US senators try to block deployment of F-35 to UK over Huawei’s involvement in building Britain’s 5G network

Lockheed Martin F-35A

Republican senators are trying to block 48 of the most advanced fighter jets ever created from being deployed to the UK, over Huawei’s involvement in building Britain’s 5G wireless network.

The move is being led by Republican senator for Arkansas Tom Cotton, who is attempting to block by law a fleet of F-35A Lightning II aircraft being stationed in the UK.

Mr Cotton, who also sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is trying to make an amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which determines defense spending levels. 

If it passes it would effectively stop two US squadrons of F-35As being permanently stationed in the UK from next year as planned.

It would ban deployment to countries where perceived ‘at-risk’ firms like Huawei operate.

A summary at the top of Mr Cotton’s proposal states: ‘To prohibit the stationing of new aircraft at bases in host countries with at-risk vendors in their 5G or 6G networks.’

Chinese telecoms company Huawei was permitted to build Britain’s 5G wireless network by Boris Johnson in January.

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The $200 million aircraft project has been nearly a half-decade in preparation and a collapse at this stage would be embarrassing for the British government.

Long-standing preparations have been in the making at RAF Lakenheath, in Suffolk, including 1,200 US airmen. 

Mr Cotton currently sits on a committee which handles the legislation, and other Republican signatories are expected, according to a report in The Telegraph. 

‘While the United States will do all we can to maintain and strengthen the special relationship, protecting US airmen and our national security assets must come first,’ Mr Cotton told the national newspaper. 

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