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The MoD will need to move fast to secure a production lot in the near future, now that both Canada and Germany have decided to buy the F35.


But both the RCAF and Luftwaffe are looking at the A’s not the B’s, shouldn’t be too big of a problem.


US has slowed down procurement because they are waiting for the Block 4 as well.


Rather than pussy footing around as usual, just commit to the 138 and get jets on our carriers asap.

Dave S

Do tell us where the cash comes from for that

Bell S

The same place Rishi found £70bn for the ludicrously unneeded furlough business support!

John M.

Real easy…you allocate it and take it away from another department…like the endless funding of the Welfare State.


Unless you have a solution to an ageing population, welfare spending increases are likely to continue as more people start claiming their pensions, and need care homes etc.

Darren Sharrocks

No easy stop attacking the poor. The government can create any cash it needds out of nothing. Please challenge me on this.


Yes they can print cash but it is just that . By printing cash it devalues the pound and causes inflation. . Goods imported into the U.K. become more expensive as the pound devalues . Good enough ? If it was that easy we would have 1000 f35s




Yes, it’s the poor, disabled, longterm sick and downtrodden members of the British general publics fault that the country is so called skint!?

Where to start with a comment like that…

Jim Carner

Oh please. I’m no fan of the F-35, but how much money have we wasted on crappy Ajax? And on pointless carriers? And crappy River OPVs and crappy Type 45s? And how much will we waste on T31s, T32s, T26s and T83s? HS2 is costing us what? About £100 billion? A totally pointless vanity project.

The Astutes aren’t garbage, but they don’t carry anti-ship missiles. Why not?

We have money but governments always pick and choose what they CLAIM what we can and can’t afford. We had no problem bailing out the banks, did we? Or giving huge amounts of money and military aid to Ukraine. Or funding wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We certainly have the money to buy 138 F-35Bs (although I think that would be a huge mistake). And we misspend vast sums of money as well.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim Carner

Yep, and don’t forget the £37 billion spunked on Test and Trace, and the dodgy contracts that dished out like confetti…

Darren Sharrocks

Ok I do tell you werr ethe cash comes from for it. The UK government creates any amount of £ out of nothing.


We have the money its just government departments waste billions through ill thought out projects and mismanagement , defence and the nhs are the 2 worst culprits


47 current aircraft.
New order 26 aircraft.
Total 73.
Total order 74, not 76.


Thank you for another good article.
Much appreciated.


“The RAF now plans to have 3 frontline F-35B squadrons”

Does that include 809 NAS? I thought the 4 squadrons were being split equally between the RAF and FAA? Although still under a joint command. Are all the Squadrons going to be RAF now?

I’ve been wondering if the second FAA squadron would be 801 or 892.. guess we will never find out if they don’t buy more.

Edit: Just seen someone ask this exact same question on Twitter, there will be an 809 Squadron.

Last edited 2 years ago by Adam

Not sure what the Raf is doing on the carriers in the first place: a capability it has long dismissed. Besides, in the past, the Raf has all to often been found to be ‘washing its hair’ whenever the Navy needed anything.


And washing its hair when the army needs anything e.g. binning the Sentinel radar aircraft.
All F35’s should be FAA with land deployment as a secondary role. And all Puma’s and Chinooks should be transferred to the Army Air Corps

Dave S

Oh do wind it in

Gavin Gordon

I haven’t seen where the addl 26 are recorded as F35B specifically? though makes complete sense since our carriers can make best use of them in those vessels’ present configuration. For RAF, they will inevitably end up with a 1st class 6th Gen airframe whether that turns out to be Tempest, or US say. thus all F35B should ‘b’ RN controlled if crises develop as they are at present.


“The idea that the UK could go for an F-35B / F-35A split buy has thankfully now been consigned to history but for now, it is unclear if there will be a third tranche of F35Bs.”

John McIntosh

Why what’s wrong with the F35 A RAF can use them on airbases and they can carry more weapons that the B can

Andrew Stevens

Bin the raf. Give strike to FAA and lift to Army

Meirion x

Or bring back the Navy Air Service?
And to include the P8s MPA’s, as well.

Last edited 2 years ago by Meirion x
Dave S

Best you educate yourself about the U.K. Joint Lightning Force


I don’t think telling people to wind it in or educate themselves helps anyone to form an opinion or appreciate an alternative point of view

Norman Beeley

The F35A variant appears to be more capable than the F35B – longer range, bigger payload. Why would there not be a mix of 35A’s and 35B’s for different scenarios?


Do you not see the possibility of D) the FCAS joining with the GER/FRA/SPA FCAS program?


Given the present issues in that programme it is far more likely at the moment for Germany to jump out and join Tempest. Spain is less likely but was a partner in Typhoon, if Germany leaves they may jump ship as well.


The perennial issue is that in all collaborative programs of this scale France insists on leading the design choices to suit it’s own needs rather than compromise and wants the lions share of the production work.

Far more likely that Germany or Spain defect to FCAS. May not need them if we can get at least one more sizable partner nation alongside Italy and Sweden. Unfortunately Japan only seem interested in partnering on specific technologies like Meteor or engine development with RR rather than going all in.


Japan is much deeper than that. Its engine and rear fuselage, plus recently announced the main sensor (i.e. radar). And I’d expect more over time. They’re big ticket items.


Yes. I would agree with that. Its part of their approach to say they developed a fast jet but its clearly mostly others work. See F-1 and F-2.
China has that approach as well. Their J-20 is ‘largely based’ on the Mig 1.41/42 prototype that never went into production. Their Y-20 is based on the Il-76 right down to the unique ‘rear ramp and side petals’ cargo access doors. It shortens time into service by decades


The Y-20 transport is more of a derivative of the Antonov An-70 transport. Antonov worked with the Chinese starting in 2006 to enlargen the An-70 and fit it with 4 Turbofan engines. The Chinese took the designs, refined them into what is now the Y-20. Note the similarity in the Y-20 nose and those of the Antonov An-70 and An-170 series aircraft.
Y-20 Heavy Transport Aircraft |


Not at all. The Y-20 is exactly the same dimensions and capability ( give or take) of the IL-76 which they also operate in some numbers.

Dont worry about nose or tail or undercarriage fairings , very easy to alter. Its basic dimensions wing sweep etc.

Here they are IL76 and Y-20 at a chinese airfield. The actual dimensions mirror those that you can see in the flesh ( with some fairings changes – and the IL76 tail gun removed and glazed nose


Yes France will probably insist that their Euro FCAS be cat and trap compatible for their conventional carrier set-up. Which necessitates extra costs on an aircraft for capability that neither Germany or Spain need.


Yep they’ll want that but they will also want all sorts of specifications tailored for their precise needs and then the lions share of the control and share of the production work. It’s why they went it alone with Rafale.


To be fair, can you blame them for specifying something that is an absolute military requirement for them? If you want to look at nation-centric specification that causes problems for the project, then look no further than Germany’s demand for two engines on the monstrous Eurodrone!
France doesn’t always play nice, but their insistence on a CATOBAR-capable multi-role fighter was more far-sighted than our specification for Typhoon. It may well have all fallen apart anyway, but they weren’t wrong on that.


