Northrop Grumman Makes 500th F-35 Center Fuselage Ahead of Schedule
Matthew Greenwood posted on March 15, 2019 |

Production of the F-35—the world’s most expensive weapons platform—has reached another milestone, with the 500th center fuselage rolling off the assembly line at the company’s Palmdale Aircraft Integration Center of Excellence in California. The part was manufactured ahead of schedule.

The company ramped up its fuselage production last summer to keep up with demand.

“We deliver an F-35 center fuselage every 36 hours and I am very proud to say we have made all our deliveries since the inception of the program,” said Frank Carus, Vice President and F-35 program manager at Northrop Grumman.

The fuselage was manufactured for the Royal Australian Air Force, which uses the conventional takeoff and landing variant of the fighter jet—one of three variants of the F-35. Production of the fuselage began in June 2018, ending on February 21. Northrop Grumman has been making the fuselages for almost 15 years.

“We have set the standard for the production of military aircraft,” said Kevin Mickey, Northrop Grumman’s Sector Vice President and General Manager, Military Aircraft Systems. “Our teams and suppliers are constantly finding better, more affordable ways to deliver a superior product on-time, at-cost and, as with this center 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.”

F-35 aerial demonstration.

The fuselage is designed and produced on the aerospace company’s state-of-the-art integrated assembly line, which uses proprietary technologies developed in-house along with a suite of advanced manufacturing solutions including robotics, autonomous systems, virtual 3D, and predictive automation.

The F-35 is a collaborative project in the defense sector, with Lockheed Martin working as the industry lead. Northrop Grumman plays a key role in development, modernization, sustainment and production of the aircraft. In addition to producing the center fuselage, the company also manufactures wing skins for the F-35. The company is also in charge of developing, producing and maintaining several sensor systems, avionics, mission systems, stealth capabilities, and mission-planning software. Northrop Grumman also develops pilot and maintainer training systems including courseware and electronic warfare simulation testing.

The completion of the 500th center fuselage is an indication of the sustained demand for this expensive, yet effective, weapon by the U.S. and its allies.

Read more about the F-35 at Pentagon Places Massive Order for 255 F-35 Jets.


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