Fokker Technologies inked a new agreement with Lockheed Martin to supply certain critical wing components for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program, anticipating a contract that will take effect later this year and continue through 2017.
The products are flaperons — a type of flight control surface that combines some functions of both flaps and ailerons, allowing a pilot to control rolling and banking — and outboard leading edge flaps (OLEF) on forthcoming series of the F-35 fighters.
Fokker, a Dutch company, designs and manufacturers aerostructures, landing gear and electrical systems for commercial and defense aerospace programs. It has been manufacturing the flaperons and OLEF in the F-35’s low rate initial production series programs for several years, and also has produced more than 2,000 sets of flaperons for the Lockheed Martin F-16 since 1978.
Under the new agreement, Fokker will manufacture the flaperons and OLEF for the next batches of F-35 aircraft in low-rate initial production, over the period from 2015 to 2017.
"Fokker is excited by this achievement; this shows we are moving forward in an expeditious way with the project,” said Hans Büthker, CEO of Fokker. “The selection for the follow-on production orders is a very important step. This order will secure employment for around 100 employees, a figure that will be doubled if the total production order is received.”
The F-35 Lightning II is a single-engine fighter jet with stealth capability, capable of ground attack, reconnaissance, and air-defense missions. The first series of jets are due for deployment late this year by the U.S. Marine Corps, to be followed in subsequent years by versions for the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and the U.K. Royal Air Force, and nine other allied nations’ defense programs.
The F-35 flaperons are three-meter flaps that fit on the trailing edge of the wings. The OLEF are flaps on the leading edge of the wings. Both components are described as “vital for the controllability of the aircraft,” Fokker stated.
The designs involve a combination of fiber-reinforced composite material and titanium that will offer “better resistance to fatigue and corrosion.” It added that the designs contribute to better aircraft performance by saving weight and increasing strength.
Lockheed Martin is the lead contractor for the F-35 program, performing basic and detail design and major construction. There are dozens of other suppliers supporting the program, including BAE Systems, Fokker, Northrop Grumman, and many more.