BAE Systems has completed the construction of the first short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant aft fuselage of F-35 Lightning II for the Italian Air Force.
The manufacturing of F-35B aft fuselage, designated as BL01, was carried out its Military Air and Information site at Samlesbury, Lancashire.
BL01 will now be transported to the final assembly and check out (FACO) facility at the Cameri Air Base in northern Italy.
F-35 Lightning II Samlesbury Production Delivery head Jon Evans said: "This is another important milestone in our F-35 Lightning II programme and we are proud to complete manufacture of the first F-35B aft fuselage for the Italian Air Force.
"It is also further demonstration of the expertise of our team as we continue to deliver landmarks in what is a huge programme, and one in which BAE Systems will continue to play a vital role."
The F-35B is designed to operate from outpost bases and air-capable ships with a capability to take off and land conventionally from longer runways.
The F-35 Lightning II programme at Samlesbury is responsible for the production of each rear fuselage and vertical and horizontal tails set.
Moreover, the facility is working on various systems on the aircraft including fuel, crew escape and life-support systems, and integration of the aircraft on to the new Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier.
The F-35 Lightning II is a fifth-generation fighter that features advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment.
Image: The first STOVL variant aft fuselage for the Italian Air Force. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.