Procurement costs relating to the F-35B have decreased by 24%.

Mark Francois, MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, asked:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the cost to the public purse is of (a) the F-35 programme and (b) each F-35 aircraft.”

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, answered:

“The price of an F-35B from Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 11 which comprises the last finalised contract is $115 million. This covers airframe and engine cost and represents a 24% price reduction from our first aircraft ordered. We expect this downward trend to continue in future lots.

Costs of the overall Lightning Programme are set out in the Ministry of Defence Government Major Projects Portfolio data, 2019, which is available in the Library of the House.”

Recently, the F-35 hit two major milestones after Lockheed Martin delivered the 500th F-35 and the global F-35 fleet surpassed 250,000 flight hours.

The 500th production aircraft is a U.S. Air Force F-35A, to be delivered to the Burlington Air National Guard Base in Vermont.

The 500 hundred F-35s include 354 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variants, 108 F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variants and 38 F-35C carrier variants for the U.S. and international customers.

The 250,000 flight hours include all F-35s in the fleet comprised of developmental test jets, training, operational, U.S. and international aircraft.

“These milestones are a testament to the talent and dedication of the joint government, military and industry teams,” said Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin, Vice President and General Manager of the F-35 program.

Lockheed say that the F-35 operates from 23 bases worldwide. More than 985 pilots and over 8,890 maintainers are trained. Nine nations use the F-35 from their home soil, eight services have declared Initial Operating Capability and four services have employed F-35s in combat operations.

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ChariotRider
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ChariotRider

24% decrease in cost of the aircraft is very welcome, but at $115m it is still an expensive piece of kit. Nevertheless, if the price continues on this downward trend then we might actually get to see futher UK orders. Fingers crossed.

Pacman27
Guest
Pacman27

cheaper than a typhoon and getting cheaper

Watcherzero
Guest
Watcherzero

Only because development costs are excluded from F-35 price, the flyaway lot price is for engine and airframe only. It excludes R&D, procurement and operating cost which are included in Typhoon price. So for example R&D cost for F-35 was $55bn of which the UK contributed 10%. Then for procurement cost the US Airforce for Lot 11 gives cost at $101m for the 48 F-35A order compared to a lot price of $89m, $12m more per plane. The US Navy gives actual procurement costs for Lot 11 F-35C at $123m and F-35B $166m. Finally flight cost for F-35B is currently… Read more »

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

Bollox. Typhoons are more expensive regardless of whether R&D is included or not. Secondly, The UK contributed a flat 2 billion toward F-35 R&D not 10%. Thirdly, you are mixing US dollars with UK pounds in your comparisons with US pricing. Fourthly, your US costs are wrong.

Johnny
Guest
Johnny

Wasn’t the main uk contribution to the f35 the data from tbe replica project which was worth far more than 2 billion?

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

No.

Watcherzero
Guest
Watcherzero

UK was a Tier 1 partner of F-35. Tier 1 participation requires a contribution of 10% of development costs, development costs $55bn so UK must have contributed $5.5bn. There are other ways of funding than flat cash transfer to the US such as industrial tooling, contributions to British companies, manpower provided, etc…

I also never once mentioned a price in pounds, all were in dollars for easy comparison (typhoon operating cost came from German comparison of Typhoon, F-35 and Tornado operating costs). Secondly the US costs are the ones provided to Congress.

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

More bollox. The UK paid 2 billion flat fee toward R&D. No such thing as a 10% contribution, you are making that up.

Any subcontracting work done by the UK is on a commercial basis. Investment on tools & manufacturing facilities by UK companies is paid out of the contracts awarded by the US companies i.e. the US pays.

Furthermore, the UK pays exactly the same for its F-35B’s as the US pays for theirs.

US costs you quoted include & exclude things other than the cost of the airframes & engines and should not be used to compare to the articles figures.

Watcherzero
Guest
Watcherzero

Ron5 I am giving up arguing with you as you obviously blind to facts, demonstrated again by you arguing elsewhere in the comments that the B has the same performance as the A.

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

You are not quoting facts just rubbish you have made up.

