How many F-35's does the UK really need???

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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Corsair1963

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Unread post10 Jan 2019, 05:08

With all of this talk about the RAF possibly getting some F-35A's. Got me wondering how many Lightnings does the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force really need????

Here's my split (compromise) between the RN and RAF.

1-Squadron 17R (mix F-35A/B)
1-Squadron OCU (mix F-35A/B)

4-Squadrons F-35B RN
2-Squadrons F-35B RAF

3-Squadrons F-35A RAF

RNRAF.jpg
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marsavian

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Unread post10 Jan 2019, 05:15

I don't see any more than two F-35A squadrons specifically to replace the two Tranche 1 Typhoon squadrons leaving about 100 F-35B for the RN. However as BREXIT is heading to a messy chaotic no deal conclusion in just over two months time I wouldn't bank on any more than the 48 already agreed because there is no telling what shape the UK economy will be in the future if it drops out of the EU without a soft landing.
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Corsair1963

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Unread post10 Jan 2019, 05:23

marsavian wrote:I don't see any more than two F-35A squadrons specifically to replace the two Tranche 1 Typhoon squadrons leaving about 100 F-35B for the RN. However as BREXIT is heading to a messy chaotic no deal conclusion in just over two months time I wouldn't bank on any more than the 48 already agreed because there is no telling what shape the UK economy will be in the future if it drops out of the EU without a soft landing.



Yet, wouldn't the F-35A's really be to replace the Tornado's not the early Typhoons?
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old_rn

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Unread post10 Jan 2019, 08:19

Corsair1963 wrote:
marsavian wrote:I don't see any more than two F-35A squadrons specifically to replace the two Tranche 1 Typhoon squadrons leaving about 100 F-35B for the RN. However as BREXIT is heading to a messy chaotic no deal conclusion in just over two months time I wouldn't bank on any more than the 48 already agreed because there is no telling what shape the UK economy will be in the future if it drops out of the EU without a soft landing.



Yet, wouldn't the F-35A's really be to replace the Tornado's not the early Typhoons?


If the aim is to replace the Tornado role would not the RAF do better with F35C. Longer range and probe already fitted?
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weasel1962

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Unread post10 Jan 2019, 09:51

Well, its going to be a bit difficult replacing the Tornados with any other aircraft on a sqn level. 23 RAF sqns flew the Tornado. 9 F-3 (incl 1 that also fly F-2), 5 GR-1 and 8 GR-4s. The GR-1s were retired in 1999. The F-3 retired in Mar 2011. Of the final 8 GR-4 sqns:

2 sqn stood down on 31 Mar 2015 and stood up as a Typhoon sqn on 1 Apr 2015.
13 sqn stood down in May 2011 and stood up as a MQ-9 reaper sqn in Oct 2012.
14 sqn disbanded in June 2011 and stood up as a shadow R1 sqn in Oct 2011
617 sqn disbanded in 2014 and has stood up in Apr 2018 as a F-35B sqn.

15 Sqn, which was the OCU, was disbanded on 31 Mar 2017. As this is an OCU, there are no plans to reactivate the unit.
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-no ... d-39304528

12 sqn flew its last tornado in Dec 2017, lodged its colours with Queen on 2 Feb 2018 until its return as a joint UK-Qatari training unit with Typhoons this year. A standing up ceremony for the sqn as held on 24 Jul 2018.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/join ... ip-deepens

9 Sqn will stand up as a Typhoon sqn at RAF Lossiemouth this year. I noted vacancy recruitments for start date of 1 Apr 2019…
https://www.northwaleschronicle.co.uk/n ... -anglesey/

31 Sqn will be the last to be decommissioned. Will be the 1st protector sqn, as announced in Jul 2018 (see link below), operating the MQ-9B, some of which has been delivered.
https://twitter.com/31sqnoc?lang=en

It is possible that some of the former F-3/GR-1 squadron colours can be raised again but don’t think that really counts as a replacement after a decade’s gap…
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marsavian

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Unread post10 Jan 2019, 14:22

Corsair1963 wrote:
marsavian wrote:I don't see any more than two F-35A squadrons specifically to replace the two Tranche 1 Typhoon squadrons leaving about 100 F-35B for the RN. However as BREXIT is heading to a messy chaotic no deal conclusion in just over two months time I wouldn't bank on any more than the 48 already agreed because there is no telling what shape the UK economy will be in the future if it drops out of the EU without a soft landing.



Yet, wouldn't the F-35A's really be to replace the Tornado's not the early Typhoons?


Typhoon and F-35B can do that easily enough. This is all about the RAF wanting the most specialized version of the F-35 for their needs. Well they may have to pay a price for that in terms of replacing their own squadrons rather than impinging on the RN carrier fleet inventory. I suspect they will accept less Tempest for that and the Tranche 1 Typhoon will definitely be long in the tooth by the 2030s and needing replacing first. Also allows for any delay in Tempest development as F-35A/B and Typhoon/AESA/Meteor will be a potent force in the 2030s leaving Tempest for the 2040s. There is also a possibility that it might be F-35C rather than F-35A if they prefer to add arrestor hooks to the carriers rather than booms to the tankers because the current Voyagers don't have booms.
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blindpilot

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Unread post10 Jan 2019, 16:50

marsavian wrote:.... There is also a possibility that it might be F-35C rather than F-35A if they prefer ... rather than booms to the tankers because the current Voyagers don't have booms.


While true, Britain will eventually need to add booms to some of the Voyagers for C-17's and P-8's, even if all they get are "Bees". The MRTT can do this relatively easily, Aussie and other KC-30s have them.

MHO,
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marsavian

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Unread post10 Jan 2019, 19:08

Fair enough, half of them (7) have a center fuselage free so I suspect they will get the modifications eventually.

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