American Senator Tom Cotton warned the Defence Select Committee that the UK’s decision to allow Huawei to build aspects of its 5G network “raises too great a risk for us to have that advanced aircraft in any nation with this system”, he said speaking of US F-35 deployments in the UK.

The Telegraph had earlier reported that Republican senators in the US were moving to block 48 US fighter jets being deployed to Britain over Huawei concerns after an amendment was tabled that would would bar F-35 deployment to countries where Huawei builds 5G network components.

Some members of the Defence Select Committee have also expressed concerns over the UK Government including Huawei equipment in the UK 5G network, with MP for West Dunbartonshire Martin Docherty-Hughes saying “handing over your 5G network to the Communist party of any country is utter insanity”.

I’m sure many of you will remember last year when Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson was sacked by then Prime Minister Theresa May over allegations of leaks from a National Security Council. According to those alleged leaks, Prime Minister Theresa May rejected the advice of senior ministers and agreed Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s ‘non-core’ 5G network.

Recently, Senator Tom Cotton discussed American objections further in a Defence Select Committee meeting on ‘The Security of 5G’ on the 2nd of June:

“Again, a lot of it goes back to signals intelligence and the sensitivity of sources and methods. Some of these things we can’t discuss in an open setting, but they are concerns that our intelligence professionals and our technical experts have raised about not just the
United Kingdom using Huawei, but any nation that uses Huawei technology.

I want to correct something that one of the Members said earlier about my legislation—that it would delay the deployment of F-35 fighters to the United Kingdom. It does not delay them specifically to the United Kingdom. It simply says that it raises too great a risk for us to have that advanced aircraft in any nation with this system. Obviously, the United
Kingdom is not the only nation that uses Huawei. We will have to face that threat in other ations that choose to use Huawei to build up their 5G network.”

Senator Cotton also expressed his hope that the UK ‘weans’ itself off of Huawei:

“Like our Government’s stated reaction in January, it disappointed me. I understand that you face a different kind of situation than do we, because of the legacy networks you have—the 3G and 4G networks—that use Huawei technology. I do hope that as the Government refines its decision, if it does not reverse it outright, it will mitigate it by
minimising the use of Huawei technology, putting it on a shorter timeframe, limiting the expansion of the 5G network and taking the steps we have done to help wean 4G and 3G networks off Huawei’s legacy technology.

I have seen media reports that suggest that could happen as early as 2023. I would welcome that—I would welcome you doing it even earlier. I am a bit mystified about why you would spend the money to build out a 5G network using one kind of technology only to tear it out three years later. But again, we will continue to observe and work with your
Government and the decisions they take to try to ensure that our alliance remains as strong as it always has been and that we are also creating the kinds of alternatives that Mr Francois and I were just discussing for the rest of the world.”

When asked if the Government changing tack and reducing Huawei involvement to zero by 2023 would be enough to mitigate his concerns he responded:

“It obviously would in 2023, but remember that many of my concerns are not specific to the United Kingdom. To go back to legislation that we discussed earlier about F-35 fighters, we have got to make a decision about deploying those to many different countries. Obviously, if you no longer have Huawei technology in your network, then F-35 fighters could be based in your country under my legislation. That does not mean that I would drop my legislation, because my legislation is not about the United Kingdom; it is about Huawei and the threat that Huawei poses to our airmen and our aircraft. But I would welcome that decision to go to zero by 2023, and I would urge you to try to do so even sooner.”


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Jason Holmes

If RAF Lakenheath is closed over this, it will be a major hit to the local economy, there’s little else in Suffolk.


Absolutely, and with Mildenhall going too, the UK has lost an enormous asset! This issue over F35 must have passed over the UK Government, who has subsidised considerable infrastructure improvements to the base. Included in this, (apparently) miles of electrical upgrades across Cambridgeshire and Suffolk?.
If you include likely MOD cuts, this would signal a crisis for UK aircover. Okay, the US Airforce isn’t obliged to intervene in any direct attack on the UK, the fact that approximately 60 -70 fighters and bombers are based on our shores means a considerable downgrading of protection.


well i heard that the UK are looking for alternate companies in respect to our 5g so they can do away with Huawei,but like Australia found out they binned huawei only to find the company they used purchased the tech from Huawei so there tech still got in just via a back door,so we would have to be carefull


Is the Brit’s decision to make but they must now face the consequences.


