The Ministry of Defence say the first 9 of the UK’s currently 15 strong F-35B fleet will arrive at RAF Marham in Summer.

It is understood that the jets will be supported on the move by Voyager tankers.

British F-35B initial operational capability is scheduled will be declared in December 2018 for land and the from the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers in 2020.

A very informative timelime from Save The Royal Navy.

Recently 617 Squadron, immortalised by the Dambuster raid of World War II, was reformed to fly the F-35. Gavin Williamson announced the new 617 Squadron after an event in Washington DC to mark the centenary of the RAF, which was attended by Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“The 617 Squadron name was made famous by ‘The Dambusters’, who played such a vital role in the Second World War. So it is fitting that by flying the world’s most advanced fighter jets, our new squadron will be ensuring that the legend of world-leading air power lives on. The F-35B Lightning will defend our nation and ensure that Britain remains a pioneer in innovation, with a unique ability to adapt to this increasingly dangerous world.

The UK is currently flying the F-35B Lightning, a multi-role fighter jet capable of a wide range of operations. It is the world’s first jet to combine radar evading stealth technology with supersonic speeds and short take-off and landing capability.”

Lightning Force Commander Air Commodore David Bradshaw said:

“This is a most momentous day for the UK Lightning Force as we celebrate the reformation of 617 Squadron. Manned by highly capable Royal Air Force and Royal Navy personnel and equipped with the truly remarkable F-35B Lightning, 617 Squadron will once again provide potent, flexible Air Power for the nation.

In a simple yet highly significant ceremony held in the heart of Washington DC amongst friends and colleagues as part of celebrations for RAF100, the famous Dambusters marked the start of another exciting chapter in their Squadron’s proud history. I very much look forward to welcoming 617 Squadron home to RAF Marham this summer as they prepare for operational service from land and sea.”

Today’s 617 Squadron, currently training with the UK’s 15 F-35B Lightning jets in America, will move to the UK with a number of aircraft to their new home at RAF Marham this Summer. Like their predecessors they will be operating at the forefront of aircraft technology. The aircraft will be jointly operated by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy and have the ability to operate from land and sea, forming an integral part of Carrier Strike operating from the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.

The MoD has so far committed to 48 jets but has expressed an intent to purchase 138 of the aircraft, whether or not that is financially feasible remains to be seen.

156 COMMENTS

    • now, for the first time in ages we’ve had two pieces of good news, the first,that the batch 1 rivers will be retained, and now the f 35 b’s are on the way to the u.k its possible that the flight trials scheduled for the q.e in america, can be brought forward and done in u.k waters.

      • No. F35 carrier trials and F35 move to UK have been scheduled for years. They are not moving forward and trials are still in the US.

  1. I wonder if the jets resident in Palmdale, Ca. (No. 17 sqdn) will stay there or transit back to the UK also?

    If 9 resident at the MC base at Beaufort? when they depart the East Coast will it be three sets of 3 over a period of time?

    Any comments from those with knowledge or expertise.

    • No. 17 Squadron is permanently staying in the US with 3 aircraft.

      All the other aircraft will be moving over to RAF Marham. I imagine we are keeping several in the USA for the Carrier trials later in the year, as well as to give some flying time on our airframes back to the USMC, who let us use theirs.

  2. 48 Planned, with the intent to purchase 138 in total.

    There is still time and room to maneuver, if the consortium of Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo can get their act together.

    The combination of F35 plus Typhoon would make a truly awesome package with the widest possible options available to a British carrier if we also considered the use of Taranis as well for unmanned deep penetration strikes?

    It’s never too late to reconsider ones options if you feel the emerging threats we currently face dictated it.

        • Are you a member of Parliament Ben with a final say on how our aid money will be spent in future? I thought there were a number of your colleagues in the house looking to address the very issue I’m raising?

          Please enlighten me further if this has changed.

          • People are constantly starting fantasy sessions where they start talking about how foreign aid money can be used for the MOD. This is pure fantasy and is not even on the cards politically.

            Stick to the topic or think of reasonable solutions that have an actual chance of happening.

          • Except Ben, money is discreetly being apportioned from DFID to MoD. See elephant ivory ban as good example…

          • Small amounts of DFID go towards most government departments in specific areas. What people are proposing is big defense projects, which is fantasy.

        • I tend to agree that any freed-up cash from the aid budget would more likely head to more vote-winning areas such as the NHS, social care and education. I’m of the opinion that foreign aid is going to be a vital soft power lever in the post-brexit world – it isn’t wasted money. Just my view!

          • I agree to a point.

            Foreign aid can take many forms and the UK’s should in my opinion focus on medical and humanitarian aid.

            We could fund the following with £11-13 bn pa.

            4 hospital ships each operating 6 Merlins.
            Providing 10,000 containerised homes to the poorest people on the planet.
            Continue working with the Gates foundation.
            Create a £100m prize for each of the 10 biggest things that if solved would be key.

            Provide £1bn to malaria treatment across the world.

            And we would still have change… that could then be diverted to other areas, its not spending money that is important – its what you do with it and just like many govt depts we spend our aid budget terribly on the whole.

          • Here’s my two penneth worth on Aid;

            1) Before the crash we were one of the top donors in world, both in absolute terms and %GDP. No one said we were mean spirited
            2) In times where UK domestic spending was being slashed it would have been understood if Aid money had taken a pro-rata hit inline with domestic budgets
            3) Instead, since the crash Aid spending has doubled to £14b
            4) On every level this makes no sense and provides a lightning rod of hypocrisy for all Gov decisions; If there’s no money for nurses or schools why are we increasing Aid; If it’s the debt we’re worried about why are we increasing debt to fund increases in Aid; If it’s security why have we cut 100,000 UK security jobs (police, fire, justice, armed forces) to specifically fund the increase on Aid.
            5) .7% and 2% are most stupid numbers in political discourse today. Both mean nothing, have no bearing on need, affordability or risk and thus both should be abolished. They have become things in themselves which allow people to hide.
            6) I listened to DFID relaunch with Penny the other week and what dogs breakfast it was. Talk about a desperate attempt to £14b and make it mean something. What problem we weren’t going to solve was no ones business.
            7) So we end up in a mad situation where we are 6th largest economy but largest GDP% Aid spender among top ten economies, but we’re in 17th place on infrastructure, 15th on education, police and justice are collapsing etc because of lack of investment and the military is spread so thin it’s a peacetime only force.
            To summarise, I am not anti Aid, I am not mean, not are the British people, but balance has been lost and needs to be regained,

            If we cut Aid by 65% we would be the 6th largest donor in world, in line with our economic size and restore some balance. That would pump £9b a year back into UK economy in vital areas.

            I think the world would understand and we’d be a darn site safer than we are now.

      • Spot on. Charity begins at home. Even taking a few billion off that huge amount leaves the UK as one of the biggest givers in aid.

        And yes I fully understand the benefits of Soft Power.

        • ‘Charity begins at home’

          It’s not charity. The true quote is love begins at home, meaning if you learn to love those near you, you will find it easier to love others. It’s been bowderlised from the time of the King James bible, I think.

          • Fair enough HF, but I think you get the point I was making regardless if I used the exact wording correctly.

          • (Chris H) HF – I believe the origin of the confusion between ‘charity’ and ‘love’ comes from the earliest Christian times when Jesus is supposed to have said (Corinthians 13:13):
            “Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love–but the greatest of these is love”
            But as you say in King James Bible:
            “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity”

            To which you can add another misused prayer (St Ignatius):
            “To give and not count the cost”
            is used to persuade others to give more money (as in aid) but it actually means to give of ourselves to God (if you are a believer which as an ex Catholic I was).

            I believe having a fixed amount proscribed by Law is fundamentally wrong as it creates nothing more than an air of national superiority and a nice warm feeling by those Liberals spending other people’s money. Aid should be a charitable thing from private individuals to charities who can be held accountable. It should not be taken from us and used for projects with which we may disagree and by people we neither know or can challenge (ie Civil Servants). And given Ministers support the policy of ‘forced aid’ they will not be too interested in challenging their own department.

            Governments can always spend whatever they feel necessary on Humanitarian Relief but to throw £ Bns into black holes of corruption that deliver little or no benefit to us as British taxpayers let alone those who should be ‘aided’ is fundamentally wrong IMHO. To use the word ‘charity’ correctly it is a private matter not a Governmental one. And for us to be be barred from spending OUR aid money in OUR Sovereign Territories after those hurricanes shows the utter madness of this ‘Aid Industry’ and how it has been taken over by those with other agendas.

          • I never had the honour, or the pleasure of being a member of our armed services due to overseas commitments HF, but I love and admire them nonetheless.

            I hope you can forgive my incorrect understanding of the quote!

      • i’ve always been furious when i see 13.1 billion being given to some of the most despotic corruption ridden failed states on the planet. the whole foreign aid programme could be halved, it just takes a firm hand on it.comrade corbyn would no doubt be bothered that the u.k was turning its back on genuine needs, but that is just communist rhetoric.

        • We may see a Anglo-French Future Combat Air System (AFFCAS) as I understand a £1.5 billion investment has already been made. Full-scale development of a prototype began at some point in 2017.

          • Very unlikely Nigel. I would be amazed if this ever gets beyond the demonstrator stage…. Or even off drawing board that matter.

        • Nigel – the Taranis has served its purpose as a Technology Demonstrator – good for the development process but unlikely to see production per se,the next step is the Anglo/French Future Combat Air System, (as you have mentioned )which if successful will unlikely bare any fruit before 2030.

      • Taranis has flown.

        The only reasons I can see that it does not develop further is the usual lack of political will from HMG.

        The other thread on the RN FSS ships trumpets the idea of buying British. Well lets build British! We have the know how.

        • I agree Daniele

          Foreign aid should provide British products and services to those that need it – not handouts of money to be wasted.

