Funding has been delegated for an additional tranche of F-35B jets for Britain beyond the 48 already ordered.

The information came to light in the following exchange.

Kevan Jones, Member of Parliament for North Durham, asked via a written Parliamentary question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when the planned equipment investments for (a) A400M and (b) F-35b will be delegated to the RAF’s TLB.”

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, responded:

“Funding for a second tranche of F-35 Lightning has been delegated to Air Command as part of our recent annual budget cycle. Funding for Atlas A400M which not yet been delegated. A decision on future tranches of F-35B will be made in due course.”

For more on the planned additional A400M purchase see here, now, on to the F-35B.

I reported around Christmas time that the UK was undertaking “detailed analysis to evaluate the scale and timeline” for a purchase of a second tranche of F-35B Lightning aircraft.

Jeremy Quin, Minister for Defence Procurement, stated in December 2021:

“The 2021 Integrated Review confirmed our ambition to continue the growth of the UK Lightning Force beyond 48 aircraft. We are currently undertaking period of detailed analysis to evaluate scale and timeline for procurement of our second tranche of F35B Lightning aircraft together with associated infrastructure and support requirements.”

The United Kingdom recently made it “absolutely clear” that it will operate more than 48 F-35 jets (now 47), according to a senior defence minister.

At a recent session of the Defence Committee. focussing on the Royal Navy, it was stated by Jeremy Quin, Minister for Defence Procurement, that:

“As you know, we are going to acquire 48. We have made it absolutely clear that we will be acquiring more. We have committed to have 48 in service by 2025, and we will be acquiring more. We have set that out in the IR. We will set out the exact numbers in 2025. The 138 number is still there. That is a defined number and we are looking at keeping these aircraft carriers in operation for a very long period of time. I am not dismissing that number either. We know that we have 48 to which we are committed, and we know that we will buy more beyond that.”

How many are expected?

The former First Sea Lord said during a webcast earlier this year that the UK intends to purchase ‘around 60’ F-35B jets and then ‘maybe more up to around 80’ for four deployable squadrons. A defence insider informed the UK Defence Journal of a live webcast given by the previous First Sea Lord.

“The First Sea Lord has just said 60 F-35, then maybe more up to around 80 for 4 deployable squadrons.”

UK looking at ’60 and then maybe up to 80′ F-35B jets

According to the Defence Command Paper titled ‘Defence in a Competitive Age’, the UK intends to increase the fleet size beyond the 48 F-35 aircraft it has already ordered.

“The Royal Air Force will continue to grow its Combat Air capacity over the next few years as we fully establish all seven operational Typhoon Squadrons and grow the Lightning II
Force, increasing the fleet size beyond the 48 aircraft that we have already ordered. Together they will provide a formidable capability, which will be continually upgraded to meet the threat, exploit multi domain integration and expand utility.

The Royal Air Force will spiral develop Typhoon capability, integrate new weapons such as the UK developed ‘SPEAR Cap 3’ precision air launched weapon and invest in the Radar 2 programme to give it a powerful electronically scanned array radar. We will integrate more UK weapons onto Lightning II and invest to ensure that its software and capability are updated alongside the rest of the global F 35 fleet.”

The potential total of 80 is welcome news given the speculation the buy could be capped at 48.

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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John Hartley
John Hartley
9 days ago

Please let the new UK F-35 be block 4 software with one of the improved engine upgrades.

branaboy
branaboy
9 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

According to this report in Breaking Defense News, the Block 4 variant of the F35 will not be ready before 2029

https://breakingdefense.com/2022/04/f-35-modernization-programs-costs-schedule-keeps-growing-gao/

And from Defense news the report below is saying that over a third of USAF F35 will be acquired before ooperational testing of the F35 is complete.

https://www.defensenews.com/air/2022/04/25/one-third-of-f-35s-could-be-delivered-before-operational-testing-complete/

In my view, no need for the UK to rush its F35B acquisition until these issues are resolved by Lockheed.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
8 days ago
Reply to  branaboy

Mentioned this many times in the past as you’re no doubt aware, just in time for the next generation of fighter aircraft and drones.

Mark B
Mark B
8 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Nice to have but perhaps it might be more important to have a more than adequate plane in decent numbers rather than the waiting for block 4, 5 or 6.

James
James
8 days ago
Reply to  Mark B

Depends on the cost to upgrade a current spec aircraft to future block variants which we simply have to do.

Buying lots now then paying even more to upgrade the same planes later could be a very short sighted view and limit the overall number of aircraft even more.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
8 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

F135 engine upgrade best choice for F-35, says Raytheon Technologies boss  “Everybody understands that you’re going to need more power and better fuel efficiency from that engine,” he says, adding: “that’s something that we’re working with the customer on.” https://www.flightglobal.com/defence/f135-engine-upgrade-best-choice-for-f-35-says-raytheon-technologies-boss/147268.article “GE’s engine is uniquely designed to fit both the F-35A and F-35C without any structural modifications to either airframe, enabling improved aircraft range, acceleration and cooling power to accommodate next-generation mission systems (like laser weapons), while ensuring better durability and higher availability. While General Electric states that its XA100 can be used on the F-35A and C, it does… Read more »

Last edited 8 days ago by Nigel Collins
Rudeboy
Rudeboy
8 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

They will all be Block IV from Lot 17 onwards. Which also means the full fat EW system being included. This is important as the USMC is planning to upgrade all its ‘upgradeable’ F-35B to Blk IV Lot 17 standard. This means the upgrade path will have been proved and tested before the UK commits to the upgrade for older F-35B. That removes a lot of risk and also, in turn, makes it less likely that the UK will try and go its own way (massive increase in risk). It now seems likely that the UK will move all, or… Read more »

John Hartley
John Hartley
8 days ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

Anything pre lot 8, is probably not worth upgrading. Luckily the UK has only 3? pre lot 8.

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
8 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

We’ve got 4 aircraft pre Lot 8. The 3 ITF test aircraft and BK-03. The test aircraft isn’t a massive deal. Dependent on the cost it might just be a good idea to move BK-03 to the test fleet, use it as a stealthy aggressor and use the money needed to upgrade to purchase half of a new one.

grizzler
grizzler
9 days ago

The potential total of 80 is welcome news given the speculation the buy could be capped at 48….so not 138 then?

Steve R
Steve R
9 days ago
Reply to  grizzler

It was never going to be 138 all in together though, always through the life of the program. If we get 80 in all together that would be a decent number to allow 4 squadrons.

Personally, given Russia’s shenanigans, I think we should get an even 100 for 5 squadrons, unless we can get Typhoons in faster, the increase Typhoons instead.

Mark B
Mark B
8 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

I’m guessing we will get 108 in total by 2030 with the RAF looking beyond Tornado.

Frank62
Frank62
8 days ago
Reply to  Mark B

Yeah! Bring back Tornadoes, Phantoms & Buccaneers. Hunters & Vampires too, with a side order of Sea Harriers.
Ah, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

maurice10
maurice10
8 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

I think you are correct, Russia’s position on Ukraine and NATO could bring about a semi conflict outside the current borders? Not a World war as such, but an aggressive economic and occasional act of physical military action. Russia could test the ‘Attack on one is an attack on all,’ in the near future, especially against supply routes from Poland? If so, all three UK services will need to be significantly beefed up along with most NATO members.