France had two catapult carriers in commission before CDG and the UKs carriers were small and Sea Harrier equipped.
Different needs
Remember also the Typhoon had partners, Spain, Italy Germany who had no need for carrier version at all.
The Typhoon was designed by the nations who paid for it around their actual needs. Like the USAF doesnt design for carrier capable ( until F-35 came along)


I know that. But if you accept someone into a multinational collaboration who has a clear need for a specific capability, then it’s on us if we act surprised when they insist that it’s incorporated into the design. If we didn’t have an intention of including a CATOBAR capability, then we should have been grown up about it and talked to France first.


UK did talk to France about the Tornado replacement.
They were impossible to deal with and anyway a better deal was made with Germany, Spain and Italy

This catobar thing wasnt even on the UK wish list when Typhoon was being developed, so that France who had existing catapult carrier to replace its Endentard and Crusader planes was irrelevant
Typhoon was already in production when the large UK carriers was mooted in late 1997
What ever the planes actually do , having UK in design leadership is essential. France wants that too. The stars arent aligned so be it


France was one of the initial partners for what turned into Typhoon, so we should have had every expectation that CATOBAR would be a requirement walking into it- not irrelevant at all. If we didn’t want to consider it, then we shouldn’t have tried partnering with them in the first place.
But you’re right, there will always be a fight with France when it comes to industrial and design share- we’ve managed to make it work in advanced missile systems but aircraft deals are way higher price tag.


To many assumptions that dont make sense nor follow timeline
France was the one that left the European consortium in 1981

Typhoon was always a UK-German-Italian-Spanish project that had no carrier ambitions. UK, Spain and Italy of course had Harriers but no desire for catapult launch plane
Britain of course was more likely to buy a US Navy plane off the shelf than a french one. But was never a consideration as the whole large carriers project was around the supersonic STOVL

Any plane could be made catapult capable and France clearly had a small numbers requirement and as they controlled the whole Rafale development did so , and at their cost


We sometimes make it work in missile systems . MBDA UK and their French counterparts develop collaborative projects but equally go their own way when specific national requirements are the order of the day .


You’re right, it’s about the only truly long-term successful arrangement I’m aware of!


USAF also doesn’t operate STOVL fast jet aircraft only the Poms and USMC do. A good portion of money and time was wasted on making compromises to the A model. F35B’s turned out great but the A’s and C’s likely would be better if they didn’t have to waste R&D money and time on a platform that the UK is now going to buy F*** all of


The RN also had catapult carriers in commission during the lifetimes of the French carriers you are talking about in the form of Ark Royal & Eagle before converting Hermes and bringing in the Invincible class . Despite the difference in launch methods the UK carriers were actually the same displacement as the Clemenceau & Foch and our predecessors here much larger .


France has global reach, Germany doesnt. Will indeed push in different directions but its looking like Sixth gen aircraft will be more modular, creating tailored variants by swapping parts.


They have insisted . So you’re right , extra costs to the programme with no benefit either operationally , for two of the partners , or even any hope of a share of export revenue that will be non existant for the maritime version . That’s exactly what the French want of course . Someone to pay their bill .


Japan tends to tread carefully on big budget programmes like this to avoid inflaming the Americans by having the audacity to cooperate on a multinational project with someone who isn’t them. I assume a lot of it is that the US defence industry lobby doesn’t like the idea of advanced Japanese technologies ending up in a competitor’s product that might actually stand a chance of achieving reasonable economies of scale.

Meirion x

A lot of American tech has been found in Russian coms equipment.

Last edited 2 years ago by Meirion x
Supportive Bloke

OK but a lot of those chips you can buy mail order from anywhere: look up the numbers.

Some, I agree, it is a tiny bit surprising.

It looks like something from a different era in terms of construction methods.


Have to agree. Did not think anyone did connectors like that anymore (well except for prototypes).


Which FCAS are you referring to?
FCAS (aka SACF in France) or FCAS (aka Tempest in the UK)?

I would say I am surprised that the Germans partnered with the French on FCAS/SACF in the first place, considering the design will have to make compromises for carrier use that Germany will get no use out of.

Though I think Sweden is probably my top pick for an Anglo-European aerospace partner as SAAB makes some excellent products, especially their experience in electronic warfare & value engineering.
I’m not sure how much Italy brings to the table other than money, (what’s now) Leonardo was part of the Euroradar group that developed the Typhoon’s radar.
Airbus would be a good one, though as a large company, there might be issues with national interests and divisions of labour. But Germany brings huge amounts of money (especially now they might be upping their defence spending to 2% GDP) & expertise & without the carrier need, their requirements are probably closer to the UK’s.


Now let’s speed up the integration of Meteor and Spear and get at least a proportion of them fitted with a long range stand off land attack missile and anti-ship missile (JSM?).

We also need to think about external tanks for when stealth isn’t necessary to allow the carrier to stand off far enough from shore not to be exposed to land based SSM’s


Hence why we’re using this next order to leverage an increase in UK weapons integration. It’s not something we can just speed up on our end, it’s a matter of production priorities.

Range is arguably the single most valuable attribute for a naval fighter, to the extent I’d argue external tanks for our Lightnings are perhaps a more important addition than a heavyweight AShM.

Supportive Bloke

How do external tanks help.

MToW is determined by weapons and fuel load?

So if you add eternal tanks and weight you reduce weapons loads: simples.

MToW is different from max cruise weight.

Hence the interest in drone AAR to extend range.


I’m aware of the restrictions on take-off weight imposed by STOVL, but I still believe external tanks would be a good investment.

For a simple and affordable price, ETs keep the carrier group out of detection and striking range of potential threats. Drone-based refuelling would certainly be preferable, but it’s also dependent on that drone actually be developed, built, and procured in usable numbers.

Yes, you’re trading punch for stamina with ETs, but we’re past the age of industrial warfare. Equipment isn’t mass produced and easily replaceable anymore, and the carrier has immensely more value staying afloat as a fleet in being and launching smaller strikes than it does launching a close-in suicide run.

Rob N

If we bought refuelling drones for our carriers we could extend the range without ranks.


Already discussed this with SB. Refuelling drones are better, but require a great deal of expensive development with no predictable date of availability. External tanks are the simplest, most cost effective way of keeping the carriers outside of the threat bubble

Jim Carner

“External tanks are the simplest, most cost effective way of keeping the carriers outside of the threat bubble”

How does that work exactly?
Give me figures.


Extend the range of the planes missiles !

Jim Carner

“If we bought refuelling drones for our carriers we could extend the range without ranks.”


What refuelling drones are you referring to? MQ-25 drones? They can only refuel one F-35B and can’t fully refuel an F-35C.

Jim Carner

“I’m aware of the restrictions on take-off weight imposed by STOVL, but I still believe external tanks would be a good investment.”

Why? ALL carrier aircraft lack range in the western Pacific. We need a new approach.


