We have discussed this decision with the French Government and with the United States. The French confirm that they are satisfied with our commitment to jointly planned carrier operations to enhance European-NATO capability.
The United States, on whose support we would rely in regenerating either type of carrier capability, has been highly supportive throughout this review and I would like to record my personal thanks to the Secretary of Defense, the Pentagon, the Navy and the Marine Corps for their high level of engagement with us. I spoke to Secretary Panetta last night and he confirmed the US willingness to support our decision and its view that UK carrier strike availability and our commitment to the JSF programme are the key factors.
Someone should have warned the Foreign Ministry of France, from which spokesman mr Bernad Lavero said words that do not exactly tell me the same story:
“We’ve taken note of the United Kingdom’s decision to choose the F-35B vertical-takeoff fighter plane, to the detriment of the F-35C catapult takeoff plane. This decision may limit our cooperation in naval aviation, which we regret. We trust that this decision, which the British government says is based on budgetary constraints, will not call our cooperation in the naval aviation sector into question."
I'm scratching my head in front of this, for not the first time since the statement was made. He does not sound like someone who is happy and satisfied and sure of what is going to be, does he...?
Now let's wait and see if we catch sign of the big happiness of the United States.
Perhaps the Marines will be happy: the change of heart of 2010 had badly irked them, but they will more or less welcome the return to the B because they can hope in a british order helping to keep F35B costs under some control.
The US Navy will probably be a lot less thrilled.
Anyway, now let's all push together, hard, to make the F35B work. Because there won't be a third rethink: next time that shit hits the fan, naval aviation in the UK almost certainly dies. Better be aware of this. We would also love to hear from BAE what happened with the adaptability of CVF. Ships which are to live for more than 50 years, with little to no realistic chance of being converted at decent cost for CATOBAR ops...? This is the real ugly news. If STOVL fails, the whole thing fails.
Unless the big pricetag and the "issues" are a gross exaggeration / a lie.
And considering that barely days ago ministers said there were no techical complications with the conversion of CVF... well. You take your guess.
With the words of Peter Luff, 30 April 2012:
The Ministry of Defence has not received any representations regarding technical difficulties associated with converting the operational Queen Elizabeth Aircraft carrier to a CATOBAR configuration.
We will scratch our heads for a long time over this, i bet.