Air Command Integrated Review Refresh 2023

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With a £780m shortfall and uncertainty about TyTAN which of these do you think are unaffordable?

200 Aster 30 Block 1NT
No votes
8 Sea Protector UCAV
2 E-7 Wedgetail AEW1
No votes
upgrade of tranche 2 and 3 Typhoons
No votes
6 A400M Atlas
Total votes: 7

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Air Command Integrated Review Refresh 2023

Post by AndyC »

Air Command Refresh

Moving Beyond Austerity, 2015-23

The top priority for the MoD has to be providing sufficient forces to defend the UK’s airspace, territorial waters and ocean floor communication cables. That means maintaining a credible minimum nuclear deterrent and keeping hostile aircraft, ships and submarines out of range of being able to launch stand-off weapons at the UK or threatening vital shipping, air transport routes and electronic communications.

The RAF was the clear winner in SDSR15 with the standing up of two additional Typhoon Squadrons and orders for sixteen long-range Protector UCAV, nine Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and two Shadow R2 aircraft, plus the retention of a Hercules C4 Squadron.

Between 2015 and the Integrated Review of 2021 (IR21), Air Command went further by ordering five Boeing E-7 Wedgetail AEW1 and committing to the development and retrofitting of tranche 3 Typhoons with the world leading European Common Radar System Mark 2 (ECRS2) multi-function array radar.

Unfortunately, IR21 failed to build on these commitments, but instead saw a return to cutbacks and a reversal of policy. The Sentinel R2, Hawk T1 (except those in the Red Arrows) and Hercules C4 will be retired by this summer. Remaining tranche 1 Typhoons are set to be retired in 2025 and the barely adequate order of five Boeing E-7 Wedgetail AEW1 was cut to three aircraft.

The Integrated Review Refresh 2023 (IRR23) exercise provides a much needed opportunity to reassess the UK’s defence priorities within a realistic budget set to grow to 2.25% of GDP by 2025, including the replacement of weapons given to Ukraine and further growth in the budget for the nuclear deterrent.

Ballistic Missile Defence
Aster 30 Block 1NT.jpg
The UK joined the French-Italian Ballistic Missile Defence programme in May 2022.

A major priority missing from IR21 was any commitment towards Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD). Nevertheless, in May 2022, this oversight was corrected when the UK joined the French-Italian Ballistic Missile Defence programme and committed to upgrading its existing 400 Aster 30 and Aster 15 missiles to Aster 30 Block 1B maritime standard. These upgraded missiles are capable of intercepting short/medium-range ballistic missiles and aircraft up to a range of 1,500 kilometres/900 miles.

A Squadron of twelve launch vehicles, with eight ready-to-fire Aster 30 Block 1NT (New Technology) missiles, could provide an essential Ballistic Missile Defence for the UK mainland. These vehicles could be divided between three Flights with each assigned to a Sky Sabre Battery providing short-range air defence. An order for 200 new Aster 30 Block 1 NT missiles should be placed this year with an objective of full deployment by 2026. In addition, development needs to continue of the Aster 30 Block 2 BMD with a range of up to 3,000 kilometres/1,800 miles.

Frontline Squadrons

In peacetime, two frontline Squadrons based at RAF Lossiemouth share the role of northern Quick Reaction Alert (QRA), while two at RAF Coningsby share southern QRA and a Flight based at RAF Mount Pleasant undertakes this role for the Falkland Islands. Four frontline Squadrons and a Flight is the minimum necessary requirement to provide continuous peacetime QRA coverage.

In periods of increased military tension Air Command’s principal role is to provide long-range air defence (up to 1,500 kilometres/900 miles) of the UK. This would be based on an effective Ballistic Missile Defence, advanced air superiority fighters, up to date AEW, modernised ground radar and aerial tankers. One BMD Squadron, four frontline air defence Squadrons plus one Squadron of AEW aircraft and one Squadron of A330 Voyager aerial tankers should be able to fulfil this role against likely credible threats.

