RAF unprepared to fight peer adversary: parliamentary report | Airlines


The UK House of Commons Defence Committee raised concerns regarding the air power capabilities of the Royal Air Force.

These apprehensions stem from significant cuts in volume outlined in the 2021 Defence Command Paper, which despite their acknowledgment were not addressed in the Refreshed Defence Command Paper published in July 2023.

“We will need to act speedily to remove or reduce less relevant capabilities – and this will allow our new investment to be focused on the technologies that will revolutionize warfare, forging our military assets into a single network designed to overcome the enemy,” then Prime Minister Boris Johnson explained to the Parliament on November 19, 2020, while the review was in progress.

The report highlights that these cuts, rather than addressing national security concerns, have left the UK dangerously exposed in the face of heightened global threats, particularly in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine that the British Ministry of Defence defined as “the greatest threat to the open international order in decades.”

Quality over quantity

One of the key concerns raised in the report is the adequacy of the fighter fleet operated by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm.

“Whilst made up of highly capable aircraft, it is just too small to withstand the levels of attrition that would occur in a peer-on-peer war,” the report states. “The imminent retirement of the Tranche 1 Typhoon and continued slow force growth of the F-35 fleet will only exacerbate these shortcomings.”

The 2025 retirement of the 30 Typhoon Tranche 1 fighter jets currently in the sustainment fleet of the Royal Air Force was announced in early September 2021. It raised controversy as the fighter jets would be retired at just 42% of their useful life (2544.8 flying hours). The Tranche 1 variant of the aircraft, the eldest of the four developed, is limited to the use of air-to-air…

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