Fixed Wing Aircraft and Helicopters in Service December 2014

Fixed wing aircraft and helicopters in service with the British Armed Forces in December 2014

From a recent Written Answer and Question.

Fixed wing aircraft and helicopters in service with the British Armed Forces in December 2014

Aircraft type Service Based at In-service fleet (number)
A400M RAF Brize Norton 1
Apache Army Wattisham, Middle Wallop 66
BAE 146 RAF Northolt 4
BAE 125 RAF Northolt 5
C-17 RAF Brize Norton 8
Chinook Mk 2-6 RAF Odiham 52
Defender Mk 1 Army Aldergrove 9
Gazelle Army Aldergrove, Suffield (Canada), Middle Wallop 34
Hawk T1/T1A/T1W RAF/RN Valley, Leeming, Scampton, Culdrose 120
Hawk T2 RAF Valley 28
Hercules C130J RAF Brize Norton, Falkland Islands 24
Islander Mk 1 and Mk2 Army Aldergrove, Middle Wallop, Northolt 9
King Air RAF Waddington 5
Lynx Mk7 Army Dishforth, Odiham, Middle Wallop 18
Lynx Mk8 RN Yeovilton 28
Lynx Mk 9/9a Army Dishforth, Odiham, Middle Wallop 21
Merlin Mk 2 RN Culdrose 30
Merlin Mk 3/3a RN Benson 27
Puma RAF Benson 24
Rivet Joint RAF Waddington 1
Sea King Mk 3/3a RAF Valley, Wattisham, Lossiemouth, Leconfield, Boulmer, Chivenor, Falkland Islands 21
Sea King Mk 4 RN Yeovilton 12
Sea King Mk 5 RN Culdrose 12
Sea King Mk 7 RN Culdrose 11
Sentinel RAF Waddington 5
Sentry RAF Waddington 6
Tornado GR4 RAF Marham; Lossiemouth, Coningsby 102
Tucano T1 RAF Linton-on-Ouse 41
Typhoon RAF Coningsby, Lossiemouth, Falkland Islands 125
Vigilant T1 RAF Volunteer Gliding Schools (VGS)—Various(1) 65
Viking T1 RAF VGS Various(2) 81
Voyager RAF Brize Norton, Falkland Islands 8
Wildcat AH Mk1 Army Yeovilton 12
Wildcat HMA Mk2 RN Yeovilton 13
(1) Abingdon, Dalton Barracks; Chivenor; Cosford; Halton; Henlow; Linton-on-Ouse; Little Rissington; Lossiemouth; Newtownards Airfield; Odiham; St Athan; Swansea Airport; Syerston; Ternhill; Topcliffe; Woodvale. (2) Arbroath Airfield; Hullavington, Buckley Barracks; Kenley; Kirknewton; Predannack Airfield; Syerston; Upavon Airfield; Watton, STANTA (Stanford Practical Training Area) Airfield; MDP Wethersfield.
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January 3, 2015 1:15 pm

@ TD think you need to edit the title

January 3, 2015 1:28 pm

Erm, I think those numbers have been massaged. I’m sure a large number of the AH (Apache) fleet is either mothballed or canabilised for spares rather than actually “in service”.

January 3, 2015 1:47 pm

But how many of the planes could go to war tomorrow if required? I seem to recall comments that only a handfull of Apache’s were actually working and 30-40 of the Typhoon’s.

January 3, 2015 1:50 pm

We really are spread very thin aren’t we

shark bait
shark bait
January 3, 2015 2:01 pm

We are aren’t we, even more so when we loose a bunch of typhoon’s!
I would like to see a collum with how many could actually be in the air within 24 hours .

I’d like to see the hawk used for more roles, they could be perfect for ground attack and intelligence if they had brimstone integration.
They’re hardy and cheap to operate, unlike the typhoon, it would work quite well in situations like we are in currently in Iraq in my opinion

January 3, 2015 2:19 pm

Not to mention some of those defenders are actually RAF (Northolt). List is very broad and more like a wikipedia entry ;)

January 3, 2015 2:36 pm

There’s no requirement to throw the entire Air Force into an Eagle Day confrontation without warning is there though?

January 3, 2015 2:46 pm

That’s a lot of Hawks. Why so many? This is not a dig; just wondered if in part it’s so that pilots can keep up their annual hours without having to keep taking the expensive toys out of the garage? Also, I presume those figures include the Red Arrows mounts which, while we are told are combat capable, they are permanently out of the training pool, aren’t they?

When I play fantasy (air) fleets I always have a few dozen Gripens for advanced training and bombing mad mullahs with no air defence. Oh and bombers.

