The F-35 features a significant chunk of British built components, with up to 10-15% of every jet sold being built or developed in Britain.

As the only Level 1 partner, the United Kingdom has garnered sizeable economic benefits from the F-35. British industry will build much of each of the more than 3,000 planned F-35s.

The programme at peak will generate significant export revenue and GDP growth say the Ministry of Defence. The programme is projected to create between 19,000 and 25,000 jobs depending on who you ask.

The software team at the BAE site in Samlesbury, Lancashire, has worked alongside Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on the F-35 programme, to deliver the latest software updates throughout the history of the programme. We understand that there are more than eight million lines of code required for full operational capability. Recently, they worked on Block 3i which equips the aircraft with 89% of the software code required.

John Brindle, principal engineer for F-35 Lightning II Development, said:

“Beginning with Jaguar, BAE Systems has a long history and world-class expertise in developing software for aircraft systems. We have made a significant contribution to 3i, including producing software for the fuel management system, on-board vehicle systems, structural health management and elements of the navigation and cockpit display system.”

According to Lockheed Martin:

“The fingerprints of British ingenuity can be found on dozens of the aircrafts key components. BAE Systems, GE Aviation, Martin-Baker, SELEX, Cobham, Ultra Electronics, UTC Actuation Systems and Rolls-Royce are just a few of the more than 100 U.K.-based suppliers for the program.”

They continue:

“The United Kingdom has played integral role on the Joint Strike Fighter since the program’s earliest days. Even before a final aircraft concept was chosen, British engineers and test pilots were making their mark on what would become a revolutionary capability. Under the desert sky at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., British test pilot left onlookers awestruck as he took the X-35B prototype out for its first flight on June 23, 2001.

A mere four months later, after witnessing the aircraft’s impressive performance, U.S. and U.K. defense officials announced Lockheed Martin’s concept would go on to become the Joint Strike Fighter. In the years since, the F-35 has continued to evolve. It’s advanced stealth, sensor fusion, exceptional maneuverability, unmatched interoperability, and intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance capabilities will provide the UK with a tactical airpower advantage for decades to come.”

UK industry is playing a valuable role in the manufacture of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II multi-role fighter jet, an industry seminar at the Royal United Services Institute in London was told. Leading British suppliers displayed their F-35 technology as part of the event, which attracted speakers including Philip Dunne, then Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Air, Air Chief Marshall Steve Hillier, Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Capability), and speakers from industry programme partners such as BAE Systems and GE Aviation.

Philip Dunne, then Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology said:

“This is the most valuable defence programme in the world at present, quite possibly of any peacetime period. The UK’s share of this production run alone will generate billions of pounds and tens of thousands of jobs for the British economy. To date, we estimate that almost £5 billion of contracted work has been placed with the UK supply chain.”

Mr Dunne said the benefits of the F-35 to the UK would be widespread.

“Our Armed Forces will be equipped with the best next new generation jet fighter available, giving them the operational advantage they will need to protect our citizens for decades to come. The taxpayer gets value for money from the efficiencies that derive from international collaboration and the subsequent economies of scale. And our world leading defence industry benefits from its enduring involvement in a significant portion of the production work, creating jobs and promoting growth in our economy.”

Cliff Robson, Senior Vice-President for the F-35 Lightning II programme at BAE Systems, said in an interview, referring to the estimated British 25,000 jobs either directly created or supported in the F-35 supply chain.

“It’s cheap when you look at what that investment is returning to the UK.”

When the jet reaches peak production, the programme will be worth some £1 billion to UK industry alone, according to research by KPMG the accounting firm.

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Mike Saul

I do hope the UK orders all the 138 F35 is aspires to.

This aircraft will dominate the air warfare for a generation.

Any attempt to replace the F35 with more Typhoon s, as reported today, should be resisted.


Hi Mike-good comments from you in the Telegraph. There is much confusion and some downright ignorance from many of the posts. One gentleman even suggested we should be buying F 18’s for the QE’s!

Mike Saul

Thanks Geoff, I don’t mind discussing the pros and cons of a UK F35 purchase but there is so much rubbish being posted about the F35 I get the feeling I am wasting my time.


Hi Mike -just to let you know the above is the
“other” geoff. I am the geoff based in South Africa.

