Turkish Aerospace to supply composite parts for F-35

Northrop Grumman has awarded a second-source supplier contract to Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc. to produce composite air inlet ducts for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

Northrop Grumman Corp. (El Segundo, Calif.) on Oct. 6 announced that it had awarded a second-source supplier contract to Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc. (TAI, Ankara, Turkey) to produce composite air inlet ducts for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. The ducts are a key element of the aircraft’s center fuselage, which Northrop Grumman produces for F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin (see HPC’s report on F-35 fuselage and wing skin production and assembly technologies, in this issue; see link at right).

The five-year, $28.4 million (USD) contract will help Northrop Grumman ensure a smooth transition from its current rate of completing approximately one center fuselage per month to its target rate of one center fuselage per day. As part of its ramp-up for production of 400 complete center fuselages, TAI opened a new composites manufacturing facility at its headquarters in Ankara in late 2008. That facility, which already produces composite subassemblies for the F-35, also will fabricate the composite inlet ducts under the new contract. “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,” says Mark Tucker, VP and F-35 program manager for Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector.

According to Tucker, first deliveries are scheduled for June 2010. Northrop Grumman will use the ducts in center fuselages, during the fourth through eighth phases of low-rate initial production.

All F-35 center fuselages are currently produced at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale (Calif.) Manufacturing Center. To date, all inlet ducts for F-35 aircraft have been produced in the company’s Composites Manufacturing Center in El Segundo.