News story: MOD seals the deal on nine new Maritime Patrol Aircraft to keep UK safe


The new aircraft, which will be based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, will play a vital role in protecting the UK’s nuclear deterrent and the UK’s two new aircraft carriers. They will also be able to locate and track hostile submarines, and will enhance the UK’s maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) capability. This capability will also bring economic benefits to Scotland and the wider UK, with an additional 400 personnel based at RAF Lossiemouth.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

Our new MPA aircraft will provide significant protection of the UK’s nuclear deterrent and our £6 billion aircraft carriers.

They are part of our plan for stronger and better defence, backed by a budget that will rise each year of this decade. That means more ships, more  aircraft, more troops available at readiness, better equipment for special forces, more being spent on cyber – to deal with the increased threats to our country.

The P-8A MPA, manufactured by Boeing, are being purchased from the US Government via a Foreign Military Sale. The cost of developing and delivering the UK’s MPA capability, including paying for the people, their training, the infrastructure and necessary support at RAF Lossiemouth will be around £3 billion over the next decade. By tapping into the well-established US production line, the UK will get a tested and proven piece of equipment in the right timeline. In addition, the RAF will benefit from collaboration with some of the UK’s key allies, including the US Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force.

The P-8A can operate at long range from its operating base without refuelling and has the endurance to carry out high and low-level airborne maritime and overland surveillance for extended periods. This cutting-edge aircraft will also be able to conduct wide-area search of open ocean to locate small boats and drop rescue life-rafts and equipment to vessels and people in distress.

Tony Douglas, Chief Executive Officer of the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, said:

Already in service with other nations, the P-8A aircraft was the best solution to fill our Maritime Patrol Aircraft capability gap; it is tried, tested and can be delivered in the timeline we need. The fact that we have been able to commit the main investment decision on this key procurement less than nine months after the Government announced its intention to buy these aircraft is a great testament to the agility, professionalism, and drive of DE&S, working closely with colleagues across MOD and the US Navy.

The P-8A is based on the Boeing 737, which is already supplied by UK industry, supporting several hundred direct UK jobs. What is more, UK manufacturers also already provide specialist sub-systems for the P-8 itself. Companies include Marshall for the auxiliary fuel tanks, Martin Baker for the crew seats and General Electric for weapon pylons. The new order of P-8As is also set to create opportunities for the UK to bid for training and support contracts.

The announcement of this deal also marks the point at which responsibility for leadership of the MPA Programme transfers from Joint Forces Command to the RAF. With the first aircraft due to arrive in the UK in 2019/2020, the RAF has been committed to maintaining the skills needed to operate these MPAs through the ‘seed-corn’ programme, which has embedded former RAF MPA operators within the MPA squadrons of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA.

Air Vice-Marshal Gerry Mayhew, who is responsible for the RAF’s fast jets and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance assets, said:

The seed-corn initiative has been vital in ensuring that our future MPA aircrew are prepared to regenerate the UK’s MPA capability. By retaining those essential skills, our aircrew are already on the front foot when it comes to operating these new aircraft.

from Ministry of Defence – Activity on GOV.UK

P-8A Poseidon

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The Other Chris

Talking to an offshore helicopter crew this morning who normally perform rig, supertrawler and OSV runs. They’ve said the purchase is good news from their point of view as chances of being found in a SAR operation will increase.


As a now ancient Shackleton captain with a couple of thousand hours of LRMR and ASW (to which my high-tone deafness testifies) I can tell the Defence Ministers and the MoD that, although the aircraft will doubtless be very good at what they’ve bought it to do, nine aircraft cannot do the job. It may be three times as fast as the Shack and carry three times the payload and have ten times as much electronics, but it still won’t be in three different places at the same instant in time. I recommend a minimum of five squadrons each with six aircraft, one of the squadrons being a training and development squadron, but MoD must be capable of expanding the force and its capabilities quickly.

The Other Chris

Completely agree. Nine is a number we’d reached when Nimrod was cancelled, a program that started at 21, dropped to 18, fell further to 12 and realised only 9 husks could be certified as airworthy.

