Three more F-35B aircraft are being delivered to the UK, bringing the fleet to 25 aircraft.

The aircraft are being flown from Texas to RAF Marham (via MCAS Beaufort) and assisted in crossing the Atlantic by a Voyager tanker.

Three more jets will arrive later in 2022 and seven more will arrive in 2023 with an expectation that all of the 47 in the first batch will be delivered by the end of 2025. Note that it would have been 48 if one didn’t crash.

The then First Sea Lord said during a webcast last year that the UK intends to purchase ‘around 60’ F-35B jets and then ‘maybe more up to around 80’ for four deployable squadrons. The total of 80 is welcome news given the speculation the buy could be capped at 48.

A defence insider informed the UK Defence Journal of a live webcast given today by the First Sea Lord.

“The First Sea Lord has just said 60 F-35, then maybe more up to around 80 for 4 deployable squadrons.”

According to the recently released Defence Command Paper titled ‘Defence in a Competitive Age’, the UK intends to increase the fleet size beyond the 48 F-35 aircraft it has already ordered. You can read more about that by clicking here or clicking the link below.

UK looking at ’60 and then maybe up to 80′ F-35B jets

Since the delivery of the first jet in 2012, the United Kingdom F-35 programme has expanded tremendously. Recently, the UK fleet reached a new milestone, when it crossed the threshold of 10,000 flight hours. This milestone has been nearly 10 years in the making.

In 2012, the first F-35B was delivered to the UK. Here’s a look back at some of the programme’s most significant milestones over the years.

 

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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David Lloyd
David Lloyd
5 months ago

If these are on time – and on budget – it is good news. Well done all concerned. Lets hope the remaining Typhoons get their new radar on time too.

Steven B
Steven B
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

We expected 6 in 2021, 022-027. Given COVID, think getting the last 3 a month and a half into 2022 is tolerable. No idea about budgets

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
5 months ago
Reply to  Steven B

The problem is they take 2 years to build. These ones were not that affected…its the next deliveries where we really take the hit… We were supposed to get 6 last year, we got 3, 3 rolled over to 2022. In 2022 we were supposed to get 8, we’ll now only get 3 of those, the 5 missing will go into 2023 Then the next 13 aircraft which were to be delivered over 3 years (2 in 23, 4 in 24 and 7 in 25) are not even contracted yet….Full Rate Pricing has yet to be agreed….the timeline, which was… Read more »

ianbuk
ianbuk
5 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

Surely the MOD will have to order an extra plane to cover this loss? If you look at the numbers, we can expect to lose one every few years if we have two carrier air wings in operation? As with everything to do with the MOD, it’s always just less than enough, always under-armed, cut here, cut there. Sadly, it appears many nations have forgotten what a hot war means and what it costs. It also appears this country has forgotten just how close it was at the start of the last 3 European wars this country got involved with.… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
5 months ago

Good news, we are getting to point we can put a significant number of UK owned F35’s on a Carrier, Carrier strike will really start to get into its stride in the next couple of years. Given the changing geopolitical situation, I think it would be prudent to also order a batch of 24 of the latest spec Tranche 3 Typhoons to replace the outgoing Tranche 1’s, (complete with UK radar 2) and retrospectively bring all the previous Tranche 2 and 3 jets up to the same advanced standard. Our Air Combat capability is now so small (and will continue… Read more »

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
5 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

The smart move is to buy 24 Typhoon ECR with the German’s. Far more utility to the RAF in a war. Keeps Warton busy and is a huge increase in NATO’s capability. Developing the EW capability is also a useful sovereign asset to have. They’ll still be fighters but with an extra capability.
Agree on Radar 2 gong on everything. But I’d still retain T1’s, use their hours up on Falklands, Aggressor training and QRA.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
5 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

Agreed.

Cripes
Cripes
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Yes, agree wholeheartedly. The RAF’s air combat fleet has been reduced to a miniscule size. On paper, it is down to 154 fighters. As only 50% of these are front-line, it gives ta total of just 77 planes to handle UK air defence… interdiction/attack… forward flights in Estonia and Falklands… close air support of land forces… air support of the littoral combat groups.. and that’s before anyone starts thinking about ‘global Britain’ deployments to yet more far-flung places. That is impossibly thin. But it is not 77 planes available, because the RN wants 24 or 30 or now 40 of… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
5 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

“So yes, we must keep the 24 Typhoons scheduled for the scrapheap, they have half their active lives left and we cannot afford to cut force levels further. No reason we should not follow Spain in upgrading them, the Spanish have done so without fuss or problems.” “Yes, we could do with a further batch of new Typhoons to plug some of the gaps, even 16-24 would go some way.” I couldn’t agree more Cripes, the sooner we take these out of storage the better. If the government haven’t learned a lesson on how weak our armed forces actually are… Read more »

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

So how would you pay for these new build Typhoons? Whilst also securing Tempest, upgrading Typhoon with Radar 2, Striker 2, Wide area display and many other upgrades which will not be cheap (£320M just to develop the radar). You bang on endlessly about the cost of block lV, but ignore the very expensive Typhoon upgrade cost. If you could ask any RAF fighter pilot what we should buy to increase RAF combat air capability, they would all say the same thing, even experienced Typhoon pilots………….Buy more F35’s. It’s capability in the air on exercises, and operational deployments speaks for… Read more »

Cripes
Cripes
5 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

How do we pay for more Typhoonns? Budget allows for 6-7 aircraft a year, none are currently on order for the years 2030 to 2035, RAF can therefore order 36-42 more fast jets before Tempest becomes an item. Ref the long list of upgrades to Typhoon and Block 4, do remember that about a third of the combat aircraft budget goes on new aircraft , the rest covers upgrades, new kit etc. And many of the new weapons are developed under a different budget, Complex Weapons. Rrf the rather sweeping statement you keep making about ALL pilots who have flown… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
5 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

Sorry, Cripes, but the combat air budget isn’t for 6-7 a year all the way to 2035. 48 F35s are on order, and more will follow when the MOD decides the time is right. And Tempest is far from certain of becoming a reality. But I do hope it does. I have never argued against the F35 technical problems delays and cost overruns. But they are in no way different to any other fast jet project of the last 40 year’s. Just on a larger scale due to the vast size of this project. I will defend its capability, as… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
5 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

Hi Cripes. I did send a lengthy reply to your comment, but it hasn’t been approved yet. I’ll leave this link for some insight. 👍

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/reboot/ten-reasons-why-f-35-remains-worlds-dominant-stealth-fighter-163723

