The Sunday Times has reported that the UK is likely only to purchase 48 F-35B jets, down from 138.

An excerpt from this article states.

“An order for 90 more F-35 Lightning combat jets is to be cancelled in favour of the Tempest fighter, built in Lancashire, while 24 older Typhoon fighters will be retired early. Whole fleets of aircraft will be taken out of service as drones become ever more common.”

You can read more by visiting the original source here.

You can also read more about Tempest by visting the link below.

New image of new British fighter jet

This reported F-35B order isn’t entirely unexpected, whilst speaking to the Public Accounts Committee,the MoD’s Permanent Secretary Sir Stephen Lovegrove said:

“Things change in the course of these very long-term programmes. Different capabilities come along that render things that you have yet to buy possibly obsolete or perhaps you need fewer of them or the threats change.”

The final details of this will be revealed on March the 16th in the Integrated Review.

The ‘Integrated Review’, to give it its full title the ‘Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy’ is effectively a defence review.

According to a Ministry of Defence announcement:

“General Sir Nick Carter has been central to setting the vision for our future armed forces. The Prime Minister has asked General Carter to remain in post to ensure continuity and stability while the conclusions of the Integrated Review are implemented following the £24.1-billion settlement for defence announced last year. 

The Integrated Review will be published on 16 of March and the Defence Command Paper will be published on 22 of March. The selection of General Carter’s successor as Chief of the Defence Staff will begin in the autumn.”

The review was previously described by Boris Johnson as the largest review of its kind since the Cold War and will be published later this month.

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George Royce

Says it all about the F-35. We should be buy no more than 70-80.

Start funding Tempest and let that project soar. We now also know that 24 T1 Typhoons are going to be given an early retirement to fund the Tempest a little more.

Sean Crowley

While the B variant of the 35 is the ugly step sister i assure you it’s avionics is beyond Typhoons of any Tranche and though i am not from the UK as an Australian i do care . If you want the UK strong and at the apex of defense bury all your useless show pony Typhoons and kill off what ever it takes to get 138 F-35’s .

Spyinthesky

That simply doesn’t make sense, no airforce in the World intends to do that, even the US has no intention of committing to an exclusive F35 or 5th Gen fleet generally in any foreseeable future this decade or I suspect beyond, it would be madness to do so and total overkill and financial disaster for a power like the UK. Will OZ lose all its F18s any time soon for this Aircraft? The answer is no it is only just losing its archaic classic Hornets while whiles it’s initial long range anti ship capability will be with its Super Hornets… Read more »

captain p wash

Lol, I love your Optimism mate…… At this rate, We’ll be raiding the storage hangers at Yeovilton to resurrect the Stringbag and Sea Fury……………………. FFS.

Jonathan

i would not go that far, there are some lovely sea vixens hanging around.

Captain P Wash

Ah but, who in their right mind would want to fly them ? or more to the point, why would they want to sit in the dark ?

Jonathan

The pilot had a perfect view, it was only the observer got no view, who needs the observer to see out to the sea anyway. As for safety, I know my old man was of the view they were death traps ( he was in 899 squadron) and yes the observer not only could not see it coming but could not eject in time anyway ( you can see that in the casualty rates of the accidents, there were a number of 1 crew dying accidents) but they fixed the ejection issue around the coal hole in later years and… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Jonathan
Spyinthesky

There is strategic consideration here to by the way that differs between the UK and Australia. The laters priority will be defending the waters around its coast and well beyond which the F35 is on paper an ideal platform as is the Super Hornet when conditions allow. It will effectively be covering home defence and the southern flank of any conflict with China that will be majorly US/China orientated and large areas of ocean to cross. The UK on the other hand has a far greater need for an Air Superiority fighter as we would be under immediate threat of… Read more »

dan

Australia is taking responsibility for their own national defense while the EU and now Boris’ Britain will once again depend on the American taxpayers and people for the majority of their defense.

Andrew

Well done OZ

Klonkie

Agreed Andrew . As a NZ er- I wholeheartedly support the AU investment on their defence. Kudos

Johan

USA is reviewing the FORD CLASS as it cannot afford the program and selecting a light carrier option. in current crisis no one can afford Bullets/bombs/bandages

OldSchool

A liitle unfair Dan. The UK is paying its way – its the EU hangers on who aren’t coughing up the dosh to defend themselves. Trump was right at least on that account. Indeed the US and UK have propped up European defence for at least the last 100 years.

TrevorH

Britain has just upped it’s defence budget by £5 billion a year.

Jason

The remark re UK keeping 35’s to full strength smakcs of an Australian worried that should the UK NOT buy enough then Australia would have to ante-up more cash in development costs. A rather insular attitude.

BradyS

Yeah its almost hard to believe how much the aussies are spending compared to what we spend in New Zealand. And also the attitudes to defence is definitely slightly better in Australia. Whereas in New Zealand socoiety is so unmilitarised, in terms of defence force credibility and overall pacification, it is beyond belief. Our role for combat capability is to fit into a US or Australian defense of our Land. Although can’t really imagine in a situation of war which has vast swathes of South East Asia under attack and finally Australia that we will get too much help from… Read more »

Deep32

As you say Sean, the F35 is all about sensors and fusion technologies, which, make up for some of the aircraft’s flying shortfalls.
Notwithstanding the horrendous costs and delays to the current program, if a suitable alternative were available, do you think that Australia would have chosen the F35 as it’s primary Strike aircraft, given its serious shortcomings in a range of areas? I only ask, as I don’t think it’s a particularly good fit for Australian requirements, but was chosen as there is currently nothing else around!

Airborne

Show pony Typhoons? Hilarious….clearly you have limited knowldge of the Typhoon fleet and the tranche 3 onward capabities.

Klonkie

Airborne, I think you’re spot on. If the RAF is to retire 24 tranche 1 typhoons, a further 24 tranche 3 units should be built, Would be good for the industry as well.

Peter S

Agreed but 24 should be the minimum.