Other Geoff-hope you are well. I am going to change my moniker to geoff49(if I can work out how to do it!)
ps can someone help please-I am from the slide rule era :):)


I have to regularly correct my friend who gets his info from the Guardian for the most part. The latest is that the carriers are apparently too small for the F35 to operate properly. So one wonders how ships half the size will manage it then.


(Chris H) Mike Saul – You are creating an ‘Either / Or’ scenario when the reality is that the F-35 cannot do what a Typhoon can do in performance and weapon load and the Typhoon cannot do what the F-35 does in stealth, sensor and suppression capabilities. We will be deploying them together in a world beating team on land based deep strike operations, deploy F-35 as 5th Gen carrier strike capability, Typhoon in QRA / interceptor and stand off operations and the F-35 in close support work as we did with Harrier. We need new Typhoons to replace Tranche… Read more »


The F35B is the only fast jet on the market that can operate from our carriers. They don’t have cats and traps, so fitting a Typhoon with an arrester hook isn’t an option, we’d have to build a STOVL version

Mike Saul

According to RAF pilots who have flown the F35 it represents a generational leap forward over existing aircraft, including Typhoon. Given our current strength, iwould hope for a mixed force of F35 and Typhoon. Red flag 2017 showed the F35 is capable of winning air dominance against 4th generation aircraft. It is reported that it achieved kill ratios of 20 to 1. Talk of a Typhoon 11 is fanciful in my opinion, the funds do not exist to create it and the production would be small. The F35 is good deal for the UK military and the economy we should… Read more »


Fyi that is largely overstated. F35A was on same team as F22 and Typhoon and they flew against old F16C and F15C (these are not even close to latest spec of these planes, we are talking 80s avionics) , and we do not know how many kills are attributable to the F35. In short the F35 has never shot down a Typhoon in any exercise. This 20 to 1 or 15 to 1 kill is nothing more than marketing hype.

Steve R

We should definitely order more Typhoons to replace the Tranche 1s – I’d say 48 new ones – but these should be in addition to the 138 F35s, not instead of.


That lift fan though. Worries me.


Why? Sad that it takes up fuel and weapons space of course but it is what it is, it’s the price we pay for VTOL capability. Are your concerns related to reliability?

I confess that I do find it a bit alarming when the flap pops open at the top particularly on takeoff when it is facing into the forward air resistance. That hinge must take a lot of stress on takeoff. Obviously it’s all been designed, modelled and tested very thoroughly but that must be one heck of a strong hinge & joint there.


It’s reliability that concerns me most. The Harrier worked and was an elegant solution. The F35 looks too much like the Yak 38. I will be glad to be proved wrong.


You still haven’t clearly stated why the design concerns you. Whether it “looks” like one design as opposed to another isn’t really enough.

The F-35b jets have been through years of extensive testing. They work perfectly.


Until it doesn’t.


The only way it looks like the Yak 38 is that it has a bespoke lift engine. I think the Yak 38 generally looks more like the Harrier.

The F38A is already in service with the Israeli Air Force, whose pilots are very pleased with their new planes by all accounts.


The F35 does not have a bespoke lift engine. It has a lift fan which is driven by the same engine that powers the rest of the aircraft.


If I remember correctly, LM had approached Yakovlev for assistance when developing the X-35. LM wanted info about the Yak-141, which does have a similar layout to the F-35.

David Robinson

Rokuth – Until her retirement last year my mother was an engineer working at Salmesbury and occasionally Warton and had been there since 1968. She worked on both EAP(Typhoon) and JSF from day 1. I know for a fact they didn’t go asking Russian aerospace companies for advice or help. They were the very people they were competing against. Don’t know where you heard that from?? Can’t say about LM though I suspect it will be the same there. Security is very tight on that site. She told me that when Prince Charles came to open the Apprentice centre and… Read more »


The development of the lift fan has come on a bit since the old days… Also the Harriers lift design is not suitable for Stealth…


that’s exactly what I’ve been wondering since I first seen it, how strings that hinge to take that amount of force, lol.

John Wood

Performance in the transition phase to ss is, today the least, interesting. The cockpit is the size of an armchair T the In and Out! It’s because the fan is
54” wide!

As for fuel, it can’t do deep strike, and do not even ask what the cap endurance is like, really, don’t.


There is no reason it should. It is a more efficient design that that of the harriers VTOL system, plus it allows stealth features.

Sceptical Richard

This must be an old article… Dunne stopped being MinDP in July 2016!