          We could benefit both those in need and British industry and I dont really care how we are judge by a committee at the UN. It’s more important we spend resources wisely and get bang for our buck

    • Jonathon-I would guess Carrier strike power projection would be that which resides within a full Carrier Task Force-a Carrier with it’s full complement of Escorts. Carrier enabled power projection would be the role of the Carrier in a broader context such as in support of landing forces ashore in association with other Services.
      On the other hand it could just be semantic gobbldegook jargon 🙂

        • LOL I would have put an e after the l!

          I see Carrier Strike as a Carrier performing the traditional roles of a Carrier, carrying numbers of Fast Jets for strikes on an enemy or providing air defence of a Task Group.

          CEPP for me is a fancy buzz word made up by some boffin somewhere in MoD describing, and justifying, the typical British half way house of not using a proper LPH for the role of supporting the RM ashore and using a large fleet carrier instead.

          Yes it can do the role as its potential for an airlift of a Company plus of RM is there but it is not ideal is it?

          • Another way of looking at the half way house is maxing capability within a budget.

            The Navy has a problem, it didn’t have enough sailors to man its ships and it didn’t have enough budget to cover all the ships, so it looked at what options it had to maintain a capability within a reduced hull number situation and came up with the solution of using the carriers for it. Ideal no, but it does mean we mainly keep a capability rather than completely lose it.

          • Hi Daniele from sunny Durbs. Thanks for that-makes sense. I think we are broadly on the same page! Regards

      • Carrier strike implies a carrier with a deck full of F-35B’s bombing the s* out of somebody.

        But there won’t be enough UK F-35b’s so …

        .. carrier enabled power projection expands the meaning to include a deck full of chinooks landing royal marines.

        In other words, just the cheapskate UK government spinning their way forward.

  3. With “No. 17 Squadron is permanently staying in the US with 3 aircraft“ (thanks Ben P) that raises a couple of questions for me.

    Once we get out of LRIP and into full production where will our F-35B be coming from, the US final assembly facility of the Italian one?

    If we will be staying with the US facilities then will the “delivery address” be to Palmdale, CA (No. 17 squadron) where they will do basic acceptance tests before shipping/flying them to the U.K. or will they go straight from the US final assembly facility to their intended U.K. bases?

    Not any big deal, just curious. I do also seem to have a vague memory in my head of reading way back that despite there being a final assembly facility in Europe (Italy) we will still be getting our planes from the US. I’d be interested in knowing if that is right or if my memory is playing tricks on me.

  4. On another subject that interests me as an avid vexillologist(!) look at the Crests of the two Carriers. The “English Carrier” crest contains the Tudor green and white-essentially the Welsh Colours and the (God Bless the..) Prince of Wales Crest the “Welsh” Carrier contains the English Cross of st George!?!
    the Brits are a funny quirky old lot 🙂

  5. Hey,
    3 F35B came over last year, 2 US and 1 British. Where did they go too? if we have 15 still in American and one here does that mean we have a total of 16? Any answers?

  6. ‘Fair enough HF, but I think you get the point I was making regardless if I used the exact wording correctly’

    I do, and I should have said so. It’s not so much that you were incorrect but that the meaning of the phrase is changed from its original meaning by the substitution of ‘charity’.

  7. I wouldn’t get too hung up on F-35B numbers in RAF / FAA colours (albeit drab grey). We have a written arrangement with the USMC that they will add their numbers to increase our carrier strike capability. My understanding is that delaying UK F-35B slots in production suited the Americans to get as many F-35Bs into USMC hands ASAP for IOC (political pressures and all that) and also the UK as later builds were less expensive and fell in line with the carrier programme better. A sort of debt of honour exists and so while we may have say 17 operationa + 3 T & El F-35Bs in 2020 for Carrier IOC we can safely add a further 12 or more from the USMC who, I also understand, are rather keen to get on board this new carrier concept.

    • Realistically the only time we would need a carrier is in a situation that we decide to take action without the US, such as a coalition with France. The problem with relying on the US to fill the spots, is that it means we can not achieve this.

      In my view there is a lot of face saving going on, with the government/MOD/navy/airforce trying to make it sound like the plan always was for the carriers to launch with limited jets, but i really don’t think it was, lack of money has just got in the way.

      Bright side, even 15 f35b is a reasonable number to enable to carriers to be semi effective.

    • Yeah that’s exactly how the UK won the BoB and the Falklands war, they relied on another country to supply aircraft.

      • (Chris H) Ron5 – There was no need to twist my words. I was simply referring to the slower (and more cost efficient) build up of UK numbers of F-35 aircraft and how, if necessary, they could be (note ‘could be’) augmented until we do have our full complement of aircraft delivered. And we have always in any case inter – Op’d with the USMC and have done from the earliest Harrier days

        And if you want to raise history we never ‘relied on’ these thousands of US built aircraft in WWII:
        Curtis Mohawk, Kittyhawk and Tomahawk
        Grumman Wildcat and Hellcat
        North American Mustang
        Republic Thunderbolt
        Vought Corsair
        Many of which we had in service during the BoB to allow Hurricanes and Spits to be used where they were best suited.

        And who was it supplied the SHARS with Sidewinders in ’82?

        Given the Yanks are further along the learning curve with the F-35B than we are what is the big deal about using them to help us deliver carrier IOC?

  8. An interesting thought.
    Are we solely reliant on Turkey to service our F35 fleet?

    “Turkey is coordinating with Russia,” said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official and now resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. “The basic problem isn’t Turkey’s move into Syria; it’s Turkey’s pivot away from NATO.”

    Turkish army troops gather near the Syrian border at Hassa, in Hatay province on January 21, 2018.

    Turkish army troops gather near the Syrian border at Hassa, in Hatay province on January 21, 2018.

    Indeed, before the move into the Kurdish-controlled Afrin region of Syria, Turkish President Erdogan sent two of his top military and intelligence officials to consult with Moscow, according to reports.

    Turkey, a NATO member since the early 1950s, has moved closer to Moscow’s orbit under Erdogan and recently even agreed to buy a Russian-made S-400 air defense system despite concerns raised by the U.S”.

    If so, a move towards a mix of Typhoon and F35 may in fact be a very wise move indeed.

    • What on earth are you rabbiting on about. The RAF will have a mix of Typhoons and F-35’s, why do you think it won’t?

      • I’m rabbiting, or “referring” to my earlier post in relation to Navel Typhoons Ron5.
        It’s always a very good idea to read things incontext before posting a rude reply.
        Manners cost nothing. We may even include some in the next defence budget!

          • If you equip the QE class with only type of aircraft (F35B) and Turkey side with Russia at a time when we might be facing them in a hostile environment, do you think it makes any sense to have all of your eggs in one basket, given the fact that they will hold the service contracts for UK repairs of the F35?

            My point being, It’s better to have other options available to you and a navel Typhoon is one of them.

            You may also wish to consider the amount of F35’s we will have short term and the timescale of our final delivery.

            I hope my explanation has simplified it enough for you to understand and apologise for any confusion on your part.

            Again your reply shows little respect for other members on this forum.

            Purley from a Philosophical perspective, and in certain cases, it is mere ignorance that people do not know how to behave in a polite manner or are unaware of how their actions are seen by others….

            Of course, such rude behavior does make a statement of a different kind. It shows that the person who is rude needs to work on his respect for human dignity period. Clearly in your case, work in progress!

          • Nigel, you are a complete idiot if you think there’s any chance of a Naval Typhoon ever being developed.

            The idea was briefly considered 20 years ago and dismissed as impractical. It’s even worse now because the carriers are STOVL and the Typhoon isn’t.

            If you would like an alternative to the F-35B’s and if there was enough money & desire to convert the carriers to CATOBAR, the list of candidates would be F-18 & Rafale.

          • Wrong thread Nigel. You really need to find yourself a forum to ramble on.

            Naval Typhoon is funny. As for the F35, it is and will be possible to send them elsewhere should Turkey mess about.

        • The Navalised Typhoon Option came and went Years ago and any Notion of It being realised now, died with the decision not to fit Cat’s and Trap’s ……… It’s best to look to the future now.

  9. With Queen Elizabeth sailing to the states to work with the F35s wouldn’t it make sense for them to come back on her rather than fly back, or would that upset Air Tanker Ltd by missing out on the refuelling money.

    • The aircraft coming to the UK are unrelated to the carrier trials. They will be coming back to the UK to establish “land” initial operating capacity at the same time as specialized test F35s will be doing carrier trials in the US.

  10. The depressing part of this article is the timeline at the top. By 2024 there will still only be two operational squadrons which means that if we do need to duff up the Queens enemies there will still only be 12 aircraft on each ship. Even allowing for some surge from the OCU you are still not carrying anything like a full offensive capability. I know that the USMC are wanting to play as well but this will depend on whether the President at the time thinks it is a good idea, and whether they are happy to help. According to the timeline we won’t have four squadrons for another 16 years!
    Also we don’t have sufficient Merlins to fully cover the ASW need in both ships, only 30 Mk 2’s were updated and some of those will be flying with 849 and Crowsnest. So one of the ships will be going in harms way with very lean manning indeed.

    • Nothing about the buying decisions around the carriers make any sense to me. Unless you bring in the elephant in the room, which was we could never afford them in the first place.

      The whole idea that the f35 buy rate is set by the carriers is clearly non-sense, if that was the case we would have at least 30 odd front line jets ready with pilots fully trained by the time the carrier comes into operation.

      The idea that the USMC want to use the carrier is also non-sense, they are just helping us not look completely stupid. If there was ever a conflict where a carrier was needed, the US would have one of its own deployed along with its full load of jets making ours not needed. Additionally the USMC would have their own platforms (wasps etc) deployed. If the USMC really needs another carrier, they should buy one, and not get one for free from us.

      Its time the government admits it made a mistake with the carriers and can not afford the f35b currently. Once that is accepted, then we can start planning around using the carriers in a more creative way, such as focusing on helicopters etc.