We’ve made the decision Dan. It’s a few people in government that need to get on board with it now. Hopefully this China decoupling will be one of the positive outcomes of this covid 19 malarkey. I know there is growing pressure from within the conservatives now on this front. We’ll see what it brings.

Douglas Newell

From memory, they only allowed Huawei to bid for work outwith the core network, mainly in the Aerial areas. They weren’t being used for the core network hardware & support. Also I believe the Boffins at GCHQ have been involved in the designs with Huawei to ensure they aren’t sneaking anything in. It was a reasonable compromise. The Americans are playing hardball as they always do as the only alternatives will be US companies. Shows the stupidity of the UK in getting rid of our domestic manufacturing industries all those years ago. Our Politicians seem to be the stupidest on… Read more »


What will those be, who the hell do you think the US is threatening here? Do it our way or go away haha great best thing we could do. Show me some evidence about what’s been accused here. It’s being dictated to by a dictator with no evidence. Ask M Flynn about lack of evidence and accusations.

John Pattullo

what about our own f-35’s? – not really sure how these phone masts are a threat to aircrafts secrets but if they are a threat to the us aircraft surely they are a threat to our own and by extension the us’s as well


My thought while reading that too. If Trump gets a new term could there even be moves to preclude or delay sales of the aircraft to us which considering our input to the aircraft would be interesting a scenario. The thought just occurred how potentially it might effect if any US marine aircraft operating on the carriers though I doubt that would be more than a remote possibility considering the potential benefits to the US but I guess might be a fa tor if they really get intent on raising the pressure politically.


To be honest I very much doubt they are a threat, just the us playing geopolitical hardball. To be honest it’s quite nice to see, I hope we do likewise in the future. Let’s start with the aid budget… Throwing money at countries doesn’t make them nicer to you. And I do not buy this ‘oh but behind the scenes’ guff. I want to see hard geopolitical outcomes like Russia and China seem so adept at.


Its really odd that the gov is standing its ground on this, considering all the rumours are that we are rolling over backwards to get a trade deal with the US no matter what the cost.


I’m not so sure the government is standing its ground on this. I’ve seen quite a lot of reports recently that HMG is looking at phasing out all Huawei equipment by 2023 e.g.

There is a denial by the government at the end of that article but we all know how reliable government denials are. An article from just yesterday seems to indicate that speculation on a U-turn is still very much alive hopefully (my personal preference) fuelled by hints and leaks from insiders hence these rumours having some substance.


Sounds about right, seems to be Boris normal tactic of misdirection / lies to sound strong and then totally backing down what it matters.


My last reply got stuck in moderation because it had >1 link in it so reposting here… I’m not so sure the government is standing its ground on this. I’ve seen quite a lot of reports recently that HMG is looking at phasing out all Huawei equipment by 2023 e.g. There is a denial by the government at the end of that article but we all know how reliable government denials are. An article from just yesterday seems to indicate that speculation on a U-turn is still very much alive hopefully (my personal preference) fuelled by hints and leaks… Read more »

Douglas Newell

Probably sh****** themselves at poking China in the eye. Our politicos (of all parties) really are a cowardly self interested bunch.


May I ask John, what are the hard geopolitical outcomes you think Russia has achieved?


They got Trump elected…


To name the few obvious ones: a military invasion and occupation of eastern Ukraine which was unchallenged on a military front by the rest of the world, successful occupation and annexing of Crimea, continued use of the Tartus port in western Syria, successful propping up of the Syrian regime and supporting their recapture of most of Syria, successful selling of the anti air defence units to a Turkey (a nato member) and recently I hear they are also messing around in Libya, although I believe they are being more robustly challenged there, I don’t have the time to research what… Read more »


And they’ll fail just like everybody else has.
There’s nothing magical about Russia, they’ll collapse in on themselves soon enough.


What invasion of Ukraine? So are you saying you were happy to see nationalistic Nazi supporting (they don’t hide their Nazi support) Ukrainians slaughtering their fellow Ukrainians in the east of Ukraine because they’re ethnically Russian? We are talking long before any accusation of Russian military there. Do you just believe any propaganda spewed out to you without research? As I’ll show you any proof you want the devastation of Donbas by the Nazi supporters in the west of Ukraine. I can’t see any devastation there though. You’re the typical know it all who really know f**kall aren’t you. You’re… Read more »


Do we not have a jobs / growth crisis in the UK? Any UK company that can deliver 5G surely has to have a massive opportunity.

