The rolling off of 318th rear section for an F-35 Lightning II combat jet from the Samlesbury, Lancashire production line completes 10 per cent of the global requirement production.
The aft fuselage is the back part of the aircraft’s main body. The rear section has now transferred from our advanced manufacturing suite to Lockheed Martin’s Final Assembly and Check Out line in Fort Worth, Texas to be connected with other major assemblies to become one of three aircraft variants, BAE Systems said in a statement Wednesday.
This variant has the short take-off and vertical landing capability which makes it ideal for Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carriers. With HMS Queen Elizabeth set to enter her new home in Portsmouth imminently, the F-35B jets are on track to make their first flight trials from her deck next year.
Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin, said, “This is an important milestone and the latest example of how the F-35 programme is benefitting the UK’s defence industry, creating thousands of jobs and helping to keep Britain safer and more secure.
“Britain is a leading partner in the development of the F-35, supporting not just the aircraft that will operate from RAF Marham and our two new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, but also the thousands of jets that will serve our allies around the world.”
Andrea Thompson, F-35 Lightning II Director for BAE Systems Military Air & Information, said, “We are also working closely with our supply chain to ensure they are equipped to meet the ramp up in production at the same time as delivering against our existing commitments.”