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BAE Systems has completed the construction of the 200th rear fuselage for the F-35 Lightning II programme.

The latest fuselage, which is designed for a conventional take-off and landing variant aircraft, will now be sent to Lockheed Martin’s final assembly facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "These fuselages, built in the North West, make up a significant amount of the manufacturing work on every aircraft, and will be supplied to all nine of the nations involved in the F-35 programme.

"That’s not only a huge achievement for the British Defence industry on the world stage, but work on this cutting-edge aircraft is also boosting the UK economy, supporting thousands of jobs across the country."

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is a stealthy, multi-role, all-weather attack aircraft that can be operated from land and sea.

"That’s not only a huge achievement for the British Defence industry, but work on this cutting edge aircraft is also boosting the UK economy, supporting thousands of jobs across the country."

The aircraft is being developed by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, along with BAE and Northrop Grumman for the US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, and the UK Royal Navy.

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BAE is manufacturing the rear section of the aircraft, made up of the rear fuselage and vertical and horizontal tails of the aircraft at its facility in Samlesbury, Lancashire.

In addition, the company is responsible for developing various systems on the aircraft including, fuel, crew escape and life-support systems.

BAE Systems will also carry out the integration of the aircraft onto the new Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier.

Image: The newly built aft fuselage will be transported to Texas to be fitted to the rest of the F-35 aircraft. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.