Despite an earlier commitment to buy 138 F-35B jets, it has been suggested that the overall number could eventually fall.
Lieutenant General Mark Poffley, deputy chief of the UK defence staff, told MPs today that he was “sympathetic” to the idea that the overall number could decrease.
Stephen Lovegrove, a senior civil servant at the MoD, revealed that the cost of the first tranche of 48 could rise from £9bn in 2025 to £13bn in 2048.
Julian Lewis MP commented “we are going to have to adjust the numbers of these aircraft that we order.”
He later added:
“What’s clear then is that the 48 are safe, secure, done and dusted as it were as far as the financial cost is concerned, but after that there is inevitable uncertainty, that’s what you are telling us?”
“That’s the reality of the world we are living in,” Pofley replied.
Lockheed say that at peak, the F-35 will support 25,000 jobs in the UK over the next few decades and pump £1bn a year into the economy.
Marillyn A. Hewson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin said:
“It is going to support 25,000 jobs in the UK.”
Cliff Robson, Senior Vice-President for the F-35 Lightning II programme at BAE Systems, said in an interview, referring to the estimated British 25,000 jobs either directly created or supported in the F-35 supply chain.
“It’s cheap when you look at what that investment is returning to the UK.”
When the jet reaches peak production, the programme will be worth some £1 billion to UK industry alone, according to research by KPMG the accounting firm. An estimated 25,000 UK jobs will be sustained across more than 500 companies in the supply chain.
The F-35 features a significant amount of British developed components, in addition to 15% of every jet sold globally being built in Britain.
As the only Level 1 partner, the United Kingdom has garnered tremendous economic benefits from the F-35. British industry will build 15% of each of the more than 3,000 planned F-35s, in addition to a large volume of British developed aircraft systems including the electronic warfare suite.