BRITISH engineers working on combat jets for the UK’s new aircraft carriers have reached a key milestone.
The 318th rear section for an F-35B Lightning II jet has rolled off the BAE Systems production line in Lancashire, meaning that 10 per cent of the global requirement has now been produced.
Lieutenant Commander Neil Twigg, 40, is a fighter pilot from Alverstoke who is involved in the project to prepare the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers for the new jets.
He said: ‘I have flown Harriers and F-18s before. But I can’t begin to describe how much more advanced the aircraft and the systems are compared to Harriers and the F-18.
‘It’s a phenomenal plane to fly and my colleagues who are flying in it at the moment are thoroughly enjoying it.’
Wing Commander Rich Roberts is based at navy HQ on Whale Island and runs the programme support office for the Queen Elizabeth class.
The 51-year-old, of Petersfield, said the new jets would be a ‘strong’ addition to the UK. But he added that the main focus for Portsmouth right now was readying the city’s naval base for the arrival of Queen Elizabeth’s sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales.
‘Getting the city ready for two aircraft carriers is a massive task but it is certainly achievable,’ he said.
Britain has 11 F-35Bs. Flight trials from Queen Elizabeth are due to start next year.