Northrop Grumman F-35 subcontractor Turkish Aerospace delivered the first Lightning II center fuselage built on its line in Ankara, Turkey, last week, announced Northrop Grumman. The fuselage—destined to become a US Air Force F-35A—will now be shipped to prime contractor Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, Tex., for mating with other major assemblies and completion. “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.” Once full rate F-35 production begins, the company will eventually churn out a fuselage every 10 days bound for US, Turkish, and Italian strike fighters, according to the release.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.