Government orders next batch of fifth generation fighter aircraft

The F-35 Lightning II aircraft
The F-35 Lightning II aircraft

Aircraft makers in the county have been told that the UK is to order the next tranche of F-35 stealth jets, the rear section of which is made in the county.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced that 17 new F-35B aircraft will be delivered between 2020 and 2022 and will complement the 16 British aircraft currently based at RAF Marham.

Overall, the UK has committed to procure 138 aircraft over the life of the programme.

The tail section and fuselage is made by BAE Systems at its hi-tech Samlesbury plant and pilots have been trained to land the jets on an aircraft carrier simulator at Warton.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I am delighted to confirm that we are doubling the size of our F-35 force into a formidable fleet of 35 stealth fighters. “This is another massive order in the biggest defence programme in history.

“We are now building this game-changing capability that will soon be ready for frontline action. This programme is set to bring an immense boost of £35bn into the British economy, and it will be welcome news to our firms that many more jets are now set for production.”

He said the announcement was good news for the economy, as British companies build 15 per cent by value of all 3,000-plus F-35s worth £35 bn to the UK economy.