HITCO selected for F-35 Lightning II composites work

The agreement with Lockheed Martin has HITCO using automated fiber placement technology to produce wingskins for the fighter jet.

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HITCO Carbon Composites Inc. (Gardena, Calif., USA), a subsidiary of SGL Group - The Carbon Co., announced on Feb. 17 that Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, Md., USA) has signed a letter of intent (LOI) selecting HITCO to manufacture wing skins and other components for the F-35 Lightning II program.

HITCO will serve as a Strategic Competitive Supplier to Lockheed Martin and will support F-35 program requirements that designate the use of bismaleimide (BMI) composite materials for upper and lower wing skins and nacelle skins using its automated fiber placement (AFP) capabilities. This opportunity extends from Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) through Full Rate Production (FRP).  HITCO may also build the BMI aft and forward covers and upper wing skin covers.

"HITCO intends to utilize its Viper 6000 automated fiber placement machine to manufacture the majority of these components. We can achieve more efficient and reliable fabrication of complex composite aircraft structures utilizing this state-of-the-art equipment. We will also build on the expertise HITCO has developed with BMI composite materials in our current work with Lockheed Martin," said Edward G. Carson, executive vice president at HITCO.  "HITCO and its parent, SGL Group, have made significant investments in automated manufacturing capacity within the last two years, enabling HITCO to fulfill its mission of becoming a world-class, Tier II supplier to the aerospace industry," Carson concluded. The Viper 6000 AFP machine is a product of MAG Cincinnati (Hebron, Ky., USA)

The F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, is a new single-seat, single-engine, supersonic stealth strike fighter capable of performing close air support, tactical bombing and air superiority missions. Nine major partner nations including the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, The Netherlands, Canada, Turkey, Australia, Norway and Denmark plan to acquire more than 3100 F-35 Lightning aircraft through 2035, making the F-35 one of the largest jet fighter programs in history.