The United Kingdom has made it “absolutely clear” that it will be purchasing more than 48 F-35 jets, according to a senior defence minister.

At a recent session of the Defence Committee. focussing on the Royal Navy, it was stated by Jeremy Quin, Minister for Defence Procurement, that:

“As you know, we are going to acquire 48. We have made it absolutely clear that we will be acquiring more. We have committed to have 48 in service by 2025, and we will be acquiring more. We have set that out in the IR. We will set out the exact numbers in 2025.

The 138 number is still there. That is a defined number and we are looking at keeping these aircraft carriers in operation for a very long period of time. I am not dismissing that number either. We know that we have 48 to which we are committed, and we know that we will buy more beyond that.”

How many are expected?

The former First Sea Lord said during a webcast earlier this year that the UK intends to purchase ‘around 60’ F-35B jets and then ‘maybe more up to around 80’ for four deployable squadrons.

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.”

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

According to the 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.

“The Royal Air Force will continue to grow its Combat Air capacity over the next few years as we fully establish all seven operational Typhoon Squadrons and grow the Lightning II
Force, increasing the fleet size beyond the 48 aircraft that we have already ordered. Together they will provide a formidable capability, which will be continually upgraded to meet the threat, exploit multi domain integration and expand utility.

The Royal Air Force will spiral develop Typhoon capability, integrate new weapons such as the UK developed ‘SPEAR Cap 3’ precision air launched weapon and invest in the Radar 2 programme to give it a powerful electronically scanned array radar. We will integrate more UK weapons onto Lightning II and invest to ensure that its software and capability are updated alongside the rest of the global F 35 fleet.”

The total of 80 is welcome news given the speculation the buy could be capped at 48.

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Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
22 days ago

The F35 proramme is expected to go on for a long time, probably longer than the lifespan of individual aircraft. It is consistent with what has been said to expect the F35 fleet to expand to about 60 and then, at a later date, for older airframes to be replaced with new. This would give 120+ aircraft, over the lifetime of the programme.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
22 days ago

Yeh, my thoughts exactly.

Cheers CR

Paul42
Paul42
22 days ago

So how many are we buying? Does anyone actually have a clue? 138 is supposedly the number……

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
22 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

Until 2025, 48.

Then more.

Paul42
Paul42
22 days ago

Ahh, but the question is how many more…….nobody seems to have a clue….

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
22 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

No, because they defer to 2025. Or kick can down road. With 48 1 Carrier wing is fully built up regards F35 so with one side saying the aircraft is crap, block 4 costs, and uncertainty over Vixen why the hurry.

Mark B
Mark B
22 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

There can’t be any plans or commitment until there is money to pay for them which will be next parliament surely. Also the landscape seems to be changing daily on the future of home grown aircraft and drones. F35 seems solid for the future of the carriers but what does the RAF think?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
22 days ago

As I have suggested before, I would be more than happy with 60 then 80 later a if the money could be found. I would not be happy with just 48 and switching to the A, that would be criminal and not maximising the potential of the carriers. Getting 138 does not mean at one time as a total force. It is a total buy over decades. As a total force the pilots and crews do not exist for them, nor the money, nor the infrastructure without reopening other fast jet stations. We also have Tempest. Getting both in numbers… Read more »

Angus
Angus
22 days ago

The Senior Service has more fast jet pilots than you may think. More than when we had SHAR’s. We do need to have 4 + frontline units of course but also the other air units to make up a CAG so many more ASW/AEW units to equip them so its not all about fast jets. VL can still take fast jets as it did before and has the space to take them too as does CU. No need to reopen stations although there are a few still there that could do easily if needed. Look up North.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
22 days ago
Reply to  Angus

I assume by “VL and CU” you mean Yeovilton and Culdrose. Neither have any HAS, which was the thrust of my “infrastructure” comment. A near 100 million aircraft should be suitably tucked up in HAS in my opinion. In modern times only the Jaguar and Harrier force, and the OCU’s of the Typhoon and Tornado force, did not use HAS, as Coltishall, Wittering and Cottesmore did not have any and I believe the OCU’s tend to use the ramp rather being dispersed in HAS sites on stations. Yes, the stations Leeming, Leuchars spring to mind. The latter is now army… Read more »

Lusty
Lusty
22 days ago

I’m sure someone could sneak over to RAF Marham and change the ‘RAF’ to ‘RNAS’ on a dark night.

