The arrival of more F-35B jets this weekend means the UK now has 34 of the stealth jets.

With one aircraft lost in an accident and four test jets in the US, there are now 30 of the type in operational service in the UK.

There is an expectation that all of the 47 in the first batch will be delivered by the end of 2025. Note that it would have been 48 if one didn’t crash.

After that, the Ministry of Defence expressed the intention to purchase another tranche of jets.

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

Jeremy Quin, then Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, stated last year:

“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.

“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?

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.”

UK appears to recommit to full order of 138 F-35Bs

 

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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. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Louis
Louis (@guest_803316)
3 months ago

does this not bring numbers at Marham up to 31, with 36 delivered overall?

Challenger
Challenger (@guest_803325)
3 months ago
Reply to  Louis

The article states 35 delivered (1 lost), with 4 for test purposes in the US (I thought it was 3) leaving 30 at Marham.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_803331)
3 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

Yep it was 3.

Last edited 3 months ago by ABCRodney
Steve
Steve (@guest_803367)
3 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

With 30 operational, it’s time to see a QE deck full of jets.

Challenger
Challenger (@guest_803375)
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve

All 30 (not possible given training and maintenance schedules) still wouldn’t fill a QE.

Standard air group is 36 F35’s with plenty of room for more in extremis.

According to certain sources the flight deck and hangar combined could handle 70 but that would clearly be unworkable so to generate a decent level of sorties, keep up with maintenance and avoid traffic jams around 50 jets in a full ‘surge’ load is thought to be the upper limit.

Steve
Steve (@guest_803380)
3 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

All 30 would be possible. They did that with the frigates and destroyers for the maiden deployment. They spent several years before making sure all the maintance etc all lined up perfectly for one short deployment. Would just be a PR job but right now that is all the carriers are.

The carrier can hold more but im not talking hangers, on deck. That is how US carriers show domination is a deck full of planes.

Oli G
Oli G (@guest_803395)
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Plan is for 24 in 2025 for 6+ month Indo pacific deployment

Andrew Sparry
Andrew Sparry (@guest_803401)
3 months ago
Reply to  Oli G

… do the maths. It will be 14 + 10 USMC

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_803409)
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Sparry

We need a follow on order for another 40 if we are serious about carrier strike and generating four x 12 aircraft front line Squadrons.

We need to be in the position to routinely deploy 24 aircraft without ‘breaking’ Marham and surge 36 aircraft on the active carrier when needed, to really unlock truly capable carrier strike.

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_803416)
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Sparry

Where do you get 10 USMC, we’ve stood up the 2nd squadron now, if they keep operating an 8 deployed per squadrons Well see at least 16.

Last edited 3 months ago by Hugo
Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_803479)
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Sparry

At that point in 2025 the plan is to have 2 front line squadrons of F35s..both will be deployable in 25 so the Maths says the RN could deploy two squadrons.

Jon
Jon (@guest_803505)
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Sparry

Absolutely not the plan: the 24 is explicitly UK planes. If the USMC join (which I doubt beyond some cross-decking in the Pacific) it should increase the number beyond 24. Now whether they’ll succeed in getting that many planes on deck for the full deployment is anyone’s guess. I wish them the best.

hulahoop7
hulahoop7 (@guest_803543)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

OK. These 2 airframes are ZM168 and ZM169. The last to be delivered prior to the TR-3 upgrade. These + 2 others should have been delivered in 2023 – so they are late. That takes the UK to 35 airframes delivered. 1 was lost, and 3 are in the US based OEU. That leaves 31. 20% are in maintenance at any given time. That leaves 24/25. Divided against 617, 809 and OCU gives 8 airframes each. If all the remaining 2023 and 2024 airframes are delivered before the end of the year (very unlikely) that would total 41 -1 lost… Read more »

Jon
Jon (@guest_803560)
3 months ago
Reply to  hulahoop7

It’s also planned for naval FC/ASW to be operational in 2028. What does that tell you about plans and MOD optimism bias? You have to be careful about counting 20% in maintenance as that’s just an average. Careful scheduling can create a purple patch of overaverage supply. The USMC involvement in CSG21 was signalled early in 2019 with USMC depolyments to the UK starting in 2020 for work up. With a year to go, there hasn’t been an official sniff of USMC involvement from either country. I think if they can’t do 24, they will probably cannibalise OCU and maintenance… Read more »

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_804081)
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Sparry

Why? Not that USMC aren’t welcome but if we have the numbers why not use them?

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_803406)
3 months ago
Reply to  Oli G

No chance, not without the USMC providing the other 12

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_803405)
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve

617 has a current strength of 8 jets, 809 are slowly forming up, but are not yet operational. Considering the high maintenance requirements of the aircraft (meaning a large in use reserve is needed to generate sorties) that have yet to be mastered and improved upon, it’s difficult to see both squadrons getting past 9 aircraft on strength. Two 9 x aircraft Squadrons, 18 aircraft. OCU x 8 10 x in use reserves = 36 That leaves 11 for a maintenance reserve, it’s paper thin, but just about doable….. The only way we can put 24 on the carrier, is… Read more »

Oli G
Oli G (@guest_803539)
3 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

They have planned for this deployment for many years now, ensuring the maintenance cycles etc of the jets are all lined up so the maximum number can be deployed on the carriers. By 2025 we will be looking at 42+ jets delivered to use (hopefully) so we will have enough for 24 deployed + maintenance, OCU etc

Lee John fursman
Lee John fursman (@guest_804089)
3 months ago
Reply to  Oli G

If we have to prepare for years to go and shoe the world we have some planes let’s hope if war does break out we can move fast…..

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_803477)
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve

I would say the carries are not a PR job..even a single squadron of 12 fifth generation fighters..is a massive level force in regards to maritime fixed wing aviation and more potent than any other nation other than the U.S. can put to sea…IF the RN needed to it could generate an airwing of 20 which is a huge amount of AirPower.

Steve
Steve (@guest_803486)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

12 would practically struggle to do anything. At any one time maybe 6 would be able to be in the air and at least 2 would need to be operating as CAS, leaving the remaining 4 massively out numbered against an enemy with an airforce.