With Russia’s increased aggression destabilising Eastern Europe and continuing instability in the Middle East the RAF has regularly deployed up to three Flights. They have been used to support NATO’s Baltic Air Policing, provide rotational deterrence for Romania as well as on-going operations based at RAF Akrotiri. Air Command requires three frontline multi-role Squadrons to maintain the minimum necessary support for the UK’s commitments to NATO and multi-national operations.

The maintenance of a continuous carrier strike capability has considerable implications for the deployment of combat aircraft. In peacetime, however, only one frontline Squadron needs to be at sea at any particular time. This role could be rotated between three Squadrons altogether, with one at sea and two based at RAF Marham. In a period of rising tension all three could be deployed to a Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier. Three frontline fleet air defence Squadrons represents the minimum necessary capability to defend a Carrier Strike Group (CSG).

Altogether, ensuring the minimum necessary air defence of the UK, meeting NATO and multi-national commitments and supporting continuous carrier strike capability requires growth to a minimum of ten frontline Squadrons plus a Flight based in the Falklands.

The number of frontline Squadrons could evolve as below:
2019 - 1 F-35B + 7 Typhoon
2023 - 2 F-35B + 7 Typhoon 809 NAS stood up
2026 - 3 F-35B + 7 Typhoon 801 NAS stood up
2029 - 4 F-35B + 6 Typhoon IX(B) transferred from Typhoon to F-35B
2032 - 5 F-35B + 5 Typhoon 12(B) transferred from Typhoon to F-35B.

F-35B Lightning II

In UK service the F-35B Lightning II has principally been developed to operate from the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, each of which is capable of carrying up to three Squadrons.

Entry into frontline service has been slower than intended due to financial constraints and delays in both the development of the aircraft and the Block 4 upgrade. The result is that there will only be 41 F-35B aircraft in service by 2024 (42 ordered but one crashed into the sea) and 47 by 2025. With so few aircraft available the second frontline Squadron will stand up later this year. Inevitably, in the short-term, that means the UK’s F-35Bs will be required to concentrate on fleet air defence and anti-shipping.
The F-35B Lightning II is slowly entering service with the RAF and Fleet Air Arm.

In its initial configuration the F-35B carried two AMRAAM AIM-120C5, two ASRAAM Block 4 and up to six Paveway IV. Upgraded hardware (Technical Refresh-3) is now being fitted to new aircraft laying the groundwork for an advanced AESA radar (AN/AG-85) in 2025 and the long awaited Block 4 software upgrade in 2028. It is intended that these improvements will be retrofitted to older aircraft by 2030. This will enable the integration of the more advanced ASRAAM Block 6 next year. After that will come the integration of the Meteor B Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM), with Mitsubishi AESA seeker, and SPEAR 3/-EW medium-range precision strike and electronic warfare (EW) cruise missiles in 2028. The long-range Future Cruise/Anti-Shipping Weapon (FC/ASW) will also become available from 2031.

In the fleet air defence role, the F-35B is currently armed with four AMRAAM AIM-120C5 internally and two ASRAAM Block 4. After 2028, they will be upgraded to carry four Meteor B JNAAM internally and two ASRAAM Block 6. In the anti-shipping, land strike and Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD) roles they will be armed with eight SPEAR 3/-EW internally and two FC/ASW.

Negotiations are currently taking place for the order of the next batch of aircraft. Indications are that Air Command will order 27 F-35Bs to enter service between 2026-31, bringing the total to 74. A final batch of eighteen could be ordered between 2032-35 to take the total to 92 by the end of 2035 (after which the Combat Air budget would switch to introducing the Tempest aircraft as part of the Global Combat Air Programme). Under this schedule a third F-35B frontline Squadron could stand up in 2026, followed by a fourth in 2029 and a fifth in 2032.

Peak Typhoon

Since 2019, the Eurofighter Typhoon has equipped seven frontline and two reserve Squadrons plus a Flight in the Falklands. It remains the most numerous aircraft in service with the RAF, even after the early retirement of sixteen twin-seat aircraft in a Reduce to Produce (RTP) programme involving the recycling of spare parts.

