Stirling delivers 250th stick and throttle unit to Lockheed Martin

We are proud to announce that Stirling has successfully delivered the 250th production F-35 unit (active stick and throttle) into the simulator programme. This is a momentous milestone for the company and a fantastic achievement for a UK-based SME.

Stirling has been engaged in the research and development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Programme for many years. Our involvement can be dated back to the 1980s on a joint US-UK study into ASTOVL (Advanced Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing) aircraft. At that time, a team of Stirling’s consultants were contracted by the UK Ministry of Defence to evaluate the A-STOVL technologies. A few years later, Stirling was selected to provide the flight controller for the rear seat of the VAAC Harrier; an experimental aircraft designed by the MoD to look at the active control technology for the A-STOVL programme. By 1996, these R&D programmes were merged into the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme. Stirling provided the active sticks and throttles used in the development simulators. Stirling also supported BAE SYSTEMS in the development of the sticks and throttles, which they later supplied to Lockheed Martin. In 2005, Stirling was selected by Lockheed Martin as a sole source contractor to design and manufacture active sticks and throttles for the F-35 pilot training simulators.

“The JSF F-35 is truly a groundbreaking, unique aircraft. It is the first production fighter jet to use active control technology and advanced sensor and avionics systems,” said Stirling’s AMS Business Manager, Gareth Vaughan. “It is considered by many to be the most advanced fighter jet in the world and for a UK manufacturing company to be involved in the training programme - providing advanced pilot active hand controllers for the F-35 simulators - is a massive achievement.”

From the pilot’s perspective, Stirling’s training stick and throttles have been designed to be visually and functionally equivalent to the flight worthy controllers and it is the ability to control the feel and haptic feedback of the sticks that dramatically improves the pilot’s situation awareness, therefore providing a more realistic simulation experience and a much more effective training environment. The immersive and innovative nature of the training system was recognised in December 2014 when the F-35 Lightning II Training System was honoured with a top award from the National Training and Simulation Association. The 2014 Modelling and Simulation award recognised the US Air force’s 33rd Fighter Wing, the F-35 Joint Program Office and Stirling’s customer, Lockheed Martin, for “delivering an effective, immersive training experience for F-35 pilots and maintainers”.

Visit for more information on Stirling's active control technology.