F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

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Timmymagic
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by Timmymagic »

bobp wrote: 31 Mar 2024, 16:27 Update on delivery schedule plus serials...

Just to note UK based F-35 fleet is 30 aircraft, not 31 as per the tweet, as 1 aircraft has been added to the Test Fleet at Edwards AFB (ZM165/BK-31). Not sure how long that would be for, it could be for weapons integration work or to help with test points.

Incidentally ZM170 and ZM171, both the first TR-3 aircraft from Lot 15, are actually flying from Fort Worth now, but not yet handed over to RAF. Given delays with TR-3 its likely we won't see them until later in the year (I guess October/November) along with the 4 aircraft from Lot 16. So we could be due a bumper delivery at the back end of the year of 6 a/c, that to all intents and purposes increases the fleet by 20%. True combat capable fleet by 25%+. Obviously then there are 7 delivered in 2025, probably split into 2 deliveries.

Regarding the comments about squadron size above, for me it would make sense to have 12 a/c per squadron given the RN's comments around airgroup size for CSG25 of 24 and 'max' loadout in the future of 36...either that or a smaller squadron size of 8. We definitely won't have enough a/c for a Sqn size of >12 (unless its administrative for a/c under maintenance/reserve) with the planned purchase of 71 combat capable aircraft (that might in fact mean 70 a/c if BK-03 never gets upgraded). 4 x 12 Sqn's (207 OCU, 617 Sqn, 809 NAS and AN.Other). 17 TES would have the 3 ITF a/c and (possibly) 1 other (temporarily attached or BK-03 might make sense at one point).
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

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Timmymagic wrote: 02 Apr 2024, 11:47 So we could be due a bumper delivery at the back end of the year of 6 a/c, that to all intents and purposes increases the fleet by 20%. True combat capable fleet by 25%+.
Jeesh that's a bit sad.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by sol »

Timmymagic wrote: 02 Apr 2024, 11:47 Obviously then there are 7 delivered in 2025, probably split into 2 deliveries.
Last 7 are all from the same lot, Lot 17.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by Timmymagic »

sol wrote: 02 Apr 2024, 15:12
Timmymagic wrote: 02 Apr 2024, 11:47 Obviously then there are 7 delivered in 2025, probably split into 2 deliveries.
Last 7 are all from the same lot, Lot 17.
They are, but its likely some will be ready for transfer earlier in the year and given the need for a/c for 809 NAS they'll probably be trailed over earlier in the year.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by mrclark303 »

Timmymagic wrote: 02 Apr 2024, 11:47
bobp wrote: 31 Mar 2024, 16:27 Update on delivery schedule plus serials...

Just to note UK based F-35 fleet is 30 aircraft, not 31 as per the tweet, as 1 aircraft has been added to the Test Fleet at Edwards AFB (ZM165/BK-31). Not sure how long that would be for, it could be for weapons integration work or to help with test points.

Incidentally ZM170 and ZM171, both the first TR-3 aircraft from Lot 15, are actually flying from Fort Worth now, but not yet handed over to RAF. Given delays with TR-3 its likely we won't see them until later in the year (I guess October/November) along with the 4 aircraft from Lot 16. So we could be due a bumper delivery at the back end of the year of 6 a/c, that to all intents and purposes increases the fleet by 20%. True combat capable fleet by 25%+. Obviously then there are 7 delivered in 2025, probably split into 2 deliveries.

Regarding the comments about squadron size above, for me it would make sense to have 12 a/c per squadron given the RN's comments around airgroup size for CSG25 of 24 and 'max' loadout in the future of 36...either that or a smaller squadron size of 8. We definitely won't have enough a/c for a Sqn size of >12 (unless its administrative for a/c under maintenance/reserve) with the planned purchase of 71 combat capable aircraft (that might in fact mean 70 a/c if BK-03 never gets upgraded). 4 x 12 Sqn's (207 OCU, 617 Sqn, 809 NAS and AN.Other). 17 TES would have the 3 ITF a/c and (possibly) 1 other (temporarily attached or BK-03 might make sense at one point).
71 total fleet
3×12 aircraft front line Squadrons 1+8 aircraft OCU +3 trials.

That leaves sufficient for in use reserve and maintenance rotation.

In an emergency the OCU would form an operational squadron with a few added aircraft and whoever else they can scrape up with a rapid refresher course.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by bobp »

I would imagine that upgrades to the Tranche 1 airframes to bring them up to the latest spec will take a long while, so three squadrons max plus ocu.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by mrclark303 »

bobp wrote: 03 Apr 2024, 15:20 I would imagine that upgrades to the Tranche 1 airframes to bring them up to the latest spec will take a long while, so three squadrons max plus ocu.
Well, the maintenance fleet should theoretically be big enough to absorb that.

