April 22, 2005 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Northrop Grumman has completed the first center fuselage section for the F-35 joint strike fighter, marking a major milestone for the program.
The center fuselage will be delivered in early May from Northrop Grumman's assembly site at Air Force Plant 42 to the airplane's prime contractor Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. There it will be mated with the forward fuselage and wings.
The aft fuselage and the vertical and horizontal stabilizers, all being produced by BAE
Systems in the United Kingdom, will be delivered in a few weeks.
The plan is to have the plane finished by the end of the year.
After ground testing, the aircraft is expected to be ready for its first flight next summer. Part of the flight test program will be conducted at Edwards Air Force Base.