March 31, 2006

US-UK tech transfer issue being worked out-Rice

BLACKBURN (Reuters) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
told reporters on Friday that differences with Britain over the
sensitive issue of defense technology transfer were being
worked out.

"We are working on any problems about technology sharing.
It's a complicated matter, everyone wants to protect
technology, but these issues are being worked out as they
should, among friends," Rice told reporters on a visit to a UK
plant doing work on the U.S.-led Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
combat jet, a program which has stirred UK concerns about
technology transfer.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw added: "It is an
issue. It's being discussed as the Secretary says, between the
governments and the companies concerned."

The head of British military procurement told the U.S.
Congress this month that the UK would be unable to follow
through with plans to buy Lockheed Martin Corp.'s
next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter unless the United
States could ensure that Britain would be able to do its own
upgrades, including software, once the jets enter service.

Australia and Italy have voiced similar concerns while
Norway has expressed concern that its defense industry will not
receive sufficient workshare from the JSF program.

Adding to British concerns was a U.S. decision to scrap a
$2.4 billion second engine development contract for the F-35
last month, dealing a blow to the UK's Rolls-Royce which was
playing a key role on the program.

The JSF is a family of radar-evading, supersonic,
multi-role warplanes being co-financed by seven countries along
with the United States and Britain -- Italy, the Netherlands,
Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway.

Foreign partners, led by Britain which has committed $2
billion, together account for about 10 percent of the
development funding.

It's the costliest international warplane project in
history, expected to cost more than $250 billion for the 2,593
aircraft which the United States and Britain plan to buy.