Originally Posted by SKB
US squadrons 'may use UK carrier' for operations
The Royal Navy may ask US squadrons
to fly off its new aircraft carrier following delays to its new F35B fighters,
BBC Newsnight has learned.
MoD insiders said the US Marine Corps would be offered the use of HMS Queen
Elizabeth II for flight operations.
The UK plans to have its first F35 squadron operational by 2018, but
Newsnight has learned that there may be further delays.
The MoD said it was not aware of any further delay to the timetable.
The plan is for one squadron of British F35s to be ready for service at sea
by 2021. But even if it is achieved, it will create a gap of years where the
Queen Elizabeth II is ready but British squadrons are not.
For the past year defence analysts had been expecting the MoD to order 14 of
the new jets.
In February, Newsnight was told that it would be placed "within days". But
persistent doubts about the F35's enormously complex software, and an engine
fire this summer caused successive delays to the decision.
When the British purchase was announced, last month, it was for just four of
the planes. The MoD says that this order will allow trials to start from the
Queen Elizabeth II on time with "UK F35Bs, flown by UK pilots".
But the slowdown in the expected purchasing rate is bound to delay the
aircraft's entry into squadron service, say defence insiders.
However, the MoD said on Wednesday that it was "not aware" of any further
delay to the timetable for the first operational squadron.
Even if the timetable is kept, senior naval officers are nervous that a gap
in capability during 2018-2021, coming at a time when the defence budget will
come under fresh pressure after the next General Election, could damage their
chances of keeping the two new carriers, which they regard as central to
remaining a "first division naval power".
With a Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) expected to get under way
in 2015, the huge ships, which have long been the subject of controversy in
Whitehall, are likely to come under fresh scrutiny.
Newsnight has been told that many decisions relating to the new ships,
including such questions as their communications fit, are now being put on hold
until the SDSR. Naval chiefs are therefore determined to get them to sea with a
credible looking complement of aircraft on their decks, as soon as possible.
An MoD spokesman said: "The Lightning II [F-35B] Force will be manned by
Royal Navy and RAF pilots and we can be clear that aircraft used for the first
Class Flying Trials in 2018 will be UK F35Bs, flown by UK pilots.
"We are also working closely with our key allies, specifically the US Marine
Corps and the US Navy, to regenerate our carrier strike capability and we will
seek further opportunities to do so in the future."
Originally Posted by SKB
Cheers for the heads up,
Quite interesting, im in the glass half full camp, get the carriers in service even if it's initially with a small number of F35b's then gradually increase the capability.... I cant't really believe we will go much below the 2% gdp ( ref the speech in wales about criticizing other NATO members for spending below that ) for defence, so hopefully by early 2020's we could have a couple of squadrons on the ships if needed.
So we will have a new aircraft carrier but no planes to put on it?
Originally Posted by Northern Lout
kinda reminds me of this sketch from a few years ago
Actually it was a story without any real substance, we knew the 14 wasn't going to be in one batch, as the production slots haven't actually changed that much, we knew 809 wasn't due to get its quota of aircraft till 2021 and we knew the USMC are likely to be mostly involved in working up the Carriers. These have been mentioned in various defence select committee meetings since 2010. The only real thing thats changed is that the F-35B has't made as much progress as expected of it, due to the engine and software issues, so were not sure now if LRIP-8 aircraft will have all the structural and engineering issues resolved, it may take till 9 or 10, so those first 14 aircraft earmarked for 17 & 617 will unlikely to be fit for Frontline sea service without the concurrency refit to bring them to actual production standard (excluding software which looks to have its own timeline !).
So no real news story bar the fact 2015 SDSR will likely bring more cuts, whoever gets into power, and Defence will have its share !
Anyway there has been some UK F-35B good news, the UK team in the US have been flight testing ASRAAM and Paveway IV on the F-35B to verify the carriage of these weapons, so hopefully test drops and live firings will follow in due course so those weapons are cleared for use when we start to get our F-35Bs.
Came across this on another site for future proofing the QEC, if it comes off
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