Bent over a barrel

Interesting news on the CVF front.

The Treasury have released a letter from the Chief Executive Officer of BAE Systems addressed to David Cameron on the issue of military shipbuilding and CVF in particular.

In defence of BAE, they are a commercial organisation that have a legal duty to their shareholders, they are not a charity.

The MoD was as usual, trying to dabble in private markets and drafted a Frankenstein agreement, smashing together two competitors into a happy smiley consortium. The Defence Industrial Strategy tried to achieve some public sector husbandry of a private sector defence industry. In light of this, one really has to question the approach and the competency of the MoD legal team that sleep walked into this agreement.

I also have to question the Governments position in accepting at face value the obvious and not even veiled threats so obvious in the letter.

The day industrial concerns directly impinge on the ability of our armed forces to execute their tasks is a day we must seriously question the value of maintaining defence skills and industrial capacity as a strategic capability.

It is also worth noting that the seeds of this dismal affair were sown in the Conservative government of Mrs Margaret Thatcher. De-nationalisation in the mid 1980’s resulted in only two producers, BAE and VT, who between them owned the three remaining construction yards. Subsequent initiatives like smart acquisition, the defence industrial strategy, through life management, integrated project teams and a defence acquisition change programme have all resulted in more heat than light but a small mountain of PowerPoint’s! Driven by the Defence Industrial Strategy, the MoD insisted that a condition of the CVF contract was that the two competitors, BAE and VT, formed joint venture to build them. BVT Surface Fleet was the resulting organisation but VT subsequently sold their share to BAE. In return for significant investment by BAE it negotiated a long term workstream, 15 years to be precise. Having had its fingers burned by the MoD several times (FRES for example) the board of BAE will have quite rightly requested a quid quo pro from the MoD.

I also see a spot of public relations spinning at hand here, the letter is obviously confidential, did BAE agree to its publication?

If not, there is a serious issue of trust in the customer/supplier relationship with the Government clearly looking to embarrass BAE and the previous Government. There has been too much ‘it was them big boys over there that made me do it’ this week. It is time for the Government to call BAE’s bluff and realise who is the customer in this customer supplier relationship.

Maintaining industrial capacity and skills is one thing, but this is clearly another.

Remember those sacred cows we were going to cull, it’s about time we sharpened the knife and took it to the DIS.

We can’t blame BAE, its the MoD and previous Government that brokered this ridiculous deal and the current Government that has a backbone made of jelly.

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Euan
Euan
November 5, 2010 2:58 am

Admin thanks for posting this its really interesting to read albeit a bit depressing at the same time.

DominicJ
November 5, 2010 8:51 am

“It is time for the Government to call BAE’s bluff and realise who is the customer in this customer supplier relationship.”

Who’s bluffing?
From that letter, it sounds like HMG has promised to pay BAE £13bn over the next 13 years whether it builds anything or not.
The Government could of course repudite the contract, but thats a very very dangerous game that would likely see sterling tank in response. (If the government tells BAE it can rewrite the law on a whim, why would Barclays trust its not going to say the same when a few hundred billion of bonds become due).

The government COULD have thrown other work its way, but as the letter says, theres nothing (new) on the drawing boards that could be ready in time. If you dont want Carriers, that leaves building more T45 ish ships or buying in a Frigate Design, given our ASW exetise, thats just silly, or possibly a new amphib fleet.

ChrisW
ChrisW
November 5, 2010 9:09 am

I don’t think that the Treasury is doing itself any good by issuing a letter sent “in strict confidence” and one that only confirms that politically-driven consolidation, as in the 1960s aerospace industry, combined with an attitude that capabilities can be conjured up every 30 or 40 years and then allowed to wither away again are what really caused this situation.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
November 5, 2010 9:11 am

“In light of this, one really has to question the approach and the competency of the MoD legal team that sleep walked into this agreement.”

The DIS considered naval ship-building a core skill, and attempted to ‘husband’ a viable industry via consolidation to escape the pressure of declining orders.

There was nothing improper in creating the BVT surface warship consortium.

BAE and VT likewise acted properly in ensuring a contractual obligation to warship orders if they were to merge their operations and continue to invest in design skills and ship-yards that otherwise might not have been viable.