Steve R
Steve R
8 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

If it were up to me I’d increase to 12 squadrons total; either 8x Typhoon and 4x F35, or 7x Typhoon and 5x F35.

I think getting in more Typhoons would be quicker, plus a boost to our own industry.

The treasury seems to be sleepwalking through this, though.

James
James
8 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

I do totally agree on going more newer tranche typhoons, the pilots exist in better numbers than the F35 and the typhoon is now a very capable aircraft that can carry on for some time.

The treasury however needs money to buy things, I very much doubt they have much at the moment.

Klonkie
Klonkie
7 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

Hi Steve I just noticed your post on the squadron numbers. Since the fall out of the 2012 defence review, I too believed 12 squadrons is the practical number. Oddly enough, exactly the same split- 8 Typhoon and 4 F35b . Great minds think alike perhaps? That would deliver a return to front line jet numbers similar to those pre the 2010 cuts. I’m of the view the RAF has missed the window of opportunity by cutting the Tranche 1 Typhoons , which no doubt will see two more F35 unit stand ups, but at the cost of loosing 2… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
9 days ago
Reply to  grizzler

Not in a mere two tranches.

MJ
MJ
9 days ago
Reply to  grizzler

The general consensus is that the final number will be 60-80. 60+ seems pretty certain if they go ahead with a second tranche which would be difficult not too.

If there’s a massive spending boost like Germany, the 138 figure is still on the board but doesn’t really seem likely for the way things are going.

Wolf
Wolf
7 days ago
Reply to  grizzler

At the moment Britain is committed to 74 F35Bs with the decision to buy more to be made in the mid-2020s.

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 days ago

So that looks like there is a plan for 11 fast jet squadrons 7 typhoon and 4 F35.

My only concern is the statement “Funding for a second tranche of F-35 Lightning has been delegated to Air Command”

to me that says they are give the airforce the choice of which F35 to buy……I suspect the airforce may have a large F35A lobby. Just saying.

grizzler
grizzler
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I think the powers that be need to decide exactly how they intend to use the carriers – and ensure enough F35B’s are purchased to allow that to happen. If they want to utlise both then make sure we buy enough to equip & man both properly- if only one then that reduces the B requirement After all we can’t fly ANY other plane off them. Once thats been decided I really dont care how they fill the rest ..It would seem sensible to use F35B’s to minimise logistics of maintaining them …unless of course the A (or something else)… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 days ago
Reply to  grizzler

Yes the sensible option would be an all F35B buy.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

👍

DP
DP
8 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Hi Jonathan, whether we go for an all F35B fleet or mix of As and Bs, in my mind equal priority also needs to be given to the Mosquito/LANCA/Vixen concept. I see this as important as any additional Typhoon/F35 buy, welcome though the latter would be I’m sure. The Vixen et al concept won’t just enhance the capabilities of the F35B fleet (Air-to-Air refuelling and Loyal Wingman) but has the potential to give the fleet a step-change over it’s current Crowsnest capability, so, whilst it brings another aircraft type onto the carriers (with associated logistic challenges), and the problem of… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
8 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Not really. See my post above and follow the links. “GE’s engine is uniquely designed to fit both the F-35A and F-35C without any structural modifications to either airframe, enabling improved aircraft range, acceleration and cooling power to accommodate next-generation mission systems (like laser weapons), while ensuring better durability and higher availability. While General Electric states that its XA100 can be used on the F-35A and C, it does not discuss the B model, which should continue to rely on the current Pratt & Whitney F135s, which would call into question the future availability of the Bravo, vertical-landing version of… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
7 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

The front end of the X100 would need a complete redesign. It is not built to interact with the Rolls Royce lift fan gearbox. The 1st stage fan drives the lift fan’s gearbox. Fitting it in the airframe is not a problem. The other difference is that the -600 version of the F135 has the rotating exhaust nozzle. Which would need integration testing.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
7 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Thank you for the update, I have not been receiving email notifications of comments on my posts!

James
James
9 days ago
Reply to  grizzler

The idea of building 2 carriers was to have 1 equipped and ready 365 days a year, having 2 at the same status was never the plan and clearly still isnt.

The idea of a fully equipped carrier will differ from opinion to opinion, lots of people constantly bang on about it needing 70 jets, that is not practical for a start. Is 24 the correct number, or 36 that would ultimately depend on the mission at hand.

Airborne
Airborne
9 days ago
Reply to  James

Agreed

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
8 days ago
Reply to  James

Totally agree.

There never was a plan for both to do strike. However, I do see the second one being used as more of a commando carrier.

With 70+ jets a load out of 24 jets on one carrier + helos and 12 on the other plus chinook and apache.

The reality is that as they are very new big and well designed and built the deep maintenance periods will be shorter.

Bill
Bill
44 minutes ago

There is no amphibious capability on the carriers. Helicopter insertion only limits the RMC’s effectiveness and deployable numbers drastically.

Steve R
Steve R
8 days ago
Reply to  James

In future it could well be 12-18 F35s with the same number of drones, or more even, to boost numbers.

James
James
8 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

That is certainly the future! We really do not know ultimately how capable the F35 will be as a command unit in the sky.

A fully integrated carrier group using T45, T26, drones, F35’s etc is a very capable unit, when we have it all up and running.

Daveyb
Daveyb
8 days ago
Reply to  James

For Amphibious Ops, the 1SL stated that the carriers would carry 12 F35Bs at a minimum. I guess this is the minimum number that is envisaged to support ground forces, whilst also providing combat air patrols. Though that leaves the air wing perilously small, if they loose a few aircraft through combat and attrition. The lower number is I guess, to make sure the ship has sufficient space for both Jungly Merlins and Chinooks, along with Apaches. With both the Merlin and to some degree the Apache, you can fold the main rotor blades back over the tail, which minimizes… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
7 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Fascinating post as always. Hope you’re right.

Alabama Boy
Alabama Boy
5 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Its quiet simple the RAF we told there is no more money available and they were forced to cut the number of E7s in order to keep other programs going forward. I doubt there was a real endorsed Requirement on numbers and capability, as there was for Nimrod AEW and the E3A, it was just a question of buying what we could. If there had been, clearly 3 ac couldn’t meet it.

John Hartley
John Hartley
5 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Whenever I look at the new Italian Trieste, I wish Britain could afford a sister ship to be an HMS Ocean replacement.

