The boards at PPrune are overheating concerning a weekend Times report that the UK is considering the early retirement of the Harrier short take-off, vertical landing attack aircraft.
The reason for this move - which seems at least to be a high-level trial balloon - appears to be to save money in response to the financial crisis and Treasury calls for spending cuts. Current plans call for the Harriers, RAF aircraft but jointly used by the RAF and Navy, to fly until 2018. The first of the RN's new aircraft carriers should go to sea in 2014 with the Harrier, with the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter entering UK service at the same time as the second carrier.
However, this apparently will require more life-extension work on the Harrier airframe. According to the Times report, RAF chief of staff Air Marshal Sir Glen Torpy has advocated retiring the Harrier and using the money to support the RAF's Typhoon force. The Harrier has always been controversial within the RAF, with a strain of rivalry between the "puffer jet" pilots and the more conventional fast jets.
At the same time, plans are also being floated to slip the carrier program by two years - so the Harriers would not be needed for the first ship, and the UK would in any event have to accept a gap during which it has no sea-based fighters. (At the moment, it doesn't have any: the Harrier force is committed in Afghanistan, and will require some time to retrain and regroup after it's relieved by Tornados next year.) But some over at Pprune clearly see a trend towards eliminating the carriers, and JSF, completely in favor of land-based air.