Aircraft Carrier Deal Is Far from Plain Sailing

By Fox, Maggie | The Birmingham Post (England), January 14, 2000 | Go to article overview

Aircraft Carrier Deal Is Far from Plain Sailing


Fox, Maggie, The Birmingham Post (England)


A US defence analyst yesterday warned Britain against relying on a proposed American fighter plane to be stationed on two planned aircraft carriers.

Britain's preferred aircraft for the carriers, the US Joint Strike Fighter, could easily be delayed for a decade or more, Mr Williamson Murray, senior fellow at the Institute for Defence Analyses, said in Portsmouth.

Since the carriers have to be designed around the planes, Britain would be left in the lurch if the chosen plane was cancelled after the ships were started.

Mr Murray said the United States could not afford all three of the new fighters it planned to build - the Boeing F/A-18E and F, the Lockheed Martin F-22 and the JSF, which is supposed to be built by one of the two companies.

"If the F/A-18E/F and the F-22 are in full production in 2002, then the JSF is in real trouble," he said. "If they stay in production, the JSF is going to be put back at least ten years."

Congress almost cancelled the F-22 last year.

If JSF were deferred ten years, British ships built for that plane would have nothing except updated versions of the ageing Sea Harrier.

British Armed Forces Minister Mr John Spellar said that the two carriers, due to enter service from 2012, would be a cornerstone of plans to boost Britain's ability to project power. …

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