WARTON, UK—BAE Systems will open a new assembly plant at its manufacturing complex here that will apply cobots, virtual and augmented reality, and other advanced technologies to the assembly of military aircraft.

The cobots and other flexible robot technologies will remove the need for heavy, fixed, long-lead tooling and can quickly switch from the manufacture of one item or platform to another. Intelligent machines and off-the-shelf robotic technology from the automotive industry have been modified to operate at the precise tolerances required for military aircraft, which in some cases are less than a third the width of a human hair.

“We’ve collaborated with the best of UK industry and academia to develop a cutting-edge facility that combines current and emerging technologies, ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of combat air technology development,” says Dave Holmes, manufacturing director for BAE Systems’ aircraft division.