Joe16
Joe16
8 days ago
Reply to  James

To me, it needs ~70 jets to make the system work, but I honestly don’t see us putting more than 36 airframes at a time onto one of the carriers (unless the USMC got involved). That leaves ~ a squadron active for RAF tasks (probably at Akrotori?), plus refit, training, etc. Looking at how they’re being used by the US, the most that they’re looking to concentrate in one place seems to be 15-20; two squadrons of 10 F-35C are the stealth component of a USN carrier air wing, similar numbers appear to be comprising a USMC air group on… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
8 days ago
Reply to  James

But one of the most important points of the F35B is the ease of carrier qualification and the ability to surge a larger air wing. That’s a key point. Also in reality to have an operational air wing of 24 on a carrier + a squadron for other uses + operational conversion + airframes in deep maintenance, you need a fleet of well over 70 air frames. If you want the four squadrons +OCU you would want close to 100 air frames. But and this is a big but if you do have 4 squadrons of F35 plus the operational… Read more »

James
James
8 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I never said that we would not have the 2 carriers available together, that has already been proven to be possible having them both out at sea. Much to the demise of the doom mongers online saying we didnt have enough crew to operate both. My statement was that the entire plan for having 2 was to have 1 available at all times every year. Look at France they have huge gaps in time with the carrier they have needing long periods of maintenance. Naturally both could be used in an emergency situation for the same/similar role and splitting the… Read more »

Sean
Sean
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

F35A not happening. Period.

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 days ago
Reply to  Sean

I really hope not, it would be a bit silly to spend 6 billion on two carriers with a max war load of up to 70 aircraft each and buy load of fighters that would not be able to fly off them…. but never underestimate inter-service rivalry.

MJ
MJ
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

A Carrier is never going to sail with 70 aircraft even if they bought 100+ F-35Bs. In theory they could carry ~56 with some efficiency but when you bring in the AEW/ASW suite that goes down to maybe 40 F-35Bs. If the drone role is expanded there might not be a need for more than 36 F-35Bs available at any given time for deployment on a carrier. I can’t see there ever being more than 32-36 deployed anyway (for a total air wing of 40-50).

Jonathan
Jonathan
8 days ago
Reply to  MJ

The 70 was a quote from a senior RN bod, I will level it to the RN to decide what is a Max efficient load out. My issue would be no providing the airframes and squadrons that could maximise that potential.

I have no issue with a considered buy and development, but not reaching the full potential is a different thing again.

MJ
MJ
8 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Sure, leave it to the RN to decide what their max efficient load is. I hope it doesn’t shock you too much when it’s significantly less than 70, because that is not what that figure represents.

Shiner
Shiner
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

It,s painfully obvious we cannot Afford to operate one carrier leave alone two In five years the QE has only deployed once then with the help of the US marine corp .The USA would of course call the shots with their marines aboard.

Jonathan
Jonathan
8 days ago
Reply to  Shiner

The Queen Elizabeth only became operational in 2020 and in that time she has aready steamed around the world.

The air wings are developing, these are 50 year projects You are making judgment about the are ability to operate these on there first few baby steps…that’s illogical and incongruent with the already funded F35B buy.

Bill
Bill
49 minutes ago
Reply to  Jonathan

50 year projects?? Don’t you know there’s a war on?

James
James
7 days ago
Reply to  Shiner

Did the US marines sail the ship when it deployed?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

No, I think 2 Typhoon squadrons disband as the 3rd and 4th F35 squadrons stand up. Hope I’m wrong. The 7 Typhoon only came about by artificially increasing Typhoon squadron numbers from 5 to 7, with the same numbers of jets, as the 3 GR4 squadrons were cut. Not doing so would have reduced our air power to a ridiculous 6 squadrons, 5 Typhoon, 1 F35, down from 12 in 2010 which was already a new low! And they didnt want those headlines. As the Lightning Force expands and if the T1s are cut as planned I expect numbers reduce… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 days ago

Daniele don’t dash my hopes, I was sort of hoping a sense of balance was returning as to how important fast jet squadrons are to both U.K. security and our global influence.

We can always hope for a tranche four buy to replace the T1s. It’s both a sound defence decision and sound defence industry support, supporting the line to stay open with the possibility of more orders.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I hope I don’t. As always, I’m being realistic as fantasy fleets happens too often for some on here. 👍

Klonkie
Klonkie
9 days ago

D, I believe two RN squadrons are also planned- 809 and another?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
8 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

I assume 2 and 2 yes, no idea of the number plates.

Steve Salt
Steve Salt
8 days ago

Definately 809 and I`d like to see 892 on the other as an homage to the Phantom.

Klonkie
Klonkie
9 days ago

Hi DM – I’m thinking your assessment is spot on, 12 squadrons seemed about the right number. I do wish the RAF could also retain the Tranche 1 Typhoon units. Given events in Eastern Europe , we might be pleasantly surprised.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
8 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

Morning K. So do I. Though I do understand the reasons given by posters such as our Robert B.

expat
expat
8 days ago

Liz Truss was saying that she wanted to supply Fighter Jets to Ukraine. T1’s could be candidates although they’re limit for air to ground, the penny is dropping and people are realising the conflict will drag on and Russian Migs are in short supply so Ukraine will need western kit so best get on an get them trained.

Paul.P
Paul.P
8 days ago
Reply to  expat

Do not the Tranche 1 Typhoons have a laser designator pod?

expat
expat
8 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

I believe so. Do you know what the standoff range would be? You don’t want to be to close to an S300 system

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
7 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Yes it can use Litening III.

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
6 days ago
Reply to  expat

The Ukrainian’s will need to replace their SU-27 and MiG-29 fleets post war. They’ve had trouble supporting them for years, and the destruction of their repair facilities will only make things worse. We also need to arm them that heavily that Russia never comes back for a second bite….and also equip them with NATO compatible gear. Everyone has been talking about F-16’s, assuming the US has a huge number of non-clapped out ones they can send. But that isn’t the truth. Lots of the older models are earmarked for the QF-16 programme. But there are some solutions…none super fast, but… Read more »

Martin
Martin
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I think 9 is more likely as they will drop two typhoon squadrons when they retire tranche 1 in 2025 to stand up the second two F35 squadrons.

John Clark
John Clark
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I think the RAF are more locked onto Tempest and the next generation, rather than F35A.

Probably happy to offload the F35B’s on the Navy ‘if’ Tempest gets the go ahead.

If however, Tempest is stillborn, then expect the RAF to lobby hard for an advanced ‘Block 5’ F35A with all the bells and whistles….

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
8 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

I think that it true(ish)

F35 opened their eyes to the possibilities.

Captor radar opened eyes further.

So yes is RN got a massive funding uplift RAF would be happy to get shot of F35B. But it would have to be massive for FAA to take on the burden of a modern jet?

Jonathan
Jonathan
8 days ago

Yes that would involve a lot of infrastructure that is all RAF. The FAA have heron which is now jammers full of joint helicopter command squadrons. So I think they have 10 rotor squadrons and a T1, so probably not a lot of space there and there would need to be a shed load of work. Seahawk is the same focused on rotor squadrons with even less suitability for fast jets than Heron.

So unless the RAF give over RAF Marham and the FAA want to take on a whole new air station I can’t see it ever happening.

Joe16
Joe16
8 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Agreed, F-35B is a stopgap for the RAF, I feel.
The real challenge will be look for a replacement for F-35B for the carriers in ~25 years, because I don’t see Tempest being V/TOL, STOBAR or CATOBAR. But tech will have changed so much by then it may be less of a problem.

