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The Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) team completed a successful pressure test of its “fastenerless” inlet duct design. The all-composite duct offers major advantages in costs and operational capabilities by eliminating fastener penetrations through the inlet. This results in a smooth inner surface, providing excellent aerodynamic and signature performance and eliminating maintenance associated with fastener corrosion and fuel-leak repair. “Compared to inlet ducts in today’s operational fighter aircraft, we estimate the new duct can be produced in half the span time and at two-thirds the cost,” said Frank J. Cappuccio, vice president and program manager of the Lockheed Martin JSF. A combination of advanced composite material and process technologies allowed the fabrication of a cost-effective, one-piece duct segment that can be assembled in the JSF airframe with minimal fasteners. The pressure test was a major step toward validating the use of integral composite attach flanges to eliminate thousands of through-the-duct fasteners. The Lockheed Martin JSF team includes Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Flight evaluation of the demonstrator aircraft is scheduled to take place in 2000.
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