Rheinmetall started building F-35 fuselage manufacturing factory

The German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall on Tuesday marked the construction launch of a new factory in the western town of Weeze that will produce fuselage sections for the F-35 stealth combat aircraft.

The premier of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hendrik Wüst, took part in a ground-breaking ceremony at the construction site, saying that “a highly modern factory is to be built here that will guarantee good jobs for decades.”

Rheinmetall is a partner of the US company Lockheed Martin, which makes the F-35 together with Northrop Grumman, another US firm.

The factory, which is estimated to cost €200 million ($219 million) and will have an area of some 60,000 square meters (645,835 square feet), is to go into operation in 2025.

Its up to 450 workers will produce the fuselage parts for at least 400 of the aircraft, 35 of which are earmarked for use by Germany’s armed forces at a cost of €8.3 billion. Those aircraft are being purchased as part of the €100 billion package agreed by the government last year to upgrade the country’s military.

The other planes, whose delivery is scheduled to start in 2026, will likely be purchased by other NATO partners. The remaining components for the aircraft are to be supplied by other manufacturers, meaning that Rheinmetall will receive only a small part of the proceeds.

Some 1,500 other jobs could be created in connection with the factory.

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