THE government is set to make a U-turn on the type of jets it wants for the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers.
Defence secretary Philip Hammond is expected to announce the UK will revert back to the jump-jet F-35B version of the US-built F-35 planes as opposed to the carrier variant F-35C which was the preferred option in the 2010 defence review.
The U-turn comes after it emerged it will cost an extra £1.8bn to fit catapults to the ships to help F-35Cs take off.
In 2010, the government said Labour’s original choice of the F-35Bs was an ‘error’ it was ‘determined’ to rectify.
But it now appears the navy will have the shorter-range and less capable aircraft after all. The News understands three F-35Bs will be delivered to the UK for naval pilots to train with later this year.
News of the switch follows weeks of speculation over the F-35 project which has already cost UK taxpayers over £2bn.
Labour’s shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy has called for clarity on the issue.
He said: ‘This would be one of the biggest public procurement messes for many decades.’