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Northrop Grumman produces center fuselage for Japanese F-35

Northrop Grumman has produced the first center fuselage for F-35 fighters ordered by Japan.

By Richard Tomkins
Northrop Grumman produces center fuselage for Japanese F-35
Workers inspect a completed F-35 center fuselage. Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman

PALMDALE, Calif., Oct. 5 (UPI) -- The first of 43 center fuselages for F-35 Lightning II aircraft to be assembled in Japan has been produced by Northrop Grumman in California.

The center fuselage, the core structure of the aircraft, is for the conventional takeoff and landing variant of the F-35 and will be integrated with the plane's forward fuselage/cockpit and wings produced by Lockheed Martin, and the aft fuselage produced by BAE Systems, by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan.

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The production of the fuselage Friday "marks another significant step toward helping the Department of Defense produce a fifth-generation, multi-role fighter that can meet the common air combat requirements of the U.S. and its allies," said Brian Chappel, vice president and F-35 program manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.

"Using our Integrated Assembly Line, we're continuing to increase the affordability and quality of the F-35 center fuselage, while steadily increasing our production rate."

Chappel made the comments during a brief ceremony at its facility in Palmdale, Calif.

In addition to producing center fuselages for the F-35, Northrop Grumman is involved in the development and production of the F-35 weapons system, radar, electro-optical, avionics and communications sub-systems.

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