UKMOD announces change of Joint Striker Fighter jet

Defence Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond has announced that plans to deliv­er Car­ri­er Strike capa­bil­i­ty will now be exe­cut­ed using a dif­fer­ent type of Joint Strike Fight­er (JSF) jet than was planned.

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Philip Ham­mond, Sec­re­tary of State for Defence [Pic­ture: Har­land Quar­ring­ton, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
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Here you can find more infor­ma­tion about the UK Defense Sec­tor

The MOD will move away from the Car­ri­er Vari­ant (CV) JSF and our Armed Forces will instead oper­ate the short take-off and ver­ti­cal land­ing (STOVL) vari­ant.

Even with this change in JSF jet type, the MOD’s plan to deliv­er Car­ri­er Strike in 2020, as a key part of Future Force 2020, is still on sched­ule.

Speak­ing at the House of Com­mons this morn­ing, Mr Ham­mond out­lined the rea­sons this deci­sion has been made. They includ­ed:

  • stick­ing with the Car­ri­er Vari­ant would delay Car­ri­er Strike by at least three years to 2023 at the ear­li­est;
  • the cost of fit­ting cat­a­pults and arrestor gear (‘cats and traps’) to the Queen Eliz­a­beth Class car­ri­ers to oper­ate CV air­craft has dou­bled from around £1bn to £2bn; and
  • the STOVL air­craft offers the UK the abil­i­ty to have an air­craft car­ri­er avail­able con­tin­u­ous­ly. Although no deci­sion on bud­get­ing for crew and sup­port costs will be tak­en until the next Strate­gic Defence and Secu­ri­ty Review (SDSR) in 2015, the sec­ond car­ri­er would be able to pro­vide capa­bil­i­ty while the first ves­sel is in main­te­nance.

See Relat­ed Links to read Mr Hammond’s state­ment in full.

The STOVL air­craft has made sig­nif­i­cant progress since the SDSR was pub­lished over 18 months ago and the US Marine Corps has con­duct­ed suc­cess­ful STOVL flights from their ships.

The UK will receive the first STOVL air­craft this sum­mer and, as HMS Queen Eliz­a­beth is due to arrive for sea tri­als in ear­ly 2017, UK STOVL flight tri­als will begin off the car­ri­er from 2018.

“Car­ri­er Strike with ‘cats and traps’ using the Car­ri­er Vari­ant jet no longer rep­re­sents the best way of deliv­er­ing Car­ri­er Strike and I am not pre­pared to tol­er­ate a three-year fur­ther delay to rein­tro­duc­ing our Car­ri­er Strike capa­bil­i­ty.”

Philip Ham­mond

The SDSR stat­ed that we want­ed to devel­op joint mar­itime task groups with our allies. Through the adop­tion of the STOVL air­craft, the UK will ben­e­fit from full inter­op­er­abil­i­ty with the US Marine Corps and the Ital­ian Navy — both of which oper­ate the STOVL air­craft.

Mr Ham­mond said:

“The 2010 SDSR deci­sion on car­ri­ers was right at the time, but the facts have changed and there­fore so too must our approach. This gov­ern­ment will not blind­ly pur­sue projects and ignore cost growth and delays.

“Car­ri­er Strike with ‘cats and traps’ using the Car­ri­er Vari­ant jet no longer rep­re­sents the best way of deliv­er­ing Car­ri­er Strike and I am not pre­pared to tol­er­ate a three-year fur­ther delay to rein­tro­duc­ing our Car­ri­er Strike capa­bil­i­ty.

“This announce­ment means we remain on course to deliv­er Car­ri­er Strike in 2020 as a key part of our Future Force 2020.”

Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen­er­al Sir David Richards, said:

“Our Armed Forces have a suc­cess­ful his­to­ry of oper­at­ing short take-off and ver­ti­cal land­ing air­craft and our pilots are already fly­ing tri­als in this vari­ant of the Joint Strike Fight­er along­side our US allies.

“These stealth air­craft will be the most advanced fast jets our Armed Forces have ever oper­at­ed and I know they will do so with the great­est skill and pro­fes­sion­al­ism.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK