Matrix Composites delivers final F-22 part

As the composites-intensive F-22 Raptor fighter jet program winds down, Matrix Composites has finished the its last critical structure for the airplane.

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Matrix Composites (Rockledge, Fla., USA) reports that it has finished its last critical structure on the U.S. F-22 Raptor fighter jet program. Shipment of this part represents the conclusion of a very successful development and production effort for Matrix. Matrix was one of only four companies qualified worldwide to produce specific components related to the aircraft’s low-observable fuselage and critical airframe components.

The composites-intensive F-22 was discontinued by the Obama Adminstration in 2010 in a cost-cutting effort. The U.S. is continuing to develop and manufacture the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, which is expected to become the U.S. military's primary fighter jet for the next several decades.

In a statement, Matrix stated: "The F-22 Raptor is the nation’s only deployed 5th generation fighter. The aircraft is the 'top gun' of the US military’s arsenal and represents the state-of-the-art in manned fighter aircraft. Although the original build quantities were expected to exceed 500 aircraft, the program was stripped of funding by Defense Secretary Gates and the Obama Administration in early 2010, cutting the number to just 187 aircraft."

“It seems like a waste of taxpayer money considering the $300 billion investment made to develop and produce the aircraft” says David Nesbitt, president of Matrix Composites, “Stopping production at just 187 aircraft deprives us of the program’s full potential and adversely affects our domestic industrial base”. Cancellation of the program affects an estimated 95,000 jobs and 1,000 suppliers across the country, including Matrix Composites.

Matrix Composites has been manufacturing components on the Raptor since 2005. More than 20 trained aerospace technicians were employed at Matrix using advanced manufacturing methods and proprietary processes to build these critical components. Although the company has been impacted by termination of the F-22, it says it anticipates significant growth over the next three years as other key programs get underway. “We’re pursuing some new opportunities on the F-35 Lightning program that we are very excited about,” says Ray Ringleb, sales and marketing manager at Matrix.