Den
Den
21 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

The f35b is the worse of the f35 it carries less weapons fuel and slower turn if the navy knew they were getting f35 why not the f35c that carries more weapons and fuel than any other f35 so and they could carry more diffarent aircraft then put it this way with a good radar I’d rather be in a typhoon than f35b as once you’re spotted in a f35b your dead remember they got radar that can spot stealth fighters now so the typhoon is faster moves better and carries a lot more weapons than the f35b So what… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
20 days ago
Reply to  Den

For many, many reasons beyond your Ken, by the look of things.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

They aren’t in storage. Most got stripped for spare parts some years ago.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
5 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

The talk about weapons capacity difference between the F35A/B is a non story for the RAF. F35A’s internal weapons bay’s are longer compared to the B’s. The F35A can carry 2 x 2000lb class weapons, F35B is limited to 2 x 1000lb weapons. The key point is the RAF never planned to use 2000lb class weapons. Even the Typhoon does carry Paveway 3 (2000lb) anymore. The primary weapon is the 500lb Enhanced Paveway 4. 2 are carried internally with 2 AMRAAM/Meteor, and another 4 Paveways under the wings when stealth isn’t so important. F35B will also carry 8 x SPEAR… Read more »

Heidfirst
Heidfirst
5 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

my understanding is that Radar 2 will have an advanced electronic attack capability – this would probably put them ahead of the German ECRs with Captor E radar 1 in capability.

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
5 months ago
Reply to  Heidfirst

The Typhoon ECR proposal from Airbus for the German’s (which I believe is more likely to go ahead than EA-18G) was actually equipped with the UK’s Radar 2, not the Hensoldt Radar 1.

Even the German’s believe that Radar 2 will be massively superior…

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
5 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

F35B will have electronic attack/DEAD modes with it’s current radar, and is an ISTAR asset in it’s own right. SPEAR 3 abd SPEAR EW will be available on both F35 abd Typhoon. Also ECR Typhoon doesn’t exist yet. And won’t enter service until the very late 2020’s. A podded solution might be available from 2026. An ECR varient isn’t part of the 38 new build T4 Typhoons for the German Air Force.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
5 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Agree I thought the Germans were getting F18G growlers for electronic warfare purposes? Maybe Im wrong?? Confused now.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
5 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Germany stated an intent to order the F18 super hornet and Growler varient, but an order hasn’t been placed, and the new German government is looking again at F35 to replace Tornado.

Paul T
Paul T
5 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

The German Govt are still procrastinating over exactly what they want – more Typhoons are pretty likely ,but the F35A vs F18 E/F debate continues afaik – this article might shed more light on the situation https://corporalfrisk.com/tag/sead/

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

You both must have missed the announcement recently…

The Germans are buying F-35A…

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/germany-decides-principle-buy-f-35-fighter-jet-government-source-2022-03-14/

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Quadriga is replacing T1’s.

But ECR will happen, otherwise they have nothing to replace the Tornado ECR capability with.

As for the timeframe thats fine…it would actually bridge the gap to Tempest..

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

Been very little news about an ECR Typhoon varient of late. Maybe they will just utilise the electronic attack and ISTAR capability of the F35.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
5 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

The Tranche 1 aircraft are only capable of air defense duties, and are not able to be updated to later equipment standards. The fleet is suffering from a lack of spare parts, many of which are no longer produced. Many aircraft are grounded to act as spares sources for the remaining active aircraft. This is what happened yo a,bunch of RAF T1 Typhoons. Spain has updated its T1 aircraft, but this is only a relatively limited upgrade, and nothing close to the standard T3 aircraft will be capable off. Only 19 T3 Spanish Typhoons are currently planned to receive E-scan… Read more »

David
David
5 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

I thought the Germans have gone for a Growler route for SEAD and Superhornet as nuclear capable platforms , along with 40 Typhoon Tranche 4, which will have a less advanced radar than radar 2.
Typhoon ECR was mooted but is only a concept, and would probably cost a bomb.
Radar 2 plus EW spear 3 will have substantial Sead capability for the RAF.

Andrew Deacon
Andrew Deacon
5 months ago
Reply to  David

The new German government is reviewing the super hornet and growler purchase it seems more likely now they will go for typhoon ecs and f35 instead.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
5 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

Retain and upgrade! It appears Uncle Albert is still providing uninformed information as usual! February 27, 2019 Spain receives first upgraded Tranche 1 Eurofighter fighter jet “The Spanish Air Force has received the first upgraded Tranche 1 Eurofighter single-seat combat jet from Airbus as part of a contract. Airbus performed the upgrade at its facilities in Getafe. The enhancements included the introduction of hardware modifications, which support the Operational Flight Program 02 (OFP-02) developed by Spain’s Armament and Experimental Logistics Centre (CLAEX). As part of the upgrade, the company integrated Tranche 2 and Tranche 3 equipment on the aircraft, including… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Nigel Collins
Robert Blay
Robert Blay
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Digital videos and Voice recorder and targeting pod. Equipment that was in service with RAF Typhoons from 2008. Keep up Nigel. An upgraded Spanish T1 Typhoon will still be a world away from the capability an RAF machine will offer in a few years time. Or even today after project centurion. And only 19 Spanish Typhoons will receive E-Scan.

Andrew dyson
Andrew dyson
5 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

Agreed

Rob N
Rob N
5 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

I agree with the extra 24 Typhoons but I suspect that ECR will go to drones in tbe near future….

Pete
Pete
5 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

Be really nice to get some strike weapons to go along with the aircraft. Anyone got updated timeline for block 4 software?

Deep32
Deep32
5 months ago
Reply to  Pete

Believe it’s currently late 26, early 27…..

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
5 months ago
Reply to  Pete

After a quick search 2029

“Operational analysis has indicated that the even-more-advanced Block 4 configuration is necessary to be effective in a conflict with China,” the report stated. “However, challenges with maturing all of the Block 4 technologies has slid delivery of the full Block IV suite to at least 2029, and this is a significant factor in the Air Force’s decision to slow F-35A procurement.”

https://news.clearancejobs.com/2021/11/08/f-35-upgrades-are-necessary-for-the-u-s-to-maintain-tactical-edge-over-china/

This report further stated that delays in the delivery of Block IV to 2029 are potentially impacting the US Air Force’s delivery and acquisition plans for the aircraft.

READ MORE TAB

 https://eurasiantimes.com/block-iv-upgrade-f-35s-could-fall-behind-chinese-stealth-fighters-if-us-delays-modernization-plans/

Last edited 5 months ago by Nigel Collins
Deep32
Deep32
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

That’s gone even further right then, not a good sign for any of the F35 users then.
Not sure how that now impacts on both Meteor and S3 integration on our aircraft, it was initially supposed to be 2024!!!!!

