JSF circus comes to townhttp://defence-data.com/storypic/ukjsf.jpg [not image]
28 January 2000
As decision time for the Joint Strike Fighter comes closer the two competitors for the lucrative production contracts are increasing their lobbying efforts. On Wednesday Lockheed opened its Fighter Demonstration Centre in Washington and yesterday Boeing were in London to drum up UK support for its proposed JSF versions.
The two companies are competing to supply about 3,000 Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs) to the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy and to Britain's Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
JSF for the Royal Navy (Artist's impression)
The UK wants about 150 aircraft to replace the ageing Sea Harriers and equip its two new, larger, aircraft carriers that are expected to enter service in 2012. Although other options are being considered, including a 'maritime' Eurofighter, the F-18E/F Super Hornet, the French Rafale and an upgraded Sea Harrier, the JSF is the preferred option at the moment. A major attraction is its cost, planned to be half that of other fighters at about $30 million each.
The UK has been involved from the beginning with the US DoD's JSF planning team and has contributed about 10% of the development costs so far. Continued UK support for the engineering and manufacturing-development (EMD) phase of the project, due to begin next year, is important because of Congressional concerns about the US' ability to fund several new aircraft programmes (F-22, JSF and F-18E/F) at the same time.
Boeing's JSF leader Paul Statkus, briefing journalists yesterday at London's Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), said that British involvement in a successful Boeing team would mean about Ј30 billion ($48 billion) in sales to UK firms, estimating that it would represent about 20% of the total. Analysts consider that a successful Lockheed bid would generate similar amounts, since British companies are involved with both Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
Statkus played down the funding threat saying, "The latest information is that there is enough money on the current schedule if JSF doesn't grow in cost," although admitting that if it did the schedule would slip.
Major UK players are BAE SYSTEMS and Rolls-Royce who both have interests with both competitors.
BAE SYSTEMS is part of the Lockheed Martin team but is also helping the Boeing team by developing cockpit and flight-control systems. Rolls-Royce has teamed with GE to produce the engine which will be used by both competitors. However, it is supplying vertical-thrust nozzles for the vertical-landing version of the Boeing JSF, and designing a lift-fan system to do the same job for Lockheed Martin.
Both Boeing and Lockheed Martin JSF prototypes will be flying by the middle of the year.