Brisbane based Ferra Engineering has signed a memorandum of agreement with Lockheed Martin to establish a “world’s first” facility to manufacture titanium spars for F-35 JSF vertical tails.
The agreement covers the transfer of Lockheed Martin developed technology for direct manufacturing of titanium components which offers savings through less wastage of titanium and reduced machining times. Production at the new facility is expected to begin in 2012, with deliveries following three years later. Ferra and Lockheed Martin will also explore other opportunities to utilise the technology.
“Ferra and Lockheed Martin have worked closely for the past 18 months on the direct manufacturing process, which will be integrated into the new facility,” said Lockheed Martin vice president for F-35 global industrial integration Bob Bolz in a June 17 statement. “This new process offers the potential to save between 30 and 50 per cent of the cost of machining aerospace titanium structural components, which are some of the most expensive components in the F-35 airframe.”
Ferra, which has for the last four years built weapon adaptor assemblies for low rate initial production F-35s, expects to employ approximately 200 people at the new facility once it approaches peak production volumes.
Ferra will be the sole source supplier for the titanium spars.