British Aerospace (BAe) is joining forces with Lockheed Martin on the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme, it was announced at Paris yesterday.

The decision to go with Lockheed Martin rather than the rival Boeing project - reached two days ago in Paris - is described by BAe chief Sir Richard Evans as a "hell of a good deal".

He adds that it opens the way to a "-very much closer long-term relationship. I want to see the relationship grow. We are living in a smaller world and there are a lot of opportunities."

Evans denies any political spin in going with Lockheed Martin rather than Boeing - at the centre of a bitter transatlantic dispute with Europe's Airbus Industrie over the planned Boeing/McDonnell Douglas merger.

"It has no bearing on this whatsoever," he says, adding that the decision was made after careful evaluation of the project and because it was the one where BAe could "-add the most value."



BAe will partner Lockheed Martin on the $718.8million contract to produce and fly two concept demonstration aircraft on the programme - which could ultimately lead to the building of nearly 3,000 aircraft.

But Evans does not rule out collaborative programmes with Boeing or with McDonnell Douglas. He says: "We informed Boeing of our decision (yesterday) and we understand their disappointment at our decision, but we have emphasised to Boeing that we fully intend to maintain our relationships with them and with McDonnell Douglas."

Beyond saying that BAe's contribution is likely to be in the areas of systems integration, low-cost design and manufacture and short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) technologies, Evans deals in few specifics.

"It's too early to talk of things like work share."

Lockheed Martin chief executive officer Norman Augustine says that he called Evans as soon as BAe's former JSF partner McDonnell Douglas was eliminated from the JSF competition.

Source: Flight Daily News