MTOW on the F-35B allows for full fuel tanks and more than 6 tonnes payload.

UK missiles are lightweight and the full weapon load is determined by space not weight. Fill the internal bays with 8 Spear or 4 Meteor, you end up with less than 900 kg including the launchers, and that’s it for stealth missions. A couple of 450 gallon external droptanks won’t be enough to trouble MTOW. Even the larger 600 gallon tanks would be realistic (1.8 tonnes fuel each), and they still wouldn’t reduce weapon load.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jon
Jim Carner

“Now let’s speed up the integration of Meteor and Spear”

Why? What use is either missile on the F-35B?

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim Carner

Still at least 24 short of where it needs to be..hopefully, in time, there will be a 3rd and final order.

Chris Davis

Totally agree, an increase would allow more options for politicians and for attrition in the first days of any conflict.

Still think we should invest in more Typhoon, not every tasking needs stealth or piles of sensors. Would we really want to send F-35 or Tempest to a future Afghanistan ?


Problem is at the rate they are being ordered and turned out by the time and 3rd batch was finally delivered the earlier examples would be 15-20 years old!

Sadly whilst another order would be great the time-scales and the changes in the respective block’s software will probably prevent more than around 70 being operated at any one time.


Thankfully we’ve got NATO allies, and the USMC are able to make up numbers if necessary – possibly even the Italians too at some point in future.

Jim Carner

I hate the F-35, but both the QE and PoW and need at least 48 F-35Bs each to be even half-effective carriers. That’ll never happen.


74 (73) is better than it could have been! The prospect of only deploying 12 jets on QE or PoW is still rather unfortunate given the amount of time and money invested in the carrier capability.

I would hope to see 24 or even an augmented squadron of 16-18 air-frames being embarked at least every 2 or 3 years as a demonstration of the ability.


I don’t think that sort of thing will be a problem in 4/5 years. The F35 still hasn’t reached FOC.


I don’t think it ever will. Upgrade the lot to F36?

Jim Carner

“The prospect of only deploying 12 jets on QE or PoW is still rather unfortunate”

Rather unfortunate? It’s absolutely pathetic.


A depressingly low number of jets over a large period of time. I’ve been very supportive of the carrier programme but I’m starting to regret it. Perhaps it would have been better to build more surface ships instead and replace the Tornado with cheaper and better F35A’s.



In the Invincible Class days it was rare to get more than 8/9 SHAR or GR7/9 onboard. Now we’ve already got the ability to get more than double that onboard, with the potential in the next 3 years to get a 24 onboard. After that we’re moving towards the ability to get a surge of 36 onboard. A US CVN has 44 fighters onboard…but only 16 of those will be F-35C by 2030, the rest will be SuperHornet. A UK CV will have huge potential, and we’re getting there.

Remember the entire Falklands TF set sail with a grand total of 21 SHAR…


I thought they sailed with 20 SHAR (12 on Hermes and 8 on Invincible) with 8 SHAR’s and 10 GR3’s from the RAF joining later and 6 lost during the conflict, so 32 Harriers operating by the end.

If the 3 RAF squadrons do eventually get to 16 air-frames apiece then 16 routinely deployed on the active carrier – with 24 ‘surged’ every 2 or 3 years would be pretty good.

Jim Carner

Kinzhal, DF-21 and DF-26 will keep our carriers out of striking range of land targets.
As for the ability to engage ships, our F-35Bs won’t get SPEAR 3 for years yet, let alone a heavy-duty AShM like LRASM or JSM.


Yes hindsight is always a wonderful thing of course, but history shows us that the CVF/Carrier Strike project was predicated on a set of assumptions that arose in the post ‘Cold War’ world of the 1990’s and early 2000’s that already looks hopelessly outdated a generation later. So we return to the old question – I.e what type of Royal Navy do we want, need and can afford?

There is no denying that CVF reassures our allies facing Chinese expansionism ‘East of Suez’ and it sure does complicate any (highly unlikely) Agentinian plan to retake the Falklands. So the ‘national prestige’ box is splendidly ticked. Unfortunately, this expensive pair of large aircraft carriers the RN sacrificed SO MUCH to realise are almost irrelevant when it comes to defending our continent from a frighteningly real threat that we can all see today in the east.

I suspect that everyone reading this loves the RN to some degree – I certainly do. However, you could easily argue that we have spent too much on carrier aviation and not enough on the ASW escorts, BMD and submarines we need right now. Away from the maritime sphere, our Army has been allowed to decline to a degree that genuinely imperils our security in the here and now.

CVF is an object lesson in the perils of allowing admirals too much influence in deciding national defence policy.


I agree with the shortfalls you mention on ASW escorts, BMD and submarines. But carriers are well down the list of suspects for sucking money away from those areas
For me the top contender is MR4. £4 billion in today’s money with nothing to show for it. An absolutely bonkers scheme with huge technical risks to gut decades old airframes and try to turn them into modern maritime patrol aircraft when an off the shelf solution was available (P8). As usual though politicians wanted to use the defence budget as a job creation budget so off we went.
Then we have £5b projected spend on Ajax which is an investment out of all proportion to the capability provided relative to our key defence needs.
That £9bn would have bought a BMD update for T45, another 4 T26, allowed T31 a weapons fit which made it a frigate rather than a huge OPV and bought 4 AIP submarines for North Atlantic operations.
Still, 14 scout vehicles delivered that don’t work and zero maritime patrol aircraft were obviously much higher priorities for our money.


P-8 wasnt available when MRA4 was begun , the only US option was the rebuilt P-3
June 1996 was the date Nimrod 2000 was selected
P-8 won its development contract in Jun 2004

Complete bad luck the Japanese P-1 from Kawasaki couldnt have been a co development with UK, as it began in 2001.


The carriers would support defence in Northern Europe they would allow, support to the high north/Norway ect and add to the Air defence of the U.K. after all any first strike would be against the very small number of U.K. airfields. The carrier mean we can hide an airfield that’s always moving.

Rob N

The carriers are a driver for ABM, ASW etc. The need to protect them forces the MoD to invest in T45/T83, T26. Without the carriers there would be little focus and more chance of cuts…

Carriers are not just about Falklands 2 or waving the flag. They are about flexibility in delivering air power to 90% of the globe. To to mention assisting our friends and doing our bit for NATO.

In political terms it also helps underpin global Britain as not only a brand but a reality. The recent QE deployment to Asia said to the world we are back as a global player and open for business.. after decades of the EU trying to tell us we should be a small European minded cog in the EU machine.

Thank God for the carriers they have forced us to raise our game and make us strive for better.


I’d think its faire to state we’e underspent on everything rather than single out the carriers.

Jim Carner

Surface ships are ridiculously vulnerable to anti-ship missiles, torpedoes and mines. It’s not hard to work out that other options are far better.


