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Northrop Grumman increases F-35 centre fuselage production rate


An F-35 centre fuselage is readied for delivery at the Northrop Grumman integrated assembly line (IAL) at Palmdale, California. (Northrop Grumman)

Manufacturing of the centre fuselage for the F-35 Lightning II fighter has entered full-rate production (FRP) at Northrop Grumman’s integrated assembly line (IAL) at Palmdale in California.

The centre fuselage production rate has increased to a production interval (PI) of 1.5-day, meaning a centre fuselage for all three models of the F-35 is produced at the IAL every 1.5 work days. The rate increase coincides with the delivery of the 400th F-35 centre fuselage to prime contractor Lockheed Martin in May, and the start of production of the 500th centre fuselage in late June.

“Our customers and warfighters deserve the best,” Northrop Grumman vice president and F-35 program manager, Frank Carus said in a statement. “Every efficiency, every minute, and every dollar we save reduces costs and speeds up the F-35’s availability to the warfighter. Achieving this pace is a testament to our employees, suppliers and teammates’ commitment to quality and affordability.”

The commencement of centre fuselage FRP anticipates a decision on F-35 FRP being made by the Pentagon through the JSF Program Office (JPO) in 2020.