Pacman27
Pacman27
8 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

I do think we underestimate or have memory fade of the benefits of VTOL – their ability to land in austere environments makes them particularly useful, as does the ability to disperse them (subject to logistics). Its a fantastic aircraft – now cheaper than a typhoon and is of real benefit to UK industry. I think the F35B gets an unfair press – compare it against Harrier (which everyone liked) rather than the Typhoon which is a totally different set of requirements. the key is can it become a “quarterback” type asset that sends unmanned systems into the Deep –… Read more »

MJ
MJ
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

If buying F-35A would work in terms of logistics, I wouldn’t mind it.

48 F-35Bs is enough to fully deploy a carrier with 24 aircraft, have another squadron of 8-12 available for land operations (and in reserve for upscaled carrier ops) and then any other jets can be used for larger airbases with greater range and weapon payloads.

Jonathan
Jonathan
8 days ago
Reply to  MJ

a small sub fleet of 48 airframes will never give the carriers the potential that they could have. If you look at a loss rate of around 1 airframe a year ( that’s not uncommon, harriers got written of for a pass time ) within 12 years your down to 36 usable airframes. You can always count that around a third of your airframes are out of service or in deep maintenance so 48 will give you maybe 30 airframes by the time your 10 years in you may have 20 airframes available. Your also thrashing your airframe hours so… Read more »

MJ
MJ
8 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

If we’re operating off the assumption that over 2% of the fleet will be lost every year (haven’t checked that for the harrier) then yes, of course we would need more aircraft. The intended life span of this aircraft is, what, 30 years? Maybe closer to 40? At that rate we should expect to be down to about 10 jets in their last years in service. Following up on the harrier losses, I couldn’t find a single SHAR2 being lost at any point. The last time any harrier operating off RN carriers was lost was in 1994 when it was… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 days ago
Reply to  MJ

Hi MJ the U.K. harrier fleet lost 96 airframes between 1969 and 2016. There was a slight higher loss rate at the beginning and I have only counted production models. The loss rates from random damaging events are surprisingly high.

MJ
MJ
7 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

It does seem high. As far as I can tell a disproportionate number were far earlier though. Besides the obvious spike from the Falklands in 1982, a list on Wikipedia has a massive number of losses in the early 1970s and another large concentration around the late 70s to early 80s. I’m sure with the F-35Bs it wouldn’t be unrealistic to expect they might have a greater number of losses earlier in their careers, but as far as modern processes go there still aren’t very many modern losses at all. I’m sure I haven’t seen a comprehensive list but how… Read more »

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
9 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

An F35A purchase would be utter folly, incompetence, wasteful and a disgrace. So yeah probably going to happen.

Grizzler
Grizzler
8 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

What is your rationale for such an assertion (serious question) .IF the A provides functionality we don’t currently have (and need) AND the decreed carrier usage dictates we don’t need B’s on both carriers at once so req. numbers aren’t great then surely that’s a consideration? Not sure if all of the above is valid of course hence my question as to why you have that conviction.

John Hartley
John Hartley
8 days ago
Reply to  Grizzler

Re F-35A vs B. The A has access to weapons that do not fit in B weapons bays. B61-12, JASSM-ER, AARGM-ER, 2000lb laser guided/GPS bombs, bunker buster bombs, anti ship missiles, etc. Sorry DM & all, but in my fantasy fleet the RAF gets 24 F-35A to replace T1 Typhoon. Not to usurp T2&3 Typhoon or Tempest, but just to use these weapons. Bit like the 2 Sqns of Buccaneer/Tornado with Sea Eagle, in the past.

Deep32
Deep32
8 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

All versions of the F35 can carry all the weapons slated, just not necessarily in the weapons bay! The other point and perhaps more relevant, is that UK does not have those listed weapons in its arsenal, and is unlikely to purchase them, so it’s a bit of a moot point really.

John Hartley
John Hartley
8 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Yet

Deep32
Deep32
8 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

An optimist then! Cant see it personally, unless FC-ASM doesn’t get off the drawing board, but then I imagine something like LRASM/NSM to compliment PW Mk4/Meteor/S3 might well be the preferred choice. Only a guess mind.

Jonathan
Jonathan
8 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Biggest difference between the A and B the B can attack any nation from any point in an ocean, it’s range is actual functionality the sea + its combat radius. F35A can only operate from 10,000 feet of tarmac and its air station, so functionally that few extra KMs of combat range come at the cost of the ability to operate from and attack the majority of the plants surface.

Grizzler
Grizzler
8 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I was under the impression that there were geographic constraints regards the sphere of influence of the F35B. In so much that they couldn’t reach everywhere or at least couldn’t spend much time hanging around …obv.the C version has a greater range …if that was not needed why bother with the.C?

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 days ago
Reply to  Grizzler

Because the US use CATOBAR, they needed the C we don’t so we needed the B.

John Hartley
John Hartley
7 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Trouble with the B, is that so few advanced weapons are being integrated with it. Its biggest weapon is a 1000lb JDAM. I am not sure the UK is even fitting those. So we have spent billions on 2x new carriers, a billion on F-35 development, more billions on buying F-35B, just to drop 2x 500lb Paveway IV. Not exactly value for money. I know people say stick advanced weapons under the wings, but we would have to pay the integration on B, when it is done & paid for by others on the A already.

Tams
Tams
8 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Yeah, but the RAF need to be careful as the RN could take their ball home and then demand more funding for the navy, especially after so much has been invested.

That would leave the RAF with a big hole in their budget.

Anthony Thrift
Anthony Thrift
9 days ago

When will the FAA receive its squadrons?

Dern
Dern
9 days ago
Reply to  Anthony Thrift

Never, it’s a joint asset, all Squadrons are both FAA and RAF.

Louis
Louis
9 days ago
Reply to  Dern

I heard that squadrons now being all RAF numbers are 60-40 personnel split between RAF and FAA respectively, I assumed once 809 stands up it will be fully FAA and 617 will become fully RAF

ATH
ATH
9 days ago
Reply to  Louis

Absolutely not. The F35 is a totally joint venture. People from both RAF and FAA backgrounds will serve as needed in all rolls and on all squadrons.

Lusty
Lusty
8 days ago
Reply to  ATH

Sausage rolls?

Bob Atherden
Bob Atherden
9 days ago
Reply to  Louis

No, at current planning both Sqns will be joint. The ratios may reverse but in essence they’ve completely changed the Op Model in the Lightning force.

Anthony Thrift
Anthony Thrift
9 days ago

I recently read an article about the F35’s of the IAF and the updates they made, if the UK is a primary customer why can’t we add our own updates to our fleet, or the US updates better than what the UK can produce or should we look at the Israelis updates for a better all round aircraft.

Sean
Sean
9 days ago
Reply to  Anthony Thrift

Because doing our own updates would work out more expensive than sticking with the main programme. The F35I as flow by the Israeli Air-Force is there tweaked version of the F35A, we fly the F35B. There’s only around 30% commonality between the two versions so some of their tweaks would simply not work on our aircraft.