      • The reason we wont have enough F35s for the carriers in time is because the original F35 timeline was pushed back so far. It is more the F35 programs fault than anything else. If it had stuck to the original timeline we would have 1-2 squadrons in service already at the minimum.

        • It appears the F35B is a total waste of taxpayers money. Why waste more?
          From an idiot’s perspective that is!

          Navalised Typhoon vs. F-35B

          “Performance

          So now let’s look at the performance of the two aircraft, F-35B and Eurofighter Typhoon. From the get go I’ll grant that the F-35B has a lower radar cross section. However, it is not on par with the F-22’s radar cross section. The F-35’s radar cross section is only noticeably reduced from the front, like the Typhoon. The figures are classified, but these are probably quite accurate:

          Radar cross section:

          Typhoon: 0.05 m²
          F-35: 0.001 m²

          That is definitely a considerable advantage. But, these figures merely represent the radar cross section from the front of the aircraft. The radar cross section is considerably larger from the side or back of the plane. Additionally, these figures do not apply to long wave radar emissions, which may be used by ground forces.

          Stealth is not the only important design factor of a fighter aircraft. Stealth is merely one important design parameter among dozens of other features, which must be optimized. The vast majority of successfull engagements in air-to-air combat have been won in visible range. The radar cross section is of no help in this domain. The agility of the aircraft is more important than its radar cross section; it is determined largely by the wing load and the thrust-to-weight ratio of the aircraft:

          Thrust-to-weight-ratio:

          Typhoon:
          maximum: 1,60
          nominal: 1,16
          minimum: 0,76

          These figures are achieved in the peacetime settings of the engines, which is optimized for engine endurance. Additional thrust can be generated in the wartime setting.According to Eurofighter GmbH, the additional weight of a navalized typhoon would be around 500 Kg. This penalty has been considered. I am assuming that the same engines are being used.

          F-35B:

          maximum: 1,34
          nominal: 0.9
          minimum: 0.72

          Maximum means using the empty weight of the aircraft as a reference. Nominal means with full fuel tanks but without weapons loaded. Minimum means with full fuel tank and maximum weapons load.

          So, in terms of speed and acceleration, the Typhoon is far superior to the F-35B.

          The next important performance characteristic is the wing load. It determines how much weight each square meter of wing has to carry. An airplane turns by applying lift using its wings. The smaller the wing load, the higher the turn rates of the aircraft.

          Wing load:

          Typhoon

          Minimum: 230 Kg/m²
          Nominal: 320 Kg/m²
          Maximum: 480 Kg/m²

          F-35B=

          Minimum: 341 Kg/m²
          Maximum: 637 kg/m²

          An additional factor is the inherently unstable design of fighter aircraft. This means that the lift generated by the wings is going to turn the aircraft on its own unless air control surfaces such as canards stabilize the aircraft. A highly instable airframe even in the supersonic realm was a major design goal of the typhoon. The Typhoon is far more maneuverable than the F-35B. In any dogfight the F-35B would be eaten up by the Typhoon. This is also apparent from the G-limits of the aircraft; Typhoon (9G) – upper limit for pilot safety; the F-35B turn rate is abysmal and has been lowered even further:

          “The US Department of Defense’s decision to relax the sustained turn performance of all three variants of the F-35 was revealed earlier this month in the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation 2012 report. Turn performance for the US Air Force’s F-35A was reduced from 5.3 sustained g’s to 4.6 sustained g’s. The F-35B had its sustained g’s cut from five to 4.5 g’s, while the US Navy variant had its turn performance truncated from 5.1 to five sustained g’s. Acceleration times from Mach 0.8 to Mach 1.2 were extended by eight seconds, 16 seconds and 43 seconds for the A, B and C-models respectively. The baseline standard used for the comparison was a clean Lockheed F-16 Block 50 with two wingtip Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAMs. “What an embarrassment, and there will be obvious tactical implications. Having a maximum sustained turn performance of less than 5g is the equivalent of an [McDonnell Douglas] F-4 or an [Northrop] F-5,” another highly experienced fighter pilot says. “[It’s] certainly not anywhere near the performance of most fourth and fifth-generation aircraft.””

          http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/reduced-f-35-performance-specifications-may-have-significant-operational-impact-381683/

          Please also bear in mind that the navalized typhoon is going to have 3D thrust vectoring in order to reduce the minimum speed for landing. 3D thrust vectoring also improves the maneuverability of the aircraft at low speeds considerably. If the navalized typhoon is equipped with the newer engines E230, then the maximum thrust is going to be boosted by around 20%.

          What do we know about the resulting agility of these airplanes. Hardly anything about the F-35B, because it is supposedly classified! How classified can this be, if the plane is sold all over the world? The real reason is the abysmal performance of the F-35B. Whenever you read classified you may safely assume that there is nothing to brag about.

          Top Speed:

          Typhoon: Mach 2.35
          F-35B: Mach 1.6

          Super Cruise speed:

          Typhoon: Mach 1.5
          F-35B: Imossible

          Rate of climb:

          Typhoon: 315 m/s
          F-35B: Classified

          Another important aspect of the airframe is how much additional weight it may carry. This is called weapons load.

          Weapons load:

          Typhoon: 7500 Kg
          F-35B: 6800 Kg (unstealthed)

          However, the F-35B sacrifices all of it’s stealth advantages, if it carries the weapons externally under the wing or fuselage. With internal weapon bays it can only carry two air-to-air missiles, each weighing around 160 Kg and two bombs or missiles, each weighing around 1100 Kg. So how much is that in stealth mode?

          F-35B: 2500 Kg (stealth mode)

          For a plane that does not have the performance to be an air superiority fighter, the most reasonable use is as a striker or bomber. However, the weapons load of the F-35B is bad in stealth mode and even unstealthed considerably lower than the Typhoon.

          Finally, I want to discuss the combat radius of these airplanes.

          Combat radius:

          Typhoon: 1.389 km
          F-35B: 833 km

          These are all decisive figures, which cannot be improved upon without fundamentally redesigning the aircraft. These figures should be the prime concern when getting the airplane.

          The sensors and effectors of the aircraft are all very important, but they are going to be upgraded in the course of its lifetime. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to acquire an aircraft on the basis of electronic gadgets, although they are extremely important for its success. You can equip any old F-16 with the newest electronics! No need to get a completely new design of the airplane.

          Last but not least, the Typhoon can be equipped with world class avionics and missiles:

          I. Sensors:

          a) Radar: Captor-E: ASEA radar due 2015
          b) Infrared: PIRATE: Passive Infra-Red Airborne Track Equipment
          c) MAW: Missile Approach warner
          d) MIDS: Multifunctional Information Distribution System
          e) Sensor fusion

          II. Defense: PRAETORIAN : Defensive Aids Sub-System comprising:

          a) MAW: Missile Approach warner
          b) ECM: Electronic Counter Measure (Jamming)
          c) ESM: Electronic Support Measure
          d) Laserwarner
          e) Chaff Dispenser
          f) Flare Dispenser
          g) Towed Decoy

          III. Air-to-air missiles:

          a) long range radar guided: AIM-120, MBDA METEOR
          b) short range infrared guided: AIM-9 sidewinder, AIM-132, IRIS-T

          The missiles can receive their target designation after being launched using a wireless data link. The information is received from the sensors, inculding Radar, Infrared and MAW. The missile approach warner provides coverage in 360° around the aircraft. Consequently, missiles can be launched in any direction, even at enemy aircraft or missiles from behind the aircraft.

          Air-to-ground missiles:

          a) Cruise missiles: TAURUS KEPD 350, STORM SHADOW,
          b) Anti armor: BRIMSTONE
          c) Anti-radiation: ALARM, AGM-88
          d) Close air support: AGM-65
          e) Anti-Ship: Penguin (AGM-119)

          Precision guided bombs:

          Paveway II, III and IV, JDAM

          Cockpit:

          Carefree handling: No stalling or excess of G-limits.
          HOTAS: Hands on Throttle and Stick
          HMD: Helmet mounted display
          HMSS: Helmet mounted symbology system
          HUD: Heads up display

          4. Conclusion:

          The UK has no need for a stealthy bomber (F-35) with a very limited range that can only carry two bombs in stealth mode.

          Bombing missions that require stealth, like air interdiction, should be to be carried out by stealthy cruise missiles such as storm shadow or Taurus KEPD. Stealthy bombing missions may be carried out by stealthy UAVs, like the US predator-C. Both the UAVs and cruise missiles are much smaller and much stealthier than any manned airplane could ever be. If you want to drop precision guided bombs from high altitudes, then aircraft such as the Tornado or Typhoon can easily do the job. A dedicated plane like the A-10 warthog should be acquired for the close air support mission.

          Last but not least, advances in radar and infrared sensors are going to mitigate considerably any advantages of a stealth design in the near future. This will be done by fusing the sensors of many different aircraft, such as Typhoons, AWACS, ground radar and unmanned drones.

          However, the F-35B sacrifices all of it’s stealth advantages, if it carries the weapons externally under the wing or fuselage. With internal weapon bays it can only carry two air-to-air missiles, each weighing around 160 Kg and two bombs or missiles, each weighing around 1100 Kg. So how much is that in stealth mode?

          F-35B: 2500 Kg (stealth mode)”

          “To date, the UK has bought only 18 F-35Bs. However, in January 2017 the MoD made budgetary provision for another 30 jets for delivery from 2020 to 2025.

          The provision was for £3 billion including initial support, which works out at nearly $134 million per aircraft at today’s exchange rate. The first 18 aircraft for the UK appear to have cost more than £150 million ($200 million) each.

          In its testimony to the HCDC, the MoD maintained its assertion that the UK will eventually buy 138 F-35s. Most independent observers regard this as highly unlikely. Next month, the MoD is due to reveal another round of personnel and equipment cuts, just 26 months after a Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) set a budget that was supposed to last five years.