This isn’t news, it was the price of the ship-building merger.

http://www.vt-group.com/Media/VTGroupNews/VTGROUPANDBAESYS2/

“The formation of BVT will be the prelude to a full manufacturing contract for the aircraft carrier (CVF) programme, which will be signed by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and BVT shortly. BVT will also sign a 15 year partnering arrangement with the MoD. This arrangement will guarantee BVT’s leadership of defined future programmes with respect to design, build and through-life support.
BVT will employ over 7,000 people and will have a turnover approaching £1bn per annum.”

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090318/wmstext/90318m0001.htm

“Working closely with the two dockyard companies—Babcock and BVT Surface Fleet Ltd—MOD has confirmed that the alliance option is the optimum solution for providing effective, affordable and sustainable support to Royal Navy surface warships.
The new arrangements help to promote a sustainable industrial base that retains key operational support and system upgrade capabilities within the UK, and are therefore vital to our ability to maintain and support the Royal Navy.”

I’m repeating myself a lot these days.

sealordlawrence
sealordlawrence
November 5, 2010 9:19 am

Its simple, BAE only makes warships, its only source of revenue for its shipbuilding business is the Royal Navy, export orders could never sustain them. Thus, the MoD has to keep paying them.

The customer in this case has no room for manoeuvre, if it wants an indigenous shipbuilding capability is has to pay for. It could nationalise the capability and re-establish the Admiralty shipyards and DNC but it would still have to pay the costs.

This is what happens when commercial shipbuilding becomes non-viable and naval procurement is cut to the bone.

Jon
Jon
November 5, 2010 10:23 am

An example of where market rule does not work? The desire to keep defence manufacturing within the UK to keep ‘sovereign technology’ and maintain jobs results in a monopoly that will not adapt to the desires of the customer (Government).

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
November 5, 2010 11:11 am

I have to disagree with admin’s view on this. The letter seems to me to be a faily standard plea from industry that government cuts are about to eat it’s lunch and force wholesale closure of sites. Mostly the tone is “did you realise . . .” rather than “if you do that then we’ll . . .”

Of course BAE systems are going to write this letter. Of course it want the government to be aware of any possible unintended consequences of it’s actions. Of course it doesn’t want to lose contracts that would require wholesale shifting of posts and capabilities away from the UK, with the attendant costs in redundancy payments and building up capability ensewhere in the world. BAE is a global corporation – why would we think it would allow itself to live or die by what the UK MoD decides?

This all goes back to the Sandys 1957 white paper that forced a “crash landing” of the aerospace industry in the UK. The consolidtation and diversification has been going on ever since, and with every cancelled project, or design study that goes nowhere, it will only continue. Corporations need steady orders so that they can make more profit this year than last year, and more profit next year than this. That’s how Capitalism works (roughly) and having the rug pulled from under your product line every 5 years just because there’s ben a change of government is anathema to them. So BAE keeps on consolidating and diversifying in the hope that *some* of the project see the light of day.

I’m more worried about the Treasury releaseing this letter. What were they hoping to achieve? Proof that HMG has had it’s arm twisted by big bad BAE into protecting jobs and building both carriers? Justification of joint carrier operations with the French (“we can’t afford to cancel the QE & POW, so sharing with the frogs is the least worst option unless you all want to be unemployed”)? Or, what?

Releaseing this letter is effectively an officially sanctioned leak from the highest level and is absolutely disgraceful!!!

Michael
Michael
November 5, 2010 11:25 am
Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
November 5, 2010 11:33 am

quite, the pithy wisdom of lewis page is not to be missed!

DominicJ
November 5, 2010 11:38 am

Page two and three of anything Lewis Page writes can be useful, sometimes, Page 1 and 4 are always just a rant about him being the worlds best soldier and how destroyers are rubbish

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
November 5, 2010 11:46 am

@admin: I know, I just thought you’d gone a bit mad. Possibly by being force-fed red wine and frogs legs by our new Best-Buddies :-) All good then, cognitive dissonance avoided.

(Can’t wait to hear about French sailors first exploits along Union Street in Plymouth, or Newcastle’s Big Market once the treaty takes off. Bound to make the front page of the Sun/Mirror/Daily Star!)

Gareth
Gareth
November 5, 2010 12:53 pm

If the letter release is in order to paint someone in a bad light who is the intended target – BAe or the previous Government?

