In a recent written exchange in the House of Commons, the UK Ministry of Defence addressed the potential procurement of additional F-35A aircraft. Damien Moore, the Conservative MP for Southport, posed a question to the Secretary of State for Defence regarding the department’s assessment of acquiring conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35A aircraft.

Moore asked, “What assessment has his Department made of the potential merits of procuring (CTOL) F-35A aircraft?”

In response, James Cartlidge, the Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, referred Moore to a previous answer provided to John Healey, the Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne, on June 16, 2023.

Cartlidge’s response was concise, stating, “I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the right hon. Member for Wentworth and Dearne (John Healey) on 16 June 2023 to Question 188192.”

The referenced response detailed the UK’s current and planned procurement of F-35 aircraft. According to Cartlidge, “48 F-35B Lightning aircraft are on contract, and the UK has funded plans to increase the fleet to 74 aircraft with its Tranche 2 procurement.” This indicates that the focus remains, currently, on the F-35B variant, which features short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) capabilities.

Furthermore, Cartlidge mentioned, “We will make decisions on further purchases beyond the 74 around the middle of the decade.”

Avatar photo
Lisa has a degree in Media & Communication from Glasgow Caledonian University and works with industry news, sifting through press releases in addition to moderating website comments.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

140 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

David Owen
David Owen (@guest_821439)
1 month ago

That would be a game changer for the raf ,A variant would totally enhance the raf fighter capabilities, tranche 2 of the euro fighter and in time the tempest ,I just hope to god that they buy it and if the future ark royal project comes into being which I know will happen in the years to come ,the royal navy will have a damn good fighter alongside the B variant, watch this space 😉 👍 😀

Jim
Jim (@guest_821442)
1 month ago
Reply to  David Owen

Why would F35A be a game changer for the RAF, The A variant has got a little bit more range and can sustain slightly tighter turns, no difference in the weapons load in uk service between A and B variant.

Bob
Bob (@guest_821462)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

a little bit more range and can sustain slightly tighter turns,”

30% greater combat radius / 30% higher g-loading.

Jim
Jim (@guest_821543)
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob

Your figures are wrong it’s a 2g difference in g loading. What is game changing about 2 G?

Same goes for range, what’s game changing about 30% additional range?

Mr Bell
Mr Bell (@guest_822306)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

The G loading is irrelevant. If an F35 is reliant on it’s turning and manoeuvrability then it’s failed. The aircraft shouldn’t be detectable and should be engaging enemy aircraft BVR.

ADA
ADA (@guest_821510)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

People also forget that there are practical advantages to STOVL when you’re fighting an actual war.

In Taiwan simulations, the US are simulated to sustain ginormous losses in a pre-emptive strike of their Japanese airbases.

Having Typhoon + Tempest, the B variant makes sense, not including the fact that they can fly from carriers, containers and other auxiliary ships.

Paul
Paul (@guest_821520)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

In addition to a 30% longer range and a loading of 9 G vs 7 G, the A also has larger internal weapon bays then the B, so will always be able to carry more and larger weapons in a stealthy configuration.

Likewise C has a slightly longer range even than the A, can do 7.5 G, and has the larger weapon bays.

I still love the B and it can do things the A and C can’t, but it’s the last capable variant.

John Hartley
John Hartley (@guest_821533)
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul

Whenever I think of the UK perhaps getting F-35A, I think back to 74 sqn RAF & their unique Phantom F-4J. F-35A will be cleared with a lot of weapons over the next 5-7 years. Not all will be available on F-35B. So it might make sense to have a single squadron with the latest block 4 F-35A, cleared for all those weapons otherwise unavailable to UK forces.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_821546)
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Including the declared ànd certified capability of carriage of the latest variants of the B-61 class of ordnance.

John Hartley
John Hartley (@guest_821629)
1 month ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

RAF was trained to use US nukes from the Canberra in the 1950s through to the retirement of the Tornado. Regaining that capability through suitably wired F-35A, would be a strong political statement of NATO solidarity.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_821935)
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Exactly, though F-35A probably doesn’t have the legs for that mission, absent forward AAR.

PaulW
PaulW (@guest_821569)
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Tigers, tigers, rah, rah, rah. I met the guy who said he bought the J’s. $20M for a squadron plus ground equipment in the mid 80’s. Bargain. First landing was a little “heavy” so they said. I didn’t see them around much in my time at Wattisham. Then they binned all the F-4s in the early 90’s. Options for change. Another bargain.

Mark P
Mark P (@guest_822064)
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Would it not be better if the RAF had a new squadrons worth of Typoons in stead as a lot more of the revenue would end up back in the uk economy and help retain skills at BAE systems?

John Hartley
John Hartley (@guest_822177)
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark P

Britain makes 10% of every F-35. We do not make all of a Typhoon. Bits come from Germany, Italy & Spain.

Ex-RoyalMarine
Ex-RoyalMarine (@guest_822939)
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Thought it was 15%. As the major partner, the UK makes a significant contribution to that programme.

