LOS ANGELES (dpa-AFX) - Aviation experts from the Rheinmetall defense group are now being trained in North Los Angeles for the future construction of the center fuselage section of the F-35 fighter jet in Germany. "This is where the turning point is becoming very real these days," emphasized NRW Minister President Hendrik Wüst (CDU) during a visit to the Northrop Grumman defense contractor's production plant in Palmdale, California, on Tuesday.

The engineers from North Rhine-Westphalia now regularly come to the USA for several weeks of training. They will later serve as multipliers for training at the plant in Weeze. Production is scheduled to start there in summer 2025.

Rheinmetall is already active in the drone business and other defense sectors, and the production of the key component of the ultra-modern F-35 jet is a new product line. Up to 400 jobs are to be created in the new factory. Rheinmetall is a contractor to the US defense contractor Northrop Grumman, which in turn works for Lockheed Martin.

According to the company, a center fuselage section for the stealth bomber will be produced every 30 hours at the plant near Los Angeles, with a maximum of 156 per year. The dimensions in Weeze are smaller, with a maximum of 36 center fuselage sections per year. These are then transported to Texas, where the entire fighter jet is assembled.

For Prime Minister Wüst, the visit to the production line is part of a trip to the USA lasting several days, during which the focus will be on defense policy. "This project is the beginning of more," said the CDU politician. "We are very, very open to making further investments in the defense industry in North Rhine-Westphalia possible. We also like to be a strong location for the Bundeswehr."/svv/DP/zb