A Voyager tanker is currently crossing the Atlantic, bringing with it additional F-35B jets for the United Kingdom.

The Open Source Intelligence Twitter account Intel Air & Sea are following the event, if you don’t follow them then I’d suggest you go do that now.

The UK already has 18 F-35B jets, this brings the total up to 21.

It should be noted that numbers right now are currently where they’re expected to be and inline with the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

2 F-35B in LRIP run 3, 1 F-35B in LRIP run 4, 1 F-35B in LRIP run 7, 4 F-35B in LRIP run 8, 6 F-35B in LRIP run 9, 3 F-35B in LRIP run 10, 2 F-35B in LRIP run 11, 2 F-35B in LRIP run 12 6 F-35B in LRIP run 13, 8 F-35B in LRIP run 14 and 7 F-35B in LRIP run 15. This brings us to 42 in 2023.

How many will the UK get?

In an exclusive report by Lucy Fisher at The Times, it was claimed that the Ministry of Defence have discussed procuring 70 F-35 jets instead of 138 as a ‘minimum credible F-35 fleet’.

It should be noted that the UK is only committed to buy 48 so far.

The report states that Britain could buy only half its target of 138 F-35 jets, according to sources close to the government’s defence review and that “the wider British aspiration to buy 138 of the aircraft over the lifespan of the US-led programme is seen as unlikely to be fulfilled”.

You can read more here.

A recent report from the NAO warns that not enough funding has actually been made available for sufficient F-35 jets. The report titled ‘Carrier Strike – Preparing for deployment’, examines the MoD’s management of the programme since 2017 and the risks towards achieving Carrier Strike’s full capabilities.

According to the National Audit Office:

“The Department has not yet made funding available for enough Lightning II jets to sustain Carrier Strike operations over its life. From 2015, its intention has been to buy 138 Lightning II jets, which will sustain Carrier Strike operations to the 2060s. The Department initially ordered 48 jets but has not yet committed to buying any more. In response to wider financial pressures, it will also receive seven of the 48 jets in 2025, a year later than planned.

Since we reported in 2017, the approved cost of the Lightning II project has increased from £9.1 billion to £10.5 billion (15%), reflecting approvals for capability upgrades, integration of UK weapons and sustainment costs. There will be further cost approvals to upgrade the existing fleet with new software and weapons, and there is a continued risk of cost increases due to exchange rate fluctuations. The Department plans to reassess the number and type of Lightning II jets that it needs in the Integrated Review, but its ability to use Carrier Strike will be constrained if it has fewer jets than planned.”

There will undoubtedly be many rumours prior to the upcoming defence review and we can only advise that you take everything you read on this subject with a pinch of salt as, for the most part, you will be reading about options or worst case scenarios and not firm plans.
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David Nicholls
David Nicholls
10 months ago

4 active squadrons of 12 each (48), 18 aircraft in OCU/deep maintenance, 3 in the development system = 69. No need to have attrition a/c as production line is staying open and UK a/c upgraded to current production standard as policy (order one if one crashes!)

One squadron assigned to each carrier with one additional squadron for the deployed carrier?

Ron
Ron
10 months ago
Reply to  David Nicholls

I agree with your numbers, however if that is the case then should they be RN-FAA aircraft only. With 138 I understood the joint command of the F35Bs, if however there is to be only 70 then the two Carriers would need a minimum of three sqns operational a four for training and some as you say in maintenance. The next question need to be what new aircraft would the RAF get, 100-120 Eurofighters is not enough and 70 F35Bs mostly operational with the carriers although it could mean a reduction in RAF overseas deployments still will do nothing to… Read more »

Peter S.
Peter S.
10 months ago
Reply to  Ron

Germany is ordering additional Typhoons. We should do the same, giving UK a much bigger workshare than F35, and bringing RAF fast jet numbers up to where they were before Tornado went out of service. I suspect Tempest is years away so yet further Typhoon orders could follow. I had doubts about the carriers from the very start. Reliance on F35, which won its fly off competition over 19 years ago and is still beset by problems is a huge risk and expense. I can’t see why the RAF would want them. So I agree we should order only enough… Read more »

John Stott
John Stott
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter S.

I agree as do many airmen I know who work on both types. The F35B is sadly lacking in many areas of performance and many in the RAF would prefer the “A” model due to rate of turn, range and weaponry. Facts are facts and the German Typhoon order displays faith in a tried and trusted aircraft with yet more developmental potential. And if you enter the numbers game? Typhoon is cheaper and not subject to US software codes. Let the FAA have enough to deploy, but lets be realistic as we live in a bankrupt country running on credit.… Read more »

Ian
Ian
10 months ago
Reply to  Ron

Hi Ron…. would we be better with the latest Eurofighters
F35Asmeans more costs ie spares
We want global Britain….it comes with a cost

Dave Wolfy
Dave Wolfy
10 months ago
Reply to  Ron

Time for the RNAS methinks.

