The re-establishment of 809 Naval Air Squadron as a frontline F-35 unit, alongside 617 Squadron, will take place on the 8th of December.

The fleet’s expansion now supports two frontline operational squadrons.

809 Naval Air Squadron: As a Fleet Air Arm squadron, it serves as the second frontline squadron alongside the renowned 617 Squadron

617 Squadron: 617 Squadron, famously known as the “Dambusters,” was the first front-line squadron equipped with the F-35B Lightning jets.

207 Squadron: 207 Squadron, serving as the F-35B Lightning’s Operational Conversion Unit, is essential for training pilots. This unit ensures that aircrew are fully prepared to operate the F-35B.

17 Squadron: Based at Edwards Air Force Base in the USA, 17 Squadron specialises in testing and evaluating the F-35B Lightning jets as part of the jets development programme.

In a model reminiscent of the Joint Force Harrier, both the RAF and FAA squadrons, regardless of their individual service affiliations, will be jointly crewed.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Felix
Felix
3 months ago

Hopefully they’ll start to give them sqn markings.

BobA
BobA
3 months ago
Reply to  Felix

I might have got this wrong, so don’t shoot me down, but I think the national markings on F35s are actually built into the skin to preserve the radar absorption. Hence the F35 has grey roundels, not the traditional red/blue.

Felix
Felix
3 months ago
Reply to  BobA

The lighting bolts were added after we got them

John grant
John grant
3 months ago
Reply to  BobA

Life will go on bobA.
That will be guesswork from anyone who will say its a fact while guessing….

John Clark
John Clark
3 months ago
Reply to  Felix

Unfortunately Felix, I doubt they will. The Squadrons are purely personnel based, the actual aircraft are just drawn from the available pool for tasking.

Felix
Felix
3 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

Unfortunately I think you’re right. Although a minister did say they’d have RN markings. Then again she probably isn’t a minister now

Jon
Jon
3 months ago

Great news.

If we want to have 24 F-35s on HMS Prince of Wales in CSG 25, less than 18 months away, intensive training of the second squadron needs to start sooner rather than later.

Challenger
Challenger
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

24 (out of less than 47 which will include very recently arrived examples and the 3 test aircraft in the US) will be a real struggle and impressive if they can pull it off for a proper deployment in early 2025!

Longer term 24 should definitely be the aim. 36 was always a little fanciful beyond a wartime surge but 24 out of approx 74 jets sounds achievable, even if it means (IMO rightly) accepting that the RAF needs to subordinate some of its priorities to be able to project real power from the sea.

Jim
Jim
3 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

This is true however it’s also worth pointing out that the F35 ended up being way more powerful than was envisaged when we were talking about 36 of them on the Queen Elizabeth class back in the early 2000’s. After early cancellation of F22 production the US upped the scope of the F35 so it was no longer a cheap and chips light F16 replacement. The block IV when it eventually gets Meteor and SPEAR 3 may be the most deadly aircraft on the planet including the F22 or J20 and 24 of them would be a force to be… Read more »

grizzler
grizzler
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

doesn’t really matter how much more powerful it is …it can still only be in one place at at time- & block iv with Meteor and/or Spear is at best aspirational and at worse pure fantasy
I saw a comment (showing working out) on here about needing 85 aircraft (I think- may even have been 95) which seemed to garner a fair bit of agreement..

DaveyB
DaveyB
3 months ago
Reply to  grizzler

Yes, the number was worked out from deploying 24 aircraft on one carrier, having another 6 aircraft deployed to Cypress and another 6 in Estonia, with another 12 in the UK for training, whilst the remaining would be going through scheduled maintenance. Therefore there would be 48 aircraft active, with 36 in their various stages of the maintenance loop. Giving a total of 84 aircraft. This did not include the 3 development aircraft in the US, as I believe they cannot be deployed on operations.

grizzler
grizzler
3 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

cheers yep – so not 24 on each carrier …bugger

Jim
Jim
3 months ago
Reply to  grizzler

In a war scenario like the Falklands, 24 on each is very doable given a fleet of nearly 80 but not just for a normal deployment.