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
5 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

It’s not a good sign for the UK period. Whether you like or loathe the F-35, with such a small number of aircraft to call upon as we can now see very clearly, and as I’ve suggested countless times over the years on here, we need to purchase more Typhoons and upgrade what we currently have available to the best standards possible including MSM/JSM to counter future threats. Tempest, Loyal wingman, and Drones are the future while the F-35 was only ever meant to be a stop-gap until the arrival of 6th gen aircraft to keep the west ahead of… Read more »

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Some stop gap, when it will be in service for another 40 + years. Shame you have no idea how Chinese aircraft compared to western fast jets to make a sensible comparison. Because they will never release that kind of information.

Sean
Sean
5 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Chinese are way behind the west on engine technology alone.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
5 months ago
Reply to  Sean

Really? not for long. China is still very much underrated in terms of what it can achieve, just like its ability to produce a hypersonic missile a few years ago. Personally, I’d never underestimate a potential adversary! “Although Chinese military aviation has come to lead the world in a number of areas, its engine technology still remains behind with the American F119 and F135 and Russian AL-41 all still outperforming any existing Chinese designs. The WS-15 program appears intended to leapfrog these older engines and place China on par with if not ahead of the world leaders.” https://militarywatchmagazine.com/article/j-20-ws15-engine-leader-thrust “But some… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Nigel Collins
Robert Blay
Robert Blay
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

The hypersonic missiles that doesn’t work 😆

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Are you on the payroll Nigel? funny that you never talk about the huge number of tech issues and delays and cost overruns with Chinese projects? Just share the same propaganda about F35. Desperate stuff.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
5 months ago
Reply to  Sean

Even the Russians have never matched the west in engine tech, and they are behind the west in engine tech, and they are well ahead of China. Anyone who says otherwise is frankly bonkers

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

The First Sea Lord says we can expect a total F-35 fleet of 80. If they are all B models, will they all be assigned to the carriers? If so, that is surely a good number?

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
5 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

I had to laugh at this!

The F-35: A Mystery, Inside an Enigma, Wrapped Up in a Shit Show
https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/320295-the-us-air-force-quietly-admits-the-f-35-is-a-failure

Deep32
Deep32
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

It reminds me a bit of Marmite, you either love or hate it.
LM certainly aren’t helping with there constant delays with Blk 4 update being late and considerably over budget. Will only push the price back up .

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Except all the pilots who fly it say they wouldn’t want to go to war In any other aircraft. Another example of the difference between Internet stories and reality. F35 is the only game in town. Over 750 I’m service and rising rapidly. Those are the hard facts. Canada will probably be the next customer.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Written by Homer Simpson. Actually, that’s an insult to Homers intelligence. Or a reporter paid a cash sum from Boeing. 👌

Martin
Martin
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Nice to see it’s not just us getting screwed. Expect to see UK weapons integration slip even more if the US can’t get its in.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin

Adreed. “Wallace told Britain’s Parliamentary defence select committee that he had the budget to buy more than the 48 jets the military has already ordered, but wanted to see progress controlling maintenance costs and fair treatment for integrating Meteor. “Its important for me to say to BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and all the other [ contractors] that ‘It’s in your interest to keep through-life support costs down’ because simply, I don’t want to be held to a massive bill I can’t get out of,” he said. “Also it’s important that we continue the planned integration of Meteor on the F-35,… Read more »

Martin
Martin
5 months ago
Reply to  Pete

It’s coming in bits now and we are at end of the line 2028 now for UK weapons integration. We should stop at 48 F35 B for the navy and move on to tempest.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin

I strongly disagree to that myself. There need to be enough F35 available for a war sized air group, and as a sovereign nation that means all UK aircraft if the need demands it.

With just 48 the potential of the QEC is hamstrung until the drones arrive. And the F35 may also be used away from the carriers on occasion.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
5 months ago

Block 4 has been tooted as being what’s needed to make the most of the f35. Just hope there are no more time slips. I’m not sure what keeps pushing it back. Is it just too complicated and can be scaled back? My memory fails me as to how hard the upgrade is for currently produced aircraft. I know early ones it’s a big upgrade job. The thing with the numbers is are the 80 the full fleet of aircraft. Or will it be 80 minus the early ones we dump/don’t upgrade. 80 as a fleet sounds ok but 80… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

I’ve always assumed the number to be all up, including the 3 orange wired ones with 17.

I’d bite the hand off for 70 or 80 but accept 60, plus Typhoon and the UCAV. As few as 48 must be avoided at all costs.

Martin
Martin
5 months ago

I think the drones will arrive long before the extra F35’s and with tempest the RAF does not really need land based F35B. Lockheed is increasingly taking the piss and with so many exports orders I don’t think they care enough about UK to prioritise weapons for us and without weapons what’s the point.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin

Except Tempest is a long way from becoming a reality. And Tempest would replace Typhoon, not F35.

Jonathan
Jonathan
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin

We have 2 carriers that have the potential to carry 60-70 aircraft each. Why would we not order the correct number of aircraft to at least fill one. you have to remember that your never going to have all you aircraft deployed at any one time so of we have 48 F35Bs we will be lucky to sustain an a carrier air wing of 24 aircraft 36 would be a pushing it and an at extremis surge. But we could with ambition be able to have 4 frontline squadrons of F35B giving 48 easily deployable aircraft ( 2 squadrons per… Read more »

ianbuk
ianbuk
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin

Tempest, if it ever comes to fruition, will most likely not fly before 2030, which means any production run is another 6-8 years away. What are we to do if something happens in the meantime?

We either buy more Typhoons, that will be relegated to airspace defence, or we buy more F35’s that can be used on the Carrers and/or UK defence if the unthinkable occurs.

On the subject of Tempest, is there anymore news on the US 6th Gen aircraft that was designed and flown in a year? The U.S. Air Force’s future fighter program?

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
5 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

Agree John
Makes sense to order a newer version of Eurofighter typhoon with AESA radar and ideally conformal fuel tanks.
24 aircraft would be a sensible bridge into the age of Tempest and ensure RAF not left under strength at a time of peer challenges from Russia and China.
We will need 80 F35Bs in service. Im not comfortable with just 60, although obviously 60 is better than just 48.
Defence budget needs to go up. We live in dangerous times.

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
5 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Conformal tanks are a dead end. Development of the Typhoon conformals was abandoned due to adverse aerodynamic issues.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
5 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

With research airframes, the OCU and the RAF we’ll be lucky to have eight to ten available for purely navy use by 2025 which is painfully few.