I still find it nuts that the US ran a multi-allied procurement for the F35, but shut its allies out of doing the same for the NGAD, forcing them to create their own versions.

John Hartley
John Hartley (@guest_822947)
1 month ago
Reply to  Ex-RoyalMarine

Point is that both Typhoon & F-35 have parts made in the UK.

Jim
Jim (@guest_821547)
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul

Thanks for reading Wikipedia and posting it on here Paul. I think we all very familiar with the public specs of the aircraft. But you didn’t read what I wrote, It does n’t matter that the bays are 30% larger in British service. We don’t operate any of the larger weapons and the F35A carry’s the same number of Paveway IV internally as the F35B and the and goes for the SPEAR missile. So I have a hard time seeing what game has been changed by marginal performance increase. I would say the only thing I really see as game… Read more »

Paul
Paul (@guest_821585)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Hi Jim, I’m not sure why you led with the Wikipedia reference, but that’ was your choice. It wasn’t my intention to be impolite. I did read what you wrote, but this thread is in response to the “UK refuses to rule out purchasing F-35A variant” article, and I thought my response was germane. If the UK ever does buy the A, it will open up a range of weapons that aren’t currently available to the B version and aren’t currently in UK service.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay (@guest_821555)
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul

The A can’t carry more weapons. The weapon bay is slightly longer allowing to carry a 2000lb class weapon. But it can still only carry 2 weapons internally and two A2A missiles. UK F35A’s would still just carry Paveway 4. The RAF stopped using the 2000lb Paveway 3 a long time ago.

Chris
Chris (@guest_821566)
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

The bay id longer, wider and deeper. It can carry an ALCM

Paul
Paul (@guest_821575)
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

The A and C will carry the Sidekick weapons rack, which will enable each bay to carry 3 AIM-120 sized weapons. That’s more weapons. The A and C can also carry 3000 pounds more ordnance than the B.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay (@guest_821598)
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul

Sidekick, yes for A and C. But again, the A can’t carry more weapons (apart from sidekick) Just 2000lb class weapons. Which in UK service, doesn’t make any difference. The A can still only carry 8 SPEAR3 internally, same as the B.

Paul
Paul (@guest_821642)
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Ah, I see what you are saying. Thanks for the correction.

Gareth
Gareth (@guest_821722)
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

I think the main advantage, besides the better range, is cost, with A’s being £10-20 million cheaper per aircraft, depending on which source you read. If you’re buying 50 or 100 aircraft that’s a big difference.

Last edited 1 month ago by Gareth
Robert Blay
Robert Blay (@guest_821724)
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

Yes, the A is the most affordable version. The B is the most flexible. But comes at an extra cost. 👍

Callum
Callum (@guest_822607)
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul

There’s a big counterpoint to that claim of the B being the least capable; actually deploying the aircraft. The F-35A is borderline useless to us outside of Europe; it can bomb slightly more of Iraq from RAF Akrotiri than the B, and thats effectively it. In every other way, Lightning Bs have a functionally greater combat radius by being able to deploy from carriers or potentially dispersed bases closer to the front. You pointed it out yourself, the B can do things the A and C can’t; but it also does what the A does to a great enough extent… Read more »

Marked
Marked (@guest_821532)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Maybe the fact it’s guaranteed to be available to them and not deployed on a carrier?

Paul
Paul (@guest_821643)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Bigger weapons by buddy by a margin.

DP
DP (@guest_821444)
1 month ago
Reply to  David Owen

I suspect this might just be leaving the door ajar, in case Tempest fails. If you’re talking about the Ark Royal project then surely it would make more sense to buy the ‘C’ variant than the ‘A’. IMHO though, I’m generally cynical about politicians and defense, regardless of party, we probably won’t see any increase in 74 active F-35s, unless it is to replace any plans for Tempest and, based on logistic support/ training/ maintenance arguments aired on here, we won’t see any other variant other than the ‘B’ unless Tempest is cancelled.

David Owen
David Owen (@guest_821468)
1 month ago
Reply to  DP

DP,all we can do is twiddle our thumbs

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_821494)
1 month ago
Reply to  DP

I very much doubt given the people involved Tempest will fail technically, it biggest risk is it fails politically if one of the big players pulls out or political shinnagins from America should do a TSR2 hatchet job on it. Biggest fear is that it is late given the challenge of the project. I can see Germany and Spain trying to jump on board given the troubled conception of the European Gen 6 but if that is the case. The Germans and Spanish should be offered a deal and told it is final. Above all the Germans should not be… Read more »

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_821507)
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Absolutely 👍

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_821749)
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

There’s a lot of talking Tempest down or even failing here. We’re surely all hoping for exactly the opposite! No reason why the RAF can’t have some high/low mix of Tempest, Typhoons and F-35A. The Tempest is quite a different beast to the F-35A which even looks like a minature version of the Tempest! I hope the UK backs itself and its in partnership with Japan and Italy and I dont think they’d want it to fail either. I thought I saw somewhere that Italy is looking at getting another 40 new Typhoons as are Germany, Spain. We’re wondering now… Read more »

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_821832)
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

I was not aware of any talking “ Tempest” down. As its capabilities are currently mostly pure speculation and the aircraft is being developed very much under the radar, any talk will be a waste of time.
So far all I have heard is that it is 6th Gen, heavy stealth , has a radar that produces a mind boggling amount of data , can be operated manned or unmanned and it intended to be operated with a flight of loyal wingman. Engines are a next gen , combined cycle capable of generating a lot of power.