We can do it!


There are no other companies as advanced as Huawei with 5g. Ericsson in Europe, Cisco in the US are contenders, but they are some way behind.


Do the Koreans use Huawei. There must be other alternatives out there. Huawei should only be in the race to keep the other bidders price down but we absolutely not be relying on the Chinese for any of our tech 9r electricity infrastructure.

Glass Half Full

There are three non-Chinese developers of 5G, Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia. Cisco has developed software that sits on top of a 5G network but is not a provider of the network hardware itself.


Yeah I would rather we stuck with European companies if there are no equivalents in the UK. This is critical infrastructure the Chinese should be nowhere near it. Why are we so worried about appeasing them anyway when the trade balance is so skewed in one direction.


I think a lot of Gov types ex military of high rank plus civil servants MP’s get paid to sing China’s praises in various ways. Getting to head some board that’s really just a propaganda mouth piece. Basically the we should trust to have our backs selling us out for money. Or call it what it is “legal corruption” or being morally Traitors.


What’s the problem? We’ll get our money back for that crappy plane. Which doesn’t even work when it’s raining. Good job. Let’s be rid of it. You know why it’s called the Lightning 2? Because the UK made the Lightning. It was the #1 fast jet fighter of its time.


Could you imagine if countries were putting pressure on America to do something by blackmailing them, Trump would go mad.
Trumps trade war on China has become entangled in this and too much politics has become involved with this instead of the best and most secure decision.
The world needs to decide its position on China or we are going to go around in circles on decisions like this.


The next 5 years will be interesting. The US election is going to be the most decisive ever and as rediculous and trump is a lot of the time at least people know where they stand with him.


Very naive post James. The idea that ‘the world’ makes some sort of collective decision on China is laughable. Each country acts towards China based on their own interests, quite often this has been greed based combined with fear of displeasing China. The only way countries will act differently on China are if it is no longer in their interests to carry on acting in the same way. I believe China’s actions combined with covid will help move this along and so now is precisely the right time for the us to apply pressure to ensure countries don’t loose their… Read more »


Im not about a collective decision John and thank you for the rudeness. America sees them as potential enemy in the future and is gearing up to fight them such as the marines changing their doctrine to prepare for it but at the same time is fighting a trade war partly so they can guarantee access to the Chinese economy to boost their businesses. Most of Europe wants Chinese investment and we’re happy for them to build a nuclear power station but then we worry they might spy on us through Chinese made Telecoms. China is investing huge amounts of… Read more »


Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude, maybe use of the word laughable was a bit strong. I did find that your original idea that the whole world needs to decide on what to do with China as rather naïve. You’ve since clarified saying that each country will need to make a decision on China, which is also the point I was making. Likewise you have repeated the point I was making about countries relationships with China being based on greed. I sincerely hope that this will change in the future, but we’ll have to wait and see. Agree with… Read more »


The fundamental problem is that, some years ago, the Tory Party decided that a relationship with Communist China was more important than its relationship with the US. There was absolutely no uproar in the UK when the Tories decided to allow China to build nuclear power plants in the UK or when a former Prime Minister decided to chair a $1 billion Fund to expand Chinese Communist influence throughout the world. Not to mention EU Groupie Theresa May’s virtual anti-American foreign policy. Just what did anyone expect?


Well they are gone now and the world is definitly a more weary of the influence of China. A lot will depend on the US election its hard to know what way people will vote. Biden isn’t a strong candidate but Trump doesn’t appear to be interested in convincing undecided voters to re elect him


The independent voters in the suburbs are the key to the 2020 Presidential election. They have swung between the two parties in the last several elections. Trump won in 2016 because of a swing towards him by these voters in the last week of the election. The massive demonstrations in US cities are not reflective of the country as a whole and are exclusively within the areas in which Trump has never done well and has absolutely no chance of winning. What New York and California and Chicago do has absolutely no bearing on the Presidential election except in how… Read more »


Well the choice at the last election was a JC lead Labour, not exactly a step in the right direction. British electorate had to select the least worst option imo.


