The head of the Royal Air Force has confirmed plans to purchase 74 F-35B jets adding that it is “possible” the UK may eventually have a fleet of 138 F-35s.

The specific number was revealed by Air Marshal Knighton during a Defence Select Committee meeting:

“I have said this to the Public Accounts Committee, and I will set it out for Committee members here. We have on contract to deliver 48 F-35B aircraft. As part of our planning assumption in the IR and SR that we have just been through, we have assumed an increase of a further 26 F-35B aircraft, which would take the total fleet to 74.

We have said that the decision about further purchase, beyond that 74, will be taken in the middle of the decade, in the context of what we decide to do on our Future Combat Air System programme. It is perfectly plausible to imagine a situation in which we could have the fleet of 138 F-35s that we originally described back in the early 2000s.”

Knighton added:

“We are in the process of negotiating that additional purchase beyond the 48 with the Joint Program Office and with Lockheed Martin. The Secretary of State has been very clear that the final commitment that we make to those aircraft will be dependent on the Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin demonstrating improvements in cost associated with support and the integration of UK weapons. But we have set aside the budget for that increase and for the additional infrastructure, support costs and people associated with it.”

How will the fleet look I hear you ask? Knighton answered that too.

“All 74 aircraft would be operational, but inevitably you will have a number that are in the operational conversion unit, teaching pilots to fly for the first time on the aircraft, and a number that will be going through routine maintenance.

We are talking about a relatively new aircraft that will evolve, in terms of its maintenance cycle, over the next decade, but we would expect, for a fleet of that size, probably about 20% of them—something like that—to be in maintenance at any one time.

If you want rough numbers, about 15 of them will be in maintenance, but as I said, that will evolve as we understand more about how we maintain this thing and how long it takes. That would leave you with 60-odd in the forward fleet.”

We reported recently that funding had been delegated for an additional tranche of F-35B jets for Britain beyond the 48 already ordered.

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 former First Sea Lord said during a webcast earlier this year that the UK intends to purchase between 60-80 jets for four deployable squadrons, this matches with the above confirmation.

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

This 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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Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
16 days ago

First flown on 11.06.2008 Clearly, they will have to take into account the Block 4 upgrade (2029) and the cost of upgrading the engine. An odd way to describe the F-35B! “If you want rough numbers, about 15 of them will be in maintenance, but as I said, that will evolve as we understand more about how we maintain this thing and how long it takes.” 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… Read more »

Last edited 16 days ago by Nigel Collins
Sean
Sean
16 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

That idea isn’t going to fly if you pardon the pun. The C is only used by the US Navy and is the most troublesome if the 3 variants, while the B is notching up increasing numbers of new sales to other countries.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
16 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Is there reason to be concerned about the future support of the F135 engine and its longevity?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
16 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Not really.

There are enough out there and ordered in NATO and others that stopping supporting the F135 would cause outrage.

The problem is that there isn’t really a power development pathway for the F135.

Annoying that RR wasn’t allowed to run with the power pack for the B variant.

Expat
Expat
16 days ago

The RR/GE engine developed for the F35 was arguably a better power plant.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
16 days ago
Reply to  Expat

Very possibly. There was a long discussion about using the RR/GE variant fir the B as RR had all the VLOT experience from Pegasus. If UK Gov had pushed a bit harder that would probably have come to pass. As it was that option was sacrificed to – commonality (not really as the B version is quite different); and – cod savings in R&D as well as supply chain as the F35 program was so behind and over budget. Anyway it is credible and it works and it looks like we are buying enough to do what we need to… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
16 days ago

I’ve always been under the impression that LM would be quite happy to end B model production at the earliest possible date, 2030 ‘ish’.

Certainly concentrating on A and C common upgrades, Engine, avionics etc, (ultimately concentrating on advanced A model variants out to 2040, plus) would simplify life for LM considerably.

With no roadmap for ‘B’ engine upgrades, it’s very telling indeed….

Longtime
Longtime
16 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

That might be LMs wishes but if the market buys more A and B surely it would make financial sense for them to carry on airframe and power plant development

John Clark
John Clark
15 days ago
Reply to  Longtime

You might think so, but apparently there is zero intention to further modify the B, in relation to powerplant.

I think development of the B has been so torturous, they have no intention to go down that route again…

More power would no doubt mean modifications to the clutch, drivetrain, lift fan, puffer jets etc, etc and you can guarantee lots of futher cans of worms opened.

Longtime
Longtime
15 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Yes I see LMs point but if they don’t answer the markets wants then it leaves them open to third parties filling the gab I’m sure given RR previous project involvement and years supporting VSTOL power plants could probably eek out improvements.
Be a waste not to continue developing in my eyes

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
15 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

There are 2 upgrade paths for the F-135 to give additional thrust, efficiency and thermal management. They’re not on the same scale (or challenge) of the proposed Adaptive engine tech for the F-35A but they’re still significant. But…its very unlikely we’d see an Adaptive Cycle engine on any F-35A or C before 2030+. Even then it would need to be ordered and cut into new production or be a signifcant retrofit to existing F-35’s. Given that by then at least 1,500 F-35 will have been built I suspect the market will be small for it, thats if it even happens.… Read more »

George Parker
George Parker
15 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

All the more reason to push for the “A” version for the RAF. While simultaneously approaching RR to start licence production of the F35B engines and upgrades. With the numbers being sold and the US LM potentially halting production. There will be a very lucrative market for replacement engines. We did after all contribute to the F35 project and deserve a slice of the pie.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
16 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

F135 Will be supported as long as F35s remain in service, which could be out to 2070. And F135 just like the EJ200 in Typhoon has considerable growth potential in both increasing thrust and electrical output. Just like the airframe, it’s early day’s in its development cycle. 👍

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
15 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Both the proposed engine developments are only compatible with A and C variants as they are longer and intrude into the lift fan space.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
15 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

The power upgrade to F135 too? That surprises me if true as an article I read last year suggested only if the GE engine was selected would over the upgraded PW power plant would the B version be dialled out of further thrust upgrades. Have things. changed since then or was that article incorrect? As just the general upgrades of airframes and I internals themselves tend to make gradual thrust upgrades desirable as an aircraft matures and develops that would be concerning longer term.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
15 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

There were 3 engine upgrade options appraisals being funded. A new Adaptive Cycle Engine the XA100 by GE with 25% more power/Fuel Efficency A new Adaptive Cycle Engine the XA101 by P&W with 25% more power/FE An engine upgrade: the F135 Engine Enhancement Package EEP with 10% more power for A/C and 5% more power for the Liftfan on B with 50% more engine heat dissipation capacity on that version (trading off power on B for cooler operation). P&W have for the last couple of years been lobbying for option 3 saying that a new engine is too expensive for F-35,… Read more »

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
15 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Will the the UK explore a vstol/naval used versions of the Tempest or Taranis or, even a more evolved version of the F-35B in jv with the US partners? Wasn’t there talk of a new F-35 variant earlier on? Do we know if there’s any potential for a partnership with the US with Tempest?

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
15 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

*navalised

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
15 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Forgot to mention the Vixen.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
15 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

The UK has officially ruled out a carrier version of Tempest (though its supporting drones may be carrier launched). The UK hasnt shown any interest in participating in the two US 6th gen fighter programs as its looking for a domestic or mostly domestic aircraft that has greater UK share than F-35 (equal or greater than Typhoon). There are currently 4 versions of the F-35, A to C and the Israeli F-35I which uses non standard Israeli electronic warfare systems and has the operating system unlocked so they can make their own code changes and domestically integrate their own equipment/weapons.… Read more »

Last edited 15 days ago by Watcherzero
Quentin D63
Quentin D63
15 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Thanks for your reply. All these differences, maybe they should be looking at a dual use fuel probe for future? It’s a shame RR couldn’t have got more work on the main power plant, as already mentioned above, even licence production. I think the lift fan is fully integrated with the shaft of the P&W F135 but I might wrong there? I wonder even if a twin engined version might be considered down the track for A,C, even B models, making it an almost a mini-Tempest? Good to see the additional numbers being ordered, but wish they’d just round it… Read more »

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
16 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

The American navy don’t deploy a carrier without an air wing embarked and the royal navy should have the same policy.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
16 days ago
Reply to  Andy reeves

The Americans do deploy there carriers without an air wing if that’s what is required. Sometimes you seem them being used as what can only be described as carpark. Cars on the flight deck. The Royal Navy is getting back into the carrier game so doesn’t have full wings of aircraft to fill the decks. Also the U.K. f35b are shared assets and take on other roles. I don’t get what people expect. What’s the point in taken jets to sea for a 2 week exercise where jets are not required. Is it for the jets to sit in the… Read more »

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
15 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

A wasp is very different to a QE. It’s folly to deploy a full-sized aircraft carrier without it’s air wings. The RN doesn’t deploy it’s T45, T23 with AA or AS missile teams. The same argument you have used Monkey Spanker for an air wing is the same one could use for many specialities on a ship. You maintain proficiency & efficiency by training and deploying. Not be keeping the jets at home, where they are hardly any use. I wouldn’t personally bother to order any more F35B varients now we know the death of the F135 is all but… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy reeves

