The new production line, known as the Integrated Assembly Line (or IAL for short) has been installed in the latest phase of the new F-35 5th generation stealthy fighter jet manufacturing facility at Samlesbury, which opened in March this year.
It will use an automated overhead monorail system to ‘pulse’ sections of the rear fuselage of all three types of F-35 aircraft (Conventional, STOVL and Carrier variant) around an assembly line, building them as they go and allowing more units to be produced more efficiently than before – helping the team to ramp up production from the current level of one per week up to the required level of one per day by 2016. A similar one is planned for production in 2013 to support the horizontal and vertical tail assembly builds.
Over the past ten years we have made significant investment in the F-35 programme, including a new titanium machining facility which opened in 2010, a new office building, the newly extended manufacturing facility and now the new production line. We employ almost 2000 employees on the F-35 programme.
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. The programme is worth over £1bn to UK industry each year and will support around 25,000 British jobs over the next 25 years.