Kentish Paul
Kentish Paul
January 3, 2015 2:58 pm

Also does not include the 4 Avengers (King Air) that belong to 750 sqn at Culdrose.

January 3, 2015 3:25 pm


Apache numbers correct.

January 3, 2015 3:41 pm

Never seen a foxed winged aircraft. Bet you’ll smell ’em before you see or hear ’em

January 3, 2015 3:48 pm

A 220 fast-jet force currently or recently struggling to cope with a myriad of tasks are within 5 years going to shrink to 155, and that’s the best case scenario! Doesn’t exactly make me feel all warm inside.

I also wonder why so many Hawks? If the T2’s have fully taken over in terms of advanced training then who else is left using the T1’s besides the Red Arrow’s and 100 ‘aggressor’ squadron?

Gazelle and Tucano have both had their OSD’s pushed back in the last few years, any more news on their prospective replacement? Wasn’t a low-key tender put out to find a new turbo-prop trainer a couple of years back?

January 3, 2015 4:42 pm

@Challenger, regarding the Tucano replacement, Flightglobal website reported (
“New fleets of Grob Aircraft G120TP, Beechcraft T-6C and Embraer Phenom 100 aircraft are due to be introduced, to respectively deliver elementary, basic and multi-engine training for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.
An undisclosed number of each type will replace in-service Grob G115 Tutors, Shorts Tucano T1s and leased Beechcraft King Air 200s under the arrangement, which is expected to run through to 2033. Flightglobal’s MiliCAS database records a respective 119, 38 and eight of these as being in current active duty, with the G115s provided by Babcock.”

On a separate point, this list presumably doesn’t include the leased aircraft in service? I understood that the Defence Helicopter Flying School has quite a few leased Griffins and Squirrels due for renewal too.

January 3, 2015 5:06 pm


“When I play fantasy (air) fleets I always have a few dozen Gripens for advanced training”
Could soon become a real option as there is some Gripen derivative taking part in the US trainer competition.

Mike W
January 3, 2015 5:29 pm

Presumably the 5 King Airs listed for Waddington are the Shadows R1s, are they? I don’t think the RAF has any Beechcraft King Air observer trainers like the Royal Navy, does it?

January 3, 2015 5:56 pm

A lot of those GR4s are not doing very much either…

January 3, 2015 6:20 pm

Those are total fleet numbers purchased. The hawk t1 numbers look big because we bought a lot in the 70s when personnel wise the airforce was nearly a 100k strong with lots of fast jet sqns (there was 18 operational tornado sqns in 1991 alone) now most close to 80 odd are hangered in various stages of scrap ect. Hawks are used by the navy for training ships, aero medical people, aggressor sqn, red arrows, and valley for training. Like wise with tornado a number are waiting for spare reclaiming at leeming.

January 3, 2015 6:22 pm

As we have so few lets by lots of cheaper ones.
Don’t think we would go too far wrong with some of these.

January 3, 2015 6:30 pm

@Mike W
I was surprised by the low number for the King Airs.
I thought the RAF had 5 for multi engine training and navigation training and liaison/transport.
The navy had 4 for training navigators and observers and liaison/transport.
And then we had the 6 shadows on top.

So where are all those aircraft gone if we only have 5 total?

Mike W
January 3, 2015 6:40 pm


Many thanks for your reply. Yes, it’s interesting, isn’t it? I do not think that the RAF has similar trainers to the Navy but may very well be wrong on that. And then the number of Shadows seems to have gone down from six to five! Those aircraft seem shrouded in mystery, possibly quite rightly so.

January 3, 2015 6:52 pm

So the king airs are with No. 45 Squadron at RAF Cranwell and 750 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Culdrose.
The shadows are with No. 14 Squadron at RAF Waddington.
The RAF ones from 45 squ. are owned by Serco.
I do not know who owns the navy ones and the shadows.

The Other Chris
January 3, 2015 7:04 pm

Are UOR’s considered “in-service”?

Those may cover the lack of Watchkeeper, Reaper and Shadow numbers.

EDIT: Sentinel having been brought into Core and extended already, the rest being early announcements of SDSR 2015 shifts as well as only just being operational.

January 3, 2015 7:20 pm


The astor system (Sentinel) has always been a core program.

January 3, 2015 7:34 pm


Thanks for that Flightglobal link, i wasn’t aware the Military Flying Training Contract was that far advanced. Bit annoying that we still have no idea how many aircraft will be involved but hopefully we will see some more information soon.


Thanks for the info on the Hawk fleet, i kind of assumed the RAF hadn’t been utilizing 100+ air-frames (at least in the air) for a number of years.


The Hawker Siddeley Dominie used by the RAF for rear crew training until 2011 still hasn’t been replaced. I think i heard that the training system has been hitching rides for it’s students on King Air’s as an ad hoc solution to the problem. Not sure if a formal replacement is still hoped for?

