BAE adds to F-35 production facility

A new production line for the assembly of F-35 horizontal and vertical tails at BAE Systems in Samlesbury is up and running.

F-35 Empennage line at SamlesburyA revolutionary monorail system for the assembly line now extends to the manufacture of tails for the F-35 alongside the aft sections currently using this process.

After machining operations the tails will pulse through a series of three stations during which sealants are applied followed by two carbon skins known as structural wet assembly. At peak rate production tails will move down the line at a rate of one completed set every day.

The line is the latest stage in the transformation of the state of the art Samlesbury manufacturing facility where the rear fuselage, horizontal tails and vertical tails for the F-35 are produced.

The 40-year F-35 programme combines the expertise of more than 500 companies. BAE Systems brings military aircraft expertise that is key to the development and manufacture of the Lightning II.  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.

Andy Higgins, who runs the facility, said: “The empennage line is a major step forward in the transformation of this facility. Since we opened an extension to the facility, doubling its size to 18300m in March 2012 we’ve maintained our commitments to deliver against a demanding production schedule whilst at the same time developing and implementing new manufacturing techniques." With the structural wet assembly line now operational, work continues to put in place the pre machining element of the line which will complete the transformation in early 2014.