The article doesn’t actually say what’s manufactured in the UK, only which British firms are involved. Hope I’m wrong but I’m sure Rolls Royce USA (formerly Allison) make the LiftFan and nozzle. Not sure about the roll ducts.


Production Lift fan made in Wales.

Stephen G.

Our focus in field of aviation should be Taranis. We should not go into a joint venture with France, we don’t need to, we are more than capable of doing this by ourselves. We will then have a British product for export which we will gain all the money from. We will also need a factory to build them which will keep people in well paid jobs. This should also have been done with the Zephyr u.a.v., it is absolutely disgusting that all the hard work was done only for it to be sold to foreigners instead of having a… Read more »

Adrian Lake-Muller

Sorry I’m a little confused France ?? the F35 Lightning 2 is American the Typhoons are a Euro venture but not including France they built the Raphael instead, and as for British built aircraft well we can thank the Conservative lead coalition Government for loosing jobs and billions of pounds in sales of the up graded NIMROD the aircraft that according to Cameron didn’t work yet was described by the C in C of all the Allies against Saddam Hussein as the most efficient aircraft of its type in the field and the American Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy… Read more »

Paul T

Adrian – I don’t doubt your enthusiasm for the Nimrod MR4 but there would be more chance of both of us winning the jackpot on the Lottery than any large export orders placed for it by any of the agencies in the USA that you suggested.

John Wood

Nimrod 2000 (!) was an massive crock of shit. An absurd attempt to resurrect a cow from 1000lb of hamburger mince. It was a pissing contest between GE and Marconi and it used airframes that were 35 years old when new Airbus were waiting in the shed. We could have bought Wedgetail, or P7 ( then) but no!! There were no airframes to build for export anyway!! These were re-manufactured aircraft built from frames which had spent 25 years in a salt-water environment. The AEW variant ran out of space first, the ASW variant had no modern mission avionics, the… Read more »

Nigel Collins

I agree Stephen G. but with typhoon ll as well!

Nigel Collins

This is not NIGEL COLLINS!

Sceptical Richard

StephenG, vent your spleen against British capitalism! No one else is to blame. Zephyr got no backing in the U.K. Airbus saw the potential and took the concept to Germany for further development. But surprise, surprise – who actually stepped up to buy it? U.K. Special Forces. And the deal was that the programme had to retain to the U.K. And Airbus gladly complied. So the programme is alive and well and resident in the U.K. But if it hadn’t been for Airbus, the programme would have died a death as with so many other great British inventions…

Nigel Collins

Typhoon II is the best way forward for us without question.
Allocate the funding we know we already have and get on with it including a navalised version.

Nigel Collins



Russian bots.


Are you sure it’s not yourself? This article is a year old, having been re-published recently.

Nigel Collins

Ah, that could very we be the answer!


I agree Taranis should definitely be treated as a priority and rather than let the French delay and screw us over on workshare we should invest in our national aeronautical industry. The Saudis would gladly invest in them. Zephyr is a strange one that the UK govt would allow quintq to sell all of that research. Maybe they needed the £££ for more research.

Im afraid Taranis appears to be yet another missed opportunity. France will make Neuron whilst we end up with a surveillance drone if this article is correct. I’m furious. Again.

Stephen G.

Of course it has to have combat capability, under all circumstances. I am sure they do things like this deliberately to sabotage British industry, things like this have happened far too often and have been going on far too long for it to by accident. Us British people want this war against British industry to end, and we want our industries invested in and supported, in at least some fields (shipbuilding, steel making, aerospace, train making, armoured fighting vehicles, etc., etc.). The Taranis is a golden opportunity for Britain to have a great product in the aerospace sector. U.a.v.s with… Read more »


Here here Stephen G


You still haven’t clearly stated why the design concerns you. Whether it “looks” like one design as opposed to another isn’t really enough.

The F-35b jets have been through years of extensive testing. They work perfectly.

John Wood

Have you read the DOD annual report on this? No, you very definitely haven’t!!


We’re having real problems keeping up with the standards that the yanks are demanding on f-35 parts. It’s actually leading to massive delays and concerns.


I just hope our government have the balls to go it alone. Get financial backing by someone like the Saudis.
BAE can do this. Develop a family of Ucavs based on a common airframe: a fully fledged STOBAR capable fighter ucav, a penetrating surveillance ucav and an AWAC type for the carriers. Maybe also a refuelling drone like the US are doing.
Take the r&d done with Magma and merge with the Taranis. Could be a world leader if the stealth capabilities are as good as suggested. Please don’t waste another opportunity!

