Typhoon Flying and Simulator Hours

From a recent published FOI request, the number of flying and simulator hours in support of flying training.

During the financial year 2014/15 the RAF provided 3,890 hours of Typhoon simulator flying training


During the financial year 2014/15 the RAF undertook 16,445 live flying hours in the Typhoon aircraft

The questions are not identical in scope and the second answer does not seem to make clear the difference between flying hours and training flying hours, but still interesting.

First Paveway IV release for Typhoons at RAF Lossiemouth


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October 23, 2015 8:40 am

I would rather see how many hours are conversion-to-type hours, how many are continuation (i.e. To keep pilots current on type) and how many operational.

…Too many continuation hours, tells me that aircrew are not getting enough flying to maintain proficiency, or are being rostered inefficiently (flying tasks are not being distributed evenly)

…High conversion hours tell me that there is too much movement in postings, or too many aircrew are moving on.

Other than that sim hours look about right as a proportion of total hours. I presume the RAF are following civil practice, in allowing some training, line checks and proficiency checks to be conducted on the sim. Not sure if they allow zero-hour conversions, though.

October 23, 2015 10:53 am

Given the majority of flying time will be training of one type or another it seems that the number of real flying hours verses Sim hours is still way to high. With the cost of modern fast jet aircraft modern air force’s need to get out of old habits of training and maintaing skills. It’s simply unaffordable with current budgets to have ratios of 4 to 1 for flying hours verses simulators.

I would also argue that modern combat I.e BVR or high altitude precision bombing needs and release of stand off weapons needs much less tranining than Pilots previously needed with dog fighting etc.

I am not saying we should give up dog fighting but we should take a long hard look at how much of the training is going into with in visual range combat and ask if it’s worth the investment.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 23, 2015 11:21 am

Another way of looking at this might be :

Total flying hrs (live and sim) per annum = 20000 or so

Number of aircrew in 5 operational and 1 OCU sqns, say 25 per sqn = 150 aircrew

Monthly flying hours per aircrew = 20000/(150×12) = 11 flying hours per month each (inc sim time)

I have vague memories that back in the good old days 20 fh/month was considered marginal for combat readiness. Never having been on an operational squadron I’m clearly prepared to be told I’m talking via my hoop. However, when you tot it up as 11 hrs / month (or put another way <10% of a "typical" working month) it doesn't sound too clever, does it?

October 23, 2015 12:02 pm

My impression too that the number of hours reported was a bit low. So indeed the live flying hours reported are probably those used for training as such. Hours flown operationally (QRA, exercises, operations over Syria, …) must then be added. Antoher 20000 or so to give the 20 hours per month per pilot?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
October 23, 2015 12:16 pm

This is from an FoI request, which means that the info is compiled from readily available sources with the minimum amount of d1cking about – otherwise it attracts the “disproportionate effort” clause.

To my mind that means that they’ve literally added up the Typhoon fleet flying hours (assume maintained by the IPT) and the booked hours on the Sim. I doubt there’s any more definition than that – which means that’s your total for the Typhoon fleet and its aircrew. no ifs, buts or maybes.

October 23, 2015 12:49 pm


Currently front line Typhoon squadrons do about 25% of their training in the simulator, compared to 65% of simulator time by the operational conversion unit, 29 Sqdn. But the Typhoon force wants that ratio to be closer to that of the U.K. F-35 force, which will have a 50:50 ratio of flying hours to simulator hours.

October 24, 2015 12:34 am

165 flying hours/year was some claimed NATO minimum standard a couple years ago. About 250 or so was considered fine, 400 or so was considered impressive and IAF-level.

For comparison; the utterly broke East European and 1990’s Russian air forces were said to have had about 60-65 flying hours/year, barely enough to maintain safety of flight.

Roughly 110 flying hours/year makes me wonder how bad the German Typhoon pilots are, since they are rumoured to be inferior in A2A to British Typhoon pilots.

On the other hand, the press reported German Typhoons have 140 flying hours per year (maybe the plane, not the pilot), which hints at the UK figure above maybe being inaccurate.

Rocket Banana
October 24, 2015 7:47 am

Flying hours on their own are somewhat meaningless. It’s what you do during those hours that matters.

So 240 hours a year could be 80 x 3hr sorties just wafting around the place or 160 x 1.5hr sorties doing carrier takeoffs, A2A, strike and deck landings… well, not in a Typhoon, but you get the picture.

Added to that you can help maintain currency by flying another aircraft (e.g. Hawk).

Basically, I have reservations about the figures meaning anything much at all.

October 24, 2015 6:59 pm

Availability of simulators (and how hi-fi the simulators for a certain type are) can turn the cost per flying hor comparisons between types upside-down. The Swiss and the Austrians have done some numbers, and for the cost of 100 Gripen (NG) hours you can have about 80 F35 hours or 60-70 Typhoon and Rafale hours.

Now apply say 50% to a type that has state- of -the -art simulation (for effective result) and another where only 25% can be delivered in a simulator and the rest in the air… huge difference, both through the direct cost and through how many years the planes last in the fleet (before incurring the capital cost again).

October 24, 2015 8:25 pm

Last I heard simulators could still not mimic G*, which might explain what appears to be a small ratio of simulated to actual flying hours on the Typhoon.

* Unless some clever boffin has invented a reverse version of the inertial dampeners so beloved of Star Trek.

October 24, 2015 9:03 pm

Simulators replicated G exceptionally well, being physical entities.
They’ll also do 1g quite well, but multiple g acceleration or acceleration in any direction other than down would be challenging.

October 26, 2015 1:24 am
Reply to  Martin

Pilots sign up to fly jets not simulators. If the ratio of actual flight hours get too low, the pilots will bailout. Then you won’t be able to get candidates that are willing to submit to basic training, the physically demanding shake out courses, flight training, and the years of operational training it takes to make a good fighter pilot just to fly a simulator. I am not saying no simulator time, but too many simulator hours vs actual flight hours hurts retention and recruitment.