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shark bait

I will put my self as fairly positive. If looking from the navy’s perspective I would class it as almost perfect, even picking the B variant was the correct choice. What is more it is the only option, so we can’t really complain. In reality there is no need to complain, it is a huge leap over the harrier and will serve the navy very well for decades.
Looking from the RAFs perspective, it is not quite perfect, but still an improvement over tornado. Long term the RAF should see the benefits of operating such a well used type, which I believe will be well worth the compromise. The oftern quoted and much disputed dog fighting abilities aren’t really concerning to me, we have the typhoon, and meteor missile which reduces the demand placed on the lightening for dog fighting.


I have followed the F-35 story from the beginning and I believe that this is a very bad decision for the Navy and for the UK. Simply put the F-35 is a short range underpowered bomber. Yes it is better than the Harrier but the Harrier wasnt good for very much but beating the Argies and we didnt have anything else.
The F35 is too slow, has limited range especially when loaded for its job, very limited carrying capacity, and very little room for development. It cannot reliably dog fight other possible enemy aircraft and it is very very expensive for what it does.
The UK will pay for this terrible bad decision.

Lil' Wolfy

I’m looking at all the statements you made that have numerical values we can assess, and none of them are factually correct.
Short range? The F-35B model even has more legs than the F-16C, and about what a legacy F/A-18C does, over 100nm more than the Harrier. The F-35B carries over 14,000lb of fuel internally while able to carry a common 4th Gen combat load internally without the parasitic drag that plagues older jets.
Under-powered? It has the most powerful fighter engine ever produced, with 28,000lb of thrust without reheat, and 43,000lb with reheat. Not even the MiG-31 has engines with that kind of power. TOGW of the F-35B is around the max thrust, and only gets lighter as it burns fuel. Climb rate and acceleration are impressive with the F-35B.
Slow? It is Control Law limited to Mach 1.6, which the legacy birds rarely exceed when carrying combat stores. Most of them are aerodynamically incapable of exceeding Mach 1.6 when loaded with External Fuel Tanks, pods, bombs, pylons, and missiles. The F-15C is one of the only ones that can, and pilots prefer not to exceed Mach 1.5 with it or the E Model when doing short supersonic dashes, so the JSF design philosophy was very smart to limit the aircraft to Mach 1.6.
It also flies at much higher cruise speed than most of the legacy aircraft, since it is slick externally, and doesn’t burn fuel at the same rates as combat-equipped 4th Gen birds do. F-16 pilots who convert to the F-35 say they cruise at 90knots faster, and don’t have to light reheat to make turns at 25,000ft or higher like they do in the Viper. Hornet pilots say it feels like a turbo-charged Hornet.
Very limited room for development? The F-35 avionics architecture was designed around open architecture and development, with embedded sensor suites that are upgradeable. A lot of this was down with input from the UK.
Can’t reliably dogfight? Basic Fighter Maneuvers are baseline exercises trained on in fighter squadrons, and the F-35 is capable of super maneuverability behavior that not even the F-16 can perform, especially in the post-stall maneuver area. That said, if you are dog-fighting in any fighter in the 21st Century, you did a lot of things wrong. Talk through the logical sequence that leads up to Within Visual Range maneuvering against threat air with HOBS missiles and Helmet-Cued sights (F-35 has the best HMS and HOBS missiles, especially the UK ASRAAM combined with the HMS).
Bomber? The F-35B is a STOVL Omnirole flexible, adaptable multi-mission sensor-shooter nose with the ability to pole-ax any 4th Gen+ fighter in any nation’s inventory, with a brand new pilot at the controls. He can then penetrate an enemy air defense network using coordinated electronic attack, select targets within the enemy’s backyard and precision-strike them at night in bad weather, through the clouds, then referee oncoming sorties into the TGT area while providing detailed TGT information and BDA, then egress the area with another electronic attack on the perimeter defense radars, and return to base.

