NickC wrote:Block 4 F-35Bs with capability of carrying ASRAAM CSM, Meteor and Spear 3, only 13 a/c?
My understanding of UK contracts and future buy at current time
LRIP - Number
3 ---- 2
4 ---- 1
7 ---- 1
8 ---- 4
9 ---- 6
10 ---- 3
11 ---- 2
12 ---- 2
13 ---- 6
14 ---- 8
15 ---- 7
16 ---- 6
Total -- 48
Understand 21 delivered, 18 in UK, last three arrived in December and think the first 2 will stay in US as were in effect prototypes? So it would appear 46 deliverable and only the 13 a/c of lots 15 & 16 will be Block 4, if as hinted previous a/c will not be upgraded.
If partial upgrade funding were forthcoming presuming upgrade cost would depend on the various build states and maybe some of the earlier pre build lot 15 build lots would be excluded on technical grounds and cost.
See my post on Page 203. There are 3 Instrumented Test Aircraft that will remain in the US until retirement. It's unlikely that they'll see the UK until they're shipped over for museum exhibition.
When it comes to upgrading to Blk. IV the majority of the UK's fleet is comparatively small hardware and software upgrades (new processor, new widescreen display and the unrelated EOTS upgrade amongst other things). Only the very oldest 'combat capable' aircraft, BK-03, is definitely in the $27m upgrade category, although the 4 a/c in LRIP 8 might be included. From that point on the aircraft definitely get progressively cheaper to upgrade, dramatically so for the newer aircraft. The UK has managed to get away comparatively lightly in upgrade costs, at least compared to the USAF and USMC, who have a much larger problem.
There was an answer to a select committee that advised the MoD might not upgrade all of the aircraft to Blk.IV. This makes me think that the 4 a/c in LRIP 8 might come under the higher cost as if it was just the one aircraft I think the MoD would bite the bullet and upgrade. Having 5 aircraft in that state might make assigning them permanently to 207 Sqn as a dedicated training fleet, a sensible (if not ideal) solution. Either way having 8 of a fleet of 48 aircraft being permanently 'hors de combat' would not be great.