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Barnoldswick’s part in new fighter jet set for UK first showing

Flt 296 Sqn Ldr James Schofield performs the first RAF vertical landing in  an F35B in May,2013 at NAS Patuxent River. (S)

Flt 296 Sqn Ldr James Schofield performs the first RAF vertical landing in an F35B in May,2013 at NAS Patuxent River. (S)

 

Barnoldswick’s role in developing the next generation of fighter jets will be on show this week in a UK first.

The Lockheed Martin Lightning II F35B is set to fly in the UK for the first time at the Royal International Air Tattoo in Fairford this weekend and at Farnborough International Air Show next week.

Rolls-Royce’s Barnoldswick sites have played a key role in developing the fighter aircraft’s B-variant by manufacturing the state-of-the-art hollow blades for the lift fan which allows the planes to take off vertically.

Short take-offs are also made possible by the lift fan system which has enough thrust to lift 17 Mini cars, can still operate in crosswinds close to 300mph and has enough torque to power the London Eye.

Keith Whipp, who was a Senior Project Controller at Rolls-Royce at the beginning, is excited about seeing the maiden flight in the UK 16 years after the project started.

Mr Whipp said: “Barnoldswick manufactured the LiftFan rigs and early prototypes. This started in about 1998.

“I was the link between the design team in Bristol and manufacturing in Barlick. The components and technology were then tested in Bristol. Barnoldswick should be proud of the fact that it has played a major role in developing such an incredible piece of kit.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing it in action.”

The F35B will be the long-term replacement for the Harrier which was axed in 2010.

The RAF currently has three of the aircraft, all based in the USA, while pilots are trained to fly them.

 

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