Operating costs were a big issue when senior military officials from the United States, Israel and F-35 user nations in Europe – Britain, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Turkey, the Netherlands – met in Germany last week, according to reports.

“We discussed the importance of ensuring that future costs – specifically for sustainment – are kept to a minimum so that we don’t have to cut into future purchases,” U.S. Air Force Colonel Leslie Hauck, who heads the fifth generation integration office at the U.S. Air Force headquarters in Europe, told Reuters here.

This comes not long after the Pentagon’s estimated cost to develop and purchase Lockheed the F-35, has stabilised for now, according to a new report to the US Congress.

The total acquisition cost for the fighter is projected at $406.1 billion, virtually unchanged from the $406.5 billion estimated last year, according to the US Defense Department’s latest Selected Acquisition Report.

Within the total — which includes research, development and initial support such as spare parts and military construction — the estimated cost to procure 2,456 U.S. aircraft has ticked down to $345.4 billion from $346.1 billion, or a 0.2 percent decline.

That’s good news for the F-35, which has wide support in Congress but a past marred by cost overruns. Last year, the annual acquisition report on major weapons estimated that costs would rise about 7 percent to $406.5 billion after several years of declining projections.

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Anthony D
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Anthony D

If typhoon gets aesa radar I’m starting to come round to the idea of stopping at two carrier based squadrons of f35b and instead increasing number of multi role typhoons to take over from tornado. Ready, steady, go…

Jaralodo
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Jaralodo

Either that, or at a minimum switch some of the F35 order to the cheaper A variant for the RAF.

Mr Bell
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Mr Bell

Jaralodo, that would be daft!
If the UK operates both variants thanyou have duplication of cost, duplication of training. Whilst without any doubt the B variant is the most operationally flexible and survivable. You cannot stop a VSTOVL aircraft from launching or landing but you can destroy the runway infrastructure for the A variant.
Also we have 2 expensive capable fleet carriers. Both of which can easily accommodate the entire UK fleet of F35Bs each.
I would like to think a minimum follow on order of 48 further F35Bs are the bare minimum needed by the armed forces.

Jonathan
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Jonathan

Agree with everything you have just said

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Looks like a Number of nations are now thinking about getting the F35b after years of seeing nations falling out of the fixed wing carrier game we may in the next few years start to see an increase.

Jaralodo
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Jaralodo

I agree that another 48 of the B variant should be ordered, that would bring the total number to 96 jets out of the 138 the MoD has pledged to buy. Assuming that is the total number of F35’s that are bought, that would leave 42 more that are still to be acquired. According to this Popular Mechanics article from April (https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a19757413/f-35-production-price-drop/) the price for an F35A is $94.3 million vs $122.4 million for the F35B, or roughly £20 million per plane. That would be a total savings of around £840 million for the final 42 jets. Not only would… Read more »

Chris
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Chris

(Chris H) jaralodo – I will ask you the same question I ask everyone who suggests the RAF should buy the ‘A’ rather than the ‘B’ variant. Why on earth would we buy an aircraft that is, apart from sensor fusion, less capable in every aspect of operation than a Typhoon? The F-35A is slower, barely Supercruises, fewer weapons, less agile and shorter range range And given we have the same sensor fusion on a ‘B’ as we would have on an ‘A’ why give up the operational flexibility and skill sets we developed and perfected with Harrier? Can an… Read more »

Jaralodo
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Jaralodo

Chris – basically the circumstances I think they should acquire the A is if they continue to commit to 138 F35s in total. I didn’t disagree with Anthony when he said to upgrade the Typhoon, I just misread the total number he was suggesting. But again, if 138 is the number as has been confirmed multiple times now, then the MoD might as well save some money by purchasing the A variant. I understand that there is advantages the stovl variant has, such as landing in forest clearings as you say. But there is also advantages in having more fuel/weapons… Read more »

Jaralodo
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Jaralodo

My fault for not really paying attention to everything Anthony was saying in the original post. Was assuming he meant two squadrons per ship and obviously I am assuming they are going through with the purchase of 138 jets, which is what I meant by switching some of the the order, even though most haven’t actually been ordered yet.

David Stone
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David Stone

The intended 138 F35 airframes is over the entire lifetime of the aircraft, allowing for replacements etc. It is highly unlikely we’ll ever have 138 flying and operational planes at any one time, unless there is a major U turn in strategy

Jaralodo
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Jaralodo

If that’s the case, then the first priority should be that both carriers have the jets they need.

farouk
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farouk

Jaraldo wrote:
“Either that, or at a minimum switch some of the F35 order to the cheaper A variant for the RAF.”

