Bloomberg News

U.K. Still Planning for Carrier Strike Planes by 2020, MoD Says

January 26, 2012

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- The U.K. is continuing to plan for the delivery of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in 2020, defense procurement minister Peter Luff said.

The U.K. is among the partner nations in the jet and still intends to use it on two new aircraft carriers it is building, Luff said. The Times newspaper reported today that the Royal Navy is considering buying Dassault Aviation SA’s Rafale M instead because of delays and increased costs, citing a note of a speech by Admiral Trevor Soar, the fleet commander.

“We continue to plan on delivery of Joint Combat Aircraft capability coherently with the carrier from 2020 as noted in the Strategic Defense and Security Review,” Luff said in an e- mailed statement.

The MoD will take delivery of the first aircraft for test and evaluation this year and is committed to buying the carrier variant of the F-35, a defense ministry spokeswoman said in a telephone interview. The U.K. is confident the U.S. defense review will not affect the U.K.’s plans, she said.

Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said on Jan. 5 that he was reassured about the project after meetings at the Pentagon.

“What I’ve heard today is reassuring on that score,” Hammond said in an interview. “We’ve had a confirmation of an in-service date for the carrier variant.”

ADS, a trade group promoting U.K. aerospace, defense, security and space industries that hosted Soar’s speech, posted a statement on its website saying that comments about the fighter had been incorrectly attributed to the admiral.

--Editors; Andrew Atkinson, Eddie Buckle

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Penny in London at tpenny@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net


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