via Defense Aerospace from the Financial Times...
The admission by the UK government that it would not increase the small number of combat aircraft committed to the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) in Iraq should it get a mandate to launch strikes in Syria reflects the reality that the Royal Air Force would struggle to muster much extra firepower.The rest is behind a paywall and I'm sure a defence official talked about how this was an acceptable amount of RISK that the UK Defense Ministry was taking on but WOW!
After five years of relentless defence cuts, the armed forces are struggling to sustain the current level of commitments after more than a decade of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Under strategic planning assumptions, which were defined by the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010, the RAF is required to have 40 combat aircraft available for operations at various states of readiness.
“A lot of people in the RAF will tell you that number is far too low,” said Justin Bronk, an analyst at the Royal United Services Institute.
Put in context, there are eight Tornadoes deployed to Cyprus, which is enough to allow two of the strike aircraft to fly every day. The ageing Tornado, which entered service in 1980, is the RAF’s most capable ground attack aircraft, following the retirement of the entire Harrier fleet. (end of excerpt)
The Royal Air Force is smaller than the Marine Air?
The Mighty have fallen. But it gets worse. If the USMC is any example then the infrastructure costs to put the F-35 into service will shrink that number even more.
In five years time this will be the good old days. The RAF will be lucky to be able to put half that number of planes into the air.