I agree.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
15 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

The Americans have a completely different deployment schedule for it’s carrier’s compared to the RN and any other EU based carrier’s. Mainly because US carrier’s have to cross the Atlantic or Pacific to get anywhere of interest. They can’t just pop over to Norway or nip down to the Mediterranean for a 3-4 week exercise then head home like we can. After refit and operational sea training, US carrier’s then deploy for 7,8 or 9 months, sometimes longer. Because any less simply isn’t cost effective or worth the trip across the pond that also requires considerable support from tankers and… Read more »

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy reeves

The Americans have a completely different deployment schedule for it’s carrier’s compared to the RN and any other EU based carrier’s. Mainly because US carrier’s have to cross the Atlantic or Pacific to get anywhere of interest. They can’t just pop over to Norway or nip down to the Mediterranean for a 3-4 week exercise then head home like we can. After refit and operational sea training, US carrier’s then deploy for 7,8 or 9 months, sometimes longer. Because any less simply isn’t cost effective or worth the trip across the pond that also requires considerable support from tankers and… Read more »

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
15 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

That’s what I was trying to say. The Royal Navy, Italian, Spanish carriers go on a small week long trip and everyone is panicking about no jets and go on about America doesn’t do it like this. American carriers don’t always take a full or any air wing when doing these little week long deployments. But we only see the long deployments for American carriers. If comparing to Americans the U.K. has only done one deployment and that was to the Far East. The raf F35b are not just sitting at home base waiting for carriers. They do lots of… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
14 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Not at all. F35B has a very bright future. People forget the quantum leap in capability compared to the Harrier. Harrier GR7/9 was superb for what it was designed to do. But it was subsonic, no stealth, and limited range/payload. F35 is in another league, even compared to Typhoon, as good as that platform is. Very good reason why its winning every fighter competition going. The price and delays are not putting anyone off.

James
James
14 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Then you get the people saying bring back the harrier and in the same sentence slagging the F35B off for lack of range, its borderline comical.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
14 days ago
Reply to  James

Some folks have some very short sighted views that’s for sure 👍

maurice10
maurice10
16 days ago

Good news for once! Now, let’s get the land component sorted and introduce as many of the Ajax vehicles we can and tackle the R&D issues as we go. Waiting for a perfect soloution could take years, a intrim sign off level is needed to get the blasted vehicle in service.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
16 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

You can accept into service an equipment with qualifications/caveats, so that might be possible with Ajax, however the caveats limiting crew exposure times and restricting performance (lmiting reverse passage over steps) may prove onerous.

maurice10
maurice10
16 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

The burning issue is Ukraine and how it has placed Europe on a war footing. We do not know how long this conflict will last and how stressful it will be for bordering states. The British Government is committing its land forces across a broad line of operations and the Army urgently needs more assessts now. In WW1 the tank was introduced and I doubt any tanker would have been overjoyed by its NVH? In truth, the MOD should introduce those Ajax family vehicles that meet minimum standards and introduce in-service updates when and where possible. Obviously, not ideal, but… Read more »

Steve
Steve
15 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

Ukraine war has demonstrated the Russia is toast. They will take decades to recover from it, if they are able to (unlikely as most of the gear is from soviet era when they had more money) and so Europe is safe. Even if Russia somehow pulls it out of the bag and defeats Ukraine (it seems the reverse is more likely at this point) they won’t have the gear to anything further.

maurice10
maurice10
15 days ago
Reply to  Steve

I wish I had your optimism, If no formal declaration of peace is signed between the two sides and Russia remains determined to hold what it describes as a vital territory, then the rest of Europe will be nervous about the stability of the whole region. We can not downgrade Russian military strength based on conventional forces alone, their nuclear strength remains intact and a threat. I’m convinced Putin is looking at the use of low-yield battlefield tactical nuclear weapons, as a last resort if he faces defeat? Such weapons were always a strong possibility during the Cold War, if… Read more »

Steve
Steve
15 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

I don’t think so, Ukraine war is basically a bank job. Russia is there is take the industrial/farm lands from Ukraine. Using nukes is counter productive as it would mean the land would be ruined forever. Additionally I’m pretty convinced Putin is playing the longer game, working on the assumption he can grab the land and then enter peace talks on the basis that the west drop the sanctions and release the frozen cash. Using nukes would make that extremely difficult. Russia’s approach as been very logical to date, even if it has been an organisational mess. If NATO was… Read more »

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
15 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Behind the scenes I expect the disaffected oligarchs are showing real signs of being unhappy with Putin and his lapdogs I’d put money on Putin being ousted within three years

Steve
Steve
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy reeves

If he doesn’t manage to take enough of Ukraine and hand over to them the natural resources, then yeah. He won’t be ousted, he will be taken out

Steve
Steve
15 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Then again his made them super wealthy for many years, that probably buys him some time.

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
15 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

The UK government needs to pull its collective finger out of an orifice. There’s been a great deal of activity across the UK Armed Forces, yet no cessation to the Army cut, no injection of cash that’s required to get all the assets currently awaiting parts and upgrades urgently resolved. While our Forces have upped their tempo, the government hasn’t. Germany, Eastern European and Baltic nations, a too have other NATO countries. Yet HMG feels the November 2020 increase is enough? It’s another case of bungling Boris walking into a crisis. The Ukraine conflict will expand through to eastern Europe.… Read more »

James
James
14 days ago
Reply to  Ianbuk

Which magical place do you expect the UK to find the money from exactly?

The MOD got an injection of cash last year which was very unexpected in the pandemic, the NHS and cost of living crisis will now take priority.

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
14 days ago
Reply to  James

The increase in N.I, taxation & additional revenue now enjoyed by the Exchequer is now nearly £15bn more a month than last year.

It’s simple, we either afford it & cut costs elsewhere, or we allow Putin & Xi to continue their policy of displacing the UK in our traditional nations of influence. The Armed forces are in dire need of a cash injection to just get up to the level required to do the job.

The hi-tech equipment costs money. In many instances it requires government funding to progress bleeding-edge development.

James
James
13 days ago
Reply to  Ianbuk

The national insurance increase is ring fenced for the NHS that is very well communicated.

With the current tight rope situation of politics as it is how do you think the public would react to increased defence expenditure whilst cutting other services such as police or education? It isn’t going to happen.

The additional monthly income would be great if we didn’t also have to pay back all the furlough money that was borrowed for a start.

We do not have the money to plough into defence.

Ian M
Ian M
14 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Reverse step meets UK MOD requirements. LoU still being worked and “ticked off”.

Andy A
Andy A
16 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

No way ajax not fit for purpose and accepting it will mean paying fully which leaves us unable to claw cash back in court

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
16 days ago
Reply to  Andy A

If Ajax can’t work then it can’t be deployed. No way are service personnel to go deaf because of mistakes.
It will be fixed or cancelled

Longtime
Longtime
16 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

LNo way are service personnel to go deaf because of mistakes.
It will be fixed or cancelled” that should be followed above all else. It doesn’t matter how great an asset it could be if everybody who uses it gets damaged. Doesn’t really provide the crew with protection if the vehicle causes physical injury.

Last edited 16 days ago by Longtime
Andy A
Andy A
15 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Totally agree we shouldn’t accept it at 5billion just cos army is desperate. If it’s not fit then U.K. shouldn’t pay

maurice10
maurice10
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy A

All very sensible and if the situation was different and the MOD had no pressing commitments then you are correct. However, we ain’t in that fortunate place and Europe is on the brink of years of facing off a Russian and possibly, other foes? UK armoured history is hot with poor equipment, Conquer being one case in point, followed by Chieftain which, never got all of its shortfalls sorted. Sadly, we had a raging Cold War to face and a desperate need to modernise, so Chieftain underwent many upgrades during its service. We can do the same with Ajax or… Read more »

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
15 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

Would you go to work tomorrow if you were getting put in a bone shaking machine that will effect you hearing? Just because they are soldiers does not mean they can be treated like trash. When riding around the crew need their brains to be working effectively to fight. They won’t be able to if that vehicle makes them to unwell to function. My personal view is strip some of the armour off for the recon variant if that fixes the issues. So long as it can stop machine gun fire and fragments that should be ok for its recon… Read more »

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
15 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

In the navy I was down in the engine room after twelve years my hearing is going and do you know what? Not once was I, or anyone else given ear defenders of any kind

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy reeves

In the past yes health and safety was lax but hopefully today it’s better.
I don’t think the army would want Ajax If it can’t be sorted. it’s not what was ordered. It’s meant to be a sneaky recon asset and it sounds like a tractor pulling a broken plow doing the motorway with no exhaust.
As someone in a recon unit put it he vehicle should be quiet, fast and easy to deploy. if meets a target pop smoke and run fast, firing if needed.
The sensors should be on a raisable mast and offboard sensors integrated.

