range and IR homing). It’ll be getting an AESA radar in collaboration with work with Japan.

Last edited 8 days ago by Hugh Jarce
Bill
Bill
12 days ago

And we have………21. £2b in R&D upfront costs as a Tier 1 partner. More than 40 pilots patiently waiting their turn for some flight time. 2023 for the next squadron stand up? Two F35’s on the PoW apparently qualifies having two carriers at sea projecting ‘Air power’. 10 British jets at sea spread over two carriers? And in the meantime when we have achieved so much with the Typhoon, Tranche 1 is binned 10 years early!! Barely used airframes perfectly able for the QRA role for which we assign no less than 5 squadrons. In the attack role we need… Read more »

Hugh Jarce
Hugh Jarce
8 days ago
Reply to  Bill

Could the Tranche 1 Typhoons be converted into a dedicated EW variant?

Hugh Jarce
Hugh Jarce
8 days ago
Reply to  Bill

I’d like us to buy Gripens to replace the Tranche 1 Typhoons and create a nationwide network of austere bases located next to roads where they can be refuelled and rearmed in 10 minutes by a minimal ground crew. Essential capability to have if airbases are taken out in a war. We could (and should imo) buy a few more new Gripens every year going forward and/or build our own aircraft with the same austere basing capability.

Last edited 8 days ago by Hugh Jarce
Mike
Mike
12 days ago

How embarrassing that the UK has insufficient numbers to properly equip one aircraft carrier without depending on its allies to give the impression of the politically hollow phrase ‘Global Britain’ and boasts of an empty second carrier with a handful of aircraft aboard in a vain attempt to hang on to the coat tails of the larger USA, alike a poodle with a larger master, whilst citing the so called ‘special relationship’. The F35 was supposed to replace numerically superior aircraft numbers but the UK is falling down the scale in comparison to the USA, Israel and Japan and doubtless… Read more »

Last edited 12 days ago by Mike
eclipse
eclipse
12 days ago
Reply to  Mike

Right, here we go again. First of all, the U.K. has not and is not disputing the fact that the USA is larger because, guess what? It’s larger. It has a bigger population so the fact that they have more carriers than us doesn’t really speak to anything, and what you said about “citing the special relationship” doesn’t really have a pertinent point; we do in fact have a very close relationship and it benefits both of us. Whoever says that it’s one-sided isn’t correct, since no one ever said a military/political relationship has to be absolutely EQUALLY beneficial, just… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
11 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

Bravo. He knows nothing of UKUSA and the intricacies of that relationship alone, never mind the rest.

MikeB1947
MikeB1947
9 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

I would question one sentence of your post: “The US position in the world would be be worse if the UK did not exist”. As everyone knows, in military terms, there is a vast difference in sizes between the US and UK. The US has everything it needs to become involved in any conflict, without asking for help from smaller countries – including the UK. I do accept however that, when the UN requested the US to action to expel Iraq from Kuwait, as a member of both the UN and NATO, we and other countries had to become involved.… Read more »

Sean
Sean
12 days ago
Reply to  Mike

How embarrassing for you to display such ignorance in public 🤷‍♂️

Airborne
Airborne
11 days ago
Reply to  Sean

Mike is a genuine troll with many previous avatars and IP address, he doesn’t contribute to any debate just makes sad comments mate.

Sean
Sean
11 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

I feel sorry for him, he must have a pretty sad and empty existence to get his kicks out of trolling. It suggests he’s rather bitter towards everyone else who has a life.

Airborne
Airborne
11 days ago
Reply to  Mike

Troll Harold, Troll TH, troll PierreLM and troll John amongst others. Troll is sad, troll knows very little, troll needs to study.

Airborne
Airborne
11 days ago
Reply to  Mike

Troll is reverting back to form with more angry and more irrelevant posts, troll isn’t happy he has been clocked as being previous troll Harold and TH amongst others. Oh dear!

geoff
geoff
12 days ago

Just one thing. With the RAF carrying missiles on the wing tips,doesn’t that throw some stealth out the window?

RobW
RobW
12 days ago
Reply to  geoff

According to the RAF website it can fit 2 AMRAAM and 2 paveway IV in the internal bays, or just 4 AMRAAM. The pilons aren’t needed most of the time so it can retain its stealth.

JR
JR
12 days ago
Reply to  RobW

Any external stores will degrade stealth. Sometimes this can a tactical advantage. That is why you often see F-22s performing intercepts with external stores. You don’t won’t give the “bad guys” a chance to build up a profile in peacetime – stealth is a temporary solution. What is invisible to radar today will be visible to more advanced radars tomorrow. When you have 25 tonnes moving through the air at 700mph – it is going to detectable sooner or later, no matter how you shape it. It still emits heat, and noise, and disturbs the airflow around it.

Hugh Jarce
Hugh Jarce
8 days ago
Reply to  JR

Stealth aircraft are ALREADY detectable by radar, they just get detected at shorter ranges than non-stealthy aircraft. AIUI S-400 can detect AND ENGAGE an F-35 at 30 odd km head on. From other angles this figure will be higher, but by how much I don’t know. F-35s can also be detected at greater ranges by IRST, weather permitting.

Hugh Jarce
Hugh Jarce
8 days ago
Reply to  RobW

Yes but the F-35 can only currently carry AIM-9X on its wingtips. The F-35 can’t carry a short-range AAM internally because it doesn’t have lateral bays like the F-22 has.

Paul T
Paul T
11 days ago
Reply to  geoff

Without getting too Technical F35’s are fitted with something known as a Luneburg Lens/Reflector in Peacetime Operations , to give off a signal return to Radar, so any External Stores wouldn’t make much of a difference anyway.

geoff
geoff
11 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

Thanks for info Paul.

Hugh Jarce
Hugh Jarce
8 days ago

If a carrier group is staying out of the range of DF-26 or Kinzhal then F-35Bs and F-35Cs don’t have the range to reach China or Russia. (Same goes for ship-launched TLAMs, although the RN doesn’t have any).

The MQ-25 refuelling drone can only carry enough fuel to fully refuel one F-35 and that still wouldn’t give an F-35B or F-35C sufficient range.

Last edited 8 days ago by Hugh Jarce