Also the carriers keep going out with no planes on board, which is not helping our image, especially considering how dangerous the world is right now.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_803531)
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve

So that would mean the 9 typhoons in Cyprus who have been prosecuting operation shader over that last decade launching almost 5000 weapons is nothing….12 5th generations aircraft are a very very powerful force…actually most airforces could not even operate against them effectively…most 4th generation aircraft are attrition targets when fighting a fifth generation airforce. and as for 4 f35s not being able to operate in enemy airspace even the RAFs 4.5 generation aircraft has shown to be able to penetrate airspace..contrary to popular belief the Houthi are not farmers and tribesmen with guns they are an effective fighting force… Read more »

Steve
Steve (@guest_803551)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I’ve not seen any evidence or reports that operation shader has actually achieved anything but putting aside, its more that this isnt an opponent that has an air force. Our allies are concerned about Russia and China not a load of tribesmen.

Last edited 3 months ago by Steve
Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_803609)
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve

airforces that are generally 4 generation….your not going to force and penetrate an integrated air defence system with numbers…as the Russians found out..you force an integrated air defence system with exquisite capabilities and training.

But the reality is we are not asking the carrier to crack open Russias air defence system with 12 fighters…if we were at war with Russia and put the carrier in the Norwegian Sea it would go with every F35 we had.

Alabama Boy
Alabama Boy (@guest_805706)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

A UK carrier in the Norwegian sea? Why? with plenty of FOBs available in the region especially with Sweeden and Finland in the mix. Putting a carrier there without massive support (3x T45s) would just put our relatively small force of F35Bs in one conveient basket which would become a very attractive target for Russian subs and standoff missile attacks launched from over Russian waters and only one has to get through – shades of HMS Glorious.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_805710)
3 months ago
Reply to  Alabama Boy

It would be a full carrier battle group, supported by a lot of frigates, destroyers and submarines…why would we send the carrier without that, European NATO has a vast number of frigates and destroyers its carriers that are needed.. as to why send the carrier there…because the Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea will be the focus of a massive navel battle across the sub sea, surface and air domains and to win you need to dominate all of those…and we will need dominance in all of those areas to crack the Russian bastion defences….the carrier has massive advantages over land… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Jonathan
Nathan
Nathan (@guest_804595)
3 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

I seriously doubt 50-70 is feasible given the lean manning and design choices of QEs. Maybe you could fit them on but there would be so much moving around required with a small crew and only two lifts. Not to mention weapons and fuel delivery arrangements, fuel and magazine capacity being sized for 36.

Arson Fire
Arson Fire (@guest_803455)
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve

That’s what all of our inner children in here really want to see. It will be so nice to have capital ships that are actually fit for their intended purpose.

Steve
Steve (@guest_803470)
3 months ago
Reply to  Arson Fire

Its what our allies want to see also. The UK has been a shrinking force and is being slowly overtaken by other European nations, showing our allies that we are still strong and there if needed is useful. Sending single ships to far off nations isn’t that.

Raymond Leake
Raymond Leake (@guest_803432)
3 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

What are the tests that they are doing on these jets in the USA surely these tests should of been done before they leave the production line where they are made..and what tests are they actually doing on the jets that we have purchased can these test be done in the UK.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster (@guest_803448)
3 months ago
Reply to  Raymond Leake

LM has just this week been given approval to start Full Rate Production of F35s…they have already got orders for 1000s with them already making 150+ a year.

Testing on modern systems involves integration of systems that didn’t exist when the original plane or for that matter any military vehicle be it land or sea borne was designed. You specify compliance via DefStans and STANAGS (Data Buses etc) which makes things easier but it still needs to be tested…because something always pops up that nobody thought about as Haddon-Cave highlighted for Nimrod Xv230.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_803490)
3 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Or the Falkland’s era quick ‘n’ temporary AAR bodge then demonstrates that with tragic consequences.

The orange wired units will almost certainly play out their days at Boscombe once testing in the US winds down.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_803499)
3 months ago

I’d love to see that. I miss the fast jets at Boscombe, used to visit quite a lot.

George
George (@guest_803576)
3 months ago

I landed there on the way back from Saudi via Cyprus in 1991. It was the nearest to Porton. Had never been to Boscombe before, other than driving past the place. It was only afterwards I learned about it’s rather illustrious past.

Jonno
Jonno (@guest_834898)
1 hour ago

Why not adapt those 3 orange planes to tankers so they are doing something useful and are carrier operational?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_834906)
51 minutes ago
Reply to  Jonno

Which would require type certification for 3 frames……how would that make financial sense?

Exroyal.
Exroyal. (@guest_803318)
3 months ago

This seems very strange. We must be accepting aircraft without the upgrade, or were these already on the strength at MCAS along with the other four.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster (@guest_803449)
3 months ago
Reply to  Exroyal.

I really dont see what the Block 4 issue is such an issue.
We accepted T23 Frigates into service without Sea Ceptor, Artisan, 2087, DNA 2, PMGU and a host of other upgrades that either didnt exist or where a long term plan to acquire.

Should the RN have not built the ships and waited for the tech to mature ? Of course not. You go with what you have and spiral in upgrades as and when you can. F35 is a decades long project.

Exroyal.
Exroyal. (@guest_803461)
3 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

It seems you have a much better insight to these issues than the US DOD. If they have stopped deliveries of all variants for the tech issue I think there must be a good reason. Perhaps LM could employ you to lobby on their behalf to the DOD. It is possible they have tried this already with their own expertise. To no avail and a $400 million hit to their profits.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster (@guest_803467)
3 months ago
Reply to  Exroyal.

???
Block 4 was always from day one a future upgrade.
LM has had issues moving it on and it’s ridiculously late. However should they have just stopped all deliveries until it was working ?…of course not.
What LM loses with one hand it gains with the other. CLS is making them plenty.

Now if you are talking about Boeing…

Exroyal.
Exroyal. (@guest_803496)
3 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

It was not LM decision to stop delivering. It was the DOD. The DOD also imposed the financial penalty which caused the 400M provision in LM budget forecast for this year. Again you seem to have insight that LM and the DOD have not. You keep trying to widen this out to RN ships and now Boeing. The long and short of this is the F35 has a hiatus in development. How bad and how long remains to be seen.

DaveyB.
DaveyB. (@guest_803546)
3 months ago
Reply to  Exroyal.

