The British Royal Air Force’s diminished aircraft fleet would not survive a full-scale war with an equally capable adversary, according to the UK parliament’s new defense committee report.
The document, published on Sunday, indicated that Britain’s fleet of 169 Typhoons and F-35s is the smallest among the four major European military powers, Defense News reported.
While composed of advanced military planes, the fleet lacks the required numbers to withstand the levels of attrition expected in peer-on-peer air combat, the report added.
The committee warned that the Typhoon fighters’ upcoming retirement and the slow growth of the F-35 fleet would further complicate the UK’s air combat shortfall, noting that the Ministry of Defence and the RAF should address the problem in the short term.
According to the report, a 2021 MoD command paper, which ordered the reduction in the RAF’s aircraft numbers, caused the combat plane shortage.
Without an immediate solution in sight, the lawmakers feared that the shortcomings would continue through the next decade.
Committee Chair Tobias Ellwood said the RAF opted to prioritize quality over quantity, which left the UK with modern and expensive but fewer planes. He stressed that fixing the gaps in air capability is “a matter of urgency.”