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
8 days ago
Reply to  Anthony Thrift

The IAF has made no ‘updates’. They have 1 test aircraft so any changes they make will be rather superficial. All they’re doing is using Israeli comms and battlemanagement gear. They’ve talked about different EW systems, but the F-35 EW system is as good as it gets, its likely they’re just amending to their local environment. When it comes to armament its less clear. There are no Israeli weapons that are superior to US armaments already cleared (9X is better than Python 5, Derby isn’t in the same league as Amraam). There are some rather more exotic weapons (Delilah, Spice… Read more »

Paul42
Paul42
9 days ago

If the UK has any sense whatsoever they’ll stick to the original figure of 138.

ExcalibursTemplar
ExcalibursTemplar
9 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

👍

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
9 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

No figure dreamed up years ago survives – we were going to buy 99 Apache and ended up with 67. Six Type 45s instead of the required 12.
21 Nimrod MRA4 reduced to 9, then zero! etc.

John Clark
John Clark
9 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

How true, 80 ( preferably 90) F35B’s would be a sensible and sustainable number.

48 X 4 operational squadrons.
8 X OCU
4 X Trails

That’s 62, the remainder in maintenance and in use reserve.

80 would be a struggle to maintain four squadrons, unless you reduced the nominal 12 per squadron down to 9 or 10 airframes.

So four 12 aircraft squadrons would need a total fleet of 90 to effectively operate.

They are very complex aircraft and require considerable maintenance afterall.

Steve R
Steve R
8 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

I agree; 90 is the way to go for 4 squadrons. Sadly, I don’t think the treasury feels the same.

Especially given what’s going on with Russia the Treasury needs to pull their finger out and increase defence funding; 2.5% (£50 billion) a year would be fine, with maybe a £20 billion lump sum.

James
James
8 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

Truss is calling for increased defence spending to sustain the war effort with Ukraine as the justification.

Personally I really cannot see it happening. The government is under too much pressure with the cost of living crisis and the continued hangover from the pandemic.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
8 days ago
Reply to  James

Treasury receipts are at record levels?

James
James
7 days ago

As is national debt, its great getting money in when you dont have expenses to cover however the country does.

Steve R
Steve R
8 days ago
Reply to  James

The Treasury is meant to be increasing the rate of corporation tax from 19% to 25% next year, which could bring in another £30billion+ in tax revenue. Maybe they should just bring this forward to now.

James
James
7 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

Great idea, how many companies will move head offices out of the UK or scale them back as a result? How many staff will be let go or promotions/pay increases be held to cover the cost of this resulting in loss of income tax?

It sounds great on paper but it wont be without its own down sides and reduction in income for the government.

Cripes
Cripes
5 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

80 would not give 4 operational squadrons. A squadron with 12 frontline aircraft will generally have a further 3 in squadron reserve, 3 in war reserve, 1.5 in attrition reserve, so you need 19-20 aircraft to field a squadron. Then there are the aircraft needed for the OEU, OCU and Wing Commander, which will total around 11 or 12 aircraft. A 3-squadron fleet would need about 72 aircraft. If squadron strength is cut to 10 frontline aircraft, which must be a strong likelihood with the Treasuty looking to cut costs across the board then 60 F-35bs would give 3 squadrons.… Read more »

Bill
Bill
54 minutes ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Yep, all pie in the sky. If this country bought everything is set out to things would look very different today!
And BTW, people stating that 90 aircraft would be required to man just gour front line squadrons is just plain ridiculous. We don’t have that luxury and we have to cut our cloth accordingly.

Martin
Martin
9 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

I still think there is no chance tempest will deliver a manned aircraft and its highly likely the UK will end up at 138 all F35 fleet with the UK building its own UCAV/ Loyal wingman drone. I think the UK a will end up with a mixed F35B and E/Dfleet.

Last edited 9 days ago by Martin
Steve R
Steve R
8 days ago
Reply to  Martin

If Tempest doesn’t happen then we’ll need considerably more than 138 F35s seeing as they’ll have to be replacing 100+ Typhoons.

If Tempest never happens then we’d need to have 180 F35s; 90x A and 90x B. As a minimum.

Martin
Martin
8 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

Remember F35 was suppose to be the last manned fighter. I think we will end up with not much more than 100 manned aircraft supported by several hundred drones.

Steve R
Steve R
8 days ago
Reply to  Martin

I don’t mind if it’s 100 manned aircraft supported by several hundred drones. That seems pretty okay.

As long as it doesn’t end up being a few dozen manned aircraft manned by only a few dozen drones.

Whether manned or unmanned, our aircraft fleet needs to grow significantly in size.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
9 days ago

F35B obviously represents RN’s major surface offensive capability in the long run. To a great extent, MoD’s dilemma revolves around pacing introduction of additional tranches to successful block 4 assimilation in order to to the achieve RN requirement cost effectively. Luckily, Russia will have markedly accelerated LM’s commitment towards this objective!

Deep32
Deep32
9 days ago

Believe that we are going to order another 26 from Lot17 build onwards, if the article I saw on Twitter is correct!

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
9 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Interesting 👍

Deep32
Deep32
9 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Forgot to add that this came from DG Finance, AM Knighton, who was also talking about additional Boxer variants.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Good spot mate.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Sold. We’ll take that. 138 was always highly unlikely and with other commitments not even necessary or affordable.

Around 70 F35, plus Typhoon, plus UCAV, and eventually Tempest, things are developing.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
9 days ago

You never know. In 40 years time I can see the headline U.K. buys 138th F35b from final production run. If am still alive then. If the U.K. has the pilots and manpower I would think even 12-24 new typhoons would be a good buy. I would think it does have the pilots etc as they must be flying the tranche 1 just now. Unless they are marked for some other roles. Am I right in assuming that apart from tranche 1 the fleet from tranche 2 onwards are the same as tranche 4 or can be upgraded to tranche… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
8 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

I think so, I’m not the best to answer that one.

Jonathan
Jonathan
8 days ago

To be fair with a production run of 50 years, I suspect we will end up buying 138, just not operating them all at the same time, remember our present air frame will be long gone junk by they time the production line closes, as will all those purchased up to the Mid 2030s. Not forgetting the loss rate can be really high even in peace time, the U.K. lost 96 harriers between 1969 and 2009 from causes ranging from the stupid to random bad luck. So 138 purchased over a 40-50 year period will probably just be the right… Read more »

Last edited 8 days ago by Jonathan
Mr Bell
Mr Bell
9 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

God I really hope so. 26 is a good number and returns some fighting power to the RAF and equips the carriers with enough aircraft for 1 QEC deployed 24-36 aircraft and 1 in reserve with say 12 aircraft leaving a small number for RAF tasking/ Army support. Lets hope tranche1 typhoon are not sold to Putin’s allies in Serbia who have formally requested the RAF to sell them their tranche 1 aircraft with Meteor missiles. Which would be a very stupid thing to do. Chance of meteor being immediately sent to Russia and China for analysis and reverse engineering… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
8 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

There is lots of sensitive design tech even in T1 Typhoon.

Sii oh it would only go to close allies.

Trouble is the Typhoon is a expensive beast to run so it is very hard to think of anyone who hasn’t got them already who could afford to run them?