In GB’s defence, there are at least two issues with the F35 that are inter-related and hindering the delivery of the aircraft of the latest standard. The first is the issue with the Pratt & Whitney (PW) F135 engine. It is effecting the -100 (F35A), -400 (F35C) and the -600 (F35B) engines. The issue is that the power turbine blades are suffering microfractures along with a protective heat coating flaking off. This is predominantly affecting the -600 engine, due to the time spent in the hover at max dry thrust. But has also been found in the -100 and -400… Read more »

George
George (@guest_803592)
3 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB.

It’s criminal that we did not have our own full production line here in GB. Had we gone with 300+ airframes, things may have been different. What do you think?

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker (@guest_803637)
3 months ago
Reply to  George

30+ billion for just aircraft. The U.K. does have a good deal on the F35. Some say it’s brought in more money than has been paid out already. Ideally we get to 4 front line squadrons 2 for navy 2 for RAF and the OCU. That also would include extra aircraft for maintenance so 12 were always ready for each squadron. 90 aircraft should do it. Then another squadron for when tempest is delayed 😂😂😂.
These are all B models and the U.K. goes all in on dispersed operations.

DaveyB.
DaveyB. (@guest_803642)
3 months ago
Reply to  George

I think there would still be the same engine issues and software integration issues. Does make me wonder if Italy are in a better position, where they build F35s from kits rather than the UK having that 15% or so of construction parts etc?

Sadly there zero chance that LM will allow anyone to “fiddle” with their software. Even though BAe do have some inroads, just not enough for weapons integration.

George
George (@guest_803822)
3 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB.

Our Israeli friends have permission to fiddle with the software. All things are possible when big sales and exchanges of technologies are on the table. It would have helped if we had also bought into the F35A. A GB situated repair facility for all European based airframes, could have been a very lucrative strategic asset. It may not be too late if sales take off again and we up our orders.

LongTime
LongTime (@guest_804304)
3 months ago
Reply to  George

But it’s not just 15%(low estimate by the way) of build it’s maintenance too as the parts will still be needed. It’s also 15% of every F35 A & C built and 20% of every B built for every nation.

George
George (@guest_804326)
3 months ago
Reply to  LongTime

F35 has become a very important weapon where the free world allies are concerned. Making the LM production facility and supply chain golden targets for our enemies. Therefore duplication of everything would be a wise thing to do. I’m biased of course, wanting GB to have bigger slices of everything, a full production line for example. I’ll champion any argument that justifies such a huge investment. Such a national asset would permit our F35s to benefit from preferential service and upgrades. As well as a surge production potential should the new cold war heat up.

LongTime
LongTime (@guest_804341)
3 months ago
Reply to  George

I get where you’re coming from but even LMs line is just final assembly. So even is we had an assembly/mod facility in the UK we couldn’t build much quicker as we would still need to buy kits and then assemble, I suspect all we would achieve is adding another link in the supply chain for not a huge benefit in production rate.

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_803320)
3 months ago

Excellent. With the F35 being in full production shortly and we are approaching a resolution to the software issue (at least on the hardware side) perhaps we could purchase a significant number running up to 2030.

maurice10
maurice10 (@guest_803322)
3 months ago

I hate the word upgrade as it begins the habit of segregating the fleet into tranches, which ultimately means redundancy as witnessed with Typhoon. Ultimately, we end up with fewer planes as early airframes end up at RAF Shawbury then the cutters torch. Admittedly, many parts are gained with this process so not all is wasted. I give it five years before the cull begins.

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_803355)
3 months ago
Reply to  maurice10

They’ve already committed to upgrading all the older F35s in our fleet

Louis
Louis (@guest_803371)
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugo

The 3 orange wire and the oldest non orange wire (BK3 I think) can’t be upgraded.

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_803386)
3 months ago
Reply to  Louis

Ah true

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_803492)
3 months ago
Reply to  Louis

Which is a perfectly rational decision.

George
George (@guest_803824)
3 months ago
Reply to  Louis

Trade them in and buy new replacements.

Louis
Louis (@guest_804199)
3 months ago
Reply to  George

Nobody will want BK3. The USMC is the only other operator of pre Block VIII F35Bs, and they plan to retire them all.

As for the orange wires, nobody will want them either.

LongTime
LongTime (@guest_804352)
3 months ago
Reply to  Louis

LM have said that The BK3s can be upgraded but it’s not as simple as later Blocks, it’s essentially a rebuild from ground up at which point it’ll be uneconomic, also isn’t it only 8 cabs that are BK3 so they could stay on OCU maybe???
Orange wired ones are so complicated to modify to operational levels that LM haven’t even looked at that option but that’s mainly due to large proportions of the test and monitoring kit being embedded in the airframe.

maurice10
maurice10 (@guest_803475)
3 months ago
Reply to  Hugo

History shows that intent is not always a guarantee, especially with military hardware.

Jonno
Jonno (@guest_834899)
1 hour ago
Reply to  maurice10

This business of culling old stuff reminds one of us pushing good Corsairs and the such like over the side when the Pacific Fleet returned home in 1945 so we didnt have to pay the yanks for them as by then we were stoney flat broke.
At least then we still had various industries we could manufacture stuff with for export.
I’d like to see a Sea Fury version of the Tempest. So would Japan and Italy is my guess.

Challenger
Challenger (@guest_803327)
3 months ago

35 delivered which has taken a decade or more and we’re not even at block 4 yet!

Yes F35 is needed and a world beating capability……but by Christ it’s a slow gestation towards full rate production and is eye watering expensive (if not in unit price then apparently in maintenance and weapons integration)!!!

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_803333)
3 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

To be a bit of a “Devils Avocate” considering the number we originally commited to, the number we have actually bought and the miserly number we will end up with. I’m surprised we have got away with deal so far !
UK PLC is quids in overall as we build by value 15% of every F35 built which is valued at over £40 billion of income over the length of the contract.
And I’m not sure that includes the other important bit we build here, the MB Ejector Seat.
🙂

Jim
Jim (@guest_803337)
3 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

F35 does not come with any set production quotas like Typhoon, partner nations are merely given the opportunity to tender. Much of the UK content is almost impossible to replace from ejector seats to refueling probes and lift fans.

BAE was LM’s development partner and carved itself out some nice work flow in fuselage (made in UK) as well as EW systems (largely made in US by BAE)

Louis
Louis (@guest_803369)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

The good news about that, is that LM have said recently that the UK is now making ‘significantly more’ than 15% for each F35.
Probably only means a couple percent but still significant.