That reminded how a few years ago. Labour was demanding we purchased cheaper Russian jets in which to save money.

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Agreed, Typhoon still has a great deal left to offer and can be used to test some of the next gen equipment to be installed on Tempest. Taranis/Magma is also a must in my opinion.

The US is already looking to fund a next gen aircraft for its carriers, so they might very well be interested in a navalised version of Tempest?

https://taskandpurpose.com/navys-f-35-strike-radars-already-date-new-report-says/

PKCasimir
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PKCasimir

The US has already funded development efforts for a sixth generation fighter for the USAF and US Navy. In addition it has just committed billions to develop an adaptive engine for that sixth generation fighter and as an upgrade engine for the F-35.

The US has already made the decision that the sixth generation fighter will not be a joint program for the Navy and Air Force and, to specifically address your point, under no circumstances will it involve foreign governments but will be an exclusive US program. You can forget the US having anything to do with Tempest.

Anthony D
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Anthony D

My gut feeling is that tempest is the UK showing a bit of leg so that it’s a potential partner to someone, whether that’s Saab, LM, Boeing, mitsubishi, dassualt or several partners. I can’t see us being able to afford the development costs alone and the airframe numbers would be to much of a risk alone. Typhoon was something like 12billion and a sixth generation fighter will be allot more than that! As partnerships, f35b and typhoon are good results, why go it alone?

Pacman27
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Pacman27

We only have money for 2 aircraft frames – Typhoon is great and so is the F35.

the UK has committed to the F35B and it is a good choice on many levels, if we sort Taranis/Magma out and pair them up it is a game changer.

Typhoon is great, but its had its heyday and we need to move onto Tempest as our F22 competitor.

So no – to more Typhoon other than getting the fleet size right and yes to Tempest and Taranis/Magma and an operational fleet of at least 96 F35B’s

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

Agree. That is sound advice. We have to look to the future. Any further typhoon aircraft have to be constructed to maintain force levels until Tempest comes into play.

expat
Guest
expat

Typhoon can still be used to derisk weapons and sensors for any new airframe. The Typhoon flying in 15 years time will be more capable than those flying today.

julian1
Guest
julian1

I disagree – Typhoon is just approaching its golden years and will be highly relevant for years to come with the correct developments in the pipe. Tempest can take some of the newer developments from Typhoon which may massively de-risk it. Prefer evolution to revolution. Revolution costs too much and takes 10 years to de-bug.

dadsarmy
Guest
dadsarmy

I can’t help thinking that some seaboard countries will regret in future not having standardised on the B version – like the UK for instance. Large numbers of them being ordered would drive down the unit cost, without the need to carry the overhead of different types.

Pacman27
Guest
Pacman27

Each carrier can hold over 70 aircraft (wired interview with QEC Capt), so taking 48 F35 on each would necessitate a 96 strong operational fleet to allow us to surge 2 carriers with 48 each.

Unlikely we would use that, but that’s the point of the military it is a last resort and we didn’t see the falklands, Kosovo, Libya, Syria, Gulf 1 and 2 or afghanistan did we.

Anthony D
Guest
Anthony D

Plus the training and maintenance contingent…

However, it seems like an unlikely scenario to need to field two maxed out carriers at the same time. Only one of those examples required us to max out our flat top capacity. Plus in coalition with the f35b partner nation we could host some. Food for thought.

Anthony D
Guest
Anthony D

Pacman. I don’t think typhoon has peaked yet with meteor, brimstone and storm shadow yet to be integrated, aesa radar yet to be procured, conformal fuel tanks and thrust vectoring in the development pipeline. Tempest is what, three decades or more off, if we use typhoon as a rule of thumb. Plenty of legs left in the design if new buyers drive the innovation. Fingers crossed for a German, Belgian and even polish buy! We could add to this but replacing typhoon. Mr bell. F35b is surely too short range and light on ordnance for the RAF deep strike role… Read more »

Chris
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Chris

(Chris H) Anthony – Tempest has a target date before Typhoon is retired in 2040. So deliveries after 2035. That is only 17 years away. Although the ‘official’ line is “2040s” to be in service by then means we have to have done developmental work and started production to phase in deliveries as Tranche 1 Typhoons are retired. They don’t necessarily have to be the full on finished article as Typhoon wasn’t.

This is an interesting piece (by a respected American commentator interviewing key Tempest people):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogAtFy3q3xk

Anthony D
Guest
Anthony D

Chris, those timelines seem aspirational to me. Unless tempest is merely a super typhoon, with greater sensor fusion and drones control.

