via the BBC
For the past year defence analysts had been expecting the MoD to order 14 of the new jets.Two things jump out at me.
In February, Newsnight was told that it would be placed "within days". But persistent doubts about the F35's enormously complex software, and an engine fire this summer caused successive delays to the decision.
When the British purchase was announced, last month, it was for just four of the planes. The MoD says that this order will allow trials to start from the Queen Elizabeth on time with "UK F35Bs, flown by UK pilots".
But the slowdown in the expected purchasing rate is bound to delay the aircraft's entry into squadron service, say defence insiders.
Former chief of the defence staff General Lord Richards told Newsnight that asking US jets to fly from the Queen Elizabeth would be a sensible way of bridging the gap between the carrier being completed, and a British squadron of jets being available.
The first is that we keep hearing announcements of purchases of jets that never materialize.
The second is that the Brits are actually considering asking USMC F-35B squadrons to operate off their carrier!
I personally find the idea ludicrous. The USMC is going to have to learn how operating the F-35 off our own LHDs will actually work and then there is the pesky situation of sequester affecting the numbers being bought and the optics of having enough to fly off another country's carrier. All that's ignoring the manning requirements, the deployment schedule etc...
But back to the phantom aircraft purchases. The Brits are one of the biggest supporters of this airplane and they haven't pulled the trigger on this 14 plane purchase.
Perhaps its because the "real" price isn't decreasing as much as is being portrayed in public! We're being sold a bill of goods on this plane and the program office has reached the point of it not being taken seriously. Every statement, announcement etc...can be considered spin if you're being generous and an outright lie if you choose to be factual.
The death spiral is here and now. Lockheed Martin, the Program Office and the Pentagon missed the window to sell thousands of these planes. Budgets world wide simply can't afford the strain of this airplane now.