Europe will cut orders for US F-35s to invest in its Tempest fighter project

ROME, (BM) – The rumors of a possible reduction of the order have been circulating for some time learned citing Analisi Difesa.

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But the cuts to the Defense budget determined by the impact of the Covd-19 epidemic and the need to support the economy could make the choice of the British government, led by Boris Johnson, inevitable , to cut the order of the F-35B fighter-bombers also to recover resources to be allocated to the development of the new Tempest fighter in which Italy and Sweden are also involved.

The possible decision to acquire for now only 48 F-35Bs [the minimum number that London had committed to buy for 9.1 billion pounds] instead of the 138 planned, reported yesterday by Il Sole 24 Ore, would have political and industrial repercussions. in relations with the United States also because London is a first level partner in the Joint Strike Fighter Program and in the development of the Lockheed Martin aircraft with several British companies [led by Bae Systems] which have obtained important orders under the program to equip Royal Air Force and Royal Navy of F-35Bs.

The most expensive version of the F-35, embarked on the two aircraft carriers Queen Elizabeth II and Prince of Wales. With 48 aircraft in line, very few remain available in addition to those intended for the flight groups of the two aircraft carriers, large units but built without catapult for the take-off of conventional aircraft.

The final decision should be taken within the year by the government after a reassessment of the needs of the Defense, whose completion is expected in November, in which the decision could emerge to halve the F-35B order by acquiring about 70 instead of the 138 expected but in which the fate of the British armored component is also at stake, consisting of 230 Challenger 2 tanks that the government would like to radiate by depriving the British Army for the first time in its history of the tanks that the British invented in 1915.

The cut of the F-35s, like the abandonment of tanks, must face stiff opposition from Labor but also within the Conservative Party in which there is no shortage of loyalists to the alliance with Washington and above all there are many exponents opposed to further weakening of the British military instrument.

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The renunciation of completing the F-35 order for the 138 aircraft planned in operational terms would leave the RAF Eurofighter Typhoon the task of supporting most of the British air operations while in industrial terms it would result in an increase in the unit cost of the aircraft produced for the forces. US and allied ones and in particular the expensive F-35Bs acquired so far only by US Marines, Great Britain, Italy [Air Force and Narina] and Japan with a good chance that South Korea will also join the list.

Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon will therefore aim to seek new buyers (or additional orders from the air forces that have already ordered the aircraft) to balance the cut of 68/90 British version B aircraft, in addition to the 100 Turkish F-35As whose order it was canceled by Washington after Ankara’s decision to equip itself with Russian S-400 long-range air defense systems.

With the cut made by London, Italy would turn out to be the second NATO buyer of F-35 after the United States with 90 aircraft expected: a context that could allow Rome to negotiate greater industrial compensation and workloads with the United States and allies. FACO di Cameri also for the maintenance of aircraft in service with the aeronautics of continental Europe.

After all, Italy is currently the third world buyer of F-35s after the green light from the US State Department which on 9 July authorized the sale of another 105 F-35s to Japan as part of the Foreign Military Sales program ( FMS).

Tokyo has so far ordered 42 F-35A fighter-bombers with conventional take-off and landing but has asked to purchase 63 more aircraft of the same version and 42 F-35B with short take-off and vertical landing (for a total value of 23.1 billion dollars) with which he will be able to equip his all-deck naval units.

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