This is good news I suppose as far as it goes. However, as is often the case these days, I’m not seeing any delivery timescale mentioned here. For the sake of argument, were those 26 additional aircraft scheduled to be accepted from 2025 to 2030 then that might mean the UK will receive as few as 4 or 6 aircraft perhaps in any one year. More or less a continuation of the current situation then. As recent experience shows – even non combat losses – indicates we might easily lose 1 or 2 aircraft over that timeframe.

It seems to me that the world is rapidly becoming a significantly more dangerous place than had been (optimistically) assumed not that long ago. Therefore, this leisurely approach to improving our defences is starting to seem somewhat outdated … if not down right complacent.

Last edited 2 years ago by Moonstone

5 new aircraft a year is probably all the training system can support. As the fleet gets fully established the OCU will need to not only produce pilots for the additional aircraft but also replacements for pilot either promoting out of the front line or leaving the RAF/FAA.


5 per year . That means it would take another 5 years just to get to 50

Fred the Frog



Now there is this aggression out there from Russia, we need to be pushing to get all the auxiliary devices and weapons added to maximise the capabilities.


100% agree. Leverage maximum capability from the platform.

Andrew Wilde

The last sentence of this report is a dead give-away. The purpose of having very expensive aircraft carriers in the Royal Navy is that a fully equipped strike carrier with a full complement of aircraft, fixed and rotary, can proceed to sea at short notice if required to confront any situation that has developed worldwide in response to UK government policy and decision. I recognise that there are other problems with escorts and supply of fuel and stores to the Task Group but I fail to see how the RAF knackering the few existing F 35bs that we do have and thus reducing their availability to the Fleet because of “other land based tasks” and resulting maintenance can help. In the ‘good old days’ it was the lack of suitable hotels that usually curtailed RAF operations abroad, in the 21st Century it would seem that Tempest, already becoming a pipe dream, can only be replaced by an F 35 variant as a new Typhoon costs a fortune- but then again we always knew that didn’t we, and as the RAF have discovered the F 35b s are brilliant but there are no hotels on aircraft carriers. So, the answer is to accept 73 F 35b s, transfer them to the Fleet Air Arm at Yeovilton and one other airfield over the next ten years, scrap Tempest, purchase 130 F 35s to be based at RAF Marham and one other airfield over the next twenty years. Rely on the USA to provide an F 35 replacement in the 2050s. Simple.


And kill the UK sovereign combat air capability forever…

Has the Ukraine War not told you anything?

Supportive Bloke

Like the current problems of Swiss ammunition to Ukraine….

There is a reason that defence tech needs to be sovereign.


We should have learned that being a junior partner in the F-35 programme has come at a cost, as well as giving benefits. The time it will take to get Spear and Meteor integrated will have effectively reduced the UK’s capability for nearly a decade and forced us to buy American interim missiles, a situation the US would be happy to continue if we acquiessed.

The P&W incremental engine upgrades, versions of which have been production available since 2017, are stamped on by US politics, despite them being the best military option. Even now incremental upgrades are not taken up as it’s deemed “unfair” to General Electric, who have an alternative engine design that won’t be ready for years and won’t even fit in the F-35B. But they do have an effective political lobby, so our needs don’t count.

Scrapping Tempest would be a huge mistake.


You guys are the only pier 1 partner in the F35 program. That makes the UK the biggest contributing partner to the program. Lots of compromises were made to the A model for the B model. Lots of money was spent on R&D on the lift fan and all the unique items only the B model has.
Other than the USMC and RAF only a handful of B’s were planned to be sold to Italy, Japan and Singapore (most of those orders are recent). So you can see why the yanks and LM might of put your Meteor and Spear missiles on the back burner of priorities when you guys almost slashed your forecast purchase from a mixed 138A/B models to 60-80B models. Can’t really blame them.
You guys are going to be waiting for ages for any aircraft you order now. Geez even down under here we are going to have all 72 of our A models by the end of 2023 and then we may order another 28. While waiting like Canada may mean any F35’s you order now will be at least Block 4’s, a good portion of your ground/maintenance crews and pilots are going to missing out on a lot of experience and training while you wait years for your just ordered jets.


Don’t really see how the Yanks can complain too hard about the B model when as you mention, several countries other than us are buying them, as well as this new order we have made.


You forgot to add S. Korea & likely Australia. Of the three versions (A,B & C), only the B does not have a modern alternative. You can cancel the A & C and everyone will get by. There is no alternative to the B.

Jim Carner

“You guys are going to be waiting for ages for any aircraft you order now.”


“Geez even down under here we are going to have all 72 of our A models by the end of 2023 and then we may order another 28.”

What use are F-35As in Australia? They seriously lack range.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim Carner
Jim Carner

Just fit the Poseidons with LRASMs. That would give us anti-ship/land-attack capability we currently lack. Seems like a no-brainer to me.


This can always go back down and has a relatively small chance of going up but ‘at least 74’ is a lot nicer than ‘at least 60’ with a cap of 80.

Wendy Harbon

Also it is not only Canada and Germany buying F-35’s, most of Europe and Nato Allies are, as well as American Middle East, Asian, Far East, plus Pacific Ocean Allies too.

Not forgetting the USAF wants more F-35A’s, the USMC wants more F-35B’s and F-35C’s too, while the USN wants more F-35C’s and some F-35B’s too.

So it may depend on which F-35’s the UK Government is going to order, for the RAF either only more F-35B’s, or more of both F-35B’s and F-35A’s or F-35C’s?

Or is the MoD going to orderly separately for the RN / FAA, F-35B’s and some F-35C’s too.

Because most countries, are after buying F-35A’s the USAF version, it maybe a good idea not to order this Version for the UK.

When only few countries (Australia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain and UK, plus USMC) are interested in the F-35B USMC version, so ordering these maybe easier?

However, as at present the only one interested in the F-35C’s the USN version, is the USN. Though maybe the French Navy will be interested too, to equip their new second fixed wing CTOL French Aircraft Carrier too.

So if the MoDbordered a mixed fleet of F-35B’s and F-35C’s, for joint operations by the RAF using the F-35C’s from land, with the F-35B’s being used by the FAA from the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales too.

However, if the MoD actually orders a third Aircraft Carrier, for fixed-wing CTOL aircraft, then these F-35C’s could be operated from a possible third Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier too.

Maybe this third aircraft carrier called, HMS Ark Royal too?


The UK is only buying F-35B….

We’re not getting a 3rd aircraft carrier…

Supportive Bloke

The chances of another UK aircraft carrier are precisely zero. There would be more need and use for 2 x Ocean replacements

UK is the only tier 1 partner in F35.

UK was initially the only non USMC customer for F35B but this is catching on now everyone else can see QEC + F35B is a serious proposition.


No third carrier.
F35B only.
The French will never go for anything other than a French built aircraft for their carrier.


The French had the Vought Crusader for ages. Dont count on them sticking with a own build when the going gets tough

Fred the Frog

Apart from the Grumman Hawkeyes and Airbus Cougers that is.


Airbus Cougar is the same Aerospatiale Puma with some changes over the years

Fred the Frog

Built by Airbus though which is not French owned, but I know what you mean.


Their factory is in France.