I totally haven’t changed ‘RAF’ to ‘CRAB’ before. 😂

Last edited 22 days ago by Lusty
Angus
Angus
22 days ago

In point yes always best to look after the hardware but HAS will never survive a real attack as we showed in the middle east and any one wanting to take out such a place will certainly take it out with a first strike anyway. Better close to the units they work with, as the B’s will mostly be at sea and expect them to be passed over to the RN in the not to distant future anyway once the light blues get some new toys. Already to many eggs in a few baskets because we are being run by… Read more »

John Hartley
John Hartley
22 days ago
Reply to  Angus

Trying to think where I saw it, but one country is building super tough HAS in order to survive most strikes.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
21 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Switzerland?!!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
21 days ago
Reply to  Angus

So lets build fake HAS so it is not certain what is in them and requires more ordnance expended. If the aircraft are nicely lined up in rows they are certainly doomed! Ha, yes, when F35 was first confirmed everyone was suggesting St Mawgan ( Extreme excitement for our Lusty….) On the dispersal point, CAS mentioned it recently and there was an article here about it. Will be interesting how they get on with it but agree at the moment the enablers for that don’t exist on that scale. Maybe they will disperse to other stations with HAS, there are… Read more »

Steve M
Steve M
21 days ago

I think they blew the HAS budget at MPN 😆 16 HAS for 4 typhoons.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
20 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

Mount Pleasant?

I don’t think there are HAS there. Last time I looked they were Blast Revetments with a roof, Q Sheds. Not true HAS which are larger. HAS complexes used to include CBRN facilities and hardened ops centre too.
The extras are a sensible contingency, which I think you know.

Last edited 20 days ago by Daniele Mandelli
Steve M
Steve M
20 days ago

I stand corrected DM, zoomed in further not HAS just shelter was counting shapes in layout, still lot for 4 A/c, agree only 25% chance of hitting isn’t good odds 🙂 With Voyagers unable to self refuel inflight hate to think how many flights it would take to surge extra Typhoons ‘down South’ (an i don’t mean Boscombe Down)

Lusty
Lusty
21 days ago

Hah! That would have been nice!

Though the true excitement for lusty would have been what Angus suggested: aircraft based at Culdrose with the words ‘ROYAL NAVY’ written down the side. I hope some of the not-so-regular commentators realise I’m speaking from the heart there, not from the head.

I imagine Culdrose will be the base for larger drones when they come in, partly as the base has operated smaller drones and already operates some of the kit they’re likely to replace.

Last edited 21 days ago by Lusty
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
20 days ago
Reply to  Lusty

Yes they test them at Pred.

Steve M
Steve M
21 days ago

Hi Daniele, looking at various Google sat images of RAF Station most don’t have many HAS (CON = 20, MAR = 24 & LOS = 18) so if my maff right our 3 frontline combat airfields only have 62 HAS so 50% of our expensive jets are not tucked up 🙁 just sat in big old target (Hangars)

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
20 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

Because they should spread them out, ideally!

Leeming had I recall 2 or 3 HAS sites. St Mawgan 1, Leuchars 2, Wattisham 2, Honington 2, Boscombe 1, then you have the USAF sites. I’ve not counted how many at each but be my guest!
😆
Lossimouth’s wing should have remained 2 Lossi, 2 Leuchars. Same with Leeming, Coningsby.

The sites are there, we choose to save money and concentrate in one place. I understand the reasoning but disagree with it.

Steve M
Steve M
20 days ago

yeh, wonder if the ones at Leeming/Leuchars and Boscombe and being kept in reserve state to allow quick dispersal as still active camps (i know Leuchars is primarily Army camp now but you see aircraft doing circuts there

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
20 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

One of the HAS at Boscombe was being used as an aircraft store by a museum. I’d assume many others elsewhere are used for storage. Some HAS elsewhere have definitely found other uses.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
22 days ago

Yup, nice summary Daniele,

What is more it appears to be close to what is planned – well hopefully.

Cheers CR

George
George
22 days ago

Hi Daniele,
Yes agree with your post and I’m also of the view that 70/80 in number would be fine. I’m guessing that the budget for the F35b program will be under constant review in conjunction with Tempest, the more Tempest is developed and achieved, possibly that F35b numbers will be reviewed.
Cheers,
George

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
22 days ago

“intends to increase the fleet size beyond the 48 F-35 aircraft” I’m guessing that we are seriously considering moving on with Team Tempest and funding this programme instead of purchasing more than is necessary in the next four years. We reached out to industry recently for an EMALS CATOBAR solution which tends to suggest a future and larger unmanned drone to me? “In this exclusive look behind the scenes of Britain’s new Future Combat Air System, Jon Lake gets under the skin of an aircraft due to enter service in just 14 years’ time, and yet its configuration is still… Read more »

Tempest-2111059.jpg
Last edited 22 days ago by Nigel Collins
Ron5
Ron5
22 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Isn’t this about the 5th time you’ve inserted this story from Jon Lake word for word?