Ian M
Ian M
14 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Hi MS. Generally, your posts are spot on, however you’re not on point with the “Bone shaker” reference. AJAX, ARES et al are good cabbies X country (where it matters) with a compliant ride. Stripping armour isn’t the panacea everybody seems to think it is. The platform has to meet MOD requirements regarding crew protection levels. Having bounced around Canada in 432, Chieftain, Warrior etc I know which vehicle I’d spend 6 weeks in!

Andy A
Andy A
14 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

No way it’s different era, the MOD of western government will never knowingly use a platform that will damage your hearing and leave them self open to millions in court cases. It’s also immoral. More importantly it can’t shoot on move or reverse over 3 inch obstacles, these are not little issues, if it can’t be fixed it’s not reached IOC and government will use the 5 billion to buy either a ready to go platform or buy more up gunned boxers instead

maurice10
maurice10
13 days ago
Reply to  Andy A

As I wrote, the situation has changed and the Army needs new kit. The vehicle’s issues are being dealt with and as for the 5 billion compensation, it will take years of litigation to realise. As for ready-to-go platforms, most are now being procured by customers who fear for the future and capacity could quickly be maxed out. The Ajax variant may be too compromised but other models may be close to being released? Whatever the final outcome will be, the Ajax programme will cost the UK taxpayer billions. One possibility could be to do a massive upgrade on Bulldogs,… Read more »

Andy A
Andy A
13 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

No they aren’t dealt with and the powers that know more about it are saying they aren’t fit to safely use. Also the major issues affect all variants not just ajax. There are no half measures with this platform, if you accept it as is you are accepting it is fit for purpose which if it isn’t has legal implications

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy A

Buy foreign.

Steve
Steve
15 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Oh you underestimate the mod/civil service. Chances are it will eventually be accpeted with minor improvements but still major issues existing. They are already talking about using improved ear protectors to protect hearing, rather than fixing the underlying issue.

Steve
Steve
15 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Chances are the contract is rubbish and it can’t be got out of without the tax payer being hit by a massive bill and so rather than admit that, they will accept a compromised platform and put the poor soldiers at risk of harm.

Andy A
Andy A
14 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Apparently it’s fairly straightforward that if it’s not accepted into service and doesn’t reach the standards then government seems confident courts will order repayment of £3billion

Steve
Steve
14 days ago
Reply to  Andy A

How much had been paid out so far?

Andy A
Andy A
14 days ago
Reply to  Steve

£3billion but it’s not just a noise issue, the vibration at speed is damaging electronics and can’t fire while moving making it useless in war fighting terms

Ian M
Ian M
14 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Fixed

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy A

The nation didn’t do it with the overhyped and overpriced typ45 an the white elephant that was the budget gorging astute

Andy A
Andy A
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy reeves

The astute that is considered one of the best hunter killer platform in the world. You want the best with small scale it will cost. It’s the only alternative except buy everything as a usa client.

Last edited 15 days ago by Andy A
Andy reeves
Andy reeves
16 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

If it works for the basic task it was built for then drawbacks once identifyed can be sorted waiting for something to show that the kit is unfit for purpose then that’s a proper issue but to deny something that can do it’s job adequately then it’s cutting the noise off to spite the face just get enough to do the job for starters

maurice10
maurice10
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy reeves

Sadly, the Ajax programme has become both an engineering and political nightmare. The true situation might not be as bad as reported but because it now holds the high ground, in both the press and parliament, it’s what the Americans call a ‘Crock Of Shit’ and unlikely to see rational solutions, in fear of further failure? As I said above, we need someone to become creative and push the project into service.

Grizzler
Grizzler
15 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

or bin it

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
15 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

The same can be said for t45 and astute both have catalogue claims of being the best of their type f 355 same thing until proven they’re not cancellation of say up to a dozen f 35’s would fundCATOBAR’S FOR THE CARRIERS AND ALLOW THE PURCHASE OF NAVAL RAFALE OR GRIPEN. F 35 DOESN’T DO WHAT It says on the label until it it called upon to do it we the armchair admirals an generals can think outside the box and have radical suggestions that will.never see light of day I fear a major part of the defence black hole… Read more »

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy reeves

Naval Gripen??

What are you smoking?

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
14 days ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

Think he wrote that comment after a few beer’s 😄

Andy A
Andy A
14 days ago
Reply to  Andy reeves

I would call not firing on the move and not reversing over any obstacles totally useless before even looking at health and safety issues

David Steeper
16 days ago

Great news. 4 RAF/RN Sqds of 12 each would mean we could deploy both carriers with effective air groups in an emergency. When you add in UAV’s and Merlins it will mean a Carrier strike force second only to US. As to ‘possible ‘138’
we’ll get a better idea this autumn with budget. If there’s an uptick in the MoD budget even if to just cover higher inflation this could be where the air component of that will be spent.

Deep32
Deep32
16 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

If you look at the whole committee discussion, it looks as if we will be having 3Sqns of between 12-16 aircraft and not the mooted 4,Sans.

David Steeper
16 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

First sea lord was talking about 4 sqds in Feb. We might be talking about the 4th being an OCU. 3×16 or 4×12 is the same frontline force. Click bell or not no notifications.

Deep32
Deep32
16 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

I think that the general vagueness of the between 12-16 aircraft per Sqn says it all. We were always going to have a OCU, but didn’t ever think that this was included as a deployable front line Sqn. Obviously 3×16 equals the 4,×12 aircraft numbers wise, so don’t imagine it matters that much, after all if they want to deploy with say 10 or 24 aircraft they can always chop/add numbers.

David Steeper
16 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Notified. Yeah thinking of 809 in Falklands formed from training and reserve SHAR’s. Not the OCU specifically.

Derek
Derek
16 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

3 squadrons should be cheaper than 4. The same number of aircraft but minus one squadron admin cadre?

Deep32
Deep32
16 days ago
Reply to  Derek

A very good point Derek, hadn’t considered that.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
16 days ago
Reply to  Derek

…and more difficult to deploy.

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
15 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

But, is 20 enough for a single carrier the size of QE & PoW? The answer is no. The US wouldn’t consider taking a $5bn carrier into harms way with enough fighters to cover 4 on CAP, 1 a ready, 2 at 5 minutes and their planes have legs ours don’t. Realistically, how long can an F35B stay at CAP? The US can refuel theirs from their own stores. We can’t. It’s up and down for the F35B. Sorry, 36 is not good enough. We have glaring deficiencies in our Naval avaition. The only people who don’t see that are… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
15 days ago
Reply to  Ianbuk

I have no idea how long a F35B can stay up on CAP, but absolutely agree, its probably not that long. So, more aircraft will have to be assigned to this role, reducing the ‘strike’ numbers I would assume? 24-36 suddenly doesn’t seem like a great number if you need say 10-12 just for CAP duties!!! AEW, weapon integration and mass are a big concern for our Naval aviation, none of which is going to get much better in the short term. Yes, we are not at FOC with ‘carrier strike’ yet I know, but I believe you have a… Read more »

Dern
Dern
14 days ago
Reply to  Ianbuk

Well… compared to 8 Harriers on an Invincible, 20 on a QE is a very clear improvement.

James
James
14 days ago
Reply to  Ianbuk

Whats the solution exactly? We cant just put an order in for 50 aircraft and have them delivered next month.

Even if they could uplift production we dont have the pilots to fly them then on top of that the current aircraft would need upgrading later at a massive expense.

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
14 days ago
Reply to  James

Of course we can’t put an order in for 50 and expect them next week. I agree with you James. The F35B is a superb platform, yet will it end up becoming an Achilles heal in 20 years? By then, the Tempest, FCAS and FAXX are supposed to be in production and the latter has two naval versions planned. The Carriers have a life expectancy of 50 years? I expect that will be extended, subject to technology. So, shouldn’t the UK plan for the second 25 years now, look to get a cast iron agreement with the US to host… Read more »

James
James
13 days ago
Reply to  Ianbuk

Any new platforms in 20 years will be exactly that, new. Typhoon didn’t get launched and was fully integrated and capable as it is now, F35 is the same it will continue to develop.

No one knows exactly how capable Crowsnest is, it’s not an E2 but what does China have that is better? Plus an F35 in the air is probably exceptionally capable at that role itself.

The carrier group is 100% capable of operating without land based aircraft!

Andy A
Andy A
14 days ago
Reply to  Ianbuk

We haven’t considered taking them to war with that few. Show me a country except USA that fields a carrier squadron of 90 aircraft on peace time deployment? No one because no one has the numbers. U.K. is not the USA

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
15 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

It’s because the prawns can’t make their minds up on anything

Deep32
Deep32
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy reeves

Very diplomatic way of phrasing it I thought! 😂

Dern
Dern
16 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

You need to action the email you get after clicking the bell.

Frank62
Frank62
16 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Too easy to overlook when you’re posting. Wish we could just click a blanket notification, or not, for all comments, just like we do for cookies. Or make the bell icon far more prominent.