Their official reason for why they are worried about Huawei and the F-35 is that they are worried their logistics personnel (which are few in number) will be trackable when entering or leaving the country because they will be registering their personal phones on the UK cell network and if a large number turn up at once you will get a heads up an operation is planned…..

Yeah the problem here isn’t Huawei its your sensitive personnel having private phones.

Supportive Bloke

It is a bit more than that IRL. Your opposition controls a large sensor network in your country and you get to pay for it and the electricity to run it. Their locations are accurately known. If you could subvert that then forget having Flyindales monitoring things from afar; you are being monitored from close at hand by your own embedded kit. Then stir in the other potential abuses of such a large sensor network which could feasibly be used for EM/EW monitoring (or even EW emissions). Then think how a large antennae network could be used for a large… Read more »


The trouble is, as we found out courtesy of Edward Snowden, the US government is quite willing to monitor cell phone networks and use them to exploit personal data without any democratic oversight. So I guess the issue then becomes which government would you least like to have your data? China or America. Would be nice if there were a few more options being considered, like e.g. Ericsson as some have mentioned above.


Pretty much this, for all the jumping up and down the US is doing about China they have been doing the exact same for decades anyway to their “allies”.

Douglas Newell

Because its dead easy to just turn your 5G Network into an aircraft tracking system.


Interesting post. Thanks

Benjamin Rule

What a load of nonsense. If the Americans are concerned about the Chinese accessing F35 secrets then they need to stop selling us the F35s which we keep down the road at RAF Marham. On the other hand if they are bothered about the security of their aircrew then they need to stop deploying U2s and B2s to RAF Fairford and never deploy any aircraft here under any foreseeable circumstances. They would also need to close RAF Croughton which is a key US communications facility (and therefore presumably at bigger risk than the F35 secrets). That’s not going to happen… Read more »


Well to he honest the chinese have been caught red handed with spy and intelligence gathering type devices on systems they have sold to our allies. So we simply can’t trust the Chinese, forget about the commercial side and Western companys losing business this is allot more important than that. National security is the most important thing for almost all nations…


Don’t doubt what you say Cam but would be interested to read if you have a link or two.

Christopher Allen

Uh dude, the US has been spying on its allies for decades, not to mention that they have repeatedly taken our technological research from us. The only major difference as I see it is that at least the Chinese won’t drag us into foreign interventions like our supposed allies across the pond

James M

This is absolutely just the US trying to bully us into doing things their way. GCHQ have examined all the Huawei 5G kit and are convinced it’s safe, so either GCHQ are wrong, in which case the US should share whatever info they have so we can make the right decision, or they’re talking crap.

Like yourself, I’m no fan of Huawei, but this is very obviously the US making things up in an attempt to get us to join in their trade war.

Daniele Mandelli

Agree Benjamin. Ridiculous.


For sure it is the US trying to bully us, but the conclusions you draw James are guess work. We know the GCHQ considered that the risks could be controlled, what we don’t know is what caveats that came with, as the report was not released, its entirely possible that it was so heavily caveated that the reality is that it is not safe, who knows. GCHQ also doesn’t have a history of being entirely honest with the public, see snowden revolutions etc and same with Boris who has happily been lying constantly during this virus outbreak. We also know… Read more »

Christopher Allen

Nonsense Steve. GCHQ have stated clear as day that Huawei’s limited role in building 5G infrastructure was completely safe. James is absolutely correct to state that US should provide more info and evidence to back up their claims.

You use the Snowdon leaks to question GCHQ, yet have forgotten that the leaks also revealed that the US/NSA had been spying in, and tapping the communications of, allied countries for years.

The reality is the US is having a temper tantrum because the Americans have always considered the UK to be under their thumb.


I have not forgotten about the US spying, and for sure would not want US equipment in the network as i trust them even less not to steal IP from our companies to make money.

I have seen most of the GCHQ statements and i have not seen anything that clearly states that you say, can you link a statement when they said it was safe? I have seen many about managing the risk, which doesn’t mean safe and is wide open to interpretation of exactly what risk and how managed.


Is it the ALIS? I always thought that was a potential cyber weakness for the F-35. I see Japan has a one billion pot to give grants to Japanese firms who reshore manufacturing back from China to Japan. If Japan can do it, why not Britain?


