The UK might soon announce buying 14 F-35 super-stealth jets from Lockheed Martin, according to Reuters.
The so-called 'Main Gate 4' order, for the F-35 B vertical take-off variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, would mark the UK’s first firm F-35 purchase since it committed to buying 48 planes in 2012.
It has so far taken delivery of three training jets.
Unnamed sources told Reuters the announcement of the purchase of the radar-evading aircraft, which will cost UK tax payers at least £74m, might be made by the end of January, presumably ahead of the visit of Defence Secretary Philip Hammond to Washington.
Another source close to the Ministry of Defence said a decision was due in the next few weeks. The Ministry of Defence and Lockheed Martin declined to comment.
The F-35, one of the world's most expensive weapons programmes at $396bn (£240bn), was designed to become the next-generation fighter jet for the US Air Force, Navy and Marines and has been described as a flying computer with sensors that can detect enemy threats 200 miles away.
It is being built by the United States, Britain and seven other co-development partners – Italy, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands.
British companies such as BAE Systems and Rolls Royce build 15 per cent of each F-35 aircraft. The project is foreseen to create and support more than 24,000 jobs across the country.
On Thursday, Lockheed's chief financial officer Bruce Tanner told reporters the company expected foreign orders to increase further in 2014, with international sales expected to account for just under 20 per cent of the company's overall sales.
He said the F-35 accounted for 16 per cent of Lockheed's revenues in 2013, and that number would grow again this year