There’s no public evidence that the P-8A capabilities have been evaluated and that it can fulfil the requirement that would have taken 9, 12, 18 or even 21 similarly equipped aircraft to perform.

At least with the P-8A and related investment there’s a possibility of us purchasing more in the future. We didn’t have that option at all with the MRA.4.

Daniele Mandelli

Any indication of Squadron numbers? 120, 201, 208, 42 ?

Perhaps this first MMA Squadron will be just that the first. If the utility of aircraft can be expanded and becomes a ‘must have’ for other non ASW missions then funding may become available. If the RAF can make it a much sought after aircraft then demanding more aircraft becomes simpler.
On another note, how many crews per aircraft will be at Lossiemouth? Civilian 737 fly many hours per day with fast turn around so multiple crews could increase the utility of the aircraft I would think.


Oooo more loverly money for the US. Cameron’s support for the British Aerospace industry (as he proudly proclaimed today) is just the best. Rubs hands with glee.

Lets see how Mission creep hits them when in service.

Daniele Mandelli

9 is better than nothing so lets get on with it. Good news.

Darned Consultant

Yes, 9 is a little few for the roles it would seem to be filling… maybe more later?
Sadly Ron5, we (UK Aerospace) just are not making these types of airframes any more – Bombardier maybe could, but the P8 is a 737-800 hull, so the Bombardier would have to be a C series hull. Whilst bits of the C series are made in Belfast, this is still not really a UK aerospace company, and anyway its really finally built in Montreal. So, whilst it would be nice to get UK industry into this, what airframes would be used? The debacle of BAEs MR4 conversion I think soured any chance of a home grown capability. Or get BAE to spend a decade and a huge tonne of cash designing a gold plated, you can’t bend it superduper homegrown airframe and then stuff it with our own gear… Our ability to spec and get delivered bespoke avionics if we eventually got a new airframe out of a UK manufacturer, or say we purchased some hulls and gave it to a tame UK fettler – that’s not that brilliant either (Yes, I’m looking at you Chinook Mk3)
{caveat – all above my opinion, i’m often wrong, and talk tosh, so please feel free to correct]


Is 9 P-8 enough? Probably for the high end ASW, yes, but not enough for the simple ocean patrol/SAR, as well. So either we buy more P-8 just to keep a one type fleet, or we buy a few cheaper, simpler aircraft, such as converted C-130J (US Coastguard standard) or a sensor equipped King Air, or a biz jet. As long as they have a search radar & EO turret.

40 deg south

Can you point at a UK-designed/built alternative to the P-8? As I recall, the last attempt to produce one ended up with nothing more to show for billions spent than some diamond-plated scrap.

Having gone for more than a decade with precisely zero ASW capability, HM government has stumped up for the most capable option available.. Yet the interwebs seems to be filled with people complaining about numbers/capability/foreign-ness. It brings to mind that ubiquitous Aust/NZ stereotype of the 1960s/70s – the Whinging Pom.


New development for nine airframes would be beyond stupid. P-8 is best available, enjoy it.

If the Russian sub threat keeps developing and the economy starts to grow after the Brexit uncertainty is done we may get more, no point worrying about it now, the question for air ISTAR is what happens to the Sentinel capability when it hits its new OSD of 2021.


A joint development with the Japanese on their P-1 back before the Nimrod debacle started would have been the best approach. That way they could have now bee selling them to Canada, Germany, Norway and probably France as well. Could well understand an off shelf buy for P-8 and AH1 since no confidence in BAe anymore after the Astute, Daring and their part in Nimrod MR4 debacles.


Given the Brexit uncertainty, 9 is a good start. Luckily they order all 9 straight away and not in batches like for the F-35.


A perfect trifecta of MoD orders announced today:

1. 100% American P-8’s
2. 100% American Apache
3. 100% American Predator B Reaper

Way to go UK. Keeps my taxes lower esp Apache (built up the road in Mesa) while backing British aerospace to the hilt. Well according to your (ex) Prime Minister.