Ethan
Guest
Ethan

I don’t think buying more than 138 F35B’s is the go to. Enough to fill one (if not both) carriers plus some for other duties is plenty. If we were to order more it would need to be the A variant.

ChariotRider
Guest
ChariotRider

Hi Ethan,

I agree. The UK has so far only confirmed orders for 48 aircraft with an ‘intention’ to by 138 over the ‘lifetime’ of the programme. My comment reflected the clear risk that the word ‘intention’ allowed for a reduction in numbers, so further confirmed orders would allay such concerns.

Ethan
Guest
Ethan

A bare minimum of being able to fill one carrier to the brim (as done in the Falklands or regularly by the US) must be the absolute minimum. I.e about 72 jets. Though of course not all will be operational at any given time.

Steve
Guest
Steve

60 odd jets is filled to the brim. If you consider losses/aircraft out of action for whatever reason at the point of need, 72 wouldn’t be enough, especially in the later years when more and more get taken apart for spares.

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

Plus both carriers, in an emergency, can deploy together so aircraft are needed to fill both decks. If you look at your history books, the Falklands war featured 2 UK carriers, not one.

ChariotRider
Guest
ChariotRider

Hi Ethan, I suspect that 138 is the safe minimum worked out by analysts and the RN. It would include, attritional losses, maintenance cycles and surge operations. There would be an agreed scenario to generate the most testing planned for conditions e.g. two carriers operating with one in action and one working up. So 60 or so on the warfighting carrier (plus 12 ASW / AEW Merlins) with 30 to 40 on the second carrier and the balance in maintenance… Even in wartime you do not stop maintaining your aircraft as any pilot would find it very unsettling if he… Read more »

John Clark
Guest
John Clark

I would have thought a sensible balance for the F35B fleet (operational and sustainment) would need be 138 jets in total. Long term Squadron size should be set at 18 in my opinion. A single carrier deployed squadron would thus be able to carry out most peace time operations. Two deployed squadrons (36) jets, is the ideal for wartime operations, and the ships ‘optimised for’ fast jet carrier strike capability. This would allow a single fully equipped carrier to be kept on station for a sustainable period, or two for a short intense operational period. So, four 18 aircraft squadrons… Read more »

Paul42
Guest
Paul42

Expensive piece of kit, but worth every penny! A 24% decrease in cost is great, and the idea is it will continue to decrease even further as additional orders are placed.

r cummings
Guest
r cummings

It is good that the price is coming down as LM.said it would. £87m is still a lot, when the more capable A version is or will be £60m a pop. Once the 48 Bs are delivered, I think we will see the RAF opt for the A version for strike attack, due to its larger payload, better rate of climb, better speed, longer range and 30% lower cost. That won’t please the carrier aficionados of course and I too would have preferred a carrier strike wing of 70 Bs, giving a front-line strength of 36. But the A makes… Read more »

RobW
Guest
RobW

I’m hoping we don’t stop the ‘B’ order at 48 or it really will bring into question the future of PoW. Although the idea always was to have one carrier operational at any time, 48 is too few even to bring both operational in times of need. I’d say we need a min of around 75, so in dire need we could have 36 on one and 24 on the other.

BB85
Guest
BB85

We will definitely order more than the current 48 F35 B, the attrition rate on them would be to high to be sustainable in the long term. They will stretch the orders out to 2035 though as the first batch will probably be knackered by then.
I just don’t see us ordering enough to justify 2 variants especially if the RAF is getting tempest.

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

Your performance comparisons are rubbish and seeing that the A’s cannot operate from carriers, I’d say their capability is decidedly less than the B’s.

Paul42
Guest
Paul42

The key thing here is that the primary reason for the us buying the the F35 in the form of the STOVL variant was to put them on our aircraft carriers. Now obviously the RAF would like the A, but that should only come after an order for a minimum of 100 F35Bs has been completed and our carrier airwing requirements satisfied, ar which point all the Bs should be allocated to the FAA.
With cost slowly decreasing, a further order for say 38 or possibly 50 of the A variant could be placed giving the RAF enough for 3 Squadrons.