Ron
Ron
10 months ago
Reply to  Dave Wolfy

Its called the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm reformed from the old RNAS that was nicked along with the RFC which was the foreruner of the AAC on the 1st April 1918 to become the RAF.

Dern
Dern
10 months ago
Reply to  David Nicholls

That’s great…
Except that leaves nothing for the RAF, remember it’s a joint owned Aircraft, and the RAF is going to want to use it’s Tornado replaccement.

George Parker
George Parker
10 months ago
Reply to  Dern

RAF should be provided with F35A until Tempest comes on line. Even if we lease them. That said, considering how much we waste on overseas aid. Slashing that budget by 80% would go a long way to pay for them outright. The bulk of the aid goes to terrorist supporting nations such as Pakistan, Syria(Iran), Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Afghanistan.

Dern
Dern
10 months ago
Reply to  George Parker

That would be even worse. Savings would be eaten up by lack of communality in parts and training pipelines (not to mention the fact that the RAF will not be happy to have to hand over enough pilots to the FAA permanently to make the F-35B force a navy only force.
As for your comments about aid…. really that’s pretty pathetic.

George Parker
George Parker
10 months ago
Reply to  Dern

Buying F35A would ensure RAF only squadrons, necessitating increased recruitment and training for RAF and FAA. Both steps in the right direction. As for slashing the aid budget. Simply defunding them now, negates the need to locate, close with and kill them in the future. £13+ billion per year of taxpayers money, is better spent strengthening the military.
Doing otherwise is truly pathetic. Unless Dern, your allegiance lies with Beijing or worse.

Steve R
Steve R
10 months ago
Reply to  David Nicholls

No need for attrition aircraft?! And what happens if we take losses in combat? What happens if we do suffer accidents, or they wear out? The reserve pool of airfraft allows us to replace a lost airframe (either lost in combat or an accident) within hours, rather than weeks or months. Buying new planes isn’t as quick and simple as picking them off the shelf at Tesco: it takes months to build a new plane. Imagine if we lost one in an accident, but the next batch is slotted for the US Marine Corps. The Yanks will prioritise their own… Read more »

Peter Smith
Peter Smith
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Typical short sightedness from those who’ve never served or more critically seen combat …. We don’t need to lose an aircraft as in a total loss scenario to be in deep trouble it only takes a medium amount of battle damage to put one of these out of actions for months being repaired, the days of patching a hole with a bit of linen and some dope or sticking an aluminium patch over the holes with some rivets as was done in WW2 are long gone

George Parker
George Parker
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

We should have pushed harder and negotiated our own production line. It’s still possible and would pave the way for a rapid switch to Tempest production when ready. It takes years to train production staff. Best to have a head start ASAP.

Jack
Jack
10 months ago

138 to 70 F35Bs ? Just like with the Typhoon, the UK was talking like a big timer with deep pockets but when the time comes to pay the bill……………

John
John
10 months ago
Reply to  Jack

The latest prices are on target. The LRIPs were expected to be higher.

David Flandry
David Flandry
10 months ago
Reply to  Jack

Right, what else will be sacrificed?

George Parker
George Parker
10 months ago
Reply to  David Flandry

The only thing that should be sacrificed is the bulk of the overseas aid budget.

Airborne
Airborne
10 months ago
Reply to  Jack

More to do with getting a lot of work and workshare, keeping people in jobs and being a tier one partner to ensure close cooperation and passage of info. Not many countries get the aircraft numbers they originally plan for.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago

Ahh, You can’t fool us with another of your Santa jokes !!!!

Oscar Zulu
Oscar Zulu
10 months ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

It must be Christmas. Meanwhile heading in the other direction from the US across the Pacific the latest ferry flight of RAAF F35As and A330 MRTT tankers has brought Australia’s total Lightning IIs now in service to 30 of the 72 ordered. Soon to be joined by Boeing’s Australian developed ‘Loyal Wingman’ Airpower Teaming System, which should make for a useful force multiplier for the RAAF. Boeing are using rapid prototyping and automated manufacturing techniques to design and build the first Loyal Wingman in an impressively short period of time. The USAF has used the same rapid techniques to develop… Read more »

Ron
Ron
10 months ago
Reply to  Oscar Zulu

Somehow the Aussies are really beefing up there defence force across the board.

