June 14, 2007 (by Asif Shamim) - Northrop Grumman delivered the centre fuselage section for the first F-35 Lightning II short take-off, vertical landing (STOVL) variant static test aircraft, more than two & half months ahead of schedule.
The centre fuselage section for the first F-35 Lightning II short take-off, vertical landing (STOVL) variant static test aircraft.
The fuselage was assembled at the companies Palmdale Manufacturing Center, was delivered May 7 to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, the F-35 prime contractor. It will be mated with the aft fuselage, wings and a cockpit at Lockheed Martin's F-35 final assembly facility in Fort Worth, Texas to form the full-scale static test aircraft.
The purpose of the static test program is to demonstrate that F-35 airframes, as designed, can successfully endure the structural stresses likely to be experienced over an aircraft's lifetime. The test program includes both "worst case" testing and repetitive life cycle testing.
"This delivery, which was 77 days early, demonstrates Northrop Grumman's commitment to helping its F-35 customer produce the most advanced, most formidable multi-role fighter in the world on cost and on schedule," said Janis Pamiljans, vice president of tactical systems and F-35 program manager for Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector.
Structural load tests will be carried out on the airframe and will help validate computer modeling being done on the STOVL
flight test program. This is occurring during the current F-35 System Development and Demonstration (SDD
Pamilijans went onto say "By streamlining our engineering and production processes during the SDD phase, we're driving down program risks and laying the foundation for a successful and affordable low-rate initial production program."
Northrop Grummans current SDD work includes the production of 21 center fuselages, 15 of which are for flight test aircraft and six for static test aircraft, two for each of three variants.