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BAE celebrates installation of F-35 JSF vertical tails

December 1, 2005 (by Lieven Dewitte) - BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company have completed the installation of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) vertical tails, representing a major milestone in the F-35 Program.

The F-35 vertical tails joined to the first F-35 [Business Wire Photo ]

The F-35 vertical tails were designed, manufactured and assembled by BAE Systems in Samlesbury, England. The successful installation of the vertical tails signals the final stages of F-35 structural component assembly and further progresses the program towards first flight in the fall of 2006.

The right and left-hand vertical tails were joined to the BAE Systems-produced aft fuselage at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Fort Worth, Texas. With the latest addition of the vertical tails, the first F-35 JSF continues to take shape with the front, center and aft fuselages and the wing now in place and joined together.

The major subassemblies of the aircraft have been manufactured more than 5,000 miles apart - at sites in the U.S. and the U.K. - but have all come together with exceptional structural accuracy.

The accuracy of the fit is due to the digital design and manufacturing controls used on the F-35 JSF program, which were pioneered by BAE Systems and have since been integrated by F-35 JSF partners Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

"With the vertical tails now in place, the first F-35 is progressing and looking more and more like an aircraft everyday. BAE Systems continues to support the build program in Fort Worth, helping to track to first flight next year. I'm extremely pleased by the contributions of the U.S. and U.K. teams," said Tom Fillingham, BAE Systems' vice president and F-35 JSF deputy program manager.