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

SW1
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by SW1 »

So about the same size of fleet as the harrier GR was in the 00s

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

Post by SW1 »

https://www.defensenews.com/air/2022/04 ... -complete/

In Monday’s report, GAO found that the cost of the F-35′s Block 4 modernization effort grew to $15.1 billion in 2021, $741 million more than the estimated cost in 2020.

Much of that increase was due to a $330 million increase in the estimated cost of the Technology Refresh 3 effort, an upgrade to the F-35′s hardware and software that seeks to improve its processing capability, display units and increased memory, GAO said. The development of Tech Refresh 3 has proven to be more complicated than expected, program officials told GAO, and has driven up the price tag.

Another $312 million in cost increases came from modernizing aging test aircraft supporting weapons development, as well as other testing and lab upgrades, the report found. Operational test and evaluation officials told GAO more flight test capacity is needed to ensure several Block 4 capabilities, including weapons integration, work properly.

Multiple problems with software, funding issues that halted software development for eight months in 2021, and the addition of new capabilities has also delayed the delivery of final Block 4 capabilities to 2029, three years later than originally expected.

Lockheed Martin, which builds the F-35, and program officials took several steps to improve its software development, including increased lab testing of software, improved and more consistent monitoring of software development, and lengthening the schedule for developing Block 4 software “drops” from six to 12 months, beginning in 2022.

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

Post by bobp »

Seems like more F35B are on order.......

https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/britain ... f-35-jets/

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

Post by Timmymagic »

Jdam wrote: 26 Apr 2022, 15:15 Part of me feels we shouldn't be giving Lockheed Martin any more money till we start getting our weapons integrated at something better than the current speed that can only be measure with wind erosion, 2027 for Meteor or worse "no definitive date" just isn't good enough.
Part of the delay has been down to us as well. But commercial negotiations for the 13 of the 48 yet to be contracted AND another 26 is a big incentive to LM and the JPO to not mess around. Suspect the Defence Ministers comments around this a while ago will be incorporated into those negotiations...

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

Post by Lord Jim »

We need additional munitions to be integrated onto the F-35Bs as a matter of urgency. ASRAMM and Paveway IV just isn't enough to get the best out of the aircraft.

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

Post by Cooper »

bobp wrote: 27 Apr 2022, 07:09 Seems like more F35B are on order.......

https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/britain ... f-35-jets/
Next batch should take us up to 72 jets, the absolute minimum required to have two carriers at sea (in a worst case, war time scenario), each equipped with at least 16-18 jets, or preferably 24, and one land based squadron available, plus a few in training reserve & attrition loss overhead.

..we really need to be in the 90's for breathing space, but who knows...

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

Post by Timmymagic »

Lord Jim wrote: 27 Apr 2022, 12:50 We need additional munitions to be integrated onto the F-35Bs as a matter of urgency. ASRAMM and Paveway IV just isn't enough to get the best out of the aircraft.
Been saying this for years...I've got a list I could re-post...

Some are straightforward, involving re-use of the Spear form factor (or other form factors), or small buys of more complex munitions...to buys of already integrated munitions that already exist. Complex Weapons approach comes in a fair bit as well.

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

Post by bobp »

Timmymagic wrote: 27 Apr 2022, 13:11
Lord Jim wrote: 27 Apr 2022, 12:50 We need additional munitions to be integrated onto the F-35Bs as a matter of urgency. ASRAMM and Paveway IV just isn't enough to get the best out of the aircraft.
Been saying this for years...I've got a list I could re-post...

Some are straightforward, involving re-use of the Spear form factor (or other form factors), or small buys of more complex munitions...to buys of already integrated munitions that already exist. Complex Weapons approach comes in a fair bit as well.
Agree we need more UK weapon integration ASAP.


https://www.navylookout.com/uk-to-purch ... f-35-jets/

Looks like 26 new ones to be ordered..

