Cameron orders independent review into F-35 decision
By Richard Scott
Prime Minister David Cameron has asked the UK Treasury to conduct an independent assessment of the costs associated with converting one of the two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers to operate the F-35C: the carrier variant (CV) of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
Cameron's intervention follows a meeting with Defence Secretary Philip Hammond on 19 March, during which Hammond is believed to have recommended backtracking on the CV acquisition plan because of the costs of carrier conversion. He is thought to have instead advocated the purchase of the F-35B, the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of JSF.
The prime minister's decision to seek an independent review is thought to reflect two principal concerns. First, the political embarrassment resulting from a U-turn on one of the central components of the coalition government's October 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR); second, the possible adverse reaction from the US government and the US Navy (USN).160 of 500 words
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