The UK is the first international partner to have taken delivery of the F-35 Lightning II, and the RAF and Royal Navy will now commence flight trials of the aircraft.
Speaking after the event Chris Allam, F-35 Lightning II Senior Vice President for BAE Systems, said: “This is an important day for the programme – and for us, we are another step closer to bringing F-35 into service. Today is also important for the 2,000+ BAE Systems employees who support this programme in the UK, where we build the aft fuselage and vertical and horizontal tails for all three variants of the aircraft, and for the many hundreds more of our people who make a contribution to the programme across our global operations.”
BAE Systems’ Chief Executive, Ian King, who was also at the event, commented: “Everyone who has worked on the programme, which involves employees from across our global operation, should be proud of the part they have played in getting to today – through the development and flight testing phase, into production and preparing for entry into service with the US, UK and other international partners’ air forces.”
Over 3,000 F-35 Lightning II aircraft stand to be produced, based on current requirements from the US and other international partners, with planned rates of production set to reach 200 per year (or one a day) by 2015.
Fifteen per cent of F-35 Lightning II work is carried out in the UK and over 130 British companies contribute to the supply chain. It is worth over £1Bn to UK industry each year and will support around 25,000 British jobs over the next 25 years.