Work has begun on a major expansion to BAE Systems’ F-35 Lightning II machining facility in Samlesbury, Lancashire. The work will ensure it is prepared for the increase in production rates of the stealthy, fifth generation, multi-role combat jet.
The 5,000m² extension will enable the facility to meet the demand of future production increases in coherence with the programmes schedule. It will also bring the programme’s full metal machining capability in one building. The extension of the facility is expected to be completed by summer 2017 when machinery will be progressively installed to keep pace with demand.
Cliff Robson, senior vice-president for the F-35 Lightning II programme at BAE Systems, said: “This extension to our machining facility further demonstrates our readiness to meet the challenge of increased production rates on the world’s largest defence programme. By January 2017, we will also complete a significant expansion of our state-of-the-art assembly line at Samlesbury. This investment in our machining capabilities is the next piece in the jigsaw.
“Our facilities are amongst the best in the world. Using the latest technologies available and building on the manufacturing experience developed throughout our long and rich history, we are able to play a key role on this global programme.”
The original 10,000m² machining facility opened in 2010 and currently comprises two flexible manufacturing systems, each containing eight automated milling machines which turn titanium blocks into complex aircraft parts. In addition, the facility houses two five axis twin-spindle milling machines and an automated boring facility.