In 2010, the Royal Air Force justified, in part, the withdrawal of its 72 Harriers from service by the fact that the implementation of such a small fleet of aircraft was both complicated and very expensive. This is however what is likely to happen in the years to come, since according to the British press, the government of Boris Johnson would seriously consider halving the fleet of 2 F138B, whose acquisition was planned for the first half of the production life of the American device. The savings made, representing at least £ 8 billion on the simple procurement budget, would then be allocated to the Tempest program, the entry into service of which is maintained for 2035. The subject had, moreover, been already discussed two years ago before the election of Boris Jonhson.
As we discussed yesterday, the UK government, which faces immense budgetary tensions linked to the Covid19 crisis, must lead severe arbitrations, in particular for the British armies already severely tested by the successive deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan during the preceding decade. London would in fact consider equipping itself not with a global army capable of intervening in all fields, but with an army specialized in supporting the allied forces, whether it be fire support, logistical support or cyber support. In this model, a fleet of 80 aircraft would be sufficient to jointly arm the 2 Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers with 24 aircraft per ship.
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