I think you will find the USAF and USMC are reducing their original stated F35 buy, that may be another decade or so out before it comes into effect.
The US navy is all over the place with the F18 E/F buy or the F35C
All are very concerned over TR3 delays and the longer and more costly Block 4 development

UK is hiding the likely chance early F-35B it has bought wont get TR3 to enable Blk 4 software
It could be a dozen planes will ‘retired early’.
Its typical MoD to give with one hand and takeaway with the other


Only 1 UK a/c is pre Lot 8 (excluding the seperate 3 ITF aircraft). BK-03 is the only one that could cost up to $25m to upgrade. By the time that point arrives it will be 15 years old so they might not bother. The rest are all dramatically less to upgrade. Most will need a new processor, DAS Upgrades(already budgeted and seperate from Blk IV), extra EW antenna, software, memory and thermal management. That won’t break the bank.


Lot IV 1 plane 2008
Lot VII 1 planes
Lot VIII 4
Lot IX 6
Lot X 3
Lot XI 1 2017

the writing is on the wall as the upgrade cost could £22 mill per plane including those of current block 3


The Lot IV a/c is BK-03, the first UK ‘Combat Capable’ a/c. This will be an expensive upgrade if it goes ahead. However, by the time Block IV Lot 17 arrives she will be 15 years old (ordered in 2009, delivered in 2013). She might be passed over for upgrade and sent to test…

The Lot VII a/c is a test aircraft, orange wired. There is no need to move this to Block IV. Once the test campaign is over it will go to a museum.

As the Lot number increases the cost per upgrade drops significantly. Only pre-Lot 8 are very expensive. These are the aircraft that the US is also considering not upgrading and relegating to training or other roles.

The UK will probably be following the USMC approach to upgrades. This will involve a seperate DAS upgrade that the MoD has already contracted, TR3 central processor and other changes to reach the Lot 17 standard with full EW capability including additional aerials.

Reports about the overall cost to upgrade are vastly overstating the issue for the UK…


Australia has shown no interest in the B model.

Jim Carner

You need to learn how to use apostrophe’s [sic] properly.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim Carner
Mike Jones

F-35A- longer range, higher payload, and easier to maintain. What’s not to like? Carriers, are cool in peacetime, but when we get to a shooting war… extremely vulnerable and inflexible. See any carriers in the Baltic or Black Sea?


I don’t see any F35A’s or other NATO land based fighters there either on account of not being involved in the fighting.

Since WW2 carriers have seen action in Korea, Suez, Vietnam, Malaya, the Falklands, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Gulf War 1, Gulf War 2 and Serbia. Not one has been sunk or damaged by enemy action in any of those conflicts.

Your assertion that carriers are vulnerable and not useful in shooting wars has been disproved time and time again.

And how is a carrier more inflexible than a fixed airfield? Have you any examples of airfields that can move anywhere in the world?

Mike Jones

Point taken- we are not in direct conflict at the present. But for the last 70 years we have sent carriers as either a deterrent, or as a Force majeure. I don’t see us doing this with significant opponents… like Russia/China. WW2 was probably the last war, the carrier was put up against an equal opponent?


Yes, but sometimes you need to be able to take on a lesser opponent quite far from home. Falklands? Carriers are invaluable in these circumstances. China is building carriers too. What does that tell you?

Typhoons as a bulk force, Tempest as an elite force (and let’s buy a decent number since we are making them in the UK) and just enough F35Bs to give the carriers a surge force if required in extremis.

A top tier air force on a reasonable budget and supporting UK engineering.

Last edited 2 years ago by Patriot1982
Jim Carner

“Yes, but sometimes you need to be able to take on a lesser opponent quite far from home. Falklands? Carriers are invaluable in these circumstances.”

Prevention is far better than cure.

A (relatively) cheap defence for the Falklands would be a few stealthy Skjold corvettes with NSMs, Type 212 subs with torpedoes and IDAS missiles, land-based NSMs and Typhoons with JSMs. There are already Sky Sabre launchers on the Falklands.

I fail to see why carriers are required to protect the Falklands.

“China is building carriers too. What does that tell you?”

That they want to invade Taiwan. Again, carriers aren’t needed to thwart this threat.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim Carner

Zero carriers sunk sink the the end of WW2, despite the numerous wars since then.


Yes but no major war between the countries with carriers.


It’s not relevant if both countries had carriers, you don’t use your carrier to kill a carrier. you use a nuclear submarine and torpedoes.


The Convention regarding the Turkish Straits doesnt allow aircraft carrier to enter. The Russian carriers were built in Mykoliev but left to never return. Im pretty sure a carrier wont be in the Baltic either for the reason land airfields can cover the area.

Gavin Gordon

Would not be surprised if the crew of the remaining two Slavas are quite relieved Turkey won’t let them into the Black Sea. That’s if they have any idea at all of Moskva’s loss.


Russian carriers were all classed as aviation cruisers, one of the reasons they crammed them full of missiles was to get around the montreux convention. They effectively made them capital ships that as a Black Sea nation they would be allowed to transit.

They never deployed to the Black Sea as it would have been a death trap in a general war, they could have not left and never been able to hide.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jonathan

Thats seems to be the case

Nato members tried to get Turkey to prevent Kusnetsov from outbound passage in 1991 but that didnt happen. But Kusnetsov has never been back as the shipyard became part of Ukraine


Even without the ‘Carrier’ element there is a weight limit on warships through the straits that easily prevents carriers. I think it was 12,000 tons.


Doesnt seem to be the case. That would apply for non Black Sea nations.
In 2008 US Navy tried to send its 70,000 ton hospital ship USNS Comfort but was refused. Humanitarian naval vessels are only allowed 8000 tons

Dave Wolfy

How far from land is the centre of either of those seas?

Dave Wolfy

Aircraft carriers are like tanks – obsolete and useless.
As shown by nobody is building either nor developing new designs.


Which planet are you living on? China is, Japan is, US is, France is, Brazil looking at it. Shall I go on?


Only every major power on the planet that can scrap together the ability to build or buy one.

Jim Carner

“Aircraft carriers are like tanks – obsolete and useless.”

I agree with that analysis.

“As shown by nobody is building either nor developing new designs.”

But countries ARE building carriers.

Gavin Gordon



They also move which your fixed land airbases do not which would be taken out first. Long time since RAF played with dispersed operations, Harrier and Jags. Load them up and they are not so venerable. Also no one in light blue want to go to see, no creature comforts for them in their 5 star hotels. pass over to those that know what to do.

Jim Carner

“They also move which your fixed land airbases do not”

This is something carriers have over fixed land airbases, but that doesn’t mean carriers are impossible to detect or target.


A carrier is far less vulnerable than the airfields the F35A will fly from and the extra few miles range is not really relevant as a carrier can place the F35 close to any county in the world the F35A would have to fly from a friendly easy to missile airbase. A carrier can only be killed if you can find it and oceans are vast.

Fred the Frog

Apart from when they are in port or off the coast of an enemy within missile range that is.

