The extension is the second part of a three phase expansion plan of the facility as the programme gears up for peak rate production by 2016.
As part of BAE Systems’ £150m investment in the F-35 programme at Samlesbury, the facility will enable workers to produce one F-35 aft fuselage set every day. This will speed up production from the current rate of one set per week.
Chris Allam, senior vice president on the F-35 programme, said: “The capabilities that this facility provides are equal to anywhere in the world. It’s fair to say that this facility is proof that we’re standing up to that challenge and we’re keeping ourselves at the forefront of UK manufacturing.”
Martin Wright, chief executive for the North West Aerospace Alliance, added: “The F-35 programme is the largest defence project in the world and will be the backbone of stability to our regional industry through the companies successful in winning F-35 contracts.”
He added: “This facility is somewhere in which our young people will want to work, to build knowledge, create jobs and secure the future of this magnificent industry of ours.”
Along with being responsible for the design and delivery of the aft fuselage and empennage for each of the three F-35 variants, BAE Systems also plays a key role in other areas including vehicle and mission systems, life support system and prognostics health management integration.
The company also has significant work share in autonomic logistics and has a role in the Integrated Test Force in America including two BAE Systems pilots flight testing the F-35 as part of Team Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
The company opened a new titanium machining facility as well as a new office building in 2010. Around 2,000 employees will be based at the new Samlesbury manufacturing facility working in three buildings.