UK Defence Procurement Minister Stuart Andrew has officially opened new ‘LiftWorks’ facility for the development of vertical lift technology for F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft.

More than £20m has been invested to transform the former defence manufacturing building into an advanced facility for the development of the F-35 take-off technology.

Opened at a Rolls-Royce site in Bristol, UK, the facility builds the ‘LiftSystem’ that provides the fighter aircraft fleet with a new fan propulsion system.

The propulsion system will allow the jets to take off over short distances, hover, swivel mid-air and land vertically on board the UK’s Royal Navy aircraft carriers.

Andrew said: “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.

“The Bristol site is developing the LiftFan technology for UK fighter jets, as well as all F-35B aircraft being built on order worldwide.”

“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.

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“The F-35 programme is the biggest in the history of defence, and is supporting a hundred jobs here at LiftWorks, as well as thousands more right across the country.”

The Bristol site is developing the LiftFan technology for UK fighter jets, as well as all F-35B aircraft being built on order worldwide.

Production of the vertical lift technology has been carried out at the facility since 2009. However, the official opening confirms that the site is reaching its peak manufacturing levels.

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

The site is expected to support more than 100 jobs in the region.