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
8 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Luckily Meteor is not compatible with Tranche 1. I actually hope we, the German’s, Italians and Spanish get together and gift our T1’s to Ukraine to replace their SU-27 postwar. Sweden can chip in with stored Gripen C to replace MiG-29. If we could then justify getting 15 or so Typhoon ECR alongside the German’s it would be a boost for Warton and keep them ticking over until Tempest (and provide tech developments for that) and be a big increase in capability for the RAF and NATO who are really short in EW aircraft. The ECR retains all its other… Read more »

Mark
Mark
9 days ago

Don’t get hopes up Block 4 is over 7 years away 2029, by the time it’s available to UK our first tranche of jets will be nearly a decade old and the weapons will no doubt be the same so a new replacements will be needed costing millions and years of development time. So much so that energy weapons will be soon available and then that’s leaves the block 4 update with its self being out of date with the weapons now becoming available. That then leaves us with just ASRAAM and payway IV as our primary weapon for our… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
9 days ago
Reply to  Mark

To be fair, it’s primary role is to deliver HE on targets! Unfortunately or not, it also has to multi task, so the sooner Blk4 update arrives, the better for all F35 users.

Mark
Mark
9 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Yeah but the pilot literally has to be over the target to drop a HE bomb putting him and £80million of aircraft at risk of SAM missles. The complete clust#££[email protected] of Lockheed Martin to role out block 4 on time means we cannot us a Spear 3 and fire it 80 miles away keeping it out of SAM reach and also leaving a creator 20ft across.

Last edited 9 days ago by Mark
Deep32
Deep32
9 days ago
Reply to  Mark

LM certainly aren’t covering themselves in glory WRT Blk4, 16 years since it flew and in a strike role can still only drop bombs (UK version), Blk 4 can’t come soon enough!!

Daveyb
Daveyb
9 days ago
Reply to  Mark

Don’t forget AMRAAM AIM-120Ds, still the dog’s danglies until Meteor is fitted.

John N
John N
9 days ago
Reply to  Mark

That’s not completely accurate, Block 4 is not seven years away, eg, 2029. What is accurate is that Block 4 will be ‘completed’ in 2029. The F-35 fleet is already receiving Blk 4 software drops, and will continue to receive many software drops up to and including 2029. The other component of Blk 4, is the Tech Refresh 3 (TR3) hardware upgrade, which is due to hit the production line late next year, 2023. If you have a look at the GAO report that’s just been released, it’s lists the timeline and number of Blk 4 software drops per annum… Read more »

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
9 days ago
Reply to  John N

Thanks John. Interesting read.

Challenger
Challenger
9 days ago

It’s being reported by various people on twitter that the funding will be for another tranche of 26 jets to result in 74 purchased and 73 (minus the one lost) in total.

Appears the 4 squadron plan has been dropped as 3 are now mentioned.

To be honest still not a terrible result considering there was some real concerns that the total would be capped at 48 or only creep up to 60ish.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 days ago
Reply to  Challenger

It’s a great result IMO. As long as they’re all Bs.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
9 days ago

Wouldn’t the RAF like As and Bs? Finger in many pies.

Dern
Dern
9 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Not sure they would as it would result in more training burden and more spares. I think specific Air Generals (or whatever the flyers call themselves these days) want A’s so they don’t have to play in a joint environment, but stuff those dinosaurs.

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Let’s hope sense prevails.

expat
expat
8 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Isn’t the A much cheaper to buy and fly. The B is comparable to the Typhoon in cost per hour whilst the A’s cost continues to fall. The A also brings larger payload bay, a higher G rated airframe and range benefits. So it adds capabilities over the B. The A will also get the variable bypass engine if that goes ahead where as the B is now likely to get stuck with the F135 with limited improvements. If the cost of operating the A continues to fall, and why wouldn’t it as numbers increase, it could easily offset other… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
8 days ago
Reply to  expat

There is an issue with the F35’s Pratt & Whitney F135 engine. The power turbine and intermediate turbine has an applied protective coating. This has been overheating and causing hairline cracks to develop in the blades. This has meant the engines being pulled for maintenance earlier than the scheduled period. What’s more is that there are not enough spare engines. So the US in particular has had aircraft grounded due to a lack of serviceable engines. This has been a particular problem for the USMC, as vertical landings place the greatest strain on the engine. Pratt & Whitney (P&W) have… Read more »

expat
expat
8 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

As always a good post. There one further aspect and that is DEWs. More efficient engines will allow surplus energy and cooling to be diverted to DEWs. Its more likely the A and C will get these before the B. The USMC also has Cs, so they could afford to wait longer for B upgrades. Personally I think the UK should consider the A version and do a capability vs cost comparison.

Dern
Dern
8 days ago
Reply to  expat

Cool, so now you have to have two whole lines of spares because the engines are different. You also need two completely separate training pipelines, and if you need a pilot to switch from one squadron to another it’s going to be complicated, a subset of your F-35 pilots won’t be carrier qualified anymore… The idea that the B won’t get upgraded as time goes on is silly, as all three versions are in use with various branches of the US Armed Forces. And the cost of the B is also falling (because the factors that drive the cost of… Read more »

expat
expat
7 days ago
Reply to  Dern

I understand all the above and that’s why I ended my comment stating a proper cost/capability comparison should be done rather than dismissing the notion without proper analysis. As for the FAA note operating the A, well the USMC operate the B and C. Maintenance training will be more of an issue than pilot training to be fair. But also what we would be doing is possibly excluding ourselves from US and other allies maintenance contracts, we’ve setup facilities it may be more difficult to renew these contract as the A and C diverse for the B with us only… Read more »

Dern
Dern
7 days ago
Reply to  expat

The USMC are a branch of the Department of the Navy and operate off of the CVN’s as well as LHD’s and austere small airfields. They are also aquireing nearly 400 F-35’s, not 70, to replace 5 separate Airframes. So the USMC is *not* a good comparison. As for the USMC not wanting to update it’s B’s: Their ratio is about 50 C’s to 350 B’s. Yes they will want to update the B, it will not “only be us operating the latter.” IF the RAF where ordering 400 F-35’s you might have a point, but at as small a… Read more »

expat
expat
6 days ago
Reply to  Dern

So OK what about all the positive aspects like forward operating out of our allies F35A bases, longer range, higher G, longer airframe life. The A’s airframe can afterburn for longer without destroying the stealth coatings. Larger payload and larger number of certified weapons, look at the way is really war situation the West is burning through munitions donated to Ukraine!!!. Having more options is not a bad thing. All the above enhance our capability. So the USMC is a bad example but Japan is buying A and Bs. Why did Japan order F35B’s, ah yes they wanted the capability… Read more »

Challenger
Challenger
9 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

They probably would if a larger fleet was being procured (50 F35B for the carriers and 90 F35A for example) but if the total is going to top out at around 70 the RAF will know it’s just too wasteful and inefficient to have small fleets within fleets.

expat
expat
6 days ago
Reply to  Challenger

We’ll always have fleets with fleets, we’ll have different blocks of F35B’s.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I hope not.

