Defense giant Northrop Grumman Corp. marked the delivery of its 900th F-35 Lightning II center fuselage to Lockheed Martin on Feb. 14.
Northrop Grumman has been producing F-35 center fuselages since May 2004.
Utilizing the company’s Integrated Assembly Line (IAL), F-35 center fuselages are delivered across three unique aircraft variants. The IAL is a world-class production facility using the latest in automation and robotics to deliver on large aircraft production efforts at scale.
The IAL maximizes robotics and automation, providing additional capacity and assembly capability while meeting engineering tolerances that are not easily achieved using manual methods. The IAL is central in producing the F-35’s center fuselage as well as increasing the program’s affordability, quality and efficiency. The IAL design uses a system-engineering approach to integrate tooling and structure transport, system automation, automated drilling cells and tooling mechanization coordinated across multiple build centers.
Northrop Grumman is a principal partner to Lockheed Martin Corporation in the design, development, production and sustainment of this multirole fighter for the United States and its allies.
As a principal member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 industry team, Northrop Grumman performs a significant share of the work required to develop and produce the aircraft. In addition to producing the F-35 center fuselage, Northrop Grumman designed and produces the aircraft’s radar and other key avionics including electro-optical and communications subsystems; 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.