Defence giant and Bristol employer BAE Systems is set to play a full part in the Joint Strike Fighter programme after coming to a breakthrough agreement with the US over the transfer of technology. The company has signed an agreement under the US Amendment 8 rule that means it will now be easier for BAE to be given sensitive military technology, such as software codes that control aircraft systems.
As a result BAE, which employs about 600 people in Bristol from its Filton site, can now move forward with working on key systems and components for the high-tech combat plane in its capacity of full partner on the project.
Yesterday a BAE spokesman said the agreement would ease the path but that different types of technology would be subject to discussion as they came up. He said: “It is a process that will continue in the future. As we reach places where the transfer of technology becomes an issue, then those issues need to be brought forward and worked out. This is neither the be all nor the end all, but merely a step along the way.”
Earlier this year Sir Richard Evans, chairman of BAE, was reported to have warned that Britain could lose control of the ability to upgrade and maintain its own fleet of JSF planes because the US was unwilling to transfer technology.
Also this year US legislators tried to pass laws through Congress that would have placed further restrictions on the purchase of defence equipment from non-US suppliers.
In all, 3,000 of the planes are set to be bought by the UK and the US, in a programme that will be worth 200 billion (£116 billion).
Technology that allows short distance take-offs and vertical landing has been developed for the plane by Rolls-Royce in Patchway.