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Joint Combat Aircraft

Volume 669: debated on Thursday 24 February 2005

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What is their current best estimate of the in-service date for the joint combat aircraft. [HL1078]

The joint combat aircraft (JCA) ISD noted for planning purposes in the initial tailored main gate was December 2012. The "tailored" main gate was an interim approval point for the system development and demonstration phase of the programme. Subsequently the schedule for introducing this aircraft into service has been extensively reviewed in the light of the time taken in the United States to resolve the well known weight growth problems incurred by the STOVL variant of the JSF aircraft. Planning assumptions are now based on a revised ISD of December 2014. A firm decision on the ISD does not have to be made before the UK purchases significant numbers of aircraft. Our first planned purchase is December 2008 and by this time, with aircraft design frozen and initial development flights complete, the JCA programme will have increased maturity to make informed decisions on in-service dates. This approach remains coherent with our intention to introduce the JCA progressively onto the future carriers. This progressive approach seeks to de-risk the integration of the various complex elements of the carrier strike capability.