F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Contains threads on Joint Service equipment of the past, present and future.

How do you feel about the F-35B for the RN and RAF? (2 votes per member)

GOOD choice for the Royal Navy
140
44%
BAD choice for the Royal Navy
13
4%
Uncertain (RN)
15
5%
GOOD choice for the Royal Air Force
62
20%
BAD choice for the Royal Air Force
44
14%
Uncertain (RAF)
43
14%
 
Total votes: 317

Scimitar54
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by Scimitar54 »

As I understand it, the number expected this year is as follows:-

a) The 3 x aircraft delayed from last year. PLUS
b) The 6 x aircraft due in 2022.

But the naysayers will probably still say Nein! :mrgreen:

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

Post by Scimitar54 »

If all were available, we could be back up to ARK ROYAL IV numbers for the Fast Jet element of one Carrier Air Group! Shame that practically, we will still be 3 short of that, due to the Test Cabs in the USA. :mrgreen:

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

Post by Timmymagic »

Scimitar54 wrote: 14 Feb 2022, 21:43 As I understand it, the number expected this year is as follows:-

a) The 3 x aircraft delayed from last year. PLUS
b) The 6 x aircraft due in 2022.
According to those in the know its only another 3 aircraft this year (from LRIP 14), given the usual UK delivery rhythm they may be at the back end of the year as well, the remaining 5 a/c from LRIP 14 which were due this year have been pushed back into 2023. That will have an effect (with the a/c loss) on the stand up of 809 NAS.

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

Post by Scimitar54 »

We shall see! :lol:

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

Post by Timmymagic »

Here's the delivery timeline again...any changes since last time in Red

So of the UK's '48' here's the status:
Note - Delivery is 'usually' a minimum of 2 years after order.

Delivered to date (N.B. Dates below are order date)

LRIP 1 - April 2007 - No UK Orders, (US F-35A only)
LRIP 2 - July 2007 - No UK Orders (6 F-35B for USMC, first F-35B order)
LRIP 3 - May 2008 - 2 x UK F-35B order - Test aircraft for ITF (not combat capable)
LRIP 4 - Nov 2009 - 1 x UK F-35B order - First 'Combat Capable' aircraft - BK-03
LRIP 5 - Dec 2011 - No UK Orders
LRIP 6 - Sept 2013 - No UK Orders
LRIP 7 - Sept 2013 - 1 x UK F-35B Order - Additional Test aircraft for ITF (not combat capable)
LRIP 8 - Nov 2014 - 4 x UK F-35B Order
LRIP 9 - Nov 2015 - 6 x UK F-35B Order
LRIP 10 - 2016 - 3 x UK F-35B Order
LRIP 11 - 2017 - 1 x UK F-35B Order (ZM-152, written off in accident in the Med operating from QE in Nov 22)
LRIP 12 - Nov 2018 - 3 x UK F-35B Order
LRIP 13 - Nov 2018 - 6 x UK F-35B Order - Part order delivered in Oct 21 consisting of 3 a/c, remaining 3 a/c delivered Feb 22

Total - 27 Delivered - Consisting of 24 'Combat Capable' F-35B and 3 F-35B ITF test aircraft.

On Order, Not delivered - (N.B. LRIP's 12, 13 and 14 were ordered simultaneously as a 'Bulk Buy')

LRIP 14 - Nov 2018 - 8 x UK F-35B Order - 3 a/c from this order likely to be delivered in 2022, the remaining 5 a/c will be delivered in 2023

N.B. - LRIP 13 and 14 were affected by COVID delays. LRIP 14's 3 a/c for delivery in 2022, on the revised schedule, might turn up at the back end of the year in the normal UK delivery rhythm.

