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Vought Reaches Milestone on F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Composite Production

  • Friday, 20th August 2004
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Vought Aircraft Industries, Inc. has reached a key production milestone in support of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program with the delivery of the aircraft’s lower wing skins.

These are the first of many planned production articles to be delivered from Milledgeville for the JSF program. The wing skins are the largest composite structures manufactured by Vought’s Milledgeville facility.

“”We are proud of the great job our employees have done with the F-35 lower wing skin,”” said Vought Site Director Merlin Fechner. “”We’re leveraging new technologies and materials to create these skins.””

Vought is the first company in the aerospace industry to use fibre placement to create a full-scale part with bismaleimide (BMI)/graphite slit tape and hand lay-up of woven pieces.

The wing skins are fabricated using a newly installed Cincinnati Composites Viper 3000 machine. The Viper 3000 is an advanced composite fibre placement system that manufactures highly contoured aerospace components.

The system places layers of 1/8-in. wide composite fibre tape onto a mould machined to the shape of the finished component. Each layer is put down in a different direction to increase overall stiffness and durability. Each wing skin, prior to trimming, weighs about 290 pounds. They are shipped to Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth for final assembly.

In addition to producing the F-35 lower wing skins, Lockheed Martin selected Vought to perform three separate full-scale tests on the aircraft.

The F-35 JSF is a stealthy, supersonic, multi-role fighter designed for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, as well as the U.K. Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. It is intended to replace the A-10, the Harrier, F-16 and F/A-18. The first F-35 is planned for delivery to the U.S. military in 2009.


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