Jon Lake is a huge phony. That’s not his real name. For years he told everyone he was an ex-RAF pilot and expounded views on air combat. He spent years printing false information about the F-35 in multiple places until his publishers figured out he was a troll and pulled the plug.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
22 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

You really are a total fool Ron 5 what an embarrassment to the USA on here along with your beloved F35. Grow up and READ THE REPORTS published by the DOD, GAO & DOT&E. The only thing that has changed in my links over the past five years are the dates as opposed to the endless faults. And Yes, I’m aware of the fact that you either work for LM or, like many on here and STRN, a complete idiot. The GAO report found that the current 2027 goal for finalizing the Block 4 modernization is “not achievable.” GAO said… Read more »

Last edited 22 days ago by Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
22 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

In future, do not disrespect the people who have served our country to suit your own ends. Jon Lake is the author of several books for Osprey, including volumes on wartime aircraft like the Avro Lancaster and Bristol Blenheim, as well as modern combat aircraft like the MiG-29. One of the founding editors of World Air Power Journal, Lake is a regular contributor to a number of aviation magazines and newspapers. An RAF-trained private pilot Lake has written extensively about post war and contemporary military aviation. Mark has illustrated several books in both the Aircraft of the Aces and Combat… Read more »

farouk
farouk
22 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Nigel wrote:

“In future, do not disrespect the people who have served our country to suit your own ends….An RAF-trained private pilot”

He has never served , not according to his bio on Linked Makes me question the “RAF trained private pilot pitch”

Opera Snapshot_2021-11-09_190216_uk.linkedin.com.png
Last edited 22 days ago by farouk
Ron5
Ron5
21 days ago
Reply to  farouk

Exactly. The guy is totally bogus.

Ron5
Ron5
21 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

How exactly has Jon Lake served “our country”. He’s just a phony journalist that prints lies and distortions about the F-35 program. Just like you do.

At least he’s progressed from claiming to be an RAF pilot to claiming to be “an RAF trained private pilot” . Whatever the heck that is. The RAF is not in the business of running a flying school. More lies from Lake I expect.

Last edited 21 days ago by Ron5
Meirion x
Meirion x
22 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Thanks for that info Ron on JL!

RobW
RobW
22 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

I’m starting to get the feeling you don’t like the F35 Nigel, just an inkling 🤣

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
22 days ago
Reply to  RobW

Cost, performance and not delivering what it said it would until 2030 at the earliest.

https://breakingdefense.com/2021/03/block-4-software-issues-could-cause-f-35-capability-delays-costly-retrofits/

Meirion x
Meirion x
22 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Don’t believe everything you read in the media!

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
21 days ago
Reply to  Meirion x

I don’t hence my comment to Ron 5 DOD, GAO & DOT&E. It’s always good to read the factual reports as I posted above in this thread. While DOD added another year to the schedule, GAO found the remaining development time frame is not achievable. The program routinely underestimated the amount of work needed to develop Block 4 capabilities, which has resulted in delays, and has not reflected historical performance into its remaining work schedule. Unless the F-35 program accounts for historical performance in the schedule estimates, the Block 4 schedule will continue to exceed estimated time frames and stakeholders will lack reliable information on when capabilities will… Read more »

Last edited 21 days ago by Nigel Collins
Ron5
Ron5
21 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

The F-35 is currently in use or on order by 13 countries, including the United States, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Norway, Denmark, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Belgium, Poland and Singapore.

In addition it’s been selected by Switzerland.

There’s some facts for you and your pal Jon Lake.

The F-35 is a huge technical and commercial success.

Ron5
Ron5
21 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Saying the F-35 is crap because block 4 hasn’t been delivered yet is like saying Typhoon is crap because it doesn’t have an AESA radar yet. Both aircraft will be better with the upgrade. Both aircraft are excellent right now.

F-35 running cost are going down year after year It’s already cheaper than Typhoon as shown by this years Swiss competition where Typhoon costs were ranked way worse than F-35.

F-35 purchase cost is already 30% lower than Typhoon.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
21 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Still waiting for your reply on the US F-16 replacement, not the F-35 it appears, I wonder why that is???

https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/air-force-association/2021/09/07/new-us-air-force-study-asks-whats-the-right-number-of-f-35s/

Last edited 21 days ago by Nigel Collins
Ron5
Ron5
21 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Here we go again, yet another “but what about …” comment that has zero to do with either the article or the current talking point.

