Sovereignty assured

The UK this week signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the next phase of the Joint Strike Fighter after assurances that it would have ‘operational sovereignty’ over its aircraft.


Minister of State for Defence Procurement, Lord Drayson, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the next phase of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme this week.



The MoU was signed following a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of Defence, Gordon England, in WashingtonDC.



In 2001 the government selected JSF to meet the requirement for a stealthy multi-role fighter to operate from the future aircraft carriers, replacing Harriers jets. The Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) current plan is to buy up to 150 of the Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant.



Lord Drayson said: ‘I have always been clear that the UK would only sign if we were satisfied that we would have operational sovereignty over our aircraft. I have today received the necessary assurances from the US on technology transfer to allow me to sign the MoU.’



The MOD defines ‘operational sovereignty’ as the UK having control over essential aspects of the aircraft such as the ability to integrate JSF into the UK operating environment; operate, maintain, repair and upgrade the UK fleet to meet evolving through-life requirements; and certify the aircraft as safe to fly.


Over 100 UK companies have won development contracts and will now be able to compete for work in the next phase. The expected value of work for the UK is over $29bn.