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U.K. To Buy 138 F-35s, Nine P-8 Poseidons

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"U.K. To Buy 138 F-35s, Nine P-8 Poseidons"
by Tony Osbourne
November 23, 2015

Source:
http://aviationweek.com/defense/uk-buy-138-f-35s-nine-p-8-poseidons

ABERDEEN, Scotland – The U.K. will commit to buying its full complement of 138 Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and also order a fleet of nine Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft as part of a £12 billion ($18 billion) increase in spending on defense equipment over the next decade.

The plans, to be formally unveiled later Nov. 23 with the publication of the U.K.’s Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR), will also extend the service life of the Eurofighter Typhoon fleet from its current out-of-service date of 2030 to 2040.

Meanwhile, a further two front-line squadrons will be formed by retaining Tranche 1 aircraft that were due to retire in the next 2-3 years. The government has also pledged to fit Tranche 3 aircraft with the active electronically scanned array radar currently in development.

Ministers say the spending increase is part of a process of building up the U.K.’s defenses at a time of heightened concern over the threat of terrorism, most notably the recent terror attacks in Paris.

In a Nov. 22 interview on U.K. television, Chancellor George Osborne said the country would accelerate its program of bringing the F-35 into service for the carrier strike role by having 24 aircraft ready for use on the U.K.’s new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers by 2023.

“We are going to step up the aircraft carrier punch of the United Kingdom. We are going to make sure that when these aircraft carriers are available they are going to have planes that can fly from them in force,” Osborne said.

The U.K. has already signed up to purchase 14 F-35s over the next five years, on top of the three already in service and the fourth due to be delivered late this year. The U.K. ordered six more F-35Bs in early November.

Until now, U.K. ministers had only confirmed plans to purchase 48 F-35s.

It is unclear whether the 138 aircraft will be made up of STOVL-model F-35Bs. But it seems likely the U.K. may now also look at the land-based F-35A.

In an editorial for London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, Prime Minister David Cameron said the U.K. was investing in a new generation of high-altitude surveillance drones, likely to be a reference to the Zephyr pseudo-satellite system. He also said the U.K. would make a “significant joint investment” with France in the development of an unmanned combat air vehicle, the subject of a current two-year long bilateral feasibility study.

That study is expected to recommend a decision on the aircraft’s platform in the coming weeks.

The order for nine P-8s comes just three weeks after reports in the Sunday Times said ministers had decided to cancel an order for the aircraft.

Somewhat embarrassingly, the order is being announced at the same time as French and Canadian maritime patrol aircraft have been deployed to Scotland to support the hunt for a probable Russian submarine, the third such operation in 12 months.

The U.K. has not been able to conduct fixed-wing anti-submarine operations for more than five years since the retirement of the Nimrod MR2 in 2009 and the cancellation of its replacement, the Nimrod MRA4, a year later. The P-8 will fill the gap left behind by the Nimrod, and also perform long-range search-and-rescue flights and overland surveillance.

Also on the shopping list is an enlarged fleet of 20 MQ-9 Reaper UAVs being ordered as part of the Protector program, formerly known as Scavenger.

While air power looks set to be the winner of this year’s review, the government has also announced plans to create two deployable army Strike Brigades, each with 5,500 personnel. These brigades will be able to “self-deploy thousands of kilometers, and with a much lower logistic footprint,” officials say.
 

Flyaway

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New RAF Poseidon spy planes "at the mercy" of Donald Trump over US deal with Boeing

The Poseidon P-8s have not even been ordered yet - despite the Ministry of Defence claiming it has "sealed the deal"

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/new-raf-poseidon-spy-planes-9547868
 

Flyaway

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Boeing Poseidon contract includes first UK aircraft

Boeing has received a USD2.2 billion contract for 17 P-8A Poseidon Multimission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) that includes the first for the United Kingdom.