You and Jon Lake, what a pair

Last edited 21 days ago by Ron5
Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
20 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Sounds just like you Ron 5, still no answer on the F-16 replacement then? 😂I thought it was supposed to be the F-35? Too expensive by all accounts and full of bugs rather than missiles! “WASHINGTON — Top Air Force officials are now convinced the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor lacks the magazine depth and range needed to carry it into the next decade as the service’s air superiority fighter of choice. But the exact timing of its retirement will depend on how quickly the Air Force can put its sixth-generation fighter into production, said Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote, the service’s… Read more »

Ron5
Ron5
20 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Still desperately trying to change the subject. Pathetic.

Go have a tea with Jon Lake and his cats. Do some knitting.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
20 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Jon Lake interviewed Michael Christie, BAE Systems’ director of future combat air systems, Leonardo’s Andrew Howard and Iain Bancroft, director of major air programmes, Leonardo Captian Numpty, Unable to remember what you’ve said from one day to the next = Ron 5

As popular as ever with your idiotic comments and replies.

Cripes
Cripes
20 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

The F-35A purchase price may currently be 33% less than a Typhoon, but the real cost when Block 1V is added will take it up to £78m, about 10% less than Typhoon .

Not so the B version we are buying, with Block 1V it will be £100m, about 18% more than a Typhoon.

Ron5
Ron5
20 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

Your numbers are incorrect. Where did you obtain them from?

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
20 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

It’s called GOOGLE, you can also find out why the USA will not be replacing their F-16’s for example.

Cripes
Cripes
20 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Frequent study.

Ron5
Ron5
19 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

Prepare yourself for an F.

Meirion x
Meirion x
18 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Very true! The first time I have heard of a Block 1V F-35??

Daveyb
Daveyb
21 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

I really do hope the current model and artist’s impression of Tempest is a red herring and not what the aircraft will look like. Aerodynamically it could be classed as ok, but could do better!

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
21 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

I’m guessing more along the lines of Taranis/Magma using blown air for control? increased stealth, less weight.

The possibility of a carrier-based version further down the line sounds promising, but then again so did the Navalised Typhoon!

Last edited 21 days ago by Nigel Collins
Daveyb
Daveyb
21 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Partially. For speed the airframe needs to be longer, look at the YF22 and compare it with the YF23. The YF23 would be a very good foundation, even though the design is now 35 years old. A longer aircraft is better for producing less supersonic drag compared to a shorter one. One of the reasons is that the primary shock cone generated by the nose, is delayed before it strikes the wing tips. The longer you can delay the shock cone touching the airframe the less drag will be generated, eg F104 Starfighter. A modern fighter needs the ability to… Read more »

Ron5
Ron5
21 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

AKA a faster horse.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
20 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

LOL, It has been mentioned that the final version will look different to the current graphical representation of Tempest.

I wonder if the final size will be similar to that of the J20, built for extended range and missile loadout?

Robbo
Robbo
21 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Shouldn’t we be establishing what needs to be undertaken to ensure that Tempest IS operable from QE and PoW. Likely to need Cats and Traps but what of the aircraft development? Surely would enhance export potential of Tempest?

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
20 days ago
Reply to  Robbo

Yes, it would.

They are currently testing different models, one of which is a carrier-based version.

It will be up to the Government/MOD to make that final decision, but I’m hoping they will see the benefit in designing one with the carriers in mind.

The USA appears to be thinking along the same lines as Team Tempest.

https://www.raytheonintelligenceandspace.com/news/feature/six-predictions-6th-gen-fighter

Ron5
Ron5
20 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

They are testing models of carrier based versions of Tempest????

Yeah right (eyes roll)

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
20 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

Try posting some facts, if you know what that actually means. 🙄 Synthetically, try keeping up with what’s happening in the world today. Any news on the replacement for the F-16? As for the F-22, $11 Billion and all because the F-35 is unable to carry out its role as an air superiority fighter sufficiently to deter or compete against the likes of China and Russia until the 20’30’s. What a mess eh! I thought you might find this interesting! “WASHINGTON — Top Air Force officials are now convinced the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor lacks the magazine depth and range… Read more »

Ron5
Ron5
19 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

So what about those Tempest carrier capable models you claim are being tested??

You’ll notice I’m ignoring your blatant red herrings of dragging in F-22 and F-26 into a discussion on the UK’s F-35Bs which presumably you are now claiming will be replaced by carrier capable Tempests..

Meirion x
Meirion x
18 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

The first time I have heard of this version, CV Tempest??