John grant
John grant
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

And what year would the falklands mk2 happen…
48 F35’s at readiness, 2 carrier groups…submarines, destroyers,RFA…
At least 12/14 ships/subs available at any 1 time in full working order….
Hmmmm…😋

John grant
John grant
3 months ago
Reply to  grizzler

Fantasy thoughts.honestly 👍.
Not sure where the ‘bugger’ comez from tbh.
At no point will the 2 carriers have 24 planes on each.

Jim
Jim
3 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

That’s pretty close to what we have on order.

DaveyB
DaveyB
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

It was based on the assumption that only one carrier would be deployed at any one time. Which at the time was the assertion that the then 1st Sea Lord intimated. Times have changed and the Government have said both carriers will be available for deployments. Which means the numbers will need to looked at, as the current model won’t work. However, I think it is safe to say, that if more aircraft were wanted/needed for a deployment, then the USMC will jump at the chance for a cruise.

DJ
DJ
3 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Unless the SCS goes hot. Peace time – yes. War time – USMC will have more to worry about than a RN carrier in the wrong ocean.

Frank62
Frank62
3 months ago
Reply to  DJ

As things stand SCS is well on course to go hot. USA Republicans holding up funding for UKR only demonstrates the inability & lack of resolve of the free world in the face of determined aggressive autocrats. Just hope that the current PRC leader dies of old age beforehand somehow & gets replaced by someone far more reasonable. Giving up on UKR in her hour of need would guarantee emboldened Russia-China- N Korea-Iran. If we show dogged support all the way for UKR it sends a message that aggression will not be permitted. We planned origionally for 135 F35s at… Read more »

Ex-Marine
Ex-Marine
3 months ago
Reply to  Frank62

Absolutely right Frank. 135 were planned in a time with no war in Europe, no Cold War Pt2, no Iran becoming a major arms supplier to Russia, no possible hot war in the SCS. If anything, it’s 180 degrees.

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 months ago
Reply to  Ex-Marine

👍

DH
DH
3 months ago
Reply to  Ex-Marine

👍.

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 months ago
Reply to  Frank62

👍

Matt C
Matt C
3 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Yes the 3 development aircraft are not combat deployable. Quite normal practice.

The fighter fleet can easily sustain a peacetime “roulement” of 1/4th on active ops and a surge of 1/2th the fleet for war. Thus to operate 24 F-35 annually, regularly, a total of 100 F-35s need to be purchased (24 deployed, 72 elsewhere, 3 test, 1 lost). Currently 48 have been ordered, of which 44 are operational. The current capacity is hence 12 at any time and 24 at surge.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
3 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

The 48 does include those 3 in the US.

DJ
DJ
3 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

I have always advocated that these should be STOBAR equiped carriers. Any CATOBAR fighter can operate in STOBAR with a ski jump (both US & France have tested this). You do need to have the BAR part of the equation. Yes they will have a reduced payload, but for fleet defence you need lighter AA missiles, not 2,000lb bombs. Leave the F35B strike fighter to do the strike mission they were designed for. To me (I know other on here disagree), SAAB Sea Griffin is the ideal complement to F35B on a STOBAR carrier. Catapults are expensive, recovery wires are… Read more »

Jim
Jim
3 months ago
Reply to  grizzler

It matters a great deal how powerful it is. 12 F35B is a more powerful capability than 36 F18.

The F35B does not need ECM aircraft , it does not need a fighter to escort it and it does not really need AWACS.

24 F35B on a carrier is able to project power right across a region on its own.

Indeed even the USN is using its America class with about 20 F35B and no AWACS/AEW to stand in for its CVN’s.

Dokis
Dokis
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

So with 20 on America class and 12 operational (see MattC above), QE is half an America?

Matt C
Matt C
3 months ago
Reply to  Dokis

Nope. The two America-class LHAs are amphibious assault ships and don’t have the sortie generation capability of the QEs. The QEs can put more fighters in the air more quickly and for more operational days than the Americas can. Also this discussion is about the F-35 fleet not the carrier capability. The USMC F-35B fleet is something like 115 jets currently and eventually about 350; obviously they will have more available to fly.

PhilWestMids
PhilWestMids
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Personally I think we should switch to 8 to a squadron with the F35B, 3 squadrons of 24 to me seems better than 2 squadrons of 12. With the usual of 2 squadrons on a carrier strike under normal circumstances so 16 at a time. I don’t think people realise how much of a leap it is from the harrier (as amazing as it was) the F35B is.