The contract, which was announced by the company on 3 April but awarded on 30 March, covers 11 aircraft for the US Navy (USN), 4 for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), and 2 for the UK Royal Air Force (RAF). It also includes options for 32 more aircraft which, if exercised, would bring the contract value up to USD6.8 billion.
http://www.janes.com/article/69261/boeing-poseidon-contract-includes-first-uk-aircraft
 

FighterJock

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Will the F-35 order be all F-35B's or mixed with F-35A's?
 

Dragon029

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For now there are only B variants on order; the UK MoD said at Farnborough / RIAT last year that they were considering buying the A variant as well to make up part of the 138 aircraft total, but there hasn't been a decision made yet and there likely won't be one (for either a full B fleet or mixed A/B fleet) for a few more years yet.

Getting all B variants would ease logistics / improve readiness, but the UK would be missing out on some deep strike capabilities that only the A and C variants will have due to their 'full-sized' weapon bays. That might not be an issue however if their F-35Bs can create a gap in enemy IADS large enough for Typhoons or other F-35Bs carrying external weapons, not to mention that anywhere the UK goes there'll very likely be an F-35A operator deploying alongside them.
 
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Ian33

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The P8 anti sub system is vital, especially considering how many times Russian fleet has been seen along the inner Hebrides.

The Nimrod should of never been scrapped, it was in my mind a near criminal activity by an incompetento buffoon.
 

Grey Havoc

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Agreed, not sure if the P-8 will prove to be a worthy successor though.
 

red admiral

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Dragon029 said:
Getting all B variants would ease logistics / improve readiness, but the UK would be missing out on some deep strike capabilities that only the A and C variants will have due to their 'full-sized' weapon bays.
A is also about 30% less expensive...
 

FighterJock

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red admiral said:
Dragon029 said:
Getting all B variants would ease logistics / improve readiness, but the UK would be missing out on some deep strike capabilities that only the A and C variants will have due to their 'full-sized' weapon bays.
A is also about 30% less expensive...
I did not know that the A model F-35 was cheaper than the B model, wonder why that is?
 

Arjen

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More moving bits.
 

FighterJock

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More bits to go wrong in other words. Though I heard years ago that was one of the things that the USMC was trying to avoid with the F-35B.
 

GTX

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FighterJock said:
More bits to go wrong in other words.
That's a negative view. One could also just say that the F-35B does more (i.e the whole STOVL part) and thus needs more (the lift fan etc). Kind of obvious I would have thought.
 

CJGibson

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Ian33 - The Nimrod should of never been scrapped, it was in my mind a near criminal activity by an incompetento buffoon.

You might want to have a look at P196 of Nimrod's Genesis - it was the RAF itself that didn't want it.

Chris
 

Kadija_Man

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CJGibson said:
Ian33 - The Nimrod should of never been scrapped, it was in my mind a near criminal activity by an incompetento buffoon.

You might want to have a look at P196 of Nimrod's Genesis - it was the RAF itself that didn't want it.

Chris
Ifthe RAF didn't want the Nimrod (I assume you mean the MR.4 version) what were they going to replace it with?
 

Dragon029

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The roles intended for the MRA4 are filled by existing assets such as the Type 23 Frigate and the Merlin helicopter. On 23 November 2015, the UK announced its intention to order nine P-8 Poseidon ASW aircraft as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015, effectively replacing the Nimrod.
 

harrier

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Nimrod should have gone once it was found the wings did not fit, but the Macbeth argument was deployed:

"I am in blood. Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,. Returning were as tedious as go o'er."

It never turns out well when you do that!

I don't understand why the UK needs 138 F-35Bs - it is STOVL, but with little of the flexibility and lots of extra cost, plus the gift of wave drag for all versions.

The lift fan decision seemed good until you connect the dots, which ASTOVL design should be all about. Plus the RAF have lost all 'off base' abilities anyway (support too contractorised) so will use it like an 'A'. Let's hope the UK don't ever have to deal with a salvo of Iskander/Kickback missiles etc!
 
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Ian33

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Harrier said:
Nimrod should have gone once it was found the wings did not fit, but the Macbeth argument was deployed:

"I am in blood. Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,. Returning were as tedious as go o'er."

It never turns out well when you do that!