Japanese firms that make stuff are still, by a good proportion, Japanese owned; as with major German firms. Were as the U.K. sacrificed national control and output at the alter of absolute free-market capitalism. So when the Japanese reshore something, it is actually Japanese. In very few cases would that be the case in the U.K.


OK, you can’t do everything, but it would still be worth doing, where we still have such companies.

Geoffrey Roach

Has it ever occurred to anybody that the first thing to be hit in a modern war would be the high sensor and management systems of active and passive electronics, therefore rendering a lot of our material irrelevant. Inviting Huawei in is like giving Dracula the keys to a blood bank.


Hows that taking back control working out for ya.


Don’t worry, the application is in to the OED to have the definition of ‘sovereign’ changed to suit what is actually happening.

Nigel Collins

On a more positive note!

“AirTanker Voyager breaks UK to Falklands record

An Airbus A330 Voyager aircraft has broken the record for the fastest crossing between the United Kingdom and the Falkland Islands, completing the 2,657 km journey in just 15 hours and nine minutes.”


These US elephant walks do look really impressive, especially considering that the picture probably has more planes in it than the UK has totally available.

Stevo H

What? The Americans going around dictating to everyone and playing the sanctimonious game? I just won’t have it….
It’s about time that we grew a backbone and told the US to Foxtrot Oscar…..we are a free Country and we can and will make our own decisions. Yes, we’re close Allies but it doesn’t mean that we have to do what they tell us or live like how they tell us etc….etc


Another example of the Trump regime bullying allies, They are as bad as China.

Gavin Gordon

To me, the essence of this 5G issue does not revolve around whether any commercial concern &/or any national government has the ability to exploit your data and extrapolate that to cyber warfare. I’m sure we all know that to be the case in the first instance and anticipate it in the second. It’s purely to whom you’d rather entrust that ability given a choice(!) I’d rather not hand power to a political system totalky opposed to our own, regardless of how much you may admire the technology and industry of the chinese people themselves. When they get rid of… Read more »


Surely the greater threat to the F35 was the massive industrial espionage against Lockheed Martin 10 years ago?

I am skeptical about Huawei’s involvement in the 5G network, but I would base any decision on the analysis of our own security services, not on the thinly veiled threats of a complete tool like Senator Tom Cotton…

Stevo H

This senator seems very anti British to me… he from the Emerald Isle or is his family? You can’t go around threatening your closest ally because of a decision on equipment for the internet for Christ’s sake.
I don’t particularly like the idea myself but it equally annoys me that certain groups in Washington are acting like this. Much of the important technology in the F-35 is designed and built here in our Country so if the US did play silly games, we can hit back even harder.


I may have read this differently to everyone else, but this to me says that the US are angling to block the delivery of the 48 aircraft that we have on order, not USAF F-35s that they may or may not base here. It is nonsense -as many have said- about there being a security risk, they’re just picking at important bilateral ties that we have; first 5 Eyes and now F-35. I’m not super-pro Huawei, but I don’t see significant issues with the implementation of edge equipment. That said, if we want to use the opportunity to kick start… Read more »

Stevo H

For Christ’s sake….why does Washington have to behave like a 5 year old? It’s just this US v China crap and they don’t like the fact that we were buying something from their main rival. So, what does Washington do? It threatens it’s main ally with this BS which is unbelievably stupid and seriously out of order.
We don’t have to buy technology from the US, we’re a free Country…….
or so I thought.


Typical American republican racist attitude.. Not one single piece of evidence has been supplied to back up these allegations not one to anyone. If the world is going to pander to these extremists in the US government we are In real trouble. 2 years ago it was Russia this Russia that all without a shred of evidence. Michael Flynn a true US patriot was set up all now confirmed to further their narrative. A great US servant sacked and imprisoned by his own fellow Americans in Congress and the FBI. As its now all come to light yet another US… Read more »

Stevo H

One other thing………no supposed “ally ” should hold their friends to ransom, it’s totally unethical.

Stevo H

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out… see which basket the British government puts their eggs in…..will Downing Street risk the fallout of a US/British trade deal going wrong by buying Huawei or will they go for the safer option and buy from the Americans? We could even go home grown…which is better in my opinion.