Under IR21, the backbone of the air defence fighter force remains thirty single-seat tranche 1 Typhoons, until they are withdrawn in 2025. If this plan is not changed it would see the number of combat aircraft in Air Command cut from 178 in 2024 to 154 in 2025, before climbing to 181 by 2031. IRR23 gives the MoD the chance to reassess the minimum number of combat aircraft required and maintain a total of around 180 serving in ten frontline Squadrons. In this scenario, the thirty tranche 1 Typhoons would be withdrawn between 2025-30 to match the arrival of new F-35Bs entering service. In line with this, one frontline Typhoon Squadron would stand down in 2029 and a second in 2032.

Tranche 1 aircraft currently specialise in the QRA/air defence role. This ensures the maximum use of older airframes while preserving more advanced tranche 3 Typhoons to 2040 and beyond. Their last upgrade took place in 2018 when an order was placed for 200 AMRAAM AIM-120D long-range missiles, equipped with the latest electronic countermeasures. While the Captor M-Scan radar remains the best in its class it is gradually falling behind the latest AESA radars. However, even with their withdrawal stretched out to 2030 it would not be cost effective to upgrade the oldest aircraft.
Centurion Typhoon.png
Project Centurion has created a markedly improved swing-role Typhoon.

In contrast, tranche 2 and 3 Typhoons have experienced several major enhancements through Project Centurion. This has already resulted in the integration of Paveway IV, Storm Shadow, Meteor A BVRAAM, Brimstone 3 and ASRAAM Block 6. The Typhoon Phase 4 Enhancements (P4E) programme is dependent on additional savings being produced from the Typhoon Total Available eNterprise (TyTAN) agreement. In the QRA/air defence roles it would be desirable for tranche 2 and 3 Typhoons to be upgraded to carry six Meteor A BVRAAM and four ASRAAM Block 6. It would also be desirable to integrate SPEAR 3/-EW from 2025 and FC/ASW from 2032.

In the second half of the decade, forty tranche 3 Typhoons will be retrofitted with the world leading ECRS2 multi-function array radar. It would clearly be desirable for this advanced AESA radar to be retrofitted to tranche 2 aircraft as well. If that isn’t affordable, four frontline multi-role Squadrons should each be equipped with six tranche 3 Typhoons and six tranche 2 aircraft operating in pairs to maximise their effectiveness. In addition, both tranche 2 and 3 Typhoons are being upgraded with a new mission-management and cockpit interface, additional resilience for GPS and enhanced navigational precision, and protection against electronic interference.


An essential requirement for long-range anti-submarine patrol aircraft to guard the approaches to Faslane, defend naval battle groups and cover the large areas of sea around the UK has been partially met by the entry into service of nine Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA).
P-8 Poseidon.jpg
All nine Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will achieve full operational capability by 2024.

The Poseidon has been purchased with as few modifications as possible to control cost. Each aircraft is equipped with 129 sonobuoys, five Mk 54 light torpedoes fitted with High Altitude Anti-submarine Weapons Capability (HAAWC) in a specialist anti-submarine warfare role, four long-range Harpoon II+ anti-shipping missiles and two AMRAAM AIM-120D for air defence.

Significant long-term modification of the Poseidon should include the integration of the FC/ASW to provide a long-range strike capability from 2031. Until this is available a total of 60 Harpoon II+ could be loaned from the US Navy as a stop-gap measure. In addition, the AMRAAM AIM-120D should be replaced by the more advanced Meteor B JNAAM.

This leaves relatively few aircraft to cover a vast area of ocean. Estimates suggest that a minimum of sixteen aircraft are essential to patrol the UK’s home waters. Ordering additional Poseidon aircraft is not affordable under current budget constraints but could be achieved through a partnership between Poseidon MPA and Sea Protector unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV).
Sea Protector UCAV.jpg
Eight Sea Protector UCAV could considerably increase ASW capability.