I don't understand why the UK needs 138 F-35Bs - it is STOVL, but with little of the flexibility and lots of extra cost, plus the gift of wave drag for all versions.

The lift fan decision seemed good until you connect the dots, which ASTOVL design should be all about. Plus the RAF have lost all 'off base' abilities anyway (support too contractorised) so will use it like an 'A'. Let's hope the UK don't ever have to deal with a salvo of Iskander/Kickback missiles etc!
Our two carriers being built don't have arrester or catapult gear. If the RAF want to go play 'Save the Falklands' for example, they got to have STOVL or 'stay at home' ....
 

harrier

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The 48 ordered will do for the ships. I don't see why the rest need STOVL.

If we ever need to 'save the Falklands' again the RAF will already have failed.
 

Hood

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Harrier said:
I don't understand why the UK needs 138 F-35Bs - it is STOVL, but with little of the flexibility and lots of extra cost, plus the gift of wave drag for all versions.

The lift fan decision seemed good until you connect the dots, which ASTOVL design should be all about. Plus the RAF have lost all 'off base' abilities anyway (support too contractorised) so will use it like an 'A'.
I share the same feeling. I suspect its due to the fanciful attempts to replace the Harrier fleet, had that fleet still been in service now then it might have made slightly more sense. Also, I suspect BAE's efforts and the UK's R&D money has been funnelled into the B so the only way to get a decent return is to buy enough of them to justify the costs. I guess logistically there is some sense in only buying one version.
Maybe the other reason is that the MOD thought the A might have been a competitor to the Typhoon fleet, especially in the eyes of the Treasury?
 

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Kadija_man - If the RAF didn't want the Nimrod (I assume you mean the MR.4 version) what were they going to replace it with?

Something that could actually fly.

Chris
 

sferrin

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Harrier said:
The 48 ordered will do for the ships. I don't see why the rest need STOVL.

If we ever need to 'save the Falklands' again the RAF will already have failed.
So if the RAF fails you throw in the towel? Uhm. . .okay.
 

Grey Havoc

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sferrin said:
Harrier said:
The 48 ordered will do for the ships. I don't see why the rest need STOVL.

If we ever need to 'save the Falklands' again the RAF will already have failed.
So if the RAF fails you throw in the towel? Uhm. . .okay.
I think what he meant to imply was that if the RAF failed in it's role of deterring an invasion of the Falklands, it would be up to what's left of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, and British Army to pull their (and the politicians) nuts out of the fire. ;)
 

sferrin

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Grey Havoc said:
sferrin said:
Harrier said:
The 48 ordered will do for the ships. I don't see why the rest need STOVL.

If we ever need to 'save the Falklands' again the RAF will already have failed.
So if the RAF fails you throw in the towel? Uhm. . .okay.
I think what he meant to imply was that if the RAF failed in it's role of deterring an invasion of the Falklands, it would be up to what's left of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, and British Army to pull their (and the politicians) nuts out of the fire. ;)
Which would mean you'd need MORE STOVL for the two carriers, not less.
 

kaiserd

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Grey Havoc said:
sferrin said:
Harrier said:
The 48 ordered will do for the ships. I don't see why the rest need STOVL.

If we ever need to 'save the Falklands' again the RAF will already have failed.
So if the RAF fails you throw in the towel? Uhm. . .okay.

I think what he meant to imply was that if the RAF failed in it's role of deterring an invasion of the Falklands, it would be up to what's left of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, and British Army to pull their (and the politicians) nuts out of the fire. ;)
Given the very limited current strength and capability of the Argentinian airforce and armed forces in general the current 4-plane deployed Typhoon force would likely slaughter any strike force they could face (given the unlikely scenario of Argentina doing so). That's before you factor in the other UK armed forces based on the Falklands or that could deploy rapidly (tomahawk armed SSNs, Queen Elizabeth class carrier with max of 36 F-35Bs, etc). Re: the Queen Elizabeth carriers only one will be available/ deployed at one time and it's F-35B compliment maxes out at 36 (likely 16-24 its real world normal size) so 48 not an unreasonable fleet size (can be topped up from the other 90 figure if proves to be needed/ desirable as orders are placed.)
Part of the argument for the F-35B was the lower training burden (hence aircraft numbers dedicated to training) associated with maintaining carrier landing qualification for pilots versus CTOL carrier aircraft.
For comparison my recollection is that the French Navy's current RafaleM fleet is equivalent size.
 

