Government assures UK's role in F-35 jet production stable after President-elect Donald Trump's cost-saving demands

Steven Scott
BAE Systems helps manufacture part of the F-35 fuselage (Source: Getty)

The government insists UK involvement in the controversial F-35 fighter jet programme will remain “stable and unchanged” despite demands from incoming US President Donald Trump for savings.

In a written response to a question from Labour’s Kevan Jones, defence under-secretary Harriett Baldwin this week said UK involvement would remain the same.

“The UK build content on F-35 remains stable and unchanged, with UK industry building around 15 per cent by value of each of an estimated 3,000 F-35 aircraft,” Baldwin said.

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The assertion comes as a report suggested a cut-price contract was being negotiated between the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin for the tenth batch of the jets.

Reuters reported a deal for the tenth tranche, worth almost $9bn (£7.3bn), would bring the price for each aircraft below $100m for the first time and was set to be announced by the end of the month.

Programme lead Lockheed Martin and the UK’s BAE Systems, which is building part of the plane’s fuselage, declined to comment on the report.

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The Ministry of Defence would not confirm details of the next contract but indicated negotiations with the Pentagon and defence companies were continuing.

Lockheed and BAE have been under pressure to find savings in the programme after Trump complained about the “out of control” cost.

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