Express & Star

World's most expensive fighter on show

An F-35 stealth fighter will be on show in Birmingham over the bank holiday as part of the RAF100 Aircraft Tour.

An F-35 in action

The iconic F35 would not get off the ground without West Midlands’ engineering expertise.

The fighter, also known as Lightning II, is built in the US by Lockheed Martin and as the world’s biggest-ever single defence project generates £3.6 billion in contracts across the region, £10bn across the UK and supports more than 20,000 jobs.

It will be on show in Victoria Square from Saturday to Monday and there will also be a chance to meet members of the RAF in an interactive STEM/Techno Zone and learn more about the next generation air force.

Entry is free on Saturday from 11am to 6pm and Sunday and Monday, 9am to 6pm. A Sopwith Snipe biplane. Supermarine Spitfire Mk1A and Typhoon full scale replica also feature.

Contractors involved on the F-35 include UTC Aerospace Systems and Moog Aircraft Group who both have sites at Wolverhampton.

UTC supplies a system of more than 60 components specifically designed to open and close the F35’s weapons bay door within seconds to allow the aircraft to maintain its stealth signature.

Moog makes hugely complex parts for the Rolls-Royce lift fan unit, giving the F35 its vertical landing and take-off, or jump jet, capability, not seen in the RAF since the retirement of the Hawker Harrier.

With stealth technology and advanced sensors the F35 is the most lethal fighter aircraft ever built. It will operate from land bases and from the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, and have a transformative effect on the UK’s ability to defend itself.

The jet costs the UK a princely £92m each.

Andrew Mair, chief executive at Midlands Aerospace Alliance, said: “We are proud to have companies such as UTC and Moog producing these components in the Midlands. It is a testament to the high-technology engineering prowess of our people and our region.”

He added that the strategic position the Midlands occupies in the global aerospace industry is one of developing and manufacturing complex sub-systems for the world's aircraft and aero-engine makers, both military and civil.

UTC is engaged in designing, manufacturing and servicing systems and components for commercial, business and military aircraft and other platforms. It is also a major supplier to international space programs.

Moog manufactures applications for aerospace, defence, industrial and medical devices. The company's largest segment is the aircraft controls division which generates revenues from military and commercial aircraft.

Other key UK suppliers to the F35 programme are BAE Systems, GE Aviation, Martin-Baker and Rolls-Royce. Up to 15 per cent by value of each of the 3,000 aircraft projected for the global marketplace is made in the UK by more than 500 companies.

The West Midlands is home to almost a quarter of the UK aerospace industry and has a long history with the RAF.