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

Post by SW1 »

In days gone by a fleet of 74 jets would of meant around 50 being assigned for the training and operational sqns, so that would probably cover 3 operational squadrons. Still I wonder how many will become block 4 aircraft and how many will wither…

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

Post by Timmymagic »

SW1 wrote: 27 Apr 2022, 22:47 In days gone by a fleet of 74 jets would of meant around 50 being assigned for the training and operational sqns, so that would probably cover 3 operational squadrons. Still I wonder how many will become block 4 aircraft and how many will wither…
With the whole fleet way we run things we don't have much choice, RAF is also loathe to return to fleets within fleets, particularly after its done so much work to sort that out with Typhoon. We've got 1 a/c (excluding the 3 ITF a/c) in the very expensive (c$25m) category, thats BK-03. It's worth noting that she was ordered in 2009 and delivered in 2013. By the time it comes to upgrade she'll be 15 years old. We may pass her by, or use her as a test aircraft. After that the cost to upgrade drops massively. The next batch of 4 arrived in 2017, then 6 in 2018. These were from LRIP 8 and 9 where its known the cost to upgrade is not as significant (and drops massively from each LOT onwards. All will require software updates, new central processor and new EW antenna, plus some thermal management changes. Most of that is done in normal depot maintenance not the factory. All UK aircraft will also get the new plug and play DAS upgrade.

Ultimately I suspect the fact that the USMC will prove the upgrade path before us for LRIP 8 onwards aircraft to Block IV Lot 17 standard will mean we adopt the same approach.

Another point to note about not upgrading is the fact that any non-Block IV aircraft will only be able to use Paveway IV standard and AMRAAM. There will be no ASRAAM for them as ASRAAM Blk.VI integration is part of F-35 Block IV work. When legacy ASRAAM retires they will be left with no WVR missile in UK service. No Meteor, no Spear or Paveway IV Penetrator either...I suspect that would be too much for the RAF to bear.

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

Post by Lord Jim »

With the additional orders I can see the active F-35B fleet still only being three operational squadrons and a training units with any additional aircraft still being used as attrition replacements and cover for fleet servicing. IF things really hit the fan in a major peer level conflict the training unit would join on of the operational squadrons on the second carrier in my opinion. It takes months to train a pilot on an aircraft types as well as how to fight with it so the training unit would be surplus to requirements in that role.

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

Post by dmereifield »

Yes, apparently its still going to be 3 frontline squadrons and the OCU squadron

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

Post by Scimitar54 »

It was originally supposed to be 4 x frontline squadrons PLUS the OCU squadron (60 x Airframes).

With 3 x T & E Squadron Aircraft (and 1 x “Loss”), that would leave only 10 x Airframes (out of a total of 74 Aircraft) for the Maintenance & Attrition Reserve. Not enough IMHO.

Under these circumstances and although I am not a great fan of doing so, perhaps it would be better to have 4 x frontline squadrons (of 10), an OCU squadron of 10, leaving the possibility of 20 x Airframes for the Maintenance & Attrition Reserve?

If the possibility of an extra 10 Airframes (in a Third Tranch) does translate into a fact, then the “Five” Squadrons could receive an additional 2 x Airframes each to bring them up to full strength. :mrgreen:

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

Post by Lord Jim »

Three operational Squadrons and an OCU is a lot better than was planned a few years ago, namely only one squadron for the operational carrier and an OCU. This was to compliment the five Typhoon Squadrons and their OCU .

Unless additional funding becomes available we will have to get by with the three operational Squadrons. It still gives us the necessary flexibility and I would rather see any fundng found for a third tranche of F-35s being spent on more pressing needs.

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

Post by Repulse »

Interesting that Marine Nationale has three squadrons of Rafale M’s based on a total active fleet of 41 (with 46 originally ordered).
”We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow." - Lord Palmerston

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

Post by Timmymagic »

Repulse wrote: 29 Apr 2022, 09:55 Interesting that Marine Nationale has three squadrons of Rafale M’s based on a total active fleet of 41 (with 46 originally ordered).
And that's why when they got 30 x Rafale onboard in 2019 it was a one off, likely never to be repeated event (it also meant that as usual they were very short on AWACS, just 2 E-2C and as ever almost bereft of ASW helos, there was 1 NH-90 onboard and 2 Dauphin for Planeguard).