Jim
Jim
3 months ago
Reply to  PhilWestMids

Especially if we start supplementing them with loyal wingmen.

DJ
DJ
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Hmm – USAF disagree. Even F35 needs the E/A 18E for deep strike. Yes, it might change for block IV, which seems to be a moving target in itself. But it’s not the now situation.

The America class is a LHA. It can act as a light carrier (as can any LHA/LHD) but that is about it. It doesn’t even have a ski jump, so F35B payloads are limited. If you want to scare somebody, they look good. Want to bomb the daylight’s out of them, not so good. Get the F35B ashore, different story.

Klonkie
Klonkie
3 months ago
Reply to  DJ

agreed DJ -good points re the aircraft numbers

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

What’s changed Jim apart from under speccing the engines to cope with TR3/Block 4, endless delays to both TR3 and Block 4 now 2024-2029 respectively and counting, delays to Meteor/Spear 3 2030s, and maintenance costs spiralling? and new engines now also required. I could go on, but it looks the same to me. SPECIFICATIONSLOCKHEED MARTIN F-35B LIGHTNING: Powerplant: one Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan rated at 40,000lb st (177.88kN) with afterburning and 40,500lb st (180.10kN) for vertical take-off Length: 51ft 2¼in (15.60m) Height: 14ft 3½in (4.36m) Wingspan: 35ft (10.70m) Wing area: 460sqft (42.70m2) Maximum take-off weight: around 60,000lb (27,216kg) Maximum speed: Mach 1.6 Combat radius: on internal fuel… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

ROYAL AIR FORCEABOUT THE F-35B LIGHTNINGROLE “The Lightning is a stealth aircraft operating alongside the Typhoon. A multi-role machine, Lightning is capable of conducting air-to-surface, electronic warfare, intelligence gathering and air-to-air missions simultaneously. CAPABILITY The aircraft combines advanced sensors and mission systems with low observable technology, or ‘stealth’, which enables it to operate undetected in hostile airspace. Its integrated sensors, sensor fusion and data linking provide the pilot with unprecedented situational awareness. The pilot is able to share information gathered by the jet with other platforms using secure data links, and/or use the information to employ weapons or electronic means.  The Lightning’s short… Read more »

EW
EW
3 months ago
Reply to  Challenger

I’ve heard some suggestion that the routine number was going to drop to as little as 12 which seems completely unacceptable. I think 16-18 is an acceptable minimum at full operating capability (two basic squadrons – one for air defence and one for strike) considering they will be supplemented by drones (plus US jets continuing to deploy) but any less makes you question why we built carriers 3x the size of the originals for the same air group.

Jim
Jim
3 months ago
Reply to  EW

Because steel is cheap and air is free. The QE have the same annual running cost as Invincible class. Plus we can load them up with helicopters to become and massive LPH.

Smaller makes absolutely no sense even if you don’t routinely pack the decks with aircraft.

CVS was totally out of its depth when it came to anything more than fleet air defence or ASW sea control. CVF can do it all.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Also F35 is massive compared to Harrier.

If you’ve ever been on an invincible and see the game of Tetris in the hangar you would know what I was talking about!

Jim
Jim
3 months ago

Good point, invincible class were only carrying 8-10 harriers as well. It was hardly the kind of capability that had anyone quaking in their boots. F35B is several generations ahead of anything joint force harrier could dream of.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

The other thing is that QEC has more and two aircraft lifts with a separate munitions lift so aircraft moves and therefore force generation can be faster.

Jonno
Jonno
3 months ago

People forget It will still carry up to its max of weapons and fuel so it would be able to fight on station longer. Big advantage over being too small like the Invincibles; especially as we only have Fort Victoria for resupply.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
3 months ago

F35B could actually fit on the Invincible class aircraft lifts.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
3 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

If it physically fitted, which would have been only just, did the lifts gave the weight capacity for it fully fuelled and bombed up?

I’d still not like to play Tetris with them in the hangar?

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
3 months ago

I’m not sure about weight limits. F35 is closer to Tornado weights than Harrier. I spent many an hour in the hangar moving 4 jets to get 1 out. In 2001 we had 17 Harriers onboard. It was doable. But bloody hard work.

