Assembly of First Australian F-35 Fuselage

Australia’s air force chief inspected the fuselage of the country’s first F-35 strike fighter currently undergoing assembly on Northrop Grumman’s production line in Palmdale Calif., announced the company. Technicians inserted the first machined center fuselage bulkhead for AU-1, the first F-35A destined for the Royal Australian Air Force, on Oct. 9, welcoming RAAF Air Marshal Geoff Brown to observe its progress last week, according to Northrop Grumman’s Nov. 5 release. “We were honored to host Air Marshal Brown here in Palmdale,” said Michelle Scarpella, company F-35 vice president. “He was able to see firsthand our advanced facility and manufacturing techniques that will help deliver the most advanced and most effective stealthy strike fighter,” she added. Australia’s first two F-35s—AU-1 and AU-2—are slated for delivery in 2014 for use in training pilots, states the release. The US ally has plans to acquire 100 F-35As.