F35 Horizontal Tails pass the structural test

Structural testing of the F-35 horizontal tails for all three variants is now complete, proving the tails are structurally sound for up 24,000 hours of flying, the equivalent to three lifetimes of the aircraft.

Testing began in 2008 and was completed, ahead of schedule in June 2014.  Two types of testing were completed, static and fatigue testing.  Static testing involved applying the maximum loads the aircraft is expected to see in its life, in some instances the loads were equivalent to parking two double decker busses on the tail.  Fatigue testing subjected the tails to thousands of simulated flight cycles, effectively flying the tails in a jig for 24,000 hours. 

Karl Barker managed the completion of the testing and said “The tails were actually designed at Brough, starting back in 2003, so completing the testing right where it all started is a proud moment for the team.  They’ve seen it right the way through from design to test.

“Add this to the fact that we manufacture the horizontal and vertical tails for the programme at Samlesbury and there’s a great British story behind F-35.  Every time we see an aircraft fly, we know we helped make that happen. “

The team at Brough is responsible for the structural testing of the CTOL airframe, static and fatigue testing of the horizontal tails and fatigue testing on the vertical tails.  The CTOL airframe completed the first lifetime of testing in 2012 and is scheduled to complete two lifetimes, or 16,000 hours in 2015. Testing of the vertical tails should also be completed in 2015.

Our involvement in the programme
We are responsible for the production of each and every rear fuselage and tails set. Along with manufacturing aircrafts sets for each of the three variants, the UK business also produces carrier wing tips for the Carrier variant and Nozzle Bay Doors for the Short Take Off and Vertical Landing Variant. We also play a key role in vehicle and mission systems, life support system and prognostics health management integration. BAE Systems Inc. in the US add further key capabilities to the F-35 portfolio in the areas of electronic warfare, advance apertures, advanced counter-measure systems, vehicle management and active inceptor systems.

UK Contribution to the F-35 programme
Collectively some 500+ UK companies are involved in the F-35 Lightning II programme, building 15 per cent of each F-35 produced. Over the next 40 years UK industry will continue to play a vital role in the F-35’s global production, follow-on development and sustainment, bringing strong economic benefits to the country and generating tens of thousands of jobs.

Fifteen per cent of F-35 Lightning II work is carried out in the UK and over 130 British companies contribute to the supply chain. It is worth over £1Bn to UK industry each year and will support around 25,000 British jobs over the next 25 years.

Source: BAE Systems PLC (LSE: BAES.L)
Date: Jul 15, 2014