Dern
Dern
16 days ago
Reply to  Frank62

I don’t have to worry about overlooking it, since I clicked it and actioned the email it’s stayed on.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
16 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

The problem is that there is high inflation and also that we are buying these aircraft in $. Doubt we will afford to buy 138.

David Steeper
16 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

The $-£ is concerning right now but the US is heading into a recession that will be sooner and deeper than the UK. That will see a fall in the $ vs the £. On inflation a big chunk of it is the oil and gas price increase that will effect operating costs but have a much smaller effect on hardware and software costs on something like the F35. For the first time I can remember defence inflation is likely to be lower than general inflation.

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
15 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

I still think tha the u.k could have. Designed and built around the harrier, cheaper and just as good . The yanks always ‘big up’ the equipment they have and justify it by buying a lot of it.

David Steeper
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy reeves

Well the last ‘new’ aircraft we designed was the SHAR 50 years ago. Even the Harrier 2 was a US design. It’s interesting to compare it with Tempest. Has CAD really developed so much now that it’s feasible for us to design and develop our own combat aircraft or is it just because if we want our own aero engine and airframe industry to survive. The F35 is certainly eyewateringly expensive. Is it because it’s 5th gen or is it because it’s American.

Last edited 15 days ago by David Steeper
Grizzler
Grizzler
14 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

I think wanting our own aero engine and airframe industry to survive is reason enough.

David Steeper
14 days ago
Reply to  Grizzler

Agree 100%. We need to keep these businesses in the UK.
The question I have is has it been an economic or political decision to let so much of our defence industry go.

Last edited 14 days ago by David Steeper
Jonathan
Jonathan
16 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

The reality is we have close on 30- 40 years to decide on the total buy.

Wolf
Wolf
15 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Although we might not know by the autumn budget, AM Knighton did mention the decision to acquire further aircraft “would be made in the middle of the decade.”

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
15 days ago
Reply to  Wolf

The new5th gen aircraft should be in production by then. The lack of a VSTOL version means until the design of another option from somewhere the effectiveness of our carriers will have been reduced over their lifetimes

John Stevens
John Stevens
16 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Said 3 front line squadrons planned instead of the previous 4 on another website. Possibly 12 – 16 aircraft each. Will have to wait and see, early days.

John Stevens
John Stevens
16 days ago
Reply to  John Stevens

Oops.. I see Deep said the same comment. My bad.

Wolf
Wolf
15 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Air Marshall Knighton in the committee discussion suggested that the decision to acquire further aircraft (above the confirmed 74) “would be made in the middle of the decade.”

Last edited 15 days ago by Wolf
David Steeper
15 days ago
Reply to  Wolf

Thanks for that.

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
15 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Would YOU TRUST THE MOD?

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
16 days ago

I’d certainly be happier if I thought munitions for the F35 were being qualified sooner. The people who whined about aircraft carriers with no aircraft would be apoplectic if they realised how limited the choice of weapons on our F35bs was.

ExcalibursTemplar
ExcalibursTemplar
16 days ago

I remember a Yank years back on reddit who claimed to be an F35 pilot. There was a discussion going on about the limited internal payload of the F35. Basically what the guy said was the payload didn’t matter because of the way they were networked. As there could be a ship hundreds of miles away or multiple drones up in the air and the pilot would have all that weaponry at his disposal.

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
16 days ago

True but how long till UK carriers get UAVs capable of carrying a decent load? Don’t forget that once we’ve got carrier capable drones, we’ll still need to qualify them to carry UK weapons, which brings us back to my original point that qualifying takes far too long.

ExcalibursTemplar
ExcalibursTemplar
16 days ago

Is there no way to slim down the qualifying process, then ?

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
16 days ago

During Falklands conflict, the latest version of Sidewinder got qualified on the way down from Ascension. Different times I know, but I’m sure that it’s possible when there’s the will. It just seems so wasteful having bought the aircraft, not to have them fully capable.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
16 days ago

Probably, under ‘needs must’. Noted quote stating that Ukrainian pilots could be streamlined onto donated western fighters in weeks not months/years.
https://www.forces.net/ukraine/how-quickly-could-ukrainian-pilots-get-speed-western-jets

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
16 days ago

Clarify: link is example of slim down, not misread of qualifying on tech.
Cheers

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
15 days ago

Only by the usual practice if cutting corners and scrimping over parts e.t.c

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
16 days ago

My understanding is that the qualifying problems we are facing are made far worse because the US keeps pushing our weapons to the bottom of the priority list. Hence the comments about levering an improved qualification process from the nect UK purchase.

Nice to see the UK getting tough with defence suppliers.

Cheers CR

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
16 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Sounds time the US relaxed IntProp/software restrictions to let us carry out more assimilation. Seems too much having cake and eating from the United State’s side.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
16 days ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

Yup, couldn’t agree more. Interesting thing is that it highlights our position in the world as a member of the US corporate hegemony. We are willing participants in that situation as the alternatives are far worse. However, I do think that the increasing instability is signalling change. China is the obvious next big power broker, but I think there will be increasing opposition given China’s economic / debt blackmail associated with the Belts and Road initiative. All of which is nothing new but what will emerge from this instability is going to be difficult to predict and I think very… Read more »

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
16 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Fiscal talks aside why do the yanks keep over a thousand of fighter aircraft in storage for if the world explodes into mass military conflicts I’d expect the regeneration of an aircraft to take a while so, the there for a rainy day policy doesn’t make sense trump wanted European nations to take more responsibility for their own defence I f I was in Congress I’d propose a fire sale of u.s retired equipment should be done to offset the ongoing efforts to reduce their defence budget cuts

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
16 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

We’re in new Cold War, CR. In fact scrub that, Hot War. Access to US nuclear tech granted in the last Cold version, just required requisite political will then too. We are principal F35 partner and in Five Eyes to boot, now extended to Aukus even. Beyond time for realpolitik again.
Rgs

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
15 days ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

That’s OK Gavin, but we areno higher in the pecking order than France who are quasi competitors to the US. Not being able to qualify UK munitions onto US manufactured hardware it too damn long. One could guess the real reason is to make any UK munitions etc less attractive?

Either HMG gets some sort of agreement sorted whereby the UK has some sort of faster route to qualifying, or it (HMG) puts the money into projects that enable the UK to field it’s own hardware.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
14 days ago
Reply to  Ianbuk

Indeed, regarding your last. We’ve pitifully few platforms as it is now. So there’s definitely no more time to waste on arming those we do have.

AV
AV
15 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Exactly 👍

Grizzler
Grizzler
16 days ago

And they would get shot down in here all the more (irony intended)

Nicholas
Nicholas
16 days ago

I’m interested in the way you’ve formulated your comment, specifically The people who whined about aircraft carriers with no aircraft would be apoplectic if they realised how limited the choice of weapons on our F35bs was. Complaints about the lack of aircraft on the carriers has been a little premature, ideally we would have more now but we don’t. That doesn’t mean that complaints aren’t valid in some sense. The limited choice of weapons is more of a problem, particularly when taken in the context of the lack of lethality fleet wide. From what I can gather fewer frigates now… Read more »

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
16 days ago
Reply to  Nicholas

I believe it is only intended to carry Venom on Wildcat. Spear3 is the next in line to be carried by F35, along with Meteor .

Paul.P
Paul.P
15 days ago

Isn’t the elephant in the room that the US is prevaricating over integrating Spear 3 onto F-35B because they want to sell us SDB glide bomb and then move onto their version of Spear 3?

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

True. As always, it’s “Murica” first.

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
13 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

SDB2 (now called Stormbreaker) lost out to MBDA Spear (not SPEAR 3, thats the MoD programme name i.e. SPEAR 5 is the Storm Shadow MLU, and we don’t call that SPEAR 5) in the UK competition. SDB2 is actually ready for service now, Spear development and fielding has been a little glacial in comparison, we only recently decided to field it on Typhoon.

Paul.P
Paul.P
13 days ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

Thx. My understanding is that Spear 3 ( the subsonic turbojet powered missile) is clearly better than SDB. It has a longer range and can be launched from different altitudes and directions. I think it also has a cleverer seeker. That said I can see the attraction of SDB for our carrier based F-35Bs which do not have a stand off weapon other than Paveway.

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
11 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

There are 2 x Small Diameter Bombs, SDB1 & SDB2. SDB2 is now called Stormbreaker. There is no relationship between the 2, one is made by Boeing (SDB1) the other by Raytheon (SDB2). Stormbreaker SDB2 is the competitor to Spear. It’s guidance is every bit as good. It even looks exactly the same. The only real difference is that it is Glide only, no turbojet onboard. But that does mean its warhead is twice as large as Spear. So its horses for courses…twice the bang, but half the range. MBDA are creating a version of Spear, called SpearGlide, that will… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
11 days ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

Thx for the clarification. So is SDB like Spear 3, dependent on the Block 4 s/w?

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
10 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

SDB 2 like Spear is coming with Block 4.

SDB1 is available now.

