Britain 'Unlikely to Reduce F-35 Order' Despite Budget Pressures
(Source: British Forces News; issued May 14, 2018)
Britain is unlikely to reduce the number of F-35 stealth fighter jets despite budget pressures, according to the aircraft's manufacturer.

The UK is set to buy 48 F-35 fighter jets, the world's most advanced warplane, by 2025. Yet the £9.1 billion programme has come under fire over capability and cost.

Politicians have publicly voiced their concern over the defence budget in recent weeks and the Modernising Defence Programme's capabilities are currently being reviewed.

Peter Ruddock, the chief of the company's UK arm, says he is "quietly confident" that the number of jets won't be reduced. He said: "I think if anyone was looking at where to make savings, the F-35 would be a long way up the list and maybe close to the top of the list.

"Therefore, I am quietly confident that we will see F-35 being delivered in the numbers that we anticipate for some time to come."

15 F-35s are currently being tested in the US ahead of flight trials off the £3.1 billion aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, later this year. Once returning to home soil, the F-35s will be based at RAF Marham in Norfolk.

The UK has so far committed to purchasing the F-35B, which uses a short takeoff and a vertical landing approach - meaning it can operate from both ships and bases.

Last Friday, the Public Accounts Committee warned that in a worst-case scenario, the UK armed forces could be £21 billion short of the money needed to buy equipment over the next decade.

MPs warned the Government that the department "simply does not have enough money to buy all the equipment it needs".

Mr Ruddock said Lockheed Martin was "respectful" of the position the MoD finds themselves in when asked whether the financial situation was a concern.

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