          Beyond 2025, the UK could save on both acquisition and operating costs by buying conventional takeoff-and-landing (CTOL) F-35A versions instead. This has long been the desire of the Royal Air Force, because of the greater range and weapons load of the F-35A compared with the F-35B. (Hence my suggestion for Typhoon on board the carriers)” Full report below.

          F-35 Gets Bad Report Card from UK Legislators. 20.12.2017
          https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/defense/2017-12-20/f-35-gets-bad-report-card-uk-legislators

          A total of 48 aircraft by 2025 that can already be detected by Russia’s S400’s I believe?

          And don’t worry if Turkey decides to play around with our service contract for the F35’s when we need it most, We can magic up the infrastructure and engineers to complete the work or, send them back to the USA for repair instead.

          It’s always good to see people considering worse case scenarios and how to get around them.

          “As for the F35, it is and will be possible to send them elsewhere should Turkey mess about”. A well thought out reply Ben P, thank you for your contribution.

    • I understand things a bit differently. The chart produced with 2010 SDSR showed clearly 1 Carrier ready 1 in reserve. 2015 SDSR improved on that in having the second carrier crewed and available at notice. Having 2 full air groups was never n the plan.

      “there will still only be 12 aircraft on each ship”

      24 on one. As I believe HMG have never said both ships will sail with a full air group at the same time.
      The second carrier will be crewed and available within a limited time.
      They could as you say spread the air groups on the two but I have not read this.
      We also need more escorts. People here are doubting we have escorts for one CBG never mind two.

      “Also we don’t have sufficient Merlins to fully cover the ASW need in both ships”

      Again, that was never in the plan and as you say with only 3 front line squadrons the Merlins could not do it. 1 Merlin unit is Carrier, 1 is Ships Flights with T23.

      For me the second carrier, if used, will be used as LPH full of CHF Merlin, RAF Chinook, and AAC Wildcat and Apache.

      It is not ideal but lets at least be proud of what capability the RN will have, which is a great enhancement on the Invincibles.

      • the first real deployment will tell us if they are a big upgrade on the invisibles or not and history tells us that it won’t be long before we are bombing someone. If that mission involves just one squadron of f35s then the real impact is zero gain on the invisibles, only difference is the f35 are lot better than the harriors.

      • I’m not sure that showing that HMG never said either carrier would ever sail with a full air group (presumably at least 36 F-35B)is anyting to b proud of.

        What’s the point of buying a big carrier if it’s never full?

        I’d never buy a 5 seat car if I only ever planned to carry two people. That would be dumb.

        • We have two carriers so that one is always available. So that we are not in a French situation where our single carrier is unavailable for nearly 2 years. The fact that both carriers will be available at one time is something to be happy about, with one in lower readiness if needed.

          As for the airgroup. The carrier does not always need to be full. It will carry the amount of aircraft it needs for the job it is doing. Which is why it is clearly stated that the deployed carrier will have a squadron of 12 aircraft on it always for self defence, with the ability to surge to 24/36 if they are needed.

          If ever the second carrier needs to be deployed it will have a squadron of F35 on it at the maximum for protection. It would highly likely be used in the LPH role.

          RN planning is for a single carrier group. It is only the internet that expects two to be always deployed with full airgroups.

          As for Merlin, they hardly ever deploy on the Type 23. Wildcat is used 90% of the time on escorts. Deploying 14 Merlins on a carrier is easily achievable within current airframes.

          • It’s all very well saying that a carrier can surge to 24/36 if needed but as a lay person I can imagine that it’s quite a different ballgame shuffling things around on the flight deck, in the hangar, maintaining, rearming and refuelling etc to keep up sortie rates with a ship with 50 or more airframes on it (e.g. 36 F-35B + 14 Merlin). How will the ship’s crew stay current on loaded-deck operating procedures? Or maybe my impression is wrong and running a ship with 6 F-35B embarked is no different to having 36 on board. Or will they just wing-it if/when the time comes? That last option doesn’t sound very RN/RAF to me but I suppose there was a lot of that going on in the Falklands.

            I’d be interested to know what some serving and ex-service people think on that. Not an issue? A bit of computer simulation and real on-ship work/training with fewer numbers? Periodic scheduled exercises such as Joint Warrior with care taken to ensure that QEC is packed with some USMC F-35B to make up numbers? Buy a bunch more of those fibreglass mockups to simulate crowded decks? Some combination of all of the above?

          • Just saw this after I posted below ben. I see your point in only one carrier fully active at a time, but should the shit hit the fan we should have enough airframes to give decent numbers to both should we need it. I think one squadron should be imbeded permanently with each carrier, and that’s fine for peace time. We then should have another 2-3 squadrons that are primarily land based and can be assigned to the carriers in war time. That would mean we can totally max out one and still have enough for defence if the other, or spread them over both so they each have a strike capability. We need this by 2024. If we could then supplement this with nasalised typhoon or drones to work with the f35 after then great. But my point is, even though we don’t need them in the carriers in full numbers all the time, we need the air frames ready.

          • @T.S.

            Even your modest proposal (and I think a good one) is quite beyond HMG. There’s firm plans for two squadrons. That’s it. The first is forming now and the second won’t be ready until 2023!!!!! Five years from now. That really is quite pathetic.

            I doubt that the RAF will allow the single F-35 squadron to be permanently available for carrier duty so, in reality, the carriers will routinely deploy with zero jet fighters. Zero.

          • Navalised Typhoon is not and will not ever be a thing.

            As for the F35. When we have all of our planned squadrons, we will be able to fill out a carrier should the need arise. Which would be the priority as the second carrier would highly likely be in port and need a couple days at least to deploy, at which time a squadron could be readied for it.

            Ron5 – The plan is to have one squadron aboard when a carrier deploys. Seriously stop talking rubbish. Your whole second paragraph is pulled out your ass.

  11. I wish the Government would just bite the bullet and up the budget to 2.5-3%. Or at the least give a one off lump sum to fill in these capability gaps. we have invested a huge amount in the carriers so far, let’s get them maximised quickly.
    I would like to see 3-4 squadrons available in one carrier within 5 Year’s for strike, or two on each at other times. Get Navalised Typhoon developed to start buying in the next 10 yr cycle of spending. 2 Tilt rotors for each carrier as well and we have some serious power projection.

    • Navalised Typhoon will NEVER happen. Get over it already. Jesus Christ.

      The carriers aren’t even equipped with Cats and Traps and likely never will be, so please change the record and refrain from typing anything unless it’s actually useful or informative.

      • There was some links posted by someone on another feed in detail regarding navalised Typhoon. New engines available have so much power it would not need catapults, only traps which are the cheap part. Strengthening the airframe might not be that difficult either to take the traps. Doable if there was someone’s with an ounce of imagination, and there could be some sales to countries like India if we did. If any ideas good then I will continue to post about and others seem to agree. I fully understand that it is unlikely to happen.

        • (Chris H) Tim – You don’t just ‘strengthen’ an airframe, fit it with a hook and use it in ‘traps’ on a flight deck. The undercart is completely different (it is after all an organised crash landing) and the fuselage has to have the capability designed in from an early stage. But yes a Tiffy could launch off a QE deck.

          BAE tried it post production and they couldn’t make it work. Its a dead duck.

          Persoanally I think that had the French remained part of the consortium the Typhoon would have been a much better aircraft, it would have evolved a lot faster, we wouldn’t have been at the Germans beck and call and yes we would have had a Naval Typhoon because that is why the French left.

          But c’est la vie….

          • BAE used a short runway takeoff without a ramp. It just proved that the Typhoon has a relatively short take off. If they had used a ramp the take off distance would have been shorter still.
            It is theoretically possible for Typhoon to take off from the QE. This is because is has a high thrust to weight ratio and a high lift delta wing. The aircraft with the standard EJ200 engines has a better thrust to weight ratio than the Mig29k and Su33.
            Without the political will it is still a pipe dream.

        • That’s correct Tim,

          It was me. An increase of up to 30% more power is possible with thrust vectoring included. This would allow for only traps to be installed onboard the carriers.

          Cat & Traps would be even more useful given that we agreed to work alongside France to support their Rafale on operations. Clearly this opens the door for other airframes as well as Typhoon i’m guessing?

          “EuroJet Turbo GmbH had offered to co-develop EJ2x0 which has potential to generate 30% more power compared to the original EJ200 with a reheated output of around 120 kN from current 90kN developed by Eurojet EJ200 engine”.

          Combined with CFT’s an additional 3000 litres of fuel can be carried increasing it’s range by a further 25%. Currently it stands at 864mi, ferry range:2,300mi, so add in the 25% increase and it dwarfs the F35B’s maximum range of 600mi

          The White elephant is not the carriers in my humble opinion, but the failure to install the cat & Traps reducing the carriers flexibility and capability which at some point will come back to haunt them.

          Things will remain a pipe dream sadly, but only if we fail to push the advantages of Typhoon under the noses of the people who make the final decisions. Or, do a U-Turn when they realise their mistakes.

    • I agree fully with your comments T.S

      I assume you read my Navalised Typhoon vs. F-35B fact finding mission posted above?

      There seems to be some controversy as to its usefulness in CAS simply because it will lose it’s stealth capability when fired and only holds a maximum of 181 20mm rounds.

      https://theaviationist.com/2017/05/18/watch-this-f-35b-fires-gau-22-external-gun-pod-in-flight-for-first-time/

      Typhoon on the other hand has an enclosed 27mm cannon firing 150 27mm high explosive shells at a faster rate.

      Government from what I’ve read chose not to install in on the first 50 aircraft at the time (cost cuts, It’s never going to happen!) but did a U turn as it caused an in balance on the airframe and with complaints from the Army’s top brass, not least the Parachute Regiment, went ahead and installed it.

      Let’s hope they do the same for the Naval Typhoon eh!