Jim Carner

“A carrier is far less vulnerable than the airfields the F35A will fly from…”

Really? A carrier is vulnerable to anti-ship missiles and torpedoes.

“A carrier can only be killed if you can find it and oceans are vast.”

And who says carriers can’t be found?

Dave S

To state at the end that the F35B is in service because of its “core naval aviation role” is simply disingenuous


The carriers simply cant operate any other fixed wing jet other than F-35B


Italian Harriers have landed on QE.


Werent those Italian F-35Bs
This was followed by an Italian Navy F-35B and an Italian Air Force F-35B from Cavour landing on Queen Elizabeth. The third phase saw F-35Bs taking off from the two carriers and flying interoperability flights, along with a joint flight formation of four F-35Bs, one each from the U.S. Marines, the U.K. Royal Navy, Italian Navy and Italian Air Force

Dave Wolfy

Nor correct, they are the only UK asset that can deliver US nukes.


Except that we have no requirement to deliver US buckets of sunshine….

Unlike Germany, Belgium and Holland


I thought that only the F-35A has been tested with the B61. Not sure if they have any plants to certify the B variant for the nuclear delivery role.

Jim Carner

Do UK F-35Bs carry tactical nukes?


Why didn’t we buy A’s then? Why did we buy the dumpier and slower B? Could it be because it is the only fast jet that we can use from carriers sans traps and catapult?

I think you are playing semantics.


F35B isnt ‘dumpier.
The fuselage is the same dimensions on all 3 models
The F35C is longer span wings, bigger area flaps and a larger area horizontal tailplane
The differences in outer mold lines between F35A and B are minor but clearly different inside

Jim Carner

“Could it be because it is the only fast jet that we can use from carriers sans traps and catapult?”

That’s exactly why we bought the B variant.

Phil Chadwick

The world has changed. We are now very clearly living in far more dangerous and unpredictable times. I welcome this announcement of the second tranche of F35 B’s for the UK. We don’t know the time frame for their delivery of course, but it does mean that the Carriers will reach their potential. It is also extremely welcome that the USMC will continue with us on this journey. Good times indeed.

Michael BB

I believe BAE will talk up its Tempest project, the government of the day will be taken in.
This will result in a reduction of F35s the money diverted to Tempest ,the Tempest will be over budget and late.
The result; less frontline aircraft and the tax payer being ripped off.

Paul T


Jim Carner

I really don’t see the point of Tempest.

Even if it gets built, which is a BIG if, most countries that could afford Tempest are building their own 5th gen/6th gen aircraft, so who would we possibly export it to?

And a multi-layered, highly effective IADS makes far more sense to me than a 6th gen fighter.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim Carner

Does anyone know if the earlier blocks will be updated to Block IV software?


Thats a laugh the Block 4 development is projected to take longer and costs more
2027 now and $15 bill cost. Its essentially a restart of the entire software

The Technology Reresh 3 TR3 which is the program for upgrading existing Jets with new computer hardware to enable Block 4 hasnt even finished its development phase.

The UK will be spending twice just to stand. Un said in the story is that the earliest 10-12 or so jets wont be having the expensive upgrades to get TR3 at all and will be stricken and stripped for spares.
Thats announcement will come after its all quieter times.

David Broome

Pathetic. Thr Conservatives deserve to lose. It proves how much tyr government are empty vessels. They haven’t even replaced the one loss. The Kremlin must ve laughing. The minimum we needed was 49 to look credible!


As opposed to the Labour’s leader at the last election who wanted to disband NATO alongside their usual emasculation of the military.


Corbyn isnt even a labour MP any more.


Thankfully, as I doubt the U.K. would be supplying any weapons a to the Ukraine had he won in 2019. But he was thrown out for his antisemitism, not his anti-NATO attitude, which is still widespread within Labour.


The current Labour party is calling for significant increase to the defence budget in response to the current crisis.
Meanwhile the Conservatives, after a decade of the usual cuts today jam tomorrow clap-trap for the military, refuse to commit to the basic fundamental task of the defence of the realm.
That reckless disregard for national defence and that obvious contempt for our Armed Forces will very likely mean that I vote Labour at the next general election and hope it’s not too late to revive even a ‘defence force’ capable of protecting Britain and her EEZ, let alone our allies and the national interest abroad…

Fred the Frog

Yup, Pissing myself here now. Next you’ll be calling for the cancellation of Successer, Re-opening the Coal Pits and Wearing a Red tie.


What are you talking about, the only party I know that is looking at reopening and licensing new coal mines is the Conservatives. As for Successor supporting that is both a Labour and conservative policy and I don’t think anyone actually gives to sh**s what tie you have on.

Fred the Frog

Oh dear, I see you have no Idea whatsoever about History and Labour Policy History in particular and no ability to understand sarcasm.


Actually starma clearly stated that corbins view on NATO were not compatible with the Labour policy of supporting NATO and was one of the key reasons other than the antisemitism that he could not rejoin the parliamentary Labour Party.

The only party which is truly anti our membership of NATO is the Green Party.


Completely illogical that these jets aren’t prioritised for carrier deployment where the UK will get more bang for their buck (er pound).

The RAF should be forced to divest (like with Merlin transports).


Totally agree. Chinooks and Puma’s should go to the army (as per the US military helicopters), P8’s and F35’s to the Navy


And in your fantasy world who exactly would fly and maintain the all FAA F35 force?


I don’t normally respond to rhetorical questions.

…Someone who’s doesn’t mind getting their feet wet.


The same personnel as now. Just in nicer uniforms.


Not just same personel, also the same missions. If a couple of F-35s are required to fly over Central Europe, we aren’t going to send a carrier no matter who has nominal charge.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jon

Well most of the world’s population lives within F35b range of the sea. So yay!


Ath. Well whoever will fly and maintain the planes in the FAA squadron that is already going to be formed. i guess that would be the Navy.


Moneys well spent om equipment that is like a ferrari..
You can’t run it for long and costca fortune to service.


I don’t see why the 4th squadron has to be ditched. 70 frames (3 in the US) less 20% is 56. The only time 4 squadrons would be needed at the same time is during a war with 12 frames per unit. In peace time they could easily operate with 8 frames each leaving 24 for training pilots – I’m sure that would be enough. Regular deployments of an odd squadron can take 12, even a yearly 2 squadron exercise on a carrier with 24 would be possible. It’s going to take 3/4 years for the 26 frames to be delivered anyway, that takes us up to 2029.


The squadron numbers have very little to do with frames and everything to do with people and the cost thereof. UKMFTS is apparently having trouble generating enough qualified aircrew and I’d be surprised if the long-standing shortages in engineering personnel have magically disappeared.

Fred the Frog

Cuts, Cuts and more Cuts over the decades.


Yes there needs to be a real look at recruitment retention and training.

John M.

Once again, the UK goes cheap on defence. Way too few aircraft…a real disappointment.


10% of GDP in 1956 , reduced by the 1957 cuts
4% of GDP around Falklands time ( NHS was 6%)
3% around time of end of cold war
2% now. ( NHS is 11%)

taxes would have to rise or big cuts to other things.

