Good news for F-35 supply chain

You can’t accuse Northrop Grumman for over-selling the news in this press release about the F-35. As we say in journalism, if anything, Northrop “buried the lede”.

The press release says Northrop is building a new F-35 center fuselage every 10 working days. Normally, this kind of announcement doesn’t catch my attention — as in, ‘gee, thanks, but isn’t that, you know, what you’re supposed to be doing’?

But then I did some very easy math. If you figure there are about 20 working days in a month, Northrop is also saying they can build 24 center fuselages per year. Stick with me here. The supply chain is currently working on deliveries for F-35s ordered in the third year of low-rate initial production (LRIP-3). In fact, Northrop released a photo showing the center-sections of BF-13 (shown above, left) and AF-14 (right), which are both LRIP-3 jets. The LRIP-3 contract is for only 17 jets, so Northrop’s factory is actually out-pacing the orders, according to the press release.

That’s no minor accomplishment for the F-35 supply chain. In April 2009, we now know the monthly assessment report by the Defense Contracts Management Agency warned in despair that Lockheed may never “achieve or sustain” full rate production if supplier delays continued.


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7 Responses to Good news for F-35 supply chain

  1. Eric Palmer 12 August, 2010 at 4:40 am #

    This is great news, if what is in that photo is a complete fighter ready to deliver to the U.S. Government.

  2. Aussie Digger 12 August, 2010 at 2:14 pm #

    So there can’t be good news about a program unless it is a delivered fighter in a full operational condition?


    You might have noted that even Stephen pointed out that NG weren’t trumpeting this achievement, but progress is progress whether you wish to admit it or not…

  3. aeroxavier 12 August, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    all problem of this plane don’t was make in this party. no electronic here,nothing.
    don’t forget his price was not 60 millions but the double with years of retards…

  4. Stephen Trimble 12 August, 2010 at 5:18 pm #

    Priceless: see comment above

  5. Jetcal1 12 August, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

    I wonder where we’ll be in three years?

  6. johnny 13 August, 2010 at 7:55 pm #


  7. Anonymous 31 August, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    “Fights between the F-22A and the PAK-FA will be close, high, fast and lethal. The F-22A may get ‘first look’ with the APG-77, the Advanced Infra Red Search and Track (AIRST) sensor having been deleted to save money, but the PAK-FA may get ‘first look’ using its advanced infrared sensor.[...]The outcome will be difficult to predict as it will depend a lot on the combat skills of the pilots and the capabilities of the missiles for end-game kills. There is no guarantee that the F-22 will prevail every time.”

    “the PAK-FA leaves the United States with only one viable option if it intends to remain viable in the global air power game — build enough F-22 Raptors to replace most of the US legacy fighter fleet, and terminate the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as soon as possible, as the F-35 will no longer be a usable combat aircraft for roles other than Counter Insurgency (COIN), though more cost effective and more appropriate solutions already exist for this role.”

    “the only viable strategic survival strategy now remaining for the United States is to terminate the Joint Strike Fighter program immediately, redirect freed funding to further develop the F-22 Raptor, and employ variants of the F-22 aircraft as the primary fighter aircraft for all United States and Allied TACAIR needs.

    If the United States does not fundamentally change its planning for the future of tactical air power, the advantage held for decades will be soon lost and American air power will become an artefact of history.

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