For the eight international partners, involvement in the development of the
U.S. Joint Strike Fighter program is an opportunity for their defense industries
to compete for participation in the Defense Department’s largest-ever
The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Norway
and Turkey are participating in the System Development and Demonstration (SDD)
phase of the program. Depending on how much money they contributed, countries
are ranked on a scale of one to four. Based on the ranking, each participant
is given access to program data and allowed a certain number of personnel to
work in the Washington-based JSF office.
A complex web of letters of intent and memoranda of understanding have guided
negotiations for the funding levels each country will contribute, indicating
what they will receive in return. For example, the U.K., as a Level 1 partner,
can place 10 people in the program office, among the integrated product teams,
said Kathy Crawford, JSF spokesperson. The Level 3 partners are allowed one
representative in the program office, she said.
For JSF partners, the U.S. government will waive the foreign military sales
charges for future aircraft purchases, said Crawford. Also, “while there
is no guaranteed work share on the Joint Strike Fighter, work will go to a partner
country before a non-partner country, unless the ‘widget’ is only
produced by the non-partner country,” she said.
None of the countries has yet made procurement commitments, though the U.K.
announced it would purchase 150 fighters. Australia and Italy have indicated
tentative plans to purchase aircraft. The SDD phase requires no commitment on
the part of the participating countries to buy the Joint Strike Fighter, also
known as the F-35.
Australia is a Level 3 partner and will contribute $150 million to the SDD
phase, guaranteeing a desk for one Australian in the program office.
The Joint Strike Fighter provides for Australia, “the chance to jump
into a fifth generation aircraft,” said Air Commodore John Harvey, director-general
of new air combat capability for the Australian Department of Defence.
Harvey explained that the Australian defense industry would unlikely be able
to afford an extensive fighter development program on its own, and chose to
participate in the Joint Strike Fighter because “it is the only affordable
option for that sort of technology,” he said.
The SDD phase can be likened to getting in on the ground floor of the project
and “gives us a chance to have some little influence in the development
of the program,” he said. Harvey also said the involvement gives the Australians
the ability “to understand it better and learn about the technology as
we go along,” he said.
“We get the cost benefits and it gives us a priority in acquiring the
aircraft later,” he added. “Because the JSF is such a big project,
the risks are shared quite widely, and a lot of countries working towards it,
so we see it as a fairly low risk approach to acquiring our future air combat
Harvey also said, “it’s a big thing” for Australia’s
industry to have the chance to compete. “Instead of being part of a small
buy, we can be part of a large aircraft buy,” he said.
For Level 3 partner Canada, involvement in the Joint Strike Fighter program
provides the Canadian defense industry with “the opportunity to compete
and to win, by participating in a leading edge, high-tech, world-class program,”
said Col. Dan Bulpit, defense cooperation attaché at the Canadian embassy
in Washington, D.C.
Canada will contribute $150 million in total to the SDD phase, with $100 million
coming from the government and $50 million provided by Technology Partnerships
Canada, an industry group.
“It’s clear that JSF will enhance our interoperability with the
U.S. and the other JSF partner nations by maintaining close contact, cooperation
and coordination, in such things as evolving threats, developing technologies,
and common weapons system platforms,” he said.
“There are possible spin-offs in other military or dual-use applications,”
Bulpit said. “If you’re not inside the fence, you can’t see
what’s going on.”
Participation also “keeps Canada’s foot in the door in the best
price category, in the event that Canada chooses to acquire the JSF for our
air force at some point in the future,” he said.
Bulpit said that the Joint Strike Fighter is likely to bode well for future
international projects. “It has already brought senior warfighters together
to discuss the evolving threat environment and requirements for next generation
weapons platforms,” he said.
Denmark is also a Level 3 partner in the SDD phase, having made a commitment
of $125 million. Brig. Gen. Jens Friis Autzen, Danish defense attaché
to the United States, explained that Denmark’s aging fleet of 68 F-16s
prompted military leaders to follow the progress of all the world’s fighter
programs, eventually prompting Denmark to join the program in the spring of
The sum of $125 million is a large investment in the context of the Danish
defense budget, which is 16 billion kroner (approximately $2.1 billion).
