British Aerospace will get a larger share of the work in the US Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) project if it joins a team sooner rather than later.

"The main challenge for BAe is selecting the team which will win," says David Wheaton, Lockheed Martin's JSF programme manager. "BAe will get work regardless who wins the US down-select; the kind of work and quality depends on selecting the right team now."

Which team BAe will join in the battle for the JSF - Lockheed Martin or Boeing/McDonnell Douglas - is a major talking point of Paris, with a steady stream of press reports from UK-based sources saying BAe has already opted to team with Lockheed Martin.

BAe's John Weston has been saying all week that no decision has been made yet and Wheaton referred questioners to BAe on the subject.

Orders for some 3,000 JSFs are expected from 2008 from the USAF, US Navy, Marine Corps and British Royal Navy, along with export orders. Two concept demonstrators are to be built by each of the rival teams for the Pentagon to choose a winner in 2001.

With the Lockheed Martin now firm on the initial design after the Pentagon last week approved the company's idea for concept development, a question mark hangs on how much design input BAe would have.



"We will continue to identify the configuration for optional use," says Wheaton. "BAe can help us in the STOVL area and competitive manufacturing.. We can work together; there is still plenty of work to do."

Wheaton says the development of the revolutionary VSTOL propulsion system to meet the USMC and RN requirements was one of the "major challenges" of the JSF project.

Source: Flight Daily News