NDI director comments on the Combat Air Strategy

Posted on 08 Mar 2018 and read 916 times
NDI director comments on the Combat Air StrategyAndy Tuscher, a director of NDI (www.eef.org.uk/ndi) — the EEF’s defence experts that offer supply-chain sourcing and development services to businesses of all sizes in the defence, aerospace, space and security sectors — welcomed last month’s announcement that the Government is to launch a new Combat Air Strategy later this year.

He said: “NDI has campaigned hard for a long-term plan that sets out intentions for the future of the RAF’s fleet of combat jets beyond the Typhoon and F-35 Lightning.

Although these ‘capabilities’ are due to be sustained into the 2040s, direction is required now to ensure that the UK supply chain is properly placed to deliver the technologies that the RAF will require to keep it at the ‘top table’ of air power capability and ensure our national security for the long term.

“It is encouraging to hear Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson launching the strategy with an intention that it ‘brings together the best of British engineering, skill and design, and delivers a compelling vision for the future of air power . . . to secure an enduring and strategic relationship with UK industry.’

This is vital, and it suggests the MOD acknowledges that a consistent pipeline of work is required throughout the supply chain to sustain the skills and infrastructure that will be instrumental in delivering the future vision.

“Despite being a national strategy, it will need to take account of the inevitable fact that — like the RAF’s current platforms — the next generation of jets will be developed as part of an international partnership.

“European co-operation will be an obvious avenue of exploration, although the UK is not currently part of the Franco-German initiative announced last year to explore this.

“An option similar to the UK’s involvement with the US-led F-35 programme is also likely to be considered. What is most important will be to recognise that — as a nation — we can’t afford to assume that we will always have access to the latest capabilities by virtue of our allies.

“The leading role of the UK in the Eurofighter programme and our position as choice partner of the US on F-35 are not due to any act of benevolence; UK industry, right through the supply chain, brings critical technology, skills and experience to the table, but this will only last as long as we have the technical means to do so.”

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