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The UK’s Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper

On 16 March 2021, the UK released its long-awaited Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. This was followed by the release of the UK’s Defence Command Paper on 22 March 2021.

A summary of commentary and analysis from Janes follows.


The Defence Command Paper has seen combat aviation hit especially hard. Cuts for the UK aviation forces include the premature retirement of the Lockheed Martin C-130J/C-130J-30 Hercules transport fleet; backtracking from an earlier stated commitment to procuring 138 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning combat aircraft; a reduction in the planned procurement of five Boeing E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C), coupled with the early retirement of the Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW1; the axing of 24 Tranche 1 Eurofighter Typhoons; and the early retirement of the BAE Systems Hawk T1 jet trainer.

Specifically, the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) one remaining short-bodied C-130J C5 and 13 long-bodied C-130J-30 C4 variant Hercules airlifters are to be withdrawn from service in 2023, about 12 years earlier than planned; the F-35 programme of record of 138 aircraft over the life of the programme has now become an undisclosed number to be procured beyond the 48 already committed to; the Wedgetail buy is to be curtailed from five to just three platforms, with the Sentry’s out of service date being brought forward this year; the 24 Tranche 1 Typhoons that were due to be retired in 2040 and the Hawk T1s that were due to go in 2030 are now all going in 2025 (although this date is not linked to the Red Arrows display team that operates the type). While these represent the ‘cuts’, paper also included previously announced plans to invest in the Tempest sixth-generation combat aircraft, as well as a future medium-lift helicopter capability and other rotary-winged recapitalisation plans.


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