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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 023-01
January 17, 2001

U.S., U.K. SIGN JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER AGREEMENT

Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy de Leon and the Minister of State for Defence Procurement (U.K.), The Right Honourable Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, today participated in a ceremony that formally establishes a U.S./U.K. commitment to cooperate in the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.

The U.S. and U.K. Defense ministers exchanged letters which describe their vision for cooperation on JSF throughout the life of the program. This event represents substantial commitments on the part of the Department of Defense to bring about a fundamental change in defense armaments cooperation though programs such as the JSF. JSF also represents joint commitment to develop a mutual security environment that will truly enhance future coalition operations - one that will require the United States, the United Kingdom, and their allies, not only to fight together, but also to work together to develop weapons systems and equipment that are fully interoperable.

Once developed and fielded, JSF will enable both nations to maintain and enhance our effectiveness in the skies over the battlespace. Building on a long history of UK/US collaboration on Short Take Off/Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft technologies, JSF cooperation is the logical next step in establishing a new direction for U.S. transatlantic cooperation in defense systems.

The JSF program will provide a highly capable, affordable Strike Fighter for the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Navy as well as the U.K. Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, and our other allies.

It represents the flagship for the DoD's Acquisition Reform effort, combined with the key tenets of the U.K.'s "Smart Acquisition" initiative. Using the philosophy of "best of the best," the integration of U.K. personnel within the U.S. Program Office has become a model for cooperative program management, and has allowed full exploitation of the particular strengths of each country.

In addition to the planned government-to-government cooperation, today's events underline the critical importance of U.S. and U.K. industry working closely together to develop this new fighter. Under JSF's "best value" approach, U.K. industry has worked closely with the two prospective U.S. prime contractors to earn a sizable share of planned JSF EMD work by offering significant advantages to the U.S. prime contractors. This approach will markedly contribute to JSF's primary goal of providing a highly capable aircraft at an affordable cost. The pooling of technological expertise will significantly increase technical competency on both sides of the Atlantic.

The JSF will play a major role in maintaining a strong transatlantic industrial base, enhancing interoperability within the NATO Alliance, and providing both the United States and its closest partners with greater access to key technologies needed to meet their future defense requirements.