Martine Baker, Cobham, Rolls Royce all have significant American facilities, they don’t have to build components here, and it’s only because we’re a tier one partner that they are.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_803417)
3 months ago
Reply to  Louis

And our Labour costs are far lower !

Jon
Jon (@guest_803508)
3 months ago
Reply to  Louis

Cobham is American these days, isn’t it?

Last edited 3 months ago by Jon
Jon
Jon (@guest_803600)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Just looked it up. While it was sold to a US company in 2020, they asset-stripped, split it up and sold the pieces to different parent companies, leaving no UK manufacturing. The bits are mostly American, I think, but Thales is still in the hunt for the aerospace communications part of the business, so it could end up being part French.

Louis
Louis (@guest_803780)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

The various companies were split up and all are foreign owned.

There has been no move in manufacturing, the air refuelling part is owned by Eaton and still has the same manufacturing footprint it did before.

Jonno
Jonno (@guest_834901)
1 hour ago
Reply to  Jon

Never again! The sleepy conservatives should never have allowed the sale of Chobham or ARM. I hope Labour revitalise UK manufacturing.

Jim
Jim (@guest_803334)
3 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

The problem is they keep up scoping the blocks, Block IV is virtually an entirely new version of the F35.

Chris
Chris (@guest_803398)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

The sensors suite has completely changed. The new fidelity is higher and more advanced, necessitating a new back end architecture. No other fighter in production has near this capability. I don’t think many proposed 5th gen jets under development will touch it either.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_803332)
3 months ago

Meh… when will this lumbering bureaucratic and technologic nightmare be fully operational with proper weapons?

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_803482)
3 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

Be far Alex it is operational with proper weapons, the Paveway IV is the RAFs found attack weapon of choice for most targets…even when they use typhoon that has any number of weapons integrated they tend to default the Paveway IV, ASRAAM is the best in class missile and amraam is hardly rubbish.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_803500)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

It’s the ASM we lack. ASRAAM AMRAAM are fine as is PIV.

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_803522)
3 months ago

ASMP?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_803535)
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Whats ASMP mate? ASM Anti Ship missile. I believe the best way to attack opfor vessels is via air power. F35 needs an ASM as obviously with PIV that’s not ideal, even with stealth.

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_803587)
3 months ago

If I got the letters the right way round its the French nuclear tipped air launched missile…their tactical level deterrent.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_803654)
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Ahhh ok.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_803534)
3 months ago

Indeed, that’s the one weakness…I would like to see us buy an interim load of JSMs for F35..the integration of that could be done relatively quickly I would imagine…it’s being sorted for the F35A this year.

Oli G
Oli G (@guest_803549)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Doesnt fit in f-35b payload bay

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_803605)
3 months ago
Reply to  Oli G

Wings it can fit on the wing hard points…anti shipping strike has less need for stealth as you not generally penetrating through an integrated air defence system to make the strike..your using the radar horizontal to hide and strike…

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_804568)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Paveway is too short range against proper air defences.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_803336)
3 months ago

I was under the impression the ones we have been waiting for were the embargoed TR3 ones so does that mean the embargo has been lifted ?
Also I thought we had bought a replacement for the one that went for a swim ? Which means 49 were ordered with 3/4 test only ones (I’m sure it was 3 not 4) and 1 right off.
The other small issue is that the last time I saw any figures the additional budget allocated in this decades agreed equipment budget for more F35B was £1400 million, which is only 12/14 Aircraft.

Joe16
Joe16 (@guest_803345)
3 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

I also thought that we were waiting to get the TR-3 aircraft, I hope we haven’t settled for aircraft without the hardware…

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_803362)
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

TR3 will not be ready until.later this year (at best), so these 3 new aircraft will not have been upgrade to TR3.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_803422)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

Production ready TR3 aircraft have been flying since December, according to LM, Summer is the new reported starting delivery period for such aircraft now, but in reality I fear you are right, we certainly won’t be first in the queue for any updated aircraft that’s for sure.

Joe16
Joe16 (@guest_803491)
3 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Given that we’ve previously given up our slots to the USMC so they could get IOC earlier, I could well believe that we are in fact very near the head of the queue, if not at the front.
Whether these are TR-3 or not though is still the question- and @Cripes unfortunately suggests not…

Joe16
Joe16 (@guest_803494)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

That’s disappointing, and pretty baffling as to why we’d accept delivery of them rather than wait another 9 months. The decision will be either contractual or political, because I don’t see the military sense in it.

Jon
Jon (@guest_803511)
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

Even a hope of 24 in ’25 means we can’t delay 9 months. You can’t take delivery on day -1.

Joe16
Joe16 (@guest_803521)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Fair point- that would make it a political choice then. I know it would have felt painful to the MOD, given they don’t often get a lot of good press, but I’d still have punted and held out for the TR-3s. We’ll only have to send them back across the Atlantic for the new hardware anyway.

Jon
Jon (@guest_803604)
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

We’ll probably have to do that anyway. The new radar, sensors, and EW suite aren’t scheduled until Lot-17. Then there’ll be the engine upgrades.

Joe16
Joe16 (@guest_803802)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Oh, my mistake, I thought that the TR-3 included the radar etc. I knew that the engines wouldn’t get a look in this time- too much going on with potential for an alternative and all that. I guess it’s kind of always the way with an type of aircraft, but amplified because so many nations have so much riding on it. It should be noted that it was really the first 5th Gen aircraft designed with the intent to be mass produced, and only China seems to be making any headway doing something similar- and we can probably take for… Read more »

Louis
Louis (@guest_803370)
3 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

We haven’t bought a replacement for the lost F35. It wouldn’t make sense to order a single one. Gov have said it will form part of the tranche 2 order.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_803418)
3 months ago
Reply to  Louis

Ta

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_803502)
3 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

10 billion allocated for Tempest mate. Otherwise people could have their F35s.

Chris
Chris (@guest_803980)
3 months ago

10 billion would buy 100 F-35’s.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_804298)
3 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Just read today the money for the 2nd buy of 27 jets has been ring fenced. I don’t believe for a moment we’d get any more and I’d suggest we don’t need to. 75 F35B plus 107 Typhoon plus Tempest coming is pretty good.
Sadly, I worry it’ll all change as soon as Labour have their SDSR.

