PPRuNe Forums - View Single Post - F-35 Cancelled, then what ?
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Old 17th May 2018, 11:05
  #11300 (permalink)  
Heathrow Harry
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: London
Posts: 7,085
Originally Posted by Frostchamber View Post
"Committed to 138" may mean different things to different people in this context. I have also seen 138 referred to as an "ambition" and although the MoD has said it "remains committed" to 138, I don't think there's any contractual commitment to that many.

it's been suggested that the long term plan was for an establishment of 4 front line squadrons of F35s. If true, you don't need 138 for that. I suspect that the words "over the life of the programme" were key. 80-90 airframes would allow 4 front line sqns and reserves, rotating airframes in and out of the front line etc, so the plan might have been to follow these up with a very late order for late model examples to replace the originals, to equip the second half of the life of the carriers. Under that scenario we would never have more than 80-odd at any given time. I could equally be completely wrong about that, but the numbers and timeframes do sort of fit.

If the approach firms up to be one of F35s for the carriers only, the question becomes one of how many you need for that. Views on here will doubtless differ. I'd argue that 4 sqns would be the minimum to support sustained deployments, and especially if we want to hold out the possibility of deploying both carriers concurrently in extremis. For its part, on the other hand, the RAF might argue that 2 sqns of Bs for the carriers is just fine, thank you very much, and please give us something else in addition based on land.

If we do end up with 4 sqns of Bs, a further question is whether that leaves any room to fund anything additional concurrently, if previous plans were only for a top up buy of late model Bs as replacements.

If we end up with a Typhoon-versus F35A decision presumably there are pros and cons for both. I'm guessing the F35A would shade it as the airframe of choice for land-based ground attack - but how far does project centurion narrow the gap? Whereas late model Typhoons with AESA would presumably shade it for air to air. But then is the Typhoon really a better bet for UK industry and employment? It might be, but then the UK builds 15% by value of every F35 built - which adds up to the value equivalent of 400 or so full aircraft if current plans are followed through.

This one could run and run...too many variables....
Ahhh so we have a hierarchy ...

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