Production of titanium structures for the F-35 Lightning II JSF to be in Bristol, UK, working in partnership with Missouri operations.
GKN Aerospace at Filton, UK, has commenced production of precision-machined titanium structures for BAE Systems, a principal subcontractor to Lockheed Martin, for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft (JSF).
The Filton site will work in partnership with the GKN Aerospace sister operation in St. Louis, with Filton undertaking manufacture of ten titanium structural parts. These will then assemble into the aft and tail sections of the aircraft, supplied by BAE Systems for final assembly by Lockheed Martin.
Phil Swash, CEO and president, GKN Aerospace – Aerostructures, Europe explains: "The ability to machine highly complex titanium parts such as these for the JSF is a core competency for GKN Aerospace globally and one which our team at Filton has employed on commercial airframes for a number of years. This work package sees their expertise now being applied to military aircraft, extending the skills base at the site in a direction that is at the very heart of our long term aero-structures strategy."
GKN Aerospace has invested in excess of GBP17m in the Filton facility in the 39 months since acquisition. This has included the installation of state of the art capital equipment, which will increase manufacturing accuracy, consistency and speed for these critical F-35 structures.
Global involvement by GKN Aerospace facilities on the F-35 Lightning II is valued at approximately USD $2.5m per ship set and includes: the design and supply of the advanced all-composite engine front fan case and embedded electro-thermal ice protection system for the F135 engine; the design and supply of the aircraft’s sophisticated canopy transparency; the manufacture of high value composite assemblies – as well as precision-machined exotic metal structures. The work packages cover all three F-35 variants including the F-35A conventional take-off and landing (CTOL), the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) and the F-35C carrier variant (CV) aircraft.
Today, GKN Aerospace is the major independent supplier of aero-structures in Europe and one of the leading three operations globally. The company is a world technology leader in the use of both composites and metallics in aviation, pioneering new production techniques that are improving the quality and consistency of manufacture at increased production rates.