An F-35 Lightning has carried out trials armed with UK-built weapons, showcasing the major role that the UK plays in the supersonic aircraft and bringing it a step closer to operations on the frontline.

Defence Minister Stuart Andrew revealed that a British F-35B Lightning jet reached the landmark milestone whilst he was on a visit to the Defence Electronics and Components Agency (DECA) in Wales earlier in the week.

The MoD say that the Welsh site is set to become a global repair hub for the cutting-edge aircraft, providing crucial maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade services for F-35 avionics, electronic and electrical components, fuel, mechanical and hydraulic systems.

The jet, which was flown by a British pilot from RAF 17 Squadron, took to the skies from Edwards Air Force base in southern California for the momentous flight carrying ASRAAM air-to-air missiles.

Defence Minister Stuart Andrew said:

“The F-35 Lightning fleet has moved another step closer to defending the skies and supporting our illustrious aircraft carriers with this landmark flight. Exceptional engineering from the UK is not only helping to build what is the world’s most advanced fighter jet, but is also ensuring that it is equipped with the very best firepower.

This flight by a British pilot, in a British F-35 jet with British-built weapons is a symbol of the major part we are playing in what is the world’s biggest ever defence programme, delivering billions for our economy and a game-changing capability for our Armed Forces.”

The trials were the first-time UK weapons have flown on a British F-35, and represent a key part of the work-up towards Initial Operating Capability in December.

The ASRAAM missiles are built by MBDA in Bolton. ASRAAM stands for ‘Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile’. The missiles will enable pilots to engage and defend themselves against other aircraft ranging in size from large multi-engine aircraft to small drones.

British companies are building 15% by value of all 3,000 F-35s planned for production. It is projected that around £35 billion will be contributed to the UK economy through the programme, with around 25,000 British jobs also being supported.

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Lee H
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Lee H

One step at a time
Slowly but surely it is coming together
Who would have thought that 18 months ago?

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Old news really. Announced in time for the arrival of the QE no doubt.
15.03.17
The F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jet has successfully conducted its first firing trials of the MBDA Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile.
https://www.mbda-systems.com/press-releases/f-35-successfully-conducts-first-firings-of-mbdas-asraam/

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

They need to get on top of these problems and quickly. Specifically on the F-35B, the DOT&E reported delays in flight testing because of the need for test-unique tail coatings to prevent overheating the horizontal tails at high-airspeed test points; the need to repair unanticipated cracks in the main landing gear and structural frame; and engine restrictions. The structural test article “had so many repairs (that) it was no longer representative of the production aircraft.” A new test article is required, and in the meantime, the DOT&E warns that the F-35B may not achieve the advertised service life of 8,000… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Apologies for the double posting of my comment, no idea why this happened?
A basic editing tool would help to make this site look more professional giving contributors the option of correcting of adding further points to their posts.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Seconded.

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

In related news, the sky is falling according to a Mr C. Little.

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

And for an update on the long range weather forecast according to Mr common sense.

“It is one of several options being shopped to the U.S. military and allies as Lockheed explores how it might upgrade its combat jets to counter Russian and Chinese threats anticipated by military officials in the coming decade, according to people with direct knowledge of the plan”.

https://www.defenseone.com/business/2018/08/lockheed-pitching-f-22f-35-hybrid-us-air-force/150943/

Bob
Guest
Bob

No the link you posted was during SDD testing, with US test aircraft. This article is about the first UK owned jet carrying UK weapons

Bob
Guest
Bob

No, that link you posted was UK weapons integration flights on US test aircraft. This article is talking about the first flight of UK owned aircraft with UK weapons on board

Bob
Guest
Bob

No, the link you posted is UK weapons on US test aircraft. This article is talking about UK owned F-35s carrying UK weapons for the first time

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins
Dan
Guest
Dan

Nigel, I believe the distinction is that this is the first time a UK-owned F-35 has fired ASRAAM. Probably timed to coincide with the coming of the QE, like you said.