Anthony D
Guest
Anthony D

Society union! Ha, meant Soviet Union.
Also replacing tornado! Not typhoon with typhoon!

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

An interesting report as of June 2018 in relation to costings and current status.
United States Government Accountability Office.

https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/692307.pdf

Steve
Guest
Steve

How many have actually been ordered so far by the UK?

Paul T
Guest
Paul T

Steve – 48

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

Not quite. The UK government has declared an intent to order that many but haven’t placed that many actual orders. Likewise, there’s an aspiration to order a grand total of 138 during the life of the program.

Anthony D
Guest
Anthony D

Thanks all for thoughts. I think tempest is a shop window for future partners and not yet a credible successor to typhoon. I think vstol in non maritime context is no longer relavent. I think typhoon has a lot more to give and if it has a good run of asditional orders and enhancements make it viable beyond 2040. I think f35b is too light on range and payload for deep strike and too expensive to fly for close air support. I don’t think we need as many as four squadrons or more for kixking in the front door for… Read more »

Alex
Guest
Alex

To me it never made sense having the RAF operate the F35 at all. Surely it would make sense to operate full contingents of F35’s for the navy and if necessary bolster the RAF’s strike capability with strategic bombers such as the B1b Lancer supported by an increase in number of Typhoons

T.S
Guest

I read an article a few days ago now, can’t remember which site it was on, with 7 or 8 American F35 pilots interviewed. For those that criticise the jet, all of them confirmed that they would choose to fly the F35 over their old jets and have repeatedly defeated all 4th generation in mock dogfights. It was also stated that this is without the upcoming software updates which will unlock the jets real potential. I think we have to trust that the real capabilities of the F35 are classified and that over £400 billion or so development cost is… Read more »

Anthony D
Guest
Anthony D

Or rather than false, f35 detects and attacks 4th generation before it can be detected and attacked. In other words before performance becomes a factor.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Janes Defence
March 2018

“The Pentagon is facing a major potential F-35 Block 4/C2D2 cost increase
This could add between USD6.9 billion and USD12.5 billion more to the Pentagon’s most expensive platform.

The Pentagon is facing a cost increase for what was known as Block 4 modernisation of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) ranging between USD6.9 billion and USD12.5 billion, according to a key lawmaker and a Defense Department official.

Subcommittee Ranking Member Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts said the total cost for C2D2 could reach USD16.4 billion through FY 2024”

And somebody has to pay for it, including us!

https://www.janes.com/article/78443/pentagon-faces-major-cost-increase-on-f-35-block-4-modernisation.”

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

Makes a change from your usual diet of sputniknews. I suppose we should be grateful.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Amazing how some choose to pick up one one article Ron5, or have you simply chosen to forget my posts from the DOD,DOT&E, the Pentagon, Popular Mechanics, United States Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Committees and the other endless sources i’ve linked to in the past? 17 years on and counting, 966 faults still to be fixed and still more money required to make it fully combat ready “Block 4 Software”. Around 2025 is the time this is expected to happen, providing the money is made available. June 2018 “Congress should consider providing in future appropriations that no funds… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

I wonder where Russia & China will be militarily within the next five years?
Interesting times ahead!

GPS spoofing: Russia’s new cyberweapon?

https://edition.cnn.com/videos/cnnmoney/2017/11/03/russia-gps-spoofing-cyberweapon-lon-orig-mkd.cnn/video/playlists/hacking-threats-and-cyberattacks/

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

“China’s relentless cyber espionage campaign against the Pentagon has been one of the central reasons why that country’s technological warfighting capabilities have aggressively matured over a relatively short period of time.”

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/21414/what-supersonic-anti-ship-missile-did-china-hack-from-the-u-s-navy

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

You should maybe try ferreting out some dirt on the Typhoon program while you are at it.

You could start with your darling Typhoon AESA radar which is 3 years behind schedule because they can’t get it to work.

Nice to see you moved on from sputniknews to thedrive (eyes roll)

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Sorry Ron5, Wrong again. Only thirteen months behind schedule.

Typhoon sadly doesn’t seem to have much dirt only praise for its reliability, endless successful operations and of course, Raptor kills!

Imagine what the outcome will be when the AESA radar, LERX and thrust vectoring are fitted. Tally Ho Tally Ho!

https://manglermuldoon.blogspot.com/2012/09/red-flag-2012-did-raptor-seriously-just.html

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

And in case you were wondering, thrust vectoring was fully ground tested back in 2010 and LERX?

https://tacairnet.com/2015/07/15/improving-the-typhoons-aerodynamics/

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

Keep dreaming fan boi, it will be sometime around 20never before the RAF see a typhoon with all that gear.