DH
DH
3 months ago

Heh, heh SB. Done that many many times. Even placed a rotarhead on a speaking, at sea mit jcb f/lift.
👍 🌊🙏🕳️

DH
DH
3 months ago
Reply to  DH

Seaking, doh 🙃

Matt C
Matt C
3 months ago
Reply to  EW

It is not at all the same air group; the Invincibles were each designed to operate 5 Harriers in peacetime and 9 in war, plus helicopters. If a single QE operates 12 F-35 in peacetime and 24 in war it would quantitatively more than double the air wing of two Invincibles and qualitatively much more as the F-35 is at the cutting edge of air power today. In the words of Paul Tremelling, the world is divided into those air forces with the F-35 and those without. Not even Harrier FA2 was ever that impactful. We can objectively acknowledge success… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
3 months ago
Reply to  Matt C

Well said. Many people still don’t understand the quantum leap in capability that the F35 offers, and the massive impact it has on any battle space.

EW
EW
3 months ago
Reply to  Matt C

I’m not comparing the capabilities of the F-35 and Harrier. It’s not a question of the Navy now vs in the 90s anymore than it is comparing the navy now to when we fought with wooden boats. Just the decision to seemingly upscale so significantly for what would be a marginal increase on capacity and therefore capability. The invincibles might have been designed for 5 harriers when they were first conceptualised as ASW platforms in the North Atlantic with some basic air defence capability, but that isn’t how they turned out. In the 90s and 2000s 8-9 aircraft was routine… Read more »

Matt C
Matt C
3 months ago
Reply to  EW

Valid concerns, but you’re comparing a highly matured Invincible-Harrier capability with QE-F35 when Carrier Strike hasn’t even entered FOC. Not quite apples and apples. Once the F35 fleet is up it’ll be alright.
All in all given the RN spent some considerable time with only the Invincibles and Harriers providing fixed wing air, and moaned so when that capability went, we ought to be pretty happy now. The gulf between Invincible-Harrier and Nimitz-F18 is a lot more than Ford-F35 and QE-F35.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  EW

The thing about a Queen Elizabeth air wing is that it can be expanded quickly, so you can actually toddle the thing about with only a handful of f35 on board..then surge to three squadrons..a U.S. carrier has to have all three/four of its strike squadrons all the time..simply because it has to undertake daily flying opps to keep its pilots qualified….it literally spends most of the time practicing….

EW
EW
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Right, but how are you going to be prepared to operate 3 squadrons if you’ve never had more than one aboard? There’s a reason for why the Navy trains so much.

Something Different
Something Different
3 months ago
Reply to  EW

Used to have 12 harriers on the invincibles. At least the QEs have surge capacity for far more and with the size can generate more sorties. Also, having such bulk makes the current carriers more survivable, adaptable and habitable (good for crew morale and retention). Deploying a 65,000 ton carrier (or even two!) to an area of tension projects a far stronger message/deterrence than a light CV closer to 20,000 tons

RBeedall
RBeedall
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

She is very unlikely to deploy with more than 12 UK F-35B’s, that’s reluctantly become accepted as the practical limit for long deployments by the QEC as some operational capability has to be reserved for other requirements. The plan is that a 24 a/c surge capability will be briefly exercised every two years, e.g. as part of a Joint Warrior Exercise.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
3 months ago
Reply to  RBeedall

Exactly so.

Hopefully augmented with drones.

Jim
Jim
3 months ago
Reply to  RBeedall

I have to say I’m ok with that, especially when we start stacking drones onboard. 12 F35B with 4 Merlin and 4 MQ9 as a base it’s pretty good. Add in a dozen proteus and another dozen sea vixen and that’s an eminence capability for an efficient cost. It would be good to see us surge 24 F35B of our own and 12 F35B from an ally every two years to demonstrate the capability. Alternating with Japan, USMC, Singapore and Italy. Would also like to see us pack them full of Apache and Chinooks while operating 12 F35B at the… Read more »

John grant
John grant
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Jim,your comments would say right off that you are not ex RAF.👍
Nothing wrong with you comments tho tbf.
If you could maybe gift the royal navy,the AAC,and the RAF lots of cash,then we could maybe get to the level where you think we should be.?.
Given the MOD projected shortfall for the tri-services…
Do you have a spare 50 billion…🤣

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
3 months ago
Reply to  John grant

Could always ask Elon Musk…

DH
DH
3 months ago
Reply to  John grant

JG, FAA is the term you’re looking for. (Fleet Air Arm) as in 809 sqdn.
👍

grizzler
grizzler
3 months ago
Reply to  RBeedall

So what I think you are saying is …We won’t have enough f35bs to fulfil all the roles they were procured for ?

