Production milestone for F-35 Lightning II combat jet

British engineers working on combat jets to accompany a new complement of UK aircraft carriers have reached a key production milestone.

The 318th rear section of an F-35 Lightning II combat jet has rolled off a BAE Systems production line in Samlesbury, Lancashire. This means that 10% of the global requirement has now been met.

With more than 3,000 aircraft currently on order, it is thought that 25,000 jobs will be sustained across the country – more than 500 organisations at peak production.

The rear section has now transferred from BAE Systems’ advanced manufacturing suite to Lockheed Martin’s final assembly and check-out line in Fort Worth, Texas.

“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,” said the Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin.

Andrea Thompson, F-35 Lightning II Director for BAE Systems Military Air & Information, added: “Reaching the 10% mark of production on the F-35 programme shows how far we have come, but also highlights that there is an enormous amount of work still to do.

“With an order book of more than 3,000 aircraft for the global F-35 fleet, the investments we are making in our advanced manufacturing facilities are key to ensuring we continue to deliver on our commitments.”

And Eric Branyan, Vice President of F-35 Supply Chain Management for Lockheed Martin concluded: “BAE Systems is a valued partner on the F-35 program, and we congratulate them on this significant milestone. The United Kingdom is the F-35 program’s only tier one partner and the work of BAE Systems and other in-country suppliers has a significant positive impact on the UK economy. We look forward to many more years of partnering to deliver the most advanced and capable 5th generation fighter jet to our allies around the world.”

The F-35 programme is the single largest defence initiative in the world today. As a key partner, the UK has worked closely with the US from the outset.

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