Project Moonflower

Flyaway

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Is this the F-117A that they are referring to here?

Another top secret prime ministerial file on Project Moonflower is worded in such an obscure manner that its so-called black subject is not immediately apparent.

“Dear Margaret,” a 1986 US telegram recorded, “I am delighted to hear that you will be able to see Cap [Casapar Weinberger, the US defence decretary] to discuss the special program I wrote you about … I look forward to receiving your reaction. Sincerely, Ron.”

In a top secret personal message, on which someone wrote in faint pencil “STEALTH”, an enthused prime minister wrote back after the secret meeting: “Dear Ron, I was immensely impressed by your splendid achievement: three cheers for America!

“I was also very touched by the generosity of the offer of participation which [Cap] brought. It brings home once again who our real friends are … I am so much looking forward to seeing you in Tokyo. With warmest best wishes, yours sincerely, Margaret.”

The offer of transatlantic cooperation on Stealth technology – which disguises an aircraft’s presence from radar detection – was one the MoD declined to take up.

An MoD letter in December 1986 to Charles Powell, the prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser, about Project Moonflower informed him that “Mr Weinberger has offered us a chance to purchase the current US aircraft but we have replied that we would not wish to actually buy hardware while the programme remains strictly black [secret].

“… [George] Younger [defence secretary] raised the subject very briefly with Mr Weinberger this morning … just sufficiently to test whether Weinberger is disappointed at our reaction so far. He certainly does not seem to be.”
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/dec/30/margaret-thatcher-us-french-military-technology-national-archives-top-secret?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
 

Hood

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Interesting. Probably was F-117, two RAF pilots had carried out an evaluation earlier in 1986.
Not surprising the RAF wasn't interested, the F-117 was not an all-weather platform suitable for northern European operations and lacking a multi-role weapons capability. Also, I guess the MOD didn't want the hassle of having to order and keep secret a foreign black programme and be responsible for blowing its cover until the US had publicly revealed its existence. Don't forget this was the time of the Trident argument too, could have been a real political hot potato.
Interestingly the Guardian journo assumes this means the MOD was rejecting an "offer of transatlantic cooperation on Stealth technology", but that's reading heavily between the lines, the F-117 was not the last word on the subject by 1986 and buying it isn't the same as technology sharing, which I assume was already happening anyway in some form.
 

CJGibson

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Might have been the 'sharing' of high-speed propulsion technology by Rolls-Royce.

Chris
 

Flyaway

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Hood said:
Interesting. Probably was F-117, two RAF pilots had carried out an evaluation earlier in 1986.
Not surprising the RAF wasn't interested, the F-117 was not an all-weather platform suitable for northern European operations and lacking a multi-role weapons capability. Also, I guess the MOD didn't want the hassle of having to order and keep secret a foreign black programme and be responsible for blowing its cover until the US had publicly revealed its existence. Don't forget this was the time of the Trident argument too, could have been a real political hot potato.
Interestingly the Guardian journo assumes this means the MOD was rejecting an "offer of transatlantic cooperation on Stealth technology", but that's reading heavily between the lines, the F-117 was not the last word on the subject by 1986 and buying it isn't the same as technology sharing, which I assume was already happening anyway in some form.
Didn't they try and sell a navalised version of the F-117A to the UK at one point, sure I've read that in a book?
 

LowObservable

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There were discussions regarding a variant of the A/F-117X family, which included a CATOBAR variant, but the latter was never a consideration for the UK.
 

Flyaway

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Article claiming it was indeed the F-117A.

https://theaviationist.com/2017/01/02/in-1986-u-s-president-ronald-reagan-offered-britain-the-f-117-stealth-jet/
 

harrier

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I saw the file earlier this month. No project is mentioned, although 'Cap' Weinberger's hotel arrangements get coverage!

It was clear that there was some interest from the UK side, but only to share technology, not make a project commitment. What the technology was is not really mentioned.
 

Grey Havoc

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Via SNAFU: https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/ronald-reagan-offered-britain-f-117-stealth-aircraft/
 
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