LONDON --- The UK has held initial discussions with Sweden about collaborating on a future fighter jet, as it prepares to reveal a long-awaited combat air strategy at the Farnborough air show later this month.
As part of the strategy, the government is expected to commit to launching a next-generation fighter programme by 2020 in a sign of its post-Brexit ambitions to retain cutting-edge combat air expertise.
The strategy, which is expected to set out a timeline for awarding a firm manufacturing contract by 2020, has yet to be given final cabinet approval. But it aims to deliver a strong signal to potential international partners that the UK is determined to press ahead with such a programme, despite being left out of a Franco-German future fighter project last year.
The statement is expected to set out the criteria for international collaboration, stressing that the UK intends to play a leading design role in any partnership to develop a fighter to replace the Typhoon jet from 2040. Sweden — whose defence flagship, Saab, makes the Gripen combat aircraft — has indicated its potential interest and would be a natural partner, according to several sources.
A ministry of defence spokesperson said: “The combat air strategy will be launched to ensure Britain maintains a world-leading combat air capability.” (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: That the UK is in talks with Sweden on the next-generation combat aircraft is only prudent.
It also is talking with France and Germany, because contrary to what is reported above it has not been “shut out” of the French-German initiative but simply has not been given a seat at the top table.
That said, there is room in Europe for both a lightweight, possibly single-engine fighter for simpler missions such as air police, interception and anti-ship strike and a heavier, twin-engined fighter for more complex missions, in addition to an armed unmanned aircraft to assist both.)