TomS

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CJGibson said:
Kadija_man - If the RAF didn't want the Nimrod (I assume you mean the MR.4 version) what were they going to replace it with?

Something that could actually fly.

Chris
Did the RAF prefer P-3s (Orion 2000 as offered by Lockheed)?
 

Thorvic

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Harrier said:
The 48 ordered will do for the ships. I don't see why the rest need STOVL.

If we ever need to 'save the Falklands' again the RAF will already have failed.
Nope you need 96 to have the capability to fully equip two carriers and training and a strategic reserve - the 48 figure was set on using the superior F-35C (In range and payload compared with the B) and just one carrier, with the other mothballed or sold off according to the 2010 SDSR. In the 2015 SDSR they addressed the Carrier question by confirming both carriers would enter service and be operational but shunted the JCA question back into the next decade as they have said they would take the full quota of 138 over time ducking the main gate deadline that was due around now and saying they would speed up the schedule to get more aircraft into service by the time Carrier Strike is nominally operational in 2023, the next Tranche of F-35s should probably be mentioned in the 2020 SDSR.

Yeap your right about the Falklands the RAF have command of the forces on the Island including the Typhoon flight which they should be able to reinforce should Argentina start getting aggressive again and mustering forces.
 

Kadija_Man

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CJGibson said:
Kadija_man - If the RAF didn't want the Nimrod (I assume you mean the MR.4 version) what were they going to replace it with?

Something that could actually fly.

Chris
Such as? Wasn't that much available at the time IIRC.
 

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I can't imagine anyone in the RAF actually thought they would get a standalone airframe for deal penetration once FOAS was knocked on the head.

Personally, I think Stormshadow upgrade and replacement is more important than buying an F35A which still can't carry the weapon internally. Typhoon remains very current with weaponry that is great at doing the penetration part of the mission.
 

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Yes, I agree with you. I thought we were talking manned platform. Taranis definitely fits the deep penetration bill. Not sure about FCAS as envisioned though. FCAS seems more like a Rafale enabler than a Tornado replacement and frankly just confuses me a the moment.

Still on topic, if only because these systems will fly alongside the F35 etc.
 

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mrmalaya said:
I can't imagine anyone in the RAF actually thought they would get a standalone airframe for deal penetration once FOAS was knocked on the head.

Personally, I think Stormshadow upgrade and replacement is more important than buying an F35A which still can't carry the weapon internally. Typhoon remains very current with weaponry that is great at doing the penetration part of the mission.
The Typhoon was out of date to some degree by the time it entered service, designed to fight a Cold War that has already ended.
 

kaiserd

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Flyaway said:
mrmalaya said:
I can't imagine anyone in the RAF actually thought they would get a standalone airframe for deal penetration once FOAS was knocked on the head.

Personally, I think Stormshadow upgrade and replacement is more important than buying an F35A which still can't carry the weapon internally. Typhoon remains very current with weaponry that is great at doing the penetration part of the mission.
The Typhoon was out of date to some degree by the time it entered service, designed to fight a Cold War that has already ended.
Not really; if we are talking conceptually then it was the Tornado that looked like the Cold-War carry-over but up dates (and the convenience/ luck that it operated in conditions of complete air superiority) has allowed it to remain a fine strike aircraft.
The Typhoon will eventually mature into a good fighter-bomber but is interesting that no-one appear terribly convinced by it prowess as a deep strike aircraft (F-35s appears to be seen as a better bet in that role by most, even those that will operate both types, even the RAF appears to harbour ambitions of F-35As to be the longer term Tornado replacement.)
 

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.

The problem is trying to understand what the various parties REALLY want, what they say they want and what the can afford/are willing to give up. And, of course, can you believe anything the Government says or claims ?

