PALMDALE, ca: Northrop Grumman Corporation has begun producing the center fuselage for the first international F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, an F-35B short take off, vertical landing (STOVL) variant for the United Kingdom designated BK-1. The center fuselage is the core structure around which the F-35 aircraft is built.
The assembly process began Oct. 26 at the company’s Palmdale Manufacturing Center with the loading of an all-composite air inlet duct into a special tooling structure called a jig. This first assembly process, one of approximately 18 major steps in assembling an F-35 center fuselage, consists of attaching metal frames around the duct. The frames serve to brace and position the duct properly within the center fuselage.
“Jig loading the BK-1 center fuselage for the United Kingdom’s first F-35 demonstrates that the program is delivering on its promise to produce a fifth generation, multi-role fighter that meets the common air combat requirements of the U.S. and its allies,” said Mark Tucker, vice president and F-35 program manager for Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector. “Through a disciplined approach to managing costs and engineering changes, we’re continuing to reduce program risks, which will help the F-35 industry team put jets on the ramp on or before the initial operational need dates of our international partners.”
Tucker noted that the company had started assembling the BK-1 center fuselage three days sooner than the date indicated by the F-35 program’s master schedule.
Northrop Grumman is a principal and founding member of the F-35 industry team led by Lockheed Martin. To date, the company has delivered 25 center fuselages — 19 for the system development and demonstration phase, six for the low rate initial production (LRIP) phases of the program. BK-1 is being produced as part of LRIP3. The program is scheduled to produce 138 F-35Bs for the United Kingdom.
Final assembly of all F-35 jets is performed by Lockheed Martin at a facility in Fort Worth, Texas. The process includes mating a Northrop Grumman-built center fuselage to an aft fuselage produced by BAE Systems, and the forward fuselage/cockpit and wings produced by Lockheed Martin.
Northrop Grumman is responsible for the design and production of center fuselages for all three variants of F-35 aircraft: conventional takeoff and landing; short takeoff, vertical landing; and the carrier variant. The F-35 Lightning II program expects to build more than 3,100 aircraft.
As a member of the F-35 global industry team, Northrop Grumman is central to the development, production and support of the F-35 Lightning II. The company designed and produces the aircraft’s center fuselage, radar and other key avionics including electro-optical and communications subsystems; develops mission systems and mission-planning software; leads the team’s development of pilot and maintenance training system courseware; and manages the team’s use, support and maintenance of low-observable technologies.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.
Related Topic Tags
Related Defense, Military & Aerospace Forum Discussions
- F-35 Program - General Discussion
- Philippine Navy @ Janes Fighting Ships 2014-2015
- Iraq war/unrest/fighting
- The Royal Navy Discussions and Updates
- Royal Australian Air Force [RAAF] News, Discussions and Updates
- US Navy News and updates
- F-35 - International Participation
- Royal New Zealand Navy Discussions and Updates
- Indian Navy contemplating CVN. Folly or Vision?
- Ukranian Crisis
- Russia's Arctic Expansion
- Australian Army Discussions and Updates
- Indonesia: 'green water navy'
- Royal Australian Navy Discussions and Updates
- ASEAN (and ADMM Plus) Military Exercises