You’d think that an even half way competent government would get something in return.

My suggestion, get in quick and pick up the Canadian F-35 business that Lockheed doesn’t want to give them anymore. Lower pound would be very welcome news in the US. Make your own F-35’s cheaper too.

That’s assuming you’re actually going to buy some more, I think just the 8 have been ordered so far.

Apologies for any ruffled feathers.


“Given the Brexit uncertainty, 9 is a good start. Luckily they order all 9 straight away and not in batches like for the F-35”

Sorry to break the bad news but …


How does the price stack up against what the aussies and (slightly less relevant) Indians paid for theirs? £3 billion pound for 9 versus $1.49 billion for 13 doesn’t seem especially great (

But as ever, I’m, sure there is more to it than that.

Brian Black

I agree with what TOC says about the number of aircraft. Nine is an arbitrary number left over from Nimrod; however, these nine P-8 constitute a ten year plan.

It would be out of the ordinary for the government to be planning small unit purchases beyond that kind of timeframe. In the longer-term, there may well be more aircraft. For the time being, nine MPA seems a good commitment to kick things off.

For some perspective, the Australians (who aren’t going from quite the same standing start) ordered eight P-8 initially, with those eight aircraft delivered and operational over a five year period. This MoD announcement puts the nine RAF P-8 into a timeframe of the next decade, with deliveries not starting until ’19-’20. Similar introduction period, and of course, RAAF plans went from 8 to 12 to 15 P-8, so the RAF can live in hope.

The Ginge

Interesting debate, but the fact is that UK Governments of whatever ilk do not want to provide
1. Long Range SAR otherwise they would have had it supplied by the contractors now providing Helicopter services.
2. The Armed Forces will say anything to get it’s hands on shinny kit even when it knows its not enough, it won’t do everything they say it will. See for examples UK Helicopter Provision in Iraq/Afghanistan, Fres, Strike Brigade etc etc.
3. We’ve Got no Money Stupid. We are still trying to do everything and we can not buy enough equipment to do it. We can not be a COIN Army, An Expeditionary Army with heavy armour, Heavy Armoured Army to fight Russia, a Maritime Power able to deploy Divisions by Sea. But we’ll try to do it all and not pay for it.

The list goes on and I think its about time some of the professionals come out and say if we want to do A it will cost Y, we add B it costs an extra X and we need this this and this in sufficient quantities etc etc. Every-time you add another requirement you cost it and buy the equipment to do it.

instead we’ll keep seeing this argument time after time, well we’ve got world class kit but we’ve only got 180 Challenger 2’s, we’ve upgraded only 245 Warriors, we’ve only going to have 14 escorts (6 T45 + 8 T26 and I’ll believe when I see a Type 31 that can do anything other than being an armoured River) we’ve only got 9 P8’s . The solution buy affordable kit and adapt what you’ve got, Sea Herc and mid life extension based on existing or secondhand C130’s getting you 20 aircraft etc. But we are writing Ferrari Cheques and trying to cash it with Mini Money we are just going to get caught out like Iraq or Afghanistan but maybe this time the yanks might not be there to bail us out.


Whilst I have no problem with the P8a stepping on under certain circumstances like a Piper Alpha type disaster where its command and control capabilities and ability to be refuelled by a tanker extending on station time but long range SAR support should go to the UK Coast Guard agency.

I would like a SAR-J contract similar to the SAR-H one with Bristow, a small fleet of Long Range business jet adapted with suitable radar, cameras and consoles plus large window leased on a power by the hour contract. A number of countries use this type of aircraft in this role, with Brexit a faster long range platform based upon a business jet will be useful policing our waters.



Only 245 Warriors because for the “Strike Brigades” at least two warrior battalions will be scrapped and changed to MIV not Warrior.


Nine is not an arbitrary number. P-* is being acquired to cover a very specific role and that role has been modelled as requiring nine airframes to execute.