The surface fleet is also short of Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) aircraft as a result of between six to ten Merlin HMA2 being allocated to the Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC) role with Crowsnest radar. The Sea Protector UCAV is currently being trialled under Project Mojave, to examine whether they can operate from a Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier. If workable, this would enhance the ASW capabilities of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) thanks to the increased numbers of ASW aircraft and their longer range and endurance when compared to Merlin HMA2 helicopters.

A cost effective way to boost ASW capabilities would be to order eight Sea Protector UCAV to partner with the Poseidon MPA and/or Merlin HMA2. Each Sea Protector could come equipped with up to 100 sonobuoys, two Mk 54 light torpedoes with the HAAWC system and advanced Seaspray maritime surveillance radar.

To improve land ISTAR and assist with future conflicts against insurgents sixteen long-range Protector UCAV are replacing ten Reaper UCAV from 2024. They will usually be armed with up to twelve Brimstone 3 and/or six Paveway IV and have more than twice the flight endurance of its predecessor.

A significant modernisation of the radar used for airborne and ground based early warning is being undertaken. Due to the age and increasing obsolescence of the E-3 Sentry aircraft the decision was taken in 2019 to purchase a more modern system, the Boeing E-7 Wedgetail AEW1. This has the advantage of being based on a similar Boeing 737NG airframe to the Poseidon, so saving on maintenance costs at their shared base at RAF Lossiemouth.
E-7 Wedgetail.jpg
The E-7 Wedgetail will provide a significantly updated AEW&C capability.

A barely adequate total of five Wedgetail’s were ordered in 2019, but two of these were cancelled in IR21. It should be an essential priority for Air Command to restore the original order for five E-7 Wedgetail AEW1. As the USAF has announced its intention to order 26 of these aircraft, and NATO has a potential requirement for a further 17, this should significantly reduce unit costs. To be able to survive on the edge of a contested environment the Wedgetail should initially be equipped with two AMRAAM AIM-120D for air defence. Later on, to ensure commonality with the Poseidon, the Meteor B JNAAM should take over this task.

Complex Weapons: The Next Generation

The most significant gap in the UK’s defences has been the lack of a Ballistic Missile Defence.

The MoD joined the French-Italian BMD project in 2022 and is upgrading 400 Aster 30/15 missiles to Aster 30 Block 1B maritime standard with the capability to intercept short/medium-range ballistic missiles and aircraft up to 1,500 kilometres/900 miles. The UK should also order 200 ground based Aster 30 Block 1NT this year with the aim of full deployment by 2026.

Research should continue into the development of Aster 30 Block 2 BMD to intercept intermediate- range ballistic missiles up to 3,000 kilometres/1,800 miles.

A number of new and upgraded complex weapons are already on order or under development and will enter service in the next ten years including:

• Meteor BVRAAM (B version), also known as the Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM) being developed by a UK-Japan partnership. Entering service in 2028, using an advanced Japanese AESA seeker made by Mitsubishi, and with clipped tail fins so that it is able to fit inside an F-35B

• ASRAAM Block 6, currently entering service and incorporating a new seeker designed for the CAMM family of Surface-to-Air Missiles with the capability to intercept incoming missiles

• Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW), being developed by a UK-France partnership with subsonic stealth cruise and supersonic highly manoeuvrable variants to be integrated on F-35B and Poseidon from 2031 and replacing Storm Shadow in 2032

• SPEAR 3 medium-range precision strike and electronic warfare (EW) cruise missiles. Entering service from 2025 in anti-armour, suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) and anti-shipping roles. Development is also being undertaken to create a networked swarm capability

• Brimstone 3A anti-armour missile variant with improved software and increased range when launched from combat aircraft and Brimstone 3B variant for Protector UCAV and Wildcat AH1

• a Penetrator Warhead for Paveway IV and

• Sky Sabre ground based air defence system.

Hawk Replacement

Currently just twelve Hawk T1/1A remain in service with the Red Arrows These aircraft fulfil a valuable role promoting the RAF and British engineering. They are due to be retired in 2030 and should be replaced by a new British aircraft, which is currently planned to be twelve Aeralis Aggressive trainers.

