The Ministry of Defence have again refused to commit to all UK F-35 orders being the B variant.
Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, asked in a written question:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the Government plans to allocate funding for the purchase of F-35A or F-35B aircraft; and what assessment he has made of the implications of that decision for the ability of the Royal Air Force to land aircraft on aircraft carriers.”
Stuart Andrew, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, responded:
“The Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 stated our intent to buy 138 F-35 Lightning aircraft over the life of the programme. The first tranche of 48 aircraft will be the carrier capable F-35B, of which 17 have been delivered so far. Decisions on subsequent tranches of Lightning will be taken at the appropriate time.”
Some respected commentators have argued that a split-buy undermines the aircraft carrier programme, with SaveTheRoyalNavy.org saying:
“Should the number of F-35Bs be capped at 48, much of the vast potential of Carrier Enabled Power Projection (CEPP) will have been squandered. After decades of development and an investment running into £ Billions to purchase these large and capable vessels, their main armament will be a handful of jets.”
The decision, of course could still go either way and the Government appear to be leaving their options open, what do you think about this? Please let me know in the comments.