Something Different
Something Different
16 days ago

This is fantastic news. Both carriers could simultaneously have squadrons aboard. Alternatively, one vessel could have a large alpha strike package while the rest of the aircraft are deployed to ground support tasking as required. Does this mean in addition to the typhoons the aim is to have 10 squadrons of fighters in total?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
16 days ago

That was what was envisaged with 12 on ground support and 24 -> 36 on CAP etc.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
16 days ago

Doubt it. I expect Typhoon squadrons to contract back to their original number as Lighting force expands. Hopefully not and more pilots and crews will be found.

Bill
Bill
15 days ago

We are no short of crews, just aircraft!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
15 days ago
Reply to  Bill

There are currently 7 Typhoon and 1 F35 front line squadrons. If the that total expands to 10 as SD asks is there an uplift in people in the RAF and FAA? I know the RN headcount was increased a few years back with the FCF changes resulting in more sailors, but have not heard of the same for the RAF. I know there is already a shortage of F35 trained pilots, what I was referring to was the squadron personnel who actually make a squadron useful and deployable. 100 has been disbanded so there are some there unless they’ve… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
16 days ago

This is really good news, also the language and messaging is what I was hopping to see from HMG. We have not had the big announcement around budget increase. But this allocation and confirmation of purchasing F35B allowing 60 available and operational aircraft is saying we will have the capability to deploy both our carriers with powerful airwings or one carrier with a very heavy air wing. The ability to put 60 fifth generation aircraft within range of any county on the planet will keep the UKs ability to influence world events as a key player and prop up our… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
16 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Yep, it’s excellent news.

ExcalibursTemplar
ExcalibursTemplar
16 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

👍

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
16 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I don’t think we needed the big announcements on defence budget increased compared to say Germany. We have consistently spent according to a relatively large defence budget (4th in the world right now). So our “catch up” compared to Germany is much much smaller. This confirmation is a great boost to UK carrier strike and also the RAF/FAA who will finally be getting a much needed boost in high performance jet numbers. Assuming a single carrier surge load out of 36 F35bs with Merlins in support and maybe some drones that will deliver the 2nd most powerful carrier strike force… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
16 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

100 sorties a day with 24 aircraft?

How long is that going to go on for before all the F35B fall to bits.

Bear in mind the landings and takeoffs are the main stressors of the various components.

Be realistic: 20% on board won’t be flyable for a number of good reasons due to maintenance cycles.

I’d say you would need 48+ jets for 100 sorties a day and even that is pushing it a lot.

Klonkie
Klonkie
15 days ago

Totally agree with your commentary SB

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
16 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

OK I’m going to burst your bubble a little bit here. The article said 15 or so aircraft in maintenance leaving about 60 for frontline use. That frontline use includes 3 aircraft in the US as part of the ongoing weapons integration and aircraft flight testing programmes (remember those software upgrades to be tested?). Then there is the OCU unit mentioned but not included in the ’15 in maintenance’ number. Oh, and there is the one that fell off HMS Queen Elizabeth which always seems to get forgotten. The numbers are 73 (allowing for the splash) less 15, less 3,… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
16 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I wonder how India would react if that crossed one of their red lines.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
16 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Sri Lanka is apparently run by a ‘family’ that is allegedly corrupt and doing deals with China under the Belt and Roads Intiative that may well end up allowing China to gain control of Sri Lanka’s harbours. Although Indian, Taiwanese and Dutch companies all have interests in the Port of Colombo so it may not be straight forward for China. If China did get sufficient leverage over Sri Lanka, India and the West would be put in a very difficult position and the RN might well find itself unable to face off a Chinese naval task force in the Indian… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
15 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Sounds like a good summing up CR the present riots in Sri Lanka could stir matters up a bit if they really get violent because that very family refuse to budge I suspect fears of corruption charges might pre Luce that without that sort of pressure. China is doing these sort of deals everywhere even in Europe (Albania?) where technically any default leads to surrender of land and/or other assets. As Sri Lanka is in serious financial problems due to the ruling family’s dodgy deals and general financial overstretch and incompetence this must be a serious concern. With India I… Read more »

Nick C
Nick C
15 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

China already has control of the harbour at Hambentota ( hope I have spelt that correctly.) It is on the south of Sri Lanka and dominates the main shipping route from the Strait of Malacca to the south end of the Red Sea. The Chinese built the port having lent Sri Lanka the money, and when the debt wasn’t paid they took full control. They now have that harbour and a big base in Djibouti so they can already exert considerable influence in the Indian Ocean. It makes a nonsense of our foreign office saying that they won’t let the… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
16 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

But I would suggest chariot that a key element ( and is unique to the F35B) that will always need to be considered by our opposition is that we could if we so wished use the OCU unit in extremis. It’s would be damaging to training ect, but it could be used. We would almost undoubtedly never do it…..but the but is there and from a deterrent point of view that’s important. clearly in normal times 24ish would Become normal with surge of 36+. But that perception of max surge will be there and will need to be planned for… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
16 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Hi Jonathan, I agree with the idea of surging the OCU, but as you suggest that would be a big move and probably not one we would take. Overall, I think we need something cheaper to bulk out number and take the strain off the end assets or we risk running down their airframe lives plinking trucks in the Middle East. Smaller precision weapons such as CAMM, Brimstone 3, SPEAR 3, NLAW, etc will be big players in a NATO context. The big heavy weight stuff and stealth will be needed to the opening phases of any conflict, but I… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
16 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I yes completely agree, the big surge of F35B is effectively a strategic deterrent you hope you don’t need. We would not want to burn airframe hours and increase attrition over the life of the F35s. So I’m with you on the jobbing alternatives. That’s hopefully where that idea of going for drones will really help, as you say you don’t need to burn F35B airframes on a lot of deployments. If the carrier has a reasonable F35B airwing of 12-24 ( these are after all 5 generation and the nightmare of a 4th generation airforce), backed up by plenty… Read more »

Last edited 16 days ago by Jonathan
Steve R
Steve R
16 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Do we know the OCU will be 12 aircraft? That seems awfully high for the total number of planes we’ll have. Might it not be 8-10 aircraft for the OCU?

Not that it makes a big difference, of course.

Longtime
Longtime
15 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

I always understood OCUs of the past were 12 aircraft because of a higher routine maintenance schedule, as I understand it now it’s more of a central pool of airframes at Marham and they are assigned out as and when need by squadrons. Might be wrong but that’s how it read.

Steve R
Steve R
15 days ago
Reply to  Longtime

Makes sense as they’ll all be at Marham.

Cripes
Cripes
15 days ago
Reply to  Longtime

With 3 squadrons each of 12 frontline aircraft, the OCU would normally be 8 aircraft.

(One trainer per six operational aircraft + 25% squadron reserve + 10% attrition reserve).

The thought was that the increased use of simulators would reduce the number of trainers needed, but the order for 74 aircraft suggests otherwise.

Longtime
Longtime
15 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

Cheers Cripes, knew there’d be some maths to it somewhere, just couldn’t find any OCUs running high AC numbers since buccaneers 18 cabs and 2 of them were dedicated NAV trainers. As I’ve said above the one pilot I Know who has instructed in the synthetic era, is a big fan his only criticism is the lack of back up for the students in early solo flights. Admittedly he taught on typhoon, F35 could be a whole different ball game. in reading many a forum of test pilot comments for the US Defense committee, it appears that transitioning to vertical… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
15 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

Hi Steve, I just used 12 to be slightly pessimistoc about numbers, partly because I have not include attrition explicitly but mostly because there is enough optimistic bias in defence thinking as it is without me adding to overly cosy warm feeling. Russia’s poor performance in the Ukraine is bad news in the short term for Russia, but it might also allow our idiot politicians in the West to sit back and say, “we’re way better than them so no need to worry folks”. If that happens watch the defence budgets fall again… The real threat is China going forward.… Read more »

Crabfat
Crabfat
15 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Hi CR. Sri Lanka’s in deep poo at the moment, economically. I can see them accepting filthy lucre from anyone – the Chinese, perhaps? ‘Me give you lots of dollas, you give me berthing rights, OK?’

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
15 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Bang on 100% CR. My concern insofar as China is concerned is their Belt & Road policy. It gives them access to a lot of ground bases that either we cannot control or have lost control of over the years. In the next 12 months, China will have military bases on Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia and Namibia. It has Belt & Road agreements in all but three African nations. Then consider the South American possibilities of Argentina and Guyana. That also explains the recent calls in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Barbados, Jamacia, Trinidad & Tobago, for the Queen to… Read more »

Andrew D
Andrew D
16 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

😀

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
16 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

That issue is moot unless the new escort vessels must where possible be speeded up shoes ships are needed now not in ten years the t32 must be configured to be quickly produced so fleet expansion will happen faster

andy
andy
16 days ago

what happened to the one that went for a swim, do we scrap it,salvage anything that maybe worth trying to salvage or give it to Lockheed martin so they can play with it ???

Jonathan
Jonathan
16 days ago
Reply to  andy

Pop it in the museum at heron, it will be a great draw and interesting piece of FAA history.

