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Incredible Shrinking RAF, Fighter Few Section


Army.ca Fixture
Fallen Comrade
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Looks like RAF will, amazingly, end up for a while with about twice as many fast jets as RCAF (if gets 65 new):

UK fighter numbers to reach all-time low with loss of Tornados and early Typhoons in 2019

The UK's frontline fast-jet force is set to fall to its lowest numerical strength just ahead of the turn of the decade, with the almost simultaneous retirement of both the Panavia Tornado GR.4 and early model Eurofighter Typhoon fleets, the government disclosed on 21 July.

Answering questions in the House of Commons, Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support, and Technology said that the retirement of the Tornados is to coincide with that of the Tranche 1 Typhoons in 2019.

Currently, the Royal Air Force (RAF) fields 53 Tranche 1 Typhoons and 87 Tornados which, when coupled with the Tranche 2 and 3A Typhoons now flying, brings its frontline combat inventory up to 192 aircraft. Although the loss of 140 aircraft by 2019 represents a 77% reduction in the current force strength on paper, it should be noted that this will be offset somewhat by the continued delivery of the Tranche 3 Typhoons, as well as the arrival of the first Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters.

Even so, while all 40 Tranche 3A Typhoons should be with the RAF by 2019, the United Kingdom is expected to have received only about 15 to 20 F-35Bs by this time (to be operated by both the RAF and Royal Navy). When the loss of the Tornados and Tranche 1 Typhoons is taken into account, the United Kingdom will be left with about 127 frontline combat jets at best when this happens (the lowest number that the RAF will have fielded since its creation in 1918).

Notwithstanding the fact that at that early point in its service the F-35 will likely not be fully combat capable (the Block 3F [full combat capability] software is slated to be rolled out in late 2017, but the United Kingdom is not due to declare full operating capability [land and maritime] for the type until 2023). To date, only the first 14 operational F-35Bs have been authorised (of which four have been ordered), and while overall numbers have not yet been disclosed there is a possibility that the original planned order for 138 aircraft may be truncated to just 48 for the new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers...