July 6, 2006 (by Jeff Hollenbeck) - BAE Systems has started assembling the aft fuselage of the first short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
Assembly started on time with the loading of the first three parts of the left hand aft fuselage into an assembly jig at the company's state-of-the-art F-35 JSF
facility at Samlesbury, England.
"The start of assembly of the first STOVL
aircraft is a major step forward for the F-35 JSF program," explains Tom Fillingham, BAE
Systems' JSF vice president and deputy program manager. "By the end of 2006, BAE Systems will deliver the first STOVL aft fuselage to our program partner Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. We will also start the assembly of four more STOVL aircraft in Samlesbury."
BAE Systems will deliver the horizontal and vertical tails of the first STOVL aircraft to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Fort Worth, Texas. BAE Systems successfully delivered the aft fuselage, horizontal and vertical tails of the first F-35 JSF aircraft, a conventional take-off and landing variant (CTOL
), in 2005.
Work on the design of the STOVL aft fuselage began more than 12 months ago and the company's Samlesbury-based engineering team has successfully worked through a number of challenges in the design phase, particularly in terms of reducing weight from the STOVL variant.
David Grant, Aft Fuselage Integrated Project Team Leader, said: "BAE Systems brings a great deal of experience and expertise to the JSF program, including a number of advanced assembly techniques and processes, many of which have been developed here at Samlesbury."
Three versions of the F-35 JSF are planned: a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL), a short-takeoff / vertical landing (STOVL) and a carrier variant (CV
). Each is derived from a common design, and will ensure that the F-35 JSF meets the performance needs of the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, the U.K. Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, and allied defense forces worldwide, while staying within strict affordability targets.
The STOVL variant of the F-35 JSF is scheduled to replace the Harrier aircraft when it enters service with the U.S. Marines, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.
BAE Systems is responsible for the F-35's electronic warfare systems suite, a key sensor system for F-35 pilots, and is also providing advanced affordable low-observable apertures and advanced countermeasure systems. BAE Systems is responsible for the design and delivery of key areas of the vehicle and weapon systems, in particular the fuel system, crew escape, life support system and Prognostics Health Management integration. The company also has significant work share in Autonomic Logistics, primarily on the support system side, and is involved in the Integrated Test Force, including the systems flight test and mission systems.