Once 12 are upgraded to block4 they will re-equip a squadron, who in turn will give up their aircraft for the upgrade pulse line.

I'm assuming they are planning a pulse line at Marham??

It's either that, or simply operate a mixed fleet and time the upgrade around aircraft maintenance cycles.

The downside being some aircraft packing Meteor and Spear3, while others are stuck with paveway AMD AMRAAM.

That would make operational deployment more vexing..
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

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mrclark303 wrote: 03 Apr 2024, 13:45 71 total fleet
3×12 aircraft front line Squadrons 1+8 aircraft OCU +3 trials.
Either it should be 74 in total with 17 Squadron included or 71 without it, for 3 frontline and OCU squadron. Also OCU squadron will probably have more than just 8 planes.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

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Apparently 12!

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by mrclark303 »

sol wrote: 03 Apr 2024, 20:46
mrclark303 wrote: 03 Apr 2024, 13:45 71 total fleet
3×12 aircraft front line Squadrons 1+8 aircraft OCU +3 trials.
Either it should be 74 in total with 17 Squadron included or 71 without it, for 3 frontline and OCU squadron. Also OCU squadron will probably have more than just 8 planes.
I believe 8 is the stated number for the OCU, it's a mix of synthetic and flight training.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

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mrclark303 wrote: 04 Apr 2024, 02:59 I believe 8 is the stated number for the OCU, it's a mix of synthetic and flight training.
As the fleet is growing I expect the demands on the OCU will be greater, so more a/c needed, what they end up with, say in 2030 is another matter.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

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bobp wrote: 03 Apr 2024, 15:20 I would imagine that upgrades to the Tranche 1 airframes to bring them up to the latest spec will take a long while, so three squadrons max plus ocu.
As I mentioned in an earlier post we won't see all 71 a/c at Block IV Lot 19 standard until 2031/32 at the earliest.

But....if we're sensible we'll forgo ordering any of the 27 Tranche 2 a/c at Lot 18 standard and order from Lot 19 onwards, which would mean they would be delivered at the full capability as it currently stands. We could then transition 617 Sqn and 809 NAS to wholly upgraded airframes as the combat fleet, sustain them at that as new a/c are received or older ones cycle through upgrades and gradually stand up the 3rd Combat Sqn, leaving 207 Sqn to last. A bit of fancy footwork could potentially see the 3rd Sqn have enough Block IV Lot 19 standard a/c to stand up 'some' capability in 2030.
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by Jdam »

I know it will reduced numbers for a while but would it be beneficial to send our F-35's to the states (soon or within the next few years) to get them upgrade to the TR3, this way all aircraft will be block 4 capable when it arrives.

Like people have said even when block 4 arrives in 2028, all our aircraft wont be block 4 capable till the 2030's. I am getting images of fleets within fleets, requiring different weapons and maintenance. I am just wondering with a little bit of protectiveness we could save ourselves a lot of trouble or is it not worth it?

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

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Jdam wrote: 04 Apr 2024, 15:26 I know it will reduced numbers for a while but would it be beneficial to send our F-35's to the states (soon or within the next few years) to get them upgrade to the TR3, this way all aircraft will be block 4 capable when it arrives.

Like people have said even when block 4 arrives in 2028, all our aircraft wont be block 4 capable till the 2030's. I am getting images of fleets within fleets, requiring different weapons and maintenance. I am just wondering with a little bit of protectiveness we could save ourselves a lot of trouble or is it not worth it?
The Upgrades can take place at Marham, a lot of time during normal scheduled maintenance, albeit deeper maintenance. I suspect that the US facilities will be just as busy with upgrades so we'd gain little.

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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

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Anyone thinking, as Justin Bronk or Nicholas Drummond seem to, that we should abandon GCAP and go all in on F-35 needs their head examining....and their bank account for any funds from LM....

I'm normally quite supportive of F-35 (but not at the expense of Typhoon or GCAP), but christ its hard....

Yet more delays with TR-3 and talk of Block IV being 'reprofiled'...which is a clear admittance of total failure.

https://breakingdefense.com/2024/04/f-3 ... ity/?amp=1

And in other news....TR-3 delays mean that by the time they're presently forecasting to re-start deliveries, and thats if it doesn't slip further and they can get agreement to allow delivery of non-combat capable aircraft on the promise of a future software drop (allegedly 'within a year'), that there will be c170 brand new aircraft, parked up and undeliverable by the end of September....no wonder LM is trying to get people to accept F-35 without full TR-3 as promised....even the vast Plant 4 at Fort Worth is going to run out of space....

https://www.forbes.com/sites/erictegler ... 33b3e22f4e
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

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Hopefully this is relevant to Timmy's last comment. From Aviation Week.

