Jul 22, 2015

The RAF Will Have Only 127 Combat Jets by 2019, with the loss of Tornados and early Typhoons

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.
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).

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