John Toner

If someone could enlighten me please.
All these discussions on aircraft numbers and not yet finalised seems back to front.
We build two state of the art carries that cannot for fill the tasks that they were built for, for nearly another decade !! Surely when considering which type of aircraft was best suited for our carrier force, we should have chosen one with more accessibility, if that meant catapults etc so be it, as long as we had sufficient numbers to supply both the RAF and the carrier force a dam sight quicker than the present scenario.
Forward planning is all well and good but our adversaries (Russia) have bought the prospects of WW3 to a stark reality.
Air craft carriers are designed and meant to carry aircraft. Ours seem to bereft of this concept for the foreseeable future !!


That would have been too simple. We should bought Rafale-M. But for me the platform they should have built around E2. Number one lesson surely of the Falklands War was if you want to do anything serious at sea you need AEW (ASAC)? There is no joined up thinking in UK defence. We have thrown away all our core expertise (ASW, submarines, MCM, light amphibious warfare) to re-establish that one capability our main ally has in an abundance. The ally when we suggest the UK needs X, Y, or Z always gets pointed to as a ‘reason’ we don’t need it. The ally that is facing problems in keeping up submarine and escort numbers as we have cut ours. For me we should have bought a Makin Island like ship and a fast LPD. Thrown money at Crowsnest to do it properly and in sufficient numbers to have two ASAC flights at sea. We should have let the RAF look after fast air. And spent the savings on helicopters.

It’s not Russia driving this mess it is the US State Department.

Jim Carner

“We should bought Rafale-M.”

Rafale-Ms require cats and traps.

“But for me the platform they should have built around E2.”

Hawkeyes need cats & traps too.

“Number one lesson surely of the Falklands War was if you want to do anything serious at sea you need AEW (ASAC)?”

For me the number one lesson is don’t build carriers. There are far better and more survivable solutions.

“There is no joined up thinking in UK defence. We have thrown away all our core expertise (ASW…”

As subs get quieter and quieter I expect passive sonar will become less and less effective. The UK’s HMS Vanguard and the French Le Triomphant SSBNs collided a while back. Surely that indicates that passive sonar is no longer up to the job of detecting very quiet subs?

Rob N

We wanted 5 generation aircraft so we could strike well defended targets and have an advantage in beyond visual range air to air fleet defence. The only such aircraft available was F35.

4th generation planes like Rafale are no longer best placed to fight a day one war. There is no point in recreating a legacy carrier air wing.

We are also not considering the impact of drones/UAVs… these will progressively augment the air wing.


So why not C then?

Doesn’t seem to bother the USN buying more FA18.

We are buying F35 becomes there is no option.


The US navy doesnt want more F-18s . Its congress who puts them into budget for political reasons
Thats the right choice too , development of the next generation twin naval fighter.

theres also a difference between legacy to up orders for an existing large fleet and a new operator beginning its own small fleet


A thought occurs re: the F/A-18. With as many of those as there are in the USN, and given that many of these are relatively new, how about bringing some of them over to the RN and going to a STOBAR configuration? No lengthy and expensive rebuilds of the QE’s would be necessary, and that would be a very fast and cheap way to get RN carrier borne aircraft numbers up to snuff practically overnight. The only significant modification that would need to be made to the QE’s is adding traps (arrestor wires). The latest versions of the F/A-18 are still easily generation 4.5 strike aircraft, which is more than good enough for most of the missions that the RN would likely undertake at any point in the next, say, 15-20 years. Meanwhile the F-35’s would be on hand for fleet defence, precision strike and stealth missions, so you wouldn’t have to buy as many of them. For that matter, you could also route surplus / recently retired Super Hornets to Australia to equip a couple of light fleet carriers for the RAN (or even just keep some Super Hornets around Down Under to augment their own land-based F-35 fleet and preserve the higher priced and harder to maintain Lightning II’s for when they are really needed).

Last edited 2 years ago by Will

Yes it could be reasonably fast to change the carriers, although even sourcing, buying and attaching arrestors wouldn’t happen overnight. However there are major issues that means it isn’t going to happen.

Where will the pilots come from? Training pilots and carrier crew for arrested landings and maintaining certification is a big deal. It’s one reason for favouring loyal wingman drones instead. Will the RAF want to pay for this training or will it be a purely FAA endeavour? Then there’s all the spares to buy and maintenance/operations training to do. Then there’s the missiles FA-18s can currently use, so we’d be buying more US missiles or certifying our own. The former would be seen politically as rewarding the US for screwing up the F-35 upgrade, the latter would add yet more time and upfront cost. Not to mention as soon as you kit the carriers for FA-18s the total number of F-35s on the shopping list will drop.

In 2007 Australia looked to purchase 24 FA/18s, with some spares, training and support over 10 years, for about US$4.6 billion. This was for land-based use with far easier training requirements and they still cost nearly $200m each when flyaway cost was $59m. That’s over £3.5bn in todays money, excluding the cost of the 24 planes. For arrestor use, our training costs would be a heap more. So even if we got old ones transferred for “free” (and that’s never gonna happen) and altered the undercarriages for ramp launch ourselves, it could still end up being pretty expensive for a ten year fill in.

Is it worth it for an interim solution until we have enough F-35s and Vixens?


Jon, I am thinking also about the general expense of operating the F-35, which is considerably higher than what it costs to fly the F/A-18, as well as the problems that have cropped up in the Lightning II in terms of deterioration of the stealth coatings and so on. Keeping in mind the harsh operating environment at sea, it might make sense to supplement FAA numbers with a somewhat less ambitious but more robust and still very capable platform like the Super Hornet. This would serve to help lessen the operational tempo of the F-35, thereby extending the life of that very expensive jet. Just some thoughts.

Meirion x

No! A full Cat & traps carrier would require a lot more crew, increasing costs, complexity, and training requirements. C&T carriers still operate mainly 4th gen aircraft.


You’re looking at the decision making process back to front.

The reality is that it was a political decision to regain the ability to protect power around the world by building the carriers. The treasury was obviously less keen on the idea, and wanted to keep costs to a minimum, so ultimately a carrier with catapults was never an option for the military.

The choice was Aircraft Carriers with the current set up or none at all.

Last edited 2 years ago by JFKvsNixon
Jim Carner

Instead of carriers we would be far better off with:

a) Extremely long-range land-based aircraft such as the Airbus A-350-1000 with a range of about 16,000km. Convert them into military aircraft and equip them with all the available protective bells and whistles. Then add very long-range anti-ship/land-attack missiles that enable them to engage ships and land targets from safe stand-off ranges.

b) Airships with the same missiles, but which would be even longer ranged and have even greater endurance than jets.

c) SSNs with Tomahawk Block Va anti-ship missiles, Tomahawk Block Vb land-attack missiles, IDAS missiles (which can take out ASW helicopters and also have short-range anti-ship and land-attack capability) and Torbuster to take out incoming torpedoes.

d) Type 212 subs to operate around the UK, in the GIUK gap, off the Falklands and Gibraltar, in the Persian Gulf and anywhere else where they’re needed.