In an emergency, the Hawk T2 at RAF Valley, Hawk 167 of the Joint Qatari Hawk Squadron at RAF Leeming and Aeralis Aggressive trainers at RAF Waddington could take on the role of escorting significant air assets and defending them from the growing threat of Very Long Range Air-to-Air Missiles (VLRAAM) and Very Long Range Surface-to-Air Missiles (VLRSAM).

While they lack internal space for radar these advanced Hawks could use Link 16 and be armed with four ASRAAM Block 6 to provide a dedicated fighter escort for P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, E-7 Wedgetail AEW1 aircraft, Voyager tankers and RC-135W Air Seeker electronic surveillance aircraft.

Global Airlift

The ability to transport heavy equipment anywhere in the world is a key part of the UK’s global reach. 22 Airbus A400M Atlas and 8 Boeing C-17 Globemasters share this role between them.

Up until recently they had been supported by a Squadron of Hercules C4 but their retirement was announced as part of IR21. In 2022 it was suggested that an order for an additional six A400M could maintain the RAF’s airlift capabilities. However, a more recent report by the independent NAO has suggested that this is unaffordable within existing budgets.


The programme outlined in A Better Defence Estate, November 2016, and two announcements made since then, was intended to lead to the disposal of up to fourteen airfields by 2030.

While the Strategic Approach for this rationalisation may have made sense in the world prior to Russia’s growing assertiveness, this is clearly no longer the case today. There are potentially militarily valuable airbases on the current disposal list that should be maintained at a minimum operational level. This could even mean that they are used commercially, but for purposes that do not harm their runways and buildings, such as the solar farms at RAF Coltishall and RAF West Raynham.

There are several criteria that could be used to assess the military value of these bases including the presence of hardened facilities such as Hardened Aircraft Shelters (HAS), a long runway of at least 2,500 metres and significant dispersal areas. This new criteria need not apply to bases in the South-East where additional housing is most required.

Four airbases that the MoD had intended for disposal should be maintained:

1. MoD Woodbridge Airfield. Planned to be closed in 2027 but has eighteen HAS and a 2,700 metre runway. Closure was cancelled in 2019;

2. RAF Mildenhall. USAFE base due to close in 2024. Has a 2,800 metre runway. Closure was cancelled by the USAFE in 2020;

3. RAF Scampton. Closed in 2022 when the Red Arrows relocated. Has a 2,700 metre runway. Is currently being proposed as housing for asylum seekers and;

4. RAF Wyton. Permission given for car storage up to 2028. Has a 2,500 metre runway.

As the MoD needs to reduce its running costs and maximise the proceeds it receives from selling land it should re-examine several airbases located in London and the South-East, particularly those with good transport links. Prime amongst these should be RAF Northolt. Located within the M25, next to the A40 with both mainline and underground rail services. This site could reach a premium price in the hands of the right developer.

Consideration should also be given to re-locating Air Command Headquarters from RAF High Wycombe to a geographically central, but cheaper, location such as RAF Shawbury.

Responding to Russia’s growing assertiveness three forward air bases are currently being operated from in Eastern Europe at Amari in Estonia, Siaulia in Lithuania and Mihail Kogalniceanu in Romania.


