Britain threatens to pull out of defense deal

Stephen Beard Dec 8, 2006
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Britain threatens to pull out of defense deal

Stephen Beard Dec 8, 2006
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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: British lawmakers are warning the U.S.: Unless America agrees to share sensitive technology, Britain could pull out of a multi-billion dollar defense agreement. The deadline is the end of the year. From London, Stephen Beard reports.


STEPHEN BEARD: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the world’s most expensive military project, costing more than a quarter of a trillion dollars.

The Pentagon will take 2,400 of the planes. Britain, a junior partner in the project, wants 138. But that order is in jeopardy. The British parliament’s defense committee has called for it to be canceled unless the Americans release enough technical information that the Brits can operate the planes independently.

President Bush has already agreed to this demand. So what’s the problem? James Boxell of the Financial Times:

JAMES BOXELL: There are still elements within Congress , and also within industry , who are concerned about some of this very specialized and high value technology and are reluctant to let that go to the UK.

A British defense minister flies to Washington next week to try to break the deadlock. He says Britain will not buy the F35 without the technology transfer.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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