May 28, 2006 (by Jeff Hollenbeck) - On the final day of a two day summit, U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced an agreement allowing Great Britain more access to sensitive information on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The finalized external design of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, top, is shown over the JSF X-35A demonstrator aircraft, which successfully completed its flight-test program in 2001 [LMTAS photo]
Previously, the U.S. did not want to furnish Great Britain with secret access codes for the avionincs in the JSF
which would have required that a U.S. technician be used for certain upgrades and troubleshooting.
In a joint statement, Bush and Blair announced that Britain "will have the ability to successfully operate, upgrade, employ, and maintain the Joint Strike Fighter such that the UK retains operational sovereignty over the aircraft."
While the dispute over the avionics codes may be over, Great Britain is still protesting the cancellation of the second engine program for the JSF which includes Rolls Royce and could be worth up to $2.4 billion.
Britain has been preparing to cancel its participation of the project and its orders of up to 150 F-35 JSF aircraft worth up to $15.6 billion.
With a planned U.S. purchase of 2,400 F-35s and overseas sales of up to 3,500 aircraft, the Joint Strike Fighter is poised to become one of the world's most prolific combat aircraft of all time.