Andy G
Guest
Andy G

Its fake news!

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

lol!

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Interesting to note the range vs combat radius of the F35B
Range: 900 nmi (1,700 km) Combat Radius: 505 nmi (935 km).

Also its maximum G rating.

Whereas the F-35A is stressed to 9 g, the F-35B’s stress goal is 7 g. As of 2014, the F-35B is limited to 4.5 g and 400 knots. The next software upgrade includes weapons, and allows 5.5 g and Mach 1.2, with a final target of 7 g and Mach 1.6.[332] The first test flight of the F-35B was conducted on 11 June 2008.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Spear 3 will appear on the F35B with the block 4F upgrade.
Some interesting additional costs will be involved for all!
http://www.defense-aerospace.com/articles-view/feature/5/191396/cost-of-f_35-block-4-upgrade-quadruples-but-may-not-suffice.html

Julian
Guest
Julian

“Interesting to note the range vs combat radius of the F35B – Range: 900 nmi (1,700 km) Combat Radius: 505 nmi (935 km).”

How can the combat radius ever be greater than half the range? Surely the combat radius must be enough to get there and back plus some allowance for whatever loiter/strike time is assumed. Am I missing something here?

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) Julian – I think by ‘range’ Nigel means the range with all available on board tanks excluding A2A refuelling. Or Ferry Range. Combat Radius is with no external tanks.

Julian
Guest
Julian

Thanks Chris H but that would make the figures even more strange. It would be saying that with external tanks and no AAR an F-35B can fly 900 nm point to point hence (ignoring a tiny bit of fuel used for the turn) it could also fly to a point 450 nm away from the origin and then immediately turn around and return to the point of origin. According to the numbers quoted for combat radius however if you then remove those external fuel tanks i.e. give it a lighter fuel load, it can actually now fly out to 505… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

And Meteor? When will that appear?

It was announced in 1995 as a carrot for cuts!

BB85
Guest
BB85

The RAF ordered a large number of AMRAAM Ds which makes me think Meteor is a long way off integration on the F35B.

SoleSurvivor
Guest
SoleSurvivor

2024

The aircraft is nigh on useless until then in my opinion, the ASRAMM doesn’t fit in the internal weapons bay it’s on a hard point I believe.

The F-35 is a BVR fighter, so until it gets its principle air to air weapon (meteor) it wont ever be put in harms way.

Josh
Guest
Josh

Most of the nations getting F-35s are not buying Meteor at all, so i’m not sure what your point is.

BB85
Guest
BB85

The AMRAAM-D is a BVR missile, according to wikipedia its range is >180km so F35 will be more than capable of engaging at long distance before 2024.

T.S
Guest

I would have thought LRAAM would be the priority as the strength of the F35 is not being seen and taking planes out from afar?

farouk
Guest
farouk

“The MoD say that the Welsh site is set to become a global repair hub for the cutting-edge aircraft, providing crucial maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade services for F-35 avionics, electronic and electrical components, fuel, mechanical and hydraulic systems.”

Seen as Turkey looks set to be kicked out of the F35 program, any chance the UK pulls its finger out and starts pushing to relocate the Turkish F35 Engine refurbishment plant to the UK.

mike saul
Guest
mike saul

Saw that about Turkey, looks like it is about to be frozen out of the F35 project.

Hopefully the UK could gain from this.

Chris
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Chris

(Chris H) farouk – It seems you were posting this question as I was typing a similar one down below … Like minds …

Andy G
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Andy G

I hope the MoD is listening.

mike saul
Guest
mike saul

ASRAAM is underated in my opinion. Although the official range is quoted at 25km, it is claimed it can kill a target at 50km which matches Sky Flash from a previous generation.

Export orders have been few, with most nations opting for the AIM9x or IRIS-T.

Their is a question mark how it would cope with an agile high speed target, which maybe the reason it lacks those export orders.

It has provided the basis for CAAMM, so a UK success story.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

CAAMM?