Total - 8 contracted, being manufactured

Next Steps
Full Rate Production Orders (FRP) - (N.B. Will be placed once pricing agreed, dates have been mentioned by prominent defence/aviation correspondents and tally with overall MoD statements)

FRP Delivery 1 - 2023 - 2 x UK F-35B (2023 deliveries likely to include 5 from LRIP 14 as well, for 7 a/c total)
FRP Delivery 2 - 2024 - 4 x UK F-35B
FRP Delivery 3 - 2025 - 7 x UK F-35B - These were all previously expected by 2024 at latest

N.B. - Worth noting that the production timeline appears to be c2 years from order to delivery. For FRP Delivery 1 to take place in 2023 the order looked likely to need to be placed by the end of 2021/early 2022. This has not yet happened. However, this is dependent on Full Rate Pricing being agreed....which has been a long running, dismal saga to date....it looks likely that FRP Delivery 1 of 2 a/c in 2023 is still supposed to happen as well...they need to get them ordered very soon... The fact that this has yet to happen must call the schedule of the remainder of the deliveries, under Full Rate Pricing, into serious question. All FRP 2 and 3 a/c will still be delivered by December 2025 according to MoD. Important to note that most deliveries to the UK tend to happen at the end of the year. This should be taken into account when standing up of new Sqn's is mentioned. It's hard to see, with the re-scheduling and loss of a recent block aircraft (ZM152), that 809 NAS stand up to operational status will not be affected by up to a year.

Total - 13 Promised/Confirmed will be ordered by MoD (Will the MoD order an additional a/c to replace the lost F-35B?)

There has been some confirmation from MoD that they do intend to procure more than 48 F-35B, with additional buys being explored. A total in service of 60+ has been mentioned. The 138 figure now appears to have been abandoned even in MoD comms. For my money if they want to get to 60 (although even then thats not perfect, a fleet of mid 70's would be good, with mid 90's ideal, though spectacularly unlikely...) they need to order them in 2026-2029. After that Tempest will start to suck the Combat Air budget dry.

However....the recent budget actually cuts the MoD's funds for the next few years in real terms, so I'd guess unless the MoD can do some very fancy footwork that any orders beyond 48 are back in the 'unlikely' category any time soon...remember there's no such thing as a free lunch, increases in F-35 orders may well come at the expense of Tranche 2 Typhoon getting Radar 2...
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by Jdam »



The missile that is in development will be on the aircraft before the missile that is currently in operation. :eh:

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

Post by SW1 »

:o shocked I tell you shocked
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by Timmymagic »

Jdam wrote: 21 Feb 2022, 11:16 The missile that is in development will be on the aircraft before the missile that is currently in operation.
Been saying its 2027 for an age...but even then realistically thats not the true date. Clearing a missile is one thing, developing the tactics, training aircrew and maintenance personnel in procedures etc is another. Realistically, Meteor won't be fully operational on the full F-35 fleet until 2029/30.

Which then raises an interesting question...given that we will have Amraam D this year (so we're well covered with BVR missiles) do we look to integrate the JNAAM Meteor variant on F-35....

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

Post by Jensy »

Some other rather interesting F-35b figures in the full Defence Equipment Plan and the National Audit Office's companion document (links below):

P.19:
To purchase additional combat aircraft from 2027-28, on top of the 48 to be delivered by 2025
Also P.38:
Air Command holds funding for the core R&D and funding for the Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative, but the new investment for the acquisition phase of the programme is held separately by the Combat Air Directorate in Head Office as part of our Strategic Programmes. Both budgets are overseen and managed by the Senior Responsible Owner in Head Office. Funding for new A400M Atlas and additional purchase of F35B Lightning II (beyond the 48 the Department is already committed to) is not included in Air Command’s
planned spend here and is held centrally.
The budget quoted is £1.4bn - Will leave it to others to estimate how many aircraft and support we can get out of that sum.

Also mentioned:
Delayed construction of a facility to support the F-35 aircraft by a further two years
Which judging by the full Equipment plan is the deferment of the "F35B Air Signature Assessment Facility".


Landing Pages:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publicati ... -plan-2021
https://www.nao.org.uk/report/the-equip ... 1-to-2031/

Direct link to PDFs:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.u ... n_2021.pdf
https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploa ... 1-2031.pdf

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

Post by dmereifield »

So is that about a dozen more F35Bs to be ordered? Unless things change, again, over the next 5-6 years....

