The Politics and Economics of International Defense Procurement: A Realist Study of Collaboration in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program

Alexander Schmidt Kondrup

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis presents a Realist analysis of contemporary issues in international defense procurement, using the case of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter(JSF) program as a case of current trends, challenges and opportunities in this particular industry sector. It undertakes a Qualitative deductive literature-based research approach, with the goal of creating a structural theory-based understanding of contemporary collaborative defense procurement issues. This is was then employed as structural foundation for understanding the structure, dynamics and performance of the F-35 JSF program, through an empirically based case study of this program, and a number its hand-picked participants.
Through this approach, this paper identified the emergence of certain issues in defense procurement that challenge classic notions of defense procurement, of the state as being the best guarantor of security in this sector. through this observation, It is argued, that these emerging issues today challenge the feasibility of states to maintain practices of efficient defense procurement single-handedly. From this, the paper argues that there today exists an increased incentive to collaboration and use of global vale chains, due to benefits of “collective efficiency” potentially provided by these in the face of these new emerging issues. from this, it is argued that these notions informed the design and structure of the F-35 JSF program, as a collaborative project designed to off-set emerging trends and leverage the benefits inherent to the use of collaboration and global value chains in this particular sector. This paper however found, that the presents of these trends were inefficiently recognized in regards to the collaborative aspect of the program through a US failure, or unwillingness to recognize individual participants particular local content requirements in regards to these. This, it is argued resulted in the poor performance of the program as participants hedged/balanced against it, thereby off-setting the potential for collective economic efficiency in this international defense procurement program.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages81
SupervisorsCornel Ban