Ex-RoyalMarine
Ex-RoyalMarine (@guest_822940)
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Surely the greatest threat to Tempest is a Labour government?

Andrew
Andrew (@guest_821509)
1 month ago
Reply to  DP

Exactly. Any mission an A can do a B can do equally well

Jim
Jim (@guest_821551)
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

Exactly, what’s revolutionary about the F35 is its radar, sensors and EW capability which are identical over all three variants. No version of the F35 is particularly well ranged or manuverable.

This is why we have off-boar firing missiles and AAR tankers.

Most of the muppets that post on here don’t seem to be able to grasp these concepts.

Patrick C
Patrick C (@guest_821599)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

the A variant can carry certain cruise missiles internally as well as the AARGM (modern HARM) and SIAW. it will also carry future hypersonic weapons internally like the MAKO which the B won’t. and the F-35 is extremely manueverable- pilots who have flown both say its a mix between the F-18C and F-16. if you look at videos of the A variant doing airshows the only thing that tops it is the F-22. its huge flight control surfaces and computers allow it to have an extremely high AoA as well as able to do stuff like the falling leaf- its… Read more »

Dave Wolfy
Dave Wolfy (@guest_821545)
1 month ago
Reply to  DP

Defence.

Darren
Darren (@guest_821445)
1 month ago
Reply to  David Owen

The F-35A is not carrier capable, that’s the F-35C and project Ark Royal won’t have full weight launch and landing capability so very unlikely an F-35C could ever use our carriers.

Steven Bevis7
Steven Bevis7 (@guest_821478)
1 month ago
Reply to  David Owen

The A variant wont help the RN because its not carrier capable . The catapult launch F35 is the C variant . Least developed version of F35 so far

Grinch
Grinch (@guest_821513)
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven Bevis7

“Least developed version” ?????

Jim
Jim (@guest_821554)
1 month ago
Reply to  Grinch

Yes, despite the UK being the worst country in the world according to the internet and the B variant being apparently the worst plane it seems to USN has fallen years behind on F35C development. Most of its carriers can’t operate it and it’s the smallest variant by numbers. For some strange reason the USA prioritised the F35B over the C despite what all the fan boys seems to think about the B being useless and the C being the best thing since sliced bread. I think it’s because the USA realised the B is a game changer and the… Read more »

Steven B
Steven B (@guest_821571)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

US Carrier fleet varies substantially between Pacific and Atlantic fleet. 4 Pacific Nimitz class CVN70-73 have been converted to operate F35-C, and all their LHA/Ds converted for F35-Bs. Nimitz is not being converted due to age, and the Reagan, is due at midlife refueling c2029. Kennedy, Nimitz replacement, will enter service F35-C compatible. Only vessel F35 certified in Atlantic fleet is USS Wasp, LHD-1, although Iwo Jima LHD-7 has probably been converted following it’s recent refit, but not seen any confirmation of this yet. The Ford is due to be the first Atlantic based CVN cerified for F35-C, currently slated… Read more »

Patrick C
Patrick C (@guest_821601)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

the reason they’ve slow rolled the C is because they have so many F-18 E/Fs with plenty of life left. the Bs were needed first as the harriers were so old and outdated. the USMC (who operate the B) are under the department of the navy so the funding comes from the same department- so the navy prioritized B purchases. the C also required upgrades to the carriers so they are fitting those upgrades when the carriers go in for scheduled major overhauls. so not all the carriers can operate them now so another reason not to have purchased them… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_821514)
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven Bevis7

No way should we be buying Charlie variant – only US has bought them so the upgrade costs will be exorbitant.

If USN don’t stick with Charlie, which they might not to 2060 or whenever QEC OOSD is then you’d have two helicopter carriers again.

Stick with the BRAVO plan and just buy more.

Project Ark Royal is about catapult launching drones.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_821522)
1 month ago

If the go as far as fitting cats and traps for large drones then it makes sense to go the whole way to launch fighters.
They will be 80% to 90 % there.
It gives them interoperability , Flexibility and future proof for what comes after the F35.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_821530)
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

I see so where will the £10Bn come from to buy 74 F35C?

That assumes £7.4Bn to buy them and £2.6Bn for all the rest.

It will be that much by the time you get a couple of land bases to hold them, hangars, spares, training, ground crew etc etc.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_821638)
1 month ago

Where did the 74 figure come from.
As for funding. Everyone accept the politicians agree the Defence budget is woefully inadequate.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_821640)
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

74 comes from the article……

Martin L
Martin L (@guest_821542)
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Switching from the B variant to the C variant looses lots of flexibility from being able to use roads to land and take off from and adds perhaps a dozen aircraft carriers with catapults that they can use which will already have an adequate supply of aircraft.