Jim
Jim (@guest_803340)
3 months ago

A fleet of 47 by 2025 is not too shabby. That is easily enough for any maritime operation the UK is ever likely to mount on its own. There are a few videos doing the rounds on YouTube showing how just a flight of four F35 could gain air superiority in Ukraine so having nearly 50 flying off the carriers is quite the capability. It’s light years ahead of the Harriers and Tornados it is replacing and once it has SPEAR, SPEAR EW and Meteor it will arguably be the most capable aircraft on the planet until NGAD or Tempest… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_803344)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Not too shaby!? interesting how people start to accept a disastrous programme.

Jim
Jim (@guest_803350)
3 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

Or just get fed up of the constant mis placed nostalgia and defeatism that is UK defence commentary.

Fact is that with F35 and QE class, Th UK at sea aviation capability is better than at any time since 1945.

Jim
Jim (@guest_803389)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

And how many Buccaneers and phantoms could operate of a UK carrier please at any one time?

How many UK carriers could even operate both?

F35 is better than both Phantom or Buccaneer in every way except un refuelled internal range.

Airborne
Airborne (@guest_803397)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

No sorry, no matter how you cut your agenda, the Bucc and the Phantom are not even close to the F35! Both platforms would last less time in the air than a drunken trampolinist, in a modern contested environment! Give your head a shake and lose the agenda.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_803425)
3 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

He knows it, he is just being disruptive, whatever the problems of the programme the F-35 is far superior to anything else around and will be for many years to come. Its stealth superiority alone is hundreds of times better than the J20 probably, its best prospective opposition.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_803503)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Well said that man.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_803485)
3 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

Yes but what are we measuring against….if we take the rest of the world a fixed wing navel aviation capability of 40+ fifth generation fighters in 2025 will be a more powerful capability than any nations bar the US…it will take china a while to overtake that capability….one thing the RN has got now is better navel aviation than any potential enemy and almost every friend….it’s the escort levels and SSN levels that worry not the navel aviation.

Jim
Jim (@guest_803504)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Actually I don’t think the USN has a single ship carrying more than 20 5th Gen aircraft at the moment. Most of the Nimitz class can’t carry F35C yet operationally and they will routinely only carry a single F35C squadron.

So Queen Elizabeth class with two F35 squadrons onboard is a major capability compared to any navy in the world including the USN.

Jon
Jon (@guest_803514)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

You are quite right, and USS Tripoli only took 20 as a one-off experiment.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_803536)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Indeed but I will give the US carriers there enablers that make those 3 F18 strike squadrons very effective..and where they have the 1 f35C and 2F18 strike squadron mix we know the mix of fifth generation and 4 generation can be very potent….but yes as of next year the likely greatest concentration of 5th generation navel aviation will be on the Elizabeth’s..and when we are at the point of having 3 squadrons..they will be the single most potent navel strike platform on the planet…as the U.S. are only ever planning 1 fifth generation squadron per carrier.

Chris
Chris (@guest_803981)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

You guys crack me up. A ship with sup par helicopter AEW and no aerial refueling capability what so ever is the “most potent naval strike platform”. Comical.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_804013)
3 months ago
Reply to  Chris

And what does every other than the US have Chris…crack me up and tell me about everyone else’s fixed wing navel strike that’s going to better than a couple of squadrons of the best ( only) 5th generation strike fighter on the planet….make laugh mate.

Jonno
Jonno (@guest_834903)
1 hour ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Navel gazing isn’t the answer; its Naval that’s good.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_834915)
20 seconds ago
Reply to  Jonno

Navels are important jonno they connect everything together….😂🤣

Paul42
Paul42 (@guest_803353)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I understand the F35B lost is due to be replaced, we’ll actually get 49 in the first batch with 3 in the USA.

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_803368)
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul42

I don’t think so. As things stand, we will have 47 by end 2035. It is of course possible that MOD buys a couple extra. Howevet, our budget only runs to 6 a year, 7 at a stretch. If we get 7 more this year and 7 in 2025, that will just get us to 47.

Anything more than that would be a bonus. I suppose HMG might order an extra couple to lumber incoming Labour government with the bill.

Paul42
Paul42 (@guest_803381)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

I believe funding for the replacement aircraft has already been allocated.

Louis
Louis (@guest_803421)
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul42

Funding for the replacement and the tranche 2 F35Bs has been allocated, but none have been ordered.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_803419)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

Of which 4 cannot be used, so 43 that’s it at present.

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_803423)
3 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

I think it’s actually 3 ABC, based in the USA. They are in constant use, as they form the Operational Evaluation Unit, so they trial and test tactics and put every new aircraft through its paces before signing it off as good for active service. They whizzed over here to do the first carrier landings, before giving the procedures the green light. So I guess they are busy bunnies. I assume they will get the first TRF3 and Block 4 aircraft to play with before they are delivered to the UK. Don’t know what will happen with their 3 aircraft… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_804303)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

Echoing others, just read today 2nd tranche of 27 has had its budget “ting fenced”
Nice if it survives Labour’s SDSR.

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_804355)
3 months ago

Assume that’s on top of the 48 already ordered, so a total of 74, just as 1SL/now CDS said he wanted . Oh well, the RN got its way. I think Italy and Japan got the right answer – Typhoon/F15 for air defence, F-35A for interdiction and a smattering of F-35Bs for their navies. We have ended up with a doughring – Typhoons for air defence, umpty F-35Bs for our one operational carrier, but a big hole in the middle whete the key task of interdictiont has gone walkabout. The B is too short range and carries too limited a… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_804365)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

Well, if Labour cancel Tempest you’ll probably get the As mate.
And those extra B have not been ordered yet!
The next lot, everyone here knows my reservations based on historical behaviour and how many of their MPs seem to oppose this nation being somebody on the world stage. Some of them are currently acting more like Palestinian MPs than British MPs as we speak, so I’d guess their interest in defence goes as far as “defence” only.
We shall see.

Alabama Boy
Alabama Boy (@guest_805711)
3 months ago

I doubt Labour will cancel Tempest as much of the spend is still in the future. As far as I know, no numbers are assigned to a Tempest buy so it can be ‘all things to all men’ much loved by politicians. They will just slow roll the investment but on paper nothing has changed afterall who belives the current forcast for Tempest. They will probably argue its better for British Industry to invest (in Tempest) than buy new (US) aircraft off the shelf so I’d be pleasantly suprised if they commit to the original numbers of F35s. I expect… Read more »

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_803365)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

When you speak about having “50 flying off the carriers’, you overlook that half of these are earmarked for close air support of ground forces.