Ron
Ron
5 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

I agree that it would be a good idea for the RAF to replace Tranche 1 Typhoons. Yet I wonder if the RAF should revert a possible new batch to what the Typhoon was designed for a pure out and out air superiority fighter. Possibly some modifications could be included such as varible pitch engine nozzels, puffer nozzels in the wing tips. basically make it the fighter aircraft that it was designed to be until bean counters got hold of it.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
5 months ago
Reply to  Ron

It already is the fighter it was meant to be. It is an outstanding air superiority fighter,with genuine swing role capability, and all weather day/night precision strike capability. And RAF Typhoons will receive some major upgrades over the next few years.

DaveyB
DaveyB
5 months ago
Reply to  Ron

Why the puffer nozzles? Updated EJ200, Airbus aero kit and TVNs, plus radar 2, Pirate 2, the new Praetorian DAS and the new pilot’s helmet. Will have an aircraft better than most can field, including the Rafale. Only the F22 and perhaps the SU57 with the proper engines will be able to compete with it, in the true fighter/interceptor role. A F35 will still be able to kill it from distance though.

Ron
Ron
5 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Hi DaveyB and Robert, I agree that the Typhoon is a good aircraft and with the expected updates will be as good as if not better than most that will compete with them. Yet they had the possibility of being so much more. An example is with the jet engine nozzles. When the Typhoon was originally conceived these nozzles were to be ajustable to aid in maneuverbility. This was dropped due to the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the cost to Germany of reunification, so the project was reined in. Why puffer nozzels in the wing tips, speed of… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
5 months ago
Reply to  Ron

Very interesting, and from the horse’s mouth rather than the tail so to speak! Later he got well acquainted with flying the F-22 while serving as the Division Commander in the Test and Evaluation Squadron. “Berke also had the privilege of being the first operational pilot ever to fly and be qualified in the F-35B, serving as the Commanding Officer of the Marine Corps’ first F-35 squadron from 2012-2014. “The F-35 cannot match the F-22 as an air superiority fighter—it was never designed as such. The US Air Force’s initial plan was for the F-22 to be its high-end air… Read more »

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
5 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

Id also go so far as stating the RAF should retain tranche 1 aircraft for QRA and Falklands duties. Maybe send a few to do NATO policing duties in Eastern Europe.
You dont see Russia scrapping aircraft with flying hours left on their airframes.
Mass has a quality of its own. We dont just need small numbers of exquisite equipment.

Pete
Pete
5 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

It’s the lack of strike weapons as a consequence of the software delay that gets me. RN really should be ordering and fitting quickly something like NSM if it’s another 7 years till spear 3.

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
5 months ago
Reply to  Pete

Spear (not SPEAR 3, thats the MoD programme name) will arrive on Typhoon c2024.

Pete
Pete
5 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

Hey Rudeboy1. SPEAR is a series of 5 x capabilty programs ranging from Brimstone upgrades, Meteor, Storm Shadow upgrades, the future storm shadow replacement and the third capability program, SPEAR 3, which is the 130km mini cruise missile slated for integration on F35 and possibly Typhoon. My comments and concerns are specifically with the delay of SPEAR 3 on F35 without it there is no effective carrier strike using UK F35b.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPEAR_3

https://www.mbda-systems.com/innovation/preparing-future-products-3/spear-capability-3/

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
5 months ago
Reply to  Pete

I know what SPEAR is (and Meteor is not part of SPEAR, it is however part of Complex Weapons).

SPEAR 3 is the MoD programme name.

MBDA Spear is the name of the missile that fulfils the requirement.

The missile that is getting integrated to Typhoon and F-35 is MBDA Spear, not SPEAR 3. There is no SPEAR 3 missile (just like there is no SPEAR 4, its Storm Shadow CSP)

MBDA have managed to confuse a lot of people by using the wider programme name as the name of their product…

https://www.mbda-systems.com/product/spear/

Pete
Pete
5 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

Christ…your well named. Did you not read the links I sent you…whatever helps you sleep at night. You clearly understand the capabilities that are being referred to in the conversation…but still 🙄

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
5 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

And upgrade the T1’s as well.

February 27, 2019

Spain receives first upgraded Tranche 1 Eurofighter fighter jet
“As part of the upgrade, the company integrated Tranche 2 and Tranche 3 equipment on the aircraft, including a computer symbol generator, digital video and voice recorder, laser designator pod and maintenance data panel.”

https://www.airforce-technology.com/news/spain-receives-first-upgraded-tranche-1-eurofighter-fighter-jet/

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

It’s worth noting that most UK Tranche 1’s have had some of this ‘upgrade’ for years. The Litening III pod was installed on UK Typhoon T1’s a decade ago…

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
5 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

Yes thankfully, but as I’m suggesting like Cripes, we should also upgrade the T1’s in storage as I’m sure you would agree?

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

😆 And we don’t have any in storage. 24 are still in active service, and the rest got stripped for spare parts as far back as 2011 for some airframes. Spain went to the effort of upgrading it’s T1’s because it only has 70 Typhoons in service, along with old F18’s. UK, Germany & Italy are all retiring the T1’s. France has also retired early Rafales. Just like the hundreds of F16’s and F15’s sat in the Nevada desert with lots of life still in them. It’s an expensive and complex business.

https://www.flightglobal.com/defence/tranche-1-typhoon-retirement-will-have-no-impact-says-raf-chief/143158.article

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

It appears we still have twelve in storage as of 2015 with the possibility of a further three.

According to Uncle Albert, they were all stripped for spare parts back in 2011 😂

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/458672/20150904-RAF_Typhoon_aircraft_in_storage.pdf

Last edited 5 months ago by Nigel Collins
Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

All 12 of them 😆. Thanks for that Trigger. 👍 Only 7 years out of date.

Last edited 5 months ago by Robert Blay.
John N
John N
5 months ago

Those ferry flights for the RAF are just a little hop, skip and jump across the Atlantic pond from the US to UK.

The latest ferry flight late last year for the RAAF (brought the total to 44), was a bloody big hop, skip and jump across the Pacific.

Three F-35A, two KC-30A tankers and a C-17A, travelled 12,700km from Arizona, to Hawaii, then onto RAAF Base Williamstown north of Newcastle.

Cheers,

Nick C
Nick C
5 months ago
Reply to  John N

Hawaii to Oz is a long way without a leg stretch. The sarnies would be a bit curly around the edges.