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

Post by Jdam »

Timmymagic wrote: 21 Feb 2022, 12:31
Jdam wrote: 21 Feb 2022, 11:16 The missile that is in development will be on the aircraft before the missile that is currently in operation.
Been saying its 2027 for an age...but even then realistically thats not the true date. Clearing a missile is one thing, developing the tactics, training aircrew and maintenance personnel in procedures etc is another. Realistically, Meteor won't be fully operational on the full F-35 fleet until 2029/30.

Which then raises an interesting question...given that we will have Amraam D this year (so we're well covered with BVR missiles) do we look to integrate the JNAAM Meteor variant on F-35....
I think the integration of the JNAAM Meteor variant on F-35 can be placed in the "laughable" category at this point :(

As for your guess on the date we will actually get the missile on the F-35 they make no grantee about the 2027 date right off the bat so even 2030 might be a stretch.

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

Post by Timmymagic »

dmereifield wrote: 21 Feb 2022, 16:17 So is that about a dozen more F35Bs to be ordered? Unless things change, again, over the next 5-6 years....
Around that. There will be ordering windows open in 2023 onwards (because we really need to order the 13 FRP aircraft this year to hit 2025 delivery). If we can order 4 aircraft a year in 23, 24 and 25 we'll have them all delivered by mid 2027. Then Tempest takes over. And thats it on F-35. Realistically if we wanted 70ish we'd need to carry on with that schedule until 2030. After that all the money has to go to Tempest otherwise it will never see the light of day.
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by SW1 »

Are these additions to replace aircraft that are too expensive to upgrade to blk 4 or is that budgeted somewhere else I wonder..

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

Post by Timmymagic »

SW1 wrote: 21 Feb 2022, 22:30 Are these additions to replace aircraft that are too expensive to upgrade to blk 4 or is that budgeted somewhere else I wonder..
Doubtful, there is only 1 definite 'really expensive' aircraft (BK-03) that would be c$30m to upgrade, the next 4 from LRIP 8, then 6 from LRIP 9 get progressively cheaper, by quite a degree (we're still looking at a c£200m process for the entire fleet though..). They'll all have comparatively little hours on the airframes as well. At best you might see BK-03 replaced and possibly sent to the testing team. Beyond that you're into small number of hardware changes (like central processor, which most will need) but mainly software. All aircraft will also receive the Distributed Aperture System upgrade (already confirmed by MoD), important to remember this is not including the full EOTS sensor though, no upgrade path exists for that yet.

The real thing to watch for is what upgrade path, and its scope, we go down to take our fleet to Block IV standard. The good news is that the RAF seem to be keen to minimise risk and to avoid the whole 'Fleet within Fleets' issue that they suffered with with Typhoon for years (and are busy correcting with Project Tytan). This leads me to hope, with a degree of confidence, that we will follow the same path that the USMC will prove first, this should dramatically reduce risk given that they will have done a large number of aircraft before we even start. Adopting a UK only approach would hopefully be discounted by that projects experience and the increased risk rating of going it alone on a non-proven path. The good news is that the USMC are going to upgrade to the full Block IV, Lot 17 production level. Thats the full fat, real deal Block IV upgrade that also includes the full suite of EW system upgrades including additional capabilities and aerials, which is a huge capability increase for the EW system.

It will also be interesting to see if the F-135 improvements for additional thrust, increased efficiency and thermal management are introduced in the mid-late 2020's. If we decide to do the sensible thing and stick with a USMC equivalent fleet we might get that as well. Those upgrades might actually be comparatively cheap and achieved in the normal maintenance cycle.
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by SW1 »

Timmymagic wrote: 22 Feb 2022, 10:13
SW1 wrote: 21 Feb 2022, 22:30 Are these additions to replace aircraft that are too expensive to upgrade to blk 4 or is that budgeted somewhere else I wonder..
Doubtful, there is only 1 definite 'really expensive' aircraft (BK-03) that would be c$30m to upgrade, the next 4 from LRIP 8, then 6 from LRIP 9 get progressively cheaper, by quite a degree (we're still looking at a c£200m process for the entire fleet though..). They'll all have comparatively little hours on the airframes as well. At best you might see BK-03 replaced and possibly sent to the testing team. Beyond that you're into small number of hardware changes (like central processor, which most will need) but mainly software. All aircraft will also receive the Distributed Aperture System upgrade (already confirmed by MoD), important to remember this is not including the full EOTS sensor though, no upgrade path exists for that yet.

