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Rheinmetall to build F-35 fuselages at new Weeze facility in Germany

Rheinmetall will turn out at least 400 F-35A centre fuselage sections for the Luftwaffe and the wider international programme at its new Weeze facility in Germany. (Rheinmetall)

Rheinmetall will establish a new facility at Weeze for the production of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) fuselage sections.

The plant in the Kleve district of the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany will turn out at least 400 F-35A centre-fuselage sections for the Luftwaffe and the wider international programme.

β€œWe are pleased with Rheinmetall's swift site selection for the upcoming F-35 centre-fuselage production facility. This marks an important milestone in the German F-35 programme – this increase in capacity helps meet the growing global demand [for the F-35],” Mike Shoemaker, vice-president of F-35 Customer Programs at Lockheed Martin, was quoted as saying.

Northrop Grumman, which is currently responsible for building centre-fuselage sections for the international F-35 programme, is to replicate its automated manufacturing technologies for the line in Weeze.

News of the site location for the new facility came some five months after Lockheed Martin announced on 17 February that Rheinmetall was to be awardedmanufacture of the centre-fuselage section of the F-35 as part of a wider industrial offset package for Germany.

Germany is to receive 35 F-35As to satisfy the nuclear strike role of the Luftwaffe's Tornado replacement programme. With a letter of offer and acceptance signed in December 2022, a contract is expected to follow soon. Deliveries are scheduled to be launched in 2026 and completed by 2030.

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