Johan

F35b has a 15 to 1 kill ratio on typhoons. typs never get close enough to shoot a 35. its quite sad. proved in the RED FLAG last year. non of the 3/4/4.5 gen fighters get close only the Raptor got anywhere near their score. typhoon is a great Aircraft but now doing a multi task role.

sophie

not 15 to 1

Meirion X

Norway should test this situation out for us, with their all new F-35A fleet.

Paul T

The RAF and the AM have the Luxury of Playing out that Scenario by themselves – i wonder if they have done it ?.

julian1

Johan, Typhoon won’t come up against F35B – what is your point?

lee1

It could well come up against other 5th Gen fighters from around the world. Now they may not be quite as advanced as the F35 but they will be stealthy and therefore harder for Typhoon to get in close enough before it itself is in range of the enemy. This is the whole point of the F35.

Tony

Luckily it’s not likely we will be fighting a country with F35s so it’s a bit of a moot point.

Mike Hannah

The Typhoon remains the only aircraft to shoot down an F22 in simulated combat. The fusion of the New e captor( the one being developed solely for the RAF) and upgrade PIRATE system working together will make the Typhoon an even more formidable hunter. The advantage will still be with the F35s and F22 but the advantage will be considerable reduced! For Air defence the F35 is too slow and too costly to operate. It will never take over from Typhoon when it comes to Air Defence. It has neither the range, speed or ceiling ! Anyone who considers the… Read more »

Sean Crowley

Have a very good idea on Typhoon , and stand by my comment , the Typhoon like the F-15/16/18 is derived from John Boyd,s energy maneuver light weight ideas and even with all the bells and whistle is not an equal to the F-35. That plane is an extrapolation made real of his OODA loop philosophy enhanced with node point fusion of derived data giving initiation advantage , in English it is fighting another generation of war now and will be two steps ahead always . As to the F-18F flown by Australia now that in its self is beyond… Read more »

OldSchool

Sean. The Typhoon will I have no doubt be fine. The Tranche 1’s can’t be upgraded so letting them go is ok. The others will run on and be upgraded ( and could work in conjunction with F35Bs). The money saved will go towards new tech and Typhoon etc.

julian1

You see to forget the force will be mixed F35/Typhoon. An all F35 fleet would be unbalanced, a mix is much better. Question is, what is the mix?

Andrew

The way it’s going Australia’s forces are going to out class the UK ,Anti ship weapons ,better armed type 26 new Drones ECT maybe we need to take aleaf out of there book no Offence OZ.

Sean Crowley

Andrew am Australian so this hurts to say , but the biggest Asset you guys have are your personal , they are leagues ahead of the rest of the world . Australian Navy hoovered up all those sailors you guys put out to sea and our Army will be with have arms outstretched to any soldiers same with Pilots for the RAAF . Though am Irish heritage and not fond of English of past there can be no denying some inherit strength England has to produce courageous decisive leaders . I doubt any country will outclass you .

Kevin Watts

The Typhoon would knock the F35 out the sky in close combat.
But the two mixed together make a good pair, and besides it not good to have all your eggs in the same basket.
Maybe Australia should buy some Typhoons as well instead, of an out date F18 designed in the 1970s. ?

Last edited 1 month ago by Kevin Watts
julian1

Useless? Come on. It’s a great success, mature, adaptable and proven in most uses. Is F35 proven yet? No. I do however think that 48 is too few and that 60Bs are the minimum. If we’re not topping up with As then I’d say some Typhoon tranche 4s should be ordered.

Murray Hutchison

There are many reasons why not. The F35 is real slow, its operational height is a lot lower than the Typhoon and its range is 2000km compared to 3000km. It only carries 4 missiles against the Typhoon’s 12. The only reason the f35 avionics prevail is because of the missile range >160km. The US will not release that missile to the UK and presumably yourselves in Oz. Other downsides are it takes 5hrs of servicing for every hour in the air and its very expensive to maintain and their is general lack of spare parts even for the US f35s… Read more »

Sean Crowley

Yeah if i wanted to have fun in the sun , well that would be Typhoon , it is a 1980’s Jet fighter a little bit superior to the F-16 Block 50 but not the Big wing Japanese version , but it is an easy kill for the F-35 which leaves all the maneuvering to its ordnance . I am telling you now all that a Typhoon is as relevant a threat to the F-35 as a Sopwith Camel , NO EXAGGERATION .

James Fennell
AlexS

I think you are mistaking Trappier for Olivier Dassault recent death in an helicopter crash.

Boyd

I have always thought 48 to be the logical number of F-35s (France have 44 Rafale M). Gives you 1 deployable squadron per carrier. Surge requirements will be taken care of by USMC aircraft. The RN will only ever have 2 carrriers as long as the UK remain puppets to the DOD. 138 was way too many anyhow. Typhoon is muti-role, so can and has replaced Tornado. Future fast-jet force for UK will be F-35B (Naval) & Typhoon (Land). Tempest will replace Typhoon. Tempest will never be naval. Tempest will never be 2 seat. So the ultimate fast jet fleet… Read more »

Captain P Wash

France only has one “deployable Carrier” though….. and it tends to sit in port most of the time……. 138 was the number originally planned

Geoffrey Roach

If this is true, and I would argue for more, we should A)allocate all existing F35 air frames to the Royal Navy to make it capable of keeping both carriers in active service if required. The R.A.F. would become an all Typhoon force with accompanying Mosquito drones and Protector and it’s variants.Alternatively, B) An order for a few more aircraft ..ten?…would allow the R.N. to fly three squadrons of ten plus drones and the R.A.F. to fly two squadrons of ten F35’s alongside eight (?) squadrons of ten Typhoons plus as above

Watcherzero

Giving them all to the Navy would be good but it would actually make sense to have them supplemented by Tempest so you have an intruder fighter/CAP (using all internal weapons) and a second wave fighter/bomber at least for the first decade.

Supportive Bloke

I don’t think RN would want to own the full costs of the F35B sustainment.

I’m sure FAA could trim the costs but all of the facilities are at Marham.

I suspect the RAF will want shot of the F35B once Tempest arrives as it won’t want three types on the books.

