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Rheinmetall To Manufacture F-35 Fuselage Sections

F-35 [© Lockheed Martin]

Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman sign Letter of Intent with Rheinmetall to manufacture F-35 centre fuselage sections.

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Press Release, Düsseldorf, 17 February 2023: Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have signed a letter of intent with Rheinmetall AG as a promising strategic source of supply for the F-35 centre fuselage. This potential partnership would establish a second F-35 centre fuselage integrated assembly line (IAL) in Germany, expanding the significant role European industry plays in the F-35 programme.

“Lockheed Martin has been a committed partner to Germany for more than 50 years. The F-35 programme 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 centre 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.”

F-35 fuselage section [© Northrop Grumman]

Northrop Grumman is a principal partner on the Lockheed Martin F-35 programme. In addition to manufacturing the jet’s centre fuselage and wing skins, the company is also responsible for developing, producing and maintaining sensor systems, avionics, and aircraft and training software.

“The centre fuselage IAL is recognised 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 programme manager, Northrop Grumman. “Engaging with Rheinmetall demonstrates our commitment to collaborate with international partners to manufacture advanced aircraft.”

The F-35 programme continues to build on these partnerships by utilising companies with the right technical capabilities. German industry has contributed to the F-35 programme since its inception in 2001. Lockheed Martin continues to actively explore additional industrial participation opportunities that will enable partnerships across the German industry and create jobs in 5th Generation fighter aircraft manufacturing, sustainment, training, research and development.

The cooperation with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman on the F-35 programme underscores Rheinmetall’s importance for national security policy and will bring essential capabilities to Germany. Rheinmetall can contribute its experience both as an integrated technology group in the production of complex components and as an aviation-certified company to the cooperation.

“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 minimising 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 today, with more than 1,890 pilots and 13,570 maintainers trained on the aircraft.

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