I genuinely think the F-35B has the potential to provide a truly complementary capability to the Typhoon and in many respects much of this potential has yet to be even thought about. With all the trials and tribulations of the aircraft development programme the simple fact that we are in this for a several decades long journey tends to be lost. During this journey there is also the matter of potential future unmanned systems to consider, the future really is unclear.
That the programme is troublesome is not in doubt, that it will be expensive equally is not in doubt but looking beyond these issues and considering the industrial benefits to the UK and the qualitative advantage it will allow us to maintain over potential adversaries and on balance, it is worth the short term pain.
Two words characterise the F-35 Lightning II, at least for me, potential and flexibility
The flexibility of the STOVL F-35B will allow the UK to derive maximum benefit from its purchase which is why, in another opinion, I think the B variant was, and still is, the optimal version for the UK.
This is the last part in a multi part series that has taken some writing, some of the debate has been lively as well.
Hope you enjoyed it, a few final words…
In a world of unlimited funds, other options might have been better but the simple fact is the UK’s defence budget is not to be found at the end of a rainbow.
The F-35 is the right aircraft and the F-35B the right variant.