An order for 90 more F-35 Lightning combat jets is to be cancelled in favor of the Tempest fighter.
The UK is likely only to purchase 48 F-35B jets, down from 138, The Sunday Times says.
“An order for 90 more F-35 Lightning combat jets is to be cancelled in favour of the Tempest fighter, built in Lancashire, while 24 older Typhoon fighters will be retired early. Whole fleets of aircraft will be taken out of service as drones become ever more common,” the article appeared on the British newspaper states.
The possible cut of the F-35B order isn’t entirely unexpected, as the MoD’s Permanent Secretary Sir Stephen Lovegrove said whilst speaking to the Public Accounts Committee: “Things change in the course of these very long-term programmes. Different capabilities come along that render things that you have yet to buy possibly obsolete or perhaps you need fewer of them or the threats change.”
According to the UK Defence Journal, the final details of this will be revealed on Mar. 16, 2021 in the ‘Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy’ (shortened in Integrated Review) which is effectively a defence review.
“General Sir Nick Carter has been central to setting the vision for our future armed forces. The Prime Minister has asked General Carter to remain in post to ensure continuity and stability while the conclusions of the Integrated Review are implemented following the £24.1-billion settlement for defence announced last year.
“The Integrated Review will be published on 16 of March and the Defence Command Paper will be published on 22 of March. The selection of General Carter’s successor as Chief of the Defence Staff will begin in the autumn,” the Ministry of Defence said in an announcement.
The Integrated Review was described as the largest review of its kind since the Cold War by Boris Johnson.
The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy plan to operate 138 F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft. Their training took place at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina, where British pilots and maintainers were embedded with the US Marine Corps and their fleet of F-35Bs. The first F-35 squadron, 617 Sqn ‘Dambusters’, arrived at RAF Marham with first four aircraft in June 2018.
According to Lockheed Martin, as the program’s only Level 1 partner, the United Kingdom has garnered tremendous economic benefits from the F-35. British industry will build 15 percent of each of the more than 3,000 planned F-35s, generating significant export revenue and GDP growth. The program is projected to create and support more than 21,000 jobs across every region of the United Kingdom.
BAE Systems, GE Aviation, Martin-Baker, Leonardo Cobham, Ultra Electronics, UTC Actuation / Collins Aerospace and Rolls-Royce are just a few of the more than 100 U.K.-based suppliers for the program.
Photo credit: Crown Copyright and Peter Nicholls / Reuters