Rob N

It is quite clear that we need to get Meteor and SPEAR 3 integrated onto F35 ASAP to fully unlock F35s potential.

In terms of fleet defence Meteor in particular will give F35 the reach it needs to counter hostile aircraft and missiles. Any factor that can get this kit into service fasted is welcomed.

So what has happed to the FAA do they get a squadron?


How the heck does SPEAR 3 unlock the F35’s full potential? It is a piddling little rocket with a piddling little warhead.

Rob N

I was thinking more of Meteor…

The F35 will need a heavy weight Anti-ship/land attack missile to give a full naval strike capability.


I know what you meant. 🙂 😉

Constantly amazed how so many wet their pants over SPEAR.


sorted mate LRASM and NSM

Jim Carner

F-35Bs will be able to carry 8 SPEAR 3s internally. That would present a problem for enemy ships since it would be hard to shoot them all down. SPEAR 3 also has the accuracy to target specific parts of a ship such as its radars, satellite links, bridge, helicopter and CIWS guns, so an F-35B with SPEAR-3s could mission-kill a ship even if it couldn’t sink it.

That said, I’d like to see our F-35Bs carry LRASM or JSM, even if they’d have to be carried externally.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim Carner
Jim Carner

“It is quite clear that we need to get Meteor and SPEAR 3 integrated onto F35 ASAP to fully unlock F35s potential.”

Meteor may make our F-35Bs more effective, although since F-35Bs are stealthy (at least from the front anyway) then maybe AIM-120 would be good enough, especially if fired from within its NEZ. That said, Meteor would still be my preference just to be on the safe side. However what enemy aircraft will our F-35Bs be engaging? Some Russian and Chinese ships have anti-ship missiles that far outrange Harpoon. As for getting close to land, well if a carrier has any sense it will stay out of the range of Kinzhal, DF-21 and DF-26. That means that a carrier group has been rendered impotent since the carrier aircraft don’t have the range to even get within firing range of land.

And yeah I’m fully aware of the argument that Russia and China can’t complete a kill chain. I have no idea if that’s true or not, but I’d rather assume it is true, rather than assume it isn’t. The thought of NATO carrier groups getting taken out doesn’t bear thinking about.


I suppose the other element missing in this discussion is the outcome of project Vixen: if the UK can productionize the Spirit Mosquito, and the RN can get a navalised version working, then you can add a lot of combat mass that way.

You probably still need to modify to add Cats N Traps, I don’t know – if only rated for a smaller vehicle it might not require as large an outlay? – or possibly they can get it working in STOBAR mode and only need the traps?

Of course, maybe it’s a 1957 moment and the tech won’t mature for a long time yet, but seems like most major aerospace conglomerates have already demonstrated a lot of the necessary underlying tech.


I think the drone tech is probably there and the question is can it be built down to a price.

Jim Carner

“I suppose the other element missing in this discussion is the outcome of project Vixen: if the UK can productionize the Spirit Mosquito, and the RN can get a navalised version working, then you can add a lot of combat mass that way.”

How? We can’t even refuel the F-35Bs in the air, how are we going to refuel loyal wingmen drones? And that’s assuming that the QE and PoW are even fitted with cats & traps just for drones. What are we going to use to refuel F-35Bs and drones? MQ-25s? One MQ-25 can only refuel one F-35B. It’s a totally unworkable concept in the western Pacific.

If we want very long-range anti-ship and land-attack capability then carriers aren’t the solution. We need to be looking at SSNs, very long-range land-based aircraft and airships.

We seriously screwed up building the QE and PoW and buying F-35Bs.


The entire F-35 program has grown into the high end of the project expectations. Helped in part by the Ukrainian war.

Last edited 2 years ago by Roscoex5

Helped in part by the Ukranian War?

Are you having a giraffe? It will impact costs now. But F35 has never ever been the cheap fighter it was meant to be.

Fred the Frog

Lol, The Ukraine War ….. You never Thought it would happen either, Did You ? Infact, You once again put down everyones thoughts on here didn’t you ? not to mention your reasons for feeling confident that your mate Putin was only bluffing based on your years in IR….. How do you feel about all the Deaths there now ?


Well no I didn’t. The deaths now or the deaths of 14,000 ethnic Russians at the hands of the Ukrainian armed forces since 2014? My mistake was I didn’t think the US State Department would tell Kiev to invade the Donbas. Putin isn’t my mate. Russia is out of my orbit normally. But even being out of my normal orbit I appear to know much more about the country and situation beyond your MSM based bigotry. Are you not ashamed of yourself that you have access to one of the greatest stores of human knowledge ever constructed yet you are as thick as pig excrement? You have no understanding of the main issue of the day. You sad little man.

Last edited 2 years ago by X
Fred the Frog

But Who’s the “Sad Little man” though. ? seriously X, have the decency to just admit when you are wrong, there’s a good troll.


I would think that 100 would be the bare minimum in order to have at least 24 on board each of the QE’s. Keeping in mind the need to have a full squadron for training and also enough airframes to account for attrition from normal wear and tear and also losses due to accident, even with 100 if would be questionable if both carriers could surge to a full war load of 36 F-35s. This is leaving aside attrition from combat losses, should that develop.

I don’t see any way to avoid the fact that the original 138 was probably about the right number that should be bought by the UK. The planned UAS platforms will no doubt help to offset the lower numbers to some extent, but 74 is nowhere near enough. It’s just not.


“The RAF now plans to have 3 frontline F35B squadrons” No mention of naval squadrons. Does this mean the “joint force” is now totally RAF?


Most probably we will use it as a demostator and buying American like we always do too afraid of updating the American again we have a cognac of making something good here so I hope we won’t loose our bottle when we hit a few bulbs along the way

Jim Carner

Why does the UK need high-end surface ships anyway? Poseidons carrying LRASMs or JSMs for example could take out Russian ships from beyond the range of their SAM systems. And Poseidons, unlike ships, aren’t vulnerable to anti-ship missiles, torpedoes or mines. Why do we persist in building ludicrously vulnerable and expensive warships? And warships that can’t be quickly replaced if sunk.

Plus airships would be even longer ranged than Poseidons and have far superior endurance. Why aren’t we approaching HAV, a UK company that makes the Airlander, to provide this capability? Plus unlike Poseidons, airships can take off from pretty much anywhere making them far more survivable on the ground than aircraft that require an air base to operate. And if an amphibious airship is built it could operate from bodies of water, as well as land, making it EVEN MORE survivable. As well as unpredictable.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim Carner

Is it possible that British Airways could operate the F-35B. I’m sure BA achieve far better than 80% availability on considerably more flying hours than F35s


I,m just surprised how slow delivery has been as we are supposed to be a level one partner in the project . Would be nice to see the full 138 aircraft with 2 squadrons permanently allocated to the royal navy . Maybe the raf could look at a couple of squadron of f35a to give them greater options too .