Select Committee on Defence Written Evidence

Annex A (continued)


  The Future Joint Combat Aircraft (FJCA)—formerly the Future Carrier Borne Aircraft (FCBA)—will replace the capability currently provided by the RN's Sea Harrier and the RAF's Harrier GR7/9 in the second decade of this century. The aircraft will be operated in a joint force, from both the new aircraft carriers and land bases, in the manner of the current Joint Force Harrier.

  The Secretary announced on 17 January 2001 that the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) had the best potential to meet the FJCA requirement. The UK accordingly joined the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) stage of the JSF programme as a Level 1 collaborative partner. On 26 October 2001 Lockheed Martin was selected as the prime contractor for the JSF programme, the UK having participated in the source selection process. On 30 September 2002 the Defence Secretary announced that the UK had selected the Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant to meet its FJCA requirement.

Operational Requirement

  The Future Carrier Borne Aircraft (FCBA) requirement was originally intended to provide the Royal Navy with a new multi-role fighter/attack aircraft to replace the Sea Harrier from about 2012. There has been no significant change to the requirement, in terms of the aircraft's capabilities, since the Staff Target was approved in 1996. The Strategic Defence Review (SDR), however, concluded that we should plan to replace Invincible class carriers with two new larger aircraft carriers and establish the Joint Force 2000 (since renamed Joint Force Harrier), comprising RN and RAF elements. Therefore the FCBA project, now restyled Future Joint Combat Aircraft (FJCA), envisaged a common aircraft to replace both the Sea Harrier FA2 and RAF Harrier GR7, capable of being deployed in both land and sea based operations.

  UK and US requirements are largely the same and UK staffs have participated in development of the JSF Joint Operational Requirements Document (JORD), which includes UK specific requirements.


  Trade-offs are an essential part of the procurement process in the JSF programme, using the "cost as an independent variable" process. This means that, in the evolution of requirements and design solutions, affordability is taken directly into account along with lethality, survivability and supportability. The initial JSF trade-off studies were completed in the autumn of 2000, in time to allow the competing prime contractors to include results in their respective SDD bids.


  The current UK planning assumption is for 150 Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft. Final numbers will depend on the outcome of ongoing work to confirm overall future offensive air capability requirements.

Strategic Defence Review

  The requirement for FCBA and other future fast jets was closely scrutinised in the SDR. The Joint Force 2000, now renamed Joint Force Harrier, arising from the SDR has brought all Naval and RAF Harrier squadrons under a unified command and control structure, with squadrons capable of operating from ashore or afloat as required. In addition, the SDR noted that the US JSF was a strong contender to meet our requirement for a Future Carrier Borne Aircraft.

Military Capability

  JSF is a single seat supersonic aircraft, incorporating advanced "stealth" technology, that is capable of performing multi-role (strike, reconnaissance and air defence) operations from aircraft carriers and land bases. Our analysis of the available options demonstrated that, on a through life basis, JSF should meet most cost-effectively our military requirements.

Equipment to be Replaced and In-Service Date

  Pre-SDR the FCBA was planned to succeed the Sea Harrier FA2 from 2012, and following the SDR, FJCA will also succeed Harrier GR7/9 from 2015. As a result of a new investment strategy to take forward Joint Force Harrier (JFH) into the era of FJCA and Future Carriers (CVF), we plan to increase the offensive capability of our carrier-borne aircraft by upgrading the Harrier GR7 to GR9 standard and withdrawing the Sea Harrier FA2 from service in the period 2004 to 2006. The FJCA in-service date remains defined as the ability to conduct sustained operations with 8 aircraft, and is currently planned for late 2012.

Acquisition Approach

  JSF is a collaborative programme, which runs to US procurement procedures. It could be considered to be in the Demonstration Phase of the Smart Procurement process. JSF Concept Demonstration was run on a competitive basis between consortia led by Boeing and Lockheed Martin under cost plus fixed fee (subject to maximum price) contracts placed by the US Government. The SDD contract is on a similar cost plus award fee basis. The US Government also has a contract on a similar basis with Pratt & Whitney for the development of the engine. UK industry is teamed with Lockheed-Martin and Pratt & Whitney. In addition to participation in the SDD phase, there will be work on national requirements. This will probably be undertaken through Lockheed-Martin for risk containment reasons but this has not yet been finally decided.

