A pair of F-35B Lightning II jets on the flight deck during Queen Elizabeth II's visit to HMS Queen Elizabeth at HM Naval Base, Portsmouth
Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon, the former head of the RAF, said: “I think the RAF would be hard pressed to field 100 Typhoons fully battleworthy in a major conflict.
“It’s a very good aeroplane and it’s doing a cracking job.
“But it’s being asked to cover everything from the Falklands to the Baltics to the Middle East.
“That’s not even counting their primary duty of defending and securing UK airspace.”
F-35B Lightning II jets during a rehearsal for the official coronation flypast, at RAF College Cranwell, Sleaford, Lincolnshire
Admiral Lord West, the former head of the navy, added: “Do you see the American carriers running around with a few on board? They have their aircraft carriers full. It’s a carrier deck packed with aircraft that terrifies people. That’s what makes Putin nervous.”
An MoD spokeswoman said: “The number of aircraft deployed on the carrier is decided by a variety of operational factors including the anticipated threat, aircraft needed for the deployment task and the requirement to continue to train personnel at RAF Marham to expand the Lightning force.
“This year UK F-35s have been exercising with Nato, US and European partners and have deployed once more on our aircraft carriers.
“We remain committed to growing the F-35 fleet with more to be delivered this year.”