Northrop Grumman on Oct. 26, 2009, began producing the first international F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, an F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variant for the United Kingdom. In the photo, technicians at the company's Palmdale (Calif.) Manufacturing Center guide the first assembly for the plane's center fuselage, an all-composite air inlet duct, into a special tooling structure called a jig. The center fuselage is the core structure around which the F-35 aircraft is built. Final aircraft assembly takes place at the Lockheed Martin Fort Worth, Tex., production facility.
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