By Ben Farmer, Defence Correspondent
Telegraph Online -- 19 December 2017
The Government's failure to disclose how much Britain's new stealth jets will cost is unacceptable and risks undermining public confidence in the programme, MPs are warning. The multi-billion pound scheme to buy F-35 Lightning II jump jets is the UK's second largest weapons programme, but the MoD has refused to tell Parliament how much they will cost.
A Commons Defence Select Committee report has said the MoD's response is "wholly unacceptable" and demanded six-monthly updates on the programme to buy the Lockheed Martin jets. Julian Lewis MP, chairman of the committee said:
"There has been an unacceptable lack of transparency from the MoD and Lockheed Martin which risks undermining public confidence in the programme.
"F-35 is a major investment for the UK and we want it to succeed for the good of this country's security. However, it is precisely because this project is so important that it must be subjected to the closest possible scrutiny."
MoD officials repeatedly failed to give the committee the full cost of each aircraft, including spares, upgrades and retrofits. The committee said it
"views this failure to provide adequate cost estimates, either on a per-aircraft or programme-wide basis, as wholly unsatisfactory".
Britain last week received its 14th F-35B. The first UK squadron is due to be operational from RAF Marham next year, while flight trials will also begin from HMS Queen Elizabeth in the autumn off the east coast of America.