UK & World News
Government's Major U-Turn On New Strike Jets
The Defence Secretary has announced a U-turn over Britain's new fighter jets for the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers because of "unacceptable cost growth and project delays".
Philip Hammond said ministers were reverting to plans by the former Labour government to acquire the jump-jet version of the US-built F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, of which there are three versions.
Britain had been looking at two for its carriers - the F-35B jump-jet version and the F-35C catapult-launched version.
While both can operate from aircraft carriers, the catapult-launched version had been the coalition's favourite as it has a greater range and can carry more munitions.
The B version carries about a third less fuel to make room for its vertical flight system.
The C type has been chosen by the US Navy and the French navy, which means the UK's F-35s should have been inter-operable with its allies.
But ministers have now opted for the F-35B jump-jet variant.
The cost of fitting the necessary catapults and arrester gear - "cats and traps" - to one of the Royal Navy's aircraft carriers is reported to have spiralled, making the C variant too expensive.
Mr Hammond told the Commons the costs of fitting the "cats and traps" had more than doubled to £2bn since the time of the Strategic Defence Security Review, adding that the Government would "not blindly pursue projects and ignore cost growth and delays".
He said delays to the F-35C programme meant they would have not been operational until 2023 - three years later than planned.
Mr Hammond told MPs: "Carrier strike with 'cats and traps' using the carrier variant jet no longer represents the best way of delivering carrier strike and I am not prepared to tolerate a three-year further delay to reintroducing our carrier strike capability.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."
The decision is an embarrassment for David Cameron, who strongly criticised the original decision by Labour to choose the short take-off and vertical landing jump-jet.
Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said the Government's "chaotic" handling of its carrier policy totally undermined its credibility on defence.
"This is a personal humiliation for David Cameron who will to return to Labour's policy, which he previously condemned," he said.
"This is a strategically vital element of the equipment programme on which our security and thousands of jobs depend.
"Yet ministers have treated it with hubristic incompetence, wasting hundreds of millions at a time of painful defence cuts."
Sky News' security and defence editor Sam Kiley said: "Essentially what has happened is that this has been a U-turn on a Government U-turn."
He added: "To be fair to the Government, two years ago the jump-jet version was looking as though it might not even work but recent tests, particularly of the version being sold to the British, are now going very well, so the decision has been taken to basically shelve the bad decision and go back to what might actually work.
"The good news for the Royal Navy is the jump-jet version means that the two new aircraft carriers can come into service."
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what do you think?
Should have kept Chatham Dockyard open, we used to maintain flight deck equipment. 30 years ago. Lucky the only invasion is by foreign people not thier soldiers.
They are soldiers alright, it's a stealth attack.
Why is it an embarassment for Cameron that the Labour Government left him with no money to spend on new military hardware?
He prefers to give the money to African and Asian dictators.
You fool, of course it's embarrasing for the pratt that is cameron, if we have no money now, as you claim, we're going to be a lot less well off, the cost now building these aircraft will have almost doubled since the more intelligent Labour Government decided to order the aircraft two years ago and Cameron then decided to try and humiliate Labour with his amazing knowledge of aircraft. The best part of all tories went down their fathers leg or were wiped on the curtains
Intelligent contribution there...
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Presumably this means that we can land and take off our jump jets on US and French carriers, but they cannot land on or take off from our carriers with their more conventional jets due to our lack of a catapult. (Our carriers were originally designed for a catapult and arrestor gear so I don't know why Bae wanted so much more money to install the facilities probably they saw it as a means of raking in more dosh).
The final design dispensed with the catapults.
Yet another about turn on "Knee-jerk" policies blurted out with obviously no rational thought involved!
Now there's an idea - jump jets. Don't we have some in moth balls somewhere? And why are we buying foreign when the design was British in the first place. But no we have no defence industry to speak of any more. I dispair, will politicians not learn anything from history?
Spot on, but we sold off our Harriers to the USMC for spares, while the Sea Harriers were broken up by the last government. The ideal would be a new build of Sea Harriers with the engine of the GR9 Harrier, but no. As you say, will politicians ever learn anything from history?
The decision has been forced on the government because no one had the sense to realise that the carriers were not design for cats and traps in the first p[lace, and retrofitting would cost the earth, even for the untried electromagnetic cats. That said, the F-35B is having problems, as is the F-35C which can't catch the arrester wires. The F-35B has less fuel capacity because of the lift fan - a concept which was dismissed by the UK in favour of the thrust-vectoring Harrier and Sea Harrier, a concept that actually works very well. We have sold our remaioning Harriers at scrap price to the USMC for spares!
I know a bit about this but i refer to you on this question - why do cats and traps represent an extra £1bn? How on earth are they so expensive? I realise they are more high-tech than WW2 or even 80's kit but surely the core design remains the same?
In this day and age of global conflict,to me a mere layman,jump jets are the only option for british carrier based aircraft.You would have thought that sombody in the mod would have given this their first consideration,after all,dont fix what isn`t broke.The harrier proved itself,time and time over in a variety of battle conditions,both on land and at sea.The USMC are desperate to hold on to them,what does that tell you?
Bring back the Sopwith Camel !!
The decline of Britain's armed force continues to be steep and steady, in line with the decline of our nation. Lions led by donkeys.
The Labour government committed to building two carriers at 18 billion each with no cat launch system on the basis it would use 30 year old and now obsolete Harriers with no stealth capability. But hey, whats 36 billion of our money when it was useful for buying Labour votes in the dock area near to Gordon Brown's constituency.
successive governments have all but killed our aerospace industries so we have to source from the USA. The Harrier replacement will be far superior we are told...when we get them in 2023 if at all. Meanwhile we have little in the way of quick reaction forces which is where our Harrier strike force was so needed. Unfortunately we sold them for a pittance to the USA who realise their true value. We are now relying on a land based machine (Typhoon) which requires runways and loads of logistical support and can't react to a crisis as quickly as the harriers could., so what will we do between now and 2023 if Argentina or anyone else tries to lay claim on our territories. Thats if we even have a viable armed force by then.
Another Ministry of Disaster goat ****!
And the SE5A bobh_385
It's enough to make yer sphericals change places
Think i read somewhere the F-35 series was jointly developed between the US and UK. As with Eurofighter Typhoon, this is what happens when you have too many cooks.
There is a great deal of truth in what you say my friend, it is often said that a camel is a horse designed by a committee...............
why on earth dont we use our Harriers ?From what I hear they are by far a better plane they can hover which the American one cant & bits dont fall off it (like wings)
Calamity Cameron sent one of his stooges to Parliment to say he got it totally wrong . Who is Calamity trying to blame this time will this guy ever take the blame for anything he doe's
What a bloody FARCE! The Harriers had a complete overhaul & update costing millions,then were sold to the yanks for peanuts,now we are buying yankee jump jets! KIck out the idiots from the mod & put in someone with common sense & not a money making agenda!
This coalition government is now in serious trouble and wasting our hard earned money. They should all be sacked today.