Andy reeves
Andy reeves
16 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Once it’s dried up

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
16 days ago
Reply to  andy

It was a right off, but the article talked about ‘purchased’ aircraft and then went on to use the ‘purchased’ number for ‘useable’ aircraft…

Happens all the time, even with MoD. Easy to do in the spoken word in front of a committees, etc.

Cheers CR

Steve M
Steve M
16 days ago

That works for the RN 24 on each carrier 12 for OCU / Training with the frames in maintenance, if the RAF want to have to ability to deploy the smaller fwd strips need another 36 which would then also be able to be used as loss replacement for carriers. would still like to see wither the T1 Typhoon’s upgraded (like Spain) or replaced with new build

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
16 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

Agree Steve, youve got to worry with the bean counters in the treasury and MOD procurement incompetence whether this order has only been agreed to offset the scrapping and premature sale of our T1 typhoons to Serbia or some such nonsense. I agree with your sentiment in that if we are going to remove from service in 2025 our tranche 1 typhoons they should be replaced by Tranche 4 new build to see the RAF through to Tempest. Evidence from Ukraine war is that high performance fighter jets still have a role to play providing interception over a contested battlefield… Read more »

Andrew D
Andrew D
16 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Good post 👍

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
16 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Hi Mr Bell, Nice post and I agree. However, I am not sure that we could expand the Barrow site and, more importantly, train the engineering staff in time to build any additional Astutes. However, if we start now we might just have the staff in place to build SSN(R) in greater numbers. Also, I have read that the Reactor for the Astutes is no longer being built by RR as they are building the reactors for the Dreadnaught’s. Also, the Astute reactor is not up to modern standards apparently… As I have already said to Mr Franks below I… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
16 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Would love to see a Stormer replacement with the ability to sport combined HVM Starstreak and Martlet in one set of tubes and a few Brimstone alongside. That would be a combatant that could take on almost anything land and air short of high flying jets.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
16 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

I’ve suggested similar ideas but using ground based drones as the carrier / fire unit for the smaller direct fire weapons networked to the Army’s tanks. Might make up for the stupidly low number of Chally 3’s currently on order. I’d also like to see ground launched SPEAR 3 with the RA as these could take some of the load off the RAF’s way too few fighters for taking on second echelon forces before they engage. One point to note is that the UK is reportedly pulling together a truck / trailer lunched Brimstone 3 for the Ukraine, so I… Read more »

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
15 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

Isn’t the price of the F35 now going to be $20m cheaper than a Typhoon with even wider F35 purchase? At what point does the RAF get kitted out with F35A’s instead if Typhoons as a 5th gen first strike aircraft just on cost and airframe life expectancy? The Tempest programme is quieter and quieter as time go by. Yet the US are mooted to have already designed, built prototypes and been flying their 6th gen inside of 3 years from concept. I know from working in this area, that using AI (EDGE) to design aircraft cuts time and prototype… Read more »

Last edited 15 days ago by Ianbuk
Rob N
Rob N
16 days ago

Very good news… the buy might also get Meteor onto our F35s in quicker time. The addition of Meteor onto F35 will allow for a vast enhancement of BVR fleet defence allowing stealthy F35 to hit incoming threats outside the range the F35 can be detected.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
16 days ago
Reply to  Rob N

Agree meteor and any sons of meteor developed in co-operation with Japan are key weapon systems. We have to protect this system and its intellectual property from Sino/Russian reverse engineering and be very very careful who we supply these weapon systems too. I would hope NATO would restrict their sale to NATO, Australia, South Korea and Japan only and not authorise any sale to any 3rd country (yes including India) who are too cosy with Putin’s Russia. So definitely no sale of meteor alongside handed down Eurofighter typhoon tranche 1s to Serbia- that would be a disaster. You might as… Read more »

Rob N
Rob N
16 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Yes the wook will Japan on an enhanced Meteor is very encouraging. The Japanese radar married to the Meteor will produce an even better weapon. The sooner we can get it onto Typhoon/F35/Tempest the better.

You are right about keeping the limited. However the general principles are known so eventually other countries will produce similar AAMs… however we do have a good lead. It is a bit like a Dreadnaught moment for AAMs.

Longtime
Longtime
15 days ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Might be wrong bell but I was pretty convinced T1s couldn’t use meteor and that was 1 of the reasons for retirement from our fleet, given current events in Ukraine I actually think Serbia having the T1s is a fantastic upscale in there air defence capability and In turn can hop the border to assist in Romania, lessening the load on NATO in the region and if they like them they might purchase new in the future. I agree that at least 4/5s of the T1s should be replaced with T4s, in my opinion though the remaining funding should go… Read more »

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
13 days ago
Reply to  Longtime

Serbia is not in NATO… The really smart move is not to sell the T1’s for peanuts to Serbia…but to get the UK, Spain, Germany and Italy to gift them all to Ukraine post war to replace their SU-27…thats real forward defence for the likes of Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia whilst they re-equip with F-16… As to replacing T1’s in the UK, again there is a smart move…24 Typhoon ECR. 2 seaters still, but with full Tranche 4 capability for A2A and A2G. They also add the ECR component so can support F-35B, Typhoon T2 and 3 and Tempest into… Read more »

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
15 days ago
Reply to  Rob N

It can already do that with the existing AMRAAM.

Mr Mark Franks
Mr Mark Franks
16 days ago

I watched this on BBC Parliament. Evasive and non committal to the questions until pressed on the matter. The Navy and Airfoce will never have a frontline fleet 138 let alone 74. A fleet of 74 including in use reserves? Meanwhile the Typhoon is eating up airframe hours whilst the talk is of a mixed force of manned and drone air power. By the time we eventually get around to this we will have no manned aircraft except Tempist which if it ever reaches the frontline will be in such small numbers it is hardly worth the effort. The UK… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
16 days ago
Reply to  Mr Mark Franks

I think the biggest lesson Ukraine is teaching us is that a smaller well motivated, well trained and led force with good quality precision weapons can take on and embarras a much larger poorly lead and trained force, even if the latter is, on paper at least, better equipped. Ukraine could well stand alongside Finland in the annals of military history. The UK decided a long time ago to go for high end kit, but I think that the real lesson of Ukraine is that modern warfare may well start off all whoosh bank and high intensity high precision. However,… Read more »

John Hartley
John Hartley
16 days ago

You need to upgrade the engine, not just for extra thrust & better fuel consumption, but also for more electrical generation, for the new proposed kit (self defence lasers, etc.)

Expat
Expat
16 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

The GE variable bypass looks like the best option but is not designed for the F35B. PW are offering an upgraded F135 though good will not perform the same. Problem I see is the GE engine will also get upgraded throughout its life cycle creating quite a performance gap between the A/C and B. Maybe irrelevant for operators afterall the B already lugs around the lift fan which it pays a penalty for so they’ve already made the decision the Stovl capability offsets this. Certainly the USMC will have the C also. Hopefully the there will be funds for the… Read more »

Expat
Expat
16 days ago

There debate the US around less expensive alternatives to the F35. The F36 has been a topic on some websites like popular mechanics.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a35865601/f-36-kingsnake-air-force-next-fighter-jet-concept/

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
16 days ago
Reply to  Expat

The F36 could very well be on the cards with up to two hundred F-15EX on order.

I thought the last paragraph summed it up nicely!

“So the Department of Defense might end up spending more money on older aircraft so it can afford to use its most advanced platform that was designed to replace all other aircraft in the fleet. Apparently, something went wrong in that calculation.”

F-35 OPERATING COSTS MAY EXCEED FUNDING BY BILLIONS PER YEAR

https://www.sandboxx.us/blog/us-may-need-to-cut-f-35-order-to-afford-flying-the-stealth-fighter/#:~:text=Every%20hour%20the%20F%2D35,demands%20an%20exclusive%20maintenance%20contract.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
16 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Hi Nigel,

The point I took away from the article was that using a high end fighter for low end missions is an expensive way to do things. Oh really! The UK has been using up airframe hours on our Typhoons, plinking trucks in Syria and Iraq, when something much cheaper would have made more sense.

I think we need a mix of high and low end kit, say something like the TB2 UAV and or a slightly souped up trainer aircraft. The UK’s Aerilis light weight modular aircraft.

Cheers CR

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
15 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

You could very well be right CR.

DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan
16 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

That article is hogwash. In its FY23 budget request the USAF capped purchase of the F-15EX at 80 aircraft, down from 144. In essence, it will buy 80 F-15EXs and then abandon the program. Congress will have its say but the point I’m trying to make is that there is a lot going on in the USAF that is behind closed doors and the general public is not aware of all of the facts. For example, the USAF just announced that its NGAD sixth generation fighter may cost hundreds of millions each. Each fighter will be accompanied by several drones… Read more »

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
16 days ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

The article was written by a Greek Army Veteran. Says it all.

