The Derbyshire-based manufacturer will continue working with American rival Pratt&Whitney on the lifting system of the jump jet version of the aircraft after the US Ministry of Defense gives the go-ahead to the world’s most expensive military programme.
About 15% of the work around the F-35 programme (worth £245bn) is expected to take place in the UK, with Lockheed Martin joining forces with Britain’s BAE Systems to develop three versions of the warplane.
The decision represents a boost to Rolls-Royce business. Dan Korte, president of the groups’s defence business, commented: “Hearing this announcement is a vindication of all the hard work by the team in realising the capability of this unique system. This key step signifies a bright and solid future for the programme.”
US defense secretary Leon Panetta took the US Marines’ version of the plane off probation after “sufficient” progress was made to solve the technical problems identified during testing (the aircraft will be able to take off from short runways, such as ships, and land vertically likea helicopter), in a move that erases fears over the possibility of the STOVL (short take-off, vertical landing) version of the F- 35 being abandoned due to cuts to the defence budget.
The F-35B is very important to the Marines as they try to find a suitable substitute for the obsolete Harrier (350 of the F-35Bs have been ordered).