Steven B
Steven B
5 months ago

There is already 24 F35-B that have been delivered to RAF. With 3 (001,002,004) remaining in the US, that could be 21 or 24 delivered to UK. Subtract 1 for the lost one (018) you get 20 or 23. None of these are 22, the number required to add 3 to to get 25??. These planes should follow on from those delivered in November (022,023,024) and should be 025, 026 & 027

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
5 months ago
Reply to  Steven B

28 have been delivered to the RAF. 1 has been lost.
You’re missing off the 3 ITF test aircraft based at Edwards AFB in 17 TES.
As of Wednesday we’ll have 24 in the UK at Marham.

Steven B
Steven B
5 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

ZM135 is 001, the first ITF aircraft in the US. The ones coming over are ZM159-161, which is 27. What is the 28th aircraft?

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

Have none been delivered to the FAA yet?

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
5 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

None will go to the FAA. All are from the RAF budget, but shared with Navy. 809 NAS will be the next squadron to stand up, but given the loss of an F-35 and the re-scheduling of deliveries as a result of covid its unlikely they’ll be ‘operational’ by 2026.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

I find it staggering that the lead for naval aviation is therefore the RAF. They get their fingers into all the pies.

Years ago they wanted to operate Apache despite the AAC experience of operating armed anti-tank helos over 2 generations – with Scout SS11 and then Lynx/TOW.
Their claim that you had to be a light blue officer with a degree to fly an Apache was rebuffed by the AAC who had decades of experience of Cpls, Sgts and Warrant Officers successfully flying armed helicopters.

Steve R
Steve R
5 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I think 809 Squadron (FAA) is the next squadron due to be stood up.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Thanks. I wonder why the FAA did not get the chance to lead on the F-35B project – this is naval aviation after all. Shows the lobby power of certain senior RAF officers, I guess.

Stuart Paterson
Stuart Paterson
5 months ago

Any benefit in buying some A’s as well to be based in the UK? Appreciate numbers might be too low and will probably result in increased cost, and increased cost to support different variants but you would think that ability to go further and carry more armaments would be useful on many occasions.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago

Buying A variants means two small fleets and the carriers potential limited. A’s should only be bought once a decent number of B’s are available, ideally 70 to 80.
Even then, A a nice to have rather than a necessity with money tight and funding for Tempest.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
5 months ago

Id go for the C variant if we have a 2 types subdivision. Longer range. Heavier payload and covers the potential contingency of a future CATs and Traps QE carriers conversion.
The A variant (or better C variant) should only be considered if defence budget increased and armed forces getting substantially bigger.
Instead of an A variant Id like the latest version of typhoon as a bridge to Tempest.
Lets get the F35B numbers upto 80 first then see where we are.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

QE carriers were to be FFNW cats and traps but that idea got binned. It would cost a fortune to fit cats and traps now – and take a carrier out of service for a year or two.

Last edited 5 months ago by Graham Moore
John Clark
John Clark
5 months ago

I think an advanced future block 5/6 A variant will be the obvious choice if Tempest gets cancelled. You can guarantee Uncle Sam will offer just such an aircraft to the RAF (possibly with UK assembly / larger UK parts content), in an attempt to get us to abandon Tempest. I would imagine the US Defence lobby is viewing Team Tempest with an increasing sense of unease as the programme starts to gather tangible momentum and brings in big players like Japan (systems and propulsion technology). It brings with it the real possibility they might start to loose control of… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
5 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

As a side note to this, the Franco German Spanish fighter is running into serous troubled waters due to the usual euro land in-fighting.

If France is forced to go it alone (and you can believe Uncle Sam will make every effort to drive the wedge in there with an F35 offering to Germany and Spain), France will have to lower its goals and expectations to keep it within budget.

I would expect an evolved stealthy Rafale variant, a sort of Gen 4.9 offering…..

Klonkie
Klonkie
5 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

Hi John. l wonder if this may present an opportunity for Germany/Spain to re-consider their position. Perhaps re evaluate Tempest participation as an alternative?

I recall (many years ago) France was an original partner in the then Eurofighter project , however their demand were so unrealistic ,they departed to do their own thing with Rafael .
Might this behaviour re-emerge? Be interesting to watch.

John Clark
John Clark
5 months ago
Reply to  Klonkie

Evening Klonkie, I can’t see German Tempest participation ever happening, for so many reasons. The UK being the primary Tempest partner and a non EU member would render German participation impossible politically. If the simmering tension between Germany and France breaks down into unrecognisable differences, the Germans will probably go F35, possibly try and get their own F35G version, with some German content, assembly perhaps?? The French might have to lower their expectations and go with a next generation Rafael, airframe alterations, jamming in as much new technology as possible and uprated and improved M88’s… I honestly think it would… Read more »

DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan
5 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

Oh, yeah, LM, Boeing and Northrop are just quaking in their boots at the thought of a Tempest program managed by two nations that can’t finance their existing forces adequately. Tempest is not even on the drawing board and the US has already flown a prototype sixth generation fighter. Just quaking in their boots.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

That is not what John was referring to. He was referring to the widely believed historical practice of the US lobby trying its best to scupper other nations programmes for its own benefit so nations buy US gear. The US companies are not quaking in their boots. Your black budget dwarfs other nations entire defence budgets. But they will still follow their and US interests above all, to the detriment of other nations, which is not always in OUR interests. And before I start sounding too much like I am against the US, I’m not, I believe in the SR… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
5 months ago

Well said Daniele, I’m afraid Mr Morgans bluster completely misses the point and by some considerable margin, saves me the time mate👍 The thing that really scares the US Defence sector (military aviation in-particular) is the method of manufacture that BAE Systems is working on. It should bring the cost way down on Gen6. While Mr Morgan whoops and waves the stars and stripes about, he might want to stop and consider the long troubled history of the F35, or the F22, both still facing many expensive issues, despite being decades into development. The production techniques being pioneered on Tempest… Read more »

Knight7572
Knight7572
5 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

-_- the British don’t need Black Hawk it is old and the USA is developing the replacement, why do we need Black Hawk! its a relic of the Cold War, the AW149 is a more modern design

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago
Reply to  Knight7572

How much will AW149 be?
How much will BH be? Built in Poland.
How many of each can we get for the budget of FMH program?
I read the requirement is for 44 to replace Puma, Bells, and Dauphins in a total of 5 squadrons. Can AW149 or the BH provide that number within budget?
Sometimes an effective OTS solution that the army probably wanted years ago will suffice.
Do we prioritise jobs at Yeovil or what the military need, in bulk, at an effective price.

John Clark
John Clark
5 months ago

As ever Daniele, fully agree mate, good old common sense….