The Other Chris
January 3, 2015 8:37 pm


Thank you for the correction, appreciated :)

January 3, 2015 9:29 pm

So the list does not include anything that is not directly owned by the MOD.
Defence Helicopter Flying School Helicopters owned by Cobham Aviation Services.
king airs owned by Serco (both navy and raf fleets).
bell 212 operated by the army in Belize and Brunei.
bell griffin operated by the RAF in Cyprus.
Grob tutors are owed by Babcock.
Grob herons are owed by Tayside Aviation.
Anything anyone else can think of that is owed by a privet company.

January 3, 2015 10:19 pm

Arent the F35 Lightnings paid for in service yet ?

The Other Chris
January 3, 2015 10:32 pm

Not yet. In-service date 2018.

January 4, 2015 1:29 am

Its not just aircraft purchased, a lot of Tornados have gone from the original purchases. It is not unsurprising to see large inventories of legacy aircraft; keeping airframes around makes it much easier to manage fatigue issues and I also suspect there is an element of hangover from the 2010 cuts around too.

Those numbers will, under current plans, drop rapidly in the next few years.

January 4, 2015 2:39 am

For a moment there, I was excited about a possible radical new camouflage scheme for RAF aircraft ….

January 4, 2015 10:42 am

@Mark, Challenger

Those are definitely not ‘fleet purchased’ numbers. We purchased over 300 (nearer 400 I think) Tornado(e)s overall. But obviously those numbers don’t represent the airframes that are in immediate airworthy condition either. But some relatively new airframes can be temporarily cannibalised to keep others airworthy, and then when airframe fatigue levels start to max out on the flying aircraft, they will be grounded and cannibalised to put the initally cannibalised aircraft in the air.

So the numbers are more likely to represent the number of serial numbers linked to airframes that haven’t officially been scrapped, which can be significantly different to the number of complete aircraft available.

January 4, 2015 10:48 am

Thanks TD, it would be interesting to have the out of service date alongside the aircraft type to emphasise just how much our fixed wing and rotary wing fleet will reduce by.

At all: The last I heard there was no prospect of replacing any of the Hawk T1′ s with new Hawk T2′ s, and my understanding is that the T2 has lower acceleration and pulls less g’ s than a T1, making it a poor replacement for the red arrows and aggressor squadron (which we share with the French now). I have found several different OSD for the T1, and wondered what the correct date is?

I also have concerns over the real f@ck up that is the army equipment plan, I think everyone would be less concerned over the numbers if the army was about to be re-equipped with enough tracked and wheeled vehicles to be effective, supported by enough helicopters and transport aircraft (when ever I play fantasy fleets, I always double the number of Chinook’s and green Merlin in service, and add 60 helicopters in the Blackhawk class, plus extra transport aircraft, it’s the only bit I am really certain of). The imminent retirement of the gazelle and Lynx 9a, with far fewer Army Wildcats, which are specced to be unable fulfil either the armed scout/scout or utility role in any meaningful way is of real concern. Am I the only one who thinks that we are going to have real problems in the future supporting the army/royal marines with the proposed helicopter fleet of 2020? If the SDSR 2015 mandates more cuts what is the betting it mainly means cutting elements that support the army (i.e ISTAR, helicopters, engineering and logistics to save cap badges and FRES SV)?

January 4, 2015 11:22 am

In relation to tornado a large number of aircraft where chopped up when they were converted to gr4 and number are continuing to be spares reclaimed at leeming so they don’t exist anymore. The number above appear to be fleet number purchased and still on mod books.
We ordered 228 gr4 and 165 adv tornados.

It’s interesting that voyager appears on the list because the raf don’t own it either.

Hawk t1 osd is currently planned at 2020.

January 5, 2015 1:14 am

@ TOC, Watchkeeper are not UOR, they are the very belated replacements for Phoenix, which replaced CL-89. UAS have been on the Army ORBAT for over 50 years.

January 5, 2015 11:23 am


Wouldn’t be surprised if they eek out a few more years with the Hawk T1 to avoid stumping up for a replacement in the same way that they are currently doing with Gazelle.

The needs of the Red Arrows and for an Aggressor squadron means an off the shelf purchase will probably have to be made eventually, although maybe for only 20 odd air-frames. It’s a shame the Hawk T2 doesn’t seem to fit the bill. Would another Hawk variant that BAE retain on paper and have historically produced for export be a viable solution?

January 5, 2015 9:55 pm

The forces need a Hi/Low mix of aircraft. Typhoon for high risk role and Hawk derivative/ textron Scorpion for Low. C130 MPA for Patrol work.