Which will be great once MIV actually gets ordered…


A interesting briefing on RAF ISR assets in particular sentinel being tweeted about from farnborough. Sentinel is the no1 most requested assets by coalition partner that we operate. And the most in demand platform, for uk forces.

The Other Chris


LOROP in 2019 eh? Still see they’re coy on whether that’s DB-110 or even MS-110.

Did you see the presenter’s comments on lobbying to keep the fifth aircraft?



Still not funded the raptor capability migration would seem sensible as 2019 is tornados retirement date.

In the beginning the 5 jet was always supposed to be a spare the idea being two jets worked as a pair. But demand and tactics change.


I admire Raytheon, their dogged determination to refuse to accept any Sentinel OSD the MoD produces is wonderful. That said, if the MoD fund any Sentinel upgrades in 2019 then actually take it out of service by/in 2021 the decision maker should publicly shamed.


Interestingly the Australians are planning on replacing their 18x AP-3 Orions with a fleet of: 15x P8s, 7x MQ-4s Triton (UAV) and 5x G550 (sigint-elint). Shows that the demand for surveillance has been increasing very rapidly. Nine MPAs for the RAF is probably just the start.


Letting Air Command take over–could it mean more of a focus on ASW/SAR than ISTAR?


“Nine is not an arbitrary number. P-* is being acquired to cover a very specific role and that role has been modelled as requiring nine airframes to execute.”

So 9 can do what was previous scoped as needing 21 Nimrods, an aircraft with greater range? Color me a tad skeptical.

Anyhoo, my main point is if the UK changes its mind, it had better be fairly quick, the production line will be shut down not long after the final UK aircraft are built.

The obvious conclusion is that the current requirement is more tightly drawn than the 1990s version.

For instance it might now say, in layman’s terms, “protect SSBN and Carrier sorties” rather than “keep the Russians out of the North Atlantic and protect convoys from America”

In other words we are no longer planing to fight WW3. Right or wrong but that’s the conclusion.

I’ve been reflecting that deals like the Tier 1 status with LockMart on F35 and the strategic partnership with Boeing to make the UK a regional hub for service and maintenance begin to look like good industrial and military strategy for the UK.

MBDA is a success story but Eurofighter Consortium and Airbus Military have both been dogged by delays and a fundemental unwillingness to commit resource at scale and in a timely manner. AW/Leonardo has struggled on from contract to contract and we could keep pumping it along one expensive deal at a time. But it really doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere long term compared to the FVL projects. On the shipping side PAAMS is a solitary and painfuly won success story. Armoured vehicles are frankly a niche area now for the UK given the current scale of our land force ambitions.

BAES and Dassault will be given the chance to show what they can do with Taranis/nEuron, and that’s the right thing to do, but if that doesnt also lead to a Typhoon/Rafale successor then Samlesbury and Warton can expect to be turned over to Boeing and LockMart control the same as Yeovil will be. As long as the skills, jobs and technology access are protected is that really a bad thing..?

German talk of a manned bomb truck made of spare bits and bobs from the Typhoon programme doesn’t sound like the manned 6th Gen QRA F/A that we are going to need come 2040. While we shouldn’t close the door on the French we need to be realistic about the fact that their scale and budgets are no better than our own. Complex Weapons are a success but let’s not kid ourselves that European Defence has really succeed in consolidating into a meaningful whole. The differences in politics and policy simply haven’t allowed it. Those differences aren’t going to get any less now.


If all European countries are buying military equipment to the United States, we will be dependent on a single country, which will sell at the price it has decided since it will be in a monopoly situation.
I do not want to criticize the United States, but they are protectionists, they buy overseas only what they do not produce, such as France.
We should multiply the agreements between European countries to build a maximum of military equipment, combat aircraft, tanks, wheeled and tracked vehicles, etc order to keep political sovereignty and become an industrial and technological power capable of competing the United States, and take of market shares, this can only be a good thing.

Frenchie I agree that this is what we should do. But do you see it happening?