The real thing to watch for is what upgrade path, and its scope, we go down to take our fleet to Block IV standard. The good news is that the RAF seem to be keen to minimise risk and to avoid the whole 'Fleet within Fleets' issue that they suffered with with Typhoon for years (and are busy correcting with Project Tytan). This leads me to hope, with a degree of confidence, that we will follow the same path that the USMC will prove first, this should dramatically reduce risk given that they will have done a large number of aircraft before we even start. Adopting a UK only approach would hopefully be discounted by that projects experience and the increased risk rating. The good news is that the USMC are going to upgrade to the full Block IV, Lot 17 production level. Thats the full fat, real deal Block IV upgrade that also includes the full suite of EW system upgrades including additional capabilities and aerials, which is a huge capability increase for the EW system.

It will also be interesting to see if the F-135 improvements for additional thrust, increased efficiency and thermal management are introduced in the mid-late 2020's. If we decide to do the sensible thing and stick with a USMC equivalent fleet we might get that as well. Those upgrades might actually be comparatively cheap and achieved in the normal maintenance cycle.
So there is a budget line for upgrades that is separate then? There’s other things with the earlier airframes that might make the economics of it interesting other that “just” computing upgrades.

Other than Isreal I don’t believes others get much of a choice it’s either u upgrade to the full block standard or you don’t but either way it will require constant cash

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

Post by Timmymagic »

SW1 wrote: 22 Feb 2022, 10:35 Other than Isreal I don’t believes others get much of a choice it’s either u upgrade to the full block standard or you don’t but either way it will require constant cash
The additional EW enhancements are definitely seperate, as is the DAS upgrade. But it would be foolish for the UK to deviate from the USMC 'standard' for a whole lot of reasons.

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

Post by Timmymagic »

I've long been an advocate of the UK buying some cheap Air to Ground munitions to build up stockpiles quickly and cheaply and to supplement our existing expensive Air to Ground weapons which these days consist pretty much of Brimstone, Paveway IV and Storm Shadow..(believe PWII and EPW-III are either gone or about to go..).

The best thing to do would be to have MBDA create a UK-built JDAM equivalent and a low cost Spear variant (no engine, no MMW seeker, just laser and GPS guided, gliding only) as a British SDB1 equivalent. Failing that lets just purchase some 1,000lb JDAM and 250lb SDB1 from the US. They'll be compatible with F-35 straight out of the box (and in the case of JDAM with Typhoon too as Germany has integrated it already). The US pays less than £25k per bomb. Thats 1/3rd of the cost of a PWIV...we can't ignore that sort of value.

But to sweeten the deal even more for JDAM...its been developed to have anti shipping capability as well...with seeker heads and fusing to detonate under the ships hull, breaking its back...called the Quicksink...whats not to love?? Closes a RN and RAF capability gap very quickly and cheaply...the USN is also looking to integrate JDAM with P-8...this then opens up the ability to use the Quickstrike series of naval mines...closing another capability gap.

And you can also add wings....and powered wings for longer range...a cheap and effective anti-ship missile...or lay a minefield from over the horizon...



Powered JDAM - 160nm range / JDAM-ER - 40nm range

Image

The Drive article from a while ago..

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/4 ... capability

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

Post by SW1 »

Buy Uber expensive plane so we drop cheap as chips weapons from it, sorry don’t see the logic there. Or is this just a ooh oooh let’s buy more American post?

