So remember a few weeks ago when news emerged that Britain was looking at backtracking on its plans to buy the F-35C carrier variant Joint Strike Fighter for its new carriers that are set to be equipped with new electromagnetic catapults and next generation arrestor gear? You know, the Royal Navy might go back to ordering the short take-off and vertical landing F-35B and build its carriers without cats and traps due in order to save money.
Well, the U.S. Navy — who is spearheading development on the new catapults, known as EMALS for its Ford class aircraft carriers — has assured London that it will cost way less than the Biritish bean counters think it will to equip the Royal Navy’s new carriers with cats and traps. The best part, if the effort to develop the EMALS falters, the U.S. will foot the bill, not the Brits. Let’s hope the system keeps doing well.
From the UK’s Telegraph newspaper:
Converting HMS Prince of Wales so that it can be used by the Joint Strike Fighter will require significantly less than the £2 billion quoted by officials, the assistant secretary of the US Navy, Sean J Stackley, insisted.
In a letter seen by The Daily Telegraph, he told Peter Luff, the defence procurement minister, that the necessary equipment would cost £458 million before installation. Defence experts estimate the installation cost at £400 million.
The letter was sent to Mr Luff before the Prime Minister met Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, at an emergency meeting about the carrier on Monday.
The carrier project has been overshadowed by cost and technical issues. In the Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2010, which scrapped Harrier jump jets, the Coalition opted for a conventional take-off and landing model of the new, American-built fighter instead of a jump-jet variant.
But ministers were on the point of changing their minds after MoD officials forecast that the cost of adapting a carrier to use the conventional planes would rise from £500 million to £1.8 billion.
Following the intervention by the US Navy, David Cameron has ordered a Treasury-led re-examination of the project.
The Major Project Review Group will submit a report on April 16 which it is understood will be considered by the National Security Council the next day.
Click here to read more about the UK’s carrier dilemma and the potentia impact of switching from the C-model to the short take-off and vertical landing B-model JSF.