U.S. Air Force's JSF Variant May Be Killed, Expert Says

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U.S. Air Force's JSF Variant May Be Killed, Expert Says

Marc Selinger, Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, 21/11/2005


Onderstaand bericht uit het goed ingevoerde Aerospace Daily & Defense Report (een onderdeel van Aviation Week) over het mogelijk schrappen van de CTOL variant van de JSF - de variant die ook Nederland voor ogen heeft - heeft uiteraard verstrekkende gevolgen indien staatsecretaris Englandhiertoe inderdaad besluit. De komende weken wordt nog een stevig gevecht geleverd rondom de verwachte bezuinigingen in het kader van de Quadrennial Defense Review, die begin februari het licht zal zien. Bovendien za l begin december door de VS met de partnerlanden - waaronder uiterard Nederland -vergaderd worden over de te bestellen aantallen. Alleen al om die reden zou de Nederlandse regering hierover geen enkele toezegging mogen doen zolang niet keihard duidelijk is waarop de Amerikanen zich zelf vastleggen. Dat is anders vragen om een peperdure rekeking voor een failliet model.

Acting U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England is expected to propose killing the Air Force variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and directing the Air Force to buy the Navy's carrier variant (CV) instead, according to a well-connected defense expert.
In a one-page "issue brief" and in an interview Nov. 18, Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute, predicted that England, who is also Navy secretary, will present his proposal at a Nov. 21 high-level meeting that is supposed to weigh in on the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review.
Thompson, who attributed his information to unnamed senior Pentagon and industry officials, said the reasoning for England's proposal is unclear, "other than the overwhelming presence of sea-service alumni in QDR deliberations." Dropping the Air Force's conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant would save no money, at least through the end of the decade, and it would force the Air Force to buy the heavier CV version, which it does not want, Thompson asserted. Killing the CTOL variant also would "enrage" several U.S. allies who have been planning to buy the CTOL variant and have contributed billions of dollars to JSF's development, Thompson said.
"Eliminating it means walking away from the global aircraft markets that America has dominated for two generations," he said. During the week of Dec. 5 in Baltimore, officials from the United States and JSF's eight foreign-partner nations are scheduled to hold their final round of negotiations on an agreement that will, among other things, indicate the number of aircraft each country will buy (DAILY, Nov. 7).
England's office did not respond to a request for comment on Thompson's prediction. Spokesmen for the Air Force and JSF prime contractor Lockheed Martin declined to comment.
Current plans call for the Air Force to buy 1,763 F-35s, though the Air Force has proposed trimming that figure by several hundred aircraft. The Marine Corps and Navy would get a total of 680 jets, with the Marine Corps getting its own short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (STOVL) version.
Thompson said that other major programs, including the Army's Future Combat Systems and the Navy's DD(X) destroyer, also could be overhauled due to budget constraints.
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