Autzen stressed that his country has yet to make an acquisition commitment
for the Joint Strike Fighter. That may not happen until after 2004, he said.
Autzen noted that a positive aspect of the SDD phase is that “you don’t
have to commit yourselves until you see what the final product will be.”
Autzen said the opportunity for industry involvement “is important to
us. I’m confident that Danish industry will be able to compete in certain
areas.” He cited the F-16 fighter program as an example of an international
project with many of the same goals as the JSF. The F-16 has “shared doctrines,
shared training, equipment, procedures. It’s quite outstanding as a matter
of fact,” he said.
However, “the F-16 program is not entirely like the JSF program. We are
not talking about the price offsets when we discuss JSF. You have a certain
amount of offset inclination with the F-16s. ... A majority of the F-16s we
received were put together in Belgium. Some of the components were made in Denmark,
and some of the components of American F-16s were made in Denmark as well.
“The JSF is more for best-value. If the Danish industry does not get
a thing to do on the JSF program, I could imagine that someone would say it
was better with the F-16 set-up,” Autzen said.
Italy is a Level 2 partner, contributing $1 billion. Brig. Gen. Tomasso Ferro,
Italy’s defense attaché to the United States, told National Defense
that “the JSF is a new era, where, in principle, you are setting the scene
for the rules of engagement.”
Italy’s goals for the JSF are quite simple, Ferro said. “We want
competition on quality and supplies. We invested one billion dollars. We plan
to procure the aircraft. We haven’t decided yet exactly how many, but
generally speaking, we are looking at a package of 100. It will very much depend
on many factors, including the financial results of the situation by the time
we will get into the production phase,” he said.
Italy is also involved in the Eurofighter program. “To our eyes, JSF
is not a competitor of Eurofighter. The Eurofighter is mainly replacing the
standing air defense fleet, so the main role will be air defense/air superiority,”
he said. Ferro also added that cutbacks in the Eurofighter funding profile permanently
changed the outlook for the program. “Eurofighter was the step-ahead in
European cooperation. But times have changed so much,” he said.
Ferro also said that Italy has been part of several other international programs.
For example, Italy’s involvement in the consortium on the F-104 program
provided an opportunity for international industrial cooperation. “Also,
the F-16 has been a great success in Europe, even though the number of nations
involved in F-104 were many more.”
The Netherlands will invest $800 million in the SDD effort, and has been a
participant in the Joint Strike Fighter program since 1997. It is a Level 2
In April 2002, the U.S. Defense Department and the Dutch Ministry of Defense
signed a declaration of principles to promote information exchange, closer defense
cooperation and improved access to each others’ defense markets, with
a focus of their cooperation being the Joint Strike Fighter.
Dutch deputy defense minister Henk van Hoof told an industry group that the
$800 million comes not just from government sources, but from industry. He said
the Dutch industry’s contribution is unprecedented, and establishes a
new method of cooperation between business and government. “This is an
enormous amount for the Dutch,” said van Hoof, “but we attach great
importance to the participation opportunities,” he said.
“Dutch industry is ready to come aboard, ready to start,” van Hoof
said. He also said that the F-35 stands to benefit from Dutch technology as
much as the Netherlands will profit from participation in the program.
In a recent speech to the National Defense Industrial Association, the deputy
chief of the Netherlands defense staff, Lt. Gen. P.M. Godderij, said that the
country’s decision to join JSF came from a rigorous technical and financial
analysis of all potential F-16 replacements. “The joint strike fighter
is a sound business investment and has a bright future,” he said.
Norway, also a Level 3 partner, is planning to replace its fleet of F-16s.
“Participating in the development phase of the JSF program is a unique
opportunity to establish an in-depth understanding of the capabilities and technologies
that the system will provide,” said Torbjorn Svensgard, assistant director
general of Norway’s Royal Ministry of Defence. “Being a partner
also means that we get the opportunity to be represented in the JSF program
office and to... express our views and argue our case in the requirements definition
process, and we also get the opportunity to influence the capabilities of the
system,” he said. For instance, Norway wants to have the Norwegian Strike
Missile integrated into the Joint Strike Fighter’s weapons suite.