Where is the Leopard 3 Tank?
Where is the long range Airbus MPA?
Where is the manned Euro aircraft with stealth?
Where are the tilt rotors and co-ax rotorcraft?
The unmanned systems for controlled airspace ready for production?
The new development of more powerful jet engines?
The further development of the A400 Atlas?
The electronic warfare, early warning and signals aircrafts?
Who is updating their old Eurofighters to the newest technology?
Who is planning laser weapons for their ships?

There are some countries in Europe starting to plan increased expenditures but the industrial investment just does not seem to be coming. In this situation can you blame anyone for seeking to make partnerships with a friendly country to bring what is needed?


Airbus military no longer exists. The scale of resources Airbus have committed to a400m is very significant. Problems with the program trace back to inception when Germany insisted on work share based on order quantity rather than skill set. Something that Airbus will not allow again in any future defence contract

Airbus UK employs or supports 100,000 jobs in the uk. Airbus supports a very different skill set to MRO and stores supply that Boeing and Lockheed predominately support.

Mark do you see a danger that the experience of massive cost overuns with A400 has made the governments frightened of the necessary further investments…?


@Peter Elliott,
It is expected a Leopard / Leclerc for 2030-2040.
The A319 MPA would have a potential market if everyone did not buy the P-8.
It is expected that Dassault jointly or alone replace the Rafale and develop a UCAV.
The A400M has problems like any project, it needs time.
France has developed a Caesar 8×8 automated loading shell for replace its old self-propelled guns.
We have ground anti-ballistic missiles.
In terms of laser guns we have nothing planned.
If we had a European coordination for all equipment that you cite, we would need a minimum of US equipment.


Many things are “expected”. But to deliver the equipments the investment is needed now. There is a limit to how long we can wait for “if”

It will indeed be interesting to see whether the forthcoming integration of thr “Euro Army” casues an acceleration of investment or whether the governments still look for reductions and savings.


Peter Elliott, I believe that all governments have understood that the situation is serious and that the savings on defense budgets are over.


I’m not sure what you mean by further investment? Do you mean specifically in the a400m or future defence projects.

The a400m has fully laid out development schedule over the next number of years with Airbus picking up the tab for being late.

On future projects Airbus are not keen on a new development of airframe and engine at the same time or in work share haggling.


Bit of both I guess. The general point is that the project hasn’t increased anyones appetite for pan European projects. I’m not blaming Airbus for that, from what you say the governments are at least as much to blame. But in the final analysis it doesn’t really matter who fucked up what. It hasn’t warmed the market or made a template for the future. Are there in fact any major multinational projects underway? Perhaps TD could prepare a list…?

As regards A400M specifically it would be interesting to hear more on the future development path and how much if fully funded and by whom. Is there a gunship version in the works? Or a coastguard version? Or just completing all the core military tactical elements that were planned? For me it speaks volumes that the UK is still retaining Hercules. There must be important things that Hercules can do that Atlas can’t. Or we wouldn’t be keeping them…? Willing to have it explained to me if I’ve misunderstood.



All multinational programs face issues the biggest of which has been f35. European ones A400m and things like nh-90 and tiger face issues of what the manufactures are certifying against. I’m not sure against what market it has or hasn’t warmed to. Mainly Germany and Spain are looking to reduce orders due to budget cuts and completely unrealistic order quantity based on getting workshare in the early day.

When the UK signed up to a400m it was only supposed to replace half the Hercules. It was supposed to be 25 c130j and 25 a400m. Hercules has been retained as all the capabilities particularly special forces capability will not have migrated to a400m for another 3/4 year. More importantly 22 transport aircraft was never enough so as the c130s were bought and paid for it made sense to retain them for the time being. The U.K. Program commitment for design manufacture, infastructure and initial support is about 3.3 billion pounds for 22 a400m or roughly equivalent to what were paying for 9 p8 off the shelf mpas.

The full capabilities from transport, tactical, aar, paratroop deployment and SF capability are all funded. Why you would want a gunship or coastguard version of a400m when significantly smaller and cheaper aircraft with much longer range are available and more suited is beyond me.

