Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has delivered the first center fuselage of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for the Netherlands to Lockheed Martin Company. The unit, completed by Northrop at the company’s manufacturing center in Palmdale, Calif., will now travel to Lockheed Martin in Ft. Worth, Texas. There, it will be integrated into an F-35A, a conventional takeoff and landing variant of the aircraft, for use by the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
Northrop’s role with the unit has been significant. A principal and founding member of the F-35 industry team led by Lockheed Martin, the company oversees the design and production of center fuselages for all 3 F-35 aircraft: CTOL, short takeoff, vertical landing and a carrier variant. Once production of the fuselage is complete, Northrop designed and produces the aircraft’s radar and other avionic components, including electro-optical and communications subsystems, in addition to developing mission systems and mission-planning software; leading the team’s development of pilot and maintenance training system courseware; and managing the team’s use, support and maintenance of low-observable technologies.
“When the aircraft is complete, the Royal Netherlands Air Force will have the most capable, most advanced multirole fighter in the world, and the product of our ongoing efforts to achieve maximum efficiency and affordability,” said Mark Tucker, vice president and F-35 program manager for Northrop Grumman’s aerospace systems sector. “With this delivery, Northrop Grumman continues to meet its cost and schedule commitments on the F-35 program.”
Northrop Grumman has delivered 48 center fuselages to date. Final assembly of all F-35 jets is performed by Lockheed Martin, which also produces the forward fuselage, cockpit and wings. The center fuselage is mated to an aft fuselage in a mechanical component produced by BAE Systems.