      • The Ministry of Defence (MoD) put its money into the F-35B, despite C having a greater range and payload capacity, and decided the two new carriers should be designed for STOVL aircraft.

        That decision was supposed to be hedged. The two carriers will last for 50 years, so to cater for potential changes in warfare technology the MoD chose a design which would be “adaptable” for cats and traps (or an electromagnetic system which is expected to replace steam catapults).

        • You really don’t keep up with the news do you?

          Suggest you spend some time on google getting clued in rather than writing rubbish here.

          • All the time Ronny.

            I don’t live in a one dimensional world either.

            The clueless one is you thinking the F35’B can in anyway perform the duties required of a modern day carrier air wing.

            Look at the performance characteristics I’ve provided against the Navel Typhoon along with the fact it has an operating distance of only 600nm in tota.l 300nm out 300nm in. What a joke.

            Add into the equation that Typhoon can already detect the F22 at a distance of 50nm (Stealth aircraft) combined with the fact that Russia’s latest S400 and updated S300 can do the same thing, so even a complete moron will quickly realise the F35B is a total waste of money.

            48 in total by 2025 lol and it’s only advantage (Stealth) is already compromised.

            It’s you Ronny who needs a wake up call and stop deliberating over how you intend to use them.

            Come up with something original that will give our navy a solution to fight with in the years ahead.

            It’s going to be 2024 before you can fit Meteor on board it for combat air patrols, yet another example of how far behind this aircraft is from having some use.

            I mentioned Taranis some time back which people seemed to like the idea of. Throughout its test and development phase it was controlled remotely with Typhoon not the F35.

            Why? It couldn’t be done at that time due to problems with secure communication between the two aircraft lol!

            The F35B is a joke and the worst possible option available of the three that are on offer and clearly past it’s sell by date already.

            Stop wasting even more time, install cats and traps and look for a better solution to the problem. I’ll leave you to work that one out!

            P.s I read that the French navy were supposed to be using our carrier for their aircraft. How? !!!

          • (Chris H) Nigel – Let me spell it out for you Unless there is a ‘Typhoon II’):
            There
            Will
            Never
            Ever
            Be
            A
            Naval
            Typhoon

            Why do you persist with this nonsense given the replies you have already had. BAE tried to ‘modify’ the Typhoon for the Indian Navy and it was not a viable airframe let alone cost effective. That we never created one as an option ‘back in the day’ is an utterly stupid decision but then we are dealing with the MoD here. But its too late now. Period. End of.

    • Julian – you can be rest assured that the QE Carriers have been vigorously designed from the beginning and built to carry out and perform a specific number of sortie’s (75 per day according to wiki ).Any problems regarding deckspace usage and logistics would have been modelled and rehersed for years so there should be no problems once HMS QE sets sail with a reasonable compliment of Aircraft.See the BBC documentary tonight and you will get an idea of the work that goes on behind the scenes.

      • (Chris H) Paul T – I was browsing a YouTube clip from a ForcesTV programme last year while PoW was in build and the thing that struck me was the very fast initial sortie rate everyone was discussing – 4 strike aircraft off the deck in 2 minutes and thereafter. That is faster than a Nimitz and that has 4 Cats. A Cat fired aircraft has to ‘staged’ which involves a lot of manual intervention which slows things down.

        https://youtu.be/dP6v_iHZtc4

        So personally I am mightily impressed, as you seem to be, by these ships, their crews and where we are with them. And I have a sneaking feeling we Brits have taken a rather clever step in carrier design as we have done so many times before.

        • And the F35B is Chris?

          F-35B Structural Test Failures

          The F-35B being used to see if the plane will survive the 8,000 hours it’s required to last pretty much fell to pieces last year and needs replacing. “The effect of the failures observed and repairs required during the first two lifetimes of testing on the service life certification of the F-35B aircraft is still to be determined,” Behler writes. “The service life for all three variants is planned to be 8,000 hours; however the F-35B service life may be less than that, even with extensive modifications to strengthen the aircraft already produced.” And that’s consistent what we understand the program believes.

          I also hear that Lockheed Martin is studying just how much of the plane will need to be tested. They and the Joint Program Office try to limit costs by using only those parts of the plane — the bulkhead perhaps and where the wings connect — and no one is sure what the best approach is yet.

          Read the full damning report as of 26.012017
          https://breakingdefense.com/2018/01/f-35-problems-late-iote-f-35a-gun-inaccurate-f-35b-tires-threat-data-cyber/

        • @Chris
          You Brits got a inferior platform compared to the USN Nimitiz and Ford class ships. So don’t pat yourselves on the back too much. You brits aren’t that ‘clever’. If the QE was so great a design, which it is not, it would considered by the USN. It’s not. The USN hates ski jumps on ships and won’t use them. That’s a poor man’s choice for carriers. Used by countries that lack the capabilities to build, field and maintain them. Let alone pay for.
          The QEs could have had EMALS but decided it was too expensive to field and you don’t have the funds for the whole project. Let alone you don’t have the technology for it. What you got in the QEs now is what you brits always get in these military projects. You have big plans, but always fall short of what you wanted. It’s the most that you can field with what resources you have, money, manpower, equipment. The QEs are good carriers, but in no damn way are they better than USN carriers. The USN has the best carrier fleet in history, and they’re best in the world in carrier ops,and we don’t see anyone, friend or foe, challenging that anytime soon. Even the Chinese, let alone you brits. That’s not clever just the truth.
          The QEs will never compare to USN carriers.

          • (Chris H) Tomkat – Wind your bloody Yank neck in Pal. WHERE did I ever say a QE was ‘better than a Nimitz’? Nowhere. First call on your bullshit

            As to us not having the technology that is also crap as you may want to see what the UK company ‘Converteam’ were doing years before any Yank outfit. We called it ‘EMCATS’ Google is not your best friend Pal as it will show you are not too clever yourself. Especially as GE in the USA bought Converteam for $3.2 Bn in 2011. In 2010 no EMALS / EMCATS system was working, proven or deliverable let alone at a known finished price. Given our economy had been crippled by the fallout from the US ‘Sub Prime’ stupidity (thanks for that) we had to make some critical decisions and had the balls to do so. All have been proven right subsequently. ANd we ‘don’t have the technology for it’? Really Sweetcheeks? Well the US Navy is copying our SRVL, plateau approach and Bedford Array system of landing CATOBAR aircraft onto carriers and will apply it for F-35C aircraft and maybe for legacy aircraft as well. We developed it back in 2007 with an old Harrier! (Another British concept you Yanks copied. You’re welcome!) Second call on your bullshit

            I don’t give a rats arse what the US Navy likes, prefers or chooses. While you seem to be really bothered about what we are doing. All I will say is when you look at any US Carrier you will see British developments all over it, Cats & Traps, steam catapults, Mirror landing aids, angled flight deck. Hell Mr Know Nothing Yank we INVENTED the aircraft carrier and built the first one. Again Google it. As for us just copying what you Yanks do well no its not what we do. We tend to lead in carrier developments and you follow. You just make thing bigger for some reason. Oh and spends $16 Bn on ONE while we built two for $10 Bn. Third call on your bullshit

            Tomkat you represent everything I despise about some (repaeat SOME) Americans and I have lived and worked there and have many American friends still some years after. I visit the USA because its a fabulous country. Just a shame many of the population are gobby Mongs like you.

          • The SPAMs can build the carriers but the good ideas that make them workable came from Blighty – steam catapults, angled flight decks and mirror/projector landing aids.

      • Paul – I have no doubts about the design’s capability to operate at full capacity, it is getting out crews real life up-close experience of what that is like that I am wondering about. I am sure that the fire control equipment and layout is well designed and everyone knows what is where and how it all works but drills are still run so that people can actually feel what it is actually like to lift something out of a particular locker and carry it to a particular place. There is reading and there is doing, and there is no substitute for doing. My understanding is that the amount of “doing” that our armed forces do, either in action or via drills and exercises, is one of the things that makes them so good.

        My concern is that the “doing” (manoeuvering, parking, arming, maintaining, refuelling, etc) has the potential to be very different when 12 F-35B plus Merlins have the carrier to themselves vs doing it in the more cramped and pressurised atmosphere when a carrier is filled to capacity.

        Maybe it just isn’t an issue and I’m tilting at windmills. Maybe we can give the crews some idea of close quarters work could be done by having training days when two thirds of the hangar and most of the flight deck is roped off and placed off limits thus forcing those 12 F-35B to be manouvered, operated etc in the sort of space envelopes that would be available if the carrier was full. With 12 F-35B on board there would likely only need to be relatively few on deck at any given time and they’ll probably have 20m of clearance to all sides to be turned in. That’s very different to extracting a single F-35B from a line of 6 parked forward of the forward superstructure (for instance).

        I’m not saying the design or our people can’t do it, I’m just wondering how they will get real life experience of what it feels like to actually do it in advance of needing to do it for real.maybe artificially constraining the deck and/or hangar for training drills is the way to do it.

        • You are absolutely correct. The USN practice with a full deck because that’s the only way to learn how to do it. To suggest the UK can avoid that because of computer simulations is just daft.

        • The answer to your question is quite simple.RNAS Cauldrose has a drawn a schematic of QE’s deck on one of the runways. The d ck handling can be practiced as well as aircraft landing and take offs. At the moment it is only with helicopters and Harriers. But soon it will F35s, however the ships deck crew will always have somewhere to practice.

  12. Still doesn’t add up.

    Let’s assume (i don’t think this was really the thinking but give them benefit of the doubt) that the original plan was for 1 carrier to be active at any one time and that the plan was to surge it with 20-30 jets in a waste case situation. Then why buy such large carriers?

    We know that the invisible could be surged to 20 planes, and so buying 2 invisible size carriers (much cheaper) and then placing one in extended readiness, with the ability to reactivate would give the ability to deploy the 30 jets in the worst case and cut costs.

