Following concerning reports in the trade media and Sunday Telegraph, I am pleased to have received this response from the Ministry of Defence which makes it clear that it is not the position of the US Department of Defense or USAF that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is militarily redundant, and that it is not their position that they will be scrapping their procurement of the aircraft.
As I made clear in a letter to the MoD this month, with the US expected to purchase 2,400 of these jets, and the UK to purchase 48, this £235 billion programme is incredibly important to the economy of the North West of England and my constituents in Hyndburn.
It was thus obviously very concerning for all East Lancashire MPs who have a significant constituency interest in the production of these aircraft, that it was reported that the US had changed its position on the procurement. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme provides high quality jobs throughout a significant supply chain which employs a large number of my constituents.
Whilst I am pleased with the response, I think it does need to be made crystal clear that this joint project will be seen through to its conclusion – though the letter from the MoD states that the views expressed should not be construed as “carrying the official sanction” of the US, I think a clear restatement of the value of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme would be welcomed across Lancashire.