ANKARA, Turkey, Feb. 6, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman ISS International has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Tusas Aerospace Industries, Inc. (TAI) to be a second source for the F-35 Lightning II center fuselage. TAI will produce a minimum of 400 center fuselages starting in the low rate initial production (LRIP) phase of the program. The LOI represents a potential value in excess of $3 billion in then-year dollars.

Key representatives from the two companies signed the LOI during a press conference held in Ankara, Turkey, witnessed by and following key remarks from the Minister of National Defense, Mr. Vecdi Gonul, and the Undersecretary for Defense Industries, Mr. Murad Bayar.

Northrop Grumman, a principal member of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II team, is responsible for designing and manufacturing the center fuselage for F-35 aircraft.

"Northrop Grumman is committed to growing international participation in the F-35 program by identifying best-value sourcing opportunities in F-35 partner nations," said Janis Pamiljans, vice president and F-35 program manager for Northrop Grumman. "This Letter of Intent is the culmination of an evaluation process that ultimately found Tusas Aerospace Industries, Inc. to be the best value supplier for the co-production of the F-35 center fuselage."

"As the F-35 Lightning II team plans ahead to low-rate initial production, we are analyzing the capacity available and investment required in determining how much outsourcing is needed," said Tom Burbage, executive vice president and general manager, F-35 program integration at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company. "Thanks to the ongoing commitment and support of our partner Northrop Grumman, international participation in the F-35 program continues to grow and we are able to expand our second source supply chain."

"Chosen for its best-value approach, Tusas Aerospace Industries exemplifies the objective of Northrop Grumman and the entire F-35 team to bring unprecedented and innovative technologies to the armed forces," Pamiljans said. "The F-35's unique blend of revolutionary and evolutionary technology from across the globe presents armed forces with the best combination of performance and price. With development well underway, Northrop Grumman will continue to leverage the expertise of the program's international partners to help build an air system with unprecedented levels of interoperability for domestic and coalition forces."

TAI is an internationally-recognized company with world class capabilities in the design, development and manufacturing of defense and aerospace products that have potential application to the production, sustainment, follow-on and development phases of the F-35 program.

TAI signed a $100 million, long-term agreement with Northrop Grumman in June 2005 to produce composite parts and subassemblies for the F-35 center fuselage, a major section of the aircraft being developed by Northrop Grumman.

The F-35 Lightning II is a stealthy, supersonic multi-role fighter designed to replace a wide range of aging fighter and strike aircraft. Three variants derived from a common design will ensure F-35 meets the performance needs of the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and allied defense forces worldwide, while staying within strict affordability targets.

The inaugural flight of the first F-35 Lightning II, a preproduction conventional takeoff and landing, took place on December 15, 2006. Fifteen F-35s will undergo flight test, six will be used for ground testing and another will validate the aircraft's radar signature. Continuing the progress towards LRIP, Northrop Grumman currently has ten F-35 center fuselages in various stages of production.

The international signatories -- the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway -- have had direct input in the design phase of the aircraft and companies worldwide are participating in the F-35's development. More recently, Israel and Singapore have joined the F-35 program as security cooperative participants.

Currently, United States and United Kingdom sales account for nearly 2,600 aircraft and the Pentagon expects additional foreign purchases to be in the thousands.

Northrop Grumman plays a critical role in the development and demonstration of the F-35. Responsibilities range from integrating a major section of the aircraft's structure to producing key avionics and communications subsystems to developing mission-planning software and training systems. Working as an integrated team with its customers, teammates and suppliers, Northrop Grumman delivers products and services that help make the F-35 the world's most advanced multi-role, stealthy combat aircraft.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $30 billion global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.

  CONTACT:  Louise Muniak
          Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems
          +1 (703) 898-5353