Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has launched a new production line for skins for F-35 wings. The line was established following Lockheed Martin’s decision to expand the skins’ production and its selection of IAI as the subcontractor responsible for the manufacturing. IAI board has approved the construction of the new production line in 2015. The 20-year program is expected to yield revenues of hundreds of millions of dollars, with shipments expected from the beginning of 2019. The first shipments will be of some 700 kits with potential for additional orders at a later stage.
The skins will be manufactured using an innovative technology called Automatic Fiber Placement (AFP) that comprises layers of composite materials. The layers consist of 3-mm threads that become a cohesive unit, thus forming the special wing skin that provides them with the stealth capability.
The establishment of the new production line constitutes a significant improvement in IAI’s automation and robotics capabilities, allowing it to become a key player in the military and commercial aerostructures field.
Shlomi Karako, IAI EVP and general manager of the Commercial Aircraft Group, said, “The inauguration of the F-35 wings skin production line is a significant milestone in realizing IAI’s strategy of building advanced capabilities in composite material production. The new production line opens the door for IAI to become a member of an exclusive club of aerospace companies offering this capability. I would like to thank Lockheed Martin for their confidence and the longstanding collaboration that has led to the establishment of the new production line.”
Joshua (Shiki) Shani, CEO of Lockheed Martin Israel, said, “Expanding IAI’s operations to the F-35 program underline the level of trust Lockheed Martin places in the Israeli industry. The precision, technological elements, personnel and the quality of production required for the skins of the F-35’s wings must abide by the highest standards. IAI has proven its capabilities with hundreds of wings so far and we look forward to experiencing the same excellence with the upcoming skins production. This is another stage in the comprehensive production of wings for the F-35 aircraft.”