Alternative Acquisition Options

  Should the JSF programme fail to deliver a suitable STOVL aircraft a number of alternatives would need to be considered, but this would potentially have implications for factors such as cost and in-service date. A non-STOVL solution would also impact on the CVF programme. However, in selecting the Adaptable carrier design, we will be designing in the flexibility to adapt the warship if necessary at some point in the future, as circumstances dictate.


  The JSF programme is managed from a US Joint Project Office (JPO) in Washington, which has a total of about 150 staff, currently including 10 UK staff. There is no formal work-share agreement within the MoU for SDD, but a number of UK companies have competed successfully to win significant work with the US prime contractor. Seven other countries have now joined the JSF programme: Italy and the Netherlands as Level 2 Participants, and Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey as Level 3 Participants.

  Israel and Singapore have signed Letters of Intent (LoI) to become Security Co-operation Participants (SCP) in JSF. SCP status is a separate bilateral arrangement with the US and does not involve accession to the joint programme MOU.

   The eventual JSF production requirement, extending across the MOU participating nations, is at least 3,000 aircraft.

Export Potential

  JSF has a considerable potential to generate export opportunities including for UK industry. The entire JSF production run, including exports, will exceed 3,000 aircraft and may approach 5,000 aircraft, estimated to be worth some $400 billion.

Industrial Factors

  The industrial implications of the alternative solutions to the FJCA requirement were taken into account in determining the UK's choice of aircraft. UK participation as a full collaborative partner in the JSF programme represents a significant opportunity for UK industry. They have won, on merit, substantial high quality work and this is expected to continue in the future production and support phases of potentially the largest military procurement programme ever.

Smart Acquisition

  The JSF programme accords with Smart Acquisition principles. The joint US/UK programme office operates as an integrated project team, including close partnering arrangements between the programme office and the prime contractor, and operational staffs are contributing to the development of the requirement. The concept of "cost as an independent variable" is a further indicator of the iterative approach to the programme, as cost is seen as another "engineering parameter" against which potential technical solutions have to be measured and moderated if they produce unsatisfactory outcomes. The US programme made significant "front end" investment, as evinced by the Technical Maturation Program, a risk reduction measure to prove technology before it was offered to both companies for potential incorporation in their solutions. This early investment was also seen in the Concept Demonstration aircraft flown by both companies. In addition to proving flying qualities, those aircraft were used to prove various "lean manufacturing" techniques aimed at reducing both build and through life costs.

Acquisition Phases, Milestones and Costs

  (All figures expressed in resource terms at outturn prices, except where stated otherwise)

  The JSF Concept Demonstration Phase ended in October 2001. On 26 October 2001 Lockheed Martin was chosen as the contractor for the SDD phase of the JSF programme. SDD started in October 2001 and will last for some 11 years. UK entered the SDD phase as a full collaborative partner with the US, having participated in the selection of Lockheed Martin as the US prime contractor. The purpose of the SDD phase is to mature, complete and evaluate the detailed design of the aircraft and to integrate key equipment prior to Manufacture. The Manufacture phase for UK aircraft is likely to commence in 2008.

  Some £143 million had been spent by the end of 2001-02 on the UK's contribution to the US JSF Concept Demonstration Phase and UK Feasibility Studies. The current estimated cost of the Demonstration phase is £2.32 billion, against an approval of £2.36 billion. The UK SDD contribution to the US in cash terms under the MOU remains at $2 billion, which equates to £1.4 billion using current mandated exchange rate assumptions. This contribution will be paid over an 11 year period beginning from October 2001.

  Overall numbers, which have yet to be determined, will drive the cost of the programme. It is currently estimated to be in the region of £7-10 billion.

In-Service Support

  Support arrangements are currently being examined, including the desirable extent of collaborative support and the role of industry in direct support. Detailed plans for the transition from the current Harrier fleet to FJCA will be formulated nearer the time.

Front Line, Storage and Reserves

  The numbers have yet to be determined, but the planning assumption is 150 aircraft.


  JSF STOVL will offer good interoperability with the US and the other NATO allies who buy JSF. It will also be designed to be fully interoperable with legacy UK systems.

Disposal of Equipment Replaced

  Disposal has yet to be considered. But the aircraft may be of interest to existing overseas STOVL customers, although the aircraft are likely to have a limited useful life remaining.

In-Service Life

  FJCA is planned to have a 30-year service life.

Development Potential

  It is too early to comment on the potential options for the further development, update or use of JSF.

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