Last edited 18 days ago by Meirion x
GlynH
GlynH
21 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Been saying this since day one 🙂 To Quote Myself : “I sincerely hope, it doesn’t end up looking like this. Its unbalanced, looks like a fisher price toy. I’m a firm believer in Geoffrey de Havilland’s view that if it looks right it probably is right. This mock-up doesn’t look right, at all. Nasty, Yuk 🙂”

colin
colin
22 days ago

With all this talk of Project Vixen and more F35 this would mean a complete redesign of both Carriers which has been talked about from the very beginning
Cats, traps and UAS – the Royal Navy considers options for carrier-launched drones | Navy Lookout

john clark
john clark
22 days ago
Reply to  colin

Interesting, a commitment to 4 operational Squadrons… I make the break down as follows for a proper sustainable four squadron force. 4 X 12 aircraft operational squadrons 1 X 8 Operational Conversation Unit 1 X 4 Trials Unit 10X in use reserves 30 X fleet maintenance reserve = 100 So what can be trimmed to fit four active squadrons into an 80 aircraft total fleet? 9 aircraft squadrons? No in use reserves? A very small maintenance reserve? In use reserves are critical, as availability can be an issue with such a complex aircraft. If two squadrons need to muster quickly,… Read more »

Ryan Brewis
Ryan Brewis
22 days ago
Reply to  john clark

Cut the squadrons to 10 each, roll the OCU and Trials units into one, keep the in use reserve as ten and reduce the maintenance reserve to twenty. That’s two operational squadrons deployed with each CVW, upon return they’re rotated into the FMR, those two reequip with the in use reserve and a squadron fresh out of maintenance with the other becoming the in use reserve. Not sure if that would actually be sustainable or workable, I’d feel a lot more confident if it was four operational, two in reserve and two in maintenance. Course that means a buy of… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
22 days ago
Reply to  Ryan Brewis

In essence there is no such thing as an in-use reserve. If we take Typhoon for example, each aircraft has a predestined maintenance cycle with varying levels of servicing from basic to strip everything out, carryout non-destructive testing of the frames, repair as necessary and then rebuild. Although this may sound bonkers, an aircraft straight off the production line will go in to a deep level servicing. This is to make sure the whole fleet’s maintenance cycle is staggered, so that there are say 1 in 10 aircraft going through deep level maintenance. The aircraft that are in deep level… Read more »

Ryan Brewis
Ryan Brewis
21 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

I’m just going off what John said mate. It was simply just a rough try at fitting 80 aircraft into the parameters he suggested. Honestly, I was kind of using ship maintenance cycle of deployed, deep maintenance, light stuff for deployment preparedness, as a basis which should tell you all you need to know.

Meirion x
Meirion x
22 days ago
Reply to  Ryan Brewis

Trials and OCU, are completely different things! A lot of students in an OCU. Trials Squ. are for Post-graduate types..
You cannot merge them.

Ryan Brewis
Ryan Brewis
21 days ago
Reply to  Meirion x

Have I mistaken what the two are? I was under the impression that the OCU is for pilots qualifying as the final part of their training/requalification and the Trials unit is testing, evaluating and integrating equipment and the like. And I was thinking more a Training&Trials squadron, so the OCU and Trials Unit John said minus one plane each, so seven and three respectively.
If I messed that right up then meh, it was merely a rough attempt at getting four squadrons, an OCU, TU and reserves out of 80 planes.

Meirion x
Meirion x
20 days ago
Reply to  Ryan Brewis

Trials squadrons or OEU’s, have only a small number of aircraft specifically built for testing, with extra sensers, otherwise know as ‘orange wired’ aircraft. They would require further work on them to be combat capable. So OEU’s they are not classed as combat squadrons and not counted as such. The personal in a OCU are experts in their fields.
OCU’s can be counted as combat capable squadrons so are reserved Squadrons

Last edited 20 days ago by Meirion x
Klonkie
Klonkie
22 days ago
Reply to  john clark

Hi John. Thank for outlining this structure. Out of curiosity , how does the RAF determine the number of reserve aircraft required for each jet combat squadron? Keen to her any insights you may have.

John Clark
John Clark
21 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

Hi Klonkie, basically, the maintenance reserve is the portion of the fleet that’s unavailable at any one time undergoing upgrade and servicing etc. You could extrapolate that a fleet of 100 will probably have 30 machines in differing states of maintenance and the F35B is a maintenance intensive airframe. Coupled to that as an extremely sophisticated machine, regular software drops will also be required. Tempest is promising a level of sophistication that will make the F35 look quite old hat, you can guarantee it will require extensive systems maintenance and updates too, so will require a similar fleet active/maintenance ratio.… Read more »

Klonkie
Klonkie
21 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Fascinating and interesting stuff John – thanks for outlining this so clearly.