The RAF, which is paying for the F-35s, has to meet 2 roles, Naval FSR and Army CAS. If the RN is prevented from running away with ball here, what we should have by end next year is something like:

WingCo (1)
RN Sqn (12 of 19)
CAS Sqn (12 of 19)
OEU (3)
OCU (5)

= 47 aircraft

Jim
Jim (@guest_803382)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

All UK F35 are paid for by the government and no the RAF and all UK F35 and pilots are to be carrier qualified.

Literally no such thing as a CAS squadron or RN squadron. There is just F35 and what ever mission they are set to be it CAS, AA or Deep strike.

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_803407)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Jim, when you say that everything is paid for by HMG, that is a statement of the obvious! Of course HMG provides the defence budget – who else could provide it?!! However, the reality is that the budget is just the agreed figure negotiated with and awarded to each of the services and TLBs (1) Each is given its own agreed equipment budget. The F-35s are paid for out of the RAF’s combat air budget, the RN does not make any contribution to the F-35s. Second point: the F-35 force replaces the Joint Hartier force of yesteryear and has the… Read more »

ABCRodney
ABCRodney (@guest_803424)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

Have you read PPST23 ? Its an interesting read if somone can explain to me how we can have an AWACS programme that has an agreed budget of £2.1 billion is coming in at £1.9 Billion (saving us £200 million) but only delivers 3 Aircraft is value for money I’d love to know ?
Oh and £200 million is about the cost od 2 decent low hours 737 NG.

Jim
Jim (@guest_803507)
3 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

I’m still hoping they add the other two on, even if they did it and sold them it would probably be worth it.

Exroyal.
Exroyal. (@guest_803465)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

A dose of reality on here at long last. I will add a portion more to that. The RN budget has and will continue to be under pressure by the cost of the carriers, the current SSN and SSBN fleet. Also the future SSBN now under construction. It leaves very little for the surface fleet and RM.

Jon
Jon (@guest_803523)
3 months ago
Reply to  Exroyal.

If the RN has decided to group most of its tier one power around CSGs that doesn’t put pressure on the surface fleet: it’s part of the surface fleet. Tier two/three does/will do presence, constabulary, patrol etc. That escorts are understrength is primary due to very separate choices, with the need to address the unreliability of the T45s and the slow-build T26s, which has nothing to do with having to run the carriers when the decisions were made in 2015 relating to 2016 CDEL budgets. The carriers’ operational budget is RDEL. You can’t swap between these budgets at will. You… Read more »

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_804328)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

I think all that is a long way from both history and facts. The reality is that. to maintain an escorts fleet of around 19, with a maximum service life of 24 years , we need to be commissioning one per year, with a couple of years between classes. The Conservative Governments from 2010 inherited the last 2 T45s but have not built or commissioned a single escort of their own in 14 years, hence the T23s are clapped out. Reason for not ordering any escorts? Wholly because they had £7bn (and probably the rest)to find for the wretched carriers,… Read more »

Jim
Jim (@guest_803506)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

Joint force lightning is not joint force harrier because the F35 is also in large part the replacement for the Tornado. If the carrier needs 50 aircraft for an operation it will get them, if the RAF needs the 50 aircraft instead on the northern German plane it will get them. We only scaled to do one operation at a time which is fine given the threat environment we face and their overwhelming superiority of our Allie’s. It’s questionable on who pays for the F35 procurement but the RN certainly provides maintainers and pilots. They are very much a joint… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_803541)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

The reality is the F35 is not a close air support platforms it’s a strike platform..you would not be risking a profoundly expensive 5th generation strike aircraft on close air support…they are designed for deep penetration of enemy airspace/stike and or dominance of the airspace…in the RAF close air support is provided by FGR4…not F35 and the army has its organic and very effective rotor close air support in the Apache..which was fully delivered by 2004… In reality we have F35 for day one of the war penetration of enemy airspace and striking key targets..if that penetration and strike is… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Jonathan
Cripes
Cripes (@guest_803573)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Yes indeed. I am using Close Air Support simply because that’s the name the RAF use. The conventional CAS role has changed considerably. We are no longer going to see jets strafing the enemy trenches erc, air defences rule that out. The CAS role on the battlefield will change as you say to interdiction, with the emphasis on beating up the enemy supply lines, bridges, railways, and knocking out command centres, supply dumps etc. First priority will be enemy radar and SAM sites, plus missile launching sites. All this remains support of the ground forces though. The flaw in the… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_803613)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

I don’t think the UK would ever go for three fleets or aircraft..whatever the blue about commonality the F35A and B are essentially different aircraft…so I don’t think a n A buy is on the cards…but I do think we need to up our number of squadrons..in reality the typhoon is a profoundly good strike platform and fighter and I think we should increase the numbers with a tranche four buy for an extra squadron so move from 5 to 6 ( with IX bomber as an extra on top for 7 deployable squadrons) …it’s the same with the F35B… Read more »

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_804335)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I think you better contact the US Marine Corps to let them know.

“You know, these Close Air Support F-35Bs you’re getting are… err… not really close air support aircraft at all, they are something else.
And you really need to put them on carriers, like the British, because as they are not CAS, you don’t have a role for them, do you?”

Oh yes. that would go down well I’m sure.

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_803454)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Jim, a fleet of 47, equates to two 9 aircraft operational squadrons.

47 machines, when you factor in the use reserves, the OCU and the maintenance fleet, gets you a handful of operational aircraft.

A surge to 24 on the carrier at a push.

Exroyal.
Exroyal. (@guest_803459)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

That flight of four would be A variant not the B we have purchased.

Jim
Jim (@guest_803510)
3 months ago
Reply to  Exroyal.

No it could be any variant, the B can do practically anything the A can in an operationally relevant context.

In a conflict like Ukraine where air bases are under threat from missiles B offers many operational benefits over A and C.

This is why it’s the USMC getting much of the funding to counter China in the SCS. This is why Singapore is buying F35B even though it does not have a carrier.

It’s also large part of the reason Japan is investing in F35B.

Exroyal.
Exroyal. (@guest_803544)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I am sorry but I don’t really have the time to go into this. I think you have no concept of the USMC and the change they are going through. They are constantly evolving force, and the latest evolution is huge on their part. Losing Abrahams just one aspect. More to the point though in the case of your Ukraine scenario a fanciful idea. In the USMC model they want to get the B of the LPH as soon as possible. Operating from FOB and FARP. They are equipped to do that at first line. The logistics for that at… Read more »

DaveyB.
DaveyB. (@guest_803683)
3 months ago
Reply to  Exroyal.