Pacman27
Pacman27
10 months ago
Reply to  Ron

@Ron

Its the way they are doing it that is super impressive.

Clear Strategy, clear selection, good numbers and setting up a sustainable industrial base where it can be.

I think the Aussies have smashed it out of the park.

Its also the little things that impress, like the carrier on the back of the Boxers, really is quite impressive and something the MOD should look at closely and try to emulate.

Oscar Zulu
Oscar Zulu
10 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

In news just released by the US DoD, Australia is planning to test an airbreathing hypersonic missile ‘within months’ in early 2021. The joint Australian-US program known as the Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment (SCIFiRE) builds on Australia’s earlier HiFire hypersonic research program out of the University of Queensland in Brisbane. The aim is to field an operational hypersonic missile within five years to be delivered by the RAAF’s Super Hornets and Growlers. Australian industry will be involved in the design, development and testing and potentially in co-producing the missile. SCIFiRE is the second effort announced under the Allied… Read more »

Pete
Pete
10 months ago
Reply to  Ron

The Submarine program with Naval Group is not without its problems. Naval group just removed their project head due to status of project…. But yes.. Generally robusy capability building going on… And an escalating war of words with China.

P

Meirion X
Meirion X
10 months ago
Reply to  Oscar Zulu

It is very Unlikely the U.S. DoD will allow the NGAD to be available to other allies.

Just like the F-22 was Not!

Oscar Zulu
Oscar Zulu
10 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

Agree that this is one likely outcome, although there was considerable debate within the US at the time about whether or not to export the F22 including talk of so-called ‘export versions’ with reduced capabilities. The US seems to have moved away from ‘export only’ offerings with all variants of the F35 (the Israeli versions a possible exception) rolling off the production line identical apart from the roundels on the fuselage. The level of interoperability this provides to western allies is one of the strengths of the F35 program and the lesson is not lost on the Americans who need… Read more »

JohnN
JohnN
10 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

The Government here in Oz never seriously put in a bid for access to the F-22.

There had just been a change of Government and a lot of ‘political posturing’ was going on, the usual ‘give the previous Government a kick!’.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/labors-review-of-howards-fighters-decision-a-sham-20110208-1almj.html

Apart from the political games, my understanding was that the RAAF leadership never really considered F-22, not just on cost, but also because they wanted a more multi-role aircraft, which the F-22 at the time wasn’t.

Cheers,

Steve
Steve
10 months ago
Reply to  JohnN

Australia feels threatened by China and so it’s people understand the need for investment in their military, very much like was the case in the cold war with the UK. People talk up the threat of Russia but the general population doesn’t see it and so the money isn’t there. Additionally Australia isn’t in the back pocket of the US and so hasn’t had to constantly adjust its armed forces to the next war that the US starts, which helps with longer term planning.

Andrew
Andrew
10 months ago

At minimum we’ll need enough F35B’s to fill both carriers at the same time to surge capacity plus some extras to allow for maintenance cycles. I think surge capacity is around 35 each so I would expect we need a minimum of around 90-100. Hopefully the extra funding will allow for at least this and perhaps a couple of F35A squadrons for the RAF?

RobW
RobW
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

It has never been the plan to have both carriers operating at once. If the need ever arrives for that to happen then USMC F35Bs will be on one of them too. This has always been the plan. The 138 number was only ever an aspiration over 50+ years. If we get 70 then that would allow up to 4 squadrons, which is a fantastic capability and far more realistic for the UK to operate and pay for.

The RAF will be thrown a lifeline with the possibility of more Tempest than they have Typhoons.

Andrew
Andrew
10 months ago
Reply to  RobW

I realise the carriers will never routinely be deployed at the same time or carry the maximum F35’s but they have been built to last 50 years and we can barely predict the next 12 months let alone years to come. There may well be a scenario where the US does not want to become directly involved and we’ll need to use all the capacity the carriers offer. The minimum needed is still fewer than the 138 and the savings made / increased budget may allow for some of the cheaper F35A’s to partly replace the Tornado’s

Ron
Ron
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

A Falklands situation comes to mind. I know we have often made comments on this site about should the carriers have been Cat and Trap. I still ask myself the same question. Possibly they should have been, that would have given the RN the possibility to operate other types of fixed wing fast jets from the carriers such as a naval version of Typhoon or the F18 in both strike and Grolwer versions. Instead we have two large platforms second in deck and hanger capacity only to the USN CVNs but commited to only one type of fixed wing jet.… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
10 months ago
Reply to  Ron

Cats and traps are far more expensive, require far more maintenance, a far bigger training burden,and for what, to potentially operate aircraft less capable then the F35B. Yes, the F35C has longer range, but a lot of that extra fuel will be taken up with bring back fuel, incase someone is having a bad day trying to land back on the deck. STOVL aircraft land first time, every time. And the carrier’s could still be modified to take cats & traps if their ever was an overwhelming need in 30 years time or so.

