F-35 fighter jet production 'provided massive boost to UK economy'

Britain's economy has been boosted by the F-35 stealth fighter jet with UK companies playing a vital role in the aircraft's production, the company behind the warplane said.

American company Lockheed Martin is manufacturing the multimillion-pound supersonic aircraft, which the UK has pledged to buy 138 of over the coming decades.

The cutting-edge F-35B warplanes will undertake missions from both Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers and bases such as RAF Marham, with nine set to arrive in Britain next year.

Andrew Linstead, director of strategic engagement at Lockheed Martin UK, said a National Audit Office report published earlier this year showed Britain had spent £3.9 billion on the F-35s since the start of the programme.

"We did some analysis between ourselves and Pratt & Whitney who make the engine as to the value of contracts placed in the UK," he told the Press Association.

"That value was 12.9 billion dollars - so that is £8-9 billion over the same period.

"So you are already seeing a value of contracts placed being over twice the value of the expenditure the UK has put forward on the aircraft.

"And that situation is going to improve and get even better as we ramp up production and more aircraft are made."

Lightning Force Commander Air Commodore David Bradshaw. (Joe Giddens/PA)
Lightning Force Commander Air Commodore David Bradshaw (Joe Giddens/PA)

Lightning Force Commander Air Commodore David Bradshaw said Britain has had a 25% stake in the programme from the outset, allowing "huge influence".

He said that like with the Harrier jet, it could be argued the F-35 has its heart in the UK.

"Indeed 15%, by value, of every single one of the 3,000 plus F35's that will be produced over the coming decades comes from the UK," he said.

"In terms of the propulsion system, particularly in the F-35B, with the lift fan and the three bearing swivel nozzle at the back - that is British engineering at its best.

"The Martin-Baker ejection seat - these are cutting-edge technologies that come from the UK."

Some of the UK companies with contracts to produce parts of the jets include Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Ultra Electronics, Cobham and GE Aviation.

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