Northrop Grumman Corporation has awarded a contract to Turkish Aerospace Industries to produce composite air inlet ducts for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
The ducts are said to be a key element of the aircraft’s centre fuselage, which Northrop Grumman produces for Lockheed Martin.
The five-year, $28.4 million contract will help Northrop Grumman ensure a smooth transition from its current rate of completing approximately one centre fuselage per month to an eventual rate of one centre fuselage per day.
“”This contract reinforces Northrop Grumman’s commitment to help expand international participation in the F-35 program, while keeping us focused on putting aircraft on the ramp to meet our customers’ operational need dates,”” said Mark Tucker, vice president and F-35 program manager for Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector.
According to Tucker, the first deliveries of ducts from the TAI contract are scheduled for June 2010. Northrop Grumman will use the ducts to support production of centre fuselages during the fourth through eighth phases of low rate initial production.
All F-35 centre fuselages are currently produced at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale Manufacturing Centre. To date, all inlet ducts for F-35 aircraft have been produced in the company’s Composites Manufacturing Centre in El Segundo.
Northrop Grumman is responsible for the design and production of centre fuselages for all three variants of F-35 aircraft: conventional takeoff and landing; short takeoff, vertical landing; and the carrier variant. The F-35 Lightning II program expects to build more than 3,100 aircraft.
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