The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) reversed course on its Carrier Strike program, confirming a switch from the F-35C CV version back to the F-35B STOVL version of the Joint Strike Fighter. The decision was expected, and has been driven by a doubling of the estimated cost (to more than $3.2 billion) to convert for “cat and trap” operations one of two new British carriers that are already under construction.
British commanders are counting the cost of a major and successful contribution to NATO’s Operation Unified Protector. The UK and France were the biggest contributors to the campaign, after the first week when U.S. forces provided an initial boost. British aircraft and helicopters flew more than 3,000 sorties, including more than 2,100 strike missions. They successfully attacked about 640 targets with more than 1,400 precision-guided munitions.
NATO’s Operation Unified Protector has given the Eurofighter Typhoon the opportunity to finally make its combat debut, with both the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and Italian air force aircraft involved in the operation. RAF operations over Libya have been mounted by a six-aircraft detachment at Gioia del Colle in southern Italy, from where they are operating alongside 12 Panavia Tornado GR.Mk 4s.
Typhoon pilots with Britain’s Royal Air Force will soon be flying with a helmet-mounted system that will significantly increase their situational awareness (SA), particularly in the air-to-air role.
Following the successful completion of pilot lot test firings, deliveries have begun of the Iris-T (infrared imaging system-tail/thrust vector controlled) short- to medium-range missile. Developed by a consortium led by Diehl BGT Defence, the Iris-T has a BGT-developed imaging infrared seeker and uses both aerodynamic and thrust-vectoring control for excellent agility.