UK Defence Committee Continues Questions RE: CVF, F-35
DID has put together a focus briefing on the British CVF future carrier program, and covered both its growing ITAR-related quarrel with the USA and the potential for a British pullout from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program. From the UK House of Commons Defence Committee release:
“Providing the Navy with the ‘carrier strike’ capability is expected to cost some GBP 31 billion (whole life costs), including some GBP 12 billion of procurement costs. The key programmes are the two new aircraft carriers and up to 150 new carrier borne aircraft – the Joint Strike Fighter [DID: F-35B STOVL]. It is possible that neither the carriers nor the aircraft will be delivered on time, or, crucially, at the same time, and the Committee says MoD and the Royal Navy must make plans for bridging any gap that may emerge…
On the aircraft, the programme is being led by the US. It has experienced problems which must be monitored closely. The Committee is concerned that the UK should get all the information and access to technology from the US that it requires to have ‘sovereign capability’ – the ability to maintain the JSF aircraft and undertake future upgrades independently. If not, the UK might need to look at other aircraft to operate from the carriers…”
The report deals with a number of issues, from chafing at the project management strategy being adopted, to management of the “alliance approach” to construction and design, the possibility of deeper French involvement in the CVF program, plus cost and schedule issues. The F-35 program is also dealt with in depth. Read the full release, and also the full December 21, 2005 report [or see PDF].
UPDATE: Meanwhile, eDefense Online’s blog has its own assessment of the F-35 JSF situation. Their take? Tensions are real, but a serious rift is unlikely. Follow the link to find out why they think so.