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New Milestone on F-35 Lightning II Programme

18 Jun 2007 | Ref. 174/2007

Samlesbury, United Kingdom. – BAE Systems has started assembly of the aft fuselage for the first “optimised” conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35 Lightning II – the world’s first stealthy, supersonic multi-role fighter.

The first parts of the aft fuselage are being lined up in an assembly jig at the company’s F-35 Lightning II facility at Samlesbury.

Tom Fillingham, BAE Systems’ F-35 Lightning II managing director, said: “This represents a significant milestone for the company. Hot on the heels of delivering the aft fuselage for the first short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) in April, we are making good progress with the aft fuselage of the next four STOVL aircrafts. And now we have started the assembly of the first ‘optimised’ CTOL aft fuselage. We delivered the first demonstration CTOL aircraft in 2005 which is now progressing through its flight test schedule at Lockheed Martin’s site in Fort Worth, Texas.”

BAE Systems will deliver the aft fuselage to programme partner Lockheed Martin towards the end of this year. Work on assembly for the first horizontal and vertical tails will be carried out throughout this year.

The optimised F-35s feature weight reductions and structural improvements that are being incorporated into all of the aircraft manufactured after the first F-35, which is currently undergoing flight testing.

Three versions of the F-35 Lightning II are planned: a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL), a short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) and a carrier variant (CV). Each is derived from a common design, and will ensure that the F-35 JSF meets the performance needs of the US Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, and allied defence forces worldwide, while staying within strict affordability targets.

BAE Systems is also responsible for the design and delivery of key areas of the vehicle and weapon systems, in particular the fuel system, crew escape, life support system and prognostics health management integration. The Company also has significant work share in autonomic logistics, primarily on the support system side, and is involved in the Integrated Test Force, including the systems flight test and mission systems.

BAE Systems is teamed with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to deliver the F-35 Lightning II - the world’s largest defence programme.

The F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), will be the world’s first and only stealthy, supersonic, multi-role fighter. The F-35 is being developed for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps to replace the AV-8B Harrier, A-10, F-16 and the F/A-18 Hornet and for the UK’s Royal Air Force and Royal Navy to replace the Harrier and Sea Harrier.

Three variants of the aircraft are in development and feature a high degree of commonality. Each variant is being tailored to meet the unique requirements of US and UK services. The variants are: a conventional takeoff and landing aircraft (CTOL) for the U.S. Air Force; a short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant for the U.S. Marine Corps and the UK; and a carrier takeoff and landing (CV) aircraft for the U.S. Navy. Current stated requirements from initial customers are for approximately 3,000 aircraft.

The F-35 programme is currently in the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase, which will see the production of 21 test aircraft. Fifteen F-35s will undergo flight test, and six will be used for static testing. Another high-fidelity full-scale model F-35 will validate the aircraft’s radar signature. The first flight of the first F-35 aircraft, a preproduction conventional takeoff and landing variant, took place on 15 December 2006.

The aft fuselage and empennage for each F-35 Lightning II are being designed, manufactured and assembled by BAE Systems, setting new standards for assembly precision and pace. Digital design and precision manufacturing techniques pioneered by BAE Systems ensure the F-35 meets its demanding stealth requirements. During full-rate production, assembly time for an F-35 is expected to be less than half that of current generation fighters.

BAE Systems is also responsible for the design and delivery of key areas of the vehicle and mission systems, including the fuel system, crew escape and life support system as well as Prognostics Health Management (PHM) integration and UK aircraft carrier integration support. BAE Systems also brings key expertise to Autonomic Logistics and Global Sustainment (support), UK weapons integration, vehicle and mission systems, flight sciences and structural testing.

An extension to the teaming agreement signed by BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin at Farnborough International 2006 sets out BAE Systems Military Air Solutions role in the sustainment phase of the programme. BAE Systems is playing a vital role in developing the F-35 global sustainment business model and will lead sustainment activities for the UK fleet on behalf of the F-35 Team.

The System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase is estimated to be worth more than $2.5bn to BAE Systems Military Air Solutions and future production contracts could total $25bn. These figures do not include export sales, support or other opportunities such as upgrade programmes.

About BAE Systems
BAE Systems is a global defence and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, information technology solutions and customer support services. With 88,000 employees worldwide, BAE Systems' sales exceeded £13.7 billion pounds sterling (US25.4 billion dollars) in 2006.

For more information, please contact
John Neilson, BAE Systems
Tel: + 44 (0) 1252 384795 Mob: + 44 (0)7802 337704

Helen Stansfield, BAE Systems
Tel: +44- (0)1772 856311 Mob: +44-(0)7793 420 714

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