F-35 Programme
The F-35 Lightning II is designed from our STOVL technology legacy.
BAE Systems brings its military aircraft expertise to the development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of the F-35.
F-35 is the world's largest defence programme. Led by the US, with participation from the UK, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey, it is a truly collaborative programme aimed at delivering a stealthy, multi-role attack aircraft capable of operating from land and sea to nations across the globe.
The programme will deliver three variants of the aircraft, the Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL), the Carrier Variant (CV) and the Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL), to meet customers’ individual needs.
We are teamed with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to deliver the programme, bringing our military aircraft expertise to the development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of the F-35. 
As a key partner, we hold a 13-15% workshare of each aircraft, excluding propulsion, and we play a major role in the programme across multiple markets.
When it reaches peak production, the programme will be worth some £1 billion to UK industry alone, with an estimated 25,000 UK jobs sustained across more than 500 companies in the supply chain.

Design and Development


BAE Systems is a key partner on the F-35 programme, bringing our military aircraft expertise to the development of the aircraft.
We bring decades of experience in short take-off and vertical landing from our Harrier aircraft which has informed the technology behind the F-35, and are the lead design authority on crucial capabilities including the fuel system, crew escape and life support system.
We conduct durability testing at our unique structural testing facility in East Yorkshire, UK, while our engineering teams work alongside our partners on flight testing and weapons integration work for the UK.
In the US, our test pilots and engineers are working to get the aircraft ready to meet the needs of our customers. All in all, we play a leading role in ensuring the F-35 retains its fighting edge.


F-35 Production video
The aft fuselage and vertical and horizontal tails - effectively the rear section - of every F-35 are built at our state of the art advanced manufacturing and assembly facilities in Lancashire, UK, and Adelaide, Australia. Our facilities use purpose-built robotic technology to manufacture the component parts from both titanium and aluminum, with the majority delivered from the UK and the vertical tail sections for the F-35 CTOL variants produced in Australia. For further information visit the F-35 production webpage. 
But, our role in production does not stop at the airframe, we also deliver key systems and electronics onboard the jets.
We are world leaders in electronic warfare capability and our engineers in New Hampshire and Texas in the US provide the electronic warfare suite for the F-35, which includes fully integrated radar warning, targeting support, and self-protection, to detect and defeat surface and airborne threats. The systems provide maximum situational awareness, helping the pilot to identify, monitor, analyse, and respond to potential threats. For further information visit the electronic warfare webpage.
Our team in Rochester, UK, provides the Active Interceptor Systems which the pilot uses to direct and maneuver the aircraft. Our engineers have also developed high-tech management computers which control the life-cycle costs of the jet, driving affordability for our customers. We even deliver micro-sensors which will warn aircraft inspectors of the risk of corrosion in hard-to-reach parts of the aircraft, reducing the need for costly, time-consuming inspections.

UK Supply Chain


Integration & Operations


The air forces operating the F-35 now and in the future need an aircraft which is ready and able to operate alongside the rest of their fighting force.

Whether it is the troops, ships or other aircraft of these air forces or their allies, an aircraft which is interoperable is crucial to success.

We are working alongside the UK Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, and US Navy using our simulation facilities to ensure our customers’ forces gain experience operating the F-35 during live simulated maritime scenarios, involving the Queen Elizabeth Class carrier.
In Australia, we are supporting the development of an architectural model for integrating the F-35 into the Australian Defence Force, ensuring the aircraft achieves maximum operational effectiveness.


BAE Systems has a proven track record of delivering sustainment on world-leading combat aircraft and we play a leading role in delivering this support to the global F-35 fleet.
To date, only around 5% of the overall fleet is currently in service and we are prepared for a rapid growth in the number of aircraft going in to service with air forces around the world.

Keeping this fleet flying through spares and repairs, technical support and training as well as engineering know-how, will be crucial to our customers.
We are part of the emerging global sustainment network being set up to support the growing F-35 fleet.

The UK will be a significant repair hub for Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul & Upgrade (MRO&U) services for F-35 avionics and aircraft components.  We will carry out this work as part of a team alongside the Defence Electronics and Components Agency and Northrop Grumman, operating out of the DECA site at RAF Sealand from 2018. 

We are also part of a programme which will deliver engineering and training facilities at RAF Marham in Norfolk in preparation for the arrival of the RAF's F-35 Lightning II fleet in 2018.
In the US, we are an integral part of the Integrated Test Force team, providing a range of support activities including fleet management, reliability and maintainability analysis, spares and repairs, software development and training.
Our team in Australia will be responsible for airframe MRO&U of the F-35 fleet in the Southern Pacific region. Forming an important part of the global sustainment capability for the fleet, our depot in Williamtown will support all F-35 aircraft operating in the region from 2018. 
Like the UK, Australia will be a significant repair hub for MRO&U services for F-35 avionics and aircraft components and we will be the lead provider of these services alongside our industry partners.  
An artist's impression of the new Integrated Training Centre at RAF Marham.


Queen Elizabeth
Class Programme

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