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US official sees F-35 deal with UK by mid-June

Written by: Staff
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Washington, Mar 28: Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England yesterday said he expects the United States and Britain to work out differences over technology transfer issues related to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter by mid-June.

''We are within 1 percent of one another,'' England told reporters after a speech to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency conference, in which he underscored the U.S.

administration's commitment to strengthening cooperation with international partners.

''My objective is to have it resolved by the middle of June,'' he said.

British Defense Procurement Minister Lord Drayson this month told Congress that his country would be unable to commit to buying the aircraft unless the United States improved access to some of its classified technology.

But other British officials were now more upbeat about prospects for buying the radar-evading fighter jet, which is being built by Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp.

LMT.N, after what they called Drayson's ''extremely constructive'' talks with England and other top U.S. officials.

The United States is developing the F-35 along with Britain and seven other international partners at an estimated cost of 256 billion dollar for the development effort and the 2,593 jets that the United States and Britain plan to buy.

Britain has committed 2 billion dollar to developing the fighter, more than twice the money put in by the other partners -- Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway.

U.S. officials hope to wrap up memorandum-of-understanding negotiations with Britain and the other partners in June, which would allow national reviews ahead of a December signing.

John Hillen, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, told the conference that he believes the United States has treated its closest allies, Britain and Australia, ''much too guardedly'' in terms of technology transfer, and he is working on improving that process.

He said both countries had submitted large, comprehensive proposals for issues that could be resolved administratively by the U.S. administration and did not require legislative fixes.

''We are moving in that direction,'' he said.

Australian Ambassador Dennis Richardson said his country was pleased thus far with cooperative efforts on the F-35, although he underscored the urgent need for the fighter jet to be delivered on time, and to avoid rising per-unit costs.

England, talking to reporters, acknowledged that per-unit costs could rise if the United States curtailed its orders for the three variants of the F-35, but said that would not have a major effect on the price that partners pay for the aircraft.

He defended the decision to cancel a second engine for the F-35 next to the one being built by United Technologies Corp.
UTX.N unit Pratt&Whitney, another sore point with London.

He said he did inform Britain of the decision, despite UK officials' objections that they had not been told. He added that he did not believe the matter was subject to negotiation since it centered on U.S. investment of some Washington, Mar 28: Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England yesterday said he expects the United States and Britain to work out differences over technology transfer issues related to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter by mid-June.

''We are within 1 percent of one another,'' England told reporters after a speech to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency conference, in which he underscored the U.S.

administration's commitment to strengthening cooperation with international partners.

''My objective is to have it resolved by the middle of June,'' he said.

British Defense Procurement Minister Lord Drayson this month told Congress that his country would be unable to commit to buying the aircraft unless the United States improved access to some of its classified technology.

But other British officials were now more upbeat about prospects for buying the radar-evading fighter jet, which is being built by Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp.

LMT.N, after what they called Drayson's ''extremely constructive'' talks with England and other top U.S. officials.

The United States is developing the F-35 along with Britain and seven other international partners at an estimated cost of 256 billion dollar for the development effort and the 2,593 jets that the United States and Britain plan to buy.

Britain has committed 2 billion dollar to developing the fighter, more than twice the money put in by the other partners -- Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway.

U.S. officials hope to wrap up memorandum-of-understanding negotiations with Britain and the other partners in June, which would allow national reviews ahead of a December signing.

John Hillen, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, told the conference that he believes the United States has treated its closest allies, Britain and Australia, ''much too guardedly'' in terms of technology transfer, and he is working on improving that process.

He said both countries had submitted large, comprehensive proposals for issues that could be resolved administratively by the U.S. administration and did not require legislative fixes.

''We are moving in that direction,'' he said.

Australian Ambassador Dennis Richardson said his country was pleased thus far with cooperative efforts on the F-35, although he underscored the urgent need for the fighter jet to be delivered on time, and to avoid rising per-unit costs.

England, talking to reporters, acknowledged that per-unit costs could rise if the United States curtailed its orders for the three variants of the F-35, but said that would not have a major effect on the price that partners pay for the aircraft.

He defended the decision to cancel a second engine for the F-35 next to the one being built by United Technologies Corp.
UTX.N unit Pratt & Whitney, another sore point with London.

He said he did inform Britain of the decision, despite UK officials' objections that they had not been told. He added that he did not believe the matter was subject to negotiation since it centered on U.S. investment of some $2.5 billion in the engine, not on British outlays.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, a Virginia Republican, and other lawmakers have strongly criticized the decision to end the congressionally mandated, alternate engine being developed in a 60-40 partnership by General Electric Co. and Britain's Rolls-Royce Plc under a 2.4 billion dollar deal awarded in August 2005.

REUTERS.5 billion in the engine, not on British outlays.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, a Virginia Republican, and other lawmakers have strongly criticized the decision to end the congressionally mandated, alternate engine being developed in a 60-40 partnership by General Electric Co. and Britain's Rolls-Royce Plc under a 2.4 billion dollar deal awarded in August 2005.

REUTERS

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