HITCO Carbon Composites Inc. (Gardena, Calif., USA), a subsidiary of SGL Group – The Carbon Company – announced on Jan. 11 that Lockheed Martin has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to award HITCO a contract to produce wing skins and nacelle skins 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 with bismaleimide (BMI) composite materials for the upper and lower wing skins as well as nacelle skins using its Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) capabilities. This contract extends from Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) lots 4 through 8 for the aircraft carrier-based (CV) model of F-35, with deliveries of production hardware to Lockheed Martin spanning the period of 4th quarter 2010 through 2016. The contract will also include LRIP lots 5 through 8 for the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant, which encompasses the delivery period of 2011 to 2016.
“HITCO will utilize its state-of-the-art production and testing equipment, particularly the Automated Fiber Placement [AFP] machine and the new large autoclave, to manufacture these components. We will also build on the processing expertise we have developed with BMI composite materials during our track record of performance with Lockheed Martin on the F-22 program. HITCO and its parent company, SGL Group, continue to invest in automated manufacturing capability at the Gardena site, enabling HITCO to achieve its goal of becoming a world-class Tier II supplier to the aerospace industry. We look forward to a long business relationship with Lockheed Martin on the F-35 program well beyond the initial five year contract term,” said Peter M. Hoffman, HITCO president.
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. The aircraft is built in three different versions: a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) aircraft, a short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant and an aircraft carrier-based (CV) model.
Editor PickSkinning the F-35 fighter
Fasteneing the all-composites skin on the Lightning II requires machining and drilling technology that is optimized for cost-efficiency.