In addition, at first the F-35A and F-35B were going to be extremely close in terms of maintenance, now they are miles apart, meaning that any possible savings in operating two versions have basically disappeared.

According to how the ships were procured (again this may now be a fiction) there "SHOULD" be two carriers available for use 60% of the time (with maybe one of them on a couple of days readiness). So any crisis has a slightly better than evens chance of having two carriers to find aircraft for. Of course, one carrier could be operated as a helicopter/assault carrier, depending on the crisis, otherwise the public would expect the carriers to operate with as full a complement of aircraft as possible. Against that is that the RAF seems to be institutionally "seasick". Having gained control of the F-35s by promising to run "purple" squadrons, they have backtracked and want to run them almost on a 9 till 5, Monday to Friday basis, without the need to miss their weekend parties by going to sea.

The whole programme has been a farce, with the worse decision being the hidden one to order the ships without the much vaunted "easily converted" between STOVL and "cat-and-trap" versions (something that seemingly no one told Cameron about before he ordered the change !)

A vast amount of money has been spent and the end result is a muddle.

.
 

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JFC Fuller said:
It's a been torturous process but then end capability is about as good as could have been expected from the available budget (inc. RN manpower). There isn't really a muddle, the current plan is basically set, workable and credible.
Once you have the ships you can always buy more aircraft later if needed.
 

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UK assessing Poseidon as potential Sentinel replacement

http://www.janes.com/article/72227/uk-assessing-poseidon-as-potential-sentinel-replacement
 

FighterJock

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Flyaway said:
UK assessing Poseidon as potential Sentinel replacement

http://www.janes.com/article/72227/uk-assessing-poseidon-as-potential-sentinel-replacement
I think that would be a good idea in principle, putting the Sentinel equipment into the Poseidon would hopefully save millions of pounds instead of buying a new aircraft.
 

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UK to decide on future F-35 variant 'at appropriate time'

The UK government has given its clearest indication to date that it could be considering a split-buy for its future fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters (JSF).

Answering questions in Parliament, the Minister of State for Defence and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, Earl Howe, said that while the UK had committed itself to its full quota of 138 aircraft, it had yet to decide on which variant these would be beyond the initial 48 F-35Bs that will be used to fly off the country's two new aircraft carriers.

"As part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review [SDSR] in 2015, we reaffirmed our commitment to procure 138 F-35 Lightning II aircraft. The first tranche of 48 aircraft will be of the F-35B variant, which will be jointly operated by the Royal Air Force [RAF] and Royal Navy [RN], and capable of operating from both land and the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. The decision on the variant of subsequent tranches of Lightning will be taken at the appropriate time," Howe said.
http://www.janes.com/article/72277/uk-to-decide-on-future-f-35-variant-at-appropriate-time
 

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Flyaway said:
UK to decide on future F-35 variant 'at appropriate time'

The UK government has given its clearest indication to date that it could be considering a split-buy for its future fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters (JSF).

Answering questions in Parliament, the Minister of State for Defence and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, Earl Howe, said that while the UK had committed itself to its full quota of 138 aircraft, it had yet to decide on which variant these would be beyond the initial 48 F-35Bs that will be used to fly off the country's two new aircraft carriers.

"As part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review [SDSR] in 2015, we reaffirmed our commitment to procure 138 F-35 Lightning II aircraft. The first tranche of 48 aircraft will be of the F-35B variant, which will be jointly operated by the Royal Air Force [RAF] and Royal Navy [RN], and capable of operating from both land and the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. The decision on the variant of subsequent tranches of Lightning will be taken at the appropriate time," Howe said.
http://www.janes.com/article/72277/uk-to-decide-on-future-f-35-variant-at-appropriate-time
How about instead of split buying F-35B and F-35A we should honor the F-35B contract and then buy 100 F-35As as a separate purchase to replace the Tornado force.
 

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Hang on, Sentinel retirement in 2021? In-service date is 2008, a service life of only 13 years seems awfully short. According to the Jane's article, one airframe has already been retired, so did they buy airframes with a short life or is there some other constraint?
 
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