Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] has added to the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) momentum on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2008 by finishing assembly of the fourth F-35 Lightning II aircraft, a second example of the Short Take Off/Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35B variant (the first made its maiden flight only three months ago). Upon completion the aircraft was moved immediately to the flight line, where it will undergo an extensive battery of ground tests before its first flight in early 2009. “In just a few days we will have all three Lightning II variants in final assembly when we take delivery of the first F-35C carrier variant center fuselage.” said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager.
The production of the center fuselage of the first carrier variant F-35C (CF-1) was recently completed at Northrop Grumman Corporation Palmdale plant in California (picture below).
This is the first of 19 center fuselage elements Northrop Grumman will build under the F-35 System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase, ten of which will be completed this year. “Meeting this delivery commitment on time helps ensure that the F-35C Lightning II will begin flight
test on-schedule in 2009. This important step is vital to our commitment to fielding the F-35C for the U.S. Navy as planned in 2015,” said Maj. Gen Charles R. Davis, the Defense Department’s F-35 Lightning II Program Executive Officer. To date, the company has completed center fuselages for 12 aircraft, including AA-1, a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant and the first F-35 aircraft to fly, and BF-1, the first F-35B short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL) variant to fly. The remaining seven SDD center fuselages are currently in the assembly flow in Palmdale. Northrop Grumman is also currently producing center fuselages for the first two phases of the F-35 low rate initial production program.