TrevorH

When Tempest arrives? You talk as if that will be (possibly) next week. It is years away. Years. Years!

Supportive Bloke

I agree: 15 years at Typhoon pace

Jonathan

more like 20 years then, although it may be a bit faster without the french factor.

Hermes

what french factor ?

Jonathan

The french factor: leaving the programme after a dispute over work share.

Hermes

EDIT: My bad I’ve lost the context about the EF. The leave of french at this time was not about the workshare but the needs of nuclear proof fighter and naval version, German and UK refuse to pay the developpment of the naval version of the fighter since he need to be different of the Air superiority wanted by UK/GER ****************************************************** The germans ask to Thales/Dassault/Safran (Rafale Group) to give them all the technology they have since they are all involved in the SCAF. They never add ask such a thing from US. Do you think french are going too… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Hermes
Jonathan

Yes it was not a generalised comment. Just a note around the complications of the EF programme in its first years that caused delay. No comment on SCAF as I have not followed the politics of it. As for french protection of its industries, I think it’s rather sensible approach and I wished our neoliberal obsessive market led government would show a wee bit more of the sod the markets “gumption” that you generally see in most french governments. I like the country and the culture so definitely no French bashing here “ unless you count that Parisian idiot who… Read more »

Rob N

This is just press speculation at the moment. However if it is true the FAA should get the F35s. We should have 70 for the RN though…

Fat Dave

Doesn’t make any sense for FAA ownership. The RAF has 100% ownership. The RN isn’t configured to take on all of that responsibility

Geoffrey Roach

Why?

Glass Half Full

It doesn’t seem necessary to change F35B allocation to the two services, or to be concerned about it. Just consider operations as a Joint F-35B Command in a similar fashion to how UK battlefield helicopters are managed by Joint Helicopter Command.

Eventually F35Bs might revert to FAA use, but only as Tempest roles out. However, in the interim the RAF (perhaps along with FAA) needs F35B for SEAD/DEAD in combination with Typhoon operating from further back as the weapon trucks.

Rogbob

Two issues with who “owns” F-35B force, neither particularly connected although arguments in the 1st do use aspects of the 2nd (both real and manipulated!). 1) Inter service politics as to who is winning that and what their objectives and effort are going into. The RN seems to be putting its political effort into surface ships, subs and having the carriers operational. The RAF will focus on Tempest but sustaining the best of Typhoon. Neither has appetite for a showdown on F35B hence the uneasy truce will likely continue – but this will never be far below the surface. 2)… Read more »

Glass Half Full

I had a similar mindset regarding making waves with the “upto 138 over program lifecycle” plan. If we planned for 70-80 then why raise the issue until we have to. However, if the 48 number is accurate then I suspect it would become clear very soon that “something was amiss”, which might be why the subject gets raised now. We really should always keep the USMC in mind whenever considering our carrier air wing capabilities. Its a unique arrangement/relationship. If we have to surge both carriers then that’s very likely to be a scenario where the US wants us to,… Read more »

John Clark

It wouldn’t surprise me, especially if we are heading down the route of complimentary carrier capable UCAV’s…. I suppose 48 means two 12 aircraft squadrons, not nearly enough, I would think 90 a far more sensible fleet size. Let’s wait and see though, always lots of deliberate false briefing to the press and just good old fashioned lies before a defence review. On the other hand, ‘if’ it’s true, then it looks like project Tempest (manned, unmanned systems) is about to be formally launched… Just as the Franco, German, Spanish project is already starting to fall apart, the Germans managing… Read more »

Baguette enthusiast

French here, kinda well versed into the topic, I would love to wholeheartedly agree with your statement: “I’m sure the French will end up going their own way again, but they will have to cut some serious capability to afford it as a purley national concern.” But at this point the question is rather about the need for a purely manned shapey-stealthy fighter. There are many topics to cover regarding the relevance of such aircrafts in the near future (20 years). That’s what FCAS-DP, done between our two nations, and core of Lancaster House treaty, was about. Now it’s dead,… Read more »

TrevorH

Its the French who do not want to only have 33% of the control.

Hermes

It’s not about the 33%… Absolutely not.
It’s about the logic behind this 33% AND MOSTLY, because Germany have required all the technology involved close or far to the FCAS.
That’s include all the research with the Rafale.

The german dont want any “blackboxes”.
But, from US weapons, how many times they receives all data from what they buy ?

The Bundestag try to rape the french defense industry, imagine if they ask BAE to give everything, how would you respond ?
Dont do to others something you dont want to endure yourself.

TrevorH

Thanks. Germany want the property and the French don’t. Presumably this cuts both ways.
But it does not look as if they will agree.

Hermes

Never Dassault/Thales/Safran will give all their knowledge to the Germans, especially when they do all they can to cut the workshare of the 3 companies (And all smaller beside them)

TrevorH

Sounds likely.

Andy P

Not a massive shock, its been ‘in the post’ but 48 does seem a bit meagre. It gives me the fear that the ‘spare’ aircraft carrier will ALWAYS be a spare one with no intention of using it for anything else. Even 60-70 would give options, we’ll see what happens on the 16th I suppose.

Supportive Bloke

The intention was to alternated them in full service so there was 100% availability of one QEC.

There was never was any announced intention of both being used at the same time except in an emergency.

Although ATM both seem to be crewed and would both be doing something if POW wasn’t being fixed. Which doesn’t really fit the above!

