The estimate for the attrition rate of the British F-35 fleet is ‘on average 1 aircraft lost for every 30,000 flight hours’.
The information came to light in a response to Mark Francois MP who asked:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what estimate he has made of the future attrition rates of F-35 aircraft.”
Jeremy Quin, Minister for Defence Procurement, responded:
“A certain attrition of aircraft is built into the procurement profile. The fleet size assumes a risk of on average 1 aircraft loss every 30,000 hours.”
What is ‘attrition rate’?
The United States Air Force define it as “a factor, normally expressed as a percentage, reflecting the degree of losses of personnel or materiel due to various causes within a specified period of time”. Basically, it’s how many they expect to lose over a certain period of time due to accidents and other causes.
What’s the status of the UK F-35 fleet?
Since the delivery of the first jet in 2012, the United Kingdom F-35 programme has expanded tremendously. Recently, the UK fleet reached a new milestone, when it crossed the threshold of 10,000 flight hours. However, a more negative milestone was the first British loss of an F-35 at sea.
Last month, three more F-35B aircraft were delivered to the UK, bringing the fleet to 24 aircraft. The aircraft flew from Texas to RAF Marham by 207 Squadron and were assisted in crossing the Atlantic by a Voyager tanker.
Six more jets will arrive in 2022 and seven more will arrive in 2023 with an expectation that all of the 48 in the first batch will be delivered by the end of 2025.