Sea and Land Ceptor?

mike saul
Guest
mike saul

CAMM. Common Anti aircraft Modular Missile.

Sorry for the typo error.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Seconded. Asraam is an example of how the UK can produce best in class weapons when we take the decision to do so.

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) We can expect more ‘News’ as the QE gets to those first momentous fixed wing trials. And I am not too fussed if it is a rerun of a rerun as long as it keeps the know nothing media as well as Joe Public taxpayer aware of the importance of what has been going on for a long time now. And more importantly how close we are to delivering the whole thing. IOC for 617 at Marham in December! My concern is about maintenance. OK DECA in Wales will maintain “avionics, electronic and electrical components, fuel, mechanical and… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

How in Gods name is Turkey a better place for engine maintenance with all the UK’s expertise in this field?

Politics really stinks!

We put the money in as a Tier 1 partner we should be getting preferential treatment.

If not the UK a northern European nation that can be relied upon, Norway, Holland, for example.

Why did they give it to Turkey? Where was the catch? Trying to counter Russian influence with the S400 purchase?

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

And yes, I know the UK builds 15% of each and we have the avionics site at Sealand. Lets have some more!

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) Daniele – Final Assembly Line for Europe goes to Italy plus airframe maintenance and repair, Engine maintenance goes to Turkey. What do we get as the only Tier One Partner? We manufacture some 15% by value in parts and ship them to the USA, Italy and Japan. Everything else is what we need for UK F-35s. We will provide nothing post manufacture.

Magic.

Julian
Guest
Julian

The best solution for us would be for the Turkish engine facility to be moved to the UK so that we not only have in-country servicing for our own engines but also get business from servicing the engines for other countries. That might yet happen but if for some crazy reason the service centre stays in Turkey (which I find hard to imagine) what would stop the UK from setting up its own service centre here for our own aircraft anyway? As a tier 1 partner I assume we have access to the necessary information to be able to do… Read more »

mike saul
Guest
mike saul

Turkey has been a F35 partner since 1999 and was to receive 100 plus F35A aircraft.

If you want a global project then you have share around the workload, but sharing that workload has political risks.

Turkey has chosen a political path which no longer makes a trusted partner in the F35 project or as a member of NATO in general.

BB85
Guest
BB85

Agreed, they where one of the largest export partners after the UK. I don’t see the political situation changing anytime soon and despite contractors lobbying to keep them on board I think politic’s will push them out.
Also their decision to purchase S400 really didn’t go down well with the US due to the risk of Russia gathering tracking data on the F35.
It could be a big win for BAE is Turkey puts more investment into their own domestic F16 replacement.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Don’t think f35b will be a push over pending meteor. Fantastic article that puts a very positive light on asraam from what I think is a US based analyst. A very balanced and informative read from a few years back.

https://www.defencetalk.com/military/forums/t/aim-9x-vs-asraam.5123/

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

The F35B will be fitted with Meteor from 2024 onwards at the earliest as it requires some modifications to fit inside the weapons bay.
https://defense-update.com/20170421_f35_meteor.html

Andy G
Guest
Andy G

What can possibly take 6 years?

Steve M
Guest
Steve M

Agree. As mentioned in that article, Tornado F3’s smashed a hole through a “wall of eagles” (F16’s I presume) to get a suicide AWACS kill, how did they do this…. “a combination of ASRAAM and RHAWS+MIDS”, so against a 4th gen aircraft (still the majority of the worlds fleets) it does just fine, even pretty darn well. Even mounted externally the F-35 I would image has a far smaller RCS than an F3. Excuse the acronyms in this post:

ASRAAM: Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile
RHAWS: Radar Homing and Warning System
MIDS: Multi-Functional Information Distribution System
RCS: Radar Cross Section

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Cheers the RHAWS and MIDS were beyond me!

Steve M
Guest
Steve M

I needed google 😀

Paul Bestwick
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Paul Bestwick

From the article, I presumed a wall of eagles was F-15’s.