Cripes
Cripes
21 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

The numbers actually work something like this: a) 12 frontline aircraft in a fast jet squadron b) 25% in squadron reserve i.e. 3 aircraft on standby/in the garage c) 25% in war reserve i.e. 3 d) 10% of a+b in attrition reserve i.e. 2.5 Plus, at wing level, e) 2 a/c for the Wing Cdr Plus, at whole force level, f) 3 in the OEU, 2 operational and one in the garage g) one training aircraft per 6 frontline aircraft plus 25% squadron reserve and 10% attrition reserve. As pointed out above the aircraft rotate between these roles, so that… Read more »

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
22 days ago
Reply to  john clark

The operational squadron would include the drones, probably in a 1-2 or 1-3 manned to unmanned ratio. You would then only need 16-24 fighters for the active squadron not 48.

Ron5
Ron5
22 days ago
Reply to  colin

Complete redesign?? No it wouldn’t.

Sean
Sean
22 days ago
Reply to  colin

Nope, that goes beyond hyperbole exaggeration to being just plain wrong. Plenty of space to fit a small set of cats and traps for drones in existing design.
The only question would be powering the cat, but I suspect the QE class has sufficient electrical capacity already.

fearlesstunafish
fearlesstunafish
22 days ago

tbh at this point i kinda agree with not getting them all early for the sake of it…. the later we wait the more we save on upgrading earlier ones as they keep fixing issues…. im pretty sure the real early ones will never be upgraded to the latest as it would be basically impossible…

Daveyb
Daveyb
22 days ago

The Qinetiq Banshee has two underwing hardpoints, I wonder if it could be fitted with ASRAAM and used as a loyal wingman?

Ron5
Ron5
21 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Banshee couldn’t keep up. Or fly for long enough.

DaveyB
DaveyB
21 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

It was supposed to be a tongue in cheek comment!

Though I bet when they were using on the Prince of Wales, they had a go at having the Banshee controlled by a F35?

Ron5
Ron5
21 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Ooops sorry 😀

DaveyB
DaveyB
21 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

But, thinking on it a bit more……..

Ron5
Ron5
20 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…

Dave Wolfy
Dave Wolfy
22 days ago

Why buy expensive platforms only to spend loads more sponds to upgrade them later to our minimum requirements?

Wait until the requisite capability is there – make the blighters wait.

They will never rush if the sponds are coming in.

Ron5
Ron5
21 days ago
Reply to  Dave Wolfy

Type 31 thread is under “Sea”.

Dave Wolfy
Dave Wolfy
21 days ago
Reply to  Ron5

?
?
F35

Andrew
Andrew
22 days ago

Even 138 is on the low side considering they won’t all be in service at the same time and split between the RN and RAF. 80 is just pathetic. But I try to be an optimist, at least we have a carrier force!

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
20 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

The aircraft are not split between the RAF and RN. They are operated as a joint force, with each F35 sqn has a 50/50 manning split of RAF/RN personnel. This is a carry over from Joint Force Harrier.

Andrew
Andrew
20 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Whether we call it a ‘joint force’ or a ‘split’ doesn’t bother me, the outcome is the same. Essentially we have too few aircraft and pilots.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
20 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

But we are buying more. And you have to remember the capability of this aircraft. 4 F35’s could do the job of 12 or more F16’s, and be far more survivable. And we have to be realistic about what we can achieve within the defence budget. We have a very long list of very capable and expensive equipment entering service over the next 10 years.

Andrew
Andrew
19 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

True, they are more capable aircraft. But our potential enemies are also getting more capable so relatively speaking if we replace 1-1 new for old then we are standing still. Since the F35 is replacing Harriers and Tornado but in far fewer numbers at a time when the likes of Russia and China are also upgrading their capabilities the I would suggest in relative terms we have seen a significant capability reduction.

We’re buying more than 48…considering I thought 138 was too few then ‘more than 48’ doesn’t really get me too excited!

Ex-Service
Ex-Service
21 days ago

…Waits for logic to prevail and F-35B’s to be transferred to RN control.

I read the comments below and noted none observed that the QE class can easily embark more than 24-36 FA assets and that to support potentially two air wings requires many more than just multiplying the before mentioned number by 2.

