UK looks to swap an F-35B for an F-35C

F-35C CF-3, the final development F-35

With the UK’s decision last year to switch its preferred model of F-35 from the STOVL F-35B to the more conventional but carrier capable F-35C, the UK MoD is looking to swap the sole F-35B it has funded to date with an F-35C.

The swap, which the Pentagon has reportedly described as “mutually beneficial” and “cost neutral”, will require a legislative amendment to the 2012 defense authorisation bill in order to be approved. The F-35B in question was funded under the Low Rate Initial Production lot 3 (LRIP 3) build run in 2009 and the aircraft is currently under construction, while there also a number of F-35Cs in various stages of manufacture at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth facility.

If approved, the UK would be required to fund any modifications to the aircraft required to make it common with US Marine Corps F-35Bs, and the Marines would also benefit in getting an additional aircraft for development and training.