Virtek Vision International has completed the installation of contracts totaling over $1.7 million Cdn awarded in 2002 from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.
In this largest order ever received from Lockheed, the Company supplied Virtek LaserEdge laser projection systems for the manufacture of composite parts used in the construction of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program and F/A-22 Raptor fighter jets.
“”Lockheed Martin purchased Virtek’s first laser templating and positioning system for the lay-up of composite plies in 1992 and has provided input into the LaserEdge product’s development and evolution ever since,”” says Bob Sandness, president and CEO of Virtek. “”The use of composite parts to build fighter and commercial aircraft, automobiles, ships and trains is increasing because composite material is lighter, stronger and easier to form into complex shapes than aluminum. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter uses a high percentage of composites for its primary structure and we will continue to see this trend in future aerospace programs.””
The F-35 JSF next-generation aircraft is the first to combine stealth (radar-evading) and supersonic capabilities in an affordable multi-role fighter that accommodates the unique operating requirements of the United States Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and the defense forces of eight allied nations. The F-35 JSF program is expected to provide the backbone of the world’s multi-role fighter infrastructure for the next 30 to 40 years.
To meet strict affordability targets in the F-35 JSF program, Lockheed Martin has established a virtual product development process prior to tool creation and physical prototyping. Within this virtual design environment, Virtek LaserEdge laser projection systems provide optical lay-up template capabilities that increase the quality and reduce the costs of composite parts.
“”To qualify as a supplier to the program, we had to prove our systems offered “”best value,”” a combination of quality, affordability and other development and production criteria,”” says Sandness. “”The Virtek LaserEdge combines precision laser and proprietary hardware and software to project the exact location and 3D outline of each composite ply directly onto a contoured tool surface. The system eliminates the need for physical templates, increases quality and throughput and reduces costs – key benefits for all our customers.””
Virtek LaserEdge laser projection systems have also been purchased by F – 35 JSF principal partners Northrop Grumman and BAE SYSTEMS. Other customers include Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Eurocopter, GKN Aerospace Group and other manufacturers in the transportation industry.
Virtek LaserEdge is also being used to manufacture composite parts for Lockheed’s F/A-22 Raptor, the world’s most advanced stealth fighter. Built by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in partnership with Boeing, the F/A-22 Raptor will replace the F-15 Eagle as America’s premier front-line fighter starting in 2005. According to Lockheed, the U.S. Air Force has stated its existing force structure requires at least 762 Raptors.
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