    The original plan must have been to have one carrier with a standard deployment of 20 odd jets with the ability to surge it upto 40 (which they are capable of), but the reality is looking like this won’t be the case.

    They were a vanity project, that has gone wrong once the reality of costs came through and resulted in too much money being invested in them that should have gone to more sailors or escorts.

    Bright side, the f35b/carrier combo will be pretty powerful even in their reduced state and will help our troops through improved close air support.

  13. Yes it does. 4 front line squadrons, 3 on the first carrier (36) + 14 Merlin (9 ASW & 5 AEW) + 4 HC4 (SAR). And the 4rth squadron on the 2nd carrier operating as LPH. The 2nd carriers deck would still be full with 12 F-35B, 12 Merlin (HC4), 6? Apache and maybe a couple of Chinooks or extra Merlin ASW/AEW. We could still surge the OCU if required and extra Apache, Wildcat, Chinook or HC4. We have plenty of aircraft for the carriers. You can’t fit anywhere near that on 2 Invincible class.

        • David is correct. Eventually 4 F35 Squadrons, plus OCU and OEU. At that point Typhoon units reduce to 5.

        • David is wrong. There is no plan for 4 squadrons. Just a wish, a hope, a prayer.

          If there was a plan, you could give me dates when they would be standing up.

          You can’t.

      • Ron – lets presume you are correct and there will be only Two Squadrons,an OCU plus an OEU,wouldnt you think that 138 F35b Aircraft are a bit of overkill to equip those with ?I would have thought 48 would be perfectly sufficient.

  14. The Captain of QE has gone on record saying they can hold 70+ aircraft.

    I personally believe a F35 sqdn should consist of 16 airframes and that each carrier should go to sea with 2 Sqdns in peacetime and be able to surge to 4 sqdns at a push (with additional airframes for helo’s).

    Realistically we need an operational force of 138 (not a lifetime buy but a 10 year buy).

    I am also OK if the carriers had 32 F35 and 32 Taranis/Magma as a combo – in fact I would prefer this as the F35’s could hold in a stand off position with defensive armanent doing battlefield management and jamming whilst sending unmanned Taranis into the hot zone to discharge their cargoes.

    It will also be far cheaper and allow the F35 to hold more fuel internally. This is what we Brits do we come up with innovative solutions that takes a negative (fuel) and turns it into a positive.

      • @Nigel Collins
        Not likely. The USN has fasttracked the MQ-25 for fielding. They have some good platforms to chose from; Lockheed, General Dynamics, Boeing. The MQ-25 is a carrier based aircraft. It can’t operate off a QE carrier. It lacks cats and traps. The USN already has experience with carrier based drones with the Northrop Grumman X-47. It did fantastic. Carrier landings, takeoffs, and mid air refueling. The USN passed on it, becuase they have an aversion to unmanned combat aircraft. A tanker is another story.
        Taranis is nowhere near the capabilities of what the US fields. There have been unmanned stealth drones in operation for years. The Taranis operating as a tanker is wishful thinking. It could never land and take off a QE. How? It’s nowhere done anything like what the X-47 did.

    • Once more from the top, the carriers can ferry 70 aircraft maybe but they can’t operate with anything like that. The hanger can hold 22 F-35B. How do you operate the flight deck with 48 additional airframes? The carriers simply can’t take the number of aircraft you are suggesting. On the other hand I agree that Squadrons should be 16 strong but if so then a full air group would be 32 F-35B (2 squadrons) + some Merlin AEW.

      • The limitation on the hanger is why you see the US carriers with a load of jets parked on the deck. The plan should be to have a standing deployment of 2 squadrons at all times, with the provision of extras when needed. If they don’t plan for this, we will end up with overall insufficient jets for the job, since you can guarantee after the first few years the availability rate will drop to around 50% allowing for repairs/etc and this is when the 12 jets suddenly look very weak.

        It is fine to say that the carrier can be surged with x number of jets, but unless they are actually available, the reality is it can’t. Thinking that the US will help out in a real war situation is delusional, since they will be busy protecting their own assets.

        • If another ally was buying the f35b and intended to maintain carrier landing experience, i would feel more optimistic, but 100% relying on the US is not wise as history has told us that they are not always there to support us.

          • (Chris H) Steve – Italy are buying (and actually building) the F-35B. But I’m not sure that advances the ‘reliable ally’ situation. However he USMC have signed a binding agreement to provide extra Squadrons as needed.

          • The problems is the US actively worked against us during the Falklands (at least during the start) and suez. I won’t rely on them following that binding commitment in a situation where our interested are not aligned.

          • As well as Italy, Spain has Juan Carlos and will have a decision to make when its Harriers get to the end of their service lives. Whether politics and funding will line up to make F-35B the option chosen is another matter, they may well do what the U.K. did and gap the capability and in Spain’s case I can see a possibility that gap might become permanent due to being a smaller economy that is currently struggling.

            Haven’t Japan been considering F-35B for possible naval use as well at some point?

          • Steve-I think the USA were neutral at the start of the conflict in the Falklands but very soon firmly sided with us. Without their Intel satellites and particularly the Sidewinders for the Harriers may have been a different result. Also Suez was very different but I get your drift

          • Steve – the US was a bit ambiguous at the start of the conflict,very understandable as it tried to stop two of its allies going to war,plus it will always have interests and responsibilities in South America.When their Peace efforts failed they did give us the support we could have expected from our No1 Ally,even to the point of having a plan to loan us a Carrier should we lose one or both of ours.

          • @Steve
            Hold on there…
            Geoff and Paut T said enough to set you straight on Falkalnds. If it weren’t for the US help the Royal Navy never would have established air superiority. Those Sidewinders helped you brits win the skies over there. We also supplied vital intel that helped you win that conflict. We also had plans to loan you a USN ship to be used for carrier ops. The US helped quite a lot but get very little recognition for it from a majority of brits. Shame.
            It benefits the UK to ally itself with the most powerful country in the world. If you haven’t noticed, Steve, the US does have the most powerful military on Earth. If the UK came under attack, the US would help out. That’s without question. So don’t question that. Also, don’t backstab us, Steve. That’s not what allies do.

          • The USA acted neutral at the start as it had to with Argentina being another American nation.

            I think it was Kasper Weinburger, another Anglophile, who was going to lend the UK a carrier if one of ours was sunk.

            I for one have no issue with the Americans, who are and will remain one of the UK’s closest allies.

      • @David StephensJust to be clear – I am not suggesting anything, this is a factual number stated in an interview withe the captain in Wired magazine and is therefore public record.

        If you also look at graphics the decks can easily hold 40 aircraft without impinging on the lifts and I assume that the hanger can take more than 22 if required.

        Either way I just dont see the justification for running these things at 1/3 capacity they cost too much and the uplift to capacity would be too big a gap to fill. You need to be operating at 60-75% of capacity in order to be able to get the remaining performance out of the crew and asset.

        • @Geoff.
          The US were very much not neutral at the start of the conflict, their official stance was but not their actions. They had tabled UN measures that effectively called for the UK to back down without Argentina leaving the islands. They were also pushing for a US peace keeping force, effectively giving the US the Falklands. Yes they backed us in the end, but only after it came clear that we were not going to back down.

          • @Steve
            Behind the scenes, it was a different story. We tried to appear neutral, but we backed you. Don’t try to change history and DO NOT BACKSTAB US Steve.
            Without our help you brits wouldn’t have the union jack flying over the falklands.
            Ungrateful.

          • (Chris H) Tomkat – I fear your US Patriotism is playing tricks on your ability to face facts. ‘Behind the scenes’ the US (and by name Alexander Haig, Jeane Kirkpatrick and even Reagan himself) were clearly batting for the Argies. They were trying to establish an Argentine de facto victory (be leaning on us Brits to NOT fight a war) to appease their Latin American electorate and ‘friends’ down South. The Contra debacle ring a bell?

            Happily Maggie told Haig what the facts were and to go away and annoy someone who gave a monkeys.

            The only American with any credit was Caspar Weinberger who eventually allowed replenishment of Sidewinders from US stocks rather than the normal delivery channels.

            Apart from that we got NOTHING from you Yanks before, during and after the Falklands War. We got NO satellite Intell. because you had NO Intell. to provide. We got more from the Norwegians. You even refused to ‘lean on’ the Israelis to stop them assisting the Argie Air Force. Word was in fact that the US was using Israel to give ‘back door’ assistance to the Argies. Because basically you hate us Brits succeeding at anything especially when it makes your massive military look bloody inept.

            Your Pentagon said it couldn’t be done. It would need 40,000 Marines, a nuclear carrier group and massive Air Force support from ‘friendly’ South American countries. And we didn’t have those resources. But guess what Yank? We DID do it and put together a Task Force in TWO weeks, went down there and cleared the Islands in 6 weeks of hard fighting at sea, in the air and on land. All 8,000 miles from home.

            And even at the last moment Reagan was begging Maggie not to force the Argies to surrender when Stanley was surrounded by British Forces who had yomped their way to victory. BASTARD!

            Your Pentagon was right YOU couldn’t have done it. But we DID it. So go shove your creative Hollywood military history where the sun don’t shine Pal. We stomach (and laugh at) your re-writes of WWII but the Falklands War was OUR war and OUR victory ….. So how about YOU not ‘backstabbing’ US Yank?

          • (Chris H) Oh and Tomkat you mention ‘the loan of a carrier’. Bullshit! It was the Iwo Jima (LPH – 2) which would have been made available ONLY after one or both of ours had been sunk and then with NO US Navy crew or USMC aircraft. And it was in the Pacific as well.

            So we would have had to fly out a ships crew untrained in any aspect of the ship, sail it from the West Coast down to the Falklands and somehow get a set of Harriers on it from the UK in transit. The Panama Canal would have been closed to it and so it would have had to head round Cape Horn in a full on South Atlantic winter on its own right off the coast of Argentina.

