Rheinmetall's F-35 Fuselage Factory- Germany's Gain is Turkey's Loss

  • Defensemirror.com Bureau
  • 02:08 PM, July 5, 2023
  • 805
Rheinmetall's F-35 Fuselage Factory- Germany's Gain is Turkey's Loss
F-35 production plant @thef35

German defense firm Rheinmetall’s announcement of a brand-new factory to build some 400 fuselage sections of the F-35 fighter jet is bringing back to Europe what was lost when Washington ejected Turkey from the stealth jet program.

Turkish Aerospace and other companies manufactured some 937 parts for the F-35 though not the full fuselage, and were to benefit to the tune of $9 billion over the course of the program.

Rheinmetall has not put a figure to how much it stands to gain from the contract to manufacture 400 fuselages, of which only 33 will fulfil a German Air Force contract for F-35 jets. However the potential gains could run into billions of dollars.

In April, Lockheed Martin was awarded $7.8 billion to build 128 stealthy F-35 fighters for the U.S. military and allies. It was the final installment in the mega-contract for a total of 398 F-35s. The latest batch of the world’s costliest weapons system includes 77 planes for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marines as well as lesser numbers for allies Italy, Japan, the UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Denmark.

Israel announced its intention to procure 25 F-35s for $3 billion recently, while the U.S. State Department approved the sale of 24 such jets to the Czech Republic for $5.62 billion. Greece sent an official request to the U.S. for the purchase of 20 F-35s last year.

BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman currently build fuselage parts for the F-35. The former announced it delivered the 1,000th F-35 fuselage to Lockheed Martin in February.

Northrop Grumman produces center fuselage while BAE Systems is tasked with producing aft fuselage, vertical and horizontal tails.

Airframe is 35% composite and designed to enhance stealth with trapezoidal mid-wing configuration, twin tailfins and internal weapons bay. All-electric flying control systems direct the wing and tailplane leading edges, flaps, rudders and all-moving horizontal tails.

The U.S. kicked Ankara out of the $399 billion F-35 project after the latter purchased S-400 missile systems from Russia for $2.5 billion. Sanctions under CAATSA were also slapped in December 2020 for signing the multi-billion dollar contract. Washington argues the systems would allow Russia to covertly obtain classified details on the F-35 jets and is incompatible with NATO systems. Turkey however, insists that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance. Three other NATO members – Greece, Slovakia and Bulgaria – are in possession of Russian-made S-300 missile systems.

Turkey produced 817 of the jet’s approximately 24,000 airframe part types; and 188 of approximately 3,000 engine part types. It was tasked with manufacturing the jet’s engine propulsion system including electronic wiring harnesses, compressor rotor hubs, bracket assemblies for harnesses, as well as seals for an air turbine.

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