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Rheinmetall Germany to Produce 400 F-35 Lightning II Fuselage Units

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    Rheinmetall Germany to Produce 400 F-35 Lightning II Fuselage Units

    The German defense industry had strongly protested against the procurement of F-35A Lightning II stealth fighter jets for the German Air Force, because the German defense industry which was not involved in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) project did not get the 'cake' from the acquisition of 35 F-35A units valued at US$8. 4 billion. However, this issue can now be muted, because a German manufacturer, Rheinmetall, has joined the F-35 production phase.

    Quoted from, it is stated that the Rheinmetall production facility located in Weeze, Lower Rhine, western Germany, will produce at least 400 units of F-35A fuselage starting in 2025. Not only for fuselage production, Rheinmetall's facility in Lower Rhine will also be equipped to service the needs of Germany's F-35s and the F-35s of several countries in Western Europe.

    The preparation of a new facility in Lower Rhine is none other than replacing the previous facility in Turkey, which had previously been kicked out by the US from the F-35 fighter jet program for political reasons, thus diverting its production to Germany. In fact, producing components in Turkey can reduce costs, because labor costs in Turkey are lower than those in Germany.

    Currently, all production of the F-35 airframe is carried out by the United States military aviation company, Northrop Grumman. The introduction of a second production facility in Germany will help overcome crucial bottlenecks that have hindered the expansion of F-35 deliveries to various countries.

    The F-35 Lightning II, currently the only fifth-generation fighter produced in the Western world, has consistently won all recent tenders for NATO-compatible fighter jets. Its significant performance advantage over fourth-generation rivals such as the French-made Rafale and the pan-European Eurofighter Typhoon, most of which were built in Germany, made the debut of the F-35 series a favorite across Europe.

    The previous German administration under Chancellor Angela Merkel was hesitant about acquiring the F-35, while the new Chancellor, Olaf Scholtz, decided to place an order for the plane within months of taking office. This decision, however, met with opposition from the local industry because of the potential harm it would cause to the Eurofighter program.

    Currently, F-35 orders can support a production rate of around 175 units per year, but are limited to 156 units due to Northrop Grumman's production capacity. The new German facility has the potential to increase annual production figures to 165 units, providing additional capacity to meet the increasing demand from countries modernizing their combat fleets.

    Significant orders for the F-35 have also come from countries outside NATO, including Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Israel and Switzerland.

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