Andy P

Yeah, I know mate, but there was ‘talk’ of using the second one if it was available and as you say, the ’emergency’ aspect. 48 is going to include the training aircraft etc so removes the options of emergency or for shits and giggles etc. Basically firming up that we will just have the one in service. You’d think that even if the second was going to be used as a hoofing big helo carrier that a few F35’s wouldn’t go amiss.

julian1

but if a situation arose where both were available and required, then it would be ridiculous that one could only go to sea with helicopters…or fresh air. Final F35b numbers of 60 min would allow one ship maxed out with 3 squadrons and the other with one squadron + helicopters

Jan van der Werk

Just maybe India has a shopping list…

Lordtemplar

Of all the cuts this is a blesing in disguise. The F35 is underwhelming on many counts and simply too expensive to operate. With money saved, this means more for Tempest and hopefully EMALS to send drones (wingman, air refuel), AWACS from carrier. Maybe a Tempest 2 seat Naval variant would be a good idea. (the QE carriers are big enough to operate larger fighters) I don’t think its a good idea to use single seater to quarterback several wingman drones because of increased pilot workload. AI may be making progress, but let’s not be naive, for combat you still… Read more »

Andy P

I’ve wondered about how a pilot was supposed to operate his (or her) own aircraft while operating ‘fancy drones’, its definitely tongue sticking out of your mouth levels of concentration. Having an extra seat would make sense.

Robert Blay

F35 capability is anything but underwhelming. But it does come at a cost. But a 6th gen Tempest certainly isn’t going to be cheap. Typhoon cost a fortune, let alone a 6th gen. If I was a betting man, I’d say we will end up buying/developing highly capable UCAV’s to operate at sea alongside F35, which might tie in with the cats n traps study. Tempest could be a mix of systems, manned and unmanned. But it’s 15 years away at the earliest.

Meirion X

A two seater Tempest will be beyond the weight limits of the proposed CATs & traps.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
Challenger

If true it just shows that the MoD never learns. 48 enables carrier operations on an absolute shoestring, with little-no capacity for anything else.

The way forwards should be to lead into Tempest with 70ish F35 for a credible carrier capability and a sustained Typhoon force of 130ish.

Instead it sadly looks like we’re going to hack and slash down to around 150 fast jets with no new orders between 2025 and whenever Tempest arrives (2035 at the earliest). The allusive jam tomorrow yet again!

Fat Dave

The carriers will never be used for peer on peer or near peer Ops. Only useful for small scale ops and/or peacekeeping, so 48 F-35s would be sufficient – even overkill.

Challenger

Not talking about peer conflict. 48 gives you 2 squadrons, an OCU squadron and a small attritional reserve, which in turn means they will struggle to get a 12 strong squadron regularly embarked – barely enough for any kind of fleet defence, leaving nothing for any sort of power projection.

Deep32

The other question with these numbers is are they all BLK 4 versions, or a mix of what we currently have and a few new ones? If not all new, how many of what we currently have are going to be upgraded to BLK 4 standard, given a previous report stating that MOD were not considering upgrading these older airframes?

Paul T

If the Carriers will never be used for Peer on Peer or Near Peer Ops what Exactly was the Point in Building them ? Small Scale Ops and Peacekeeping would be better Served by the Bay Class or another Ocean surely.

Christopher Allen

Well scrapping them would’ve been more expensive, that is what saved them from the savage Defence cuts seen under Cameron, but I agree, if we aren’t expecting to use them for near peer ops, then they are a costly burden for the Royal Navy.

Davi Pinheiro

All the eggs will go to the Tempest basket. I don’t know if i’m happy or scared.

Daniele Mandelli

Scared.

If true this is standard HMG/MoD.

Cut now:
Promise of carrot tomorrow.
Tomorrow ( another Parliament/government – the carrot itself is cut
And repeat, till a serious war happens.

Spyinthesky

My thoughts entirely I’m afraid a good cover for what for the most part is in reality at any given time little more than a paper threat to the real bad asses out there while allowing for the presentation of high tech weaponry and capabilities now or to come to the home front..How very Johnsonesque fancy deceptive tasked promises covering shoestring realities with little substance for any real fight.

Klonkie

Daniele -by carrot surely you mean carrot “stick”? An entire carrot would be just plain greedy! I remains optimistic as this first time since 1990 the defence pot has significantly increased. However ,just watch the “puddle pirates” (RN) get the Lion’s share as usual!

Daniele Mandelli

Hi Klonkie. Not talked with you before.

I see the RN and RAF as equal priorities myself. Both are vital for an island nation.
I’d not prioritise one over the other.

Like you, I’m well aware of the reduction of our RAF FJ Squadrons. 30 ish down to 12 in 2010 then 8.

But remember too the RN escort force dropped from 50 to 40 ish to 35 to 32 to 31 to 25 to 23 to 19!

And don’t get me started on what happened to our SSN fleet! Our real trump card.

Klonkie

Thanks Danielle – long time UKDJ reader and RAF fan, having done a few years stint in the SAAF. Enjoy yours & Cptn Pug Wash commentary- seem informed on current events.

Captain P Wash

It’s getting farcical now.

ChariotRider

I wonder how Uncle Sam is going to respond to this cut if it goes ahead?

I know the USMC are keen to operate off our carriers, but is that enough to stay in the US good books. That 15% workshare might be vulnerable, if not future workshares certainly are, I’d suggest. I guess it all comes down the to wording of contracts..!

In any event 48 is a silly low number…

Cheers CR

Watcherzero

US has been floating cutting its planned order from just over 1700 to just over 1300.

Peter S

I hope this report is true. With Germany ordering new build Typhoons, our doing likewise gives the aircraft a big boost for potential further orders. This wouldn’t preclude a further order for F35 in the future- the 138 aim was over the whole life of the aircraft, perhaps 40 years, looking at the production life of F15/16/18. This would have big implications for our carriers but if all are allocated to RN, we could still operate both together. Realistically, we only have enough escorts available for a single carrier group anyway. More generally, we need to source as much of… Read more »

Mark

There’s no suggestion about the UK ordering more Typhoon’s though.

Peter S

Agreed no mention but: 48 F35 will be delivered by 2025 and Tempest unlikely to be ready before 2035. Hard to believe we won’t buy a single combat aircraft for more than 10 years.

Paul.P

How close is BAE to prototyping Tempest sensor fusion? How about a dozen Typhoon FGR5/6 test beds for Tempest radar and sensors?

TrevorH

Seems absurd to have USA, UK & France doing all the same thing.

Paul.P

Well, what a great outcome it would be for the French and US licence to be building the UK design. Why not…as my grandmother used to say, blow your own trumpet , nobody else will. We can produce a winner.