Ron
Ron
10 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Do I agree with you that the F18 is not a capable fighter such as the F35B in some ways yes. Do you always need an F35B no. But let me get to your main arguement, first I never spoke about the F35C. I’m not intrested in that aicraft. By the way Germany has just ordered 30 F18 Super Hornets to replace Tornados and 15 Growlers. By the way I like the F35B, I have often wondered if the lift fan or swivel nossel could be used in flight for extra manouverability. Vary much in the way that the Harrier… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
10 months ago
Reply to  Ron

But with the F35’s all aspect stealth, and electronic jamming from the radar, you don’t need the Hornets. The F35 is a first night of war capability, it doesn’t need the support. And the cost of even a small number of super Hornets would be even more expensive once pilot training, Engineers, maintenance contracts, infrastructure ect have all been taken into account. I understand the concern about landing after taking damage, but in 30 years of Harriers operating at sea, it was never an issue. Plus the aircraft and deck crews have well rehearsed drills to deal with such events.… Read more »

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago
Reply to  Ron

The Lift fan is used at very low speeds, there is a great big cover that opens up. Not sure how it could be used.

Dern
Dern
10 months ago
Reply to  Ron

Germany hasn’t ordered F-18’s or Growlers as of yet, there was only a very preliminary announcement of interest by the German Ministry of Defence that got picked up by a lot of English language sources as “Germany has ordered F-18s.”

TrevorH
TrevorH
10 months ago
Reply to  RobW

I agree. Even with both carriers available I suggest likely to have 24 each. Under normal operations where we were not intending to attack anybody wr would probably have 12 available, which leaves a squadron available for something else. It is also some time off before PoW becomes fully operational. So mostly we will only see 12 planes in action. The point of defence is to deter. And our role in NATO is to deter Russia, and we are doing that. And the programme is for 50 years. Over that time there will be many changes to subsequent planes as… Read more »

Meirion X
Meirion X
10 months ago
Reply to  TrevorH

When a 2nd carrier is not deployed at sea, it’s aircraft will be based at Marham and be training & exercise.

TrevorH
TrevorH
10 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

Or used as and when in extremis.

Ron
Ron
10 months ago
Reply to  RobW

Rob W, What seems to be forgotten iand not mentioned very much is that the carriers are designed in surge mode to take up to 70 aircraft.

TrevorH
TrevorH
10 months ago
Reply to  Ron

But that would be in dire straights mode. Plus at the end of the day the carriers were oversized for what our real requirements were.

RobW
RobW
10 months ago
Reply to  Ron

With F35B, helos and UAVs we may see something approaching 70. We
Won’t get to that sort of number with F35s alone though.

Mike Saul
Mike Saul
10 months ago

When the UK decided it wanted 150 then 138 F35 aircraft it was on basis that the F35 would be extremely affordable compared to other combat aircraft available.

Flight International in 2001 was quoting US$ 40m to 50m per F35 aircraft compared to US$ 80m for a F18E.

Sadly this was over optimistic, whilst cost per aircraft has been falling the support costs for the F35 are significantly higher than other aircraft.

So what to do, probably 70 F35B sounds about right for a minimum credible strike force.

So cancel the balance and invest in other platforms.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

Would 70 be enough realistically though ? for the two carriers, should we ever have them both at sea at the same time. can’t think of another “platform” that would be suitable other than Land Based.

Mike Saul
Mike Saul
10 months ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

I think it would, given that our carriers would only be deployed in a hot war situation with the support of the US.

So fill them up with USMC F35B.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

I hear what you are saying but have to just chuck 1982 in here.

Mike Saul
Mike Saul
10 months ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

Given the underfunding of the defence budget since 1990 and woeful defence procurement, I believe we are no longer capable carrying out a Falklands type operation using only UK assets and personnel.

I wish we could, but the reality is we can’t.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

Well again, I beg to differ mate, What went south then was nothing like what we have now, “We” learned some pretty horrific lessons back then, not least diplomatically , We went in roughly the right direction after that whilst they just imploded. I do agree with your underfunded bit though,but not just about a “Falklands type” scenario as we don’t really have another one like it.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

Agree totally about most of that, but wonder what other potential Falklands type scenario you were initially alluding to . We are no where near having to engage in another solo expedition of such magnitude are we ?