Saab are already offering long range high end asw, aew, sigint aircraft. Airbus off the c295 in all variants which they’ve had lots of success with and the FITS system are aircraft agnostic and have been fitted to a number of different platforms. The fact they UK has gone down the routes we have over the last 10 years speaks volumes about decision making in mod and some stupid decisions with bae systems. There is plenty of options and combinations out there the best uk examples are sentinel and shadow showing what can be done and how effective they can be to operations yet are continually facing the axe.


@Frenchie: the A400 has had the best part of two decades, and it’s still not ready. Exactly why does it need “more time”?

Our thoughts are with your countrymen after yesterdays horrific attack.


I am very touched, thank you very much Stephen Duckworth.



May 2003 was when the Airbus received the development and production contract.


I’m thinking that the media should really slow down all the coverage of terrorist attacks, it seems like the more the news plays it up, the more people want publicity and to show off their cause and more and more attacks happen.

Hell, originally, ISIS membership was only estimated at 10,000 members pre-Iraq incursion, now it has swelled to an estimated 50,000 with people worldwide claiming membership, even those that have never met the main group. All this due to media publicity, copycat crimes and attention seeking.

If the media does not slow down their “praise” of terrorism, it’s never going to stop.

40 deg south

I’ll re-post this from the semi-defunct NZ thread, as it seems NZ could follow the UK in selecting the P-8,

An interesting comment from the Defence Minister last week in the Budget Estimates debate:

“That is why we also want to invest heavily in better surveillance aircraft. The Orions are a great aircraft. They have done marvellous work, over a long period of time, and the air force has extended that life beyond what might normally be expected. The avionics on them are state of the art and as good as anywhere in the world. But new aircraft—and we want four of them—is what is required and we will be acquiring those in the early part of the 2020s.” (h/t Chis73 from the DT forum)

If they are replacing six P-3Cs with four airframes, it pretty much has to be the P-8. Also talk of an aircraft that can do a return trip to Antarctica without refueling, which will gladden the hearts of downcast A400 salesmen. (Note: NZ gov’t has just rejected proposal to purchase last unsold C-17)

Mind you, we have elections in 2017 and 2020, so nothing is a done deal.


If the UK buys F35A it tells us two things:

1. Typhoon will be considered obsolete in its primary Air Defence role well before 2040

2. The key European nations, UK, France Germany, collectively lack the will and resources to face up to this and develop its replacement.

Both are frankly worrying conclusions.

It is also worth considering that by 2040 F35 is itself likely to be outclassed by that latest new generation of combat aircraft currently on the Great Powers’ drawing boards. Strategic thinking sadly seems in short supply. Is there anyone at MoD plotting all this out? There should surely by now be “staff targets” or whatever for that time frame?

The Other Chris

I wouldn’t read too much into a US purchase regarding UK aerospace.

When did we last build a top-end military aircraft completely by ourselves?

Rolling back through history for aircraft we’ve been involved in designing and building to various degrees:

# F-35 2018 – US/UK development
# A400M 2014 – UK/Europe development
# Wildcat 2014 – UK/Italian development
# Typhoon 2003 – UK/Europe development
# AH-1 Apache 2004 – US/UK development
# Merlin 1999 – UK/Italian development
# Harrier II and SHAR 1989 – US/UK development
# Tornado 1979 – UK/Europe development
# Hawk 1976 – Sole UK development
# Nimrod MR.2 refit 1975 – UK prime development*
# Jaguar 1973 – UK/French development
# Phantom FG.1 1966 – US/UK development
# Lightning 1959 – Sole UK development
# Buccaneer 1958 – Sole UK development

It’s an incomplete list, and there’s several that could be added, but you get the idea.

We need to take purchases in context. What is the UK contributing? F-35 wise we’ve been heavily involved in design, wing/fuselage, propulsion (could have been more with the F136), avionics, sesnors, etc. We build 30% of the Gripen. We design, manufacture and test really important bits of Airbus aircraft.

