It has been obvious, at least since the Gulf War in 1991, that in most likely combats ground attack is vital and dogfights more or less a thing of the past. Yet the government persisted with a policy that created this enormous hole in the RAF’s capability.
James Hamilton Patterson's magnificent Empire of the Clouds – how Britain lost its once great aircraft industry – reminds me that we’ve been her before. In 1945, the government decided that no new fighter plane would be needed till 1957. Within 5 years they were fighting the Korean War and had to buy 428 (yes 428!) Canadian-made versions of the US F86 Sabre. There followed an appalling tale of cancelled projects, every botch-up unimaginable, from then on, up to the Typhoon disaster.
Perhaps naming the Eurofighter Typhoon was a jinx? The first Typhoon, the Hawker plane of the second half of WW2 was a fearsome ground attack plane, wreaking havoc on German lines after D Day. Admittedly, the original Typhoon was also designed as an interceptor and adapted but that was easier in the days of string and sealing wax. Today, if you want a ground-attack plane it is better to design one.