PALMDALE – Northrop Grumman Corporation has delivered, on schedule, the center fuselage for the first F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to be purchased by Israel, an F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant designated AS-1, company executives announced Wednesday.
A core structure of the F-35 aircraft, the center fuselage was produced on Northrop Grumman’s F-35 Integrated Assembly Line at its Palmdale Aircraft Integration Center of Excellence.
“The delivery of the AS-1 center fuselage is a significant addition to the growing list of allied countries that have invested in owning and fielding the fifth generation F-35 aircraft,” said Brian Chappel, vice president and F-35 program manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “It also adds momentum to the success of our highly automated Integrated Assembly Line, which is helping increase the production rate, quality and affordability of the F-35 program.”
To date, Northrop Grumman has completed center fuselages for F-35 customers in eight countries, including the U.S.
As a principal member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 industry team, Northrop Grumman designed and produces the center fuselage for all three F-35 variants: the F-35A; the F-35B short takeoff vertical landing variant; and the F-35C carrier variant.
The company produced the AS-1 center fuselage as part of the eighth low rate initial production lot of F-35s. AS-1 is the 39th center delivered by Northrop Grumman from Palmdale this year.
Israel has ordered 33 F-35As under the U.S. government’s foreign military sales program. These jets are similar to the F-35As produced for F-35 international partner countries, except they will require minor software and hardware modifications to accommodate several Israel-provided avionics components.
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics will perform final assembly and checkout of the F-35s in Fort Worth, Texas. The first Israeli F-35 is slated for delivery in 2016.
[Information via news release from Northrop Grumman.]