            Yeah some generous offer that. When you offer a ship it is nothing without a crew. Its a metal box totally useless without a crew. Unlike when we Brits loaned HMS Victorious to you Yanks in WWII when you were short of carriers in the Pacific she went fully crewed and with all aircraft in place. THAT is what the US could and should have done in 1982 and did NOT. Oh and as for HMS Victorious? You’re welcome.

  15. (Chris H) – Just thought I’d add in a comment from the Williamson: The QE will visit New York in September. Now whether that is prior to or post the flight trials it wasn’t clear. But there we have it. Leaving UK at the latest in late August but I suspect earlier as she has to do some heavy weather trials and test recently fitted kit.

  16. Evening all
    Couple of things:
    Naval Typhoon – what ever the arguments are whether the right or wrong decisions were made with regards to a concept first put to the MoD 20 years ago the platform will never happen. The development of the Typhoon is not going in that direction and the MoD budget could not sustain the cost of redevelopment nor could it manage the gap in capability whilst the aircraft went through 3-5 years of design,build and test. The RAF do not want it, the RN do not need it. Typhoon development is now moving to full SPEAR 3 capability, AESA radar and conformal tanks. The RAF have a 40 year plan for Typhoon, we are not even at year 15.
    Numbers of Sqns: To maintain a fleet of 4 high readiness combat sqns of 12 aircraft per Sqn you need at least double the airframe numbers and at least 1.5 pilots per available airframe. This takes time to build and sustain. Again the RAF have a plan for this and as part of that plan have accelerated the purchase of frames so that FoC can be declared sometime around the 2021/2 timeframe. This is when HMG will deploy the first CBG east of Suez. On board will be at least 24 F-35B aircraft. We can assume that 617 Sqn will be there, the interesting discussion will be the make up and nationality of the 2nd FJ Sqn on board. My hope is that the MOD pull it out of the bag and stand up 809 early, if it doesn’t I would suggest that a USMC Sqn and maybe some Italian aircraft deploy showing how NATO nations can inter operate together on missions of mutual benefit.
    Carrier availability and surge:
    To populate both carriers, if needed in time of conflict with 36 U.K. F-35B will require the U.K. to have its full compliment of 138 aircraft and even that will be a tight margin, not just on aircraft but on pilots and maintainers as well. In this even the world is not in a great place and it would be likely that our flatbeds would be utilised to host not only U.K. FJ but the very nations we will be training with (US and Italy).
    Deploying 72 aircraft on two aircraft carriers at the same time requires a RN fleet size that, with all other tastings taken in to account we just could not do alone. This is why we routinely interoperare with our NATO allies.
    Mixed concept:
    In the event where the landing of HMG’s finest it is likely that you would get one carrier providing the majority of the FJ fleet (36 FJ) and the Commando PW with a single Sqn (upto 12 aircraft) to provide point defence and ground attack with the rest of the slots being taken up with rotary platforms to get Royal ashore.

    The way MoD fights it battles is changing. To generate the kinetic effect required of the Armed forces to to the enemy is now a joint affair, one that needs to look forward and not backwards at conceptual pipedreams that have been disguarded.

    • Lee – if indeed our US and Italian friends do get to utilise our new Carriers would it be right to assume (presume) that they will use also the SRVL technique or will this be a purely British procedure ?

      • Morning
        Currently a U.K. procedure as far as I am aware, however once all testing has been completed I see no reason that USMC and IN aircrew, if going for flight qualification off the QEC wouldn’t adopt it too.

    • I totally understand Lee.

      In relation to the point you made: “The development of the Typhoon is not going in that direction and the MoD budget could not sustain the cost of redevelopment nor could it manage the gap in capability whilst the aircraft went through 3-5 years of design,build and test.” Will the MOD have sufficient funds available to invest in fixing the problems currently facing the F35B?

      F-35B Structural Test Failures

      The F-35B being used to see if the plane will survive the 8,000 hours it’s required to last pretty much fell to pieces last year and needs replacing. “The effect of the failures observed and repairs required during the first two lifetimes of testing on the service life certification of the F-35B aircraft is still to be determined,” Behler writes. “The service life for all three variants is planned to be 8,000 hours; however the F-35B service life may be less than that, even with extensive modifications to strengthen the aircraft already produced.” And that’s consistent what we understand the program believes.

      I also hear that Lockheed Martin is studying just how much of the plane will need to be tested. They and the Joint Program Office try to limit costs by using only those parts of the plane — the bulkhead perhaps and where the wings connect — and no one is sure what the best approach is yet.

      One bit of aircraft testing that is underway seems to demonstrate a change in tone from the last DOTE to this one. In his introduction to the annual report, Behler says he plans to be “flexible with integrated testing” and points to his granting approval for pre-IOT&E cold weather testing, which I hear is already underway.

      F-35B Tires
      The heaviest of the three aircraft, the F-35B, didn’t only shake apart under stress-testing more quickly than the other two aircraft (see below), but, as the DOTE notes, “The program has struggled to find a tire for the F-35B that is strong enough for conventional high-speed landings, soft enough to cushion vertical landings, and still light enough for the existing aircraft structure. Average F-35B tire life is below 10 landings, well below the requirement for 25 conventional full-stop landings. The program is still working this problem, which will not be resolved within SDD.”

      Finally, Behler’s report point to a refueling problem faced by the F-35B and F-35C.

      The air refueling probe “tips are breaking too often, resulting in squadrons imposing restrictions on air refueling. The program is still investigating this problem.” I hear that the program is focussing on improved maintenance for the hose reel mechanism, as well as design changes to the probe.

      As the report notes, “the F-35A FMC rate of 34 percent was significantly higher than other variants, with the F-35B at 14 percent and the F-35C at 15 percent.
      “The average monthly utilization rate measures flight hours per aircraft per month. The utilization rate was 16.5 flight hours, reflecting the stable but low availability rate. The F-35A fleet averaged 18.0 flight hours, while the F-35B and F-35C fleets averaged 14.1 and 15.1, respectively.”

      WASHINGTON: Perhaps the most damning thing a director of Operational Test and Evaluation can say about a weapon is that it is not “operationally suitable.”

      Here’s what the new DOTE, Robert Behler, says about the F-35 Joint Strike fighter in his office’s latest annual report:

      The operational suitability of the F-35 fleet remains below requirements and is dependent on work-arounds that would not meet Service expectations in combat situations (emphasis added). Over the previous year, most suitability metrics have remained nearly the same, or have moved only within narrow bands which are insufficient to characterize a change in performance.

      Overall fleet-wide monthly availability rates remain around 50 percent, a condition that has existed with no significant improvement since October 2014, despite the increasing number of new aircraft. One notable trend is an increase in the percentage of the fleet that cannot fly while awaiting replacement parts – indicated by the Not Mission Capable due to Supply rate.

      Reliability growth has stagnated. It is unlikely that the program will achieve the JSF ORD (Operational Requirements Document) threshold requirements at maturity for the majority of reliability metrics. Most notably, the program is not likely to achieve the Mean Flight Hours Between Critical Failures threshold without redesigning aircraft components (emphasis added).
      As of the 26.01.18

      • Morning Nigel
        Many thanks for the detailed response, I will try and cover your points below:
        Do I believe the MoD made the correct choice with the selection of the F-35B, no I don’t think so. I believe the F-35C offers the RN the most capable aircraft of the 3 models but after all the wrangling of the early 2000’s the F-35B was chosen. The MoD and politicians are to blame for that fiasco.

        Problems with the F-35B development:
        The F-35B is now near the end of its BVT stage and operational aircraft have been deployed (IOC) by the USMC. At this stage of the project we would expect to see fewer problems than currently exist but these problems are the responsibility of the vendor and the risk liability is with them. The U.K. as a tier 1 partner invested heavily on the design and build phase and has a responsibility to make sure that some of your identified issues are fixed, if not that technical debt gets passed to the operator.
        I would suggest the benefits of deploying the aircraft outweigh the constraints it still displays, this is why only IOC will be declared in the next 12 months. FOC will not be declared until the vendor has either fixed most of the outstanding technical issues or compensates the operator for failure to satisfy all of the UAT as defined by the customer.
        This is perfectly normal for most complex military platforms (A400 being an example) and the operator understands and the a certain extent expects it. US OTE will continue to highlight defects against the original requirement baseline and the vendor will continue to improve the aircraft to meet the requirements.
        LM will make sure, with DoD support that this family of aircraft work, as with all military aircraft we will not find out its true operational capability until the platform has been in service for at least 8-10 years (Typhoon is only now showing its true potential for example).

        Finally, it is unlikely that the early F-35B aircraft will meet their MTBF requirements, again this is something that the operator will accept because they want their aircraft. LM will be on hand the make sure (using ALIS) have all the maintenance parts required and where they fail to meet MTBF rates these parts will be replaced at cost to the supplier.

        The MoD, whether right or wrong, have invested a lot of money and thought into getting the F-35B system to where it is today. The actual aircraft is only a small part of that – the most visible part but just one part of a large operational system that should serve the RAF and RN for at least 40 years.
        It is also a possibility that the RAF are looking at a split buy of perhaps 98 B models and up to 40 A models, but you didn’t hear that from me….

        • Hello Lee,

          Thank you for taking the time to explain the points I have raised in relation to the B variant of the F35.

          What I find disturbing from a layman’s perspective is, the time scale you mention for it to mature and its limited capability as a weapons platform when directly compared with a “mature” Typhoon as you quite rightly point out.

          It’s only advantage over Typhoon currently is stealth which has already been compromised by AESA radar technology? so how much use will it be when this matures ten years from now?

          “According to an analysis that appeared in Aviation Week and the Daily Beast on April 28, Bill Sweetman, a senior editor at Aviation Week, said, “The F-35 is susceptible to detection by radars operating in the VHF bands of the spectrum. The fighter’s jamming is mostly confined to the X-band, in the sector covered by its APG-81 radar”

          Again, purely from a layman’s perspective to get us ahead of the curve, install CATOBAR on at least one of the carriers “now” opening up the types of aircraft that could be flown from the decks of the QE class (F-35C ? Super Hornet? Rafale? Navalised Typhoon?) turning them into a far more useful platform.

