Select Committee on Defence Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 1

Letter to the Chairman of the Committee from the Secretary of State for Defence on Joint Strike Fighter

(26 October 2001)

JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER

  I announced in January that the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) had been selected as having the best potential to meet our Future Joint Combat Aircraft (FJCA) requirement to replace the capability provided by Joint Force Harrier. Liz Symons signed a Memorandum of Understanding, covering our eventual participation in the next stage of the JSF programme, the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase, at a cost of $2 billion (equalling £1.4 billion). In addition to the UK operational and NATO interoperability benefits offered by JSF, participation was seen as attracting a significant degree of UK industrial involvement in the two US prime contractor teams competing for the EMD contract—Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

  Since January, MOD officials have been closely involved with the US in selecting the winner of the EMD contract. That process is now complete. The decision is to award the contract to Lockheed Martin. The decision was announced at a joint US/UK press conference in Washington today. UK industry stands to gain substantial benefits from the decision. It is estimated that, against the £1.4 billion cost to the MOD of EMD participation, UK companies could secure work worth £3 billion during this phase, the significant proportion of which will be undertaken in the UK. Work in relation to downstream aircraft production and support activities could amount to £24 billion for UK companies, the majority again being in the UK.

  On the employment front, the company estimates that up to 3,500 jobs could be sustained or created in the EMD phase, rising to 8,500 or more in the later production or support phases. Overseas sales of the aircraft will provide additional industrial opportunities.

  In addition to the EMD work, some £600 million will be spent on meeting UK requirements not covered within the collaborative effort.

  With the industrial way ahead now clear, an important decision will be whether we should choose the Short Take Off/Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of JSF or the Carrier Variant (CV). Completion of our option analysis on this is due next Spring, to support Future Aircraft Carrier programme milestones. Studies are also being undertaken to determine the number of aircraft we should buy.

  Participation in what is likely to prove the largest military acquisition programme in history is a positive step from the UK operational and procurement viewpoints. The recent tragic events in the US, together with the action that has been necessary as a consequence, serve to underline the importance of close UK/US co-operation in JSF and other fields.



 
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