How can the cancellation of PoW mean a price of £4.8bn for QE?* That’s putting the cost of PoW at £450m. Bargain! Let’s have 10! Turn a few into amphibious assault and chopper boats.

* I’m guessing that it would be the total cost of BAe having to pay in total the contracts they have signed with other people. But they wouldn’t have been that stupid to sign themselves up to unbreakable deals too, would they?

The contrived loss of BAe ship building doesn’t have to be a loss to the nation’s capability to build ships. This could be an opportunity to start afresh somewhere, somehow.

Jed
Jed
November 5, 2010 1:17 pm

I will repeat my usual rant – there can be no such thing as a “defence industrial strategy” – its job politics, or defence of the realm, which do you want ?

If we had built the careers in Romania or South Korea would we be getting 3 ? Would the loss of jobs on the Clyde / Tyne where ever be bad – sure. Down to government to find new industries and invest in new areas if UK ship building is not cost effective. Dutch OPV’s are being built by a Dutch company – but in a Romanian yard it bought because costs are cheaper there.

A commercial organizations fiduciary duty is to the shareholders, a governments is to its electorate – don’t try to meddle in the markets and mix the two, it doesn’t work.

If you anaylze the costs of the program and divide by the number of workers employed by it, I wonder what the government subsidy per job would work out at – and whether your individual political beliefs make you consider it a good deal or a bad one.

Defense Industrial Strategy = epic fail

Mat
Mat
November 5, 2010 1:45 pm

I know, I know, I sound like a curmudgeon, but:

“Dear PM,

BAE here. Please pay £5.5 billion to support 2,500 jobs, at a subsidy of over 2 million pounds per job. (Maybe five million when you’re forced to buy the planes that will operate from the carriers.)

Luv n’ hugs, BAE.

PS don’t think about the defence capabilities you could have purchased with the money you’ve just widdled away. It’ll only make you wistful.”

When they can’t succeed, other people face the realities of the market, draw dole money and look for work in new fields.

I’m sorry to sound negative, but the bottom line looks like we’re bleeding the defence budget dry to support companies that can’t sell their products on the open market. It’s like British Leyland with warships.

Would it be so terrible to ask a successful Danish, US or German yard capable of turning out bleeding-edge 100,000 ton supertankers to build carriers for us, to a UK spec or design?

Any economist will say that the ‘opportunity cost’ of subsiding a defunct industry leads to economic degradation. We’re effectively punishing successful UK firms for not coming to the government cap in hand, or for not holding a gun to the taxpayer’s head.

I know that in reality, there may be more like 10,000 jobs supported by the carriers, but that’s still a terrible deal for UK Ltd.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
November 5, 2010 2:57 pm

“It’s like British Leyland with warships.”

Having decided that surface warship building was a strategic industry the government was correct to formulate the BVT merger in a manner that would complement its defence industrial strategy.

It is perfectly valid however to ask whether surface warship building should be seen as a strategic industry…………?

In the case of nuclear submarines then yes, it is the very definition of a strategic industry for both its SSN & SSBN products, but can the same be said about surface warships?

Martin
Editor
November 5, 2010 3:37 pm

I honnestly do not see the problem with either the letter or the concept of the contract. BAE is a private company who must look out for its shareholders. We can’t expect a private firm to invest in facilities who’s sole aim is to provide the Royal Navy with warships then turn of the tap on those orders cause the army has f**ked up in Afghanistan. A long term order book gives BAE the ability to create and maintain facilities required in the long term to sustain the RN. Not having a long term order book is simply a return to the days of Thatcher and Major with stop start production and large gaps. Just look at what happened with Astute for this very reason. Everyone constantly wants to blame BAE for the militarties wows however would you want to rely on people like Cameron or the MOD as your main customer. I think I would be bailing out of that industry as soon as a could.

Martin
Editor
November 5, 2010 3:41 pm

On the point of strategic industry, Yes we could buy from abroad but at what cost. Our balance of payments are already screwed. Sending a £1 billion a year of navy funds to France is about as bad as the Amry sending £1.5 billion a year to Germany for BFG. The armed forces have a responsibility to represent the people who pay for them. Buying all of their kit from aborad because those armed forces are to incompetentnt to buy it at home is not an option. Better scrap the entire force and save the country £40 billion a year.

