At the gates to BAE System’s advanced manufacturing hub in Samlesbury, Lancashire, stand replicas of two aircraft which share one iconic name – Lightning.
The English Electric Lightning was the first British jet to fly at twice the speed of sound in the hands of test pilot Roland ‘Bee’ Beamont, before it entered service with the Royal Air Force in 1959.
The F-35 Lightning II shown above, alongside the earlier aircraft, will play a key part in the frontline of the RAF for decades to come when it enters service later this year.
English Electric engineers and manufacturers created the iconic Lightning, and BAE Systems (descendants of EE) are now partnered with Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on the F-35 programme, on the design and manufacture of the next Lightning to go into service.
BAE’s workshare has increased to 15% on the F-35 programme, delivering everything from the rear section of each aircraft and the electronic-warfare technology behind the fifth generation fighter, through to playing a key role in the team supporting the UK fleet as it enters service with the RAF and Royal Navy this year.
One name; two outstanding aircraft side-by-side.