12/12/2006

UK signs up for next phase of Joint Strike Fighter programme

Defence Minister Lord Drayson has signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the next phase of the Joint Strike Fighter programme, the government has announced.

Lord Drayson signed the MoU following a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of Defence Gordon England in Washington D.C.

JSF is a stealthy, multi-role combat aircraft, which will be a key component of the UK's expeditionary capability, operating from the future carriers, for decades to come.

The MoU sets out the framework for purchasing JSF and supporting and upgrading it through life. It also provides for the pooling of the partner nations' collective buying power in a common support solution, and of their resources and technology in follow-on development. It does not, however, formally commit the UK to buying any aircraft. The UK's increase in financial commitment at this stage is £34 million.

UK companies are closely involved with the programme - over 100 companies have already won development contracts and will now be able to compete for work in the next phase. The expected value of work for the UK is over $29 billion.

Lord Drayson said: "After an excellent meeting with Gordon England, I am delighted to be able to sign this MoU which will take the UK into the next phase of the JSF programme. I have always been clear that the UK would only sign if we were satisfied that we would have operation sovereignty over our aircraft. I have today received the necessary assurances from the US on technology transfer to allow me to sign the MoU.

"This signature reflects our continuing commitment to providing our Armed Forces with battle-winning equipment; to procuring and supporting that equipment in the most cost-effective way; and to enhancing the UK's ability to operate effectively with our international partners."

(KMcA/EF)




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