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

Post by Timmymagic »

SW1 wrote: 02 Mar 2022, 21:56 Buy Uber expensive plane so we drop cheap as chips weapons from it, sorry don’t see the logic there. Or is this just a ooh oooh let’s buy more American post?
Why the snark?

We're not likely to see a UK developed anti-ship missile on our F-35 until 2035, this could close the gap far cheaper than other options. But also is potentially usable on our other platforms. And as for being cheap, thats the point, we'll have enough weapons for Day1 and 2 of a war, but if it gets sustained this helps our overall stockpile.

And I would prefer a UK developed and built munition, I make that quite clear.
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by Jdam »

Is Jdam really that much cheaper than Pw4?

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

Post by SW1 »

Timmymagic wrote: 02 Mar 2022, 22:09
SW1 wrote: 02 Mar 2022, 21:56 Buy Uber expensive plane so we drop cheap as chips weapons from it, sorry don’t see the logic there. Or is this just a ooh oooh let’s buy more American post?
Why the snark?

We're not likely to see a UK developed anti-ship missile on our F-35 until 2035, this could close the gap far cheaper than other options. But also is potentially usable on our other platforms. And as for being cheap, thats the point, we'll have enough weapons for Day1 and 2 of a war, but if it gets sustained this helps our overall stockpile.

And I would prefer a UK developed and built munition, I make that quite clear.

The constant buy American cause it cheaper narrative.

What does this jdam with a laser nose do that a paveway 4 currently can’t?

If your past early days of war then why bother with putting it on f35 at all.

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

Post by TSharpe28 »

https://questions-statements.parliament ... -25/129758

https://questions-statements.parliament ... -25/129757

The scheduled delivery dates for METEOR and SPEAR 3 have been delayed owing to prioritisation in the overall F-35 development programme, managed by the US led F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO). SPEAR 1 (Paveway 4) has already been integrated on UK F-35B Lightning aircraft.
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

TSharpe28 wrote: 03 Mar 2022, 02:59 SPEAR 1 (Paveway 4) has already been integrated on UK F-35B Lightning aircraft.
It's good to have a 'sovereign' backup when you have put yourself into a position when others make the decisions for you
- clawing back that 'backup' in the form of Tempest (switching one level up; at the a/c level) will cost a pretty penny... but I'm still all for it

I've stopped following what the JPO says (bcz it is not a grea indicator for what will actually happen). On that note, the latest F-35 deal (6o for Finland) was announced with the blurb that deliveries starting in 2025 will come with cruise missiles 'attached'. I just wonder which one will have been integrated?
- even zee Germans will be flashing the cash to have some free-fall! nukes attached to theirs; at least the integration is there
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by SW1 »

ArmChairCivvy wrote: 03 Mar 2022, 06:31
TSharpe28 wrote: 03 Mar 2022, 02:59 SPEAR 1 (Paveway 4) has already been integrated on UK F-35B Lightning aircraft.
It's good to have a 'sovereign' backup when you have put yourself into a position when others make the decisions for you
- clawing back that 'backup' in the form of Tempest (switching one level up; at the a/c level) will cost a pretty penny... but I'm still all for it

I've stopped following what the JPO says (bcz it is not a grea indicator for what will actually happen). On that note, the latest F-35 deal (6o for Finland) was announced with the blurb that deliveries starting in 2025 will come with cruise missiles 'attached'. I just wonder which one will have been integrated?
- even zee Germans will be flashing the cash to have some free-fall! nukes attached to theirs; at least the integration is there
I would guess probably jassm missile or possibly JSM specially as Finland buying the A version.

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

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

SW1 wrote: 03 Mar 2022, 07:50probably jassm
Has it been integrated?

NSM would be good for sinking any amphibs, but then again Sweden has RBS - only by courtesy of Thailand as they insisted that their Gripens come with anti-ship capability
... unlike the SCS, the Baltic is a sea of peace (so, at the time, the capability had been seen as 'redundant' :crazy: )

Ohh, wait: Norway was aiming for internal carry of 3 JSMs... did that work out (50% 'extra')?
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