Can't see the problem. They've got 252 of the damn things anyway and the JSF should be only 5 years away by the time the first 50 are binned. It just proves what a White Elephant the whole project was/is.
This article relates to the initial Tranche 1 Typhoons which were realistically always going to be converted for spares fairly rapidly. They were effectively an interim standard very different to the Tranche 2 and definitive Tranche 3 Typhoons now being delivered. Likewise, Tornado F2s were all ditched within a few years of delivery in the late 80s once the F3s came off the production line.
Tranche 3 are the most capable which inevitably all the export customers want. Saudi had a load diverted from the RAF and now Oman is being offered the same deal with spares and training capacity also being offered up as an incentive by HMG.
The UK originally ordered 232 Typhoons but only 160 have been committed to (53 Tranche 1s, 67 Tranche 2s and 40 Tranche 3As). It is likely that we’ll end up with a fleet of around 80 Typhoon once SDSR and PR11/12… have run their course.
If we get F-35 at all, I can't see us having more than 50 whether they be RAF, RN or Joint.
Define operational theatre. Has it been employed in an operational role? Yes in terms of UK QRA(I) (intercepting Russian Bears and Blackjacks) and Falklands AD. It's also been deployed to Iceland on NATO AD tasks. Thankfully, it's not yet fired any weapons!
It was originally planned to have deployed to Afghanistan by now. The fact it hasn't is, contrary to popular belief, not down to any inherent lack of A-G or recce capability. Indeed, FACs working it in training and trials have been very positive about the type in the CAS role. Rather the premature run down of the Tornado F3 fleet, coupled with a slower than expected delivery of Typhoons to the RAF (due to the export factors mentioned previously) has forced the type to be employed almost exclusively on AD.
However, the Tiff is cleared for EPW, PWIV, cannon and Litening III now.
As this aeroplane is supposed to be in service for 25+ years, 80 aren't going to go very far when you factor in fatigue life, deep maintenance and normal peacetime attrition. We seem very confident that there will be no international nastiness over that period.