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Barring unforeseen circumstances, would presume 8-12 USMC F35Bs will be made available for deployment w/ CSG 25.

Jon
Jon
3 months ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

We were hearing about USMC involvement in CSG 21 from years before, the USMC themselves announced it in May 2019, but I’ve heard nothing so far about them participating in CSG 25. The aspiration to have 24 UK owned planes on board a carrier was initially stated as a goal for 2024, and subsequently pushed back a year. I’m not sure when this became 24 planes for the full CSG 25 deployment. I’ve heard it said a few times, but if there were exercises with 24 planes to show we could, then fewer went on the full deployment, it wouldn’t… Read more »

Louis
Louis
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

The plan announced was for 809 to reach FOC upon return to the UK from the Far East in 2025, presumably 617 will be with them.

Deep32
Deep32
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Evening Jon, given that we should have our first 48 cabs by 2026, I dont think it would be any great stretch to assume that CSG will have 24 UK cabs onboard. Believe we need to show that we can surge our cabs as and when, this is the ideal opportunity.
Not sure how much/many USMC involvement will be forthcoming, but things as always subject to change.

Jon
Jon
3 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

It’s not just the number of planes. We need to board about 20 aircrew per plane, and ideally they should have been on board a ship prior to the deployment! We tried it with far fewer in 2021, many of who had never been on board a ship before. It wasn’t ideal.

Deep32
Deep32
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Totally agree Jon, but if the RN want to declare CS FOC then this is surely one of the pre requisites for them to be able to?
Would also agree with both you and @FormerUSAF that inviting the USMC along in some capacity makes much sense.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Well yes, USMC would certainly have to be extended an invitation in order to participate. The RN could chose to act individually, possibly to demonstrate the capability of operating 24 F35Bs independently. Personally, would invite USMC to participate, at least when operating w/in SCS. USMC would not necessarily need to accompany for the entire deployment. Tough neighborhood; several bad actors. Dunno, may want friends along who are willing and able to kick ass. 🤔

Jon
Jon
3 months ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

24 UK planes plus 12 USMC would be one heck of a step up. If I ruled the world [I barely rule my breakfast time], I’d ask the USMC to join for the second half of the deployment, perhaps cross decking from a gator in the Pacific. That would give a few months to get used to 24 UK planes before sorting out acommodation and sortie rates with 36. It’s not really a tough neighbourhood for us. We have no fishing grounds or islands to steal. I’m sure there will be some pro-forma argy bargy during a FONOPS, but that… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Jon
FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Interesting idea to crossdeck from a Gator (probably a LHA). Original thought was a rendezvous at Pearl. Your concept demonstrably more dynamic. Wonder whether USMC pilots and support personnel from the CSG 21 deployment would still be available 4 years later?

Tend to characterize the PLAN w/in SCS as a variant of ‘Africanized Bees.’ Exhibit a tendency to repeatedly swarm and attack. View USMC as pest exterminators, useful to have available at short notice.

grizzler
grizzler
3 months ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

Are you are implying we cant do it without help then?
If so I would agree with you and thats the whole point of this -oft repeated-‘discussion’.
In reality we can either do it as a sovereign entity or we can’t and no bluff and bluster in parliament (or for that matter on here) will be able to detract from that fact.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
3 months ago
Reply to  grizzler

RN CSG, at current level of development, should be perfectly capable of operating in most areas independently. Believe SCS may be an exception to the general observation. Perhaps best to compare USMC participation to being dealt a winning poker hand.

