May 1, 2009 (by Eric L. Palmer) - Northrop Grumman Corporations reached a major milestone in the development and production of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter by delivering the center fuselage for the first production F-35 aircraft.
The first production F-35 is designated AF-6. It is the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL
) variant for the U.S. Air Force.
The delivery of the AF-6 center fuselage extends Northrop Grumman's unbroken record of on-time center fuselage deliveries to 19. It also represents the fourth of 14 center fuselages that the company plans to deliver in 2009.
As a principal partner to Lockheed Martin on the F-35 program, Northrop Grumman has made many significant contributions to help the F-35 remain affordable, supportable, lethal and survivable.
Mark Tucker, vice president, tactical systems and the F-35 program manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems stated, "The delivery of the center fuselage for the first production F-35 Lightning II marks Northrop Grumman's successful transition from the SDD
phase of the program to the low rate initial production phase. During SDD we not only completed the engineering development of the center fuselage, but also developed and validated the design of the production system, the tooling, and the manufacturing processes and procedures that will be used day in, day out to build this aircraft."