I can help here. We lost the forward deployable aircraft logistics to a significant degree, when we pulled out of Germany. Harrier had a huge logistics tail. Chinooks were earmarked to support them by supplying fuel. They even did hot refuels using the so called light weight FARP kit. We have sort of maintained a field capability through helicopter support. Chinook still supports hot refuels for Apache and Wildcat. Though we lost a big chunk when Herc’s went out of service. As they also did hot refuels to both fixed wing and rotary. The A400 has been used on trials,… Read more »

Exroyal.
Exroyal. (@guest_804070)
3 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB.

Like nearly every aspect of defence when you look closely especially if you have real first hand military experience everything is sadly lacking. As we found out in the Sandbox conflicts and the Falklands, exercises do not prepare you fully for war. A small instance in point while running a FARP. We had six tactical refuellers. Mainly refuelling Sea Kings, Puma Lynx and gazelle. The 47s had enough fuel for round trips so rarely came in. I was lucky that I had served in the US so was upclose acquainted with the Apache. So move forward to our first visit… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_803483)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

It’s actually the second most power fixed wing navel aviation on the planet….so not to shabby is really an understatement.

Jim
Jim (@guest_803513)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Exactly but don’t tell all the haters on here that.

The J15 and its ski jump are obviously superior to our punny little carriers as is the single French pocket carrier which can apparently operate as many aircraft as QE class at 50% less mass because clearly the French are awesome and don’t have to obey the same laws of physics as us stupid Brit’s who are clearly crap at everything 😀

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_803538)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

And the French are flawless at making sure the 50% of the time their carrier is operational is the only time it’s needed.

grizzler
grizzler (@guest_804139)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

No one is putting SPEAR or Meteor on an F35 at the moment- or know for certain when they will be.
There you go ..sorted that for you.

Crabfat
Crabfat (@guest_803347)
3 months ago

So have we got enough pilots, now, to fly 48 F-35’s? And what about the dozens more we are expecting? With the state of the basic and advanced training programmes at present, it seems unlikely…

John Hartley
John Hartley (@guest_803359)
3 months ago

We really want the F-35B with the uprated engine, cooling & new APG-85 radar. That is not likely to be available before 2029.

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_803372)
3 months ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Yep, the US Government Accounts Office has said that Block 4 is currently expected in 2029, so 5 years away before we can start thinking about fitting our own weapons. That all assumes that Block 4 doesn’t slip further behind, which has been the recurring story so far.

Jim
Jim (@guest_803383)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

That is the completion of Block IV , it’s delivered in stages.

Meirion X
Meirion X (@guest_803396)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Yes, incremental like.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay (@guest_803399)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

👍

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_803410)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I don’t think so. 2029 is the date when LM expect/hope/wish to have the software complete and passed as operational. The hardware and radar upgrades could I imagine be done any time soon, but they won’t be operational without the final software program, which is the bit that is holding everything up.

Jim
Jim (@guest_803516)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

There are currently 7 increments in two separate series under block IV with the first increments being delivered in 2019 and the last in 2029.

Richard Beedall
Richard Beedall (@guest_803391)
3 months ago

That sounds right – 35 a/c delivered – 30 now at Marham and 4 test aircraft at Edward AB, plus 1 write-off. Where I’m confused is how many of the remaining 13 a/c are currently formally on contract from Lockheed Martin, it could be as few as 2 (both TR-3 standard). It’s unclear if any UK F-35B’s were included in last years LRIP-15 (lot 15) contract. It’s thus quite possible that 11 a/c are still to be ordered this year (lot 16) and next (lot 17). And whether the MOD actually has the money to order six or more F-35B’s… Read more »

DP
DP (@guest_803400)
3 months ago

I appreciate 809 sqn was stood up in 2023 but (I’m not sure of the technical terminology) does this now pave the way for it to operate independantly of 617?

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_803415)
3 months ago
Reply to  DP

It isn’t anywhere near operational strength and won’t be until the remaining 14 aircraft on order are delivered by the end of next year. With these new arrivals. we have 33 aircraft total. They will likely be allocated to: – the WingCo – 2 – 617 Sqn – 19, of which 12 front line – the OEU in the USA – 3 – the OCU – probably 5 That totals 29, leaving 4 for 809 Sqn. 809 must be using some of 617’s reserve aircraft for now, in oder to be stood up, so maybe it can draw on something… Read more »

John Stevens
John Stevens (@guest_803434)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

Hi.. 34 Total.

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_803458)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

You’re not factoring in the maintenance reserve, that’s going to run at 10 plus aircraft at any one time. At best, it’s a nominal 9 aircraft per operational squadron, the aircraft is yet to conquer it’s relitivly poor reliability, so 10 in use reserves will be needed to ensure 18 are mission ready. A UK only (combat as opposed to flag waving) carrier deployment will likely run to 24 aircraft on a combat deployment (Squadrons being reinforced for deployment), perhaps more if reliability doesn’t improve and we take some of the maintenance reserve with us. As for the RAF using… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by John Clark
Cripes
Cripes (@guest_803481)
3 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

I already factored in the maintenance reaerve. The standard RAF squadron layout is as follows: Frontline aircraft: 12 Squadron reserve i.e. your maintenance reserve, 25%: 3 War reserve, 25%: 3 Attrition reserve, 10% of frontline + sqn reserve: 1.5 Total: 19.5 You can round that up to 20 or down to 19. If we ever get 74 aircraft, it will be 20. If maintenance is a big issue, they would normally borrow some aircraft from the war and attrition reserve pool rather than cut frontline numbers. I don’t know where the assumption is coming from that all F-35s will be… Read more »

Jon
Jon (@guest_803528)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

We should order more Typhoons, and all the money earmarked for future F-35 purchases need to go to buying aircraft now. The fight tonight is what we have neglected for so long, and budgets set aside for the available in the early 2030s must be raided.

Of course the real answer is for the Tories to topple Rishi Sunak, persuade Ben Wallace to lead the country, and to bolster defence spending by cancelling HS2 and reversing some of the £20bn worth of tax cuts.

