Straight from the horse's mouth (yes, mouth), we learn that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the next phase of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme was signed today by Lord Drayson, following a meeting with US deputy secretary of defence, Gordon England, in Washington DC.
Lord Drayson said:
After an excellent meeting with Gordon England, I am delighted to be able to sign this MoU which will take the UK into the next phase of the JSF programme. I have always been clear that the UK would only sign if we were satisfied that we would have operational sovereignty over our aircraft. I have today received the necessary assurances from the US on technology transfer to allow me to sign the MoU.Given all our speculation, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall.
However, it seems it is not all over yet. According to the MoD, the MoU sets out the framework for purchasing JSF and supporting and upgrading it through life. It also provides for the pooling of the partner nations' collective buying power in a common support solution, and of their resources and technology in follow-on development. It does not, contrary to our understanding, formally commit the UK to buying any aircraft – merely to an increase of its financial commitment by £34 million.
There is still time for the deal to unravel.