BL01 was completed at the Company’s Military Air & Information site at Samlesbury, Lancashire, and will now be transported to the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility at the Cameri Air Base in northern Italy, where it will be married up with the rest of the aircraft.
Jon Evans, head of F-35 Lightning II Production Delivery at Samlesbury, said: “This is another important milestone in our F-35 Lightning II programme and we are proud to complete manufacture of the first F-35B aft fuselage for the Italian Air Force.
“It is also further demonstration of the expertise of our team as we continue to deliver landmarks in what is a huge programme – and one in which BAE Systems will continue to play a vital role.”
Our teams on the F-35 Lightning II programme at Samlesbury are responsible for producing each rear fuselage and vertical and horizontal tails set, a significant proportion of the total manufacturing work on each aircraft.
We are also responsible for various systems on the aircraft including fuel, crew escape and life-support systems, and the integration of the aircraft on to the new Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier.
The STOVL variant, known as the F-35B, is designed to operate from outpost bases and air-capable ships. It can also take off and land conventionally from longer runways.
Collectively, some 500 UK companies are involved in the F-35 Lightning II programme with around 3,200 aircraft set to be built over the next 20 years.