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Britain takes delivery of more new F-35 stealth jets

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The arrival of more F-35B jets this weekend means the UK now has 34 of the stealth jets.

With one aircraft lost in an accident and four test jets in the US, there are now 30 of the type in operational service in the UK.

There is an expectation that all of the 47 in the first batch will be delivered by the end of 2025. Note that it would have been 48 if one didn’t crash.

After that, the Ministry of Defence expressed the intention to purchase another tranche of jets.

Funding has been delegated for an additional tranche of F-35B jets for Britain beyond the 48 already ordered.

Jeremy Quin, then Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, stated last year:

“Funding for a second tranche of F-35 Lightning has been delegated to Air Command as part of our recent annual budget cycle. Funding for Atlas A400M which not yet been delegated. A decision on future tranches of F-35B will be made in due course.”

For more on the planned additional A400M purchase see here, now, on to the F-35B.

“As you know, we are going to acquire 48. We have made it absolutely clear that we will be acquiring more. We have committed to have 48 in service by 2025, and we will be acquiring more. We have set that out in the IR. We will set out the exact numbers in 2025. The 138 number is still there. That is a defined number and we are looking at keeping these aircraft carriers in operation for a very long period of time. I am not dismissing that number either. We know that we have 48 to which we are committed, and we know that we will buy more beyond that.”

How many are expected?

According to the Defence Command Paper titled ‘Defence in a Competitive Age’, the UK intends to increase the fleet size beyond the 48 F-35 aircraft it has already ordered.

“The Royal Air Force will continue to grow its Combat Air capacity over the next few years as we fully establish all seven operational Typhoon Squadrons and grow the Lightning II Force, increasing the fleet size beyond the 48 aircraft that we have already ordered. Together they will provide a formidable capability, which will be continually upgraded to meet the threat, exploit multi domain integration and expand utility.

The Royal Air Force will spiral develop Typhoon capability, integrate new weapons such as the UK developed ‘SPEAR Cap 3’ precision air launched weapon and invest in the Radar 2 programme to give it a powerful electronically scanned array radar. We will integrate more UK weapons onto Lightning II and invest to ensure that its software and capability are updated alongside the rest of the global F 35 fleet.”

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