F-35 program reaches composites milestone

Orbital ATK celebrates completion of its 5,000th composite part for the F-35 program.

Orbital ATK (Dulles, VA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, and Lockheed Martin on Feb. 21 celebrated the successful completion of the 5,000th Orbital ATK-built F-35 composite part. The 5,000 composite parts equate to approximately 430 ship sets.

Orbital ATK's Aerospace Structures Division facility in Clearfield, Utah, currently produces almost 90 percent of the upper and lower wing skins, engine nacelles, access covers and fixed skins for the F-35 Lightning II. Orbital ATK partner, Janicki Industries, machines the parts to very exacting engineering requirements and the parts are then delivered to support the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, as well as its international suppliers. Orbital ATK was awarded a contract in 2017 to also produce bullnose and blade seals for the F-35.

“This milestone not only reflects our long-term partnership with Lockheed Martin on the F-35 program, it also showcases the growth of composite manufacturing in Utah,” says Steve Earl, vice president and general manager of Orbital ATK’s Aerospace Structures Division. 

“Orbital ATK and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics have had an excellent long term relationship that relies on their continued success and leadership in composite manufacturing,” says Lockheed Martin’s Janet Duffey, vice president of supply chain management for Lockheed Martin. “The F-35 is built by thousands of men and women in America and around the world. Orbital ATK and our more than 1,500 global suppliers play an absolutely critical role in delivering the F-35’s transformational capability to the men and women in uniform ensuring they can execute their missions and come home safe.”

With more than 1,400 domestic suppliers in 46 states and Puerto Rico, the F-35 program is responsible for more than 170,000 direct and indirect U.S. jobs and $24 billion of economic impact annually. In addition to the main F-35 production line in Fort Worth, Texas, final assembly and checkout operations (FACO) facilities are located in Cameri, Italy and Nagoya, Japan, and suppliers in all nine of the program's partner countries are producing F-35 components for all aircraft.