UK Reduces F-35 Fleet Giving a Path to Tempest
The UK Government’s plans to buy 138 F-35B short take-off and landing (STOVL) versions of the Joint Strike Fighter will be revised.
The Times reports that a full 90 aircraft will be cut from the planned F-35B total buy, eventually providing a force of just 48 aircraft. So far, the UK has ordered 48 F-35Bs, all of which are set to be delivered by 2025. The paper claimed that “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.”
Speaking at Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last week, MOD Permanent Secretary Sir Stephen Lovegrove suggested that the UK’s eventual fleet of F-35s would be lower than the 138 called for in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).
Lovegrove said: “We will be buying the F-35s for another 20 years or so, and they have been in the pipes for 15. In the course of projects such as that, things change. In 2015, the SDSR said that we were to buy 138 F-35Bs; there was no mention of the future combat air system—Tempest.
Tempest is the joint UK, Italian and Swedish programme to develop a family of aerial systems.