Pete
Pete
10 months ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

If Argentina becomes financially desperate enough.. The Chinese keen to divert attention from South China Sea… And keen to gain Argentinan licenced fishing rights in the south atlantic to help feed 1.6billion, they could rearm the Argentinians in @ 24 months. Im not saying the Argentinians would initially go looking for that… But the Chinese may certianly offer it.

geoff
geoff
10 months ago
Reply to  Pete

Good Morning Gentlemen. One thing to remember re the Falklands is that our land based capability is vastly improved compared to 1982. We have Typhoons and Rapiers to provide a credible initial defence with the ability to reinforce MPA within a couple of days max. A hurried Carrier based Task Force would not be necessary to deploy in the short term-maybe not at all.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago
Reply to  geoff

Exactly mate. Good morning to you too.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

I would also point out that there is an issue with early variant F35B’s, namely, a below par fatigue life. Whilst the situation is improving early aircraft in particular have a very short fatigue life, so the early slots we sold to the USMC mean we dodged a bullet. However, although most of are aircraft are reportedly better they are still more limited than intended. So I would buy at least another 48 and spread the numbers over time with the aim of replacing are earlier aircraft. There is also the political dimension. We got preferential treatement from the US… Read more »

Mike Saul
Mike Saul
10 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I take onboard your points

Regards Tempest, I agree I believe the UK is positioning itself to join a future US project and it also provides an opportunity to assist other nations in developing their projects.

The UK is world leader in certain areas of aerospace technology, we should continue to invest in that technology to maintain our position.

The worst possible outcome would a French led pan European project.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

What’s with all the French bashing ? come on mate, most of us would love to have such independent capabilities surely ? Ship building, Nuclear, Aircraft …. They are after all our closest neighbours.

Mike Saul
Mike Saul
10 months ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

Maybe it has something to do with their track record on previous projects.

For example, we would buy the Jaguar and they would buy the AFVG. We ended up buying 200 Jaguars they withdrew from AFVG.

Another we would buy 250 Pumas and Gazelle from them, they would buy 150 Lynx from us. We ended up buying the 250 and they bought just 40 Lynx.

Then we could talk about Eurofighter/Rafael or the Horizon frigate but I don’t wish to bore anyway.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

Ha….. there was me thinking you just hated the French ! Oh hang on. Are they not allowed to change their minds/orders then ? Is it just the UK that can do that ? Blimey, we must be special. Think Tornado, Type 45, Typhoon…. I don’t want to bore either !

geoff
geoff
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

Agree Mike. Sadly the French are just not reliable partners in defence projects

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago
Reply to  geoff

That’s probably because they have their own specific requirements though. Rafale was a case in point, they needed a Naval option. Typhoon didn’t fit.

Meirion X
Meirion X
10 months ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

I think the UK should procure enough for one carrier to have a max of 36 F-35B, and the 2nd carrier to have up to 24 aircraft.

Meirion X
Meirion X
10 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

I forgot to add, to this figure a maintenance reserve to what that should be.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

But as they get older, you end up with fewer and fewer. Add these small numbers to our other aircraft and you’ll see just how small our pool is.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

Don’t forget that the F35 was also required to fill a few gaps left by the retirement of All the Harriers and Tornado’s. A cut to 70 would be a big blow considering previous numbers.

Pacman27
Pacman27
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

Many of us have complained about France and Germany getting work share based upon original numbers only to renege and now it looks as if we are doing the same. The UK make a lot of money out of the F35 programme, it will pay for the 138 and a lot more. If we want to maintain our influence with the US I suggest we stick to our order. I also think we should have squadrons of 16 aircraft (4 to a wing). So a carrier would have 2 Squadrons of 16 or 32 in total which is probably optimal… Read more »

Mike Saul
Mike Saul
10 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

I agree the F35 aircraft is great for the UK plc.

As I understand it we invested over £2bn into the project as the only level one partner apart from the US.

The UK involvement was key to the project given our world leading technology on specific areas.

Our work share is direct consequence of that investment and is not dependent on the UK buying a minimum number of aircraft.

The work is dependant on continuing investment, cost and quality.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

Tell that to Biden and LM, I’m sure they’ll be made up !

TrevorH
TrevorH
10 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Not sure what you mean by Wings. I thought Squadrons were made up Flights and 2 or more Squadrons made a Wing. But I should emphasise I still live in the Biggles era.

