Northrop Grumman Corp. delivered the first center fuselage for the F-35 made on the integrated assembly line at its Palmdale manufacturing facility.

The use of the assembly line, inspired by automation systems used by U.S. automakers, marks the transition to a new way of doing business at Northrop Grumman, company officials said.

"Through the implementation of a much more efficient design-to-assembly process, the integrated assembly line enables the team to simultaneously achieve higher quality, reduce costs and increase efficiency,” said Michelle Scarpella, vice president of the F-35 program for Northrop Grumman.

Northrop has delivered 69 center fuselages for the F-35 since 2005 and will make its 100th delivery at the end of 2012.

Mark R. Madler