Robert Johnson toured the BAE facility in Samlesbury, Lancashire where the aft fuselage of every F-35 is produced.
His visit coincided with the delivery of the 500th aft fuselage from the facility and he met with employees producing the aft fuselage, horizontal and vertical tails of the jet, say BAE.
The company said in a news release:
“Across its global enterprise, we deliver up to 15% of every F-35 built and has a vital role in the ongoing development and sustainment of the aircraft for customers across the globe.”
Rear aft fuselage
Ambassador Johnson said:
“Lancashire has a very proud history manufacturing planes for the British military and it is fantastic to see that tradition continuing strong to this day. The highly skilled workers at the BAE Systems facility in Samlesbury are now helping to produce the most sophisticated fighter jet the world has ever seen: the F-35.
Combining incredible stealth with supersonic speed, the F-35 is a game changer which will play a vital role in America and Britain’s collective defense for decades to come. The programme is led by prime contractor, US firm Lockheed Martin, with BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman making up its principal industry partners.”
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The 500th aft fuselage, with a confirmed further 500 to build as well, not bad for Team GB.


“UPTO 15%” I wonder if that is a change or just a mistake? I tend to believe that diplomats and policticans choose their words carefully, and so the actual % is lower than 15, but I wonder how much so.


It’s not just BAE though is it. There is RR and many others. 100 companies. Does exact percentage matter? They are doing what ever it is. And obviously it is significant.

BTW in terms of numbers I am guessing that for e.g. Typhoon, we will build more than actually used by squadrons as older planes leave service and replaced due to wastage and training units. Presumably the f35 is the same.


BAE produces 15% of each aircraft by value as this also includes its North America subsidiary which is heavily involved in the onboard electronic war fare systems. The UK also produces 15% due to companies like Martin baker making the ejection seat and RR providing the lift fan for the B version. It’s a big economic win for the UK for a small investment if £2 billion in R&D.


Maybe someone here can answer a question of mine. We are producing 15% of each of the around 2500 F-35s being ordered with more potentially to follow. Is this better for our industry (in terms of people employed over time, revenue, etc.) than would we have built our own aircraft? I wonder as we would have probably ordered maybe 300 of our own aircraft at max for RAF and FAA. I know it would probably employ more people in the short haul, but overall would it be economically better for us?


I doubt anyone really knows. If we had built our own each unit would be significantly more expensive as we would lose the economy of scale and would have to pay 100% of the upfront costs. As such there would be no way we would order 300 (we aren’t doing that with the f35), more likely 50 odd. Also don’t forget that just because 15% goes to UK based firms, probably only 1% or less flows back to the treasury. My assumption is the 15% is conditional on certain things happening, such as us ordering the full 130 odd (seems… Read more »


Yes it’s far better!, if we build say 138 new British jets the cost would be huge, we are making many billions more for our economy sharing building with the f35 program. We make 15% of every aircraft so let’s say 15% of 2500 = 375 so we make far more than the 138 we are buying. It actually works out far better. But I hope we can build a great British 5th gen jet, Tempest looks hoefull, with some partners to share the costs and we might be in business building whole 5th gen planes.


Look at the mess that is Dassault in France and you will have your answer, development cost for a manned fighter are on the $40 billion range. No way the UK Budget would stretch to that and without the shear volume of production for F35 there is no way to get cost for a 5th gen fighter to $80 million much less get a 5th gen fighter that can land on ships and hover. The UK has major manufacturing input into three out of four western fighters in production and the RAF/FAA has the worlds most modern and capable fleet… Read more »


It does make you wonder how the Franco/German next gen aircraft will get off the drawing board. Both France and Germany have past history of trying to get out of major projects, especially when they don’t get their own way. Of the four partner nations involved with Typhoon, Italy has always been next to us in pushing through development whilst Germany always looks at cutting costs, whilst the Spanish are mostly ambivalent. I do think the Tempest or a derivative will have a much better chance of being produced. We have the strongest partner nations in Italy and Sweden with… Read more »


We also have a history of this, for example the t45 or various helicopters etc.

The idea that france and Germany are any worse than anyone else is being selective with history

Chris H

@Steve – I am not sure our leaving the Horizon programme was for the same reasons France messed us about in early discussions about AFVG / Tornado, Typhoon and the QE / PA2 carrier programmes. Basically unless partners give France total control and the majority of manufacturing France will leave at the worst possible time. And here I have to mention Germany demanding a rather large share of Tornado and demanding Panavia became ‘GMBH’ and based in Germany. And of course Germany trying to bail out of Typhoon early on as well but thankfully we had them on contract. The… Read more »


Work share is a universal problem. Why do you think we choose the f35 other than there would be work share or the p8 etc etc. Military equipment buys have very little to do with best gear for the price and a lot to do with politics and how the buy can be sold to win local votes (job creation). The boxer was only entered (after we left) because the company promised UK production facility and made a vehicle with the union jack on to make it look like it was british. How many typhoons did we promise to buy… Read more »

Alan Reid

Hi Martin, I’m no big fan of Dassault, but credit were it’s due, the French company has followed an independent path and produced a superb fighter bomber – with exports sales to India, Egypt and Qatar. I think about 90 aircraft sold abroad – currently about the same as the Saab Gripen, although in terms of export success, both aircraft are lagging behind the Typhoon (with about 150 units sold abroad).
Both BAE & Saab are awaiting confirmation of large follow-on orders from the Saudis and Brazilians respectively.

Paul T

Will – to put it in my simple terms its probably better to have 15% of something rather than 100% of nothing.To build an Aircraft with this capability and for modest numbers contains so much risk and would have cost a fortune so I think the best decision was made.

Nigel Collins

A very interesting development.
“Turkey looks set to defy US and proceed with Russian S-400 acquisition”