With 1 carrier the French are able to effectively tie their carrier and air wing availability in together. When the carrier is in dock, the air wing readiness is reduced and lots of training and maintenance is undertaken. Essentially major maintenance cycles for both are synchronised, with the attendant issues that come from that i.e. when you have the carrier available you will have high aircraft availability, but when the carrier isn't those aircraft might (or at least the majority) not be available for use elsewhere. They do the same thing with their E-2C (and soon D). Although that doesn't explain how they propose to run 24-7 cover with 2 aircraft aboard....the USN deploy with 5 per carrier.

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

Post by downsizer »

You anoraks get so het up about Sqn numbers or numbers of airframes per Sqn....

The real metric is how many spares have been bought. That drives everything!

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

Post by Scimitar54 »

That is or BWOTB a “given”! :crazy:

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

Post by wargame_insomniac »

downsizer wrote: 29 Apr 2022, 13:18 You anoraks get so het up about Sqn numbers or numbers of airframes per Sqn....

The real metric is how many spares have been bought. That drives everything!
With only 3 operational squadrons, that means two could be allocated to the designated Strike Carrier, and then one squadron could be allocated either to other carrier or to RAF.

That will mean those two squadrons allocated to Strike Carrier would have to rotate between active service and refit / training in synchronisation with the Strike Carrier. That would mean for an average of 6 months of the year we would have NO Strike Carrier available.

If we had minimum of 4 operational squadrons dedicated to RN, then two squadrons could be allocated to each carrier, and thus they can take turns being the Strike Carrier.

So IMO it is important if RN can deploy a Strike Carrier on average more than 6 months a year.
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Re: F-35B Lightning (RAF & RN)

Post by downsizer »

Can't deploy a Sqn for long if there are no spares to fix the fukkers.

You can have as many Sqns as you like, but without the spares it's meaningless.

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

Post by Lord Jim »

Who ever suggested the RAF would hold any stocks of spares? Also they are mainly contractor supported when ashore and only conduct forward maintenance when afloat. Having a dozen or so reserves allows aircraft to go into deep maintenance without reducing the number of aircraft available to the frontline and training squadrons, that is during peacetime. The Contractor has to provide a given number of aircraft to the flight line at any given time and this increases if the aircraft are being used operationally. In an all out war it would be all hands to the pumps to try to get as many aircraft available. All of this applies to the other aircraft fleets operated by the RAF these days, though only the F-35s operate afloat form teh fixed wing side of thigs. Fir training etc. all the Squadrons will embark on a regular basis on rotation to allow crew to both gain skills and maintain them. As for the Strike in Strike Carrier, until the F-35s gain access to more munitions this will be a very limited capability.

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

Post by topman »

wargame_insomniac wrote: 29 Apr 2022, 17:11
downsizer wrote: 29 Apr 2022, 13:18 You anoraks get so het up about Sqn numbers or numbers of airframes per Sqn....

The real metric is how many spares have been bought. That drives everything!
With only 3 operational squadrons, that means two could be allocated to the designated Strike Carrier, and then one squadron could be allocated either to other carrier or to RAF.

That will mean those two squadrons allocated to Strike Carrier would have to rotate between active service and refit / training in synchronisation with the Strike Carrier. That would mean for an average of 6 months of the year we would have NO Strike Carrier available.

If we had minimum of 4 operational squadrons dedicated to RN, then two squadrons could be allocated to each carrier, and thus they can take turns being the Strike Carrier.

So IMO it is important if RN can deploy a Strike Carrier on average more than 6 months a year.
I don't think you've read properly what downsizer has written.

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

Post by Tempest414 »

The parts package ( spares ) for the F-35 fleet is as said the key to deployment. The deployment of spares to the carriers is what will allow numbers

For me with 74 jets we should be looking to have a wing with 4 Sqn's and a OCU with jets allocated as needed with a piece time carrier deployments being 16 jets ( 2 Sqn's of 8 jets) this would allow 26 jets when joined by the USMC and a war time deployment of 50 jets 25 per carrier leaving 24 jets

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

Post by Scimitar54 »

Picking a number out of a hat!

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

Post by Tempest414 »

you care to say what you really mean?

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