Michael
Michael
November 5, 2010 3:45 pm

We are thrashing around because no one will define the threat.

x
x
November 5, 2010 3:52 pm

@ Mat

As you have displayed an interest in civilian shipping I suggest you have a good look at cruise ships and liners. Have a good google on the current Cunard fleet. Obviously no weapons but have a look at the hulls and propulsion plants. Sit down first though! :)

x
x
November 5, 2010 3:56 pm

@ Mat

Also have a look at how cruise ships are fitted out too.

Martin
Editor
November 5, 2010 4:14 pm

While we are on the BAE bashing band wagon and going on about how crap and expensive British kit is. Can any one actually find me an example of an entire defence industry that produces significant kit on time and on budget.

Many criticise the MRA4 project and particularly the decision to re use the old Nimrods instead of using a civilian airliner. However Boeing attempted to do just that and have come up with the P8 which seems to be the mother of all screw ups in defence acquisition. Lockheed have manged to go many times over budget on the F22 and F35 and the US navy has managed to build an $700 million speed boat with almost no weaponry.

The French managed to put together the Charles De Gaulle which has to be quite possible the worst vessel to ever put to sea. Not to mention cost over runs etc on Rafale and many other projects.

Maybe we just have to accept that building high tech military equipment is stretching human technology and understanding to the limit. Factor in military staff who’s academic qualifications would not allow them to get a position as an assistant bank manager and a bunch of civil servants and politicians who constantly move the goal posts, is it any wonder we end up with huge cost over runs.

It’s easy to sit on the side lines a criticise BAE for all our ills and if it was only the UK that had these issues I could understand it. However every western nation has the same problems. Most have it worse than us. I have no doubt Russia and China have the same problems they just keep it quiet. At the end of the day we are not knocking out TV’s here but highly advanced integrated weapon systems, many of them with capabilities that would have been science fiction 20 years ago. Is it any wonder they get it wrong some times.

Joint
Joint
November 5, 2010 4:24 pm

Apart from the aspect of needing these carriers for ‘our’ defence …. and no-one will convince me we don’t need them ….. think of the benefits of having this industry and keeping it working on up to date ships. Norway may not have bought Spanish, Australia may not have bought Spanish, Saudi may not have bought French etc etc. We may be better equipped to contribute to Brazil and at the same time improve our international relationship with them.
If Maggie had not destroyed commercial ship building on the Tyne, Tees Clyde etc we may have been building c. 100,000 ton Cunard, P & O and Princess lines vessels in this country rather than them being built in France, Italy and Germany.
This country’s best industry would appear to have been, in the past, exporting jobs and expertise. How long would it be before we reach the situation where all our armed forces, land/air/sea are purchased from Nepal. (Have you noticed that virtually all security staff on cruise lines are ex Ghurkas??!!!)
Its a hard world and we need to earn our bread and sell some cake while at the same time defending the wheat fields! If you see what I mean.

x
x
November 5, 2010 5:34 pm

Joint said “If Maggie had not destroyed commercial ship building on the Tyne, Tees Clyde etc we may have been building c. 100,000 ton Cunard, P & O and Princess lines vessels in this country rather than them being built in France, Italy and Germany.”

Gosh no. Sorry. Last time I looked Mrs Thatcher wasn’t PM in the late 60s and 70s when the unions brought industry to its knees. Nor for balance was she PM in the late 40s and 50s when British shipbuilders with full order books sat on their backsides while Japan adopted techniques used to build the ships that defeated them.

x
x
November 5, 2010 5:38 pm

And also it should be noted that some of our European betheren subsidise their ship building industry in ways that may or may not be compliant with EU regulation. Fincantieri would be just as expensive, probably more expensive, than a British yard if it weren’t for the Italian government.

x
x
November 5, 2010 5:48 pm
paul g
November 5, 2010 6:35 pm

martin,
the army f**ked up in afghanistan, errr very wrong top level decsisions are mainly made by politicans and also heavily influenced by american policy. I would except a statement saying top brass cocked up(just) but given the situation over there i would say the army or doing rather well on the whole.

