Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Assembly Line (IAL) produced the first F-35 center fuselage that was delivered to Lockheed Martin on March 16, 2012.
This IAL-made fuselage is a unique offering complementing the company’s 69 center fuselages created since 2005. The IAL develops assembly capability and additional capacity in robotics and automation, thereby improving its stringent engineering tolerance capabilities.
The IAL will be the key producer of F-35's center fuselage. It enhances the program's quality as well as its cost- efficiency. IAL-based technologies contribute to a more efficient and ergonomic assembly process. Inspired by American automakers’ automation systems, Detroit-based KUKA Robotics Aerospace Division played a vital role in designing and developing the IAL.
Based on a system-engineering approach, the IAL design integrates automated drilling cells and tooling mechanization, system automation, tooling and structure transport being implemented throughout multiple build centers.
Northrop Grumman is a major, dynamic member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 industry team.. Besides contributing its performance capabilities in the F-35 center fuselage, Northrop Grumman also engineered and created radar and other key avionics for the aircraft, such as mission systems and mission-planning software, electro-optical and communications subsystems. In addition, it offers training for the pilots with training system courseware and guides the team to efficiently use, support and maintain the low-observable technologies.
So far, Northrop Grumman is known for its on-time delivery of center fuselage. With consistent efforts, the company anticipates meeting its cost and schedule commitments. Last year, the company released 22 center fuselages, expecting to achieve its 100th delivery by December 2012.