Plus we’re unaware of what our design shops are currently working on.

*Heavy US and Commonwealth involvement. See also MRA.4 supplier list.


Peter Elliot,

Nonsense, all that a prospective F-35A buy tells us is that the RAF would like a more capable (in terms of range and payload) F-35 variant for some of the four (a fifth is an aspiration) F-35 squadrons the RAF is planning to operate alongside the five Typhoon squadrons. This is hardly surprising as part of the motivation behind the aborted QE CTOL conversion from 2010 was that the non-STOVL F-35s are more capable (again in range and payload) than the F-35B.

Don’t know where to post this but Parliament has a vote today on the Trident Deterrent.


I agree with Peter Elliott if I understand his thought. For example with the Rafale, which was developed for 8 billion, France has mostly avoided something fundamental, a complete American domination. Beyond cooperation with the United Kingdom, combat aircraft of the future will be European if the Europeans shall agree on a common strategic need. We must learn lessons from fifteen years of failure in European defense. Otherwise in 30 years we will not be able to design a combat aircraft. It’s dangerous for us. We will build together the future European combat aircraft or we will buy the future American combat aircraft ?


I wasn’t calling for UK only development. I was calling for UK/Europe development. Or failing that more UK/US development. I’m aware of UK workshare on Gripen, F35, Airbus etc. And I’m actually really happy that we go down this route. I’m just worried over what comes next, which at the moment looks like no UK contribution to any new development. The fact that we’re unaware of what is currently being worked on is part of what makes me nervous. Its the suspicion that apart from SABRE and the Taranis/nEuron projects there might actually not be anything much in the development pipeline at all.


I find the idea that we might not achieve 4 operational squadrons of F35B concerning in itself. That seems like the minimum for sustaining 1 high readiness Carrier Squadron, with a surge capacity of 3 squadrons for expeditionary use from EITHER sea OR land. As soon as you start having “A” models within that 4 squadron force your options for force generation and depolyability seem to me to start to diminishing quite rapidly.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 which prompted the breakup of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia NATO has expanded East and along with Western European access to the former Warsaw Pact countries. This expanded market place should compensate for the drastic cutbacks in spending by the old Western European military. At present though with nothing on offer these new markets seem to be buying from elsewhere. A concerted effort to pitch a panEuropean fighter , optionally manned or whatever to be introduced say 5 years before Rafael/Typhoon OSD to shake the bugs out in a LRIP should be instigated.
The mechanism to do this should be seperate from the work share bickering. Development funding could be a proportional input from the participating Nations defence budgets similar to how I believe the US fund their competions. Once the design is at the flying prototype level the separate production programme could be put to competitive tender.
Just a few thoughts.


Peter Elliot,

And part of the consideration behind possible adoption of A variants will relate to the ability to generate sufficient F-35B airframes for surge operations related to the carrier role. Nobody has said the UK is definitely going to buy F-35As.

There is a lot going on in Europe at the moment looking at next-generation airpower, Airbus has shown part of its hand and the UK/France continue to work on unmanned and other foundational technologies. Anyone who knows anything about the birth of Typhoon knows this process is long and painful but with Typhoon (and Tornado in Germany) OSD’s of 2040 there is still scope for timer to be taken.

SD – That’s what we all believe should happen. But is there any sign that it actually will? The political will doesn’t seem to be there.

The German move for a non stealthy Tornado replacement actually looks like a budgetary spoiler from that point of view.

El Sid

Maybe we’ll find 450nm + wing tanks + buddy + air tanking is enough for most requirements but a couple of squadrons of F35A would be a good supplement for deep penetration missions?

Alternatively we might find having only two squadrons of F35B plus USMC jets is plenty for the kinds of operation we actually get into, leaving the ability to procure four squadrons of F35A for the RAF.

Alternatively 66 of each (plus a few LRIP) gives us the ability to keep two RAF (A) and two FAA (B) in the air for 30 years :-)

The Other Chris

Black smudges on the top of the aircraft is clutch dust from the LiftSystem. Brand new.