WASHINGTON, US — Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman signed a contract with the German company Rheinmetall for the production of the middle part of the fuselage of the F-35 fighter. This production was previously carried out by Turkish Aerospace Industries [TUSAS].
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US-based companies Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have signed a letter of intent with Rheinmetall AG as a strategic source of supply for the F-35 medium fuselage. With this potential partnership, a second integrated assembly line for the F-35 medium airframe [IAL] will be built in Germany.
Turkey, which is among the co-producers of the F-35 program, was removed from the program in September 2021, citing the delivery of the S-400. Before it was removed from the program, approximately 11 Turkish defense industry companies produced several critical parts for the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet.
Turkish Aerospace Industries, which is among the 11 companies mentioned, produced the mid-air section of the F-35 jet that was to be delivered to Northrop Grumman, as did Rheinmetall. After Turkey was excluded from the program, the production of parts by 11 Turkish companies ended. Lockheed Martin, the main contractor of the F-35 program, has been working for some time to distribute the business shares of Turkish companies to other domestic and foreign companies.
The agreement between Rheinmetall and the US companies, which covers the installation of a second F-35 integrated mid-body assembly line in Europe, in a sense means that the role of TAI is given to the German company Rheinmetall.
The removal of Turkish companies from the program caused significant problems in the F-35 supply chain, leading to supply problems and increased costs. The negative effects of the removal of Turkish companies from the program are expected to continue for some time on the F-35 supply chain.
On the other hand, Turkey was supposed to deliver more than 100 F-35 fighter jets. 6 F-35A fighters produced for the Turkish Air Force are currently stored in US Air Force warehouses.
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