EL SEGUNDO, Calif., March 24 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman in California reported that Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc. has delivered its first production air inlet duct for the F-35 Lightning II jet.
The delivery of the all-composite duct, a major structural element of the F-35's center fuselage, will support Northrop Grumman's production of F-35 center fuselages for conventional takeoff and landing variants at its facility in Palmdale, Calif.
"This delivery reflects the growing maturity of TAI's composite fiber-placed manufacturing processes and the steady evolution of its role as a second source supplier of center fuselages for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program," said Mark Tucker, vice president and F-35 program manager for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector.
Northrop Grumman is a principal subcontractor of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 industry team.
TAI produced the air inlet duct at its composites manufacturing facility in Ankara, Turkey, as part of a five-year, $28.4 million contract awarded in 2009 by Northrop Grumman.
"The delivery of this first production duct represents the successful culmination of a training process for TAI that began …approximately two years ago," said David Dominguez, manufacturing engineering lead for international production for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.
"Over the course of that instruction, TAI's engineers and manufacturing specialists have grown from having limited knowledge of composites manufacturing processes to now being able to produce large, complex, high-precision parts for one of the most advanced weapon systems in the world."
TAI is to produce inlet ducts to support both the current production of center fuselages and the 400 complete center fuselages that it will produce in Turkey.
Deliveries of the TAI-produced center fuselages are to begin in 2013, as part the F-35 program's fifth phase of low rate initial production.