24 March, 2021

Royal Air Force plans more F35 aircraft as part of Integrated Review

The UK's Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has described the plans for the UK's Royal Air Force during his announcement of the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. The review sees an increase in the F35 fleet size as well as retiring older types of aircraft such as the old, yet reliable C130 Hercules and E3D Sentry early warning plane. 

Wallace said of the Royal Air Force:

    "Royal Air Force is now deploying world-leading capabilities, P8, Rivet Joint, A400M and the latest Typhoons. The F35 – the world’s most capable combat aircraft – is now being deployed to frontline squadrons. In recognition of its battle-winning capabilities, we will commit to growing the fleet beyond 48 aircraft.

    the E3D Sentry, two generations behind its contemporaries, will be replaced by a more capable fleet of three E7 Wedgetail in 2023. These will be based at RAF Lossiemouth, transforming the UK Airborne Early Warning and Control capabilities, as well as contributing to NATO.

    as the transport fleet improves availability we will retire the C130-J Hercules in 2023, after 24 years of service. Twenty-two A400Ms, alongside the C17s, will provide a more capable and flexible transport fleet.

    our counter terrorism operations are currently supported by nine Reaper RPAS (‘drones’) which will be replaced by Protectors by 2024. These new platforms will provide the enhanced strategic ISR and strike capabilities that are so vital for all our forces.

    all forces evolve and the increasingly competitive and complex air environment means we must set the foundations now for our sixth-generation of fighter.

    the Typhoon has been a tremendous success for the British aerospace industry and we will seek to repeat that with £2-billion of investment in the Future Combat Air System over the next four years, alongside further development of the LANCA UCAV system. We will continue to seek further international collaboration.

    all services recognise the importance of Unmanned Aerial Systems, which is why we will also develop combat drone swarm technologies.

    but in order to ensure our current platforms have the necessary protection and lethality we will also upgrade the Typhoon radar and introduce Spear Cap 3 deep strike capabilities."

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