Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc., a subcontractor to Northrop Grumman, delivered its first F-35 Lightning II center fuselage to Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin at a ceremony held at TAI’s facilities in Ankara, Turkey, Dec. 11, 2013.
This is the first F-35 center fuselage manufactured by TAI as an international manufacturing partner to Northrop Grumman. The center fuselage will be installed into a U. S. Air Force aircraft at Lockheed Martin’s facilities in Fort Worth, Texas.
“Delivery of the first F-35 center fuselage is a major step by TAI to demonstrate its commitment to adding value to the program,” said Muharrem Dortkasli, president and chief executive officer, TAI. “TAI invested in brand new, state-of-the-art facilities, machinery, equipment and tooling to manufacture the most advanced and complex assembly of the F-35, Fifth-generation fighter aircraft. It is now time to begin delivering world-class TAI center fuselages to the final production line at an increasing rate every year.
“TAI has a long, proven track record of building exceptional aerospace products. Delivery of this high quality, affordable center fuselage on time has been another major milestone. TAI will continue utilizing its capability and capacity throughout the life of the program until 2040s,” Dortkasli added.
“Turkish Aerospace Industries has played an integral part in the development and production of the F-35 for more than a decade,” said Steve O’Bryan, vice president of F-35 Program Integration and Business Development for Lockheed Martin. “The delivery of the first center fuselage today marks a key milestone for the program and TAI.”
“This is a great achievement for the Northrop Grumman-TAI team,” said Brian Chappel, vice president, F-35 program, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “We worked hand-in-hand to manufacture the first center fuselage, following established processes implemented by Northrop Grumman on our own assembly line in California. Together, we are driving down costs and raising efficiencies to help the F-35 program meet its affordability goals.”
Once the program reaches full rate production, TAI will support F-35 final assembly lines in the United States and Italy by shipping one center fuselage every 10 days. TAI’s center fuselages will be integrated into the Turkish F-35 aircraft as well as other participating nations’ aircraft.
In addition to building center fuselages as a Northrop Grumman subcontractor, TAI is the single source for center fuselage metallic assemblies for F-35A, selected composite components for all F-35 variants, and is one of two sources for composite air inlet ducts for F-35A, and air-to-ground alternate mission pylons for all F-35 variants.
Through participation in the F-35 program, TAI not only contributes to Turkey’s economy, but it will also provide employment for hundreds of engineers and technicians for 20 years.