The biggest defence project in history, the Pentagon’s £140 billion Joint Strike Fighter deal, was awarded to Lockheed Martin of the USA. The plan is to build 150 of the 4,000 strike fighters for the UK MoD.
It has been claimed the potential economic spin-off for Uk companies is £50 billion of work; the same market prices for building 2500 secondary schools, or 250 hospitals.
Rolls-Royce has a supply agreement worth £ 0.7 billion over the ten years. BAE Systems, the world’s largest arms manufacturer, is contracted to build the rear end of the aircraft for £1.8 billion. It will also receive orders worth £10 billion when the aircraft is produced.
However, the benefits to the UK economy of this kind of deal are offset by just under £1 billion in subsidies given each year by the UK tax-payer to the UK defence manufacturing base. The government has already spent £2bn on JSF. Moreover, the government have committed an extra £1.4bn towards the JSF development bill for British companies. No other UK industry is subsidised by these huge levels.
Now that the first and third biggest UK arms manufacturers have been contracted to build aeroplanes for the USA, the UK government is in a weaker position from which to resist US National Missile Defence arguments and assert its, not US, foreign policy objectives. Catherine Brown of CAAT said:
The US and and the UK have a history of producing the world’s most advanced fighter jets and then selling them to make-shift allies, such as Iran in the 1970’s. This undermines our own security and then we start huge productions such as JSF all over again.
Catherine Brown continued:
The Joint Strike Fighter deal, whilst apparently a boon for BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce, is in practice of doubtful benefit to the UK’s tax-payer, their political independence, and their future security.
For any further information please contact Catherine Brown on 020 7281 0297.