New production line for the assembly of F-35 horizontal and vertical tails in Europe

BAE Systems PLC involvement in the programme: Along with being responsible for the design and delivery of the aft fuselage and empennage for each of the three F-35 variants, BAE also play a key role in other areas including vehicle and mission systems, life support system and prognostics health management integration.

A new revolutionary monorail system for the F-35 assembly line now extends to the manufacture of tails for the F-35 alongside the aft sections currently using this process.

The first tails in jig on the line belong to aircraft AF57, a Conventional Take Off and Landing F-35 built for the United States. After machining operations the tails will pulse through a series of three stations during which sealants are applied followed by two carbon skins known as ‘structural wet assembly’. At peak rate production tails will move down the line at a rate of one completed set every day.

The line is the latest stage in the transformation of the state of the art Samlesbury manufacturing facility where the rear fuselage, horizontal tails and vertical tails for the F-35 are produced.

The new line for the tails (or empennage as it is commonly referred to) is built on the same lean principals as the rear fuselage line and allows more units to be produced more efficiently than before. Both feature an overhead monorail system which ‘pulses’ parts down the line for all three types of F-35 aircraft (Conventional, STOVL and Carrier variant).

More about the F-35 programme
Collectively some 500+ UK companies are involved in the F-35 Lightning II programme, building 15 per cent of each F-35 produced. Over the next 40 years UK industry will continue to play a vital role in the F-35’s global production, follow-on development and sustainment, bringing strong economic benefits to the country and generating tens of thousands of jobs.

Source : BAE Systems PLC

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