Pete
Guest
Pete

‘Eagles’ are /were f15

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Could Russia’s S-400/500 Do the Unthinkable: Kill a F-22, F-35 or B-2 Bomber?
Within the next six years?

Interesting article which shows how Russia is layering its defences against the west while working on a solution to detect these aircraft successfully.
https://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/could-russias-s-400-do-the-unkthinkable-kill-f-22-f-35-or-b-24114

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

And would the wests cyber, ECM and EW capabilities not render them useless?

Russia has quite an area to cover. Even the mighty Voskaya PVO coukd not defend everywhere and concentrated around Moscow, the Kola Peninsula, and a few other places. Elsewhere their defences were thin or non existent.

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

Doubt it. Russian S400 systems defending key sites in Syria did not detect or engage Israeli F35s taking out Syrian, Lebanese or Hezbollah targets.
The S400 did not even intercept a single Tomahawk launched at Syria.
It is all Russia hyperbole. I think the quality of Russian military hardware is nothing for the Westto worry about for the next 10 years. The Chinese though are a different proposition as they build most or all of the world’s high tech gadgets.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins
Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

The bird in question was trained in Russia to undertake grey war attacks on Western aircraft operating in Syria. Otherwise known as a BAAD ( biological air assets deniable).

Steve
Guest
Steve

I still don’t get why there is no integration of current air to ground attack missiles. As a paper tier 1 partner, why weren’t integration of British missiles part of the design work.

The first squadron is meant to stand up this year and will have zero capability to do anything useful, it makes no sense. Yes in theory they could do air defence work, but the typhoon is just so much better at that role.

Paul.P
Guest
Paul.P

Paveway is very capable. Figure 8 in this article suggests it has quite a long range as a stand off glide bomb. I would be interested to know how far from the T45 it was released in the Black Sea exercises.
https://oidagroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/2018_OIDASI_CS3-MBDA-CAMM.pdf

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

My money is on developing longer range (standoff) missiles like JASSM along with platforms that can deliver them in greater numbers. Current stealth designs will i’m sure become outdated within the next 10yrs. Replacing the ageing B1B will be on the cards at some point, so a joint project with the USA on a four engined design of Tempest? and the current version clearly of it might be a very interesting concept? Typhoon is already upgrading its senser suits to counter future threats and with the inclusion of conformal fuel tanks amongst other things like thrust vectoring, improved engine performance,… Read more »

Elliott
Guest
Elliott

B1B is planned to be replaced by the B21 Raider.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Thanks for the update Elliott.

A longer reach may just come in handy one day for us too when you consider the potential problems that might arise in the southern hemisphere.

Steve
Guest
Steve

The problem is we have no idea how stealthy they really are, and considering that almost certainly in their lifetime they will never be used against a peer or near peer opponent, we will never find out.

If they turn out not to be as stealthy as advertised, then their would be a lot of questions, considering their limited pay load.

Helions
Guest
Helions

I really hope the USAF pays attention to this proposal. Would solve a lot of problems in terms of development costs and F35 shortfalls.

https://www.defenseone.com/business/2018/08/lockheed-pitching-f-22f-35-hybrid-us-air-force/150943/

Cheers!

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Great post Helions, exactly what i’ve been saying all along.

Why invest in a dated platform when you can upgrade Typhoon sort to mid term and invest in Tempest/Magma for the future.

“It is one of several options being shopped to the U.S. military and allies as Lockheed explores how it might upgrade its combat jets to counter Russian and Chinese threats anticipated by military officials in the coming decade, according to people with direct knowledge of the plan”.

Cheers indeed!!!

Helions
Guest
Helions

I like the idea of a “Strike Typhoon” version of the airframe similar to the F15E. Converts from a bomb truck to a full out air to air fighter at the flick of the switch.

Cheers!

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

We’re going to need something and in numbers in the not to distant future i’m sure of that.

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/08/30/opinions/syria-war-russia-robertson-opinion-intl/index.html