Rheinmetall plans to build a plant to manufacture the F-35A fighter jet’s center-fuselages in Germany.
This will be the second F-35A center fuselage integrated assembly line after Northrop Grumman’s facility in Palmdale, California.
The decision was taken after aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin, principal partner Northrop Grumman, and Rheinmetall signed a letter of intent in February.
Plant to Build 400 Fuselages
At least 400 fuselages will be built at the factory in North Rhine-Westphalia, starting in 2025.
The fuselages will be built for Germany and other allied nations.
The initiative seeks to expand the role of European industry partners in the F-35 program, which includes over 3,000 conventional take-off and landing F-35As, short take-off and vertical landing F-35Bs, and carrier variant F-35C aircraft.
Sharing of Manufacturing Capabilities
The partnership is expected to bring essential capabilities to Rheinmetall and allow the Dusseldorf-based defense firm to share its expertise with its partners.
“This marks an important milestone in the German F-35 program – this increase in capacity helps meet the growing global demand that further enables the F-35 to stay ahead of evolving threats in the 21st-century landscape,” Lockheed Martin F-35 customer programs vice president Mike Shoemaker said.
“Northrop Grumman will replicate our automated and manufacturing technologies of the Integrated Assembly Line in Weeze,” Northrop Grumman’s F-35 program vice president Glenn Masukawa added.
The factory will have 60,000 square meters of floor space and provide 400 highly-skilled jobs.
In addition, the plant will provide logistics and warehouse facilities, research and test centers, classrooms, and quality control units.