Jonatha
Jonatha
5 months ago

But you always have to remember the whole cost and benefit of a solution which our government never does. If you buy a product made in the U.K. like the AW149 you get a massive amount of the money back in tax base. So actually a U.K. built AW149 could come in at 25%-30% more than a black hawk and it would still be better value for the British tax payer. The issue is that our government does not include that as a rebate back into the defence budget ( which is short sighted rubbish ). In my view if… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago
Reply to  Jonatha

Of course. You’re correct, and you say it better than I. But they never do, Mod don’t get that money. So the MoD and armed forces get relegated, again, and people moan as the numbers go down. And we’re looking at this as a defence centric viewpoint rather than a UKPLC one. When the military require 44 and we end up with 20 ( as an example ) and they have to be in 3 places at once, why do we moan! A balance needs to be struck, and in my view sometimes an OTS proven design is acceptable if… Read more »

Jonatha
Jonatha
5 months ago

Being an eternal optimist I one day hope that politicians will relearn the art of nation building and relink all the parts of the millitary industrial machine together, including financial streams. It’s one of the reasons the US has been so successful in the creation of a massive military that could be sustained without destruction of its financial position, instead it advanced it. The US are the masters of the millitary industrial complex as a method of hegemony and they are the masters at that, we should learn from them,

DaveyB
DaveyB
5 months ago
Reply to  Knight7572

Easy, cost! It will be significantly cheaper than anything Leonardo or Airbus can offer. As the purchase will be added to a US Army program. As per Chinook and Apache. It will have a huge support and spares package. The UK can dip into when operating with the US.

The age of the design is not a factor. The latest UH60M is very different from the original A variant. Plus it might also include the MH60 Pavehawk, which the SF community would like, as that would also be better for integrating with the US’s 160th SOAR.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago
Reply to  Knight7572

Did John suggest buying Black Hawk? I agree that would be silly – I agree it is old (it first flew nearly 50 years ago) – and can only carry 11 passengers whereas Puma can carry 16.

Klonkie
Klonkie
5 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

Interesting commentary John, I enjoyed reading this.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

Well it’s not that clearly defined is it and I have to say as questionable as the use of the term ‘drawing board’ these days. Of course concepts of Tempest are in Cad it’s simply how far along they have got and no doubt previous work carried out on previous programs like Teranis, Replica et al are contributing. As for the US 6th Gen prototype it’s pr started with Trump mouthing off at a time the US looked like it was falling behind in hypersonics and new Russian/Chinese jets coming along, about it being originated and flown in 2 years… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

As much as I was concerned about Tempest even a year ago these agreements with Japan give me great confidence it will go ahead. For a start the engine and structural design would go and the sensor agreement would only have a future if it could be incorporated on something else, that’s not going to be F35. So not only would it pretty much destroy any cooperative efforts with Japan even outside of defence but damage links on almost any level vital to ‘Global Britain. Despite the doubts I had it seems Japan is determined to develop it’s only skills… Read more »

MikeB1947
MikeB1947
5 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

If Tempest is cancelled, with the MoD ordering the F-35A instead, we must insist that final assembly and flight testing should be at Warton. Otherwise, certain British skills could be permanently lost, with BAE merely manufacturing components for future US designs.

John Clark
John Clark
5 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

I fully agree as usual mate! I would say that for all reasons you so eloquently make in you post, Tempest stands a better than average chance of making it to the finish line. Japan dovetailing in key technology areas for their Gen6 aircraft make Tempest a far more robust and politically survivable platform. Let us remember the simple rules facing a new cutting edge military programme…. Lift, Thrust, Drag and Politics (my favourite quoted reflection on the TSR2 programme)…. As the late great Barry Cryer once joked, “Politicians are like babies nappies, they need changing regularly and for the… Read more »

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
5 months ago

Zero point to them.

  • We can’t refuel them, they’re boom only. So their real range would be limited to less than F-35B.
  • Hugely increased sustainment costs.
  • Can’t be used on the Carriers
  • Politically unacceptable, would impact Tempest buy.
  • And UK cleared weapons would not be able to make any difference to the overall weapons load (doesn’t make a difference if you have a larger bomb bay if you can only hang a 500lb Paveway IV in it anyway).
ChariotRider
ChariotRider
5 months ago

Hi Stuart, This has been discussed many times on here with some pretty experienced people all pointing out that the differences between the A and B variants are considerable and not just limited to the engines. As such it is almost equivalent to introducing a new type into the inventory which means new training manuals (aircrew and maintenance), new safety cases and that is before you get to the spares supply chain. All of which i sexpensive fo rjust a few aircraft. As you say the A variant can go further with more, but the UK is putting its money… Read more »

Stuart Paterson
Stuart Paterson
5 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Thanks for the responses all.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I agree, in any conflict in Europe the UK would be primarily intent on defending the waters in and around the UK and up to Norway and the western approaches. It will be vital in enabling proper and continuing support from across the pond. The Russians would, like those before them try to strangle these islands and European coast and waters. That would have to be prevented and in the early days we would very possibly be holding the line as others on mainline Europe would be expected to further West.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

So, no role for RM, Army or RAF in European conflict?

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Which is more likely – deployment of a CSG into a real shooting war – or air/land combat in a European/NATO context?

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
5 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Hi Graham, A shooting war in the European NATO context would inevitably involve a significant naval threat as well as land operations. As such a RN carrier CSG would likely very busy in the Eastern Atlantic, North Sea and Arctic. Two key roles would fall on European Navies and the RN in particularly. The first would be to secure the Western Approaches to enable reinforcement from North America. The second key role would be the insertion of the Royal Marines / Dutch Marines into North Norway. In both roles naval aviation would be an important capability given Russian surface fleet… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Thanks CR. Out of interest did we have carriers operating in those areas in WW2?
Do you not see a need for naval assets in the Med – NATO’s southern flank?

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
5 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Hi Graham, You’re welcome. Initially during ’39 ’40 we operated fleet carriers in the escort role but they proved vulnerable to raiders and submarines. HMS Glorious was sunk in the North Sea by Scharnhorst and Gneisenau having covered the vacuation of British troops from Norway, for example. As such the RN withdrew fleet carriers from escort duties which left the convoys with no effective air cover until the US was able to ramp up its construction of escort carriers and the Liberator bomber became available in the MPA role. By the end of the war the UK was operating dozens… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
5 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Sorry forgot to answer the Med question… There are already significant NATO assets in the Med. The French fleet is split between the Atlantic and the Med as you would expect, but there is also the Italian Navy which is very capable with small carriers as well. There is also the US 6th Fleet with its HQ in Naples. It usually has a CSG as its core capability. Spain, Greece and Turkey also contribute to NATO’s southern flank. Having said all of that it should be remembered that all of NATO’s navies have shrunk quite significantly over the last 30… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Thanks for this CR and your earlier related answer. I have some doubts about the quality of US intelligence within NATO’s intelligence piece – but I agree with your assessment.
I have always thought that our naval aviation is too light on platform count – I think we need a 3rd QE carrier and replacement of HMS Ocean.