Grinch
Grinch (@guest_803565)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Yeah, that’ll get them reelected (eyes roll)

klonkie
klonkie (@guest_803696)
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

Cripes, I’m ex Air Force ops, your numbers are petty accurate .👌

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_803404)
3 months ago

Can anyone explain in simple terms what a software upgrade (ie Block 4) amounts to? It seems that there is also hardware changes? If it was just a s/w update why could a Tier 1 partner such as ourselves not upgrade a Block 3 aircraft to Block 4 in squadron lines?

Jim
Jim (@guest_803518)
3 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

There are 7 increments on block IV, each is effectively an upgraded operating system for the aircraft coming with additional features and bug fixes. In parallel there is Tech Refresh 3 (TR3) which is virtually a new aircraft with new computers, radar and engine cooling. But for the purposes of Block IV it’s the new processors that will be the big change which will allow the aircraft to run the final version of the Block IV software called series 40. The USMC intally cleared IOC on the F35B with block II software but the plane could not do much. Everyone… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_803635)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Thanks Jim, I presume that it is better (cheaper) to buy a Block IV/TR3 aircraft than to receive Block III aircraft and later modify it? Could a Tier 1 partner such as UK, do such upgrades within the UK?

Jon
Jon (@guest_803550)
3 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

There’s a significant set of hardware changes, called Technology Refresh 3 or TR3 for short. It includes new CPUs, new memory system and a panoramic cockpit display with new pilot interface. [In IT-years the F-35 is antediluvian and the current CPU specs will make you want to ditch the lot and buy a second-hand phone from the corner shop as an interim upgrade.] TR3 may or may not technically also include the new radar and the new EW system. I think they are coming shortly in Lot 17 (2025/26) if there are no delays.There are also software changes that do… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Jon
Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_803640)
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Thanks Jon, very detailed and very clear. I see no end to future expensive upgrades.

Roger
Roger (@guest_803413)
3 months ago

The nightmare scenario remains: a future Government moves away from that national statement of intent. Whoever forms the Government after the pending election could find reasons, based on their analysis of the books, and the resources available. We end up then with two great ships that are glorified helicopter carriers, carrying a token number of British fighter/bomber aircraft, but primarily a platform for the USMC.

Jim
Jim (@guest_803519)
3 months ago
Reply to  Roger

That’s why they are investing in drones now as future F35 placements.

grizzler
grizzler (@guest_804144)
3 months ago
Reply to  Roger

If you were a cynic it was ever thus…

J Bosley
J Bosley (@guest_803420)
3 months ago

I don’t see how funding has been agreed for the next batch as there is a current £16 billion black hole in MOD procurement. Lots of new equipment promised but not the money to pay for it. The f35s will just get added to the list for a future government to either cancel or find the money.

Raymond Leake
Raymond Leake (@guest_803427)
3 months ago

The lightning jet fighter that was lost on the British Aircraft carrier did it malfunction or was it lost due to human error and are they insured..if the Aircraft malfunctioned should we get another one free of charge from America

Frank
Frank (@guest_803445)
3 months ago
Reply to  Raymond Leake

See what happened was… the Plane was hooked up to the Catapult the wrong way round and the two engines lacked enough reverse thrust to compensate…. so it fell off.

DH
DH (@guest_803450)
3 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Ms Marple, you are a wag 🤣👍🙃🕳️

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_803466)
3 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Understandable mistake Frank, these things happen…..😂😂😂

lonpfrb
lonpfrb (@guest_803478)
3 months ago
Reply to  Raymond Leake

Operational error not manufacturing error so no warranty possible.

F35B is not supposed to work with the engine intake covers afixed. Jet engines like to breathe air just not salt water.

Having a place to put engine intake covers and check them before spinning up the engines is important and was a $100 Mn lesson.

Jim
Jim (@guest_803520)
3 months ago
Reply to  Raymond Leake

Human error, an operator left the engine cover on the inlet.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_803645)
3 months ago
Reply to  Raymond Leake

At least one engine cover was left on if not both. Error by maintenance crew and pilot who should check these things. No claim on the US manufacturer. MoD does not insure anything – they just pay the bill.

Drew murrY
Drew murrY (@guest_803430)
3 months ago

Shouldn’t planes flying from an rn carrier be manned by f,a,a pilots .let the raf concentrate on what they know best.this seemed to work quite well in a conflict about forty odd years ago.who decided to change it?.

DH
DH (@guest_803453)
3 months ago
Reply to  Drew murrY

Hi DMY, while you are gamely correct, RN carriers are a military asset and paid for by “juggling”said military financial coffers. Airframes are /were non negotiable to the RAF (god forbid), lots of historical and factual books & info available on the subject. The FAA is a small Corp of the RN, and the bean counters treat it as such. Changes are brought about by a whole raft of constantly differing, not always correct decision makers. Research is up to you. I thank you…….. 🤗😶👍🕳️.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_803647)
3 months ago
Reply to  Drew murrY

The RAF have been flying off carriers at least since (and including) the Falklands conflict over 40 years ago. It still seems strange to me that this should be the case.

George
George (@guest_803575)
3 months ago

Somehow, I do not believe we will ever have 138 of them at the same time. GB could realistically use more than double that number, if we were to fully replace the roles of Harriers, Sea Harriers, Jaguars and some Tornadoes. As first intended. 300 would be good but would still leave us short of replacements for combat losses.

Frank
Frank (@guest_803606)
3 months ago

Did you know that 5000 F4 Phantoms were built between 1963 and 1979 ????? …. just sayin !

klonkie
klonkie (@guest_803697)
3 months ago
Reply to  Frank

true Frank, however you need to factor in Vietnam and the cold war . Plenty of F4s in Europe NATO , Japan, Iran, Israel et al. That being said, F 16 numbers are pretty much getting up there too!

grizzler
grizzler (@guest_804147)
3 months ago
Reply to  Frank

and over 20,000 Spitfires built…

DONALD MACLEOD
DONALD MACLEOD (@guest_803649)
3 months ago

It seems probable that we have not been able to proceed with the full order of F-35’s within the timetable originally planned because of the reduction in the value of the £ Stg against the US$ caused by Brexit.

Silent Majority
Silent Majority (@guest_803785)
3 months ago

You Numpties, feeding data out to the world… 🙁

Rob N
Rob N (@guest_803844)
3 months ago

I thought the lost jet would be replaced…. is this part of the 24 follow on batch?