Having bought the carriers, it makes no sense buying the A.

Unless Tempest is canned, in which case A will be bought instead I suspect.

Graham
Graham
9 days ago

RAF don’t just operate from carriers. They have air bases on land too. They could lobby for A’s to augment Typhoon fleet ie to replace Tranche 1 Typhoon. RAF is good at playing politics to strengthen their capability.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
8 days ago
Reply to  Graham

They do indeed Graham! Only a handful, mind. There were 8 stations in 97/98, down to just 3 today basing fast jets.

If A’s arrived they’d be replacing, in effect, Tornado GR4, as our dedicated Strike assets have gone and there are too few multi role fast jets for all tasks required.

I’m glad the RAF are good at playing politics.

David Barry
David Barry
8 days ago

Hi, you said three air bases, does that include Cyprus? Estonia? Lithuania?

During the twilight zone last I was deeply engaged in reading Modern Railways and listening to a Youtube in background – interesting snippet that your comment recalls is that F22s (!) Were kept over a certain ME combat zone weapons spent because of their sensors and other networked capabilities…

F35s will bring a step change in that capability, I would hope; we have many runways we can fly from.

(Will try to find video).

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
7 days ago
Reply to  David Barry

Hi David.

No, it doesn’t. I referred to peace time UK based RAF stations only, not for deployments or dispersal.
UK stations with the required HAS, RAF Reg FPW, GPSS and all the other required components to a fast jet RAF Station.
So Coningsby, Marham, Lossimouth.

Previous were Wittering, Cottesemore, Coltishall, Leuchars, Leeming.
Going back further, Wattisham, and even further plenty more.

We do indeed have many runways, and some others which could host fast air but not always with the trimmings.

Dern
Dern
8 days ago
Reply to  Graham

Tell that to 617 sqn…

Steve R
Steve R
8 days ago

Fully agree.

Pointless buying A unless we get at least 180 of them; 90x A and 90x B.

Klonkie
Klonkie
7 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

Agreed in principal Steve, but would suggest a split buy is feasible on the “planned”138 unit buy. However, cynicism based on experience tells me well be lucky to see 80, so B it is.

expat
expat
8 days ago

F35A has more range, can pull 9G, has a larger payload bay and therefore more weapons options. Its cheaper to buy and fly, as its operated by more countries we can operate and sustain for other NATO bases. Lastly the A will more likely get a more advance engine giving it more range again. We need more B’s but lets not dismiss what the A brings to the party.

Klonkie
Klonkie
7 days ago
Reply to  expat

Hi Expat, I’m of the same view as you. A split buy is feasible on the “planned”138 unit buy.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
9 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Bad idea getting a split F35 fleet (As+Bs). Only 30% commonality. Means training, spares, repairs, logistics etc will all be duplicated and in the long run more expensive.

expat
expat
6 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

How’s the 30% commonality split? If these parts are not maintain at all ie bulkheads, brackets, skin or are only done at the heavy MRO facilities its not very relevant as the FAA/RAF will not be consuming or maintaining them.

Challenger
Challenger
9 days ago

Yep, all B’s and hopefully delivered by around 2030 (know they’ll want block 4 onwards) so the earlier examples aren’t already long in the tooth.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
9 days ago

I had never heard speculation that the buy would be capped at 48. Where did that come from? That is so much adrift of the 138 figure it could not possibly be true.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Back at the SDSR. The usual paper talk and utterly groundless rumour mongering that gets people excited.

farouk
farouk
9 days ago

Talking about the RAF , just been sent this: Apparently when Lincolnshire County Council were widening the road past RAF Scampton’s main gate in about 1958, the ‘gate guards’ there had to be moved to make way for the new carriageway. Scampton was the WWII home of 617 Sqn, and said “gate guards” were a Lancaster…and a Grand Slam bomb. When they went to lift the Grand Slam, thought for years to just be an empty casing, with an RAF 8 Ton Coles Crane, it wouldn’t budge. “Oh, it must be filled with concrete” they said. Then somebody had a… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
9 days ago
Reply to  farouk

That is one scary fuck up, in-fact it may be one of the most scary fuck ups I have heard about. I’m looking that one of for my “human factors in risk” or “if you can think of it some idiot will do it” course.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
9 days ago
Reply to  farouk

Whoops. Things were a bit more lax in those days. My grandad was electrical engineer with 617 for the duration of ww2. He said if the big bombs were loaded that he tried to be as far away as possible in case there was a problem on takeoff!

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
8 days ago
Reply to  farouk

I heard that one too…..never sure if it was true or an apocryphal story?

Warren
Warren
9 days ago

We really need to increase the buy of Eurofighters if we don’t buy the full compliment of f-35’s within a sensible time

Steve R
Steve R
8 days ago
Reply to  Warren

To be honest, even if we do.

Even if we got 90-100 F35s in the next 5 years (not going to happen, I know!) we should still buy more Typhoons, if nothing else to replace the T1s going by 2025.

Mark Franks
Mark Franks
9 days ago

This is nothing new. No surprise there then.

Jay R
Jay R
9 days ago

Common sense would tell you the requirement should be 60 F35B for the FAA, and 60 F35A for the RAF. Typhoon (and all 4th gen fighters, as per Germanys change from the Super Hornet to F35A) will quickly face obsolescence. Tempest will face prolonged delays. F35A will fill that gap for the RAF. The F35B is a compromise, perfectly suited to carriers, but not for the RAF (in RAF use the lift fan is a weight burden). But what the f*ck do I know

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
9 days ago
Reply to  Jay R

As is all to often forgotten it’s not just the platform but the systems and ability of weapons on the platform. Also the pilot ability, training and tactics will plays a massive role in how good an aircraft is. There are only a few nations that could come close to the raf typhoon abilities and luckily most of them are friendly. In an ideal world the U.K. would have 130 f35b for carriers and land use. Another 100 f35A for strike, more typhoons and 36 B21 raider, more E-7, P-8, sentinel replacement etc etc. it starts hitting USA levels of… Read more »

Sean
Sean
8 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

“United States of Europe”…. 😂

Thank god for NATO!

Graham
Graham
9 days ago
Reply to  Jay R

RAF F35Bs operate alongside FAA aircraft on carriers and so have the same mission, so don’t follow your comment.

expat
expat
8 days ago
Reply to  Graham

Jay is not wrong the A is cheaper, it pulls more G, has more range, a larger payload bay, its operated by other allies so we can forward deploy to their bases knowing it can be supported. Lastly the A will get more upgrades whilst the B is looking increasingly niche. Makes no sense to cart around a lift fan with all its penalties if some of fleet will operate from conventional fields.

Paul.P
Paul.P
8 days ago
Reply to  Jay R

How about 60 F35B and 60 F35C…..bring back the Buccaneer!