But my thought has always been we should be more flexible and have squadrons of 8 planes, with “Wings” built up as needed.

Pacman27
Pacman27
10 months ago
Reply to  TrevorH

probably got my terminology wrong

but the key is I think 32 F35 per carrier and a squadron should be 16 aircraft

but that’s just me

TrevorH
TrevorH
10 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

I think 32 would be a sensible, extended campaign, ‘busy’, active number. I dont see us having more than 12 when flying the flag, and not more an 24 when we wish to show the whites of our eyes to the Russians and Chinese. At some point in the next 5 – 10 years we may well see both carriers show themselves off, temporarily, with 32 to 48.

Pacman27
Pacman27
10 months ago
Reply to  TrevorH

You are probably right, but I am with the Americans on this, if you have an asset like this you should really fill it.

I also don’t believe in fitted for but not with, I would build ships with the right amount of VLS even if we don’t fill them all, some of the time.

A QEC can carry 70+ aircraft. And we are looking at significantly less as normal.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
10 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Hi Pacman27,

Just to clarify that number of 70 aircraft includes the helicopters. So the 70 could be made up of 32 F35 and the balance in a mix of Merlin and Wild Cat, may be even a small number of Apache.

Cheers CR

Pacman27
Pacman27
10 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

It does indeed mean that it could be any combination of aircraft, but could also be 70+ F35’s. Given that the escort fleet has quite a lot of helicopter capacity, it is entirely possible that the QEC does not need to embark any helicopters at all. Its clear it has a load of capacity and my view is it should sail with a lot more assets than is currently planned. I believe its maximum is closer to 90 aircraft (of all types) but that may just be wishful thinking 32 F35’s and 12-16 helicopters is what I would consider appropriate… Read more »

Jon
Jon
10 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

There’s no point in sticking 70 F-35 on a QE class, except for a one day blitz. The carrier won’t have the ability to service that number of planes going out several times a day. So you’d use half, as it can turn around 36 planes twice as often. For a sustained strike campaign, why would you “fill it”, when you can get as many sorties with half the planes?

Pacman27
Pacman27
10 months ago
Reply to  Jon

I agree and wouldn’t, but you could it is an option

as per my previous mail I believe it should have 32 F35b’s as standard and don’t believe in running it at the low levels of flight assets currently being discussed.

there may come a day when we need to surge to 48 or 64 – I hope that doesn’t happen, but as history has proven time and again, best to be prepared than not.

TrevorH
TrevorH
10 months ago
Reply to  Pacman27

At some point earlier Typhoons will go out of service. Will they be replaced by F35Bs?
The Typhoon seemed more used as an attack plane not a fighter.

Presumably if we have say 6 ships , we would only have 4 in service at any time so only buy 4 lots of missiles. But how often do the missiles themselves need servicing

The Americans do throw money at the job! France have one carrier and of course the whole thing needs maintenance periodically.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
10 months ago

Is the website formatting buggered on the home page of UKDJ for anyone else?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
10 months ago

No, but site runs really slow of late.

Nick C
Nick C
10 months ago

Yes it is running slow and I don’t think that the pop up ads help either. I know the revenue from them helps run the site, but it is an annoyance when everything slows up.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago

Yes, It’s annoying to have to wait so long and the bloody Ad thing just has to go.

Crabfat
Crabfat
10 months ago

Was just going to get on to TalkTalk to complain! Yep – running slow for the past few days. Glad it’s not just me.

pkcasimir
pkcasimir
10 months ago

There is a Texian expression for the British MOD: “All hat, no cattle.”

Mike Saul
Mike Saul
10 months ago
Reply to  pkcasimir

All bull manure, no bull

John Clark
John Clark
10 months ago
Reply to  pkcasimir

Just my opinion, but a true purple Carrier capability should be based around four 18 aircraft squadrons.

One 18 aircraft squadron embarked, would be enough for most taskings, two would make 36 for maximum carrier strike.

This would leave one for land tasking and one resting, the point being, maximum effort could be sustained for a quite a long period.

So four squadrons, an OCU and OTU, plus in use reserve, say a buy of 110.

That would provide real depth to the capability.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago
Reply to  pkcasimir

Lol, remember the Alamo !

julian1
julian1
10 months ago
Reply to  pkcasimir

is that what Borat got them to say?

Airborne
Airborne
10 months ago
Reply to  pkcasimir

There is many a saying in regard to the US DOD and red necked choppsy yanks in general, always confirmed by your various sad posts.

pkcasimir
pkcasimir
10 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Gosh that was clever. Does that earn a “cheerio” from Field Marshall, Air Marshall, Admiral of the Fleet, be-medaled Charles Windsor?

