General Hints at Cuts to F-35 Warplane Order (excerpt)
(Source: The Times; published Nov 22, 2017)
By Deborah Haynes
Britain signalled for the first time yesterday that it may shrink an ambition to buy 138 F-35 warplanes because of budget constraints.
Officials at the Ministry of Defence also refused to give an estimate for the total cost of the multibillion-pound F-35 Lightning II programme, which Britain has been committed to alongside the US since 2001.
Lieutenant-General Mark Poffley, who oversees UK military capability, indicated some sympathy with a suspicion voiced by MPs that the jet order would go the same way as plans to buy 12 Type 45 warships, which ended up at half that number because of funding shortfalls.
However, any decision on reducing the fast-jet fleet, a move that would go down badly with the US, would not be taken until there was a better understanding of the cost to support and operate the aircraft, General Poffley told the defence select committee. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on The Times website.
Impossible to Predict Costs of F-35 and Numbers May Fall, MPs Hear (excerpt)
(Source: Daily Telegraph; published Nov 21, 2017)
By Ben Farmer
Rising costs may force the Ministry of Defence to cut its planned order of 138 stealth jets, officials have suggested for the first time.
MPs on the Commons defence committee heard it was impossible to accurately forecast the costs of the F-35 programme. As costs become clearer as they enter service, the MoD would “make adjustments in our programme accordingly”. (…/…)
The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review declared Britain would “maintain our plan to buy 138 F35 Lightning aircraft” over the coming decades. (…/…)
Britain has already signed a contract for the first batch of 48, which are estimated to cost £9.1bn by 2025, including support such as training and maintenance.
But Stephen Lovegrove, Permanent Secretary, said it would be “imprudent” and “misleading” to give an estimate for the cost of the rest.
Mark Francois MP, a former defence minister, said the failure to give a figure for costs was “extraordinary” and the public would be “pretty shocked”. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Telegraph website.