Rudeboy
Guest
Rudeboy

I think there is zero chance of F-35A for a number of reasons: 1) – CEPP needs a realistic minimum of 72 to be sustainable long term 2) – Going F-35A would mean there would be pressure on the RAF to cede total control of the F-35B fleet to the FAA and the budget that went with it. 3) – 48 F-35B only would mean they were reserved for Carrier use only. No more expeditionary/austere ops. 4) – Even though F-35A costs less to run, having 2 types of F-35 would increase costs dramatically. Serious benefits to having a single… Read more »

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

Well argued.

Rudeboy
Guest
Rudeboy

Don’t get me wrong I’d like to see the full 138 (but in service at the same time). And the US may be annoyed at the UK for not getting the full 138. But….when an aircraft is that late into service the situation is want to change. In that respect LM only have themselves to blame. To be honest we’ll need more money to get beyond 48 with the present state of the EP, and that might not be forthcoming. The one thing that might get some more cash is the US aspect, keep them sweet until we’ve got a… Read more »

Nick C
Guest
Nick C

Interesting side point, but possibly a red herring. When POW visited Liverpool a couple of weeks ago one of the locals interviewed on tv said that he had been told by one of the aircrew who were hosting the visitors that an order for another 18 F35b’s “ had been placed”. Wishful thinking, part of a negotiation for the next tranche……?

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

Don’t be so daft. All orders are publicly announced both sides of the Atlantic. The aircrew is just stating that their are more aircraft on order than those delivered. We all know that.

Nick C
Guest
Nick C

That why I suggested it was a red herring……

Rudeboy
Guest
Rudeboy

There will need to be an order for an additional 13 F-35B to get us to the 48 that the MoD has promised. That will come when the Full Rate Production pricing has been agreed between the US DoD and LM. These last 13 should be delivered as Blk.4 as well (or with minor software changes only). To be delivered for 2024/25 they need to be ordered in the next 1-2 years. One thing to always remember is that the 48 F-35B, or indeed any total figure for the UK does not mean they are all available. The first 3… Read more »

Nick C
Guest
Nick C

And 45 is not going to be enough airframes to sustain even 2 squadrons in the longer term. Which makes the Chance of putting even a 24 aircraft wing into one carrier very slim. I know that the USMC are going to be spending some time on board whichever ship is designated as the strike carrier, it just means we always reliant on them to make up numbers. And I don’t see any chance of increasing orders past 45/48 with the present total confusion in Whitehall.

Rudeboy
Guest
Rudeboy

The USMC bit has always made me wonder. It makes sense for potential joint operations to be included in the design, a wise move indeed. But…. the USMC have never had that large a presence in Europe. Sure during the Cold War they had a reinforcement role with 3 Commando Brigade on the Northern Flank, but that was 30 years ago. They’re dipping their toe in again, but its never going to be in the same scale. The reality is the USMC is focused on other areas, Asia Pacific, Middle East and central and eastern Med. How much time does… Read more »

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

Once again, makes sense.

4thwatch
Guest
4thwatch

Dear oh dear, when will people understand the whole country is an aircraft carrier. This and our overseas territories, NATO and other responsibilities make it highly beneficial to maintain a unitary force of F35B’s. F35A’s are a luxury that screw to whole effort of a maritime power like UK.

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

attaboy

Joe16
Guest
Joe16

I know it was criticised at the time, but I think the MOD’s decision to hand over some of our early LRIP slots to the USMC and delay our acquisition of airframes was a good one. We get later-block software that we don’t have to pay as much for upgrading, and we pay less for the aircraft. Worth the delay in building up numbers.
I only hope that some of the decisions we’re criticising today make sense when looking back at them…

Steve
Guest
Steve

All depends if there is a war before we get the jets we need, something that is impossible to predict.

No war and then the decision was the right one, a falklands style war before we get enough to form a task force and it will be a national disgrace issue.