Expat
Expat
15 days ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

Popular Mechanics is well respected and has been around decades. Whilst the F36 is speculative design the point made about new engineering techniques and shorter development times aren’t. RR won the B52 re-engine off the back of digital prototyping. Below a similar article from defense news talks about the same concepts. Whilst it talks NGAD there’s no reason the same concepts can’t be applied to a low end fighter.

https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/2019/09/16/the-us-air-forces-radical-plan-for-a-future-fighter-could-field-a-jet-in-5-years/

Ianbuk
Ianbuk
15 days ago
Reply to  Expat

I work in this field (AI deployment in precision run tengineering/point cloud) when you use various elements you can often bring development timescales and costs by 90%. Some projects I work on (that I must remain sketchy) can cut through many areas of the R&D that normally require engineers and metal bashers investing hundreds of hours of work. We still have to test specific keynote points as part of verification. Especially, in some fields where you have a human(s) at risk. The UK is a very advanced nation when it comes to this area, only the big bucks of the… Read more »

Last edited 15 days ago by Ianbuk
Grizzler
Grizzler
14 days ago
Reply to  Ianbuk

“only the big bucks of the US hold back out leadership in many of its arenas”…twas ever so …Couple that with our Governments predisposition to sell anything off that garners enviable glances from across the pond and/or acquiesce to purchasing direct compitetion to the degredation of our own developement and its wonder we have anything of our own tbh

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
15 days ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

I think Janes has an idea.

“The USAF is procuring the F-15EX to replace the oldest F-15C/D fighters in its inventory, some of which date back to 1979. With an initial eight aircraft approved in the fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget and subsequently contracted, a further 12 were requested in the FY21 budget. The USAF plans to purchase a total of 76 F-15EX aircraft over the five-year Future Years Defense Program (FYDP).

Previously disclosed future plans have called for as many as 144 aircraft, while the latest number is set at 200.”

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/boeing-flies-first-f-15ex-for-usaf

Last edited 15 days ago by Nigel Collins
Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
16 days ago
Reply to  Expat

F36 is a drawing some guys from an aviation magazine came up with. 🙈 That’s all it is. A drawing.

Expat
Expat
15 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Of course but the inference in the article isn’t, that is that with new digital engineering techniques a new jet could be developed in much shorter times. There’s already working examples, the US has flown its 6th gen fighter already using these techniques, B52 re-engine is taking advantage of the same techniques. Could the US have new jet ready in 8 years, the general consensus is yes. Will they, well its a useful ploy to apply pressure on LM.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
15 days ago
Reply to  Expat

To be honest Expat, I’m very sceptical of these story’s about designing and building a brand new fighter 6th gen or 4th gen in record time. They still require a huge investment. Look at the timeframe of block 4 for F35, yet suddenly they can designing a brand new aircraft in the same timeframe. I don’t think so. The Americans might have a secret 6th gen technology demonstrator flying, but nothing else, and just like Tempest, production is at least 15 years away. If they happen at all.

Grizzler
Grizzler
15 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Depends on who’s funding it and by how much and what reason the requestor & designer has for expediting the request. Hence (if I understood corectly) the caveat about software availability in this recent puchase- as I think Block 4 for us doesnlt seem tp be the priority we want it to be – thats what comes of only havong 1 aitrcraft you can use .The more I read about F35B, s/w upgrades engine upgrades, armament issues etc. The more I think we may be better off banking on the EMALs issues being sorted and retro fitting cats and traps… Read more »

Expat
Expat
15 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

The approach seems different now. The individual systems are being developed in parallel for example the NGAD fighter engine is the same GE engine developed for the F35. The software systems will be more segregated allowing upgrades to parts of the software without touching other elements so they don’tget intothe same issues as the F35. The F35 was a huge lesson learnt for all the participants. It’ll be interesting to see how complete the B21 is when it’s revealed as that would be a good indication of how well these new techniques work.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
15 days ago
Reply to  Expat

Hi Expat. I’m just happy reply notifications are appearing in my inbox again 😄 Technology certainly marches on, and Typhoon will hopefully be used to develop Tempest capability. As is so often the biggest hurdle with such projects, is navigating the political landscape and surviving the numerous spending rounds. I do believe Tempest has genuine political support, but industry will have to prove value for money at every hurdle for it to survive. B21 should be very interesting. A huge strategic project for the USAF 👍

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
16 days ago

Excellent. We will now have enough aircraft to deploy in both services. Four squadrons of ten, normally available to the carriers; two squadrons of ten for the RAF and an OCU/trials unit with the rest. Six squadrons of ten (USN/USMC format) will more easily allow one carrier to have thirty UK aircraft on board whilst the other has at least ten and can be interchangeable to suit operational needs. I have never liked the risk of both services only having perhaps three squadrons. If the RN and RAF need them at the same time what are we then going to… Read more »

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
16 days ago

The fact that funding has been allocated for another 24 of these suggests that Wallace has decided to defer scrapping the Ajax fiasco in favour of throwing another few billion at GD – in the forlorn hope that it can be brought into service. This will have the effect of saving the careers of the donkeys involved in Ajax and will defer the unpleasant decision until the change of government in two years. Anyone who looks into the Ajax project willl come to the same conclusion and our losses on this project should be cut now. In view of the… Read more »

Last edited 16 days ago by David Lloyd
Andrew D
Andrew D
16 days ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

Hope there have made a decision on Ajax gone on far to long 🕰

Paul.P
Paul.P
16 days ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

I think this commitment stands on its own merits and will strengthen any petition we make to increase the priority of integration of UK missiles.

Paul42
Paul42
16 days ago

We need a lot more than 74! Forget Tempest until such time as it can be demonstrated anything will actually come from it and purchase the 138. The critical aspect here is to ensure both your carriers can go to sea with a full airgroup, namely 36 a piece. Tempest if it ever comes to it, cannot operate from a carrier, neither can Typhoon. Carrier airpower projection should be number 1 priority.

ExcalibursTemplar
ExcalibursTemplar
16 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

👍

David Steeper
16 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

Seconded.

Grizzler
Grizzler
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

shoulda gone nuclear then….with existing steam powered cats and traps…or we shoud have continued to develop EMALS ourselves all those years ago .
What I want to know is ( Im sure someone on here knows)..if it is just the fact that its the nuclear process that generates the steam required – couldn;t we just have an alternate steam generating processes…after all theres an abundance of water? Or would that big kettle have encroached too much on the available capacity of the ship.

Paul42
Paul42
15 days ago
Reply to  Grizzler

Steam can be generated on conventional or nuclear powered vessels, but Emals are the future. They place far less stress on airframes on take off and landing thus extending the life of the aircraft and saving huge amounts of money over time. Its new, its revolutionary, and had its share of bugs and problems, but they’ve been ironed out now. We simply couldn’t afford to have them installed on our carriers, at least at present, but that doesn’t rule it out in future. The F35B is a very capable aircraft and having 36 of those on a QE is,a formidable… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

The typhoon could have it seems. An opportunity missed? “Things may change quite soon, according to BAE Systems. The company has anticipated this, highlighting at its display a navalized version of the Typhoon, utilizing few of the Tranche 3 features, such as thrust vector nozzles, conformal fuel tanks, and spoilers at the leading edge wing roots, designed to minimize landing speed. Unlike the Super Hornet and Rafale using catapult launch which requires significant strengthening of the landing gear and airframe, Typhoon is considered for ‘ski-jump’ equipped carriers only (like QE2 and India’s future indigenous carriers). According to Paul Hopkins, Vice… Read more »

navalized_typhoon11.jpg
Paul42
Paul42
15 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

This prototype was designed to compete foe a place on the deck of an Indian carrier, which have angled decks with arrestor wires. QE doesn’t have an angled deck and F35B is a superior aircraft so we won’t be going down that road now.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

“An opportunity missed?”

Typhoon is considered for ‘ski-jump’ equipped carriers only (like QE2 and India’s future indigenous carriers).

Last edited 15 days ago by Nigel Collins
Paul42
Paul42
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

It would need arrestor wires on an Angled Deck to land………India has that, QE doesn’t.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

Nigels article is 11 years old. Naval Typhoon is long abandoned.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
15 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

The Naval Typhoon idea was dropped years ago. Same with thrust vectoring and conformal tanks. Good reasons why both wasn’t taken up by any Typhoon customers to date.

Jonathan
Jonathan
15 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Ideas are sometimes best left as nothing more than an idea.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
15 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Very true. Started receiving reply notifications again today, it’s a pain without them. You have made some great comments recently 👍

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
13 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Good reasons around conformals as they affected handling.
But not thrust vectoring…it was ready to go and added little weight. The savings in fuel consumed would have paid for it, let alone with manoeuverability.
The AMK also makes a lot of sense…and EJ200 development.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
13 days ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

EJ200 development will definitely go-ahead as the aircraft requires more electrical power generation for the new Radar 2, as well as more thrust is always handy. I think the improvement in weapon system capability has reduced the need for TVN and aero kits. Must be good reasons why both haven’t been adopted.

Challenger
Challenger
16 days ago

The ’12-16 aircraft squadrons’ bit is intriguing!

With 3 squadrons might we see 12 as the standard compliment but the on duty carrier one reinforced to 16 by drafting more air-frames and personnel from 207 Squadron or the others?

