ITT Exelis nears completion of Utah composites facility

The 250,000-sq-ft expansion in Salt Lake City will provide composite components and structures for the F-35 Lightning II and the CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter.

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Defense contractor ITT Exelis (McLean, Va., USA) reported on Dec. 9 that it has reached the halfway point in the construction of its new composites design and manufacturing center in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The 250,000-ft2/23,226m2 initial addition of office and manufacturing space will provide a significantly expanded area where Exelis will fabricate aerospace composite structures.

The expansion is aligned with the company’s strategy to invest strategically in broad-based government and commercial solutions, such as aerostructures and air traffic management, and is being driven by increases in demand for composite parts on military and commercial aircraft, including the F-35 Lightning II and the Marine Corps’ new heavy lift helicopter, the CH-53K.

To support that growth, Exelis is working closely with universities and applied technical colleges in Utah to ensure a well-trained workforce is available.

“The local support from Davis Applied Technology College (DATC) and Salt Lake Community College has been fantastic,” says Jim Barber, vice president and general manager of the Exelis Integrated Structures business. “For example, DATC has created a course that fully prepares entry level composite technicians. Potential employees who have completed that training certainly have an advantage as we staff up.”

“The use of high-strength composite materials continues to increase due to their lighter weight, greater durability, and significantly lower maintenance cost,” said Barber. “We fully expect this trend to continue, as aircraft have to be more efficient and more cost effective to operate in the future.”

Exelis has contracted with Okland Construction and GSBS Architects for the expansion project. The operation, which is part of the Exelis Electronic Systems division, is planned to go live in first quarter 2012.