Airborne
Airborne
10 months ago
Reply to  pkcasimir

Rather pointless response as not a Royalist…sigh…never mind its grown up time again, so off you toddle and maybe repaint that neck of yours a nice deep red.

Aaryan Kapoor
Aaryan Kapoor
10 months ago

This times article was written before the unexpected massive defence spending increase. The hope for 138 could occur.

RobW
RobW
10 months ago
Reply to  Aaryan Kapoor

Even with the extra funds we have a £13bn shortfall in the equipment budget. I doubt we will see more than 70 F35s.

Jon
Jon
10 months ago
Reply to  RobW

I hope we won’t be buying F-35s in quantity until Block 4, that’s 2023/4. So reaching 70 probably wouldn’t happen until 2029, and the black hole would have already been filled. So whether we buy more will be affected by future black holes, not the current one.

Steve R
Steve R
10 months ago

We need, as a bare minimum: 4 combat squadrons of 12 each (48 planes) 1 OCU squadron (12 planes) A reserve pool of 20-30 planes. So 80-90 as a bare minimum. Anything less than 4 squadrons seriously depletes our air power, as it means that the Tornados effectively were scrapped without replacement. If we reduce to below this then I say they should all be FAA aircraft, and the RAF should get another 50-60 Typhoon Tranche 3 to boost numbers and replace the older ones. Get ankther Typhoon squadron or two. We have 7 squadrons of Typhoons right now, and… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Two things spring to mind when increasing numbers of aircraft. First one is pilots, as in do we have enough? Does it still take upwards of 3 years to train one? If so where are they coming from, as you’re talking some extra 100ish pilots? Second point, by 2023 we will have 42 F35B’s, the buy rate is slow for whatever the real reason is, but the next big milestone for this aircraft is Block 4 acceptance and all that it brings. This is slated to arrive in 2024, but, looks like it wont arrive until 2026 and possibly some… Read more »

Steve R
Steve R
10 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

Well, in terms of actually expanding the fast jet fleet (hypothetically) even if HMG and the MoD decided tomorrow to buy an additional 60 Typhoons, say, it’ll take several years before their numbers would grow. First of all they’d replace the Tranche 1s with newly built Tranche 3s. That would take a few years by itself. By the time we got any new squadrons of Typhoons or F35s we could have several years to train new pilots. It’s about 4 years to train a fighter pilot. It wouldn’t be 100 new pilots, as out of that 60 new Typhoons I… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Hi Steve, that bit about average number of pilots per plane is interesting, I was under the impression that they don’t have enough, and are struggling to get another Typhoon Sqn up and running! Might well be me not reading things right.
Still think pilots are a potential issue, even if it’s say only 60/65 extra pilots, that’s an extra 6 per year over 10 years. Not sure what the average drop out rate is, but imagine the trg burden will be high.
We shouldn’t be in this predicament, but as they say, it is what it is.

Steve R
Steve R
10 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

To be honest recruiting additional pilots shouldn’t be too much of a problem if the funding is there to train them. I always thought the issue was more limited places. More budget for more planes would equal more places.

Paul T
Paul T
10 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

Traditionally the Military has struggled to keep its Pilots from Jumping Ship ( so to speak ) to the Commercial Sector.With the Airline Industry in a State of Collapse maybe Retention can be Improved,and even some might be Tempted to Return.

Deep32
Deep32
10 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Thats a good point Paul, with this whole Covid 19 thing causing havoc across the board, it might help attract more people to the military in general.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
10 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

I believe the military recruitment is doing well cross the board at the moment. So much so that the Royal Navy has just put Sailors through basic training at Britannia Royal Naval College for the first time ever because HMS Raleigh was full!

https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2020/august/13/200813-navy-officers-and-ratings-make-history-at-unique-parade

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
10 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Basic will also be undertaken at Collingwood.