PS Bronk is a prize twit, totally in the pocket of US manufacturers. Drummond is ex-infantry.
F-35 Office Targeting July For Long-Awaited Avionics Upgrade
Brian Everstine April 16, 2024

The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) is now targeting acceptance of a long-awaited avionics upgrade for July, a best-case scenario, which would finally allow F-35 customers to begin receiving jets again.

Lt. Gen. Micheal Schmidt, the JPO’s program executive, told lawmakers on April 16 that the July acceptance of Tech Refresh 3 (TR-3) software is the “first realistic opportunity” if the current version is accepted. That version is truncated, with not all of the anticipated capabilities, and needs to be proven to be stable and airworthy.

But a Software Architecture Independent Review Team brought in to watch over the TR-3 process warns that acceptance is more likely to be in August or September. The projections are a delay from Lockheed Martin’s last projection of June, from a January earnings call.

“TR-3 aircraft acceptance depends upon completing a stable, capable, and maintainable software build for release to flight test,” Schmidt said in testimony to the House Armed Services tactical air subcommittee. “Achieving this depends upon fixing specific issues in TR-3 software. The F-35 JPO and industry are working intensely to resolve the deficiencies to improve software stability on the ground and in the air.”

The plan is to deliver a release of TR-3, 40P01, with a truncated version of capabilities though it will be stable. These will be used in training but will not be combat-coded. The second release, 40P02, will include full combat capability.

“Future risks hinge upon whether TR-3 will require additional incremental software releases to test and implement critical fixes. If risk manifests in labs or flight test, TR-3 may require additional software releases (taking between two and six weeks per release).”

The $1.6 billion TR-3 cockpit upgrades are a critical part of the overall $16 billion Block 4 upgrade, which also includes a new radar and electronic warfare suite.

The Joint Program Office stopped accepting deliveries of F-35s in July 2023 because of the TR-3 delay. Schmidt would not specifically say how many jets have not been delivered, but said there are a “significant amount” of jets sitting and waiting. Lockheed Martin delivered just 97 F-35s last year, and the military services in their fiscal 2025 budget requests lowered procurement from expected levels.

TR-3 software development has been mired in issues largely related to differences between performances in simulations and in flight. Schmidt told lawmakers that the “yield of TR-3 is not where it needs to be” though it has been improving.

Speaking with reporters during a hearing recess, Schmidt said the F-35 Joint Executive Steering Board and F-35 customers have agreed to criteria by which they would accept truncated TR-3 capabilities. Once the office can get to a stable, capable and maintainable software version, plus terms and conditions signed with Lockheed, then it can proceed.

“It’s not an exact science, but we need to truncate pretty soon to get to a July delivery because there’s a lot of stuff we need to do,” he says.

Meanwhile, the JPO is beginning work on the F135 Engine Core Upgrade (ECU) and a new program to improve the aircraft’s power and thermal management system (PTMS). The latter is in the early stages, as it is a fiscal 2024 new start that just received funding, and work is beginning on having Lockheed Martin “fully characterize the airplane” and better define PTMS needs.

The F135 ECU is “proceeding nominally,” and work will progress on both refining the cooling requirement and focusing on keeping retrofits affordable, he says.

The JPO is meeting with Pentagon and military service acquisition officials to begin the process of standing up a separate subprogram focused on ECU and PTMS, he says.
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by Timmymagic »

Ron5 wrote: 17 Apr 2024, 16:29 Hopefully this is relevant to Timmy's last comment. From Aviation Week.

PS Bronk is a prize twit, totally in the pocket of US manufacturers. Drummond is ex-infantry.
It's quite incredible really. The JPO needs to deliver a real shock to LM, otherwise they are not going to change. We're in 2024 and the only progress on Block IV over the next few years that we can be absolutely certain of is the Project team moving its completion repeatedly to the right...

At some point someone is going to have to say that it isn't good enough and demand change. But I'm not sure the JPO will do that. This has been going on since the programmes start and LM just don't seem to be able to change the trajectory. The Air Force general quoted sounded like he had had just about enough. Turning up to report that there is a year delay when a month or 2 ago you were being told that would be ready in a couple of months must be soul destroying.
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by SW1 »

They knew they needed a new engine in 2006 for power management reasons, uk risk mitigation was the f136 power plant and 18 years later they are getting round to it.

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