Favian Perea

Love the response, one detail though is the thrust.
The F135 P&W can be pushed to 50,000 Lbs of thrust, which is insane


What would be a better solution to the RN/RAF debate is give 80 f35b to the FAA and 58 f35a
to the RAF who really don’t want a limited range VTOL aircraft thus eliminating a conflict of
Interest of aircraft availability as with the Invincible Carriers and the RAF Harriers. I respect that there is opposition to a split version buy but it really is the only hope of guaranteed availability of aircraft as and when required by the RN .It’s wishful thinking that the separate armed forces can work together in an unbiased way ,it never has done and around the world the facts speak for themselves.


In my opinion, nowadays as much RAF equipment as possible should be to Maritime standard. Thus the RAF should buy the C version. In any future conflict this would allow the UK to contribute to the overall maritime security of the West worldwide far more effectively. RAF operating from US and French carriers why not? Why not though give the FAA the F35C version as well as the F35B?
The UK is so possessed with Islands etc dotted around the globe as to make this surely an option to consider.

David Stephen

Because the CVFs are not fitted with cats & traps, so buying the F35c would be a pointless waste of money. The whole idea of the stovl variant is that all 138 aircraft purchased can in an emergency be used from the carriers. Also having two versions of the JSF would complicate training, spares, ect. Even a split buy of say 48 F35b for the FAA and 90 F35c for the RAF would be silly as it would limit the capacity of the two carriers to 48 aircraft (even in a hot war) when they could potentialy operate twice that figure with the current plan for an all F35b fleet. The b version is every bit as “maritime” as the c. In regrads to cross decking with allies, despite being fashionable at present is a dubios capability at best. Our F35b can still use allied decks (Charles Du Gaulle, Nimitz) they just could not land on our carriers. Since probably only the one CVF will be available I think it will be full pretty quickly. The target seems at present to be 12-24 F35b, 9 Merlin ASW, 5 Merlin AEW. These may be joined by CHF junglies, Apaches, or even Chinooks. Even with both CVFs in play during a full operation there will be nowhere to put allied aircraft. Remember that even if both carriers available one will be assault configured and if youy fill it with allied aircraft it then could not hold the 500-600 royal marines required.


We’re British we will make it work well for us like every other piece of tech we either develop or are given.

Lil' Wolfy

The UK has been involved with the development of the JSF before the X-35 was even prototyped. The UK’s VAAC Harrier testbed provided invaluable test data and Digital Flight Control System baseline work that greatly benefitted the F-35B, and one of the main initial test pilots on the X-35 was Justin Paines from the UK, who had already done exchange at the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB. Another chief test pilot for Lockheed was CF-18 pilot Billie Flynn from Canada, who also did a lot of test work on the F-16 Multi-Axis Thrust Vectoring fighter, as well as the Typhoon.
The UK became interested in the JSF early on once they learned the USMC wanted a fighter to replace both the AV-8B and F/A-18A-D, since the RAF and RN knew they would need a replacement for the Harrier and the Tornado just over the horizon at the time.
US-UK networking on the JSF has been hand-in-hand almost from the initial concept, and there are several UK test pilots and instructor pilots even permanently embedded in the joint training, test, and weapons programs in the US.


Sadly, BAE Systems quoted a very high price to convert the QEs to catapult launch, which the government felt was unaffordable. On the plus side (for BAE) this commits the MoD to the F-35B, on which BAE has a higher work share (they produce the lift fan) and means that there is no option to choose a competitor’s product (such as Super Hornet or Rafale M).
The downside is that the Navy gets the most expensive and least capable version of the F -35. No doubt the RAF are happy because it means they can continue to peddle the ‘joint force’ approach that they had with Harrier and not risk surrendering fast-jet share to the RN.
It makes you wonder why we bothered building two 65,000 ton supercarriers, when ships half the size would have been more than adequate for the pitifully small force of jump-jets that are planned. At least there will be options when refit time comes around, but barring a major embarrassment in a conflict between now and then (or worse, losing a carrier through inadequate fighter & ASW capabilities), I wouldn’t hold your breath…

Tim Collins

I think making them smaller would only make sense if 3 could be built and that doesn’t seem likely at any point particularly as manning is a big problem for the RN at the moment.
Having lots of room is not one of the problems IMO.