TrevorH

I’d like we could, we have Italy and Sweden interested. But with only a very low number of hundreds the cost would be very expensive.

The only point I would make is tha. So there seems to be some new ways of developing and building I think. There may be economic ways to build.

Glass Half Full

Loyal wing man are a combat aircraft too. Much easier to see them being procured between 2025-35 before a maned Tempest platform is in production. That would be investing in a forward looking platform versus Typhoon, the latter being a legacy platform when viewed through the prism of where we want to be in the mid-2035s and beyond.

Captain P Wash

Why is that hard to believe ?

Alan Reid

I’m in favour of a cut – but only 48 F-35Bs in UK service is far too low.
Numbers need to be 72 …. enough for three front-line squadrons, plus an OCU – and an operational reserve.

Daniele Mandelli

Exactly. It’s a decent saving and necessary.

Captain P Wash

Erm, Sorry ? Run that by us again mate ? How on earth is a 65% cut a necessary and decent saving ?

Daniele Mandelli

A cut from the proposed 138 Captain, which don’t exist yet, and will cost tens of billions HMG are not going to pay.

I’d rather cut something that does not yet exist ( and the planned expenditure on it ) than existing assets.

We indeed need more than 48, but not 138.

I’ve said here before I’d be satisfied with 70, or even 60, a mere 12 more, alongside the Typhoon force and whatever LW/LANCA we can get in place.

Captain P Wash

Mate with the greatest respect, you are just a prolific poster on a defence Forum. The rest you can probably work out. What you are basically saying is we might as well cancel all future Planned Assets all together. Sorry, I’m not with you at all on this, makes my blood boil all this talk of more cuts.

Daniele Mandelli

“might as well cancel all future Planned Assets” Course not Captain. Look. This 138. An RAF squadron is, what, 12, 13 aircraft? Plus 20 or so in the OCU, similar number in depth maintenance and reserve ( not in forward fleet ) Where are the squadrons for the 138? The “rumoured” aspiration from MoD/CAS/1SL was for 4 front line squadrons. How does 138 go into 4 squadrons?!! Even with extras? It may have been Ok if the Typhoon force is then replaced with F35, but if we go down that route no Tempest. On the other rumoured cuts I’m with… Read more »

Captain P Wash

QEC was always a two ship plan, even after all the political flip flopping…… both were built to the same specs….. both would have been sent to any potential conflict, both were planned to have a full compliment of F35’s, Merlins, Chinooks and Wildcats……. that was the plan a couple of decades back.

Spyinthesky

… and since then there has been talk of selling one-off which thankfully hasn’t happened. I think a reduction was inevitable, this large is a serious shock mind. It must have at least a suggestion that the F35 is problematical in terms of cost, reliability and likely technical aspects too to the point there is no longer great faith in it. That means a commitment to Tempest probably saving Bae and the technology involved to a British base for the foreseeable future. With COVID it seems both are not a. I able option and if that is the case then… Read more »

TrevorH

We were never going to have 2 operational at one time, uness extreme emergency and the USMC were on board or just with one with helos.

Captain P Wash

Sorry mate but I beg to differ….. When the QE class was first muted, it was to be a two of class carrier force with embarked air……….. otherwise we would have just built one and an Ocean replacement. My Memory is pin sharp.

TrevorH

My comment does not contradict that.

I hope for propaganda purposes if nothing else that we see both operational at the same time. But as I clearly say I do not see them operating normally at the same time unless there is an emergency.

There is of course always been the suggestion that one of them would operate helos and marines. But both can do that and also use jets. It would be good to see one of them operating marines off one of them, but not I assume in a contested coastal space.

JohnM

The 138 number was the life-time buy with the original aim of 4 active squadrons plus OCU of 12 each and 3 OEU jets for a total of 63 maximum front line plus a small reserve – but it was never intended to have 138 planes at Marham all at once.

Daniele Mandelli

Hi John. Of course not. Where would they go with just 2 HAS sites! As always Forward and Depth fleets. The 2 “extra” Typhoon squadrons set up post 2015 SDSR taking that force from 5 to 7 ( artificial spin to keep number plates up, as plane numbers reduced with the GR4 force going ) were seen by many, me included, as temporary until the tranche 1’s are being replaced by 2 more F35 squadrons in due course. Maintaining a 9 squadron fast jet force. As it is, if this news is true we are back to 7 squadrons or… Read more »

Peter S

It isn’t actually a cut. The 10 year plan has funding ..(between£9&10b)for buying and supporting just the 48 contracted. Not buying any more in the 10 year period doesn’t free up any funding. The NAO made specific mention of this. It’s not so easy to pin down whether the total funding for combat air allows for additional buys of Typhoon. I hope it does.

Daniele Mandelli

Correct. Beyond the 48 has never been allocated.

Meirion X

Not entirely True!
The £10 billion or so includes the cost of both carriers and the 48 F-35Bs.
The UK pays $115.5 million for each F-35B.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
Peter S

No, you are wrong. The appendix to the NAO report provides a list of major projects comparing original forecast with latest projected outturn. The carriers’ cost nearly doubled to @£6.3b.Separately, the F35 cost projection has fallen from>£10b to @ £9b ( these numbers from memory). The problem with the way the MOD presents numbers is that purchase price and support costs over the period of the plan are lumped together.The NAO. appendix adds to the difficulty by looking at acquisition costs only in the case of the carriers but buy and support costs for F35 ( presumably only 5 years… Read more »

TrevorH

Fair point. Personally I would have one wing of 3 squadrons of 8 planes. One RAF, one RN and one joint. 24 each. 72 plus training gives 84. But even this will take several years to build up. No doubt over time some of these would be replaced or handed over by Tempests when they go in to service. But even if we were to limit to 36 ever in active service we would need another 12 to 24 for lifetime of project. 60 to 72 overall.0

Harry Bulpit

All rumours until the 16th. However, if true this will be totally devastating and unacceptable.

