Northrop Grumman has delivered the 500th F-35 centre fuselage to Lockheed Martin, and it is destined for the RAAF.
The component is the main structural element of the F-35, and contains the aircraft’s inlet ducts, mount points for the forward and rear fuselage, main undercarriage, engine and wings, and other key systems. The 500th unit will be integrated with other major structural components on Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth line in Texas to form AU-18, and will be designated A35-018 when accepted into in RAAF service in 2020.
The company says it is now producing a centre fuselage every 36 hours at its Palmdale facility in California. “I am very proud to say we have made all our deliveries since the inception of the program,” Northrop Grumman’s vice president and F-35 program manager, Frank Carus said in a statement. “Our dedicated team works closely with the customer and suppliers to improve quality and affordability in support of the warfighter.”
Kevin Mickey, Northrop Grumman sector vice president and general manager military aircraft systems added, “We have set the standard for the production of military aircraft.
“Our teams and suppliers are constantly finding better, more affordable ways to deliver a superior product on-time, at-cost and, as with this centre fuselage, ahead of schedule. When you couple this level of commitment with advanced manufacturing technologies, it’s just a win-win situation for us, our customer and the warfighter.”