UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has signalled a major revision to the UK's plan for procuring the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), with a sizeable cut in the expected number of F-35B short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft purchased and the possible acquisition of a second variant: the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A.
In remarks on 19 July in the United States, Hammond said the UK would order 48 F-35Bs to equip the UK's future carrier strike force. He added that a follow-on F-35 buy would be set out in a future Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), with the aim of replacing the Eurofighter Typhoon in UK service.
Hammond was in the US to attend the handover of the UK's first F-35B (BK-1) at Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth facility. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed his comments, telling IHS Jane's : "The defence secretary said that initially the UK would buy 48 jets for the aircraft carriers and announce at a later date what the final numbers would be. We will not finalise our decisions on the F-35 programme until SDSR in 2015."