PALMDALE, Calif., Oct. 4 (UPI) -- The first of 100 center fuselages for F-35 Lightning II aircraft to be built for Australia has been delivered to Lockheed Martin by Northrop Grumman.
The fuselage is for a conventional takeoff and landing variant of the aircraft.
"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 [California] last October and now we've delivered it, marking yet another milestone achievement for the F-35 program."
Northrop's IAL maximizes robotics and automation, providing additional assembly capability. The company said 35 center fuselages for the F-35 are currently "in flow" at the Palmdale facility, including an additional unit for Australia.
In addition to producing fuselages for the F-35 program, Northrop also produces radar systems and other key avionics systems for the fighter.