The compsite parts are panels used to form the outer surface of the new multi-role fighter aircraft and represent a first step in TAI's plans to eventually produce 400 centre fuselages for the programme. Northrop Grumman, a principal member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 Lightning II team, will integrate the parts into the centre fuselages of the first two production F-35s.
The composite panels are the first F-35 parts to be produced in TAI’s new composites manufacturing facility in Ankara, which opened in November 2008. To date, Northrop Grumman has trained over 20 TAI employees in the fabrication techniques being used in the facility.
"This delivery represents two significant milestones for the programme," says Mark Tucker, vice president of tactical systems and F-35 programme 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 programme. And it gives Northrop Grumman a very positive progress report on its commitment to grow and nurture international industrial participation in the programme."
TAI's recent shipment included six composite panels - three for each of the two aircraft being produced under the first phase of low rate initial production. As part of its F-35 work, the company will produce similar composite panels for every jet made during the production phase of the programme.
More than 3100 aircraft are expected to be built under the F-35 Lightning II programme.
Under a Letter of Intent signed with Northrop Grumman in 2007, TAI serves as a second source supplier of F-35 aircraft centre fuselages to the company. Deliveries of complete TAI-produced centre fuselages are scheduled to begin during the low rate initial production phases of the programme.