The UK intends to increase the fleet size beyond the 48 F-35 aircraft it has already ordered.
The Defence Command Paper released today, titled ‘Defence in a Competitive Age‘, states:
“The Royal Air Force will continue to grow its Combat Air capacity over the next few years
as we fully establish all seven operational Typhoon Squadrons and grow the Lightning II
Force, increasing the fleet size beyond the 48 aircraft that we have already ordered. Together they will provide a formidable capability, which will be continually upgraded to meet the threat, exploit multi domain integration and expand utility.
The Royal Air Force will spiral develop Typhoon capability, integrate new weapons such as the UK developed ‘SPEAR Cap 3’ precision air launched weapon and invest in the Radar 2 programme to give it a powerful electronically scanned array radar. We will integrate more UK weapons onto Lightning II and invest to ensure that its software and capability are updated alongside the rest of the global F 35 fleet.”
There had been concerns previously that the F-35 fleet would be capped at 48.
The Sunday Times reported that the UK was to purchase only 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.”
This defence review was previously described by Boris Johnson as the largest review of its kind since the Cold War.