Britain Abandons F-35 STOVL Variant

Britain is reducing its planned buy of Lockheed Martin F-35 strike fighters and will forgo the F-35B short takeoff variant in favor of procuring solely the F-35C naval model, state the findings of that nation’s new strategic defense and security review released Tuesday. Neither the review nor British government officials discussing it on Tuesday specified the reduced inventory size. Previously Britain had plans to acquire up to 138 F-35s. Abandoning the F-35B is tied to the decision to install catapult and arrestor gear on the Royal Navy’s two future aircraft carriers to enable longer range power projection. That “will allow us to switch to the more capable [F-35C] carrier variant,” reads the review. With this move, Britain will operate “a single” F-35 model, “instead of different land and naval variants,” reads the document. A spokeswoman with the British embassy in Washington, D.C., confirmed to the Daily Report that both the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy will operate the F-35C. Stay tuned for more SDSR coverage. (SDSR full text; caution; large file.) (British MOD release) (See also BBC report)