WASHINGTON – Production of America’s fifth generation jet fighter appears to be on the rise as Europe grapples with the prospect of not much else new being available, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The Europeans are relying primarily on three types of combat aircraft: the Eurofighter Typhoon, which is built in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain; the Dassault Rafale built in France and the Swedish Saab Gripen.
While the U.K. continues to experiment with expensive stealth jets using its Taranis unmanned combat aircraft built by BAE Systems to develop technology for future fighters, none is presently planned for production in the near future.
In fact, a number of European countries have decided to buy the stealthy U.S. F-35. The U.K., Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Italy and Turkey are involved in the F-35 program. All have invested money in developing the aircraft which continues to have very serious cost overruns and has been experiencing a delay in production at least to meet U.S. requirements.
According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the F-35, whose primary contractor is Lockheed Martin, is expected to dominate the combat aircraft industry “for decades to come.”
While France and Germany are not participating in the F-35 program, the IISS said that the likelihood remains that the aircraft will become the mainstay of the U.S. military strike-fighter fleet and also will be dominant in the European combat aircraft fleets.
“For Europe’s defense aerospace manufacturers, the F-35 represents both a threat and an opportunity,” an IISS report said. “The aircraft’s penetration of the European market undermines the continent’s requirement for indigenous combat aircraft development. But many European companies are suppliers to the F-35 program, so it provides them with the potential security of large-scale production runs.”
The Europeans have been facing a dilemma for some time with diminishing defense budgets, forcing them to pony up to joint development programs such as the F-35. The danger is that the European defense aerospace industry eventually could lose its own technological design and development capabilities.
“Whether consciously or not, this would in effect mean accepting Europe’s dependence on the United States to meet any future manned combat aircraft needs,” IISS said.
Such a European dependency on the U.S. recently was seen in the brief conflict to oust Libyan leader Moammar al-Gadhafi. European stocks of ordnance soon ran out and the fighters had to rely on U.S. resources. In defense aerospace terms, this may become the norm rather than the exception.
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