LOS ANGELES BAE
Systems Plc has opened a new facility in Australia dedicated to
machining titanium parts for Lockheed Martin Corp.s F-35
Joint Strike Fighter.
aerospace company is making over 30 complex components for the
vertical fin of the F-35 in Adelaide, Australia. The plane is
assembled at the Fort Worth, Texas, operations of Lockheed
Martin, Bethesda, Md.
Components are shipped
by BAE to another Australian supplier to the program, Marand
Precision Engineering. BAE said it started to ship the
components earlier this year from its existing plants.
The new facility,
whose total cost has been estimated at Australian $177 million
($160.4 million), includes a $10-million machining complex
built by Switzerland-based Starrag Group thats designed
to produce thin-wall aerospace titanium components over 16 feet
long. BAE said the machining capability is only the second of
its kind installed in the world, and its installation involved
30 tonnes of reinforcing steel.
Australia-based Marand Precision Engineering is in line to
build two vertical tails for the F-35. BAE Systems will supply
ship sets for these assemblies to Marand over the next 20
About seven countries
besides the United States have ordered F-35s so far, while at
least two others are expected to decide early next year whether
to buy the fighter.
BAE Systems is also
looking for the new Australian facility to produce components
for commercial aircraft and marine vessels, and is in
discussions with U.S. firms about taking in new work, according
to local reports. The government of South Australia is actively
supporting expansion of its aircraft manufacturing
Each F-35 is estimated
to contain about 45,000 pounds of titanium buy weight. RTI
International Metals Inc. is the programs primary
supplier of titanium mill products, although it is unknown if
the Pittsburgh-based producer is supplying the titanium for the
BAEs Australian facility.