F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program: UK Update

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Rafale-M carrier launch(click to view full) The UK is the only Tier 1 F-35 partner aside from the USA, and with other participants wobbling and EU-related political pressures trying to pry members away, Britain’s ongoing participation matters a great deal to the program. As such, the escalating kerfuffle around technology transfer restrictions, F136 engine program cancellations and side steps, and escalating rumbles of discontent in Parliament have wider significance. At present, Britain is slated to buy 150 F-35B STOVL (Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing) fighters for use by the Royal Navy on its carriers et. al., complementing the RAF’s Eurofighters and possibly an upgraded set of Tornado GR4 strike fighters to form its fighter fleet from 2015-2030. Britain and France announced their formal cooperation on their next-generation CVF/PA2 carriers. While negotiating that agreement in late January on Britain’s desired terms, however, Britain had another agreement offered – and promised to give it due consideration. Enter Plan B… Plan A: CVF + JSF(click to view full) The Euroskeptic blog EU Referendum points to (and has scanned images of) a March 26, 2006 story in The Financial Mail, noting that the “unexpected verbal offer” to buy “up to 150” carrier-capable Rafale-M jets “came […]

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