The UK government has responded to a parliamentary report that was highly critical of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme, saying that it remains committed to delivering the capability on time and within budget.
In its response to the December 2017 report titled Unclear for take-off? F-35 Procurement , the government on 26 February clarified a number of the concerns raised with the aircraft’s next-generation Multifunctional Advanced Data Link (MADL); the capacity of the internet broadband fitted to the Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) aircraft carriers; the reported cyber vulnerabilities of the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS); a lack of information on the current or the final costs of the programme; as well as software and hardware development problems.
In the original report published on 10 December 2017, the Parliamentary Defence Committee noted a lack of transparency in the F-35 programme in general and inadequate responses to a critical article published in The Times earlier in the year in particular, both of which could risk undermining public confidence in the project that is critical to the future of the UK defence.
The government said MADL is just one of a number of solutions that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is actively pursuing as it looks to improve the interoperability between defence and security systems across the air, land, sea, and cyber domains, and for the F-35 to share data covertly across the battlespace in particular. “The MoD has undertaken a series of trials of communication nodes between the Link 16 format and the MADL format using F-35 and [Eurofighter] Typhoon aircraft [.…] The MoD, alongside the US services and industry partners will continue to explore the value of exchanging data through the classified series of Babel Fish trials,” the government said.
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