US calls on UK to spend more on F-35 program
Iran Press TV
Tue May 15, 2018 11:51AM
The UK should funnel more money into the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program if it wants maintain its military prowess in future, the US envoy to Britain has said, pledging that London will make "a lot of" money from the investment down the road.
Speaking to reporters in London on Monday, Woody Johnson said US President Donald Trump wanted to see the UK increase its military spending and the F-35 project was a good point to begin from.
"The UK is going to make a lot of money. There are going to be a lot of jobs," said Johnson. "To me, as an American, I would be looking at where do we want to be in the future, 10, 15, 20 years from now."
"How important is it to defend yourself? My mission is security and prosperity, and you really can't have prosperity unless you have security."
The UK has earmarked £9 billion to manufacture the first 48 F-35s as part of a package that could go on to include 138 of the Lockheed Martin aircraft.
London has already reiterated commitment to make the full purchase but the final tally might change due to austerity measures undertaken by the governmnet5.
The British military is currently undergoing a capabilities review that might end up slashing the country's military budget to address a £20 billion shortfall in public funding over the next decade.
British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson has asked Treasury chief Philip Hammond to increase the military budget from the current level of 2 per cent of GDP, or just over £37 billion a year.
This way the country would also keep up with Trump's demands that members of the NATO military alliance who have so far failed to reach the 2 percent of GDP funding threshold should make additional reparations in the coming years.
"I know the president has stated that he doesn't want to pay for everything. He's going to rely on our allies," Johnson said. "He wants everybody involved in mutual defense, not just the US doing everything."
The aircraft, known as the world's most expensive weapons project, has long outgrown its budget and missed several deadlines due to numerous design flaws and software bugs.
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