NetComposites
Airtech

Composite Fuselage on Stealthy Missile Goes Operational

12 December 2003

The Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) reached a major milestone with certification that it meets requirements and is ready for operational use.

JASSM is developed by Lockheed Martin with a team of key suppliers including Fiber Innovations, who supply the composite fuselage and other structural components. ""We are very proud of the commitment we have seen from the entire JASSM team. JASSM key suppliers, our electronics and seekers production team in Ocala, Fla., and the Troy production team made their commitments early. When the state-of-the-art facility reaches full-rate production of JASSM, it will produce approximately one missile each day and is currently scheduled to continue producing JASSMs until 2014,"" said Mike Inderhees, JASSM program director at Lockheed Martin.

Most of the surface area and load bearing structure of JASSM is manufactured using a braided composite process to place fibers in their proper orientation and shape. The majority of these parts are then molded using the Vacuum-assisted Resin Transfer Molding, or VaR(TM), process. Carbon fabric reinforcements and conventional RTM processing are also used to manufacture almost 50% of the other composite flight hardware for JASSM.

Cost savings were accomplished by developing net-shaped preforms for fuselage components, and improving the net edge molding of the upper and lower composite fuselage. Other cost reduction factors include improved inner mold line dimensional control and optimizing the resin infusion through automated temperature and pressure controls. Working with the Air Force Research Laboratory's Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Manufacturing Technology Division and Lockheed Martin, Fiber Innovations developed composite manufacturing methods that will save more than $19 million over the production life of the missile.

The U.S. Air Force expects to procure 3,700 JASSMs over the life of the program, while the U.S. Navy's initial procurement of 453 JASSMs starts in FY 2007. JASSM composite production at Fiber Innovations' Massachusetts plant will increase from 15 people today to 50 people when the program reaches full rate production.