Joe16
Guest
Joe16

Good point, however most of the early block aircraft weren’t combat capable without ongoing upgrade anyway; they’d be no/limited use in a shooting war anyhow.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Past Block 4 would be a better time to consider more airframes I’m guessing?

“The Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation releases annual reports on the progress (or lack of) on many weapons systems.”

https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a30718538/f-35-flaws/

Joe16
Guest
Joe16

Well, I think Block 3F and beyond are technically combat-coded and, most importantly, relatively easy to upgrade because the hardware is largely finalised at this point. Block 4 has a lot more capability and a wider weapons fit. I may be wrong, it’s hard to keep track of all the F35 iterations…

Rudeboy
Guest
Rudeboy

The next order, which is expected to be 13 jets, will all be Blk.4. The vast majority of the UK’s fleet are comparatively easy upgrades to Blk.4. The vast majority either need a software update or very small hardware upgrades. Only the first couple (after the first 3 test aircraft) will need more extensive upgrades. The MoD have managed to dodge a bullet with their procurement approach. Possibly more expensive will be the upgrade to the EOTS system which all will need.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Delays past 2025/6 would be better as there will be additional costs incurred for the implementation of Block 4 software plus it will allow further time to address the current 800 plus bugs that currently exist as of 01.2020. Pentagon lacks performance metrics for F-35’s ALIS logistics system Pat Host, Washington, DC – Jane’s Defence Weekly 16 March 2020 “The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report released on 16 March that testing of individual ALIS software version releases focuses primarily on whether the new ALIS version is performing “better” than the previous version. Specifically, ALIS testers have… Read more »

Joe16
Guest
Joe16

Yes, I guess that there is a balance to be made between owning airframes, getting pilots trained on them, having a usable capability, and saving costs.
I believe that they’re actually coming up with a replacement for ALIS, rather than just an upgrade. Clearly not performing anywhere near as well as people hoped…

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Something that clearly needs to be addressed ASAP.

Pentagon and Lockheed Martin in fight over F-35 FRACAS data, says former programme official
Pat Host, Washington, DC – Jane’s Defence Weekly
11 March 2020

“A failure reporting, analysis, and corrective action system (FRACAS) provides a process for reporting, classifying, and analysing failures, as well as planning corrective action in response to those failures.

The former official told Jane’s on 9 March that FRACAS data covers operational and maintenance (O&M) data, such as mean time between failure, not just at the aircraft level but two, three, and even four subsystems and tiers below.”

https://www.janes.com/article/94828/pentagon-and-lockheed-martin-in-fight-over-f-35-fracas-data-says-former-programme-official

Joe16
Guest
Joe16

That’s an interesting argument…!
I find it hard to think of an industrial situation where the supplier/manufacturer isn’t able/obliged to provide that kind of data; it’s to do with backing up the performance claims that they’ve made about their equipment. Even witholding it is an indication that the stated reliability of an item is suspect.

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

Joe, it’s about money. It always is. Lockheed wants the US government to pay for the data. The government wants it for free.

Joe16
Guest
Joe16

For sure, you’re quite right. It just bffles me that they’re trying that angle though- that data is never normally considered proprietary in my experience.

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

Lawyers will argue anything, just pay them enough.

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

You post this anti-F-35 propaganda every time you get the chance. Give it a rest.

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

Well said Ron, despite the problems, it’s still one hell of a capability, and we have only scratched the surface of what this aircraft can do for the RAF/RN.

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

+1

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

No Ron, It’s called factual information based on the current and ongoing problems this programme is facing rather than fantasy fleets backed up with copious amounts of BS. Next time you opt to purchase a new car, rather than listen to the salesman, pick up a copy of What Car and see what’s happening under the bonnet before you spend your money. In short, wait until they’ve fixed the problems before you buy. Department of Defense Comprehensive Selected Acquisition Reports for the Annual 2018 Reporting Requirement as Updated by the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget “F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike… Read more »

Rudeboy
Guest
Rudeboy

If we followed that advice we’d have never bought Tornado or Typhoon….or F-16, F-14 or F-15.

