Visual impression of the two Lightning models at Samlesbury

The English Electric Lightning and F-35 Lightning II aircraft represent the past, present and future of one of our Lancashire sites at the heart of making aviation history and leading the way in advanced manufacturing. 

Permission to land

Planning permission for both full scale aircraft models was granted earlier this year and the pair are set to land on Lancashire soil in summer next year. 

A proud heritage and a bright future

Ian Wood, Samlesbury Site Director said: “The Lancashire weather had really taken its toll on the previous Lightning aircraft and it got to a point where we had to remove it. When that happened, we were inundated with calls and concerns from employees and members of the community. That aircraft was part of our identity. Part of our proud heritage. That’s why I’m delighted to share our plans for two new gate guardians in 2014. The English Electric Lightning represents a proud past and the Lightning II a bright future. I can’t wait to see the look on people’s faces when they get to see the two side by side.”

At Lightning speed

The English Electric Lightning holds a special place in the history of the North West and the Company.  It was the first completely British designed and built fighter aircraft able to fly at twice the speed of sound. It was a turning point in aviation history with the first production aircraft making its maiden flight from Samlesbury on the 3rd November 1959, putting Lancashire firmly on the map as the home of military aircraft manufacture in the UK and establishing the company, then English Electric as a prime aircraft designer and manufacturer. 

Since that time the site has played a pivotal role in the design and build of some of the world’s most advanced military aircraft including the Canberra, Tornado and Typhoon.

Lightning strikes again

The site currently employs over 4000 people working across a variety of aircraft programmes and functions. Approximately a 1000 of those work directly on the F-35 Lightning II programme. The F-35 Lightning II is a stealthy, multi-role, all weather attack aircraft that can operate from land and sea. With more than 3000 aircraft planned for future production the F-35 programme is the largest defence programme in the world and one which we are proud to be part of.  As a team mate on the Lockheed Martin-led programme, we bring military aircraft expertise that is critical to the programme.  This includes manufacture of the rear fuselage and tails for each and every F-35 as well as playing a lead role in system design and development including crew escape and fuel systems.

Ian Wood adds: “The F-35 model will be the first of its kind to take up a permanent spot in the UK.  For many of the people that live and work here it will be the first time they will see the aircraft in the flesh. It’s going to be a really exciting time when it arrives.”

Top models

The English Electric Lightning model is being remoulded from the former aircraft that sat at the Samlesbury entrance.  The F-35 model is being produced from a scanned digital model and will be the Short Take Off and Vertical Landing variant of the aircraft (otherwise known as the B model) which is due to enter service in the UK.