GKN, Alenia get production work

May 10, 2012 at 3:55 PM
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FILTON, England, May 10 (UPI) -- Two European aerospace companies will be busy separately producing aircraft and aircraft structures for military programs for months to come.

GKN Aerospace of Britain says it has started production of precision-machined titanium structures for BAE Systems, a principal subcontractor to Lockheed Martin, for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

Meanwhile, Italy's Alenia Aeronautica will be producing its C-27J Spartan Battlefield Airlift aircraft for Australia's Defense Force under a contract worth more than $1.4 billion.

The F-35, touted as the most advanced next-generation combat aircraft, is multinational funded and will come in several variants, including a vertical takeoff and landing one.

GKN Aerospace said it will be produce 10 titanium structures for the aft and tail sections of the aircraft.

"The ability to machine highly complex titanium parts such as these for the JSF is a core competency for GKN Aerospace globally and one which our team at Filton (a plant in the United Kingdom) have employed on commercial airframes for a number of years," said Phil Swash, chief executive officer and president of GKN Aerospace-Aerostructures. "This work package sees their expertise now being applied to military aircraft, extending the skills base at the site in a direction that is at the very heart of our long-term aero-structures strategy."

Details on the parts to be produced were not disclosed.

GKN Aerospace acquired the Filton facility, located in South Gloucestershire, nearly four years ago and spent more than $27 million on its modernization, which includes precision manufacturing equipment. The company estimates its involvement in the F-35 program generates about $2.5 million in revenue per aircraft.

In addition to titanium structures for the plane, GKN facilities also design and supply all-composite engine front fan case and embedded electro-thermal ice protection systems, among others.

No schedule for production of the titanium structures was given.

Alenia, however, said its first C-27J would be delivered to Australia in 2015.

THE -27j Spartan is a medium-sized, twin turboprop airlifter for troops and supplies and is equipped with the engines and systems used by Lockheed Martin's C-130J Super Hercules.

Australian Minister for Defense Materiel Jason Clare said Australia has signed an agreement for acquisition of 10 planes to replace the country's aging Caribou aircraft, which were retired from service in 2009.

The aircraft, he said, complement the capabilities of the C-130 and C-17 aircraft Australia operates.

The C-27Js can access more than 1,900 airfields in Australia -- compared with around 500 for the C-130 Hercules aircraft -- and will thus play a role in domestic disaster relief in addition to its military missions.

The acquisition of the 10 C-27J aircraft, with associated support equipment, is being conducted through a Foreign Military Sales arrangement with the United States and includes logistic support.

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