(NSI News Source Info) EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - March 8, 2009: Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc. (TAI), a major supplier to Northrop Grumman Corporation on the F-35 Lightning II aircraft program, has produced and delivered its first composite parts for the jet.On 12 July 2002, Turkey became the seventh international partner in the JSF Project, joining the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark and Norway. On 25 January 2007, Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for involvement in F-35 production. The Turkish Air Force is planning to initially order 116 F-35A "CTOL/Air Force versions" at a reported cost of $11 billion. It is reported that the aircraft will be produced under license in Turkey by the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). A Letter of Intent (LOI) was signed between TAI and Northrop Grumman ISS (NGISS) International on 6 February 2007. With the LOI, TAI becomes the second source for the F-35 Lightning II center fuselage during the JSF Signing. The number of center fuselages to be produced by Turkish Aerospace Industries will be determined depending on the number of F-35s Turkey will procure and the number of F-35s to be produced worldwide. The LOI represents a potential value in excess of $3 billion. Northrop Grumman currently produces all F-35 center fuselages at its F-35 assembly facility in Palmdale, California. TAI of Turkey is one of the two international suppliers to Northrop Grumman (the other being Denmark). On 10 December 2007, the Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc. (TAI) was authorized by the Northrop Grumman to commence fabricating subassemblies for the first two F-35 production aircraft. The subassemblies – composite components and aircraft access doors – will be used in the F-35 center fuselage, a major section of the aircraft being produced by Northrop Grumman, a principal member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 global industry team. It is also anticipated that TAI after 2013 will also produce 100% of the F-35 under license from Lockheed Martin Corporation, as was also the case with the F-16 Fighting Falcon program Peace Onyx I and II. Turkey also intends to incorporate in the future several Turkish designed and manufactured electronic systems into the F-35 platform.
The new parts - structural composite panels used to form the outer surface of the new international, multi-role fighter - represent a critical first step in TAI's plans to eventually produce 400 center fuselages for the program. Northrop Grumman will integrate the parts into the center fuselages of the first two production F-35s.
"This delivery represents two significant milestones for the program," said Mark Tucker, vice president of tactical systems and F-35 program manager for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "It demonstrates that TAI can build composite parts to the precision level needed for a high volume, international aircraft program. And it gives Northrop Grumman a very positive progress report on its commitment to grow and nurture international industrial participation in the program."
According to Tucker, the composite panels also represent the first F-35 parts produced in a new composites manufacturing facility opened by TAI last November in Ankara, Turkey. To date, Northrop Grumman has trained nearly two dozen TAI employees in the high precision fabrication techniques being used in that facility.
TAI's recent shipment included six composite panels - three for each of the two jets being produced under the first phase of low rate initial production. As part of its F-35 work share, the company will produce similar composite panels for every jet made during the production phase of the program.
Northrop Grumman is a principal and founding member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 Lightning II team. The company is responsible for the design and production of center fuselages for all three variants of F-35 aircraft: conventional take-off and landing; short take-off, vertical landing; and carrier-compatible. The F-35 Lightning II program expects to build more than 3,100 aircraft.
Under a Letter of Intent signed with Northrop Grumman in Feb. 2007, TAI serves as a second source supplier of F-35 center fuselages to the company. Deliveries of complete TAI-produced center fuselages are scheduled to begin during the low rate initial production (LRIP) phases of the program.
As a member of the F-35 global industry team, Northrop Grumman is central to the development, production and support of the F-35 Lightning II. The company designed and produces the aircraft's center fuselage, radar and other key avionics including electro-optical and communications subsystems; develops mission systems and mission-planning software; leads the team's development of pilot and maintenance training system courseware; and manages the team's use, support and maintenance of low-observable technologies.