Alcoa Wins Titanium Contract with Lockheed Martin for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
Alcoa to Supply Titanium for All F-35 Variants Under Nine-Year Deal
- Contract draws on new titanium capabilities gained through RTI acquisition
- Builds on broad portfolio of multi-material products Alcoa already supplies to the F-35 program, from engine to aircraft body
- Alcoa well positioned to support Lockheed Martin’s full-rate production goal of 13 aircraft a month by the mid-2020s, up from an average of three aircraft per month in 2014
- Contract has an estimated value of approximately $1.1 billion at current projected build rates
Lightweight metals leader Alcoa today announced a contract to supply titanium for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II aircraft program, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Under the contract, Alcoa becomes the titanium supplier for airframe structures for all three variants of the F-35 over nine years, from 2016 to 2024. At current projected build rates, the contract has an estimated value of approximately $1.1 billion.
Alcoa will supply titanium plate and billet from several operations gained through the RTI International Metals acquisition.
“Through our expansion in titanium, Alcoa is sharpening its leadership edge on state-of-the-art aircraft, including the most advanced fighter jet in the world—the F-35,” said Alcoa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld. “We are expanding Alcoa’s range of multi-material offerings for this program while helping Lockheed Martin meet aggressive weight, range and fuel efficiency targets.”
The titanium will be used to manufacture airframe structures for all three F-35 JSF variants: The F-35A Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) aircraft, the F-35B Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft and the F-35C Carrier Variant (CV). Under a different existing contract, Alcoa will use the metal to forge all of the largest titanium bulkheads—the “backbone” of the aircraft structure—for the CTOL variant at its Cleveland, Ohio operations. Approximately 75 percent of all F-35s produced are CTOLs.
“This contract with Alcoa is a key element in securing our supply chain with a strong U.S. partner for a critical, strategic raw material," said Dan Pleshko, vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics’ Enterprise Supply Chain Management.
In addition to the forged titanium bulkheads, Alcoa already supplies several key, multi-material components for the F-35, including:
- Multiple structural aircraft body components including the largest forged aluminum bulkheads, which Alcoa manufactures in one piece—as opposed to multi-piece assemblies—saving 300-400 pounds per jet, helping Lockheed Martin meet aggressive weight, range and fuel efficiency targets and reduce machining and assembly time;
- Advanced aluminum die forgings for the critical wheel and braking systems;
- Fasteners and installation tooling that hold the aircraft together, which can be easily installed in the most hard-to-reach areas—important given the complex design and performance requirements of the aircraft;
- Machined aluminum and titanium “vane box” assemblies that direct air flow, enabling the vertical landing capabilities of the STOVL; and
- Several high-performance components for the F-135 engine, including seamless rolled rings that encase the engine parts, titanium forged disks, and advanced single-crystal, nickel superalloy blades and vanes that enable the engine to operate at temperatures hotter than the melting point of the superalloys, increasing fuel efficiency.
The F-35 Lightning II is an advanced fighter aircraft combining stealth, speed and agility, designed for many kinds of missions. Lockheed Martin’s full-rate production goal is 13 aircraft a month by the mid-2020s, up from an average of three aircraft delivered per month in 2014.
Alcoa has been growing its multi-material aerospace business to capture growth in the global aerospace market in support of its broader transformation. Alcoa recently acquired global titanium leader RTI International Metals, aerospace components manufacturer TITAL and global jet engine parts leader Firth Rixson. Alcoa also has grown organically. It opened the world’s largest aluminum-lithium facility in Lafayette, Indiana, launched expansions to increase jet engine parts production in La Porte, Indiana and Hampton, Virginia, began installation of advanced aerospace plate manufacturing capabilities in Davenport, Iowa, announced plans to double its coatings capabilities for jet engine components in Whitehall, Michigan and announced an investment in technology that strengthens the metallic structures of traditional and additive manufactured parts, also in Whitehall, Michigan.