Britain's move on F-35 will not affect US Marines: general

17th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's decision to buy a different version of the F-35 fighter jet will not dramatically raise the cost of the aircraft for the US Marine Corps, a military official said Tuesday.

"The initial briefs that I've seen is that this does not significantly increase the cost of the aircraft, but that's for the budget and the programmatic folks to deal with," Lieutenant General George Flynn told reporters.

As part of a strategic review in October, Britain has canceled plans to purchase the F-35B, a version of the fighter that can vertically land or take off, and opted to buy a conventional model that will be used on aircraft carriers, the F-35C.

According to media reports, the decision will mean Britain will buy 50 of the planes, instead of 138 of the short-take off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant.

The change in Britain's plans should not have any impact on the US Marine Corps, which is due to have a large fleet of the STOVL-type Joint Strike Fighters, said Flynn, who heads the Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

The F-35 provides a way to replace current combat aircraft used by the marines, F-18 Hornets and Harrier jets, in a single model that meets the needs of the corps, he said.

"This was the key part to be able to consolidate our aviation to go to a one-type model series, to combine both our fast attack, our fighter attack and our attack aircraft in one-type model series," he said.

The Joint Strike Fighter is manufactured by the aerospace firm Lockheed Martin in cooperation with Britain's BAE Systems. Apart from the United States, the F-35 program includes Britain, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Turkey and Italy.

At a cost of nearly 100 million dollars each, the United States plans to acquire about 2,000 F-35 planes, of which more than 300 would be for the US Marine Corps.

© 2010 AFP

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