That’s ignoring the fact that an aircraft carrier for the B version could be constructed in weeks by converting an existing ship.

Jim
Jim (@guest_821559)
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin L

Things are so bad with long range missiles that even moving aircraft carriers with all the missile defences in the world sailing thousands of miles away are at risk.

It’s beyond me how anyone thinks an F35A operating from a static airbase is getting any where near a major theatre against a peer threat.

The Pentagon also seems to agree with that assessment hence they are operating F35B from roads and small islands while investing heavily in long range platforms like NGAD and B21.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_821608)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Which is why the Fearless concept for a marine assault ship has considerable merit.
A fast heavily armed warship that can get in, drop of the marines and get out in a heavily contested area has considerable merit, instead of the current plan of a jumped up Merchant hull , that will need heavy frigate and destroyer support to operate close to the coast.

Paul T
Paul T (@guest_821564)
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin L

In RAF use the F35B won’t be used in the same way that the Harrier was with dispersal by Roads etc,but if the situation dictates and we do end up in a Hot War who knows.The RNAF has already trialled Operating Two F35A’s from Roads last year so that is possible,The F35C should have no problem doing the same because of its greater Wing Area and more rugged construction,in fact it would probably be more suited for it in that regard.

Chris
Chris (@guest_821567)
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin L

Can’t really use roads, its a STOVL airplane, not VTOL like the harrier

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_821657)
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

Why can’t a STOVL aircraft take off from a long(ish) straight road?

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_821661)
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

The sweds fly the Gripen from the road network.
So the answer is Yes IMHO

Paul T
Paul T (@guest_821718)
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

Again the F35B has a few tricks up it’s sleeve, it can do CTOL like the A and C, but also VTOL and STOVL, if you can transfer the SBRVL procedure to a land environment that will have advantages for use on Roads.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_821606)
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin L

True

Jim
Jim (@guest_821558)
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

No its doesn’t, the catapult for project Ark Royal is rated to 25,000lb. Too small for manned aircraft and there will only be space for one.

Plus what manned aircraft would we operate off a carrier?

F35B is easily the most interoperable carrier aircraft, we already have four allied nations that can operate off Queen Elizabeth with almost no trading or conversion time.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_821572)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Clearly by interoperability I meant nations that operate catapult launched aircraft. I am well aware of the IMHO the short sighted specification of project Ark Royal. Assuming they go down the General Atomics route( the proven EMALs) they will get a cat capable of launching full sized aircraft if the power is available ( there is certainly space for it). Unless we pay for them to develop a smaller one ( pure stupidity but in keeping with MoD MO). And my point stands. Why go 80 – 90% there when for not a lot more they could go 100%. And… Read more »

Jim
Jim (@guest_821557)
1 month ago

The USN never liked F35C, once it gets NGAD F35C will be got rid of fast.

F35B will be in service for decades just like harrier because no one is ever building a hover plane again.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_821573)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

The F35 will be around for a while but not as long as the Hill life of the QE carriers

Patrick C
Patrick C (@guest_821602)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

the NGAD will replace the super hornets- not the F-35C. so eventually the air wings will just be NGAD and F-35C.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_821519)
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven Bevis7

Given project Ark royal. It would make sense to procure C, an aircraft with longer legs for operations over land and is still capable of operating in a marine environment.

Rob N
Rob N (@guest_821525)
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven Bevis7

This is mainly about the RAF having its own specific planes and capability and not sharing with the RN. It is obvious that the B model is more flexible and if we get extra units the force should be good for both services not just one. An extra 2G is not important as the F35 is NOT a dogfight plane it is a stealthy ranged assassin and fission hub. As for range – have you picked up on in flight refuelling…. If we had a much larger force of F35 then the RN could have the Bs and the RAF… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_821531)
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

Exactly

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_821594)
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

Agreed 👍

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_821613)
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

Bravo. Need more B before fantasies about the A.

Jon
Jon (@guest_821719)
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven Bevis7

That’s why the RAF want the A. They don’t like sharing their toys. Politicians love shiny and there’s nothing shinier than a carrier group, so when CSG goes to Asia/Pacific the RAF goes wanting for F-35s.

Andrew
Andrew (@guest_821506)
1 month ago
Reply to  David Owen

This would only happen if tempest or whatever it morphs into doesn’t happen

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_821526)
1 month ago
Reply to  David Owen

You want F3B, F35A, AND Tempest?
The Combat Air budget cannot fund all of that. It is one or the other I believe.
It is sensible for ministers not ruling the A out entirely because if Tempest folds we will need it.

David Owen
David Owen (@guest_821529)
1 month ago

It’s amazing what you can do with resources and insight ,obviously you’re quite correct on the matter but hopefully they could surprise us but let’s see what happens?