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
9 days ago

Something to consider for those advocating urgent buys to increase RAF aircraft numbers. 1) It reportedly takes ~4 years to recruit and train a pilot to the point they complete their conversion training to Typhoon or F35. That still doesn’t deliver an experienced combat pilot on those platforms. So unless we have already planned for increased numbers of pilots, any uplift in aircraft will lack for pilots in that 4-year interim. 2) Ordering additional latest block Typhoons, say 20-24, would almost certainly reduce Tempest numbers on a 1-for-1 basis. This would drive up costs, the opposite of what is a… Read more »

Last edited 9 days ago by Glass Half Full
John Clark
John Clark
9 days ago

I would assume that ‘if’ the Mod was considering increasing fighter squadrons (no evidence they plan any changes from SDSR2021 as yet) then the very first step would be to offer good bonuses ( various golden handshakes) to RAF
and FAA pilots and key engineering staff to sign on again.

You could keep the present aircrew training pipeline, ‘if’ you could convince enough people to remain in the service. The numbers would steadily rise naturally as turnover was reduced.

David Barry
David Barry
8 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Oh please, stop being so sensible!

We’ll just call on the USMC to make up the numbers…

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
8 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

That would certainly help if successful, but its still not going to be an instant increase unless we are seeing a large number of departures each year relative to the current number of pilots.

The other point I didn’t bother to make is that there is no immediate availability of Typhoons or F35, so even if hypothetically we could get the uplift in pilots tomorrow, we are still dependent on aircraft manufacturing lead time in the context of the overall demand for already existing orders from other customers.

Mike Phelps
Mike Phelps
9 days ago

Thought we were having 138 aircraft in total, we need to create more squadrons and open new strike bases.

Frank62
Frank62
8 days ago
Reply to  Mike Phelps

That could be very prudent. But prudent is not what our leaders want. They want a few shiney jets but less budget & less bases so the real estate can be sold off to their mates. I wonder how many of the airbases closed over the last 20 years could ever be returned to RAF use?

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
9 days ago

Good news but in what time scale. Orders of 60, 70 and 80 have been mentioned with 138 still being there. So in my book we go for slightly smaller squadrons of ten aircraft each, as in the USN and USMC, four for the RN to allow operational flexibility with drones; two RAF dedicated with a joint OCU/trials outfit. Seventy five to eighty aircraft altogether.
Pushing my luck but I would love to see Typhoon strength taken up ten squadrons of ten, integrated with the two F35 squadrons.

Chris
Chris
9 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

The RAF wants A model’s for a dedicated land based force. Eager to prove their power projection concept works.

Also requires the Voyagers to be fitted with booms. Expen$ive.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
9 days ago
Reply to  Chris

If money is available for that level of expenditure then great but only after we have enough F35Bs to make a decent carrier strike for so 70+ aircraft. Hopefully posts mentioning a 26 aircraft purchase are correct then and only then after a further 26 B versions are bought should the RAF be allowed to consider the A variant.

Gary
Gary
8 days ago
Reply to  Chris

I believe the A version can be built with he drogue type refueling probe so booms on Voyagers not required.

Sean
Sean
8 days ago
Reply to  Chris

No they don’t, because they don’t want the increased logistical costs of yet another fighter type.

expat
expat
8 days ago
Reply to  Sean

Are you 100% sure the A will add to the costs. Its already a lot cheaper to buy and fly than the B whilst offering more capability. Its likely the cost of the A will continue to fall as more enter service.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
8 days ago
Reply to  Chris

The RAF has never said it wants the A. Its just Internet speculation.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
8 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Indeed. What the RAF HAS said they want is Tempest, precisely because it will deliver capabilities well in excess of F35A.

Max Bridges
Max Bridges
9 days ago

80 is a solid number but the A version should be looked at again if we are going to be policing European skies due to its longer range and better payload capabilities

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
9 days ago

So another 12 (or 13 😅😆🤣) aircraft to take us to 60 F35Bs pending decision on more.
The devil is in the detail. Hopefully more than 12/13 aircraft.

Sean
Sean
8 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Another 26 confirmed.

Airborne
Airborne
9 days ago

Good news, contrary to what the not so aware continue to comment, this is an excellent 5th gen asset, ideally suited for the RNs doctrine (maybe not as much for the RAF) and will be in service into the future, all 3 versions, in as many airforces, as was and is the F16! And seeing the skill set of our Russkie potential opposition, it would seem the argument that numbers are a quality of its own is false. Small numbers, top tech, highly trained people and fully supported logistically, is still the way forward. Minimum 60 to be viable, would… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
8 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

Spot on Airborne, Russia’s embarrassing performance has shown that very large quantities of mediocrity will be torn to shreds by well trained and equipped small forces. As said, though the Chinese are certainly more professional than the Russians, they still rely on rigid command structures and mass conscription. They have a thin layer of high tech, but the vast bulk of their military, is low tech brute force by numbers. I would imagine the Chinese have watched and digested Russian failure with great interest and steadily increased discomfort! Interestingly, there is another example of a Ukrainian type invasion, that went… Read more »

Matt C
Matt C
8 days ago

Do please remember that the Falklands War which was highly influential to British doctrine was fought with about 35 Harriers in total, which was practically the entire extant fleet of both Army and Navy types. Hence, 48 of a much more capable platform, while certainly not perhaps as imposing as the 100-cab carrier air wings of USN yore, is not a number to be taken lightly. Furthermore, Finland committed to a total of 64 F-35s based on extensive wargaming and I’m sure this data also informs the RN buy. I of course would be very glad to see the carriers… Read more »

Steve Salt
Steve Salt
6 days ago
Reply to  Matt C

How many Army Harriers went to the Falklands ?

CAPT Robvious
CAPT Robvious
8 days ago

Been released that we’re ordering another 26 as per the following article

https://www.navylookout.com/uk-to-purchase-at-least-74-f-35-jets/

Frank62
Frank62
8 days ago

Apart from AAW, what can our F35Bs do at the moment(right now) with the cuurrent weaponry stocks & software?

Steve
Steve
8 days ago
Reply to  Frank62

They have paveway bombs, so can do some limtied ground attack roles. At least I think the integration has been done for it.

Last edited 8 days ago by Steve
Frank62
Frank62
8 days ago
Reply to  Steve

So our carriers can’t even supply naval strike against enemy warships with medium/long range SAMs due to no AShMs.

Armchair Admiral
Armchair Admiral
7 days ago
Reply to  Frank62

It’s unbelievable that the F35 does not have the “open architecture” style software that has been claimed for other systems to allow easy integration of new weapons. The Tacitus CMS for the T31 is (apparently) able to easily add different weapons. Obviously it’s a bit different for an aircraft but even so. Unless LM is genuinely having development issues, which at this level is not good enough, it smacks of not bothering to integrate better foreign weapons systems. After all, who would not want to carry Meteor missiles or employ swarms or networking Spear 3 both explosive and EW varieties?… Read more »

David Barry
David Barry
8 days ago

With the advent of loyal wingman drones, could we see the F35B Squadrons halved in numbers of F35B planes and pilots but with comcommitant drones, but doubled in numbers of Squadrons – it would make a great Defence investment headline for the Redtops.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
7 days ago

Interesting to note that the F-15C has just been retired from Europe and will be replaced with the newer version with up to 200 aircraft.

I wonder why they failed to choose the F-35?

https://www.warhistoryonline.com/news/us-air-force-2.html