Northrop Grumman delivers first RAAF F-35 fuselage

Northrop Grumman delivered the centre fuselage section for the first RAAF F-35A Lightning II, designated AU-1, to prime contractor Lockheed Martin on September 23.

“This centre fuselage will be incorporated into the first F-35 for the Royal Australian Air Force and will be delivered in 2014 for pilot training,” said Brian Chappel, vice president of the F-35 program for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “The first Australian centre fuselage was inducted into our Integrated Assembly Line at Palmdale last October and now we’ve delivered it, marking yet another milestone achievement for the F-35 program.”

The centre fuselage for AU-1 is loaded onto a semi-trailer in Palmdale.
The centre fuselage for AU-1 is loaded onto a semi-trailer in Palmdale.

Australia so far has contracted for two of a planned fleet of up to 100 F-35s. The fuselage for the second jet, AU-2, is one of 35 centre fuselages “in flow” on Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale assembly line.


  1. John N says


    I assume from your comment you are not a big fan of the F-35 program?

    Maybe in the years to come when LM shows a photo of the 1,000 or 2,000 or even the 3,000 centre fuselage being delivered to the final assembly line for one of the three US versions or for one of the eight partner nations or maybe other customers such as Israel or Japan or even other potential customers that appear to be lining up to have the F-35 in their fleet you might have a different opinion.


    John N

  2. paul davis says

    John N i guess we will have to wait until October 17th to see if the US will go for a bungee jump.I think it will be the best jet out there but who knows,its all pretty classified still with the LM party saying how good it is.From a good source as well,it might be at RIAT and FARNBORUGH 2014.

  3. Dan says

    John N,

    The U.S is 16.7 Trillion dollars in debt mate. For example-Say if you make $1000 per week, you can’t spend $1500 per week. The F-35 numbers will drop due to budget cut’s to pay off the debt. Get more Super Hornets.

  4. John N says


    Agree 100% about the situation the US is in, no argument from me at all on that front.

    Yes the numbers of F-35’s purchased by the US may well drop or be deferred, or they may retired other aircraft early, there is currently talk of retiring all the A-10’s and KC-10’s too, and I don’t disagree that cost has to be a factor in our decision too.

    It’s a bit of a double edged sword for the US, yes the program consumes a lot of money and had consumed a lot to this point, but equally can they also afford to let it fail? I think not, but just have to wait and see.

    I certainly don’t have anything against the Super Hornets, they are a good aircraft for the ‘here and now’, but we are talking about deciding on what will be our frontline fighter that will be in service for around 30 years, from around 2020-2050.

    Super Hornets might well be very effective today and up until the late 2020’s to early 2030’s, but it will be questionable if they are up to the task beyond that point in time.

    For the RAAF saving some money now by taking the cheaper and less capable option, is certainly attractive for Governments, but it could easily cost us a lot more, in many ways, in the future too.


    John N