All entered service with issues or missing capabilities.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Not to the extent of the problems associated with the F35 programme and still lots with more to do as of 2020. The F35 is far more complex with 900 current faults still to be addressed. Attempting to fix issues with 8M lines of code over different versions is causing even more problems, repair one creates two more on another version if you get my gist. This sadly is already happening so it would be far better to wait until the block 4 software becomes stable before purchasing any more aircraft. But the majority of these problems have not been… Read more »

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

If you are repeatedly going to post the same old crappy stories about the F-35 being so useless, why don’t you write about all the successes the aircraft has had. A balance view.

Just concentrating on the bad news to the total exclusion of all good news makes you sound like a bridge dweller or putinbot.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Try thinking out of the box Ron5, It’s not about “posting the same crappy old stories” as they’re current and factual rather than just one’s opinion on the subject without any actual evidence to back it up. Equally, you don’t waste taxpayers money either by purchasing something that is of little use to us until at least 2025. It has great potential, but not right now. Hopefully, things will greatly improve over time! “The F-35B fleet worldwide needs to rack up 75,000 flight hours before DOTE thinks it has gathered enough data to meet the contract spec. Currently, the B… Read more »

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

The f-35 has already successfully flown combat missions and is proving its worth around the world on a daily basis.

You on the other hand …

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Try getting your head out of the clouds and into the real world Ron5, the pound to the USD is now at a record low 18.03.2020 £1.15 and the MOD is staring into a very large black hole in its defence budget prior to the current crisis. This aircraft will be of limited use until we can integrate Meteor, Spear ect which requires Block 4 software to be installed. So again, 2025/26 is the timeframe for placing orders over and above the ones we have already agreed to providing funding is made available. Sadly, it’s not looking very promising is… Read more »

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

You change your tune more times than Radio one.

Except for one thing, you continually argue for downgrading the UK’s defence capability. Now I wonder why that is.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Incorrect Ron5, my tune stays the same, unfortunately, you seem to be unable to be consistent with yours, even in the same thread and only five posts above! “If you are repeatedly going to post the same old crappy stories about the F-35 being so useless, why don’t you write about all the successes the aircraft has had.” “Except for one thing, you continually argue for downgrading the UK’s defence capability. Now I wonder why that is.” Is making the suggestion of delaying the purchase of the F35B in large numbers, currently with 900 known faults and unable to integrate… Read more »

Robert Blay
Guest
Robert Blay

But even with these problems, it’s still proving to be a game changing capability, as multi national exercises and live operations are proving. I wonder if Lockheed Martin can make loo roll 😆

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

+1

Chris
Guest
Chris

Could someone more informed than me please explain why more B variants have been delivered than C variant? I’d have thought that B would be the most complex, and therefore would take the longest to develop, or would be the most delayed?

Thanks.

ChariotRider
Guest
ChariotRider

Hi Chris,

I believe the USMC have been a significant driver customer for the F35 and the B variant is the main version for them given the smaller decks they use. They were keen to get the aircraft into service as well as keeping the UK on board as there were moves in the US Senate to cut the B variant on cost grounds… So simple answer – politics!

Ethan
Guest
Ethan

Not an expert, but the C variant has only been ordered by the US Navy (as one of the two catapult carrier operating navies that the C jet is designed for). Whereas the B is being ordered by more countries who operate STOVL ready ships. For example, the USMC, the Royal Navy/RAF, Japan, (what was to be Turkey) and Italy.

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

What two countries are you blathering about. The F-35C was designed for one country, the US. Doesn’t fit on the French carrier.

Ethan
Guest
Ethan

The US and France. I said the US is one of only two countries to operate aircraft carriers with catapult assisted take off.

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

The F-35C is too big for the French carrier so clearly wasn’t designed for it.

Paul T
Guest
Paul T

Ethan – Splitting Hairs but the USMC will also operate the F35C.

Ethan
Guest
Ethan

That’s interesting, I didn’t know. Any reason why? I don’t see how the US Navy can’t own all the C’s.

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

The Marines fly aircraft off the big carriers.

