Fri, May 11, 2012
PM Had Originally Called The Airplanes 'Inadequate'
The U.K. Ministry of Defense said Thursday it was reversing course and now plans to buy an undetermined number of F-35B airplanes, after having said in the past that the airplane was "inadequate."
The change comes after it was determined that it would be too expensive to convert British aircraft carriers currently being built to included catapults and arresting gear ... known as "cats and traps." The U.K. MoD is currently waiting for delivery of two aircraft carriers, and neither one can accommodate airplanes which need assistance taking off and landing. Converting the ships now would cost the government $3.2 billion, according to a report from Reuters.
So that leaves the government of Prime Minister David Cameron with something of a distasteful choice ... embrace and airplane he had at one time dismissed ... or have no airplanes to operate from the new ships.
Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said that when the decision was made to build carriers without cats and traps, it was the right one. But "facts have changed," he said recently.
It is not known how many F-35Bs the MoD will eventually acquire, but the government had planned to operate up to 12 fighters from each carrier.
The U.K. MoD had originally ordered 138 F-35A aircraft, but that number had been cut in 2010. The Defense Ministry said that it will not have a firm idea about how many airplanes it will need until the next defense review is conducted in 2015. (Photo: F-35B landing aboard USS Wasp)
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