Saving Time and Money

Northrop Grumman reports that it has shaved center fuselage assembly time on the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, cutting it about 28 percent since the system development and demonstration phase. In an April 1 release, the company notes that it has begun assembling the first production JSF, a “weight-optimized” F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant designated AF-6 and destined for USAF. “Jig loading the AF-6 center fuselage is significant because it shows the F-35 program is successfully transitioning” from SDD into production, said Janis Pamiljans, VP and F-35 program manager for Northrop’s Integrated Systems. She noted that the company had followed a “disciplined approach to managing costs and engineering changes” to be able to reduce assembly time. According to the release, Northrop began assembly the AF-6 center fuselage “about one week sooner than the date indicated by the F-35 program’s master schedule.”