DH
DH
3 months ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

👍👍

Paul
Paul
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Not sure if anything was hashed out, but the US Chief of Naval Operations and Commandant of the Marine Corps visited PWLS in October. If the RN is interested in hosting USMC F-35s for CSG25, all they have to do is ask.

https://www.navy.mil/Press-Office/Press-Releases/display-pressreleases/Article/3561589/service-chiefs-from-us-navy-royal-navy-and-us-marine-corps-sign-revised-strateg/

Richard Beedall
Richard Beedall
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon

No major American involvement has been publicised for CSG25. However there have been hints that a few USMC VM-22 Osprey’s might embark for part of the deployment. Disappointingly no European navy has so far agreed to provide a frigate or destroyer escort for the deployment. France and Germany seem to be definite No’s, the Netherlands is perhaps the best hope.

David Barry
David Barry
3 months ago

17 Squadron? They’ve got 3 planes! Robert Blay will be on to tell me to give my head a wobble but it’s like the 250 man ranger regiments needing Lt/Cols, and then I suppose Brig.

There are plenty of savings that can be made in the forces, and whichever Party comes to town tomorrow, needs to make them.

Last edited 3 months ago by David Barry
ABCRodney
ABCRodney
3 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

Dave there are simple reasons for them only having 3 Aircraft, there are 3 F35B based at Nellis in the USA for tests and evaluation purposes only. They are pre production models and wired up as test planes. They cannot be upgraded or updated to operational status. So what would you do, top them up to 12 using 9 operational aircraft ?🤷🏻 Test Pilots are always the most experienced and capable Pilots we have so most of them will already probably be Squadron Leaders. Also don’t forget that we have some operational Squadrons such as the P8 and C17 that… Read more »

David Barry
David Barry
3 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

I understand there are only 3 planes and the reasons for it, it just the rank structures within the CoC.

IIRC, US Infantry companies are commanded by Captains, for example.

Head wobble mode engaged.

John grant
John grant
3 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Well said.👍

Jim
Jim
3 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

Like in the USN where destroyers are run by Lt Commanders. We have almost as many generals as the USA for much smaller force.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
3 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

Oh and if you are going to wobble your head could you post a video please ? We could all do with a laugh 😉

David Barry
David Barry
3 months ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

🤣🤣🤣🤣

John M
John M
3 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

Staggering the sheer number of senior officers in our armed services given the manpower and equipment levels. They are all professionals so command the relevant salaries too. Top heavy is a well worn criticism.

As for 809, can’t wait to see them deployed. Loved them on Ark Royal with their Buccaneers. It’s painfully slow but Carrier Strike is heading in the right direction. I sincerely hope we procure enough jets to finally do it justice.

David Barry
David Barry
3 months ago
Reply to  John M

Given their pedigree,they have a very high bar to meet.

Good luck 809!

DH
DH
3 months ago
Reply to  John M

Agreed John M. Except when 1xBuc fell off the arse end. 🤔👍

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
3 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

17 is a test and evaluation sqn. Like 41sqn for the Typhoon force. Which also has a small number of aircraft allocated.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

Yes, I think The Special Operations Brigade has a 1 *
Robert will be along shortly! 😆

David Barry
David Barry
3 months ago

Yes… although SF have always held on to their old hands… even when some haha had them blown off.. so, given the need for experience, that wouldn’t fuss me.

(Hope you’re holding up, my daughter starts school in January, so half day in school tomorrow and school uniform time, Nana will be very happy).

Stay happy Mr M.!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

Morning David. Yes, I’m coping ok.
Daughter? You’re an older dad then, I thought you’d say grand daughter, with your recollections of BAOR and being in RMP in the Cold War. 👍

David Barry
David Barry
3 months ago

Ahem, cough, splutter… a tad old and feeling it, but, she was very happy to go into school and will now want to play in the park, in the rain when she comes out at 12. I just can’t think what to get her for Christmas in the line of toys – what she really wants is endless pepper pig, but, I want something to develop her STEM skills as well.

Meanwhile, Cumbrian Coast Line is very peaceful today, probably the strike 😉 😉

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

😀

John Clark
John Clark
3 months ago

Well it’s good news chaps, another step back to carrier Strike, slower than we would have liked, but slowly getting there.