QE & PoW deploying with 16 as standard and then 24 every three or so years to demonstrate the capability and keep the skills fresh sounds pretty decent.

Paul42
Paul42
15 days ago
Reply to  Challenger

Sounds ridiculous. These ships are designed to carry 36 x F35B and so they should. The whole idea of having them is to project major airpower from the sea, not from RAF Marham…..

Challenger
Challenger
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

Of course QE or PoW deploying with 36x F35B would be fantastic but to achieve that regularly would require a much bigger commitment of 100+ jets and one could argue jamming the hangar and deck with so many aircraft would be overkill 99% of the time. 16x F35B, 8-9x Merlin’s for ASW and various UAV’s in the pipeline to deliver AEW, refueling and/or COD (carrier onboard delivery) would still represent a really potent deployment! A surge to 24x for active operations in a higher risk environment would also be a proportional and very capable force. Then if the s**t really… Read more »

Frank62
Frank62
16 days ago

Great news. Hopefully, should the need arise, we could be capable of operating both carriers with c24 F35Bs on each. Getting a comprehensive weapons fit integrated is an urgent need to make carrier strike a reality so we can strike enemy ships & land targets outside their SAM range. We’ll finally have restored & upgraded the capability we lost when the 60 strong joint Harrier force was myopically & foolishly scrapped.
I’d hope another squadron or two will be added later in the decade to boost numbers further.

Last edited 16 days ago by Frank62
JohnDunbar83
JohnDunbar83
16 days ago
Reply to  Frank62

73 just about makes 48 frontline fighters viable, but I expect that most if not all carrier deployments will be undertaken with nato or global partners. So a typical load out of 12-16 UK F35b plus 12-16 from partner nations e.g.USMC, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea seems eminently achievable. Mass will need to be achieved through loyal wingman/uav development which may be tricky on a stovl carrier but could take pressure off land based fighters. Realistically and as a minimum a further buy of 9 more F35B is needed to deal with attrition over time – more if required to… Read more »

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
16 days ago

This is great news. Good to finally see some certainty about numbers,and possible options for the future. Love it or hate, the F35 is a world beating capability, that is only at the beginning of it’s development cycle. And Blk4 is a huge upgrade, even though it is frustratingly slow in being implemented. Numbers beyond 74 will largely depend on Tempest development. Will we decide to go for it?, or will the cost become to much for our budget, and won’t progress past a technology demonstrator with a route in as a level 1 partner in the US NGAD project.… Read more »

Grizzler
Grizzler
15 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

They may have asked them to prioritise it – doesn’t mean they will.

ExcalibursTemplar
ExcalibursTemplar
16 days ago

Completely off topic, but the history channel Kings & Generals of Youtube have done a video summing up the war in Ukraine so far. IMO it’s a cracking video as you can visual see everything that’s gone on so far in the war.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBZPE9o2gHU

Paul.P
Paul.P
16 days ago

Good news; a strategic purchase, a statement of intent and a decision on a big ticket budget item. I hope we get the missiles to go with it.
Increasing the Boxer buy by 100 to replace Mastiff was a simple decision..
I think T31 having 24 Sea Ceptors at launch is also a simple decision.
The medium helicopter program, whether Ajax can be accepted and what to do about future IFV need to be decided asap.

Jay R
Jay R
16 days ago

Makes sense. Russia will no longer be able to develop/produce the Felon, therefore Tempest will be cancelled. I forsee an additional requirement on top of this 74. Maybe 40 A variants and 40 Typhoon tranche 4. 6th generation fighters will be 40 years away for the UK.

John Clark
John Clark
16 days ago
Reply to  Jay R

You are assuming project Tempest was a counter to Felon, it wasn’t and isn’t. Experts who’ve examined Felon suggest it’s certainly not stealthy, it’s got a dramatically lower radar signature than the Su27 family ( that looks like an apartment block coming over the horizon on radar by all accounts) but it’s certainly not low signature in the class of the F35. The Russians have really struggled with the programme, I would suspect a Thypoon would still have the upper hand. Project Tempest is something entirely new, from concept to fielding, in all its parts and it could be a… Read more »

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

If we replace T1 with T4 then that’s 24 aircraft IIRC? That would be likely to be 15-20% of likely Tempest production numbers (160-120 respectively) for the RAF assuming no T4 purchase. Numbers may be no higher, especially because of plans to complement Tempest with unmanned platforms. Reducing the UK Tempest programme requirement by just 15% let alone 20% would almost certainly kill it. In this context, expecting the RAF budget to support 24 T4 plus the full Tempest numbers I’ve suggested is unrealistic IMV. Such a late purchase of Typhoon also locks the RAF into the Typhoon platform into… Read more »

David Steeper
16 days ago
Reply to  Jay R

If Tempest is cancelled that will mean the end of RR aero engines and aircraft development in UK. The US defence companies will lobby for that and promise all sorts of goodies to get that. But we’ve surely learnt what the promises of US companies are worth plus it would be political suicide within UK.

Grizzler
Grizzler
15 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

I doubt we ever lean anything as that needs to show a modicum of intelligence. From Enigma to TSR2 from ARM Holding to Deep Thought AI ….we create loads of stuff then fuck it off at the earliest sign of the $’s.
I have no faith whatsoever in any British Government following their own path- we most definately play second fiddle to good ol’ Uncle Sam’s money – the Green Manalishi.

Bill
Bill
16 days ago

Purchasing the original order of 138 is pie in the sky and he knows it. A final order of 100 for at least six operational squadrons by 2028 is maybe doable. What about new Typhoons to make up the loss of Tranche 1’s and more A400’s for the loss of the Hercs?

Klonkie
Klonkie
15 days ago
Reply to  Bill

Regrettably unlikely Bill- I imagine two Typhoon units will covert onto F35 as the Tranche 1 Typhoon’s retire in 2025.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
16 days ago

The main issue is the block 4. It’s becoming a real sticking issue for future orders.
It’s coming to a point that Lockheed really need to do a step block with as much block 4 tech as possible or speed it up dramatically. I can see 2029 turning into 2032. 6th gen fighters will be ready before block 4 at the pace Lockheed are going at.
In any other area other than defence this would be totally unacceptable.
Lockheed is proving why countries are going alone in the fighter game. Korea, Japan, Europe etc

Matt C
Matt C
16 days ago

Sixty operational cabs is a decent fleet either way you slice it.

Klonkie
Klonkie
15 days ago
Reply to  Matt C

👍✔

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
15 days ago

Good job, hold them to ransom on weapons integration priority as their performance so far has been terrible. Ideally also wait for Block 4 software to be completed and refuse to take Block 3 with promises of upgrades.

dan
dan
15 days ago

Hopefully this means the Brit carriers will be able to fully man their CVs with Biritsh jets.

RobW
RobW
15 days ago
Reply to  dan

Certainly one at a time yes and both if one has more of a helo/F35 mix. It has never been the intention to have both at sea at the same time full of F35s.

George Parker
George Parker
15 days ago

74 F35B’s sounds better than 48 and if they were only for RN use it would be adequate. Add 100 F35A’s plus another 50 F35B’s for the RAF and things start looking much better. It has obviously taken Vladimir Vladimirovich exploitation of American foreign policy weakness to grease the wheels of Whitehall. Perhaps if the CCP invade the free Chinese on Taiwan and threaten the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Australia. We may finally get what we need for all branches of the armed forces. Just a decade too late. Now then Defense Select Committee, what about our pitifully reduced… Read more »

Matt
Matt
15 days ago

So that’s 73, if we include the one that sunk.

Smile at the Ozzies, who ordered 72 😎

Steve
Steve
15 days ago

Nice intention, now let’s actually see the money / contract. We intended to buy 12 t45 or 250 typhoons, neither of which happened.

David Flandry
David Flandry
15 days ago

I hope some Typhoons are kept for a while at least.

RobW
RobW
14 days ago
Reply to  David Flandry

Some? Around 100 until Tempest arrives, assuming the magic money tree doesn’t produce a ripe new budget for the MOD and we order more.

Paul Christmas
Paul Christmas
14 days ago

Just a quick question, are all F35s that we are deploying capable of carrier ops?
Is there a separate tranche for RN?

Dern
Dern
14 days ago
Reply to  Paul Christmas

No seperate tranche for RN, all F-35’s are B models which are capable of operating off the Queen Elizabeths.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
11 days ago

It appears the US is holding back on replacing their F-16 fleet with the F-35. Up to 600 aircraft April 4, 2022 “Rather than a high-low mix, Nahom said USAF’s future fighter force structure would be better described as a bell curve with the bulk being low/medium capability F-16s and medium/high capability F-35s. At the very low end would be a small number of aircraft only able to operate in permissive environments while the upper end would be aircraft like the F-22 and the Next-Generation Air Dominance fighter, tuned to the most demanding conditions.” https://www.airforcemag.com/f-16s-to-serve-nearly-two-more-decades-replacement-choice-still-6-8-years-away/ And the reason for it?… Read more »