Alcoa Wins 10-yr, $360M Contract for F-35 Forgings
Sometimes, a contractor’s technical problem is really an opportunity. When the multinational Joint Strike Fighter’s F-35B STOVL (Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing) variant for the US Marines, Royal Navy, et. al. found itself 3,000 pounds overweight, the program faced a 1 year pause while a crash program of empowered teams and suppliers worked to solve the problem. The result was an F-35B design that ended up ahead of the other variants, even though it was considered to be the most complex. That’s reflected in the pattern of test aircraft being produced – and now, it’s reflected in a large subcontract as well.
Alcoa’s proprietary and advanced aluminum alloys, technical and engineering expertise, and collaborative design capabilities that support large and complex forgings proved very valuable to the F-35B’s Slimfast diet. Now Lockheed Martin has handed Alcoa’s Power and Propulsion business a 10-year, $360 million contract by Lockheed Martin to supply advanced patented 7085 alloy aluminum die forgings for the F-35 program.
Alcoa Forged and Cast Products in Cleveland, OH will design and manufacture all the large aluminum structural die forgings for more than 1,200 aircraft. Parts include 15 large bulkheads that weigh 1,800-6,000 pounds, range from 10-23 feet in length, and act as the primary structural support for the wing and engine. They will also work on 6 wing box parts which serve as an important component of the skeletal structure to the wing. Meanwhile, other Alcoa aerospace units will provide items like highly-engineered joining devices from Alcoa Fastening Systems, specialty alloy plate from Alcoa North American Mill Products, and high-pressure turbine blades for F-35 JSF engines and structural aluminum castings from Alcoa Power and Propulsion.
As part of the JSF contract, Alcoa plans to invest $24 million in Cleveland Works primarily for new machinery, equipment and infrastructure improvements. Alcoa Forged and Cast Products is being supported by the State of Ohio with a $400,000 Rapid Outreach Grant, and up to $450,000 for employee training.