October 25, 2009 (by Eric L. Palmer) - The U.K. has decided to sacrifice one of its two new aircraft carriers F-35 flight capability due to that bleeding ulcer called a defence budget.
F-35B - STOVL
While the U.K. is committed to buying two "aircraft" carriers in the original contract, the second one, the Prince of Wales, due to go into service in 2018, will be used as a troop and helicopter carrier.
With this, the U.K. will cut their F-35 order from around 138 down to 50. This has been agreed upon by senior navy and air force commanders who are preparing for the strategic defence review.
"We always knew that the real cost of the carrier project is the JSF fleet to go on them. It would cost us at least £12 billion if we bought all the aircraft we originally asked for. We are waking up to the fact that all those planes are unaffordable. More than half of the £5 billion contracts to build the two new carriers have been contracted, so it is too late to get out of building the ships. This way at least we are covered when Ocean goes out of service."
In August, it was reported here
that the U.K. has also considered to drop the Short-Take-Off-and Vertical Landing (STOVL
) F-35B in favor of the U.S. Navy style F-35C.