- BAE Systems maintained its guidance as the defence company continued its production ramp-up of the F-35 programme.

Underlying earnings per share was expected to grow by mid-single digit percent compared to the full-year underlying earnings per share in 2018 of 42.9p, the company estimated.

The production increase of the F-35 programme, meanwhile, was progressing well towards circa 140 aft fuselage sets in 2019 and full-rate production levels targeted in 2020, it added.

In its UK Maritime business, activity on the Dreadnought programme was also ramping up, with the associated major programme of building works continuing to progress.

On the offshore patrol vessels programme, the third ship had been conditionally accepted and schedule on ships four and five was being maintained with the programme due to complete in 2020.

'The group continues to target in excess of £3bn of free cash flow over the three-year period 2019-2021, and expects 2019 net debt to be broadly unchanged from the net debt at 31 December 2018,' BAE added.

At 9:08am: [LON:BA.] BAE Systems Plc share price was +5.3p at 588.3p

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