It’s a mess: Heavy flight training leaves the UK without F-35 pilots
LONDON ($1=0.87 GBP) — Britain continues to find problem after problem with its air defenses. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that just recently an investigation revealed the participation of British pilots in the training of Chinese pilots. They were supposed to train their “Chinese employers” how to handle a dogfight with their Western counterparts.
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China and Taiwan are slowly but surely getting closer to war every single day. The poaching of British pilots from Peking burned the dignity of the Royal Air Force. Britain is an ally and long-time partner of the US, and it is assumed that in the event of a military conflict in the East China Sea, London will stand closely behind Washington.
It was the “hunt” of British pilots that sparked an investigation within the Royal Air Force. And now a new problem has appeared – there are F-13 fighters, but there are no pilots for them. “It’s a mess,” said British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace. Wallace announced RAF is in a challenging environment that is challenged by parts of the novelty of the F-35 Lightning aircraft. Britain has 20 “spare” F-35 fighters and no pilots for them, Wallace points out.
The mess Wallace is talking about is somewhere in the bureaucracy, somewhere in the cumbersome administrative work. Today, a pilot actually has to wait up to eight years to qualify for training. Years ago, London’s plans were completely different – two or three years maximum had to wait. Delays, a heavy flight schedule — all things that haven’t changed since Wallace 2019 ordered the Air Force chief to fix those problems. Alas, that didn’t happen. Wallace stated, “Our pilot pipeline is not where I would like it to be.”
The F-35 Lightning is a vital fighter for the Royal Air Force. And despite everything, there are problems not only in education. The Royal Air Force planned to purchase 138 fighters, but in reality, there are currently 27 units. I.e. the training program is so heavy, the bureaucratic machinery so unwieldy, that seven RAF fighters have “their tamers” and 20 stand by hoping to feel the thrust under their wings.
The issue of British pilots training Chinese pilots may seem insignificant against the background of the Kingdom’s internal problems. Turns out it’s not just time and laziness that’s a problem. There are defective aircraft and a lack of instructors.
British television channel SkyNews has obtained memos from the Air Force which show that Hawke’s Rolls-Royce engines are showing a problem. This is extremely important to the researched problem since it is at the Hawk that new pilots are trained.
It’s taxpayers’ money
The delay in graduating new pilots is having a serious impact on Britain’s airworthiness. If this continues, the crews of the front-line Typhoon and F-35 squadrons will face increasing difficulties. And if the peak of these difficulties turns out to be the “perfect storm” between the US and China – the problem will turn into a frighteningly intractable one.
Last but not least – pilot leakage. In the private industry, the conditions are better, more favorable to the families of the pilots, and more reliable. It cannot be overlooked that, according to some sources, more people are wanting to leave the Royal Air Force than people are wanting to join the service.
After all, it’s taxpayers’ money. The Royal Air Force must resolve a staffing problem to ensure the safety of British citizens.
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