Phil Darley
November 5, 2010 6:40 pm

I must say I am no fan of BAe but Martin is absolutely right. No defence contractor or any company for that matter can survive without a steady order book. The stop start and finally cancel mentality of the uk is a total nightmare and we get all we deserve. As for buying foreign that to me dies not make sense when you look at the loss of corporation tax by not having a uk company making these goods not too mention the cost of unemploymfnt

Somewhat Removed
November 5, 2010 7:07 pm

Martin,

The Dutch and Spanish seem to have had a pretty trouble-free history with the Rotterdam/Galacia class, the De Zeven Provincien class are working pretty well, and ze Germans seem to have no difficulty turning out some fairly sharp front-line warships for themselves (Sachsen) and others courtesy of Meko. They might well be subsidised, but they are producing the goods.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
November 5, 2010 9:28 pm

“loss of corporation tax”

Not to mention the income tax from thousands of employees and second order effects on local businesses and suppliers.

Martin
Editor
November 6, 2010 2:04 am

Somewhat removed,
The German, dutch and spanish have manged to come up with some interesting designs and they have come in largley on time and on budget. However soo have most of ours T23, Ocean and the Albion class are very similar to what these countries have produced. However a T45 Destroyers is a different ball game. Far more complicated and expensive to build. Its only comparable ship is an Arleigh Burke which is considerably more expensive. While I am sure allot of you will point out that a Burke out guns a T45 thats purley because of last minute cost cutting and not fitting the planned weapons fit. Building ships of this size and capability is difficult. Building small frigates LHD’s and LPD’s is realtivley easy.

Martin
Editor
November 6, 2010 3:17 am

Paul G,
Yeah it was the politicians who decided to buy light weight vehicles unable to stand up to IED’s and it was the same politicos who decided to not buy enough helicopters. The politicians do not tell the army how to spend their money. Its up to the Army to make those decisions. The politicians simply define the army’s budget and its tasks. Te Army gets a budget of £13 billion a year plus another £4 billion to fight in Afghanistan. That’s a pretty big budget in my estimation if the only job the politicos are giving you is to control a single province in one country. The Army are the ones who have turned Afghanistan into a political football and as such I feel its perfectly legitimate to challenge this sacred cow and criticise the Army for its decisions and performance to date. (Before some one points out that most of the transport helicopters are operated by the RAF, Yes I know they are which means that the Army’s budget is even bigger than the £13 +4 billion. The army does operate its own transport helicopters though and could have operated more if it felt the RAF commitment was insufficient).

I feel the biggest strategic threat to the UK is the Army at the moment. Its unrealistic top brass claiming that just one more push and the war will be over by Christmas. Part of being a good general is admitting defeat and retreating. If the Army top brass came out and said that its unwinnable we would be out in a week. Their is no way any politician could stand up to the over whelming public pressure a move like this would generate. Instead the Army comes out and says if we just kill of the navy I am sure we could win in another 5 years. Who exactly is to blame in Afghanistan I cannot say. I am sure its not the ordinary guys on the ground who I have the utmost respect and admiration for. However in my estimation its definitely some one waring Green that’s at fault here.

Just look at the tactics they are using. Small fire bases cut off from land support relying on helicopters for support. The troops are unable to leave these bases for fear of ambush. This presents the enemy with a fixed target which has insufficent critical mass to defend its self and instead must rely on artillary or air support. Sound familiar. If it did not work in vietnam a country with a smaller land mass where the Americans had 500,000 troops what makes anyone think it will work in Afghanistan with 100,000 troops. Agin these tactical and strategic decisions are down to the Army not the politicos.

Richard W
Richard W
November 6, 2010 10:07 am

I don’t find this (the guaranteed work) a ridiculous deal at all. It was enlightened husbandry by the previous government attempting to rationalise the ship building industry to a sustainable basis rather than see it disintegrate and vanish. Thankfully the agreement has borne up and survived.

What I find alarming is that David Cameron apparently didn’t know of the agreement for guaranteed work until it was spelt out for him in words of two syllables or less, five minutes before he decided the SDSR. That reveals he doesn’t know much about industry in general and his comments suggesting the whole thing was ‘wrong’ in some sense suggests he doesn’t care either.

Still, after his refusal to support a loan to Sheffield Forge Masters, this isn’t surprising.

