UK industry role in Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II highlighted
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.
Some 15 per cent of EVERY jet, with production set to reach nearly 4,000 aircraft, will be built in the UK. Leading British suppliers displayed their F-35 technology as part of the event, which attracted speakers including Philip Dunne, 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.
Mr Dunne reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to the F-35 programme. He told an audience including suppliers, politicians and service personnel that the F-35 programme was important to Britain in operational and economic terms, with the UK’s commitment set to grow.
Mr Dunne commented: “The success of this programme is important to Britain. It is important to defence, because it provides our Armed Forces with the cutting edge military capability that underpins our security. And it is important to our economy – creating investment, profit and jobs.”
The Minister added: “If anything, our commitment deepens as we build towards introducing the aircraft to operational service with the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, where they will operate from land bases and our new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier.”
The UK was already making an important economic contribution to the programme, with hundreds of companies across the extended supply chain involved.
He 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.”
The economic benefits would be spread over the long-term with the huge worldwide F-35 fleet set to require support, technological upgrades and refitting over the next few decades, while supporting infrastructure would need to be developed and maintained, and other platforms – current and future – would have to be configured to make them interoperable with F-35. UK companies stood to benefit from all these long-term requirements.
In conclusion, 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.
“That is why I believe the F-35 is ‘Great for Britain,’” he said.