Math
Math (@guest_821548)
1 month ago

Sensible remark. The aim of the Tempest is for UK to be free. If your politicians want to go for F35 A… Let me think what will happens… Oh yes, I remember… TSR2. This is a matter of stutborness or broken will of the substrate of what a nation is made off: a will to exist. I can’t want that for our UK friends. Falling into the traps nicely set by LM… Getting destroyed as a nation by a foreign board, being reduced to rumble as people who wants something. What is that… Weakness of a society? I can’t even… Read more »

Jim
Jim (@guest_821563)
1 month ago

Yes I agree, F35A or more likely an F35D/E with the high by pass engine would be an excellent fall back plan if Tempest goes pop which is exactly why the UK has never ruled out the A variant and keeps its 138 aircraft figure. No point in giving LM the excuse to cut UK work share especially when it’s probable we will eventually buy 138 at some post over the next 30 years.

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_821619)
1 month ago

What’s this new plane F3B? Sounds fantastic.😂

Seriously though I don’t think Tempest can be allowed to fail. Costs are already mounting. Semi autonomous is an area the UK need to explore for all sorts of reasons. We need to learn the lessons of F35 and move on – and quickly. Our American cousins are going their own way on loads of stuff. We need to do the same.

dc647
dc647 (@guest_821540)
1 month ago
Reply to  David Owen

They have already dismissed the Ark Royal project, the cost will be phenomenal to install cats and traps and an angle flight deck. Plus it will make the government look like fools if they have to go with the Ark Royal Project. Plus penny pinchers for not installing cat and traps and the angled flight deck at conception stage.

Jonno
Jonno (@guest_821582)
1 month ago
Reply to  David Owen

Its the C version we want. Never should we buy a land only based fighter again. I hope the Japanese think the same and we end up with a Sea Fury not a Tempest.

David Owen
David Owen (@guest_821591)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonno

Jonno,suppose the c variant is a better option raf and navy carrier capabilities but all we can do is watch ,take care

Last edited 1 month ago by David Owen
Barry Larking
Barry Larking (@guest_821441)
1 month ago

‘We’ are heading for the exit.

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_821443)
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

F35A is (and has always been) one of the options.

It’s the obvious fall back position if GCAP is cancelled.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_821496)
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

It doesn’t have to be an “instead of”, it can be a “with” Tempest. Any F35A could even be instead of additional later Typhoon’s.

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_821512)
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

I don’t think there’s any possibility of the RAF flying a high/low mix again, like Tornado/ Jaguar. Though saying F35A is a ‘low’ option is slightly disingenuous, it would however be against the potentially very large GCAP. If there is a substantial increase in defence spending and the will to actually raise numbers, I would like to see 8x GCAP Squadrons and 4x F35A Squadrons. Coupled with 4x FAA F35B Squadrons. All served by sufficient numbers of a capable UCAV. That would be a formidable and well balanced force. However, there’s no chance…. We will however ‘hopefully’ see 8 Squadrons… Read more »

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_821497)
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

Stop … wrong way… go back! Lol 😁

Grizzler
Grizzler (@guest_821449)
1 month ago

So how many front line squadrons of the F35B would be need to man BOTH carriers …(yes yes I know …but humour me) Would that be 4 (2 per carrier) or more likely 3 (2 to fully load 1st & 1 to add additonal firepower to the 2nd? How many F35B’s would be needed for 3 and/or 4 front line squadrons in total (including the necessary training squadrons etc. )…72 ? 94 ? As for the F35A …I saw some on here extohling the virtues of having a squadron of B21 bombers for tactical strike etc and mentioning comMonality of… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Grizzler
Erich W
Erich W (@guest_821452)
1 month ago
Reply to  Grizzler

The current 74 would be perfectly sufficient to provide full airwings for both carriers in wartime, or to support both in peacetime operations + regular RAF ops. Seems fairly ideal to me. It’s on the low end if there isn’t another substitute but with additional F-35As it seems like a fair order.

Grizzler
Grizzler (@guest_821470)
1 month ago
Reply to  Erich W

what size is a full airwing then – would that be 2 aquadrons so 24 each ?
I know someone on here toitalled up 4 front line squadrons and came up with 94 ish …so what accounts for the differences?

Jon
Jon (@guest_821488)
1 month ago
Reply to  Grizzler

Full QE airwing is 36 F-35Bs plus up to a dozen rotary. Call that 48 and double it for two carriers. I’m guessing that’s your 96.

However, that’s without considering drones. Potentially we might see something like 24 F-35B plus 18 smaller combat drones plus 6 ISR/AEW drones, plus 4 multi-role rotary drones plus 4 manned rotary. Too soon to guess the mix

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_821480)
1 month ago
Reply to  Grizzler

Well no real joined up thinking in regard to B21 in terms of reality anyway for it simply won’t happen. The engine commonality, well as things stand perhaps some but who knows ten years down the line. Would be lovely to have but not in the scheme of things around our priorities. Not sure we can answer the other questions presently. The A and Tempest on the surface likely to be one or the other which presently skews it greatly towards the latter. But a lot depends on the flexibility of Tempest and its abilities beyond air superiority. I would… Read more »

Grizzler
Grizzler (@guest_821589)
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Cheers for the reply 👍– enough to cogitate on there methinks

Erich W
Erich W (@guest_821451)
1 month ago

Seems like a good middle ground between Typhoon and Tempest, which realistically won’t be operating alongside eachother for very long otherwise. Shouldn’t interfere with F-35B plans, though.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_821482)
1 month ago
Reply to  Erich W

Agreed

Nevis
Nevis (@guest_821453)
1 month ago

An order of 32 of these would do nicely. Stop gap until tempest comes along and leave the B variant for the carriers. Everyone’s a winner.