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
10 months ago

I have been going on for months now about the need for there to sufficient aircraft to run both carriers at the same time should the need arise and I keep getting told we can’t do it. Why? Most of the contributors here so far have come up with… rely on the USA, have enough for one carrier, can’t do a Falklands, no need of reserves, thirty air frames will cover what we are doing for years. Why are so many of you so defeatist? We have two carriers, both of which can go to sea. Seventy or so air… Read more »

Steve R
Steve R
10 months ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Roach

We could run both carriers at once in a SHTF, brown-trousers scenario. But they’re unlikely to be both used as strike carriers in this situation. If we get our 4 combat squadrons plus OCU and 20ish spares (min 80 airframes) then we could either split both carriers 50/50 with 24 on each, or more likely, one with 36 planes as a strike carrier, and one carrying helicopters, possibly with 12 F35s for self defence. We certainly do need spare airframes, which is normally between 1/4 and 1/3 the total inventory. This allows to rotate aircraft during maintenance periods and also… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Fair enough Steve. I can see a role for the carriers in a hybrid strike/ long range special operations role with V22’s and commando’s. What I have been calling for is for the ships to be assigned a proper role and given the equipment to carry it out.
Your last line is bang on. If we are to build the numbers the aircraft have to be ordered now so that they can be delivered in four or five years time.

julian1
julian1
10 months ago

I have been whinging in recent months that we are behind schedule with F35 delivery. Why? Because I was acutely aware of that additional airframes were due this year and that we had reached late November and they hadn’t arrived. So, it seems we are on track after all and I believe that next year onwards we’ll be ramping up at a faster rate with numbers of airframes delivered per year. As it stands, we currently have enough for a reduced squadron size for 617 and a smaller still complement for 207 together with a few in maintenance. No critical… Read more »

RichardB
RichardB
10 months ago

Currently the UK plans to have two carrier capable F-35B squadrons (617 and 809) squadron with up to 12 aircraft each, a TES/OEU (17 Squadron) and a OCU (207 Squadron). Add a few in deep maintenance or otherwise hors de combat and that’s all the approved 48 aircraft used. Everything beyond that is speculation pending the integrated review. My personal opinion is that two full carrier squadrons is about the max the UK defence budget can afford given all the competing priorities. But the RAF is going to have to be thrown a bone for land-based strike, which may mean… Read more »

Paul42
Paul42
10 months ago

We are committed to purchasing 138 x F35s, and I believe that commitment will be honoured, but over a good few years……..hence our actual purchase rate is so slow, far to slow, much like the time scale for acquiring 8 x T26s. We’ve had over 200 Typhoons delivered, but how many are actually on service? The FGR4 is fine for air defence, but only a limited number remain active? We fail to take full advantage of assets we already have……..

Steve R
Steve R
10 months ago
Reply to  Paul42

We haven’t had 200 Typhoons delivered, only 160.

We ordered 232 Typhoons but after George Osborne’s 2010 cuts it was decided that 72 of them would be sold to Saudi Arabia. So we kept 160, of which around 120-140 are currently in our inventory.

We should order more, both to replace the older Tranche 1s and also to expand the Typhoon fleet, perhaps an 8th and 9th squadron. Take the total up to around 180 airframes.

Paul T
Paul T
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

As i read the Situation the Total of 232 Typhoon Aircraft were the UK’s Stated Commitment to the Project.The RSAF Order for 72 was rather Convenient in that the RAF were only then due to receive 160.Im not sure there was a ‘Cut’ as such,certainly not by Mr Osbourne & Co,its just how the Pieces of the Jigsaw fell into place.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

in 2015, It was predicted that we would have as few as 127 front line Fighter aircraft due to the slow procurement of F35’s and retirement of Tornado and Typhoons. It’s possibly looking worse in another 5 years.

Pete
Pete
10 months ago
Reply to  Paul42

If the desire is to get a reasonable mix of RN & RAF f35 capability while progressing Tempest then would suggest that over the next 10 years getting to 4 x F35 front line squadrons and swapping out Tranche 1 Typhoon for Tranche 4 ishhh (AESA upgrade) plus upgrades to Tranche 2 & 3 would be reasonable minimum goal. 2 RN Sqds can be 16 airframes each to address maintenance risk at end of a long supply chain. SHTF scenario and 3 x F35 Squadrons can be allocated to carriers but RAF would still need (and the country benefit) from… Read more »

geoff
geoff
10 months ago

As mentioned by others here, reducing our order from the original 138 might affect our status as the only Tier One partner with the US on the F35 programme going forward. The UK has a 15% stake in every new F35 as things stand but if our buy was reduced to say, 70 aircraft then we would be a relatively middle order customer and commercial considerations might make the Americans reconsider current arrangements.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
10 months ago

Managed to see one as it flew over, heard it first, quite a distinct sound, then saw it in the darkening sky above.

George Parker
George Parker
10 months ago

If we do not acquire at least 100 F35b and at 50 of the other variants. The RN and RAF will be seriously under equipped. The overseas aid budget should be used to rebuild our military as a matter of some urgency, before it is too late.