Mark F

This will happen and then wait for it Tempest will come to nothing. All the RAF will see is tackey cheap drones capabil of nothing.

Captain P Wash

Seriously chaps…. why are you all happy about cutting numbers ? 48 F35’s, @100 Typhoons and that’s it, and a fair few of them will be out of service or trainers. Heck why don’t we just cancel Tempest now and save all those billions. (walks away shaking head in dismay ).

Daniele Mandelli

“Heck why don’t we just cancel Tempest now and save all those billions” Nail on head. When does HMG ever not feed the Military Industrial Complex? The billions can disappear into thin air and THEN the programme is reduced and reduced. Gives UK industry expertise, a necessary requirement, and the forces go to the wall. And Captain, believe me, I hurt like the next person who cares at our forces being cut. My wife still says I was unbearable in 2010. Read my new posts above. I still believe we need additional F35B ( but not 138 ) and the… Read more »

Captain P Wash

so, why are we building new bases and relationships on a global scale if we are going to Slaughter our assets ? Flip me backwards, have we learn’t bugger all over the centuries with all those who died trying to undo all the bad decisions made by all the untouchable decision makers ?

Spyinthesky

To sell the idea we are still a relevant power and to raise the flag to sell some Rolls Royces, Land Rovers and London taxis no doubt and other foreign owned classically British nick nacks.

Mark F

It also looks like a 41% cut in the rotary Fleet.

Fat Dave

The F-35 fleet is 100% owned by the RAF, albeit with FAA and RAF pilots. A case could be made to transfer the F-35 to the RN but that doesn’t make any sense for an aircraft which has considerable land based utility as well as the RAF ownership of its support network. A far better argument would be to streamline it all and move all FJ FAA pilots to the RAF. It makes no sense to have that duplication. Arguably the carriers will always be too vulnerable for near peer and peer on peer operations, so the F-35 will always… Read more »

Meirion X

What Nonsense you Sprout!!

The RAF does Not own anything, only operate!

The MoD is the real owner of the aircraft.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
Adrian Cockerill

This all assumes we’ll order Tempest at some point, I suspect that’ll end up like the F35, always going to order a quantity and then when it comes to it order hardly any because we’ll need to cut it to fund reasearch into the new Tempest.. By then probably called a tornado or something. Before long we are actually going have to pick one and actually order some quantity of one rather than jam tomorrow

Steve R

If true this is devastating, both now and in the future. Only 48 F35s means what, two squadrons, an OCU and spares? Not a problem if we already had LANCA or other Loyal Wingman drones and a capability to launch them from our carriers, but without that we’ve effectively castrated our expeditionary capability. They say they’re cutting these in favour of Tempest, which is currently only a life-size plastic Airfix model and won’t be in service until at least 2035. More likely 2040-45. My main worry is that the MoD and HMG are thinking of cutting F35 numbers now and… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

90 is fine. I’d bite the hand off for 70.

Steve R

Do you mean 90 Tempests? That seems far too low to me.

Daniele Mandelli

No, F35.

Steve R

Ah, I meant Tempest. My worry is that they’re cutting F35 orders to buy more Tempests but then the number of Tempests will drop to 90 or so. At this rate we won’t have an air force worth the name.

Gavin Gordon

Tempest is not much above a concept ( there are no developmental airframes rolled out) whilst there must be questions even now over it’s likely investment to numbers ratio. F35B cut in favour of – anyone heard of a maritime version then, which would at least add some extra airframes?! Just political spin / hot air to ‘justify’ cuts now.

Felix

Most of tempest development will be virtual. If you look at redhawk development to full flying model was three years. Same with Boeing loyal wingman.

John Clark

We will see Gavin, I think we will see the full formal launch of the Tempest ‘System of Systems’ on the 16th. That might consist of a large twin engine manned strike aircraft, a single engine light manned strike aircraft (with SAAB taking the design lead) and a highly capable long range multi roll UCAV with Carrier capability. All using much of the same advanced systems, 3d printing, propulsion technology etc…. I do wonder if we are planning on a relatively early F35B withdrawal, carrier conversion and replacement with cats and traps Tempest UCAV in the 2030’s??? Perhaps with an… Read more »

Gavin Gordon

I admire your optimism, John, but figure you may still have your fingers crossed under the table. We are past masters in the UK of cutting assets, increasingly before some have even bedded in nowadays, I’d suggest, often for the most grandiose future vision (perhaps ‘mirage’ would be a better word). Would you, I or anyone else (including the mandarins) run their personal domestic or business finances on those lines? But, it’s taxpayers – or magic – money, so ‘what the ….’!

Paul.P

A lot of technologies are there or thereabouts. Saab were confident they could make carrier capable Gripen; BAE tested Taranis a while back and they must have a good understanding of F-35 sensor fusion. I like the system of systems concept. The original design for Typhoon was twin tail. They only reused the Tornado tail to save time and cut costs. I’m confident they can pull it off. Let’s hope its not a TSR2 action replay.

Glass Half Full

That is an intriguing scenario. The single engine platform might essentially be a single optionally manned/unmanned UCAV loyal wing man platform, i.e. just two high end platforms from the Tempest program. Perhaps why Aeralis, with their module based approach to aircraft design, have been engaged to contribute to the program. As carrier capable a single engine variant would also seem to meet Sweden’s presumed continuing requirement for dispersed austere ops from roads. Using a single RR engine versus the twin engine long range variant. All platforms sharing common avionics and software development, the latter clearly being the greatest challenge for… Read more »

John Clark

The pieces of the puzzle are all there GHF, we have technology and the countries to turn the vision into reality.

Let’s hope……

Peter S

Has there ever been a military jet aircraft with an option for 1 or 2 engines? I can’t think of one. The airframe is to be stealthy which will determine its shape. Even LM felt constrained by the need for commonality with F35b to stick to a single engine design for the other variants. I agree with you about likely Swedish needs but don’t see how these could be met by a single design. I am pretty sure we are not interested in carrier capability – we have our preferred solution already and there would be no market for them.… Read more »

Glass Half Full

A single design with one or two engines is not what I was suggesting. I was suggesting that the “high end” solution is a twin engine design and the “low end” end solution is a different design based on a single engine. That low end design might support a manned jet solution, but built with a different fuselage option (or even just operated as optionally unmanned) might also provide an unmanned loyal wing man solution. Whether the low end design could work as a manned platform or UCAV depends on the commonality of specs. The manned platform would need to… Read more »

Paul T

A Military Jet with One or Two Engines – I can’t think of one specific example Either but the Mirage 2000/4000 comes close.

