Rolls-Royce opens F-35B LiftFan production site in UK

A facility for the manufacturing of LiftFan systems for F-35B jets has been ceremonially opened by UK defense minister Stuart Andrew at Rolls-Royce in Bristol today.

Production at the site has been building up since 2009, with the official opening now marking the fact that the facility is heading towards peak manufacturing levels.

The ‘LiftWorks’ facility produces systems that allow F-35B to take off over short distances, hover, swivel mid-air and land vertically.

The opening ceremony comes just before the stealth jets start first trials off the flight deck of Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The site will support more than 100 jobs in the area after more than £20 million was injected into transforming the former defense manufacturing building into an advanced facility dedicated to developing the technology.

“As we build up to the iconic first F-35 take-offs from our brand-new aircraft carrier, it is timely to open this Bristol site which is making it all possible,” defense minister Stuart Andrew said. “The incredibly powerful systems made at this high-tech facility mean our jets will be able to operate from British sovereign territory anywhere across the world’s seas to fight any adversaries which threaten us.”

The LiftSystem was designed and developed by teams of engineers at Rolls Royce engineers in Bristol and Indianapolis.

British companies are building 15% by value of all 3,000 F-35s planned for production. It is projected that around £35 billion will be contributed to the UK economy through the programme, with around 25,000 British jobs also being supported.

“Rolls-Royce has pioneered STOVL technology through our development of the Pegasus engine for the Harrier and has now taken that capability to new levels in the shape of the LiftSystem for the F-35B,” Rolls-Royce director of customer business defense Alex Zino said. “This new facility enables us to continue produce cutting edge technology to our customer while also ensuring that we are reducing their costs.”

Photo: Defence Minister Stuart Andrew being shown an F-35 engine during a tour around Rolls-Royce, Bristol by senior staff. Photo: UK MoD