Northrop Grumman is eyeing extra space at its F-35 center fuselage facility as a potential production line for a new aircraft — whatever that may be.
The location — part of a Palmdale, California, government-owned contractor operated facility known as Air Force Plant 42 — is used to produce the center fuselage for the F-35 joint strike fighter. But the production line, part of Northrop’s campus at the location, is massive, with around 450,000 square feet of space for the F-35 and another 1 million square feet currently unused.
That unused space would be ripe for a top-end, tech-savvy production line, something Tom Vice, Northrop’s president of aerospace systems, has clearly been thinking about.
“This site has very unique capabilities and capacities,” Vice told reporters Wednesday. However, he declined to talk about “any future plans for any new Air Force programs.”
Reading between the lines, however, it’s not hard to guess what Vice would like to see produced here. The facilities were the birth place of the B-2 stealth bomber, and sustainment work on the Spirit fleet occurs at hangars scattered around the base.
Northrop is competing against the team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin for the contract to produce the service’s new long range strike-bomber (LRS-B), and while Vice refused to make a direct link between the two programs, reporters touring the facility were shown a slideshow that included pictures of the B-2 production line at its height.