If it works like it is supposed to I would come over to england and demand you buy another 40 but I have doubts. The greatest one I worry about is the claim the F35 will never need to do close in dog fighting instead knocking down its enemys at BVR. Similar was said by the Americans before Vietnam. Swarms of nimble cannon equiped Mig-17s and 19s soon proved them wrong and cannon pods where promptly attached to wing pylons while the boys at McDonnells came up with a gun fitted F-4.
The next is the stealth coating . How robust is it ? Will it stand up to the rough use onboard ship? One slip of a matelets screwdriver on a access panel and problems with RCS could raise its ugly head.
In short, if it works then order many if not……….you really should have stuck to cats and traps if you had the first RN Super Hornet UK could be comeing off the Boeing line to cover for F35 delays.

Lil' Wolfy

The F-105D was specifically built for low altitude, high speed tactical nuclear strike. In Vietnam, it was used for high speed strike of targets deep inside North Vietnam, especially around and in Hanoi, while being restricted from bombing MiG bases and SA-2 SAM sites by LBJ and McNamara. As Thuds started getting hit, the USAF analyzed the entire inventory of our fighters to see what would be an optimal escort fighter for the F-105s. The F-106A and F-104 actually performed extremely well in the evaluation, where they used F-86s to simulate MiG-17s, but the F-106’s avionics, weapons, and cockpit were configured for NORAD bomber intercept mission, not A2A fighter/interceptor work against other fighters.
The F-4C and F-4D were chosen, since they had more relevant (not ideal) weapons, even though the F-4 was initially designed to intercept bombers trying to attack the Navy carrier battle groups. The USAF senior leadership weren’t really thinking about dogfighting like they experienced in Korea, because everything was nuclear-focused at the time, with major concern over bombers.
The new generation of pilots had to learn to deal with MiG-17 deception attacks, while MiG-21s would come in from high perch and shoot TGTs of opportunity in the slow speed mix, while using missiles that were meant for shooting non-maneuvering bombers, not tiny maneuvering fighters.
A lot of developments happened since those times, especially in training, in addition to improving the missiles for WVR fights. The biggest improvements were the adoption of Fighter Weapons Schools for both the Navy and USAF, as well as the inclusion go AWACS aircraft to detect incoming fighters early, so that NATO fighters are no longer caught off-guard from rear aspect, high perch approaches especially.
The use of guns was not that effective overall in Vietnam with the pods or even the F-4E’s chin-mounted M61, but many F-4 pilots from the F-4B, F-14C, and F-14D wish they had one in several specific incidents. Training, tactics, the improved AIM-7E-2, and early warning systems played a bigger role in racking up the kills on MiG-21s, MiG-19s, and MiG-17s.
The 4th Generation teen fighters emerged at the end of Vietnam, with a mix of mission profiles woven into their designs. While the WVR combat lesson had to be re-learned, the focus was still on BVR with the F-14 and F-15, while the F-16 and F/A-18 were multirole fighters primarily tasked with A2G. BFM/ACM at WVR were and are baseline training, but became less and less contributors to Air-to-Air kills as we saw primarily in the Israeli experience in 1979, 1982, and US experience in Desert Storm in 1991.
The vast majority of F-15 A2A kills have been AWACS-vectored intercepts at unaware targets who didn’t stand a chance from side approach against the F-15’s APG-63 radar and AIM-7F or AIM-7M missiles. The stories you see on History Channel were the exceptions where things closed to WVR and Israeli and US pilots had to deal with some MiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-25, Mirage III, or MiG-29 pilots that stepped into a nest of Eagles thinking they could beat the Eagle drivers at BFM.
The F-15 community went on to stack up 104 A2A victories over the past 40 years. The grey Eagles only focus on A2A combat, not A2G since the F-15C hasn’t been equipped with bombs, only missiles for shooting down other aircraft.
Brand new pilots straight out of F-35 conversion training smoke 3000hr F-15C drivers as if it was a sport, humiliating them in their dominant strength of BVR A2A combat, the same way the F-22A did when they did the initial tactics development with the F-22A against F-15C/D and F-16C/Ds out of Nellis.
The F-35 pilot sees what is going on around him in ways that were only dreamed of in the 4th Gen, so it isn’t possible for legacy aircraft that are set up for Mechanically-Scanned Array radar BVR intercepts and worst-case WVR combat to approach him if he doesn’t wish to be approached. Conversely, he selects how, where, and when he wants to approach them, unobserved, mainly because of the fused sensor suite and linked with other F-35s who coordinate their intercepts as a kill web. This would be true even if they had large RCSs, but they don’t. Instead of the usual 3-7m squared RCS, they have ~.0001m squared from frontal aspect. The VLO shaping and textures are just icing on the overmatch cake that turns the F-35B into a STOVL-deployable air dominance beast.
Especially with the UK’s Meteor, the F-35B is actually more lethal than the USAF/USMC/USN F-35s who have the AIM-120C7/D AMRAAM. The UK’s F-35B No Escape Zone envelopes for the Meteor are going to be brutal on an adversary, especially when the F-35B can also provide terminal guidance for Meteors off of Typhoons.
The only way you’re going to see WVR combat with the F-35B is if Russia is able to produce the Su-57 with a comparable RCS. They haven’t even figured out the engines for it, and the RCS values are compromised by exposed engine fan bases from frontal aspect, as well as its control surfaces, shaping, and skin texture seams. In contrast, the US and UK are cranking out F-35B propulsion systems as standard production primary sub component assemblies by the hundreds. The F-22A’s F119-PW-100 5th Gen motors were already prototyped by 1987, and flying the YF-22 and YF-23 prototypes along with a viable competitor engine from GE in 1990. The F-35B RCS enables it to fly about in training and deployment with impunity, chasing when and where it wants to strike in highly-contested air spaces.
The US Marines just finished an 8-month deployment off the USS Essex LHD carrier in the Red Sea, racking up 1200hrs of combat sorties over Syria primarily. The UK’s contribution to the networked coalition Joint Strike Fighter Force has already been monumental, and will build on large shoulders moving into the future.