Air Command 2024-31 could operate:
• 41 F-35B Lightning II in 4 Squadrons to 74 in 6 Squadrons
• 137 Typhoons in 9 Squadrons to 107 in 7 Squadrons
• 10 Reaper UCAV in 2 Squadrons to be replaced by 16 Protector UCAV in 2 Squadrons
• 9 P-8 Poseidon in 2 Squadrons
• 8 Sea Protector in 1 Squadron
• 3 E-7 Wedgetail AEW1 in 1 Squadron to 5 as soon as possible
• 3 Air Seeker R1 in 1 Squadron
• 8 Shadow R1/R2 in 1 Squadron
• 200 ground-launched Aster 30 Block 1NT from 2026
• 520 Meteor B JNAAM from 2028
• 640 to 900 Meteor A BVRAAM
• 200 AMRAAM AIM-120D, OSD 2031
• 250 AMRAAM AIM-120C5, OSD 2027
• 600 to 1,100 ASRAAM Block 6
• 130 ASRAAM Block 4, OSD 2025
• 675 FC/ASW SPEAR 5 from 2031
• 700 Storm Shadow, OSD 2032
• 1,900 SPEAR 3/-EW from 2025
• 1,250 Brimstone 3 upgraded to 900 Brimstone 3A and 700 Brimstone 3B
• 3,500 Paveway IV
• 60 air-launched Harpoon II+ on loan from USN, OSD 2030
• 70 to 120 Mk 54 light torpedoes with HAAWC
• 37 Hawk T2 in 3 Squadrons
• 12 Hawk T1/1A in 1 Squadron to 12 Aeralis Aggressors in 1 Squadron
• 14 Voyager KC2/3 in 2 Squadrons
• 8 C-17 Globemaster in 1 Squadron and
• 22 Atlas C1 in 3 Squadrons to 24 in 3 Squadrons.

Air Command’s Top Level Budget 2022-32

£7.4 billion in Uncommitted Equipment Procurement.

Consolidating the procurement budgets for Combat Air, Air Support and integration of complex air weapons.

£5.33 billion contained in IR21, but not Committed under contract as of March 2022:

• £2.35 billion ECRS2 AESA radar development and integration on tranche 3 Typhoons from 2025 (contract signed, July 2022)

• £2.18 billion for the next batch of 27 F-35B to enter service between 2026-2031 – unit cost U$98.6 million, £/U$ rate 1.22

• £500 million made up of half of the UK’s share of the F-35B Block 4 software development costs (4.5% out of a current total of U$15.14 billion), £/U$ rate 1.22, plus £50 million on integration of Meteor B JNAAM and £170 million on integration of SPEAR 3/-EW and

• £300 million for 12 Aeralis Aggressor trainers – unit cost £25 million.

£1.69 billion for essential extras:

• £890 million for eight Sea Protector UCAV – unit cost U$136 million (Taiwan paid U$555 million for four and Greece paid U$400 million for three in 2022), £/U$ rate 1.22 and

• £800 million for two additional E-7 Wedgetail – unit cost U$485 million (excluding 5 x U$50 million MESA radar already purchased), £/U$ rate 1.22.
Typhoon with six Meteor.jpg
Typhoon carrying six Meteor BVRAAM.

£500 million of desirable extras that can only be funded through the TyTAN agreement:

• £270 million on integration of ECRS2 AESA radar on tranche 2 Typhoons – unit cost £4 million

• £170 million for tranche 2 and 3 Typhoon integration of SPEAR 3/-EW and

• £60 million to upgrade tranche 2 and 3 Typhoons to carry six Meteor A BVRAAM plus four ASRAAM Block 6 in the QRA/air defence roles.

£780 million of optional extras:

• £740 million for six A400M Atlas – unit cost €140 million, £/€ rate 1.14 and

• £40 million to integrate four ASRAAM Block 6 on 37 Hawk T2 – unit cost £1 million.

Air Command TLB Uncommitted Spending estimates (excluding TyTAN) £7.8 billion, shortfall of £400 million.

The budget could be balanced by reducing the order for additional A400M Atlas from six to two.
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Re: Air Command Integrated Review Refresh 2023

Post by downsizer »

Great fantasy piece.

Now do what is really happening.

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Re: Air Command Integrated Review Refresh 2023

Post by new guy »

Some of my takeaways:
1. Worrying how MoD treats its property sell-offs as if it is sustainable, with the MoD getting the same amount of property that it is
selling off. it is UNSUSTAINABLE.

2. As for need more bases for better servivablility, why not pull a thing similar (but different) to what Finland and Sweden do. My
proposal is a formed partnership with the Department for transport, where we give them better funding for a X amount of
countryside roads. We then pay John the farmer to build an inconspicuous warehouse that he could never fill completely, and boom.
Yes I acknowledge flaws. Mixed commercial/MoD use and mothballing is far more viable.