Meirion X

A large manned twin engine Tempest, would be beyond the weight limits of the proposed CATs & traps for the QE carriers.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
John Clark

I don’t think the manned element of Tempest is being considered for Carrier capability Meirion, rather the UCAV part of the project….

Captain P Wash

where on earth did you dig that up from ? Seriously mate, get over the whole cats and traps thing…….

Richard B

All rumours of course, but it’s been a long time since more than 48 F-35B’s seemed to be much more than talking up the UK’s workshare. I doubt if Carrier Strike had much influence on the RAF’s thinking when faced with the choice Tempest or Lightning – it decided that it prefers to wait for Tempest rather than get an extra squadron or two of F-35’s (probably A’s) sooner. Slight echo’s of the Harrier or Tornado debate in 2010. Has the wrong decision been made? Only events will tell, but one thing to bear mind is that in a national… Read more »

JohnL

48 seems far too few to be worth while unless we are going to embark USMC regularly, which makes a mockery of our independence. It also puts BAE in a difficult position as a tier 1. Is there any chance of a navalised Tempest? This would require stronger u/c, corrosion resistent components, maybe a rocket assisted take off disposable pod, reverse thrust, deflectors and rear u/c near rear of fuselage to aid steep slow landing. Better included now rather than later. It seems silly to have different aircraft for the two services. There was a proposal for a navalised Typhoon… Read more »

The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken

Until any of this is confirmed by the publication of the defence review then it’s nothing but speculative horse shite. The key giveaway in the article is the use of the word “ likely” .

I’ll keep my wee panties untwisted until then I suggest others do the same as it can be a nasty injury getting your knickers twisted.

?????????

Well said LP . agree, your commentary is spot on

Airborne

General sir Nick Carter, the most complicit and nodding dog of a CDS we have had for a long time.

Daniele Mandelli

Hear hear! Just wait til he has his fat pension, sitting in the Lords, gravely lamenting defence cuts! Like all the rest.

I still hope this news is not correct mate.

Jon

When politicians float something like this it’s often to prepare for a smaller but still unpopular reduction. We’re only cutting down to 90 after all? Hoorah!

Simon

Whether or not the exact numbers are correct, it does make sense than the number of F35’s are cut now that the Tempest program is going ahead. Why would the RAF want any F35s in 15 years time if the Tempest is coming into service then?

BB85

I don’t see the existing airframes lasting 20 years though so no matter what the UK will need to replace the original 48 over the 50 year lifetime or the carriers.

Paul42

Exactly! Plus a cut to 48 would completely undermine our carrier strike capability. Axe some more Typhoon batch 1s and ramp up F35B acquisition if necessary. What was it Boris said? No more cuts?

Lordtemplar

FYI. According to the 2019 DOT&E annual report, the F35B had a lifetime expectancy of around 2000 hours compared to the 8000 hours planned! (that is about 10 years since fighter aircraft typically fly about 200 hrs per year).
On top of this, just recently it was revealed that the engines suffer from premature wear and tear.

BB85

Exactly and with fewer airframes they will be worked even harder and wear out faster. I expected numbers to be cut to 72 followed by a further 72 in 15 to 20 years when the current airframes need replacing, that’s one of the biggest benefits of a US production line you don’t need to request these long lead time orders.

Glass Half Full

If the UK does cap at 48 F-35B, then it probably reflects the expectation to now heavily leverage unmanned platforms in carrier ops as well as land ops. This would be consistent with the recent RFI for launch and recovery, especially with the relatively large loads specified in the RFI.

In that case we might for example have one or two Loyal Wing Man (LWM) class platforms accompanying every F35B. So a carrier airwing might include 12x F35B plus 12-24x LWM or potentially up to double those numbers for both, providing significantly greater capability than an all-F35B based air wing.

Daniele Mandelli

Which I can accept. As long as that happens as 48 alone is suicide and hamstrings the Carriers.

geoff

Morning Daniele. Hope you are well. I would think that 70 F 35 would be a minimum credible number particularly bearing in mind that we have two massive carriers that have only the F35B as their fixed wing option!! Also the mandarins should not forget the damage to the UK aircraft industry by the cut in our 15% share of the numbers PLUS the likelihood of a downgrade in this regard in favour of the now several buyers that would be way above us in the numbers game! Despite established infrastructure how could we continue to justify our tag as… Read more »

Jon

The cost to UK Plc of the F-35s is peanuts because of the amount brought in through our 15% manufacturing stake. If at least 2000 planes are sold and British manufacturing gets 15% by value, 50% of that will flow back to the treasury through taxes and the economic stimulous, so we effectively get 150 planes FREE. Just assuming that we hold our nerve and the US doesn’t cancel or massively reduce its own purchase. We should be talking up the F-35 to make sure the US sees the F-35 as a success. Any cancellation or reduction in our order… Read more »

geoff

Very well said Jon

Nigel Collins

USAF seeks Next Gen Multirole UAS capabilities

It appears that way!

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/usaf-seeks-next-gen-multirole-uas-capabilities

Kevin Watts

I can understand the need to buy so many b model F35s.
As theses have seemed to be a navy need rather than RAF need.
But surely there must have been a need and to my view still is to buy more F35s even if its the A model for the RAF.
With Russia and China knocking on the door everyday of the week, we need more aircraft, either that or buy more Typhoons ?

Last edited 1 month ago by Kevin Watts
dan

Did covid mess with Boris’ mind or something? He’s castrating the British military.

Graham

Downside of this is that the new carriers will now only have 48 fighters between them.

