Wednesday, February 22, 2012

UK Minister: Rise in Cost of F-35 Fighters 'Unknown'

08:59 GMT, February 22, 2012 The British Government "doesn't know" how much the price of new aircraft carrier fighter jets will rise because of cancellations abroad. Defence Equipment Minister Peter Luff told the Commons order changes from other countries would have "implications" for the price of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF).

The Lockheed Martin-built jets are due to be purchased to fly from the UK's Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers which are currently under construction.

Speaking during Defence Questions in the Commons, shadow defence minister Alison Seabeck said: "What is the intention around the F-35 programme, in particular given rumoured reductions in orders from the USA, Australia and Canada?

"Do you expect the price of each F-35 to rise and have you taken a view on exactly the point at which they become unaffordable?"

Mr Luff replied: "The honest answer is we don't know. The Americans are not reducing the total numbers of JSF but changing the profile of those purchases. Other partner nations are indicating they are going to reduce their actual off take.

"This is likely to have implications for JSF prices particularly in the early stages which is when this country intends to procure its (fighters).

"There are implications, we are watching them very carefully and I'm happy to talk to you separately about the implications for the UK." (BFBS)

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