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Who’s Buying the F-35?

[ 9 ] September 29, 2008 |

The United Kingdom is considering pulling out of the F-35 project:

BRITAIN is considering pulling out of a £9 billion project with America to produce the new Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft, intended to fly off the Royal Navy’s forthcoming aircraft carriers.

The move is part of an increasingly desperate attempt to plug a £1.5 billion shortfall in the defence budget. The RAF’s 25 new Airbus A400 transport aircraft could also be at risk.

Studies have now been commissioned to analyse whether Eurofighters could be adapted to fly off the carriers.

Since the Typhoon doesn’t have a VSTOL (vertical/short take off landing) variant, this would seem to require a slight redesign of Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales, the Royal Navy’s two proposed super-carriers. Those carriers are large enough to operate fixed-wing aircraft, but weren’t initially expected to have catapults and arrestor gear. If the British dump the F-35, arrestor wires will need to become part of the design.

Of course, since the F-35B (the VSTOL variant) apparently only has three weapons bays (compared to eight for the Typhoon), this may not be such a terrible thing. This also comes on the heels of a major computer simulation that seemed to demonstrate that the F-35 was hopelessly outmatched by the Russian Su-35. Then again, that simulation may have been rigged in favor the Su-35, such that the Air Force could argue for more F-22s. Bill Sweetman has more details on that particular possibility.

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Comments (9)

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  1. Just An Australian says:

    yah. Why spend all that money one things like fighter planes. What do they do for tax payers?
    Far better to spend them on important things. Like bailing out banks whose fat cat bosses pay themselves huge bonuses while running them into the ground.

  2. monkey.dave says:

    Maybe those F-35s will be useful on the new aircraft carriers that Adam Yoshida is going to build for Canada.

  3. Brad says:

    Is this going to save any money? The UK has no ability to operate off a carrier without V/STOL and the carrier will have to be redesigned.
    Is the thinking that this will push back the costs (training will be in the future and the carrier delivery dates are in 6-8 years)?
    It is sad how insipid the F35B. I pity the Marines.

  4. anthony says:

    It’s true, all funding decisions here in Australia come down to a choice between jet fighters or bailing out fat cat bosses. The last spending trilemma included the option of purchasing a suitable barbie in lieu of borrowing Bazza’s.
    Oh and the answer is WE ARE! Do you like us yet America? Do you? Say you do. We bought your tanks too!

  5. rea says:

    You wouldn’t really expect a flying Swiss Army knife like the F-35 to match up well against a purpose built heavy fighter like the Su-35, would you? Particularly not in its VSTOL form.

  6. ajay says:

    shorter rea: of course the JSF is a mediocre air superiority aircraft. That’s because it’s also a mediocre ground-attack aircraft.

  7. Uncle Kvetch says:

    The move is part of an increasingly desperate attempt to plug a £1.5 billion shortfall in the defence budget.
    Fascinating. There’s actually a country where people can seriously discuss whether a given piece of military hardware can actually be afforded. I guess their generals aren’t walking talking human deities like our American ones are.

  8. Brad says:

    Hey everyone, the problem is solved. Israel is buying!
    I think that is called using one part of the budget to plug a hole in another.

  9. Fred says:

    Good riddance. I believe the F35 is going to be a financial dinosaur by .the time it becomes available. The 2 ‘new’ carriers for the RN have already been designed for catapult launch systems to be installed (if needed)
    Have a read of the various articles in http://www.Ausairpower.net. The authors don’t exactly pull their punches when writing about the F35-not the sort of info you’d find in a Lockheed marketing brochure!The RN would be better off with a mix of Super Hornets and ‘Growler’ aircraft because they’re proven and available now. The first carrier we get will apparently! be available in 2014 but the first squadron of F35′s won’t be available until 2016! Brilliant planning as usual.Also, although the Australian ‘brass’ want to get their hands on the F35 I hope they’re aware that export versions of the F35 may not be as stealthy as the homegrown versions.Stealth these days is becoming more of a marketing ploy especially since Czech aerospace companies have built a radar system that can ‘see’ the ‘hole’ in the sky caused by the supposedly stealthy aircraft. Another point I read was that because the F35 only has one engine there will not be the electrical power available for the latest EW systems to be included

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