Air Chief Marshal: Integrated Review 'A Great Mandate' To Make Technological 'Leap Forward'

With the Integrated Review arriving and promising dramatic change across all of the British Military, we asked the Air Chief Marshal how the RAF would change going forward.

With the Defence White Papers being published on Monday, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston told Forces News about the way the service is evolving to meet modern threats.

The RAF has always been very clear about its push to modernise its technology and the Air Chief Marshal said that the Integrated Review was another opportunity to do so.

"The Royal Air Force is changing a lot and it needs to change because the world around us is changing fast," he said.

"And, in particular, the threats we face and the behaviours of some states and non-state actors means that we are operating in a much more unstable, uncertain period.

"So for the Royal Air Force, change is an absolute necessity and the Integrated Review gives us a great mandate and the funding to make the leap forward we need to."

Reflecting on the speed of the change in the RAF, the Air Chief Marshal hailed the Typhoon as the "backbone" of any efforts to deliver lethal force for the next 20 years.

He also pointed to some of the upgrades the Prime Minister has already announced in the Integrated Review as significant advancements for the service.

raf typhoon aircrafts depart for a sortie with storm shadow cruise missiles over the middle east on operation shader 100321 credit mod
The Air Chief Marshal hailed the Typhoon as an essential part of the RAF for the next 20 years (Picture: MOD).

"The upgrade to the Typhoon radar will make an absolute game-changing advance in what the Typhoon is able to do because it will take it from a mechanical age to an electronic age and all the digital advantages there. 

"But the other really important investment that this Government has chosen to make, a strategic investment for the United Kingdom, is the Future Combat Air System.

"So the aircraft and the system of flying platforms that will replace Typhoon in about 20 years' time, that £6.6bn of research and development funds that have been ring-fenced, while the Tempest and the Future Combat Air System will be an essential part of that."

Air Chief Marshal Wigston also clarified the RAF's position regarding the continued use of F-35 fighter jets.

"The Government has stated clearly that it is our intention to buy 138 through the life of the programme, so we're going to be flying F-35s and buying F-35s, potentially, for decades," he said.

"It will be in service with HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales until at least the 2060s, so it will be entirely normal for us to have a progressive purchaser programme for those aircraft.

"At the moment we've got 48 on order, the Integrated Review has said that we will continue to build the Force, we need to build the Force to be able to operate from our carriers and from land bases.

"The F-35 is a fantastic aircraft which is game-changing in itself because of the technologies it brings.

"So I'm an absolute fan of it as a platform and we will continue to invest in it," he added.

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