Meanwhile they can play with their F-35’s which, of course, has all that kit already and is stealthy to boot.

“Raptor kills” don’t make me laugh.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

“Operating costs were a big issue when senior military officials from the United States, Israel and F-35 user nations in Europe – Britain, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Turkey, the Netherlands – met in Germany last week, according to reports.” Could this be one of the reasons? “Economists who predicted the 2008 global meltdown tell Sky News the world economy is in danger once again. “We have a national GDP of $20tn, but debt of $21tn. Our national debt is growing by $1tn per year. “We keep on promising things to people without the means to pay for it. It will just… Read more »

Steve
Guest
Steve

Why do we have a FAA and RAF, why do we need two air services? If the two services are going to share jets, why not just merge the services and reduce overheads.

Beyond legacy (from an era where the two were much larger) and this is how we have always done it, what is the logic of having the two seperate?

AnthonyD
Guest
AnthonyD

I think there is an inherent fear that a raf led service would leave the carriers bereft of aircraft or at the very least under prepared to deploy. I believe this may have happened when carrier aviation was getting off the ground. However, we’re in a different century now and carrier strike is a opportunity for the raf too. Jointery needs to be enforced by the CDS and MoD to make it viable to merge the faa into the raf. There are lots of other duplicative capabilities that a force the size of the U.K. Armed forces can no longer… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

This old chestnut again….

What overheads??

Steve
Guest
Steve

How can there not be massive overheads, considering they don’t share bases or command structure? The front line unit is only a fraction of the cost of running a fighter, behind it is massive cost, which i doubt is a shared pool

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

Don’t be obtuse, the Navy and RAF share the one and only UK F-35 base, Marham.

Steve
Guest
Steve

F35 is not the only FAA asset and sharing a base is only part of the cost. Ok not a huge cost, but a rear admiral is in charge of the FAA, so that is probably around £2m in cost alone, once you take into account wages, benefits and pensions, it all adds up.

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

So RAF types work cheaper, I think not.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Its not about cheaper or expensive of either service, its about duplication of costs, and whether combining them would reduce the overheads. I am just asking for a debate, what would be the negatives of combining the service and what would the positives be.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

So the FAA transfers to the RAF. And you’d need a reborn 18 Group to oversee the assets, with an AVM in charge just like the RA for the RN. The rest of the FAA operate from Culdrose, an all RN station, and Yeovilton, another mostly naval station now with army too with the cuts which took place in the AAC estate. The FAA operate in a naval environment. They are part of the RN. Moving them dies not take away the need for support train personnel logistics and all the rest. They just change uniform. To me the ideas… Read more »

Anthony D
Guest
Anthony D

Hi Danielle, you make good points in favour of a split but are the domains really separate? Littoral ops involve all three. For me flying is flying, with RAF operating over water now and even operating Poseidon. Looking at it from the outside it’s illogical and I suspect based on concern that jointery is superficial. RAF expertise is clearly stuff that flies and needs to believe in the doctrine of flying off naval platforms, providing close air support, battlefield recon alongside strategic lift and deep strike and territorial air defence. Perhaps force numbers are now too small to operate separate… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Hi Anthony. Probably the area of the RAF SHF and the AAC is the closest IMO. Would be an interesting outcome if we follow the logic through of services taking all assets according to domain. Where could we end up? RAF: RAF gains all aviation from the FAA. RAF gains all assets from the AAC. RAF loses RAF Regiment to the Army. Big win for RAF on assets and personnel. ARMY: Gains the RAF Regiment. Gains the Royal Marines. Loses 17 Port and Maritime Regiment RLC to the RN as it operates boats. Big win for the Army in personnel.… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

I wonder if we might see the TKF-90 concept emerge in some form to help improve the Typhoons low observability? I mentioned this before in another post.
http://aviadejavu.ru/Images6/AK/AK2010-03/36-3.jpg

fabrice W.
Guest
fabrice W.

You shall not forget that, over it”s lifetime, a F35 is from 3 to 4 times more expensive that a Typhoon. It is mainly because of the exorbitant cost per flight hour of the plane (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/us-air-force-report-confirms-exorbitant-f35-hour-flight-fabrice-wolf/). The typhon is very capable, mostly when remembering it is aim to face Su30/35 and not F22. and the stealthness (as used on F35) is becoming less and less a real advantage over new Denial systems.(https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/typhoon-vs-f-35-shall-fighter-jet-stealthy-fabrice-wolf/). About Tempest, well it would be really a shame that european countries could’nt figure how to collaborate in something better that 2 times barely the same plane as… Read more »