Jan Guest
Jan Guest
November 6, 2010 10:30 pm

I dont think Bae’s monopoly of British defence industry is a good thing and if the government is buying things it doesn’t want simply to maintain jobs it may as well nationalise Bae then at least it can distribute the jobs for maximum electoral advantage.

It is however not Bae’s fault that the government has failed to recognise that if it wants to build warships or other expensive, low volume kit in the UK it needs to maintain a consistent production cycle eg if we need 10 SSNs and they have a lifespan of 25 yrs then one sub every 2-2.5 years not 7 in 4 yrs and and cocking great gap – opening and closing the shipyard is far more expensive than employing few people all the time. Also it means that kit get retired when its old not when its replacement is built which is usually about 5 yrs after it is not just old but obsolete and having its 2nd very expensive SLEP.

dominicj
dominicj
November 7, 2010 7:47 am

richard w.
The house of commons is yet to see a copy of this agreement, so theres no reason to expect any mp to have any knowledge of it

dominicj
dominicj
November 7, 2010 10:51 am

probably not, Cameron is unlikely to want to set a precedent of the new executive tattling on the old.

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
November 7, 2010 11:17 am

The problem with lack of export sales for British high-tech military products is often the users, rather than the industry. The users tend to specify very precisely what they want, and get something (at high cost) very precisely tailored to meet their needs – but probably no-one else’s (or, even if it is, no-one else can afford it).

Those Continental warship builders who have achieved export success tend to focus on less specialised, general-purpose designs with equipment levels which can be fine-tuned to meet individual needs (and budgets). As a result, they are not only more flexible but tend to be a lot cheaper.

This seems to have dawned on the RN – at last – with the C3 (patrol/mine warfare etc) class they were planning, about which they wanted to talk to other navies before firming up the specification, but too little, too late.

Much the same happened to the British airliner industry in the 1960s. I recall that the launch customer for the HS Trident (BEA, I think) insisted that it be built smaller than the maker wanted, with the result that the rival but bigger Boeing 727 came along later and swept the board in international sales.

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
November 7, 2010 11:21 am

P.S. to my last comment: the same thing also happened to the British fighter aircraft industry. After great international success with the general-purpose Hawker Hunter, the RAF specified the EE Lightning, which was a superb point defence interceptor but useless for anything else, so no-one else (except the Saudis IIRC) bought it. That was the last indigenous fighter design, apart from the Harrier.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 22, 2010 3:03 pm

Hi,

Defencenews reports that the UK order (of one unit) along with all the early JSF orders for various services in the US is for the vertical version.

Have they got it wrong, or has something new come up in the carrier saga?

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
November 22, 2010 4:31 pm

ACC, I think that the announcement was released a couple of months after it was prepared, for some reason. So it’s probably just been overtaken by events.

Jed
Jed
November 22, 2010 5:18 pm

The Flight International DEW Line blog has a new posting today with a chart of the F35 Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) costs – a mere snip at nearly US$208 Million each for 17 LRIP batch 3 aircraft….. !

IXION
IXION
November 22, 2010 6:10 pm

Feeling smug, someone; (not on this blog I stress), challenged, my sanity, intelligence, and parantage for suggesting last year unit cost of F35 rising to F22 levels.

It’s not going to happan at those cost levels as an international programme, countries will simply have to bail out, and carry on with old designs F18 16 etc.

I suspect Vstol fighter aircraft are dead, unless someone blows dust of plans for harrier 3.

USMC I suspect are more worried than anyone, can’t see cats and traps on LHAs.

Jed
Jed
November 22, 2010 6:50 pm

Ixion – I agree, now LRIP is not full production, but lets say the half the unit price – that is still US$ 1 million each, the original target was to as cheaper or cheaper than an F16 !!

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 23, 2010 10:25 am

Hi Ixion,
Agreed on the first part of your “suggesting last year unit cost of F35 rising to F22 levels.

It’s not going to happan at those cost levels as an international programme, countries will simply have to bail out, and carry on with old designs F18 16 etc.”

However, there are new designs ready to fly: One from Sweden (20 designers from Brazil already in Sweden working with the main team) and Russia (PAK FA programme took to the air almost a year ago), and 10 pre-production Sukhoi T-50s that will be F-something once in line service) have been ordered. Prices nowhere near the parity that F 35 and F 22 have tended towards.