Johan

Every mention of cuts so far is from the RAF, makes you wonder if its not a game, F35b has a kill ratio of 15 to 1 over Typhon. has the same ratio over all the other 4/4,5 gen fighters. RAF Doesn’t want to use its budget for airframes on Navy carriers. RAF cannot swim it seems. F35 Is a life of the project order and could go on for 40 years. i expect cuts youre mad if you dont think it will happen

Watcherzero

If your talking about Red Flag 2017 where that figure comes from it wasnt scored against other aircraft, it was in a simulation of assaulting a ground target heavily defended by the latest AA weapons. The Typhoon actually achieved a higher kill ratio than the F22 in dogfighting against other aircraft.

sophie

48 is very less I think 70 is enough

J Jacks

Maybe one of both carriers will be sold to India. It seems pointless having so few aircraft in such large aircraft carriers. Unless Cats and traps are to be fitted to allow more and cheaper aircraft to used. Also will the F35 be upgraded to Block 4 which enables Meteor and Spear 3. I think the upgrades are expensive.

Graham

If this is true then we will need to equip the 67 tranche 2 Typhoons with the Radar 2 that is currently only planned for the 40 tranche 3. The new radar in service date is 2025 which gives plenty of lifetime on the tranche 2 airframes especially if they’re extended with a program similar to block 2 super hornets. This sensor is a game changer and will give Typhoon the ability to stay relevant until Tempest arrives in the 2040’s. The other question is upgrading F-35B to block 4 which is due after the last of the 48 are… Read more »

Nigel Collins

This might be limited as well?

“British Government Says It Might Pass On $27M Upgrade For Some Of Its F35s”

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/34330/british-government-says-it-might-pass-on-27m-upgrade-for-some-of-its-f-35s

Robert Blay

It’s common not all aircraft in the pool receive the very latest upgrades. Not all Typhoons will receive project Centurion upgrades ect, especially aircraft on the OCU. And airframes are rotated between sqns depending on the requirements for a particular deployment or exercise. Aircraft are pooled now in a fleet, instead of a squadron owing the same 12 aircraft for example. The RAF might deploy 9 Typhoons to a Red Flag from say 11sqn, but you might see 4 different squadron markings on the 9 deployed aircraft. ?

Jeremy Bell

Ex RAF (37 years. It is sad but we need to be able to afford what we buy. We don’t need Trident. We will never use it, and it costs an arm and a leg to upkeep! Hunter-killer submarines are what we should focus on. Money could be saved if they made squadron leaders run the squadron, not wing commanders. If wing commanders ran wings and the rank of Group Captain be done away with. If we got rid of the dross at the top of all three services.

David Philip Geaves

A reduced F-35 buy was always on the cards considering the cost of purchase. I could never understand the need for 2 aircraft carriers both suitable for F-35Bs only rather than have just 1 aircraft carrier capable of handling all types of carrier born aircraft, a true coalition asset. Now, one of them is redundant, a complete waste of money.

Nigel Collins

There are rumblings that the programme could be scrapped altogether in favour of additional funding for the US Airforce and Navy to build new high-end 6th gen fighters and a lower end replacement (4.5gen) for their ageing fleet of F16’s ect.

A high-low mix if you will. I wonder what is taking place behind closed doors across the pond?

“The Pentagon has put a decision on approving full-rate production of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 on indefinite hold, as officials remain unable to say when the fighter jet will be ready for combat testing that’s been delayed repeatedly since 2017.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-31/pentagon-keeps-398-billion-f-35-s-full-rate-production-on-hold

Waddi

What is disturbing about all of this is the lack of joined up thinking. You don’t need Wedgetails if you have F35B. So to reduce orders for both is illogical. If you only have 48 F35B suggests one carrier is up for sale or even both as 70 was deemed to be the minimum by the NAO. If we can’t afford more than 48 F35B (despite being effectively self financing through our Tier 1 status in the F35 programme) how on earth can we afford to develop Tempest given a potential order book of say 48 from the UK and… Read more »

Paul T

Id hope for more Tempest Aircraft than 48 – that number surely wouldn’t be Economically Viable,providing of course that it manages to get into Production and the Politicians don’t Kill it.

John Hampson

How much more evidence is needed before the blind supporters of the F35 admit the F-35 at the very least has not delivered on its promises. People like Mieron X must have a lot of shares in Lockheed. The facts are the USAF said they would NEVER buy another non stealth figther. The US is now buying F15 and apparently F16. The numbers projected F35 purchases are being cut all over. It may never actually achieve full rate production. The evidence indicates that the F35 because of all the problems and delays is being overtaken by developements. I have questioned… Read more »

Jonathan

The full agreed final order of 130+ Is for the whole life of the programme and this plane is going to still be flying when we are all dead and buried In the 2070s. Why would any government announce a plan to reduce orders that have not even been made or will Need to be made or paid for in the next 20-30 years…..when opening your mouth will potentially impacting on our work share and the future of a programme we build 15% of. You would literally have to be moronic……sorry but it’s true, you big up the programme that’s… Read more »

AdjectiveNoun

So if I am following this correctly, as recently as Dec 2020 [1] we were being told by Air Marshal Knighton that: “It’s inevitable we are going to buy more than 48 jets, otherwise we won’t be able to operate the carriers probably.” I think, unless the MOD have some gigantic carrier capable drone programme they intend to reveal soon, that we can assume the above analysis has not changed and we still need more than 48 in order to properly utilise the carriers. In that case, this would be nothing more than a cash saving move and a giant gamble on Tempest, and the… Read more »

BradyS

Don’t get that with withan increase in the budget there can also be major cuts to things like F-35 and Typhoon. Troops understandably.
I also have another question, will tactical stealth ISR aircraft ever be built or will these be too expensive and LEO satellites be a safer option?

Ex-Service

A new definition of stupidity, if true.

Anyone thinking (sic) a static air field is a better resource than a carrier should be sacked and never again employed in HM government, to mitigate further acts of stupidity.

Reminds me of the 1960s decision to cancel CVA… they must have reopened Gan again? 😉