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GKN Aerospace North America has won $14.4 million in new contracts for development of components for the F135 engine on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The contracts, awarded by Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies Corp., are for development and fabrication of the engine’s fan inlet case and inlet guide vanes; the engine nozzle’s static structure; the front compressor case; engine blade finishing and Lift fan containment case.
Pratt & Whitney is developing the F135 propulsion system for the Lockheed Martin F-35, a stealthy (radar-evading), supersonic multi-role fighter designed to meet the U.S. government’s requirements for a new generation of transformational weapons. The same F135 will be able to power the aircraft in all of its variants – conventional takeoff and lift (CTOL, primarily for Air Force pilots using conventional runways), carrier variant (CV, primarily for Navy pilots to take off and land on aircraft carriers), and short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL, primarily for Marine Corps pilots who may have limited runway space and must land vertically like a helicopter would). Up to 6,000 F-35 fighters could be produced over the life of the program, for U.S. and international customers.
The GKN development contracts announced today could lead to more than $1 billion in manufacturing contracts for the 6,000 fighters that could be produced over the life of the program for both U.S. and international customers.
“”We are pleased to have GKN on our development team for the F135,”” said Tom Farmer, Vice President of F135 Engine Programs, Pratt & Whitney. “”Together, we made the F119 engine powering the F-22 Raptor the most advanced production fighter engine in the world today, and we look forward to continuing our mutual success on the JSF program.””
The fan inlet case and inlet guide vanes will be developed using Resin Transfer Molding (RTM). Housed in GKN’s St. Louis factory is a nearly 90,000 square-foot section devoted entirely to RTM. It is believed to be the largest facility of its kind in the nation.
Resin Transfer Molding uses an advanced system for combining carbon fiber fabric with epoxy and other resins. It results in greater quality, increased production rates and an ability to manufacture more complex close-tolerance composite parts than had been possible. Using this process for the F-35 engine components also will help reduce the weight of the engine and assist in making the plane meet its performance requirements.
“”GKN is proud to be a key supplier on the Joint Strike Fighter program,”” said Jay Fitzsimmons, president and chief executive officer of GKN Aerospace Services – St. Louis. “”The fan inlet case will be the largest and most complex component ever made with the RTM process. This component, more than five feet in diameter, will be made in a single mold, thereby helping to reduce manufacturing costs while retaining extremely precise specifications.””
“”Our company has been one of the pioneers using RTM,”” Fitzsimmons added. “”I am confident that its success in military aircraft will continue to lead to new opportunities for GKN to use RTM in commercial applications. We appreciate the confidence Pratt & Whitney has placed in GKN and look forward to our role in developing the engine for JSF.””
Portions of the new contracts will be initiated at the company’s new Engineering Development Center in Connecticut. When regular production of the aircraft begins in early 2004, the fan inlet case and inlet guide vanes will be manufactured at St. Louis.
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