I watched with interest the UK Channel 4 documentary Battle of the X-Planes about the Joint Strike Fighter. The programme followed the assembly and flight testing of the two prototypes, Boeing's X-32 and the X-35 designed by Lockheed Martin (with BAE Systems), built to demonstrate the concept to the US Department of Defense and the UK Ministry of Defence.

Viewers were never told which parts of the aircraft were designed by the UK company. The only UK involvement depicted was the lift fan developed by Rolls-Royce for the vertical take-off application. The resulting impression was that BAE had no physical involvement in the initial design and development phase.

BAE Systems will probably never again design and build complete aircraft but, as the company is still committed to the world of military hardware, it is surely about time it started to take on more roles as international project leader or prime contractor instead of playing second fiddle to French, German or US counterparts.

J M Tracey Liverpool, UK

Source: Flight International