European interest in the US Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme is continuing to mount, with the Netherlands and Norway signing agreements with the US Defense Department to join the project as observers.

Pentagon JSF programme director Rear Adm Craig Steidle says that, in addition, Denmark is now considering whether to sign up and Canada is in a similar position. Italy and Spain may also join, he says. The UK and the USA are the only full partners in the next-generation fighter programme.

In a separate move, Lockheed Martin, which with Boeing is under contract to the Pentagon to build rival JSF technology demonstrators, says that it is in preliminary talks with Aerospatiale, Dassault and Daimler-Benz Aerospace to explore whether the companies can play a part in any subsequent production and development. Lockheed Martin is also teamed with British Aerospace and Northrop Grumman.

Lockheed Martin says that it expects to deliver its first C-130J Hercules to the Royal Air Force by next January, nearly 14 months late. Negotiations over penalty payments for late delivery continue. Federal Aviation Administration certification is now expected in the first quarter of 1998.

Source: Flight International