Extended F-35 military jet manufacturing facility opened
Production on the F-35 programme reached another milestone at BAE Systems today with the opening of the latest phase of the new F-35 fifth generation stealthy fighter jet manufacturing facility at Samlesbury in Lancashire.
As part of the company’s £150 million investment in the F-35 programme at Samlesbury, the facility (when fully completed) will enable workers to produce one F-35 aft fuselage set every day, compared to the current rate of one set per week. The extension is the second part of a three phase expansion plan to the facility as the programme gears up for peak rate production by 2016.
Today’s ceremony, watched by MP’s and members of the F-35 supply chain, saw Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley and deputy chairman Ways & Means, officially open the new facility.
Chris Allam, senior vice president on the F-35 programme, said: “The facility opening is an exciting development in the F-35 story at Samlesbury. F-35 is an important programme for BAE Systems and the capabilities that this facility provides are equal to anywhere in the world. We’re using state of the art machines and manufacturing techniques to ensure we can meet the rates of production that the F-35 programme demands. It’s fair to say that this facility is proof that we’re standing up to that challenge and we’re keeping ourselves at the forefront of UK manufacturing.”
Martin Wright, chief executive for the North West Aerospace Alliance, added: “The F-35 programme is the largest defence project in the world and, through BAE Systems, will be the backbone of stability to our regional industry through those companies successful in winning F-35 contracts. This facility is somewhere in which our young people will want to work, to build knowledge, create jobs and secure the future of this magnificent industry of ours."
Along with being responsible for the design and delivery of the aft fuselage and empennage for each of the three F-35 variants, BAE Systems also plays a key role in other areas including vehicle and mission systems, life support system and prognostics health management integration. The company also has significant work share in autonomic logistics and has a role in the Integrated Test Force in America, including two BAE Systems pilots flight testing the F-35 as part of Team JSF.
Over the past ten years BAE Systems has made significant investment in the F-35 programme, including a new titanium machining facility which opened in 2010, a new office building and now the newly extended manufacturing facility. BAE Systems employs almost 2,000 employees on the F-35 programme.