Let’s get batch 2 ordered and get a 3rd Squadron operational.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
3 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

Further (at least potentially) good news: JPO and LM jointly concur that victory will be declared re TR-3 upgrade, sometime between Apr-Jun 24. 🙏🤞👍 After clearing that hurdle, Block 4 timeline should become more definitive. 🤞🤞

Jim
Jim
3 months ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

Thanks for update

Felix
Felix
3 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

We’re waiting for block 3+/ 4 to come on line

Steve
Steve
3 months ago

How many f35b are there in active service at this point excluding the test ones perm in the US and the one lost?

Matt C
Matt C
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve

28 active combat cabs as of June 2023. Some are assigned to OCU of course.

John Clark
John Clark
3 months ago
Reply to  Matt C

Given 28, then I’m assuming the Squadrons will currently only have 8 aircraft assigned each, it certainly can’t be 12.

Matt C
Matt C
3 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

17 Sqdn has 3 in the US for testing.
617 have at least 7.
207 is the OCU squadron.
For combat, 12 per squadron is likely to be the standard.

DJ
DJ
3 months ago
Reply to  Matt C

It used to be minimum of 14 (2 spare) – for some reason, in combat, you tend to mislay the odd aircraft (& associated pilot).

John Clark
John Clark
3 months ago
Reply to  DJ

FAA standard fast jet prior to Sea Harrier was 14, RAF 12.

Let’s hope we reach a fleet strength of 75, that will give us three 12 aircraft front line Squadrons.

Braint Jonas
Braint Jonas
3 months ago

What happens if our opponents were to sink the aircraft carrier? We’ve only got one.. 🙄Bit of an easy highly traceable target imo..

Tax payer
Tax payer
3 months ago

This is where all my tax payments are going… Spent to fund the US war machine… And we have a living crisis, people struggling to eat…. Absolutely disgraceful to the citizens 🤦🏽‍♂️

Mark P
Mark P
3 months ago

Does anyone know where we are up to with this years delivery of seven aircraft (ZM165-ZM171), we received two back in July and the two TR-3’s obviously won’t be turning up until next April/May at the earliest but that still leaves three. I wondered if they might have come home with Prince of Wales but I’ve not heard anything?

Gareth
Gareth
3 months ago

Now we just need to get on with weapons integration (Meteor, SPEAR3, JSM, and imo, Storm Shadow but I accept that’s unlikely…)

Last edited 3 months ago by Gareth
David Barry
David Barry
3 months ago

Is the contract a ‘call off’ type because with our Defence budget… stretched… if we can, should we not be looking at the T&Cs with regard integrating our superior UK munitions for a much lower price?

Could have done the same Apache as well.

To the Septics, sometimes they do open their blinkered eyes and buy foreign kit when it’s potential has been shown to them, think Harrier and… M777, (sbtbc)

Geoffi
Geoffi
3 months ago

Likely to be the last time an FAA fixed-wing squadron is stood up…

Bittersweet day.

DaveyB
DaveyB
3 months ago

A question for my Navy buds. How come 809 was chosen over 800 and 801?

DH
DH
3 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

A light hearted version could be….. The bar was engaged, as the sun was over the yardarm. Muchos pinkos (gin) were had, and a wave of nostalgia broke out. The phoenix does look good on the tail, eh? 🎄🎅
👍 🕳️

chris ashdown
chris ashdown
3 months ago

Why so many in maintenance at any time, seems rather a lot

Richard Beedall
Richard Beedall
3 months ago

>:The fleet’s expansion now supports two frontline operational squadrons.

Barely. I make it 29 aircraft currently at Marham, including some older early lot aircraft (5+ ?) which will never be brought up to an operational standard and are just used for training. (The MOD is very coy about how many Block 3 aircraft we have, and how many will be delivered or updated to Block 4 standard). 17R at Edwards has 3 very old test aircraft. And there are 3 completed aircraft at Lockheed Martin Fort Worth awaiting their delivery flight. This of course excludes the aircraft written-off in 2021.

Mark P
Mark P
3 months ago

I can’t understand why the three awaiting their delivery flight didn’t just get a lift back to blighty on Prince of Wales?

Richard Beedall
Richard Beedall
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark P

The F-35 joint program office has put a hold on aircraft deliveries by L-M due to the software required to support upgraded TR-3 hardware being unavailable and its development a year behind schedule. It’s speculated that an interim version with essential bare bones functionality will be accepted by the JPO in early 2024. Otherwise it will be at least June 2024 before the UK aircraft (probably by 5 then) can head to Marham.

