Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have signed a letter of intent with Rheinmettal as a promising strategic source of supply for the F-35 centre fuselage. The potential partnership would establish a second F-35 centre fuselage integrated assembly line in Germany, expanding the role European industry plays in the F-35 program.
“Lockheed Martin has been a committed partner to Germany for more than 50 years. The F-35 program will continue to strengthen our strategic partnerships with key industry partners for years to come,” said Mike Shoemaker, Vice President of F-35 Customer Programs at Lockheed Martin. “The F-35 center fuselage production in Germany will be vital to meet the growing global demand for F-35s, which play a vital role in 21st Century Security.”
Northrop Grumman is a principal partner on the Lockheed Martin F-35 program in addition to manufacturing the jet’s centre fuselage and wing skins, the company is also responsible for developing, producing and maintaining sensor systems, avaionics and aircraft and training software.
“The center fuselage IAL is recognized as a state-of-the-art facility supported by technologies exclusive to Northrop Grumman, seamlessly blending automation with our expertise in aerospace tooling,” said Glenn Masukawa, Vice President and F-35 program manager, Northrop Grumman. “Engaging with Rheinmetall demonstrates our commitment to collaborate with international partners to manufacture advanced aircraft.”
The F-35 program continues to build on these partnerships by utilising companies with the right technical capabilities. German industry has contributed to the F-35 program since its inception in 2001.
The cooperation with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman on the program underscores Rehinmetall’s importance for national security policy and will bring essential capabilities to Germany.
“The long-standing partnership between Lockheed Martin and Rheinmetall, as well as the very close ties that have existed for decades between the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) and our company, lead to a genuine transfer of know-how to Germany as an industrial location,” said Armin Papperger, CEO of Rheinmetall AG. “Furthermore, this setup makes a significant contribution to minimizing risk by bringing in national partners that are involved in a tried-and-tested manner.”
To date, the F-35 operates from 37 bases and ships worldwide, with nine nations operating F-35s on their home soil. There are more than 890 F-35s in service industry, with more than 1890 pilots and 13,570 maintainers trained on aircraft.