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30 Sep 02. The British government announced today that it had selected the short take-off version of the Joint Strike Fighter for its air and naval forces, and would buy up to 150 of the aircraft for £10bn($15.6bn).

Defence procurement minister Lord Bach said the announcement was “very good news for British industry” since the planes would be built in part by Rolls-Royce Plc (London:RR.L – News) BAE Systems Plc (London:BA.L – News) and Smiths Group Plc (London:SMIN.L – News).

Although the new planes would be able to take off vertically from aircraft carriers without a catapult, Bach said two new carriers would be equipped with catapults at a later stage.

Rolls-Royce Plc said that it expected to earn $3bn in production revenue for U.S. and British warplanes.

Rolls-Royce said the 150 aircraft bought by Britain would bring total British/U.S. orders of the aircraft to 750.

“This is a very positive decision by the UK government which opens up significant opportunities for Rolls-Royce and its many suppliers,” Rolls-Royce Chief Executive John Rose said in a statement.

Comment: This is good news for British industry and Rolls-Royce in particular, which has a larger share in the STOVOL engine. The announcement that the carriers would have a catapult also points to the possible selection of the Northrop Grumman Hawkeye aircraft for the Maritime Airborne Surveillance and Control (MASC) capability, which would make the UK carriers compatible with their U.S. and French counterparts reinforcing the CEC capability and interoperability.

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