Unveiled in the strategic defense review in March 2021, the UK's decision to retire its oldest Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft from the Royal Air Force (RAF) inventory by 2025 triggered significant criticism. Remarkably, this critical decision was confirmed in July 2021, despite escalating tensions in Europe and the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Technical Possibility of Upgrading
BAE Systems, one of the world's leading multinational defence, security, and aerospace companies, had stated that it was “technically possible” to revamp the Typhoon T1 aircraft to the same performance level as the more advanced Typhoon aircraft models.
Alternative Plans for Typhoon T1
Sadly, rather than being put up for sale on the second-hand market, these Typhoon T1 aircraft are destined to be “cannibalized” for spare parts. This surprising move is part of the RAF's broader plans to modernize its remaining fleet of 107 Typhoon aircraft with a robust 2.75 billion euro program.
Enhancements to Remaining Fleet
An exciting part of this modernization program is to equip the aircraft with the new AESA ECRS Mk2 radar, a game-changing technology that provides advanced electronic warfare capabilities.
Criticism from Defence Committee
The Defence Committee has openly criticized these decisions regarding the RAF. In a damning report, it was noted that the size of the UK's combat aviation would be insufficient for high-intensity engagement, raising serious concerns about its ability to deter and defend against aggression from potential enemies.
The pressing need for immediate action from the Ministry of Defence and the RAF was underscored in the report.
F-35B Strike Fighters: Fewer than Expected
Another significant issue is the fact that the UK has only ordered 48 F-35B strike fighters to date. In contrast, negotiations with Lockheed-Martin for the purchase of an additional 26 aircraft haven't yet reached a successful conclusion.
This falls far short of the UK's original plan of acquiring 138 of these cutting-edge F-35 aircraft.