Northrop Grumman has finished assembling the center fuselage of the 900th F-35 fighter jet.
On February 14, 2022, the component left Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Assembly Line (IAL) in Palmdale, California, according to a company press release.
Northrop Grumman is one of the principal contractors for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. Along with the center fuselage, the company also manufactures the F-35’s EASA radar, some of its sensors, avionics equipment, and software.
IAL began full-rate production of the F-35 center fuselage in 2018. According to Northrop Grumman, the facility has since produced one center fuselage every day and a half, resulting in more than 240 fuselages per year.
Final assembly of the jet is then performed at Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas. However, no more than 156 planes can be assembled at the site each year, which means that the overall production of the aircraft is significantly slower compared to the manufacture of some of its components.
Production of the jet is estimated to peak in 2023. In 2021, 142 F-35s were delivered, and a total of 750 jets of this model were completed by the end of that year.
While the 1000th F-35 is likely to be delivered in 2024, the 1000th center fuselage is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.