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_821456)
1 month ago
Reply to  Nevis

We need more Bs though, and A variant would have none of our weapons integrated anytime soon.

Nevis
Nevis (@guest_821560)
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugo

I agree but we won’t be getting any quicker than 2033. If this is a way of getting more airframes and won’t break the bank then happy days.

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_821565)
1 month ago
Reply to  Nevis

This is purely a clarification on a question, no chance were getting As before we get the rest of the Bs

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_821458)
1 month ago
Reply to  Nevis

32 would only equate to one 12 aircraft squadron.

That’s not much ‘bang’ for your buck. Much better off further increasing the B order to 90 and equipping 4 frontline squadrons.

Grizzler
Grizzler (@guest_821469)
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

whey would 32 only equate to one 12 aircraft squadron- genuine question?
Are you taking training airtcraft etc inrto consideration – how many for 2 frnt line squadrons for example?

John Clark
John Clark (@guest_821518)
1 month ago
Reply to  Grizzler

I would hypothesise that 32 would break down like so….

12 aircraft squadron
5/6 aircraft OCU
2/3 trials
The rest as attrition / in use reserves / servicing.
The still relatively poor reliability would mean a fairly large pool of reserve aircraft to ensure the active squadron is available…

Nevis
Nevis (@guest_821562)
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

32 is just a rough number. Anywhere between 30-40 is probably realistic in terms of funds and procurement and timescale as in before 2033.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_821459)
1 month ago
Reply to  Nevis

Yes, F35Bs for the FAA. The F35A has a “mini-Tempest” look about it too.

Paul42
Paul42 (@guest_821460)
1 month ago
Reply to  Nevis

Yes, give the crabs some ‘A’s to play with and use the Bs for the role for which they were originally procured- maritime operations on the carriers. In addition they’ll plug the gap until Tempest comes into service, or fully fill it if it doesn’t.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_821487)
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

Only way I see A versions in service is if Tempest is very much delayed, even then I wonder if we would lease US ones.

Phillip
Phillip (@guest_821461)
1 month ago

Forgive me for asking what might be a silly question, but what method of AAR is the standard on the F-35A? Because, to my recollection, it is fitted for boom refuelling rather than probe and drogue. So, unless there is some plan in place to buy the F-35A and retrofit P&D, or there is another plan to install booms onto at least some of the RAF Voyager fleet, it seems that purchasing the F-35A would leave them either at the mercy of other air forces from which they can extend their range, or only able to operate with what they… Read more »

Bob
Bob (@guest_821464)
1 month ago
Reply to  Phillip

Voyager already needs a boom option, on at least some aircraft.

Paul T
Paul T (@guest_821515)
1 month ago
Reply to  Phillip

You are correct – the RAF Tanker Fleet as it stands cannot Re-Fuel the F35A,but it can the B & C.It would need some movement by Airtanker Services and the MOD to rectify this ( plus of course some £££££££££’s ).

Chris
Chris (@guest_823251)
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul T

The Air Tanker fiasco is one of the most ridiculous agreements the MOD has ever entered into.

It needs to be ended once and for all, aircraft brought into the RAF proper and upgraded with the airbus boom system. Enough of the child contract games.

Nath
Nath (@guest_821463)
1 month ago

Just a thought. I like the F35 but am hopeful Tempest will come along. If though it doesn’t could we not just “spiral” develop the Typhoon? The SU57 just seems to be a stealth package to the SU35 which was itself an upgrade of the SU27. Could we not create a Tranche 6 which maintains the contents of Tranche4+ but wraps it in a new stealth package with new avionics and flight control and the upgraded EJ200 engine. Yes it’s a big job but surely somewhat smaller than Tempest and having done all that work on Tempest’s general arrangement they’d… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_821493)
1 month ago
Reply to  Nath

In many ways it’s going to incorporate the upgrades being designed for Typhoon or further developments thereof. The problem would surely be the engines which I suspect would never fit into a Typhoon airframe and are required to produce the power required at both ends of the airframe. Equally by all accounts the Su-57 is barely stealth at all comparing by some accounts poorly to even an F-18. So what would a similar aircraft look like in ten to fifteen years no matter what expense you throw at it. The whole rear end of a Typhoon needs redesigning for a… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB (@guest_821538)
1 month ago
Reply to  Nath

You could quite feasibly make a “stealthier” version of Typhoon. However, it still won’t be a step change compared to the low RCS of the F35. The main issue is the Typhoon does not have nor does it have the space to include a weapons bay. It must hang all of its weapons from pylons under the wings or fuselage. Which pretty much doubles the aircraft’s RCS. Which is fine in a benign environment. But not against a peer enemy. GCAP/FCAS/Tempest will include a weapons bay. Which are needed to maintain its low RCS. This weapons bay/s will need to… Read more »

Philip
Philip (@guest_821471)
1 month ago

I think people are reading too much into a restatement of the existing position with regard to the B variant.