Favian Perea

Great response

Darren Pyper

I would suggest the F35b is the only show in town. So we are over a barrel and at the mercy of the US govt and Navy who I would suspect will pull the plug if there is any threat to funding of their C version and the Big carriers needed to support them. That could also mean we get the aircraft but there is no further development or integration of systems of capabilited we are buying the F35 for. So we could be left with a major turkey. And a Trump whitehouse could cancel any “Mates rates” for purchasing and support and totally ignore what we have already paid in development. But hey ho we signed up to a contract that gives all the advantages to the Americans,


I’m afraid that the overall lifetime cost of this aircraft will not end up being cost effective at all, recent articles show the concern over this aircrafts procurement an example is :
Many more can be found. I don’t believe that this aircraft is a duffer but, what supremo chose a development over an operating system that could be modified for a huge saving.
Many of the countries in this article are wise to purchase latest tech from a market leader, many don’t have their own Military aircraft manufacturers for this type of aircraft but, All eggs in one basket, any short coming in the aircraft will be hugely magnified with no alternatives. We are of an age where a failed update to a system can seriously hinder a planes ability to operate correctly, put that across many airforces and you have cause for concern


Because of its vertical take off
Could you place an f35 on a frigate instead of a helicopter ?


Our carriers should have stuck to arrestor wires so that we could have the F22 Raptor. ( in line with the huge cost already spent) . This machine looks and acts like a Turkey! – I predict huge problems operationally and mechanically with this bit of kit.

Simon R. Bone

I think the major issue is that Boeing produced such a duff competitor to the X-35 that Lockheed became the only Western 5th gen fighter producer in town (along with the F22) which meant the prices were bounded to end up higher… though TBH it’s an amazing deal for the Royal Navy as essentially the US have bankrolled the development of a stealth supersonic V/STOL fighter the F35-B which is essential for our cats and traps less carriers – whilst other nations are working on stealth no-one else is looking at V/STOL any more for manned flights…God bless the US MArine corps!