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 contractBoeing
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
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.