3. F-35. US DoD ordered 126 for $7.8bn recently. That is ~£50m per unit. £50m per unit. Yes it was a mix of A,B,C variants but why is
the latest batch costing £94m?????? Even for MoD's varying budget methods, it is actively perplexing. It makes a difference, as
probably 40 F-35 for £2.5bn is US DoD methods.

4. I believe MQ-9B was £25m per unit, based of last UK order for 13. On the other hand, I would be fine for a order worth £900m, If we
get closer to 36 with a few STOL wings chucked in.

5. Supporting Aeralis is essential.

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Re: Air Command Integrated Review Refresh 2023

Post by AndyC »

In answer to your point 3 it has been very challenging to esimate the precise Unit Recurring Flyaway (URF) cost for future years because the information for past contracts is released long after the event.

So in general I have tended to err on the side of caution. The U$ price I've used above is U$115 million which is LRIP11 ... st-orders/

This was the situation as Covid spread and you can certainly see plenty of media articles predicting the cost would rise in the pandemic.

However, the DoD decided to merge LRIP12-14 into one larger order. Only last November was it revealed, as a result of a Parliamentary question, that in fact the URF for the F-35B had come down to U$101 million https://questions-statements.parliament ... 1-22/93484

Since then we've learned that the cost of an F-35B in LRIP15-17 is U$80.9 million for the airframe ... eries-dip/ plus U$17.7 million for engines ... -contract/

So altogether the latest URF for the seven F-35B entering service in 2025 is U$98.6 million. Based on this figure I've re-worked the budget estimates.

It still seems to me that ordering six A400M Atlas is unaffordable but there is a bit more room to fund some of the Typhoon enhancements even if TyTAN doesn't deliver all £500 million of efficiency savings.

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Re: Air Command Integrated Review Refresh 2023

Post by SW1 »

I don’t know why you’re attempting to use URF costs for budgeting it’s an irrelevant number if you want something that isn’t a paperweight. It will cost the defence budget significantly more than that with added spares equipment ect. The closest example you could use, would be japans addition of 105 a/c in 2020 at a cost of 23 billion dollars as a guide.

You will then have to factor in which aircraft from the current fleet will be economical to upgrade to latest standard which will likely need to include the new engine core. Or which will be scrapped when the yanks stop supporting the configuration they are at.

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Re: Air Command Integrated Review Refresh 2023

Post by AndyC »

The Sea Protector UCAV is currently being trialled under Project Mojave, to examine whether they can operate from a Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier. This would enhance the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) thanks to the increased numbers of ASW assets this represents and their longer range and endurance when compared to Merlin HMA2 helicopters.
See ... er-drones/

and ... -carriers/

Also, in 2022 Taiwan bought four Sea Guardians for U$555 milion (U$138.75 million unit cost) and Greece bought three for U$400 milion (U$133.33 million).

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Re: Air Command Integrated Review Refresh 2023

Post by new guy »

AndyC wrote: 24 May 2023, 07:59 UPDATE
The Sea Protector UCAV is currently being trialled under Project Mojave, to examine whether they can operate from a Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier. This would enhance the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) thanks to the increased numbers of ASW assets this represents and their longer range and endurance when compared to Merlin HMA2 helicopters.
See ... er-drones/

and ... -carriers/

Also, in 2022 Taiwan bought four Sea Guardians for U$555 milion (U$138.75 million unit cost) and Greece bought three for U$400 milion (U$133.33 million).
In ~2019 we got +13 skyguardians / protectors for £195m, or £15m each.

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Re: Air Command Integrated Review Refresh 2023

Post by AndyC »

According to the MoD's latest Major Projects report the total budget for Protector is currently estimated at £1.517 billion. That comes to £94.8 million or U$117.6 milllon each.

The dfference between the UK's price and Taiwan/Greece is probably down to a combination of economies of scale plus additional development costs for Sea Guardian compared to Sky Guardian.

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