Royal Air Force: Withdrawal of 24 Typhoons begins
Published on 16 March 2021, the Integrated Review will trigger a profound reorganisation of the British armed forces. Described as one of the most important since the Cold War, it aims to bring the forces up to speed in the face of regional and international threats. If the Royal Navy was to benefit from an increase in credits to enable it to reach 260 nuclear warheads, the RAF was to make major operational modifications. This radical change is accompanied by strong measures to enable it to effectively defend the Crown's interests for the next two decades.
More F-35Bs, fewer Typhoons
About 24 Typhoons from the first tranche (out of 139 for all versions) will be retired by 2025. Armed for air defence and acting as an aggressor in exercises, these aircraft based at Lossiemouth will not be upgraded. The Hawk T1/T1A/T1W, of which there are still 70 in 2020, will also be withdrawn from service by 2025, leaving the Hawk T2 for training. Nevertheless, Her Majesty's Aerobatic Group could keep its Red Hawk T1s until 2030. The F-35B has been ordered for 48 aircraft (18 deployed) and will equip three more squadrons by 2030 for the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm. In addition, £4 billion will be invested over the next 4 years in the future Tempest air combat system. The 9 MQ-9 Reapers still in service will be replaced by 16 Protector RG Mk1 (MQ-9B) by 2024.
Gone are the Hercules, Sentry and Avro
The 14 C-130Js will be retired by 2023, their tactical and special missions will be taken over by the 20 A400Ms seen since 2019. The 5 E-3D Sentry Mk1s due to lack of modernisation will be retired by 2023. The replacement will consist of only 3 E-7 Wedgetails due to lack of additional budgets. The 4 Avro 146s will be mothballed by 2022, the RAF having already equipped an A321 to replace them. Future strategic and tactical transport capabilities will therefore be based on 14 A330 MRTT 'Voyager', 20 A400Ms and 8 C-17 'Globemaster III'.
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