Sea-blindness is contagious.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
21 days ago
Reply to  Ex-Service

I think that might just be because many here look at the costs of fielding even 48 and that it is likely that wings of that size will not happen. So being realistic, smaller numbers of 1 or 2 squadrons up to 24 may be more the norm, despite the greater numbers the carriers can carry?

Ron5
Ron5
21 days ago

It’s the RAF that struggles to deploy large numbers of aircraft. The Navy has never shared that issue to the same degree.

Ex-Service
Ex-Service
20 days ago

It is unfortunate that (subjectively poor) attempts at being realistic do not equate to pragmatism as well.

I offer the following solutions:
1.     Learn Chinese or Russian phrase “yes comrade”.
2.     Be realistic and be more compliant and submissive in line with 1. above.

Basing Options Comparison (enter into any map site):
RAF:  52.648150, 0.550088 or 34.590629, 32.989185 or 52.629862, 0.669891 (!)
RN:  3.264907, -176.597734 or 31.339159, 125.411876 or 71.356816, 33.088284.

             

Last edited 20 days ago by Ex-Service
Ron5
Ron5
20 days ago
Reply to  Ex-Service

That was fun ..

RAF: Marham, Akrotiri & Swaffham Golf Club

RN: Pacific Ocean, East China Sea, Barents Sea

I suspect Swaffham with the choice of the White Heart or the Red Lion would be the RAF favorite.

Ex-Service
Ex-Service
19 days ago
Ron5
Ron5
21 days ago
Reply to  Ex-Service

Dam right!! Fly Navy.

Carriers were designed for a 36 F-35 load with 14 additional helicopters.

Minimum 90 F-35 should be the target.

Azlan Jamaluddin
Azlan Jamaluddin
21 days ago

Surely the UK can afford to buy more than 48 F35’s. Even Norway is buying 52 F35A’s and Australia is considering ordering 72 or more F35A’s.

Ron5
Ron5
21 days ago

Exactly!!

JohninMK
JohninMK
21 days ago

Basically we are broke, probably bankrupt on any accounting, as opposed to political, based measure. Norway still has significant oil and gas coming out of the ground. It also does not have significant competition for funds as we do with our SSBN replacement program. I would hazard a guess that Aus is heading towards serious funding issues given all they are trying to do set against the risk of reducing demand for their minerals from China.

Deep32
Deep32
21 days ago
Reply to  JohninMK

Not strictly speaking true! We might have a large national debt issue, but, the government receives billions in various taxes over the year, and chooses Not spend more on defence then it does at present.
Whether this has anything to do with winning votes is all irrelevant, if they choose to spend money elsewhere.

JohninMK
JohninMK
21 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Having an income does not negate being bankrupt, it is when expenditure exceeds income as ours has quite dramatically over the past couple of years. That makes future expenditure plans more risky, whilst if interest rates rise, that is a voyage into the unknown otherwise known as a World financial meltdown.

Deep32
Deep32
21 days ago
Reply to  JohninMK

No, agree, having an income does not negate being bankrupt. Not having a prudent fiscal policy to bring excessive expenditure under control doesnt appear to be high on the governments ‘to do’ list either!
None of which is going to stop the government spending! HS2, NHS, Education etc will all continue to receive money, said goverment will still decide how much is allocated to X,Y and Z. This is rightly or wrongly where we are currently at, with defence low on the priority list. It could be more if they choose too, or indeed less!

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
21 days ago

We are buying more F35’s beyond 48, we just don’t know how many yet. The problem is, we are spending a lot of money, but it only goes so far. We are upgrading Typhoon tranche 2/3 with some very capable upgrades, but they are not cheap.We are also funding Tempest, and need the money for more F35’s. Other nations aren’t doing all of that, plus funding new aircraft carriers, T26, Dreadnought SSBN’s ect….. It’s a long expensive list.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
19 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Don’t forget the army needs to replace all of its AFVs and artillery too.

BradyS
BradyS
21 days ago

It’s ridiculous. There has to be two Carrier Air groups of 24 jets and above each.

Ron5
Ron5
21 days ago
Reply to  BradyS

👍👍👍

RobW
RobW
20 days ago
Reply to  BradyS

and there may well be. 80 aircraft will let us field 4 squadrons plus the OCU. Add to that the use of drones and it all looks rather rosy. I don’t get the negativity of so many posters here.

