Northrop Grumman has commenced the full-rate production of the centre fuselage for the F-35 Lightning II fighter jets at its Palmdale Aircraft Integration Center of Excellence.
The F-35 centre fuselage is a primary structure of the fighter jet aircraft. It is manufactured on Northrop’s integrated assembly line (IAL) at its Palmdale facility, with one fuselage produced every one-and-a-half days.
Northrop’s Palmdale facility is equipped with latest advanced technologies that are either exclusive to or developed by the company.
Northrop Grumman Military Aircraft Systems sector vice-president and general manager Kevin Mickey said: “Our revolutionary approach on the IAL pairs advanced technology with data-driven analytics to manufacture advanced aircraft while delivering top quality products on time and often ahead of schedule.”
The company has brought together robotics, autonomous systems, virtual 3D and predictive automation for the production of the centre fuselage.
In addition to producing the F-35 centre fuselage for the Lockheed Martin aircraft, Northrop Grumman also manufactures wing skins for the fighter jet.
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The company develops, produces and maintains a number of sensor systems, avionics, mission systems and mission-planning software, pilot and maintainer training systems courseware, electronic warfare simulation test capability, and low-observable technologies for the aircraft.
Lockheed Martin F-35 Supply Chain vice-president Eric Branyan said: “Northrop Grumman plays a critical role in the F-35 enterprise and we look forward to continuing to reduce costs, improve efficiencies and deliver transformational F-35 capabilities for the men and women in uniform.”
Last month, Northrop Grumman manufactured and delivered the 400th F-35 centre fuselage to Lockheed Martin. The production of the 500th unit started last week.