Jonatha
Jonatha
5 months ago

The truth is an 35A cannot go further than an 35B, simply because the F35A is shackled to 10,000 feet of appropriate concrete and the F35Bs base can float around 600 miles a day in almost any direction. So a U.K. F35B squadron can hold any country on the planet at risk where as the 35A can only travel 1000km from a hard to find 10,000 feet of runway without air to refuelling and this both impacts on countries an F35A could put and risk and its sortie rate ( look at the sortie rates and difficulties the RAF had… Read more »

Steve R
Steve R
5 months ago

Not unless the defence budget were to increase to the point where we could purchase 200 F35s total; half As and half Bs. That’ll never happen. With such a small number, probably 80 or so, the only rational thing is to keep them all B models to maximise our carrier capabilities. If they’re all Bs then every single one of them can operate from our carriers. This allows us to surge if we need to. 80 Bs could get us: – 48 frontline (4 squadrons) – 12 OCU – 3 Test planes -17 spares All apart from the 3 test… Read more »

Tommo
Tommo
5 months ago

Have these 3 new aircraft been allocated too either the FAA or RAF ? Just enquiring as a sovereign power we should be able too field a full carrier air group rather than top up with USMC air frames ?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago
Reply to  Tommo

The Lightning force is a joint organisation, but I believe the jets themselves are owned by the RAF.
We will field a carrier air group when enough F35 have been delivered. The slow delivery rate has been explained many times on here and elsewhere.

Tommo
Tommo
5 months ago

Cheers for that Daniele it was just that I’d like too see a Carrier group deploy that’s fully British that was all. But thanks anyway

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago
Reply to  Tommo

Well you will Tommo. But from zero to air group, carrier capability will take time. If the carrier had sat in port until the aircraft are ready some would be complaining even more than now. As it is, the RN could demonstrate their ability to deploy a carrier group, incomplete of course, at range, over long duration. The USMC were not necessary but welcome, demonstrating interoperability between allies and giving the crew a more realistic number of AC to work with rather than just 8 british ones. Despite their wildest dreams, the detractors of the carriers thinking just 8 Brit… Read more »

Tommo
Tommo
5 months ago

I KNOW Daniele, twas a pity that we retired the Harrier before it’s time, I’m not a detractor of the QE class but new toys need new boxes But they could have been a stop gap until The FAA has a full complement of F35s bit late now though

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago
Reply to  Tommo

Harrier, what an icon! Glad you know. 😎 At the time the RAF had 1 squadron of Harrier GR9s left, 7 of Tornado GR4, 2 of Tornado F3, and 2 of Typhoon. ( Despite the tory bashers, the Harrier force and the Sea Harriers were disbanded by previous governments and RAF Cottesemore announced would close. It didn’t, it became the army’s Kendrew barracks, but I digress ) What I’m driving at is that it was an “easy” cut to make for them, with but a single squadron remaining, with a larger pool of ac in reserve much like now with… Read more »

Klonkie
Klonkie
5 months ago

Hi Di. Slightly of topic , but in a few weeks we’ll be on the 40th anniversary of the Falklands. A brilliant performance by the Sea Harrier Force. Limited resources, no AWCAS.

Id see a looming gap with the Typhoon Tranche 1 retirement I’m concerned we’ll see another squadron cut – down to 6

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago
Reply to  Klonkie

Evening K. Would not surprise would it. 809 will be standing up so 8 squadrons will still be the ORBAT. 6 Typhoon and 2 F35. Pity one of the Typhoon squadrons is joint with Qatar. As well as Typhoon T1 we lost the 3 Tornado squadrons too a few years back. What was that, 50 odd jets? They kept the same number of squadrons there by expanding from 5 to 7 the Typhoon squadron numbers, with the same number of aircraft! Cut to beyond the bone years ago even before these reductions. I was 10 at the time of Corporate… Read more »

Posse Comitatus
Posse Comitatus
5 months ago

I was 12. A few months after the conclusion of hostilities, the school I was in hosted a talk by the then 2IC of 2 para (I think) Maj. Chris Keeble about his experience in the Falklands. It was fascinating, he had many slides and pictures that were unique. He was very impressive and made a big impression on many listening. I’m sure he upped recruitment that day.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago

He deserved more credit and need not have been replaced after the Battle of Goose Green by a new half-Colonel parachuted into the briny. Keeble’s leadership was superb.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
5 months ago
Reply to  Tommo

Don’t quote me on this but I believe the aircraft are own by the MOD not the raf or navy. And don’t ask me how that works with the services that use them. The lightening force hq does sit within the raf. I think

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago

Surely the RAF own RAF-badged and piloted F-35Bs, and the FAA will own FAA-badged and piloted F-35Bs?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

617 is manned by both the RAF and FAA. 809 NAS will be the same. What if pilots swap between aircraft!? Ideally the F35s would be all FAA piloted and RN owned, and the RAF would have had its Tornado replacement ( The FOAS was cancelled, like so much else ) Going back in the timeline to get to the current set up- Typhoon was originally meant to replace the Jaguar and last of the Phantoms. Tornado F3 ended up replaced too. Tornado was to be replaced by FOAS. Harrier / Sea Harrier was to be replaced by the JSF… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago

Thanks Daniele, As an ex-army man and one who served in Helmand (in 2008/9), I was always keen to see our guys get the best CAS from the RAF (not that I was in the FOBs and PBs with them). We were very well served by Harrier in that regard. Then it was replaced in-theatre by Tornado to the army’s general surprise as the maintenence costs were very much higher and it was not as optimised for CAS. Matters became much clearer at the next Defence review when it was stated that the RAF was being forced by political masters… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago
Reply to  Tommo

We only had some USMC F-35Bs on CSG21, because Boeing had not built our own full national quota of aircraft. That will not be the situation ‘for ever and a day’.