Rudeboy
Guest
Rudeboy

The F-35C encountered some development issues and should have been further along. But the main reason is because its single buyer, the United States Navy, isn’t in a desperate hurry for it. The USN has been busy procuring Super Hornets and now runs a Super Hornet only fighter fleet. The oldest Super Hornet dates to 2001 so they have a very modern fleet.

The USMC, however, does not operate the Super Hornet. It’s AV-8B and legacy Hornet fleets are getting long in the tooth so needed replacement rather more urgently.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Thanks all for the info. Hadn’t realised the USN weren’t in a great hurry to get them? I guess they’ll be pretty happy to let the A and B variants iron out all the teething problems common across the variants – they have enough on their plate with the Fords!

Rudeboy
Guest
Rudeboy

Luckily the Ford is not F-35C capable yet….and won’t be for a long time. The USN has published details that by 2025 it wants each carrier air wing to have 10 F-35C within it (replacing 10 F/18E/F). By 2030 they want each wing to have 20 F-35C. But as you can see at present they have only had 38 delivered to date, and have slowed down orders for the next few years. So its unlikely they will have 11 air wings worth of F-35C. Given that some will need to be used for training, tactic development etc. they’d need a… Read more »

Mark B
Guest
Mark B

Is this the right point to place a big order then?

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Possibly not? 1.20 United States Dollar

Mark B
Guest
Mark B

Ah yes I had forgotten that. The exchange rates are likely to go up and down like a yo-yo over the next few months. Is it plausible that assuming the UK exits this crisis ahead of the US the exchange rate might be in our favour? That said is the UK Government going to be interested in defence spending with the other priorities especially where it does not boost the UK economy?

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

The Uk would have to wait for the next available lot contract to be negotiated and signed. In other words, it’s not in the UK’s hands.

Mark B
Guest
Mark B

Ah yes interesting. I presume though that the US Government & Military would be keen to have partners taking a larger slice. It may boost overall sales in the long term?

Rudeboy
Guest
Rudeboy

The way it works is the US government uses its immense buying power to agree a bulk buy price on behalf of all parties. They’re driving a hard bargain. The reason for this one to be dealt with carefully is that it should be the end of the Low Rate Initial Production batches and will be the move into Full Rate Production batches and pricing. This should mean bigger orders in return for far cheaper pricing. But its also an opportunity to hold the suppliers feet to the fire on other issues.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Guest
Geoffrey Simon Hicking

If the MOD hadn’t failed to balance the books, this would have been useful. Sadly, this money will disappear into the system, swallowed up by a debt it will barely change.

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

Commenting on a military forum is easier if you know even a tiny bit of military knowledge! Try it mate!

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Guest
Geoffrey Simon Hicking

https://thinpinstripedline.blogspot.com/2020/02/the-nao-report-on-mod-spending-bad-news.html It is because I’ve had to give in to people more experienced than me that I’ve said this. And I have done that repeatedly. If you knew how many times I have swallowed my pride and accepted that Sir Humphrey is right you would not have said that. I am an idiot. A gas-worthy moron. An unpleasant fool. I knwo VERY well what I am. …and I have read stuff by Sir Humphrey, someone knee deep in this stuff, for a very long time. It has not been a pleasant journey, but I have a small viewpoint on things… Read more »

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

Repeating a comment just reinforces those that believe you to be an idiot.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Guest
Geoffrey Simon Hicking

I was harsh on the MOD- there is a chance they hit their targets. I apologise for my rash comment. That said, I made the comment twice on the assumption that people only go back to old threads if they get an email notification. There were two replies, so I replied twice. Let’s make this debate more civilised. One position I have heard is: “So a forecast possible deficit of 7% of budget (180bn/13bn) over 10 years is the end of the known universe and panic stations! Not sure anyone commenting has had any experience of long term budgets but… Read more »

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

The MoD balances its books every year. You are spouting nonsense.

James
Guest
James

With the rumored cut in purchase numbers already mooted ,and the inevitable and necessary bailout of business because of covid19 you can almost guarantee defence is going to take an absolute hammering. Goodbye carrier(s)? a large proportion of the fighter fleet ,but I’d imagine maybe an increase in logistic fleets hospital ships etc

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

Thanks comrade for your encouraging words.

