Production team leader Ryan Pearce

BAE Systems has completed production of the 50th F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft set for the US Marine Corps (USMC).

Designated as BF050, the rear fuselage and tails of the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft were manufactured at BAE’s facility in Lancashire, UK.

It will now join a fleet of 420 aircraft, including 353 STOVL variants and 67 carrier variants (CV), which are destined for the USMC.

To date, BAE has produced close to 200 F-35 aircraft sets since starting production of the rear aft and tails for each jet in 2004.

F-35 programme former apprentice and production team leader Ryan Pearce said: "Reaching milestones like this gives the whole team a real sense of pride.

"We’ve delivered nearly 200 aircraft sets whilst at the same time constantly looking to improve the way we do things so that we deliver the quality and value that the programme demands."

"Reaching milestones like this gives the whole team a real sense of pride."

Under the F-35 programme, more than 3000 jets are scheduled to be delivered to customers worldwide, with the US as the largest single customer.

The US Air Force is set to buy 1,763 F35A conventional take-off and landing aircraft and the USMC 340 STOVL jets and 80 F35C CV.

The JSF programme receives funding from the US, the UK and Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and Turkey.

Powered by Pratt & Whitney’s F-135 engine, the multirole F-35 JSF provides long-range detection and precision targeting using its electro-optical targeting system. It is designed for ground attack, reconnaissance and air defence missions.

Image: Ryan Pearce in front of the 50th aircraft set completed for the USMC. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.