“Since the mid-1970s, we have participated in what is by us considered
a very successful co-operation between five European F-16 nations. Two of our
current F-16 partners, Denmark and the Netherlands, are also participating in
the JSF SDD phase. We foresee that in the future, in order to be able to provide
meaningful and visible contributions to multinational coalitions, enhanced cooperation
will be required to maximize the utilization of common recourses,” he
Norway also is interested in industrial involvement. “Being a partner
in the JSF program means that our industries get the opportunity to participate
in the program. This is important, because in order to secure funding for the
procurement of new aircraft, it will be a prerequisite that credible and realistic
opportunities for industrial participation are identified.
“The combat aircraft program will be the biggest single acquisition ever
undertaken by the Norwegian armed forces, with a magnitude in the range of one
full year defense budget. Consequently, it will be a top priority on the political
agenda and highly visible in the media.
“Both Norwegian industries and the Norwegian government fully recognize
the ‘best value’ principle that applies to the program. We think
that principle actually favors our industries in those niches where they possess
world-class technological capabilities, provided that they get unfiltered access
to the required data and information, and the opportunity to bid on equal terms
with U.S. companies,” Svengard said.
“Compared to other programs Norway is involved in internationally, the
JSF is different in the sense that we are making a considerable contribution
without attaching any requirements for offset or cost-share/work share arrangements
to it. We have accepted this because we believe that if the model is successful,
considerable opportunities for our national defense industries exist within
the program. However, there is an urgent requirement to demonstrate that these
opportunities are real to secure continued support for the program,” Svengard
If the JSF collaborative model fails, it could mean a “major setback
in the efforts to create a two-way street for armaments cooperation across the
Atlantic,” he said.
Turkey became a partner in the Joint Strike Fighter program in 1999, and contributed
$6.2 million to the Concept Demonstration Phase (CDD) of the program. In 2002,
Turkey committed $175 million to become a Level 3 partner in the SDD phase.
“JSF replaces the F-16s and the program carries special significance
since it only includes NATO countries,” said Naci Saribas, deputy chief
of mission for the Turkish Embassy in Washington. Since JSF is set to be the
future fighter aircraft, he said, “Turkey seizes the opportunity to reach
modern day hi-tech at an early stage,” he said.
Saribas indicated that Turkey’s defense industry stands to gain. “The
Joint Strike Fighter program will provide Turkish companies with leading edge
technologies being developed for this class system to carry us into the next
level of industrial infrastructure. Industry-to-industry discussions now taking
place will result in a long-term relationship with the United States and partner
industries,” he said.
“Turkey’s SDD participation will allow its air force to take full
advantage of the Joint Strike Fighter opportunities and advanced technology,
logistics and training. In addition, Turkish industry will be engaged over the
life of the program in various endeavors that will afford a broad range of industrial
relationships with the U.S. and other global partners. We anticipate that these
relationships will continue into cooperative production,” Saribas said.
The United Kingdom is the only Level 1 partner in the Joint Strike Fighter
program, contributing $2 billion to the SDD phase. It is also the only country
other than the United States that has already committed to production orders.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom also is a partner in the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Steve Atkins, spokesman for the British Embassy in Washington, noted that,
“Other collaborative programs we work on in Europe, for example, are as
equal partners with other countries that have a shared need for similar types
of equipment. Eurofighter is a good example of that.
“JSF is very much a U.S. program, but we are there because we have a
similar requirement to the U.S.,” Atkins said.
The JSF, he added, “could reap as much as 3 billion pounds for the U.K.
economy in the current system development and demonstration phase, and a further
24 billion pounds” in future production orders, he said.
“It will provide a substantial amount of employment for U.K. firms,”
said Atkins. “In the current phase, some 3,500 jobs will be either sustained
or created, with the potential to rise to 8,500 in production and support phases.”