Mark P
Mark P
3 months ago

Apologies for not responding sooner. The five still waiting to be delivered this year are ZM167-ZM171 of which only ZM170 & ZM171 are TR-3 the other three are pre TR-3 so thought they would still have been delivered? Yes like you say all TR-3’s will be at least May, June time before things get moving.

Richard Beedall
Richard Beedall
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark P

I thought that ZM167 was one of the three aircraft that were spotted arriving at RAF Marham in June? ZM165 was an unexpected no show on that delivery flight, it now seems that the aircraft has instead gone to 17R at Edwards to supplement or start to replace its three old early lot aircraft – which are now hopelessly out of date for testing and trials. ZM170 and ZM171 still haven’t flown yet, presumably caught up in the TR-3/Block 4 delays. So just ZM168 and 169 are at Fort Worth awaiting delivery to the UK. The MOD is probably balking… Read more »

Mark P
Mark P
3 months ago

Ah I didn’t know ZM165 had gone to Edwards. Still ZM168 & ZM169 could have surly come back on Prince of Wales as she was a year late going to the States so there must have been enough time to have made the necessary arrangements? Still who knows?

Rob N
Rob N
3 months ago

Joint Force Harrier was not a success for the FAA as it was the RAF that basically got the Sea Harrier withdrawn. Leaving the RN with no organic fixed wing air defence. Also all F35s are owned by the RAF so what they say goes. I would like to see the FAA with its own jets assigned to carriers. We should have 4 frontline F35 units 2 FAA and 2 RAF. We need more F35s, some drone tankers and a few MV-22s for AEW and transport…..

Andrew D
Andrew D
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

Sounds like a plan , however I sure I read that MV-22 have been grounded at the moment . 👍

Ex_Service
Ex_Service
3 months ago

See talk of the RAF wanting F-35As ….if there’s money. 🤬 Idiots. Next they will say RAF can provide air cover and maritime strike 🤣 Any discussion re the F-35A is illogical since they cannot deploy on the QEs… though that would be the (RAF) point right? (Rhetorical). It is simple fact, talk of the air wings of 24 (or even 36) F-35Bs in the QEs is woefully under the ships true operating capacity and that the present purchasing scheme is inadequate to fulfil a potent carrier strike capability for the UK. Finally two more points: If the UK was… Read more »

Cripes
Cripes
3 months ago
Reply to  Ex_Service

The discussion here seems to be all about what the Navy wants and needs. At the risk of being a killjoy, it should be borne in mind firstly that these are RAF-owned aircraft. They are being paid for entirely from the RAF equipment budget, that is why the RAF has no money to buy any more Typhoons etc. The RN is not contributing anything to the cost; they are being allowed to freeload on the RAF order, as HMG can’t afford two lots of aircraft so is going to pretend that these aircraft can be in two or three places… Read more »

Ex_Service
Ex_Service
3 months ago
Reply to  Cripes

It is quite irrelevant whether the F-35B is purchased under RAF or RN budget allocations, especially given all the jointness 💩 from the period since the Sea Harrier’s demise.

Ultimately the point is, the Bravo variant was developed to meet USMC and RN requirements – No other Air Force in the world operates the F-35B, which should also point to the obvious… it is principally a maritime asset.

Cripes
Cripes
3 months ago
Reply to  Ex_Service

Wonder why the RAF would be spending all its available fast jet budget for years on ‘a maritime asset’. What a strange idea.

It is very relevant whose budget the aircraft come from. Each service has a very tight equipment budget,, as we have just seen from the NAO report. The RAF can’t afford 2 extra Wedgetails or 12 more A400s or any extra Typhoons, because it is having to pay out billions for F-35s for anther services.

The RN is happy to trumpet jointery when someone else is paying for it.

Ray Johnson
Ray Johnson
3 months ago

We should have kept the Harriers until we had all the F35B that were required to be fully operational.
The US Marines got a bargain and don’t they know it! As usual we were let down by ignorant politicians.

Tom Cargill
Tom Cargill
1 month ago

How many f35bs will there be in 809 squadron?