John
John (@guest_821473)
1 month ago

“What, if, maybe”….Five years of pseudo socialism will see money thrown at guess what? The National Health Service thats where. The only way defence will get more? If there is a war.

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_821481)
1 month ago

I don’t know think we’re better off just concentrating getting F35B first .🙄 Don’t get me wrong F35A very welcome ,if affordable let the Navy have F35B and the RAF F35A. Sometimes going back to an old way isn’t always a bad thing. Of course our manpower problem would need to be sorted but still food for thought guys . 🇬🇧

ADA
ADA (@guest_821504)
1 month ago

Commenter here are traumatised by the post-2010 devastation to the defence budget. We’ve moved from a nonsense politician answer (they refuse to give any F-35 related information until all has been decided) to assuming the worst about the UKs future air combat programmes. 1) No Tempest essentially means that the UK will give up on producing manned fixed wing aircraft forever. This will never happen. There would effectively be no point in any non-US, Western country developing any combat aircraft. Even Turkey have manufactured 4.5/5th gen airframes. 2) It’s inconceivable that we won’t get the full 138 at minimum. For… Read more »

Challenger
Challenger (@guest_821516)
1 month ago

It’s just keeping the door open as a back up. It’ll take until 2033 to get 74 F35B and by then Tempest should be ramping up.

Bayayee Shistorms
Bayayee Shistorms (@guest_821521)
1 month ago

Is this for this UK future combat air requirements (an alternative option)?

Ben Coe
Ben Coe (@guest_821523)
1 month ago

Complete enough F35 B ourchsse to fullyvequip the carriers. Then F55C would give more flexibility with regard to the future of the carriers and longer range I believe?

Steve R
Steve R (@guest_821524)
1 month ago

Just my opinion but I think it’s pointless adopting the F-35A unless any we purchase are in addition to the planned 74 (or however many) F-35Bs we purchase. If we were to do a split-buy then the best bet would be to get the 74 F-35Bs and give them entirely to the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm. This would be enough for squadrons of 12 each (48) plus an 8-plane OCU, 3 test planes and then 15 spares. Then, ideally, a similar number of F-35s for the RAF. So we’re looking at approx. 150 planes. Anything less than that is… Read more »

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_821536)
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve R

The 74 F35Bs were getting will only provide 3 front line squadrons as well as a training and testing squadron, rest are to cycle through maintenance

PhilWestMids
PhilWestMids (@guest_821544)
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve R

Agree, we either order a very high number which we won’t or there is no point. Personally I would just up the number to about 90 with the 2nd tranche F35B order, 2 squadrons for RAF and 2 squadrons for FAA and then in future hand over the 2 squadrons worth of airframes from the RAF to the FAA when Tempest becomes available, it gives the RAF the capability the F35 provides in the meantime and it will boost the FAA size at the same time, hopefully the amount of pilots will be available by then.

dc647
dc647 (@guest_821537)
1 month ago

F35B waste of money to go with the two white elephants..Give the RAF the equipment either F35a or more upto date TyPhoons till the Tempest is ready if that ever happens. £7 billion for two faulty carriers the prop shaft problem was highlighted before they were launched. The builders knew they were not true but declared they were with in tolerances knowing once they were launched and signed over the tax payers will pick up the bill to rectify…..

Bringer of Facts
Bringer of Facts (@guest_821539)
1 month ago

Well it is stealthier than a Typhoon so it would make sense to employ the F-35A in a deep strike role (Tornado replacement ?)

RB
RB (@guest_821553)
1 month ago

Hardly a surprise, why rule out the F-35A for any eventual purchase beyond 74 aircraft – which realistically is enough for carrier strike, even allowing for some early build aircraft being retired in the 2030’s. Every other F-35B buyer has also purchased the F-35A.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay (@guest_821556)
1 month ago

The only way we will buy F35A is if Tempest doesn’t happen.

Apoplectix
Apoplectix (@guest_821561)
1 month ago

They should just buy more F35B’s more quickly. 48 by 2033 is hardly something to be proud of, otherwise what’s the point in our carriers. If Tempest does get built then that would negate the need for F35A’s.

Micki
Micki (@guest_821574)
1 month ago

It would be very good news, the RAF needs at least another 50 fighters , the current nunber is ridículous.

Alabama Boy
Alabama Boy (@guest_821583)
1 month ago

This is all very interesting and is a test of who knows what about the F35 variants but don’t forget we have an election in 6 weeks’ time with Labour 20+ points ahead of the Conservatives. If they win, which looks likely, they have promised another Defense review in 2025 and so little is likely to happen before that. They have also been continuously critical of the so-called black hole in Defence Procurement. So, if they find a black hole they will not want it to be filled by robbing the budgets of their favourite Ministries (NHS Social Care, Energy,… Read more »

Paul Stevens
Paul Stevens (@guest_821590)
1 month ago

Some people adding to the discussion about the A vs the B variant you all seem to forget a simple extra that project Ark Royal will bring TO THE NAVY, we and our NATO colleagues could cross deck. Currently we can only do this with the USMC. The naval variant also has the advantage of folding wings. Bring on 809 NAS!