James
Guest
James

Great input. If we emulate the €300 billion bailout the French are rightly enacting which budgets do you think will be hit hardest to cover it? I don’t want it to be defence but it’s the easiest low hanging fruit when every social/healthcare/ education or law will take precedent

James
Guest
James

*budgets

Ron5
Guest
Ron5

So why post your comment here? If you think you have some unique and special insight, I got news for you pal.

Ethan
Guest
Ethan

I believe the UK has just committed up to 330 billion in grants for businesses.

Paul42
Guest
Paul42

We agreed a buy of 138, and I believe that number will be honoured without question. Ignore all the rumours ! The only real question is how long will it take us to receive all the airframes? The delivery rate leaves a lot to be desired…….

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

I’d say some personnel numbers. Not carriers or fighters.

James
Guest
James

Who exactly would we offload a carrier or 2 to in the world right now? No one is exactly going to be desperate to buy one are they.

r cummings
Guest
r cummings

Those yearning for enough Bs to equip both carriers are living in cloud cuckoo land. There is no plan or intention to deploy 2 carriers in peacetime, no crew to man a second one, no spare helos to equip it, etc. In a serious war situation, a second crew would no doubt be formed from reserves but the air wing would be dependent on USMC help. Ref numbers, the US Navy is looking to us to provide ONE carrier with at least 36 F35s in its strike wing. 36 front line aircraft means 72 in total, as 34-36 will be… Read more »

Paul T
Guest
Paul T

Both HMS QE and POW have got crews,but yes in Aircraft numbers they would be spread a bit thin.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Agree on the B’s. 138 are not necessary, neither are 2 full Air Wings for the Carriers. That was never the plan. We will have a single Air Wing of F35, Merlin HM2, CHF Merlins for CSAR and ASCS Merlins. If it came to it the in use “reserve” carrier can deploy with an air wing comprising a whole range of helicopters as well as whatever F35B’s can be scraped together. Which is why we have the TAG concept. I however believe that both carriers do have a ships crew. It is FAA Air Wing that cannot be formed for… Read more »

r cummings
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r cummings

It is suggested above that we won’t ever see 138 F35s because the money will need to be switched to fund Tempest from 2030. I agree with Paul42 that, having made a verbal commitment to 138 aircraft, HMG will look to honour it – not least because the US would be seriously vexed if we mess up their overall producation plan and costings. I doubt it will be necessary to curtail the F-35 buy anyway. The RAF’s combat air procurement budget is £1.7 bn pa, or £25 bn to 2035, when Tempest is likely to enter service. I doubt that… Read more »

Ron5
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Ron5

The F-35A’s might be 30% cheaper individually but running a fleet of another type of aircraft costs a lot more which is why the RAF operates fewer and fewer types every year.

The idea is a dead duck anyway, the RAF wants Tempest.

Ron5
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Ron5

So you intend to populate the second carrier with helicopters? Good luck performing air defence.

By the way, the TAG concept was a sheet to cover the nakedness of the MoD’s plans to buy enough F-35’s. Militarily it’s dumb as bricks.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Hi Ron. I actually agree with you on TAG! The usual MoD spin. But surely it is better than nothing? What is the alternative if HMG will not pay for more? Sell it? Even more counter productive. It is paid for. So we need to use it for something. And I agree it is no replacement for a proper LPH if those helicopters were CHF Merlins or Chinooks. But ASW Helicopters could use it. Maybe in time UAV? I also suggested that the 2nd carrier in a war situation could still have F35, either with whatever reserves were to hand… Read more »

Ron5
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Ron5

Who says HMG isn’t going to buy more? They haven’t finished the committed plan to buy the first 48. More will be bought after then as the government has stated. Only folks with questionable agendas here are arguing otherwise.