Tommo
Tommo
5 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Fingers crossed a FAA without yanks or Crabfats emblazoned painting on the tail of ranged Aircraft parked on the Flightdeck At Alpha

Andrew
Andrew
5 months ago

80 is certainly better than 48 but I wouldn’t go as far as saying 80 aircraft is ‘welcome news’, considering even the original 138 is on the low side. We need strength in depth because no other jet can use the carriers. We need enough to deploy the carriers at surge levels even if half the aircraft were lost to combat.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Now Andrew, you should know that it is rude to plan for the worst. You’ll upset the grown ups sitting in the Westminister bubble, you know you shouldn’t talk about how nasty things can get in the real world, it’s far too shocking for such gentile ears especially when they think they are doing such a good job..!🙄 Seriously, though – yup couldn’t agree more. What really gets me is that so many think that the next war will be over really quickly. OK if it goes nuclear it will be, but I think that there is a real chance… Read more »

Mac
Mac
5 months ago

You have to wonder if the last 20 or so will simply be replacements for lost airframes to accidents and the like, over the service life of the aircraft. So i doubt the actual fleet will ever be much larger than 60 deployable, combat ready aircraft.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
5 months ago
Reply to  Mac

You make a good point. Its the same issue across entirety of UK defences. Exquisite kit but zero attritional reserve. Once we take losses our combat endurance will drop really quickly. This worries me and keeps me awake and night. Pity the politicians cant see that, be made to understand or just dont care.

RobW
RobW
5 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Does it really keep you up at night? We aren’t exactly at war, or even close to it. The whole Russia/Ukraine thing is just Putin’s game, largely for a domestic audience but also so he can play the big man on the world stage.

Agree though, we should have greater mass. I keep wondering why we don’t order more Typhoons. Tranche 4 with all the trimmings. It would keep Warton going, increase mass, and plug the gap before Tempest arrives in numbers (hopefully).

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago
Reply to  RobW

Agreed. Honestly, Ukraine might as well be a full NATO member for some of the comments made.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago
Reply to  RobW

Thank you Rob. The US has been strongly suggesting that invasion of Ukraine is imminent for at least the last week or so. It isn’t. Putin is playing – and winning. He has panicked the world’s only superpower, split NATO members into different camps, made a fool of Macron, made the Ukrainians think seriously about joining NATO, bolstered his strong man image (as you say) and his man, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, enjoyed his public spat with our Foreign Secretary. He may win a few more political points then send the troops home and claim to be the peacemaker. US… Read more »

RobW
RobW
5 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

The quality of high level decision making in the West has been abysmal. Politicians clamouring to be seen as important, just to be embarrassed. I have no sympathy for Macron or Truss, they went to Russia with nothing new, only a lecture and got what they deserved. The only way to play this is to tell it how it is and expose the Russian playbook each step of the way. Instead we get a stream of statements from officials highlighting an imminent threat, giving Putin what he desires, attention and a stage to bolster his power base. They should be… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

We always used to buy an attritional reserve – and not just for aircraft but for AFVs too.

Rob
Rob
5 months ago

If Russia kicks off with Ukraine we might need these sooner. What’s the delay? Money? Maybe we can get the Turkish F35s sitting around in US. doing nothing…or perhaps that is a political nightmare? Probably. We need to keep the Turks on side.

RobW
RobW
5 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Russia won’t kick off with Ukraine and even if they do we are not fighting Russia. Ukraine is not a NATO member.

Jon
Jon
5 months ago
Reply to  Rob

If we ask the Turks nicely, maybe we can fly them from the Anadolu, given that we aren’t allowed to get our carriers in the Black Sea. I think that would appeal to Erdogan.

Frank62
Frank62
5 months ago

Slow steady progress. Wondered if we should get ours fully amphibious in case of accidents🙂. But then again all aircraft have occasional accidents. I’d love to see 4 operational squadrons of 20. That’d allow 1 each for the carriers plus a couple for the RAF.

louis
louis
5 months ago
Reply to  Frank62

That will never happen as you would need 120+ aircraft for 80 aircraft in frontline squadrons.

Dave G
Dave G
5 months ago

All 48 of the first batch will have been delivered even if we did crash one….

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago

For many years there have been detractors of F-35B. Can most of the problems stated by detractors be regarded as new type teething trouble which is largely put to bed – or are there any remaining capability, reliability or maintainability issues?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Our Nigel’s your man!

RobW
RobW
5 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Get ready for a hyperlink frenzy as soon as Nigel sees your post (meant in jest Nigel).

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago
Reply to  RobW

Where is he?! NIGEL!

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
5 months ago

Don’t encourage him 🙈😄

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

The bears asleep.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
5 months ago

Hopefully done one of his 5 month long disappearing act’s 😆

David Barry
David Barry
5 months ago

This caught my attention:

https://www.defense-aerospace.com/articles-view/feature/5/179243/navair-projects-f_35-to-need-50-maintenance-hours-per-flight-hour.html

Should it be accurate how many F35s would need to be on board to provide a continuous CAP and how many strikes can really be generated with the circa 12 on board we are thing of operating with? Excel king out there?

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

Isn’t that figure (50 maint hrs per flying hour) fairly typical for a Gen4/5 combat aircraft?

Clueless Observer
Clueless Observer
5 months ago

If we are only getting 80 jets (really hoping this does not include development aircraft and attrition losses), we really need to hold onto the Typhoons, ideally replacing the Tranche 1’s with new aircraft, not just as a ‘stop gap to tempest’ but to increase our force size and work alongside Tempest and the F-35B. Not all conflicts need state of the art, day 1 stealth systems, the Typhoon has proven it’s multi role abilities and can be used for day 2,3,4 etc. With another Afghanistan or Iraq, would we really need CAS from stealth jets ? It would give… Read more »

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
5 months ago

The US have hundreds of F16’s and F15’s sat in the desert with plenty of airframe life left. We are not the only ones. Germany & Italy are also retiring T1’s. The French have also retired early Rafales.

Keeper
Keeper
5 months ago

My word. Literally a few dozen F35s I just a few years from now.
Why do I feel so very underwhelmed when the one’s we have now could be lost within days if the Ukraine goes hot.

Richard B
Richard B
5 months ago

The usually reliable F-35 database https://www.f-16.net/aircraft-database/view_airframes_bysearch/key/BK/actype/F-35 lists 27 UK F-35B’s as being delivered, including the three on 15 Feb. Obviously one of these 27 is a write-off, leaving 26. Three early aircraft are wired for testing, and will never leave the USA, leaving 23. But that’s theoretical, it’s hard to imagine the aircraft delivered in 2016 (LRIP-8?) or earlier ever being brought up to a front-line operational standard (currently software Block 3F for the UK?) – just too costly, so that leaves 17 a/c. And a lot of those will probably never be h/w refreshed and s/w upgraded to the… Read more »

Mike Dearie
Mike Dearie
5 months ago

Should go with 48 F-35b then buy more A models.

Paul payless
Paul payless
2 days ago

a pair of F35’s flew low and loud over my house in West Wales the other day, fan-bloody-tastic.