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F-35 decision is announced, finally

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has finally announced that the UK will be reverting to the jump-jet F-35B variant of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme after costs to modify the Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) carriers for the F-35C fighter jet began to spiral.

The announcement comes as little surprise after numerous reports surfaced about the growing debate over the contentious JSF programme. Under Gordon Brown’s administration, the UK originally signed up for the Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35B fighter but after the coalition government came to power it opted for the F-35C “cats and traps” variant following the 2010 the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).

Reverting to the STOVL variant will restore the UK’s carrier-strike capability by 2018, two years ahead of schedule. This continuous Carrier Strike capability was the key element of Hammond’s statement today.

“Carrier Strike with ‘cats and traps’ using the Carrier Variant jet no longer represents the best way of delivering Carrier Strike and I am not prepared to tolerate a three-year further delay to reintroducing our Carrier Strike capability,” said Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.

Read a detailed analysis on the decision here.

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