Robbo
Robbo
21 days ago

Shouldn’t we be encouraging the Australians and Singapore to be procuring a mix of F 35 A/Bs so that they could operate their Bs from QE/PoW, one of which to be base ported at Fleet Base East/ Singapore. This year is the 50th Anniversary of the FPDA. Am I trying to re-invent the Far East Fleet? It would certainly demonstrate an integrated joint response to theChinese threat. The CTG could be rotated. CSG was not a first. 1942 and 1943 saw HMS Victorious join USS Saratoga following the depletion of US flat tops following Midway. Vic became USS Robin, crewed… Read more »

RobW
RobW
20 days ago
Reply to  Robbo

I’m not sure any country would order aircraft that only make sense to them if deployed on someone else’s carrier. Singapore ordered 4 F35B to trial them, with options for more. I think the idea is to use roads and other locations besides their airfield(s) in order to scatter resources if need be. Not sure where they are with this as couldn’t find an update beyond the initial order.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
19 days ago
Reply to  Robbo

I had not heard that one of our carriers would be base-ported in Fleet Base East/Singapore. I had to google FBE – turns out it is a RAN base near Sydney.

Are you sure? How did we all miss that announcement? Where is the reference to that? Why would we do that? Would we base-port some escorts over the other side of the world too? I can see more disadvantages than advantages.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
21 days ago

We should be ‘absolutely committted’ to buying 138 F-35s.

Knight7572
Knight7572
20 days ago

69 F-35B each for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy was arguably logical if everything had worked the way it was supposed to

Looking back at it, like the 150 F-4 Phantom II each for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy in the 1960s

It seems maybe was too ambitious

In hindsight, a Joint-Force Phantom and Buccaneer might have been a good idea

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
19 days ago
Reply to  Knight7572

I always like historical references (Phantom, Buccaneer) but are they not a bit too far back in time?

Regarding the F-35s, what has not worked the way it was supposed to? Do you mean that no-one expected the high unit cost?

Knight7572
Knight7572
19 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Not Really and the high unit cost plus the intended 138

The whole carrier replacement plan

Cripes
Cripes
19 days ago

Talk of eventually getting 138 F-35s is a long shot when you look at the procurement funds available and the procurement window between now and Tempest in 2035. The Combat Aircraft budget is £1.7 bn per year from 2019 to 2029.. That has to cover upgrades weapons, operating costs, commercial contractors etc etc. Based on our annual purchase of Typhoon and projected purchases of F-35, our annual budget for new aircraft looks to be around £530m a year. So we can afford 6.5 F-35s @ currently £80m pa , reducing to 5 @ £100m when Block 1V is added. So… Read more »

Ron5
Ron5
19 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

Your F-35 block 4 numbers are totally bogus.

Cripes
Cripes
19 days ago

What are you on about now? What is it that you dispute?

Block 1V is expected to cost £20m per aircraft?
F-35A is currently down to £58m, excluding Block 1V?
F-35B is currently costing £80m, excluding Block 1V?

All these figures have been reported endlessly in the aviation press and in US defence and congressional statements. If you have evidence to the contrary, do please share it.

If not, do please give it a rest.

Cripes
Cripes
19 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

Ref Block 1V costs, nobody has said definitively what the real cost per aircraft will be, there is a haze of smoke over the subject. In a question to the Defence Minister in the debate on the defence review the opposition shadow asked how much B4 would cost and how many Lightnings would be upgraded. Quinn dodged the former and was non-committal on the latter. So we need to dig deeper. The Pentagon informed Congress in 2019 that Block 1V would add $22bn to the cost of the US F-35 programme. That led some to divide $22bn by 3,000+ eventual… Read more »

Meirion x
Meirion x
18 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

Over 700 F-35’s have already been delivered now. It will be 1500 by 2030. So your figure will have.

Last edited 18 days ago by Meirion x
Ron5
Ron5
18 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

You are mixing up the cost to upgrade existing aircraft to a block iv standard with the costs of a new built block iv aircraft. In other words you can’t add the cost of a new F-35 to the cost of an upgrade of an old F-35, to get the cost of a brand new block iv aircraft. Hence my use of “bogus”. The rest of your math is just silly. Lockheed doesn’t fund development of new features out of its own pocket to be recovered later, any more that Bae funds the development of Typhoon upgrades to be recovered… Read more »

Last edited 18 days ago by Ron5
Bob Mileham
Bob Mileham
18 days ago

But my dear Blackadder what is a “squadron”? Being foolish and naive When someone says “squadron” to me think ten or twelve aircraft. Unfortunately, in today’s RAF a squadron can actually be just one or two. For example think P8.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
17 days ago
Reply to  Bob Mileham

The nine P-8s are split between two sqns – 120 Sqn and 201Sqn – and an OCU, so that probably 4 per sqn – and one for the OCU. I would expect that number for a highly specialised aircraft.