PALMDALE, Calif., July 1 (UPI) -- U.S. defense contractor Northrop Grumman has announced delivery of the first center fuselage of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for the Netherlands.
Delivery was made to Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor of the aircraft.
The center fuselage, the core structure around which the F-35 aircraft is built, will be integrated into an F-35A, a conventional takeoff and landing variant of the aircraft, for the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
Northrop Grumman is responsible for the design and production of center fuselages for all three variants of F-35 aircraft.
This fuselage is the second such structure Northrop Grumman has constructed for an international customer.
"The completion of our second center fuselage for another international customer is evidence that the F-35 program is growing and maturing," said Duke Dufresne, sector vice president and general manager of the Strike and Surveillance Systems Division of Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "It's an important milestone and a sign of continued progress on the program."
Northrop Grumman also designed and produced the aircraft's radar and key avionics, including electro-optical and communications subsystems. It also 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.
To date, Northrop Grumman has delivered 48 center fuselages, all on schedule. Final assembly of all F-35 jets is performed by Lockheed Martin, a process that includes mating the center fuselage to an aft fuselage produced by BAE systems; and the forward fuselage, cockpit and wings produced by Lockheed Martin.