Northrop Grumman delivered the center fuselage for Australia's first F-35 Lightning II aircraft to Lockheed Martin, according to an official statement.
This center fuselage will be integrated into a conventional takeoff and landing variant of the F-35 and represents the first of 100 center fuselages that will be manufactured atPalmdale for the Royal Australian Air Force, the company said.
"This center fuselage will be incorporated into the first F-35 for the Royal Australian Air Force and will be delivered in 2014 for pilot training," said Brian Chappel, vice president of the F-35 program for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector. "The first Australian center fuselage was inducted into our Integrated Assembly Line (IAL) at Palmdale last October and now we've delivered it, marking yet another milestone achievement for the F-35 program."
Northrop Grumman's IAL maximizes robotics and automation, providing additional assembly capability while meeting engineering tolerances that are not easily achieved using manual methods. The IAL is central to producing the F-35's center fuselage as well as increasing the program's affordability, quality and efficiency. Currently, there are 35 center fuselages in flow on the IAL, including another center fuselage for Australia.