PICTURE: Northrop completes centre fuselage for Dutch F-35

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Northrop Grumman has completed the centre fuselage for the Netherlands' first F-35A Lightning II, with the aircraft to be used in support of the Joint Strike Fighter programme's operational test and evaluation phase.

Pictured at Northrop's Palmdale manufacturing centre in California, the structure will be transported to Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth final assembly line in Texas. It will then be integrated with the other major sections for the conventional take-off and landing aircraft: its Lockheed-produced forward fuselage, cockpit and wings; and BAE Systems-built rear fuselage.

 
© Northrop Grumman

The Netherlands late last year also confirmed its plans to buy a second test aircraft, following a change of government.

Northrop said it has so far delivered 48 centre fuselages for F-35s, with this total including flight test aircraft and low-rate initial production examples.