David
David (@guest_821593)
1 month ago

If FCASW has greater range than Stormshadow by a d ecent margin, then the Range difference between A and B may not matter. With cheap long range drones, ballistic missiles wtc it might reach a point where runways become more and more vulnerable. , the B may come into its own. I think for carrier ops 4 squadrons plus enough spare airframes to keep them flying for 30 plus years is all that is needed. Maybe sense will be seen , give all the B to the FA if the govt is waking upto the realisation that we need .more… Read more »

Paul T
Paul T (@guest_821634)
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Whatever Tempest ends up being it certainly won;t be a Bomber – it will primarily be an Air Superiority/Air Dominance Fighter,but saying that it should be able to deliver selective Ground Attack Ordinance in some shape or form.

Grizzler
Grizzler (@guest_821658)
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul T

Surely there l’s a wide range between an air superiority fighter and and semblance or a bomber …isn’t that part of what did for TSR2…the requirement became all things to all men.
I know specs change and technology both drives & accommodates that and Typhoon of course has developed along those lines over the years but surely we need to be careful we don’t dilute any design…p

Gary
Gary (@guest_821595)
1 month ago

Should be F35 C , it has longer range, can carry more, and more importantly if they add cats and traps to the carriers qe already have the aircraft
Can also practice landings on US carriers

Dac
Dac (@guest_821600)
1 month ago

Buy cheaper Saab Gripen that would mean many more aircraft for our money as the Gripen was developed to do the very job the RAF need it for.

Nebulous
Nebulous (@guest_821649)
1 month ago

Happy to be corrected but from googling I see cost: F-35A: $82.5 million F-35B: $109 million In other words for every 5 Bs you could of had 6 As and $50 mil spare to do whatever. With budgets being tight I don’t think that is something we, or indeed the govt can overlook. Re Tempest/GCAP, I understand the current plan is to enter service 2035, but who here thinks we will have a meaningful number of aircraft by 2040 and that’s assuming no delays in the programme? You’re talking 15/20 years from now who knows what situation we will be… Read more »

Gaz
Gaz (@guest_822001)
1 month ago

Range is key in how the F35 needs to be optiminised in future conflicts. They are much more than bomb trucks. Using tankers nearer to the forward operating area or exposing the carriers is also risky considering how small are surface assets have shrunk since say the falklands. What is wrong with wiki? Or reading in itself… As early as 2019, the USAF commissioned contractors GE and Pratt and Whitney to produce an adaptive engine, which changes its configuration based on flight parameters to make the engine more efficient. USAF and company estimates hope that these engines will produce 25%… Read more »

Mr Bell
Mr Bell (@guest_822305)
1 month ago

We shouldn’t require the A variant if Tempest is brought into service. That’s a big if.
Tempest is desperately needed and in large numbers to strive to regain frontline strength back to the RAF.

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_822569)
1 month ago

The F-35 keeps being looked at on here through the narrow prism of what the Royal Navy may need or want. It is instructive to look at the bigger picture for a moment. Britain’s combat air power has been run into the ground, and that decline accelerated over the last 14 years, to the point where we are now a very small player compared to our NATO peers. Current numbers of fast jet combat aircraft are; France – 233 Germany – 232 Italy – 186 Spain – 164 UK – 145 This big reduction in RAF numbers is down to… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Cripes
PhilWestMids
PhilWestMids (@guest_822793)
1 month ago
Reply to  Cripes

It would make perfect sense to buy the F35A for the RAF and keep the F35B for the FAA, but we would have to order a high number of F35A to make it worth while, 74 B which is the current planned amount and 74 A would be ideal and if the current 138 is still on the cards the extra 10 A (148 total) would probably work out due to the savings of buying the 74 A variant, should be more than enough to have 3 squadrons plus an OCU and operational reserves for both the FAA and the… Read more »

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_822921)
1 month ago
Reply to  PhilWestMids

The introduction of Tempest would not be a reason to pass RAF F-35bs over to the Fleet Air Arm. Tempest will be an air superiority platform with secondary (limited) ground attack capability and as such is the replacement for Typhoon, nothing else. F-35bs in RAF service are needed to provide close air support for our land forces, as Jaguar and AV-8B provided in the past. While the tactics of CAS may have changed, the need for ground support for the army has not. In short, there would be no spare, redundant aircraft available for the FAA. Should the army be… Read more »

Chris
Chris (@guest_823253)
1 month ago
Reply to  Cripes

The entire world is moving away from dedicated platforms, the UK the last to move. Whatever is flying will have to do it all, air to air, air to ground..

Same with ships. You can’t have dedicated ASW/land attack etc. in a fleet of 20 ships. The one you need is likely on the other side of the planet.

Last edited 1 month ago by Chris