          We could then start looking ahead at 6th gen airframes to compete with our adversiries from the 2030’s onwards.

          The UK has already developed a prototype of this in Taranis (scaled up?) with a new airflow control system currently being tested (Magma) plus, advancements in engine technology (EJ2x0) purley as examples of British engineering accomplishments.

          Personally, I think it’s time to invest in evolving British technologies for our armed forces in the years ahead.

          Brand new carrier design, and absolute minimal teething issues thus far.

          I will refrain from mentioning where I believe the funding should come from as it is already well documented in other posts I have written!

          • Afternoon Nigel
            No aircraft is truly fully stealthy (the ability to evade detection by all means), F-35 reduces the ability of the enemy to detect the aircraft before it has had a chance to carry out its mission.
            Radar is not the only method used to detect aircraft, although it is one of the primary methods hence you see aircraft designed to reduce their detectable cross section to the size of a tennis ball. It is no accident that when we talk about SAM platforms like Rapier or Sea Ceptor we quote “ it can detect and engage multiple targets no bigger than a tennis ball”.
            Anyone who has watched Firefox (1984) will know that radar is not the only medium used to detect and direction find fast jets.
            You have also compared the radar systems on the two aircraft, again whilst the primary plates (APG-81 and AESA) provide the active part of the system in is the passive systems on board and the ability to fuse that with other platforms, air or ground that gives F-35 sensory advantage over Typhoon.
            Added together, stealthy features and the ability to fuse and provide total situational awareness makes the F-35 a very robust piece of military hardware.
            Unfortunately we have take Mum the Typhoon design as far as we can, adapting it like the US are doing with their legacy fleets (F-15 Silent etc) makes no viable business sense to BAES and no military sense to the MoD.
            There is a battle going on in Germany at the moment between politicians and Air Force professionals with regards to what aircraft should replace Tornado.
            One is thinking of the industrial base and votes, the other is thinking purely of how best to defeat the enemy from the air.
            I will leave it to the article (Defensenews) to best explain.

          • “It’s only advantage over Typhoon currently is stealth which has already been compromised by AESA radar technology?”

            Which isn’t actually true, you can’t defeat stealth when nothing is invisible to radar. The F-35 was designed from the get go to be “stealth lite” and optimized for certain wave lengths.

            If you bothered to do the research you would know that the claims about getting using UHF and VHF radars to provide accurate enough data for missile targeting is unproven and widely believed to be propaganda.

            The Serbs have been claiming to have defeated “stealth” ever since they shot down a F-117.

            Russians have claimed to have UHF/VHF radars that can defeat stealth since 1999 and yet they still incorporated stealth into the PAK-FA.

            Be an intelligent person and don’t listen to what Russia and China says but rather what they do. If stealth is useless then why are they building their own stealth fighters?

            Stop reading random internet sources. Air Power Australia did an insane amount of research on the topic of F-35s and in the end their still flat out wrong, even if it looks convincing. As in the end it was written by a person with a master’s degree in computer engineering with no qualifications in aerospace and without access to classified data.

      • (Chris H) – Nigel I am not sure what American site you copy / pasted all that from but you really should have credited your source. But I am calling ‘bullshit’ on the ‘falling apart after 8,000 hours bit. And here is why:

        https://www.baesystems.com/en/article/f-35a-lightning-ii-airframe-completes-third-life-testing-in-unique-facility

        The only two airframes being lifetime tested are here in the UK and both have exceeded design specifications.

        And how do I know it was an American site was your source? We spell the word for those round rubber things “Tyres” not “Tires”

        • I will remember to do that in future posts. Thank you for pointing this out to me.

          Clearly as you failed to miss the point I was attempting to raise, it’s the F35B that had the structural failures and your link refers to the A variant with B & C still being tested if I have read it correctly?

          In relation to my misspelling of the word “Tyres”, I can only apologize as I suffer with a mild form of dyslexia.

          • Quote from Chris on UKDJ

            “The QE is working well through its testing and development phases. Yes it get ‘the Gremlins’ but that is what a prototype is for. And sometimes, as the shaft vibration proved, you need one ‘gremlin’ to unearth and fix another.”

            Should it be “Gets”?

            We are training new pilots and converting experienced ones to fly the F-35. There is and will be NO shortage of pilots

            “Full Stop” after pilots.

            People in glass houses…

            I would have thought that people on here are not interested in typos but the bigger picture Chris?

          • (Chris H) Nigel – I see you missed MY point that the spelling gave away not your Dyslexia but the fact you copied and pasted it from an American source. Something which you then agreed you did and should have credited its source.

            So I was not challenging your grammar or spelling in any way whatsoever (and made that clear in my comments) rather your copy / paste. Its a shame you then felt the need to become a grammar and spelling Guru yourself which is extraordinary given your alleged Dyslexia…. just to score some inane point?

      • 3D thrust vectoring would cause the cost of any navalised Typhoon to increase significantly, along with major increases in weight. Plus, F-22 pilots have indicated that thrust vectoring isn’t that big of a deal as it’s a 1 trick pony in a gun fight due to the sheer amount of speed you’d lose using it. So figure in increased weight for structural enhancements for carrier landings (+ salt water corrosion) and 3d thrust vectoring means you would have to upgrade the engines to deal with the staggering weight increase. Meaning that any navalised Typhoon would make F-35Cs look cheap. As according to the Danish government reports, their Eurofighter price figures were not that much different than F-35s.

  17. It must be quite soul destroying to be a FAA fast jet pilot. When will they get to fly the bloody F35 anyway? Its taken longer than WW2 to get the QE built. And apparently FAA pilots all ab initio by the way will have just 12 aircraft for everyone to fly. 12 for the RAF for the newly stood up 617 squadron. Where are all the tornado crews going? Is this the ‘new’ typhoon squadrons coming online that will still see a reduction overall in front line squadrons? Smoke and mirrors indeed. Years before a second naval squadron is formed. YEARS. Absolutely ridiculous. Why? Their skills do not take half the time to acquire what ‘real’ cat and trap pilots have to develop. If you can’t land a jump jet on a huge floating car park pretty darn quick after learning to fly the thing then maybe naval aviation is not for you. We should have four squadrons ready to deploy in three years from now. We have 15 jets and 26 trained crew already.. 12-15 deliveries per year with at least 20 pilots qualifying every year and we are there. Why are we letting the process go forward at such a snail’s pace?
    We’ll be lucky if we keep the pilots interested for that long. They’ll die of boredom.

    • Morning
      F-35B is going through BVT and UAT.
      The aircraft carrier is doing the same.
      The system (ships and aircraft) has already started trials with the rotary trials having already happened.
      No red herring, it’s coming.

      • Let’s hope so after all the money spent and excitement. There’s some interesting questions raised on this feed that need answering. Even if the f35 availability and reliability is resolved, does it offer enough flexibility to carry out what we need it to over the years. It seems to me this should be phase 1, then start looking at something with more range and dip fighting ability to fly off the QE

    • Tim – I’m quite positive regards the pro’s and con’s of the New Carriers but agree with you about some reservations, with the whole project.I certainly wouldn’t describe them as ‘Red Herrings’ but the UK GOV/MOD and RN have bet the preverbial family farm on these being a success.Its now known that the Carriers are neither actively or passively designed/built to be converted to CATOBAR, so the F35b is the only option in town for their future use.If in the future situations and finances change other options will be explored I’m sure,be it UAV/UCAV etc plus at a push maybe arrestor gear only could be another option if a viable fighter was found.All in all we have to trust the powers that be and look forward to their future service – any doubts would be soon forgotten when you compare them to the Invincible class,and look what they achieved .

  18. (Chris H) We are on the cusp of seeing the UK flyingl F-35s off carriers and operationally from their new UK home base and what do we have on here? More ‘creative’ negative comments and some downright ‘inventive’ projections. Naysayers peddling doom and gloom. It is utterly pathetic and its sad that rather than call out these people for what they are (ie ‘wrong’) others feel the need to jump on the doom bandwagon.

    The F-35B is doing just fine and is currently working hard and well in the USMC on foreign deployments.

    The QE is working well through its testing and development phases. Yes it get ‘the Gremlins’ but that is what a prototype is for. And sometimes, as the shaft vibration proved, you need one ‘gremlin’ to unearth and fix another.

    We are training new pilots and converting experienced ones to fly the F-35. There is and will be NO shortage of pilots

    Oh and those Tornado pilots will find new careers either on Typhoons or F-35s and so will the Navigators if they wish to re-train as pilots some of whom already are.

    It has just been announced that the Government nett borrowing (aka The Deficit) for last year was the lowest since before the Bog Crash of 2008 at £42.6 Bn some £3.5 Bn less than forecast and is heading progressively down. That means it will have more flexibility in domestic spending (like Defence). Leaving the EU will free up the equivalent cost of 3.6 QE Carriers A YEAR!

    I suffer from Depression but Dear God even I can see the UK in general and its Defence strategies in particular are in a very good place indeed….

  19. Afternoon all
    Lots of comments above and for near on 120 of them we have managed to stay on topic (apart from a diversion to the Falklands – we won, help appreciated but in the end we proved that the right mind set and the correct training for the right reasons doesn’t require fancy toys).
    The regeneration of the U.K. ability to deploy large flat top carriers was taken in 1998.
    It is now 2018 and we are almost there, it’s taken a lot longer than first anticipated and cost a lot more – that is the British way.
    In 4 months we will have 5th generation combat aircraft flying off sovereign territory off the coast of the continental United States. In 4 years a U.K. carrier group, sufficiently armed and protected will go east of Suez
    Could be worse……

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