John Clark

BAE Systems could certainly do this, they have the nessasary skill sets along with RR, but the development costs would be extremely expensive and the small number built would put the unit cost though the roof! Even with export numbers, you would struggle to build 200 Then, 10 years later, you go through the massive cost all over again of upgrading it to counter obsolescence and the UK taxpayer having to foot the entire bill. This would be the sort of project that would just drain the Defence budget. We need a UK,US,Japan, South Korean jointly developed and funded system,… Read more »


If Gavin Williamson goes through with his future air combat strategy to cut 90 F-35s for Typhoons we will have a bill drafted to bring all F-35 production from the UK brought back to the United States. You don’t commit to something then bail out at the last minute and still reap the rewards.


I would agree, and we all here in the uk have a good moan at the French when they do it. However, we have probably contributed a significant amount in r&d and do the uk companies not hold copyright on their parts of the design or does Lockheed own it all?


DoD owns it all. When a company takes a contract with DoD they have to sign over everything through TDR (Technical Data Rights) and any further export would have to get approval of both DoD to release the TDR and the State Department or Congress to waive ITAR.


Don’t forget the UK have sunk billions into supporting the development and sharing our sovereign tec. That’s the difference between a level one partner and everyone else, we actually helped design the thing we are not just another customer.


Congress wouldn’t care at that point. It only sees the number of aircraft ordered. Then says things like “The Japanese have more on order and we didn’t give them that big a share” or “My district could use the work and since your not buying….”


This is more polical clap trap leaking out from within the MOD and senior members of the service, it’s all about position politics over actual needs. I’m sure we are not going to see any major movement around the F35 buy, after all it relates to a 50 year ish period and would have significant implications around economics (it’s one of our export products) and upsetting our key ally. What we may see is an order for more typhoons to replace the tranche 1 when they go out of service. One thing I do worry about is the the RAF… Read more »

James Fennell

I’m sure we will order all 138 eventually, as to not do so will break our Tier 1 agreement and endanger the obvious industrial benefits of participation. My worry is that secretly MoD is seeing 48 as the cap on operational F-35B numbers, with another 48 purchased down the line to keep these numbers up as both attrition replacements and upgraded models as they get long in the tooth (the programme will surely run for 30-40 years, like F-16 and F-18) and see F-35B operating through the life of the carriers. If so, that takes care of 96 airframes on… Read more »


If 15% of all 3000 jets are British made that = 440 jets entirely british made (I know this is theoretical). Now if the MOD buy all 138 jets that will put us in the green to the extent of 302 jets in terms of profit. With that in mind, we can surely afford more. With four F35B squadrons we will be able to put sufficient jets on the carriers and have a pair of squadrons to operate off improvised runways in close support of the Army. What we won’t have is a deep strike capability, to replace the Tornado… Read more »


To be honest, i see this 15% figure being used on the internet, but i think this is old news recycled and may not reflect the actual number.
Originally it was planned that Rolls Royce would make the F136 engine which could be used for F35 export versions; however that has since been shot down by the US and only the F135 Pratt Whitney equips all F35. So the 15% figure may need some adjustments.


As the only tier one partner we are getting a massive boost to out hi-tech industry. The best decision in years to join this program.


Recently a Pentagon spokesmen was asked as to what plans the US had if the 35 ended up in the hands of a country that no longer wanted to be friends with us(the USA) anymore given that parts came from around the world? The spokesman actually misunderstood the point of the question but his response was quite clear. “ Sir we can assure you that no matter what the content is of other nations or who owns em, if we don’t want em to fly – they don’t fly “. I saw the SH comment but I struggled to think… Read more »

John Hampson

One of the roles of the F-35 was to replace the A-10. Does anybody know what happened to the shoot out that was to take place between the 2 aircraft. Things have gone very quiet about this. The F-35’s performance at Red Flag has been mentioned,with kill ratio’s 20-1 or 15-1 reported. Sounded impressive. But there a a number of reports that suggest caution. The Rules of Engagement were not released. F-35’s were apparently accompanied with F22’s and acted as data nodes, without any external weapons and were used as sensor fusion spearheads to provide information to supporting assets like… Read more »