r cummings
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r cummings

There is a lot of merit in the idea of the 2nd carrier taking on an ASW/amphibious-LPH role if things heat up. A US/UK/Allied carrier flotilla operating in the Atlantic, eastern Med, South China Sea etc would be safer and more formidable having a large ASW platform at hand to hunt down or kill off enemy subs. The commodore/rear admIraq would take your hand off for that. Problem in our case is that JHC is well short of helps just to support 3 army brigades, there is nothing spare to equip a carrier. Doubt that the RN is any better… Read more »

Rudeboy
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Rudeboy

There are not enough Merlin’s to equip 2 carriers… If we can’t do that we might as well not bother trying to fill them both with F-35…. To put on 24/7 ASW coverage you need 8-9 Merlin. To put on 24/7 AEW coverage you need 4-5 Merlin Crowsnest. 12/14 is in practice over half of our total Merlin HM.2 fleet. Even more when you add in cabs in deep maintenance. Add in the fact that we still need to put Merlin on the 6 T23/26 with towed arrays that are not part of a CSG and you can see the… Read more »

Ron5
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Ron5

If two were active together, it would only be as part of one carrier group. Not enough RN resources for two groups even in an emergency.

Ron5
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Ron5

A carrier acting as an LPH is a good idea in all circumstances.Oh come on.

Ron5
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Ron5

What the US does or doesn’t want out of the UK carriers has absolutely nothing to do with the UK’s decision of how many F-35B’s to acquire.

If needed, both carriers will deploy together and will require enough aircraft to fill their decks. 48 is not enough.

You should check with the RAF on their desire for F-35A’s. They don’t want them, they want Tempest.

r cummings
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r cummings

They want and need both-

– F35A in strike/attack role
– Tempest in air superiority role

Two very different jobs, 2 very different sets of requirements and therefore two very different designs.

Please let us not go along with trying to shoehorn the RAF into erroneous choices, which only the Treasury beancounters will find some merit in. In the real world, wrong choices inevitably come home to roost rather quickly in a hot war. The air force needs what it needs, HMG’s job is to work out how to accomplish it.

Sjb1968
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Sjb1968

Unfortunately I just don’t think the money is available for enough F35s if you split the purchase with A and Bs. Given we have 48 Bs on the books and two carriers I think the decision is obvious and we are looking at a long term capability gap. I also think the U.K. has a long term consideration here and whilst not ideal an interim order for enhanced Typhoons would be better for the U.K. aircraft industry to bridge the gap before Typhoon than spending money on fulfilling an order for 138 F35s. Of course militarily non of this sensible… Read more »

Rudeboy
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Rudeboy

Spot on.

At the very least go for 70ish F-35B (similar to the Harrier GR.7/9 fleet size), then order 24 Typhoon Tr.3 to keep the line going as long as possible (and force the Germans to allow the Saudi order for 48 to go through..). Then all in on Tempest.

RN happy, RAF happy, BAE happy, Rolls Royce happy, Leonardo happy etc.

Everyone happy, well apart from LM and the US, but we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it.

Any spare cash perhaps buy a handful more F-35B to avoid attrition issues and refurb the remaining Merlin HM.1.

Ron5
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Ron5

Wishful thinking. The last thing the RAF wants or needs is four fast jet types to manage.

F-35B’s plus Typhoon will progress to F-35B’s plus Tempest.

Rudeboy
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Rudeboy

Yep, 3 fast jet types is enough, and whilst Tempest is arriving its what we’ll have.

But I’m not sure why anyone would think the RAF would want F-35A AND Tempest. Tempest appears to be going down the larger, longer ranged route, more payload route. I suspect the RAF would much rather have that than F-35A. They wanted FOAS and F-35 at one point…and it was for a reason.

Ron5
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Ron5

+1

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Are we also suffering from these problems?

F-35 programme reduces remaining SDD capability requirements, but bulkhead issue remains
Pat Host, Washington, DC – Jane’s Defence Weekly
23 March 2020

“The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin have reduced their outstanding F-35 SDD requirements from 43 to six The remaining requirements involve bulkheads cracking early, especially on the F-35B”

https://www.janes.com/article/95042/f-35-programme-reduces-remaining-sdd-capability-requirements-but-bulkhead-issue-remains