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Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 noses ahead

STRUCTURAL ASSEMBLY of the first Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 forward fuselage is complete and installation of tubing, wiring, cockpit instrumentation and avionics racks is under way at Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems in Marietta, Georgia.

Visible (see picture, right) is the radar bulkhead, which is canted to reduce radar cross-section, and the composite side beam to which the radar-absorbing chined fuselage edge will be attached.

Pratt & Whitney, meanwhile, has delivered the first flight-test F119 exhaust-nozzle for the F-22 fighter. The two-dimensional, thrust-vectoring convergent-divergent flight-test nozzle weighs 40% less than its counterpart on the prototype aircraft.

The nozzle was made at P&W's Palm Beach site, Florida, and shipped to its assembly plant in Middletown, Connecticut.

The company has also completed assembly of the first F119 flight-test engine. Two engines will be delivered in September to power the first F-22, scheduled to be flown in May 1997. The first of 1,023 planned production-engine deliveries begin in early 1999.